Jāmī, Mawlānā Nūr al-Dīn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān d. 898/1492


The great Persian poet, mystic and scholar Mawlānā Nūr al-Dīn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Jāmī was born in the Jām district of Ḫurāsān in 817/1414 and educated in the literary, religious and Sufi tradition at Herat and Samarkand. Masterful in language and style and flexible with his depth of knowledge, Jāmī had a deep passion for mysticism and “scarcely wrote a line of poetry that does not reverberate with mystical overtones”. His works are diverse and numerous, among them an exegesis of the Qurān and a compendium of notices of over 500 Saints. However, it is for his poetical works that he is mostly known, namely, the three-part dīvān written from the time of his youth and the seven masnavīs collectively called Haft awrang (The Seven Thrones). The seven masnavīs are: Silsilat al-zahab (Chain of Gold), Salāmān u Absāl, Tuḥfat al-aḥrār (Gift of the Free), in imitation of Nizāmī’s Maḫzan al-asrār; Subḥat al-abrār (Rosary of the Pious) after Amīr Ḫusraw’s Nuh Sipihr, Yūsuf u Zulaykha; Laylī u Majnūn, and Ḫiradnāmah-i Iskandarī, both in imitation of Nizāmī.

Jāmī spent nearly all of his life living quietly in Herat amidst his studies, poetry, and spiritual exercises. Though honored by his sovereigns, he never felt compelled to lavish them with flattery or the dedication of his poems. Nonetheless he remained well respected throughout his lifetime and his aversion to dabble in the vicissitudes of politics allowed his life to pass in quietude. His ability in prose reached well beyond the praise of his fellow countrymen as he was invited to the Ottoman court at the request of the Sultan and regarded by Mughal ruler Bābur as “too exalted for there to be any need for praising him”. Jāmī died at Herat 898/1492 and was buried close by his spiritual director.


Bahāristān     The Garden of Spring

Composed 892/1487.

Written in prose and verse, Bahāristān (Spring Land) is somewhat similar in content and arrangement to Saʿdī’s Gulistān. It has been suggested that Jāmī conceived of the idea for his Bahāristān when reading commenting on Gulistān to his son. The work is divided into the following eight chapters (listed in chronological order): anecdotes about saints and sufis; sayings of philosophers and wise men; on the justice of kings; on generosity; on love; on jokes and witticisms; on poets; on dumb animals.

Lavāʾiḥ     Essays

Comprised of thirty sections called ‘Flashes,’ Lavāʾiḥ is a mystical treatise written in prose mixed with quatrains.

Salāmān va Absāl     Salāmān and Absāl

Completed 885/1480.

Salāmān va Absāl is a philosophical work presented in the form of an allegorical romance in which the characters, according to the eminent Persian ethicist Nasīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī, “are symbols denoting the various degrees of the intellect”.

Tuḥfaħ al-aḥrār     The Gift of the Noble

Completed 886/1481.

Tuḥfaħ al-aḥrār is a didactic and philosophical poem in imitation of Niẓāmī’s Maḫzan al-asrār.

Yūsuf va Zulaḫyā     Yūsuf and Zulaḫyā

Completed 888/1483.

Based on a story that appears in both the Bible and the Qurān, this is an allegorical romance written in a mystical manner between Yūsuf and Zulaḫyā, wife of Potiphar.