Shams al Din Muhammad Biography


(World Poets and Poetry)

Little is known with exactitude about the life of the great poet Hafiz, born Shams al-Din Muhammad. Even the outlines of his biography are uncertain, and rather few details may safely be accepted from the historical works and literary studies that deal with his age. Hafiz’s own work has been examined for hints and allusions that would reveal more about his personal circumstances or his station in society. Some poems contain dedications, which would indicate some of the political figures to whom they were addressed; some works conclude with chronograms, by which numerical values assigned to characters yield certain dates. Nevertheless, such evidence may be gleaned only from some writings, mainly from the middle period of the author’s life. The entire problem has been exacerbated by the incompleteness of existing manuscript texts, the earliest of which were transcribed possibly twenty years after the poet’s death; other texts date from thirty to sixty years or more after Hafiz’s own time. In its turn, the lack of a single accepted body of work limits the usefulness of biographical research based on Hafiz’s own writings. Tantalizing suggestions, which can be neither proved nor disproved, add an aura of the legendary to the rather sparse data that have been established beyond doubt.

It would seem that the poet’s father was a merchant who moved from Isfahan to Shrz under conditions suggesting family circumstances of relative poverty. The author was probably born about 1320, the date most often mentioned by the pertinent authorities, though some works cite 1317 and others suggest 1325 or 1326. When he was quite young, Hafiz’s father died; nevertheless, he evidently received a thoroughgoing education. To his given name, Shams al-Din Muhammad, was added the epithet Hafiz, which is bestowed on those who have learned the Qur՚n by heart. In his poetry, there are enough learned references to Arabic theology and Persian literature to suggest that he gained familiarity with classical...

(The entire section is 817 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Hafiz (HAH-fehz), also spelled Hafez, was the pen name of Shams al-Din Muhammad, the most celebrated of the Persian lyric poets. As a youth he studied poetry, theology, and philosophy under Shaik Mahmud ‘Attar, a Sufi mystic and head of an order of Dervishes. He joined the order and, for a while, taught the Koran, becoming a Hafiz, one who has memorized and recites the Koran. It is apparent from his poetry, however, that he soon withdrew from formalistic Sufism. Hafiz’s first literary patron was the shah of Fars, Abu Ishaqi Inju. Twelve years of serene life ended for Hafiz when the shah was ousted in 1353 by the ascetic Mubariz al-din Muhammad. Judging from Hafiz’s poetry, in which he chafes at even the thought of asceticism, the five-year reign of Mubariz al-din must have been a most unhappy time for the poet. In 1358 Shah Shuja overthrew his father, returned Fars to a more genial rule, and became the patron of Hafiz.{$S[A]Muhammad, Shams al-Din;Hafiz}{$S[A]Shams al-Din Muhammad;Hafiz}{$S[A]Din Muhammad, Shams al-;Hafiz}

By this time Hafiz had established his reputation in the Muslim world. Although he remained in Fars, he seems to have had several offers of patronage from neighboring rulers who wanted the poet to grace their courts with his presence and poetry. Almost no biographical information on Hafiz has survived, so little is known of his personal life, but according to references in his poetry, Hafiz was married and had a son who...

(The entire section is 428 words.)