Persian history is one of the most ancient histories of the world. It produced a number of the classical and modern poet, who worked day and night for its survival. Persian formally has spoken in Iran, Afghanistan (Dari) and Tajikistan. Therefore, more than 110 million Persian speaking persons in the world.
The Origin Persian Language
The Persian language is one of the sweetest language in the world. It was an Indo-European tongue with close similarity with the oldest language Sanskrit and Avestan ( the language used in holy books of Zoroastrian’s). The language developed in Pars after the fall of Achaemenian’s government. This language regularly used there from Pahlavi era to Sassanian era. The books and other literature of this era are very rare, however, Ferdowsi (a renowned Persian poet) explained it in a better way in his book (Shah Namaeh-e-Ferdowsi).
Influence of Arabic Language
Arab conquests have conquered Pars and surroundings. They started rehabilitation in the area for the welfare of the public. Therefore, the Arabic language declared as the official language. They started their religious and academic education in the Arabic language. However, Pahlavi language was spoken in private life. The Arab conquests ruled over Pars for a century and a half. In this way, a large number of Arabic words emerged in Pahlavi and a new language came into being which is called Persian.
After fall of Arab rulers, Arabic continued in Iran at small scale because the other main learning language Latin was used in Europe. In this way, the Arabic gradually decreased. Despite the facts that famous religious scholars and Muslim scientists Abu Ali Sina (Avicenna), Al-Beroni, Rhazes, Al Ghazali and many other were also using Arabic. Persian language developed rapidly and become the vehicle of literature. Moreover, it spread towards the neighboring countries. Persian poets worked a lot for its promotion and the ruling class of sub-continent takes keen interest in Persian poetry. Mughal emperor Akbar adopt Persian as an official language.
Interest of Poets in Promotion of Persian Language
Persian scholars took the keen interest in promoting of Persian language and make it easy for readers. Moreover, Persian poets have also played a vital role in its promotion. Abu Abdullah Jaffar ibn-e-Muhammad Roudaki (born in 858 CE in Panjakent, Tajikistan and died in 941 CE) and Abu Mansoor Muhammad ibn-e -Ahmed Daqiqi Tusi (born in Tus, Iran) are the most prominent Persian poets. Roudaki is generally known as the first Persian poet.
The Ghaznavid and early Seljuq Periods
Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi was a brave Muslim king, who loves with scholars and eminent personalities. At about four hundred poets and eminent persons were attached with his office (DURBAR). The most notable poet of his presidency was Ansari (born in 961 at Balkh) Ferdowsi (born in 940 in a village Paj, near the city of Tus, Khurasan and died in 1020). Ferdowsi wrote Shahnamah in 25 years which contain complete Persian history. However, Farrukhi, Manouchehri and Asadi were also famous poets of Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi. Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi served his nation in the field of education. He established a lot of libraries in each and every corner of his kingdom. Al Biruni was the most popular prose writer of Ghaznavid era, who wrote “Chronology of Ancient Nations” in Arabic.
Saljuq era is the second classical period of Persian literature. It was the golden age of Persian prose and poetry in Persian history. Kemiya-e-Saadat (The Alchemy of Happiness) written by Imam Ghazali is one the most popular prose of this era. Some of the renowned books are as under:-
Siasat Nama. The book has been written by Nizam ul Mulk, who was a minister of Alp Arsalan and Malik Shah. It contain complete art of government and solution of political problems.
• Qabus Nama. Baheeqi has explained the history of Ghaznavid era in this book.
• Chahar Maqala. Nizami wrote Chahar Maqala means four discourses.
• Kalila wa Dimna. Nasar Ullah has written this book. It contain the animal fables of Indian origin.
Classical Persian Poets
Abu Moeen Hamid Uddin ibn Khosrow al-Qubadiani or Nasir-e-Khosrow (born in 1004 in village Qubadiyon, Bactria, Khorasan and died in 1088 at Yamgan, Afghanistan) was another brilliant writer of classical Persian history, who wrote more than fifteen books. However, less than half of these books have survived and available now. One of his famous book is Safar Nama, which contains the history of journey towards Egypt. He was an Ismaili Shia sect scholar, traveler and philosopher. His poetry and prose are famous for purity of language and dazzling of technical skill. The poems of Nasir are lengthy odes. Nasir wrote poems on religious and ethical topics.
