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Abu ‘Ali al-Husayn ibn Sina is better known in Europe by the Latinized name “Avicenna.” He is probably the most significant philosopher in the Islamic tradition and arguably the most influential philosopher of the pre-modern era. Born in Afshana near Bukhara in Central Asia in about 980, he is best known as a polymath, as a physician whose major work the Canon (al-Qanun fi’l-Tibb) continued to be taught as a medical textbook in Europe and in the Islamic world until the early modern period, and as a philosopher whose majorsumma the Cure (al-Shifa’) had a decisive impact upon European scholasticism and especially upon Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274). Primarily a metaphysical philosopher of being who was concerned with understanding the self’s existence in this world in relation to its contingency, Ibn Sina’s philosophy is an attempt to construct a coherent and comprehensive system that accords with the religious exigencies of Muslim culture. As such, he may be considered to be the first major Islamic philosopher. The philosophical space that he articulates for God as the Necessary Existence lays the foundation for his theories of the soul, intellect and cosmos. Furthermore, he articulated a development in the philosophical enterprise in classical Islam away from the apologetic concerns for establishing the relationship between religion and philosophy towards an attempt to make philosophical sense of key religious doctrines and even analyse and interpret the Qur’an. Recent studies have attempted to locate him within the Aristotelian and Neoplatonic traditions. His relationship with the latter is ambivalent: although accepting some keys aspects such as an emanationist cosmology, he rejected Neoplatonic epistemology and the theory of the pre-existent soul. However, his metaphysics owes much to the "Amonnian" synthesis of the later commentators on Aristotle and discussions in legal theory andkalam on meaning, signification and being. Apart from philosophy, Avicenna’s other contributions lie in the fields of medicine, the natural sciences, musical theory, and mathematics. In the Islamic sciences ('ulum), he wrote a series of short commentaries on selected Qur’anic verses and chapters that reveal a trained philosopher’s hermeneutical method and attempt to come to terms with revelation. He also wrote some literary allegories about whose philosophical value recent scholarship is vehemently at odds.
His influence in medieval Europe spread through the translations of his works first undertaken in Spain. In the Islamic world, his impact was immediate and led to what Michot has called "la pandémie avicennienne." When al-Ghazali led the theological attack upon the heresies of the philosophers, he singled out Avicenna, and a generation later when the Shahrastani gave an account of the doctrines of the philosophers of Islam, he relied upon the work of Avicenna, whose metaphysics he later attempted to refute in his Struggling against the Philosophers (Musari‘at al-falasifa). Avicennan metaphysics became the foundation for discussions of Islamic philosophy and philosophical theology. In the early modern period in Iran, his metaphysical positions began to be displayed by a creative modification that they underwent due to the thinkers of the school of Isfahan, in particular Mulla Sadra (d. 1641).
Avicenna wrote his two earliest works in Bukhara under the influence of al-Farabi. The first, aCompendium on the Soul (Maqala fi’l-nafs), is a short treatise dedicated to the Samanid ruler that establishes the incorporeality of the rational soul or intellect without resorting to Neoplatonic insistence upon its pre-existence. The second is his first major work on metaphysics, Philosophy for the Prosodist (al-Hikma al-‘Arudiya) penned for a local scholar and his first systematic attempt at Aristotelian philosophy.
