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Persian Poetry

Jami, the poet
Moulana Noor-od-Din (Nuruddin) Abdorrahman Jami the son of Moulana Nezam-od-Din (Nizamuddin) Ahmad was born in Jam, a small town of Khorasan in 1414 AD (A.H. 817). Jam is now the Ghor province of Afghanistan. He died in Herat on the 13th of Moharram in 1492 AD (A.H. 898). His poetic name is Jami, the word Jam means "wine goblet" in Persian and Nuruddin means "Light of Faith." His genius made the literary men of his time uncomfortable because no man is great unless he appears humble.

When he was only a child, he learned the basic Persian and Arabic from his father. He went to a school at Herat (presently Afghanistan) and then to school in Samarghand (Samarqand). In Samarghand, he studied with Ghazi-zadeh Ruhm, one of the great researchers of the time.

Jami returned to Herat and studied mathematics and philosophy with Ala-od-Din Ali Ghoshchi. Hakim Jami later joined Khaja Saaduddin Kashghari, the chief of Naghshbandis and became his disciple. It is said that when Khaja Saaduddin gathered with other dervishes at the Jame Mosque of Herat every time Jami passed the mosque Saaduddin said of Jami, "I am fascinated by him, this man is truly worthy. I don't know with what trick and how to attract him to become a student."

In 1472 AD (A.H. 877), Jami started his pilgrimage to Mecca as every Moslem who can afford to is expected once in his life to do. Jami was a Sunni Moslem but it is documented that he respected Saint Ali and spoke fairly of the 'House of Saint Ali' several times. Jami wrote a poem in honor of saint Ali in Najaf and a poem in honor of Imam Hossein (the martyred son of Saint Ali) in Kerbala. One of the praiseworthy characteristics of Jami is that he had conviction in what he said and wrote. Jami said, "There are many seekers but mostly seekers of personal improvement. There are very few real seekers after real truth."

Contemporary monarchs of his time made offers of large amounts of gold and other gifts for him to participate in their courts. These offers constantly annoyed Jami. He was also annoyed by people who wanted to make him a hero rather than do something about themselves. Jami said "Ordinary human love is capable of raising man to the experience of real love".

Jami was well known for his playful sense of humor. Jami paid special attention to Saadi and Hafez in poetry and followed Nezami (Nizami) in his masnavi. When Jami was seventy, he wrote his masterpiece Yusuf and Zulaikha. Different people attribute Jami to writing from 44 to 99 books of grammar, poetry, and theology. Some of his well known works include his prose works, "Nafahatul Uns" (Breaths of the Breeze of Friendship), "Beharistan" (Abode of Spring), and a collection of biographies of Sufi Saints. Baharistan is in the style of Saadi's Rose-Garden and he wrote it for his son Ziao-od-Din Yusuf. His major poetic work includes "Haft Awrang" (Seven Thrones of Grace), which consisted of over twenty-five thousand couplets. Some of the well known writings of "Haft Awrang" are tale of "Salaman and Absal.", a version of the story of "Leila and Majnun", "Khiradnameh Iskandar" (Alexander's Wisdom), and poetic masterpiece of "Yusuf and Zulaikha".


Leila and Majnun by Mohammad Hourian
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Jami Poetry
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