Sufism and Hafiz Research Paper

Pages: 9 (2451 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Sufism and Hafiz

Sufism is a school of religious thought that developed out of Islam during the ninth and tenth centuries. It is a departure from orthodox Islam in that it advocates practices in addition to following the Divine Law -- the rules set down by Muhammad-as the path to enlightenment. While following the Divine Law is one component of the path to enlightenment, it is not sufficient without the addition of zikr, meaning "remembrance" (Bayat, 10). According to Sufism, all of creation is the physical manifestation of God or Allah-meaning that man was, is, always will be one with God -- and the key to enlightenment is the attainment of God-remembrance. In the words of Muhammad, "He who knows himself knows his Lord" (Helsinki, xx). Among the practices utilized for remembrance, reading, writing, music, poetry, and trance-like chanting are still practiced today.

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The term "Sufi" came into existence about 150 years after the passing of Muhammad (Bayat, 10). Meaning "wool," it is thought that the early Sufis came to be known as such for the rough wool clothing worn by the early orders, the purpose of which was to signify a renunciation of worldly material comforts (Schwartz, 35). Inspired by the early Christian monks, in addition to the mystics of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Persian Zoroastrianism, these early Sufis lived simple, ascetic lives in communal settings. It was during this time, from about 850 C.E. To 1450 C.E., that a significant shift occurred in Sufi thought. Rather than focus on the threat of the fires of Hell or the promise of Heaven's paradise-as in orthodox Islam-focus was shifted to the concept of "Unity of Being," in which all of existence is a "manifestation of God's attributes and, as such, is not separate from Him" (Bayat, 11). Considered the Golden Age of Sufism, Sufi masters born during this time include Ibn Arabi, Rabiya Al-Adawiyya, Rumi, Attar, and Husayn bin Mansur Hallaj.

Although not as well-known as her Sufi companions, it is Rabiya Al-Adawiyya-born in 801-who is credited as one of the first Sufi's to eloquently speak of Divine Love, meaning love of the creator and every aspect of existence as his manifestation. Wrote Rabiya:

Research Paper on Sufism and Hafiz Assignment

I have never worshiped God so I would be rewarded; nor have I ever prayed to be saved. If I did I should be an ordinary servant. I pray only because I love God with all my soul. To weep and cry out for God's mercy would be for nothing; for all I want is to approach God and dissolve my inner self in Him." (Schwartz, 38)

Such words exemplify the departure of Sufism from traditional Islam, in which reward or punishment is not be sought in the afterlife, but in the here and now, in one's realization-or lack of realization-of their oneness with God. By succeeding in attaining God-realization, one attains a kind of paradise of the mind, in which one is intoxicated with love of the Divine; while the lack of God-realization results in a "grief," easily likened to Hell. Says Rabiya in a poem published by Charles Upton:

The source of my grief and loneliness is deep in my breast.

This is a disease no doctor can cure.

Only Union with the Friend [God] can cure it.

I was not born to the Grief of God-

I only grieve to be like those

Who are pierced with the love of God-

I would be ashamed for my love

To appear less than the grief of others:

Therefore I grieve.

The path to enlightenment is therefore not without its little hells, not without its yearnings and pitfalls. In fact, one is required to struggle, doubt, yearn, fall down and pick oneself up again of the path. Much as the early Christian ascetics believed that suffering was a way to God, so also did the early Sufis see suffering as necessary to enlightenment, as in order to seek God-realization, one must first acknowledge the lack of it.

Rabiya's early writings inspired countless Sufi masters, to include the poets Farid ud Din Attar of the tenth century, Saadi and Julaluddin Rumi of the eleventh century, and Hafiz of the twelfth century. While all great poets in their own right, it is the writings of Hafiz that most beautifully express the Sufic yearning of oneness with God. Says Hafiz in his appropriately entitled poem, This Constant Yearning, "We are / Like lutes / Once held by God. / Being away from His warm body / Fully explains / This / Constant / Yearning" (Ladinsky, 116).