He later wrote three ‘encyclopaedias’encyclopedias of philosophy. The first of these is al-Shifa’(The Cure), a work modelled on the corpus of the philosopher, namely. Aristotle, that covers the natural sciences, logic, mathematics, metaphysics and theology. It was this work that through its Latin translation had a considerable impact on scholasticism. It was solicited by Juzjani and his other students in Hamadan in 1016 and although he lost parts of it on a military campaign, he completed it in Isfahan by 1027. The other two encyclopaedias were written later for his patron the Buyid prince ‘Ala’ al-Dawla in Isfahan. The first, in Persian rather than Arabic is entitledDanishnama-yi ‘Ala’i (The Book of Knowledge for ‘Ala’ al-Dawla) and is an introductory text designed for the layman. It closely follows his own Arabic epitome of The Cure, namely al-Najat (The Salvation). The Book of Knowledge was the basis of al-Ghazali’s later Arabic work Maqasid al-falasifa (Goals of the Philosophers). The second, whose dating and interpretation have inspired debates for centuries, is al-Isharat wa’l-Tanbihat (Pointers and Reminders), a work that does not present completed proofs for arguments and reflects his mature thinking on a variety of logical and metaphysical issues. According to Gutas it was written in Isfahan in the early 1030s; according to Michot, it dates from an earlier period in Hamadan and possibly Rayy. A further work entitled al-Insaf (The Judgement) which purports to represent a philosophical position that is radical and transcends AristotelianisingAristotle’s Neoplatonism is unfortunately not extant, and debates about its contents are rather like the arguments that one encounters concerning Plato’s esoteric or unwritten doctrines. One further work that has inspired much debate is The Easterners (al-Mashriqiyun) or The Eastern Philosophy (al-Hikma al-Mashriqiya) which he wrote at the end of the 1020s and is mostly lost.
Molavi and more popularly simply as Rumi (1207 – 17 December 1273), was a 13th-century Persianpoet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic. Rumi's influence transcends national borders and ethnic divisions: Iranians, Tajiks, Turks,Greeks, Pashtuns, other Central Asian Muslims, and the Muslims of South Asia have greatly appreciated his spiritual legacy for the past seven centuries. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world's languages and transposed into various formats. Rumi has been described as the "most popular poet" and the "best selling poet" in the United States.
Rumi's works are written mostly in Persian, but occasionally he also usedTurkish, Arabic, and Greek, in his verse. His Mathnawī, composed in Konya, is considered one of the greatest poems of the Persian language. His works are widely read today in their original language across Greater Iran and the Persian-speaking world. Translations of his works are very popular, most notably in Turkey, Azerbaijan, the United States, and South Asia. His poetry has influenced Persian literature, but alsoTurkish, Ottoman Turkish, Azerbaijani, Punjabi, Hindi, and Urdu, as well as the literature of some other Turkic, Iranian, and Indo-Aryan languages includingChagatai, Pashto, and Bengali. Rumi's poetry forms the basis of much classical Iranian and Afghan music (Eastern-Persian, Tajik-Hazara music). Contemporary classical interpretations of his poetry are made by Muhammad Reza Shajarian,Shahram Nazeri, Davood Azad (the three from Iran) and Ustad Mohammad Hashem Cheshti (Afghanistan). To many modern Westerners, his teachings are one of the best introductions to the philosophy and practice of Sufism. In the West Shahram Shiva has been teaching, performing and sharing the translations of the poetry of Rumi for nearly twenty years and has been instrumental in spreading Rumi's legacy in the English-speaking parts of the world. Pakistan's National Poet,Muhammad Iqbal, was also inspired by Rumi's works and considered him to be his spiritual leader, addressing him as "Pir Rumi" in his poems (the honorific Pir literally means "old man", but in the Sufi/mystic context it means founder, master, or guide).
Shahram Shiva asserts that "Rumi is able to verbalise the highly personal and often confusing world of personal growth and development in a very clear and direct fashion. He does not offend anyone, and he includes everyone.... Today Rumi's poems can be heard in churches, synagogues, Zen monasteries, as well as in the downtown New York art/performance/music scene." According to Professor Majid M. Naini, "Rumi's life and transformation provide true testimony and proof that people of all religions and backgrounds can live together in peace and harmony. Rumi’s visions, words, and life teach us how to reach inner peace and happiness so we can finally stop the continual stream of hostility and hatred and achieve true global peace and harmony.” Rumi's work has been translated into many of the world's languages, including Russian, German, Urdu, Turkish, Arabic, Bengali, French, Italian, and Spanish, and is being presented in a growing number of formats, including concerts, workshops, readings, dance performances, and other artistic creations. The English interpretations of Rumi's poetry by Coleman Barks have sold more than half a million copies worldwide, and Rumi is one of the most widely read poets in the United States Shahram Shiva book "Rending the Veil: Literal and Poetic Translations of Rumi" (1995, HOHM Press) is the recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Award. Recordings of Rumi poems have made it to the USA's Billboard's Top 20 list. A selection of American author Deepak Chopra's editing of the translations by Fereydoun Kia of Rumi's love poems has been performed by Hollywood personalities such as Madonna, Goldie Hawn, Philip Glass and Demi Moore. There is a famous landmark in Northern India, known as Rumi Gate, situated in Lucknow (the capital of Uttar Pradesh) named for Rumi. Rumi and his mausoleum were depicted on the reverse of the 5000 Turkish lira banknotes of 1981–1994.
Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi
Abu Bakr Mohammad Ibn Zakariya al-Razi, known in the West as Rhazes, was the leading scholar of the early Islamic world. His stature is comparable only to that of Ibn Sina a century later. Influenced by Hippocrates and classical Greek medicine, Al Razi wrote numerous books on a range of medical and scientific subjects. The Al-Mansuri and Al-Hawi, his encyclopedic reviews of medicine, were translated into several languages and became a standard text for Islamic and European medical students for centuries.
He was a keen experimenter and observer. As director of a large hospital in Baghdad and physician to the royal court, he engaged in medicine on a practical level and these experiences permeate his writings. He saw the importance of recording a patient’s case history and made clinical notes about the progress and symptoms of different illnesses, including his own.
One of his most innovative assertions related to measles and smallpox. Previously they were lumped together simply as a disease that caused rashes, but through careful observation al-Razi recorded the differences in appearance of the skin inflammations as well as the accompanying physical symptoms, and proposed correctly that they were indeed two distinct diseases.
Gholamreza Takhti (August 27, 1930 – January 7, 1968) was an Iranian Olympic Gold-Medalist Wrestler and Varzesh-e Bastanipractitioner. Popularly nicknamed Jahān Pahlevān ("The World Champion")because of his chivalrous behavior and sportsmanship (Javanmardi in Iranian culture), he was the most popular athlete of Iran in the 20th century, although dozens of Iranian athletes have won more international medals than he did. Takhti is still a hero to many Iranians. He is listed in the FILA wrestling hall of fame. Takhti won his first Iranian championship in 1950, and on his first trip abroad in 1951, he won a silver medal at the world freestyle championships in Helsinki- the first international medal ever gained by an Iranian wrestler. One year later in 1952, he won another silver medal again in Helsinki, this time in 1952 Summer Olympics. The subsequent highlights of his career were an Olympic gold medal in 1956 (Melbourne) and world championships in 1959 (Tehran) another silver in the 1960 Rome Olympics and 1961 World Championships (Yokohama). His Olympics career finished with one Gold & two silver medals. He did however finish fourth in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics as well. Takhti started as a middleweight wrestler og 79 kg and 87 kg categories, as he was getting heavier, he decided to move up to the next weight, 97 kg, for theTokyo Olympics in 1964. He was unable to catch a medal and he was placed 4th. Takhti tended to act fairly when competing against rivals during his career, something which originated from traditional values of Zurkhaneh, a kind of heroic behaviour that epitomizes chivalrous qualities known as Javanmardi. For instance, he once had a match with Russian wrestler Alexander Medvedwho had an injured right knee. When Takhti found out that Medved was injured, he avoided touching the injured leg and tried to attack the other leg instead. He lost the match, but showed that he valued honorable behavior more than reaching victory. Another example of his character comes from a match in Moscow. After defeating the then-world champion Anatoli Albul, Takhti saw the sorrow on the face of Albul's mother. Takhti went to her and said, "I'm sorry about the result, but your son is a great wrestler." She smiled and kissed him.