Hafiz was born in the Persian city of Shiraz, sometime between 1310 and 1325 C.E. As a young man of about 15, he fell in love with Shakh-e Nabet, a beautiful woman whom he saw while delivering bread. It is said that Hafiz's first love poems were inspired by his love of Shakh-e, and out of a desperate desire to win her returned love, he resolved to sit for 40 nights at the tomb of the poet Baba Kuhi', who would grant three wishes to anyone able to stay awake for 40 nights in dedication to him. However, on the first night of the vigil, Hafiz was visited by the Angel Gabriel, who so entranced him with her beauty that he decided to seek God's beauty alone. The Angel Gabriel then advised Hafiz to seek the counsel of Muhammad Attar, a spiritual master who could lead him down the path to God. While Hafiz spent the rest of his life in study with Muhammad Attar, he also married Shakh-e Nabet in his early twenties and they had one child.

As a child himself, Hafiz was called by the name of Shams-ud-din Muhammad. Having learned and memorized the Koran by listening to his father's recitations, he later took the name of Hafiz, meaning, one who knows the Koran by heart. Hafiz had a great talent for memorization and memorized several other literary works, to include the poems of Saadi, Farid ud Din Attar and Rumi. As for his own poems, he became a poet in the court of Abu Ishak in his twenties, where he remained until his early thirties. During this period-known as his period of "Spiritual Romanticism"-Hafiz composed several love poems to the Divine, and served as a professor of Koranic studies at the college in Shiraz.

Unfortunately, not everyone was pleased with the Sufi concept of Unity of Being, nor with Hafiz's passionate verses. At the age of 33, power-hungry tyrant Mubariz Muzaffer captured Shiraz and expelled Hafiz from the court and his teaching post, resulting in the composition of what is known as his "protest poems" (Shahriari, para. 15):

Every Friend who talked of love, became a foe.

Every eagle shifted its shape to a crow.

They say the night is pregnant, and I say,

Who is the father? And how do you know? (Shahriari 2, Rubaiyat 13)

Later, at the age of 38, Muzaffer's son, Shah Shuja, overthrew his father and reinstated Hafiz at the college; however, in his early forties, Shuja too found fault with Hafiz, causing Hafiz to flee to the country of Isfahan. The poems of this time largely center around Hafiz's yearning for his home, his wife and son, and his spiritual teacher, Muhammad Attar. This self-imposed exile last four years; Hafiz returned to Shiraz at the age of 52, upon Shuja's invitation.

At the age of 60, after nearly four decades of spiritual study, Hafiz undertook his second 40-night vigil. It is said that on the morning of the fortieth day-which was also the anniversary of his meeting with Attar-Attar rewarded him for his pursuits with a cup of wine that, after drinking, fully revealed to Hafiz his oneness with God. From this point, up the point of his death at age 69, Hafiz composed hundreds of poems, many ecstatic in nature, regarding this oneness and his journey to God-realization. Says Hafiz in the Crystal Rim:



Lifts its glass to the sun

And light-light

Is poured.

A bird

Comes and sits on a crystal rim

And from my forest cave I

Hear singing,

So I run to the edge of existence

And join my soul in love.

I lift my heart to God

And grace is poured.

An emerald bird rises from inside of me

And now sits

Upon the Beloved's


I have left that dark cave forever.

My body has blended with His.

I lay my wing

As a bridge to you

So that you can join us


Thus Hafiz illustrates with masterful lyricism the journey from darkness -- a place devoid of God-realization-to a place of light and full consciousness of unity with God.

According to the modern Sufi Sheikh Idries Shah, the path to enlightenment is separated into four parts. The first part is Fana, or annihilation, in which the seeker renounces his identity as being separate from God. The second part is Baqa, meaning permanency, in which the seeker becomes a teacher and source of wisdom… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Sufism and Hafiz.  (2010, December 15).  Retrieved January 25, 2021, from

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"Sufism and Hafiz."  15 December 2010.  Web.  25 January 2021. <>.

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"Sufism and Hafiz."  December 15, 2010.  Accessed January 25, 2021.