Mirza Taghi Khan Farahani known as Amir Kabir (1807 - 10 January 1852), also known by the titles of Atabakand Amir-e Nezam; chief minister to Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (Shah of Persia) for the first three years of his reign and one of the most capable and innovative figures to appear in the whole Qajar period. Amir Kabir served as the Prime Minister of Persia (Iran) under Naser al-Din Shah. Born in Hazaveh and murdered in 1852, he is widely considered to be "Iran's first reformer", a modernizer who was "unjustly struck down" as he attempted to bring "gradual reform" to IranAs the prime-minister, he also ordered the killing of many Babis and the execution of the founder of the movement, the Báb.
Among the various measures enacted by Amir Kabir, the foundation of the Darolfonun, in Tehran was possibly the most lasting in its effects. Decades later, many parts of this establishment were turned into the University of Tehran, with the remaining becoming Darolfonun Secondary School. The initial purpose of the institution was to train officers and civil servants to pursue the regeneration of the state that Amir Kabir had begun, but as the first educational institution giving instruction in modern learning, it had far wider impact. Among the subjects taught were medicine, surgery, pharmacology, natural history, mathematics, geology, and natural science. The instructors were for the most part Austrians, recruited in Vienna by Daʾud Khan, an Assyrian who had become acquainted with Amir Kabir during the work of the Ottoman-Iranian border commission. By the time the instructors arrived in Tehran in Moharram, 1268/November, 1851, Amir Kabir had already been dismissed, and it fell to Daʾud Khan to receive them. Mirza Aqa Khan Nuri, Amir Kabir’s successor, sought to persuade Naser-al-din Shah to abrogate the whole project, but the Darolfonun, soon became a posthumous monument to its founder. The Austrian instructors initially knew no Persian, so interpreters had to be employed to assist in the teaching; but some among them soon learned Persian well enough to compose textbooks in the language on various natural sciences. These were to influence the evolution of a more simple and effective prose style in Persian than had previously existed. Amir Kabir made a second indirect contribution to the elaboration of Persian as a modern medium with his foundation of the newspaper Vaqayeʿ-ye Ettefaqiyeh, which survived under different titles until the reign of Mozaffar-al-din Shah. A minimum circulation was ensured by requiring every official earning more than 2000 rials a year to subscribe. In founding the journal Amir Kabir hoped to give greater effect to government decrees by bringing them to the attention of the public; thus the text of the decree forbidding the levying of soyursat was published in the third tissue of the paper. He also wished to educate its readers in the world’s political and scientific developments; among the items reported in the first year of publication were the struggles of Mazzini against the Habsburg Empire, the drawing up of the Suez Canal project, the invention of the balloon, a census of England, and the doings of cannibals in Borneo.
Painting of Amir Kabir, 19 th century AD, Niavaran Palace Complex. All of the measures enumerated so far had as their purpose the creation of a well-ordered and prosperous country, with undisputed authority exercised by the central government. This purpose was in part frustrated by the Ulema, who throughout theQajar period disputed the legitimacy of the state and often sought to exercise an independent and rival authority. Amir Kabir took a variety of steps designed to curb their influence, above all in the sphere of law. He sought initially to supersede the sharʿ courts in the capital by sitting in judgment himself on cases brought before him; he abandoned the attempt when he realized that the inadequacy of his juridical knowledge had caused him to pronounce incorrect verdicts. Then he established indirect control over the sharʿ courts by giving prominence to one of them that enjoyed his special favor and by assigning the divan-khana, the highest instance of ʿorf jurisdiction, a more prominent role. All cases were to be referred to it before being passed on to a sharʿ court of the state’s choosing, and any verdict the sharʿ court then reached was valid only if endorsed by the divan-khaneh. In addition, any case involving a member of the non- Muslim minorities belonged exclusively to the jurisdiction of the divan-khana. Not content with thus circumscribing the prerogatives of the sharʿ courts, Amir Kabir took stringent measures against sharʿ judges found guilty of bribery or dishonesty; thus Molla ʿAbd-al-Rahim Borujerdi was expelled from Tehran when he offered to settle a case involving one of Amir Kabir’s servants to the liking of the minister. Amir Kabir also sought to reduce clerical power by restricting the ability of the ulema to grant refuge (bast), in their residences and mosques. In 1266/1850, bast was abolished, for example, at the Masjed-e Shah in Tehran, although it was restored after the downfall of Amir Kabir. In Tabriz, prolonged efforts were made to preserve bast at various mosques in the city, and recourse was even had to the alleged miracle of a cow that twice escaped the slaughterhouse by running into the shrine known as Boqʿa-ye Saheb-al-amr. The immediate instigators of the “miracle” were brought to Tehran, and soon after theemam-e jomʿa and shaykh-al-eslam of Tabriz, who had reduced civil government in the city to virtual impotence, were expelled. Less capable of fulfillment was Amir Kabir’s desire to prohibit the taziyeh, the Shia "passion play" enacted in Moharram, as well as the public self-flagellation that took place during the mourning season. He obtained the support of several ulema in his attempt to prohibit these rites, but was obliged to relent in the face of strong opposition, particularly from Isfahan and Azerbaijan. Among his Iranian contemporaries Amir Kabir received praise from several poets of the age, notably Sorush and Qaʾani, but his services to Iran remained generally unappreciated in the Qajar period. Modern Iranian historiography has done him more justice, depicting him as one of the few capable and honest statesmen to emerge in the Qajar period and the progenitor of various political and social changes that came about half a century later. From the start, Amir Kabir’s policies incited animosity within the influential circles of Iranian elite – most notably the inner circle of the monarchy whose pensions and income were slashed by his financial reforms. He was also later opposed by those who envied him his numerous posts; they were backed strongly by foreign powers, whose influence had greatly diminished under his leadership. A coalition was thus formed among this opposition whose prominent members consisted of the Queen Mother, Mirza Aqa Khan-e Nuri (Amir Kabir’s lieutenant, reputedly Anglophile), and Mirza Yusuf Khan Ashtiyani (the Court’s chief accountant, reputedly Russophile). As the adolescent Nasir al-Din Shah began to exert his own independence in government, he was strongly influenced by the Queen Mother. Through her influence, Amir Kabir was demoted solely to the chief of the army and replaced by Nuri as the premier. This transition marked a rejection “ of…reformist measures in favor of the traditional practices of government.” The power struggle in government finally resulted in his arrest and expulsion from the capital under continued Russian and British interference. Amir Kabir was sent to Kashan under duress and kept in isolation by the Shah's decree. His execution was ordered six weeks later after the Queen Mother and his executioner, Ali Khan Farash-bashi, had convinced the King that Amir Kabir would soon be granted protection by the Russians – possibly allowing him to make an attempt to regain control of the government by force. The young Shah may have been inclined to believe these accusations because of the arrogance and disdain for protocol that Amir Kabir had shown since the beginning of his government career in Tabriz. Amir Kabir was murdered in Kashan on January 10, 1852. With him, many believe, died the prospect of an independent Iran led by meritocracy rather than nepotism.
Mohammad Mosaddegh 16 June 1882 – 5 March 1967), was an Iranian politician. He was the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran from 1951 until 1953, when his government was overthrown in a coup d'état orchestrated by the American Central Intelligence Agency and the British Secret Intelligence Service. An author, administrator, lawyer, and prominent parliamentarian, his administration introduced a range of progressive social and political reforms such as social security, rent control, and land reforms. His government's most notable policy, however, was the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry, which had been under British control since 1913 through the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC/AIOC) (later British Petroleum and BP). Many Iranians regard Mosaddegh as the leading champion of secular democracy and resistance to foreign domination in Iran's modern history. Mosaddegh was removed from power in a coup on 19 August 1953, organised and carried out by the CIA at the request of MI6, which chose Iranian General Fazlollah Zahedi to succeed Mosaddegh. While the coup is commonly referred to in the West as Operation Ajax after its CIA cryptonym, in Iran it is referred to as the 28 Mordad 1332 coup, after its date on the Iranian calendar. Mosaddegh was imprisoned for three years, then put under house arrest until his death and was buried in his own home so as to prevent a political furor. On 28 April 1951, the Shah appointed Mossadegh as Prime Minister after the Majlis (Parliament of Iran) nominated Mosaddegh by a vote of 79–12. The Shah was aware of Mosaddegh's rising popularity and political power, after a period of assassinations and political unrest by the National Front. The new administration introduced a wide range of social reforms: unemployment compensation was introduced, factory owners were ordered to pay benefits to sick and injured workers, and peasants were freed from forced labor in their landlords' estates. Twenty percent of the money landlords received in rent was placed in a fund to pay for development projects such as public baths, rural housing, and pest control. On 1 May, Mosaddegh nationalized the AIOC, cancelling its oil concession (expired in 1993) and expropriating its assets. The next month, a committee of five majlis deputies was sent to Khuzistan to enforce the nationalization. Mosaddegh explained his nationalization policy in a 21 June 1951 speech: Our long years of negotiations with foreign countries...have yielded no results thus far. With the oil revenues we could meet our entire budget and combat poverty, disease, and backwardness among our people. Another important consideration is that by the elimination of the power of the British company, we would also eliminate corruption and intrigue, by means of which the internal affairs of our country have been influenced. Once this tutelage has ceased, Iran will have achieved its economic and political independence. The Iranian state prefers to take over the production of petroleum itself. The company should do nothing else but return its property to the rightful owners. The nationalization law provide that 25% of the net profits on oil be set aside to meet all the legitimate claims of the company for compensation. It has been asserted abroad that Iran intends to expel the foreign oil experts from the country and then shut down oil installations. Not only is this allegation absurd; it is utter invention. The confrontation between Iran and Britain escalated as Mosaddegh's government refused to allow the British any involvement in Iran's oil industry, and Britain made sure Iran could sell no oil. In July, Mosaddegh broke off negotiations with AIOC after it threatened to "pull out its employees", and told owners of oil tanker ships that "receipts from the Iranian government would not be accepted on the world market." Two months later the AIOC evacuated its technicians and closed down the oil installations. Under nationalized management many refineries lacked the trained technicians that were needed to continue production. The British government announced a de facto blockade, reinforced its naval force in the Persian Gulf and lodged complaints against Iran before the United Nations Security Council. The British government also threatened legal action against purchasers of oil produced in the formerly British-controlled refineries and obtained an agreement with its sister international oil companies not to fill in where the AIOC was boycotting Iran. The entire Iranian oil industry came to a virtual standstill, oil production dropping from 241,400,000 barrels (38,380,000 m3) in 1950 to 10,600,000 barrels (1,690,000 m3) in 1952. This Abadan Crisis reduced Iran's oil income to almost nothing, putting a severe strain on the implementation of Mosaddegh's promised domestic reforms. At the same time, BP and Aramco doubled their production in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, to make up for lost production in Iran so that no hardship was felt in Britain. Still enormously popular in late 1951, Mosaddegh called elections. His base of support was in urban areas and not in the provinces. This fact was reflected in the rejection of Mosaddegh's bill for electoral reform (which no longer disqualified illiterates from electoral participation) by the conservative bloc, on the grounds that it would "unjustly discriminate patriots who had been voting for the last forty years". According to Ervand Abrahamian: "Realizing that the opposition would take the vast majority of the provincial seats, Mosaddegh stopped the voting as soon as 79 deputies – just enough to form a parliamentary quorum — had been elected. An alternative account is offered by Stephen Kinzer. Beginning in the early 1950s under the guidance of C.M. Woodhouse, chief of the British intelligence station in Tehran, Britain's covert operations network had funneled roughly £10,000 per month to the Rashidian brothers (two of Iran's most influential royalists) in the hope of buying off, according to CIA estimates, "the armed forces, the Majlis (Iranian parliament), religious leaders, the press, street gangs, politicians and other influential figures".Thus, in his statement asserting electoral manipulation by "foreign agents", Mosaddegh suspended the elections. His National Front party had made up 30 of the 79 deputies elected. Yet none of those present vetoed the statement, and the elections were postponed indefinitely. The 17th Majlis convened on February 1952. Tension soon began to escalate in the Majlis. Conservative opponents refused to grant Mosaddegh special powers to deal with the economic crisis caused by the sharp drop in revenue and voiced regional grievances against the capital Tehran, while the National Front waged "a propaganda war against the landed upper class".
The secret U.S. overthrow of Mosaddegh served as a rallying point in anti-US protests during the 1979 Iranian Revolution and to this day he is one of the most popular figures in Iranian history. The withdrawal of support for Mosaddegh by the powerful Shia clergy has been regarded as having been motivated by their fear of the chaos of a communist takeover. Some argue that while many elements of Mosaddegh's coalition abandoned him it was the loss of support from Ayatollah Abol-Ghasem Kashani and other clergy that was fatal to his cause, reflective of the dominance of the Ulema in Iranian society and a portent of the Islamic Revolution to come. The loss of the political clerics effectively cut Mosaddegh's connections with the lower middle classes and the Iranian masses which are crucial to any popular movement in Iran.
Abu ʾl-Qasim Ferdowsi Tusi (940–1020 CE), or Firdawsi, was a highly revered Persian poet and the author of the epic of Shahnameh (the Persian "Book of Kings"), which is the world's longest epic poem created by a single poet, and the national epic of Iran and the Persian-speaking world. Having drafted the Shahnameh under patronage of the Samanid and the Ghaznavid courts of Persia, Ferdowsi is celebrated as one of the most influential Persian poets of all time, and an influential figure in Persian literature. It is possible that Ferdowsi wrote some early poems which have not survived. He began work on the Shahnameh around 977, intending it as a continuation of the work of his fellow poet Daqiqi, who had been assassinated by a slave. Like Daqiqi, Ferdowsi employed the prose Shahnameh of ʿAbd-al-Razzāq as a source. He received generous patronage from the Samanid prince Mansur and completed the first version of the Shahnameh in 994. When the Turkic Ghaznavids overthrew the Samanids in the late 990s, Ferdowsi continued to work on the poem, rewriting sections to praise the Ghaznavid Sultan Mahmud. Mahmud's attitude to Ferdowsi and how well he rewarded the poet are matters which have long been subject to dispute and have formed the basis of legends about the poet and his patron (see below). The Turkic Mahmud may have been less interested in tales from Iranian history than the Samanids. The later sections of the Shahnameh have passages which reveal Ferdowsi's fluctuating moods: in some he complains about old age, poverty, illness and the death of his son; in others, he appears happier. Ferdowsi finally completed his epic on 8 March 1010. Virtually nothing is known with any certainty about the last decade of his life. According to legend, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni offered Ferdowsi a gold piece for every couplet of the Shahnameh he wrote. The poet agreed to receive the money as a lump sum when he had completed the epic. He planned to use it to rebuild the dykes in his native Tus. After thirty years of work, Ferdowsi finished his masterpiece. The sultan prepared to give him 60,000 gold pieces, one for every couplet, as agreed. However, the courtier Mahmud had entrusted with the money despised Ferdowsi, regarding him as a heretic, and he replaced the gold coins with silver. Ferdowsi was in the bath house when he received the reward. Finding it was silver not gold, he gave the money away to the bathkeeper, a refreshment seller and the slave who had carried the coins. When the courtier told the sultan about Ferdowsi's behaviour, he was furious and threatened to execute him. Ferdowsi fled Khorasan, having first written a satire on Mahmud, and spent most of the remainder of his life in exile. Mahmud eventually learned the truth about the courtier's deception and had him either banished or executed. By this time, the aged Ferdowsi had returned to Tus. The sultan sent him a new gift of 60,000 gold pieces, but just as the caravan bearing the money entered the gates of Tus, a funeral procession exited the gates on the opposite side: the poet had died from a heart attack. Ferdowsi is one of the undisputed giants of Persian literature. After Ferdowsi'sShahnameh, a number of other works similar in nature surfaced over the centuries within the cultural sphere of the Persian language. Without exception, all such works were based in style and method on Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, but none of them could quite achieve the same degree of fame and popularity as Ferdowsi's masterpiece. Ferdowsi has a unique place in Persian history because of the strides he made in reviving and regenerating the Persian language and cultural traditions. His works are cited as a crucial component in the persistence of the Persian language, as those works allowed much of the tongue to remain codified and intact. In this respect, Ferdowsi surpasses Nizami, Khayyám, Asadi Tusi and other seminal Persian literary figures in his impact on Persian culture and language. Many modern Iranians see him as the father of the modern Persian language. Ferdowsi in fact was a motivation behind many future Persian figures. One such notable figure was Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, who established an Academy of Persian Language and Literature, in order to attempt to remove Arabic and French words from the Persian language, replacing them with suitable Persian alternatives. In 1934, Rezā Shāh set up a ceremony in Mashhad, Khorasan, celebrating a thousand years of Persian literature since the time of Ferdowsi, titled "Ferdowsi Millenary Celebration", inviting notable European as well as Iranian scholars. Ferdowsi University of Mashhad is a university established in 1949 that also takes its name from Ferdowsi. Ferdowsi's influence in the Persian culture is explained by the Encyclopædia Britannica: The Persians regard Ferdowsi as the greatest of their poets. For nearly a thousand years they have continued to read and to listen to recitations from his masterwork, the Shah-nameh, in which the Persian national epic found its final and enduring form. Though written about 1,000 years ago, this work is as intelligible to the average, modern Iranian as the King James Version of the Bible is to a modern English-speaker. The language, based as the poem is on a Dari original, is pure Persian with only the slightest admixture of Arabic.
Attar of Nishapur
Abū Ḥamīd bin Abū Bakr Ibrāhīm (c. 1145 – c. 1221) better known by his pen-names Farīd ud-Dīn and ʿAṭṭār"the perfumer", was a Persian Muslim poet, theoretician of Sufism, and hagiographer from Nishapur who had an immense and lasting influence on Persian poetry and Sufism. The Diwan of Attar consists almost entirely of poems in the Ghazal ("lyric") form, as he collected his Ruba'i ("quatrains") in a separate work called the Mokhtar-nama. There are also some Qasida ("Odes"), but they amount to less than one-seventh of the Divan. His Qasidas expound upon mystical and ethical themes and moral precepts. They are sometimes modeled after Sanai. The Ghazals often seem from their outward vocabulary just to be love and wine songs with a predilection for libertine imagery, but generally imply spiritual experiences in the familiar symbolic language of classical Islamic Sufism. Attar's lyrics express the same ideas that are elaborated in his epics. His lyric poetry does not significantly differ from that of his narrative poetry, and the same may be said of the rhetoric and imagery. According to Edward G. Browne, Attar as well as Rumi and Sana'i were all Sunni Muslims and their poetry abound with praise for the first two caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattāb. According to Annemarie Schimmel, the tendency among Shia authors to include leading mystical poets such as Rumi and Attar among their own ranks, became stronger after the introduction of Twelver Shia as the state religion in the Safavid Empire in 1501. Influence on Rumi `Attar is one of the most famous mystic poets of Iran. His works were the inspiration of Rumi and many other mystic poets. `Attar, along with Sanaiwere two of the greatest influences on Rumi in his Sufi views. Rumi has mentioned both of them with the highest esteem several times in his poetry. Rumi praises `Attar as follows: Attar has roamed through the seven cities of love while we have barely turned down the first street. As a pharmacist `Attar was a pen-name which he took for his occupation. `Attar means herbalist, druggist, perfumist or alchemist, and during his lifetime in Persia, much of medicine and drugs were based on herbs. Therefore, by profession he was similar to a modern-day town doctor and pharmacist. Rose oil means attar. In popular culture Several musical artists have albums or songs which share the name of his most famous work, Conference of the Birds, as well as the themes of enlightenment contained therein. Notably, jazz bassist David Holland's album, which was written as a metaphor for his own enlightenment, and Om's Conference of the Birds, which deals with extremely esoteric themes often connected with metaphors of flight, inward vision, destruction of self, and oneness with the cosmos.