Famous scholar Mirza Muhammad Qazvini says that name of Nasir Khosrow may also added in the list of top Persian poets i.e. Ferdowsi, Omar Khayyam, Anwari, Romi, Sheikh Saadi and Hafiz Sheerazi. Some of the other most prominent Persian poets are Ansari, Abu Said, Khawaqani, Nizami, Attar and Baba Tahir Uryian.
Poet of Force Theory
Omar Khayyam (Ghayas Uddin Abul Fateh Omer Ibrahim Khayyam Nishapuri) was born in 18 May 1048 at Nishapur, Khorasan and died in 4 December 1131. He was a great scholar, mathematician, astronomer and poet. Khayyam has openly criticized religious matters and personalities in his poetry. He has always referred and hailed himself as a great Sufi. The main theme of his poetry is hedonism tinged with a gentle sadness, the power of destiny and ultimate ignorance / unawareness of human beings. Therefore, his poetry was largely neglected in Iran till the end of nineteenth century on this account. However, Iranian realized the importance of Khayyam’s poetry when Fitzgerald translated it in the west.
Attached Classical Poets
Sanai is another great poet of classical Persian history who adopted the style of Nasir-e-Khosrow. Muaizi, Anwari and Khaqani are the other star poets of classical Persian history. They have written numerous books in Persian language. Most of their poetry contain on panegyric. The style of Anwari is comparatively difficult from all other the poets of same era. However, Khaqani is more mannered, who respected by all. He used technical language with great skill in his poetry. All these poets were popular in Iran but less appreciated in the west due to their technical language.
Nizami (Jamal Uddin Abu Muhammad Ilyas ibn Yousaf ibn Zaki) is another bright star and Sunni poet in classical Persian history. He was born in 1140 at Ganja, Caucasus and died in 1209. He was a creative poet and known as specialist of Khamsah or Quintet (series of five romantic poetry). Nizami wrote a mystical epic “Makhzan ul Asrar” or Treasure House of Secrets, romantic poetry “Khosro-o-Shireen” and Laila-o-Majnoon, story of great Alexander “Sikandar Namah” and Haft Paikar which contain the history of Bahram Gur. These books are very popular in Iran because of its romantic, colourful and original writing style.
Abu Hamid bin Abu Bakar Ibrahim alias Farid Uddin Attar (born in 1145 in Nishapur and died in 1220 Khorasan). He was a great Sufi, religious and didactic poet in classical Persian history. Historians are on the opinion that he was born probably in 1136 (not conform). Manteq-ut-Tair is one of his most popular book. Fitzgerald translated this book as “The Bird Parliament”. Attar has explained the story of birds symbolically for union of human beings with God in a great fun. He gave an example of Semorgh (bird) in his book, who wish to make their king.
Persian History in Thirteenth Century
Ashraf Uddin Mosleh Uddin Saadi known as Sheikh Saadi and Maulana Jalal Uddin Romi were the most popular Sunni Sufi poets of thirteen century in Persian history. Sheikh Saadi was born in Shiraz town of Iran. His exact date of birth is not known, however, the modern history writers of Iran says that Saadi was born in 1184 AD and died in between 691 to 694 AH. The historian says that Sheikh Saadi has spent his life in four parts. Sheikh Saadi studied for 30 years, then he travelled the world for 30 years, then he spent 30 years in writing of books and poetry and the remaining life was spent in recluse and theosophy.
Jalal uddin Rumi
Jalal Uddin Muhammad Rumi known as Maulan Rumi was born on 30 September 1207 in Balkh (presently a northern province of Afghanistan) and died on 17 December 1273. He belongs to an Arab clan, who were popular for their religious services. “MASNAVI MAANAVI” was his famous book which was completed in ten years. He known Persian, Arabic, Turkish and Greek languages.
Hameed Ullah Mostofi was also a renowned author of Persian history. He wrote history and geography. “Zafar Namah” or Book of Victory is his renowned book which comprises of 75,000 couplets. Nasir Uddin Tusi is also a well-known Persian poet who wrote on philosophy and logic. The other three popular poets of thirteenth century are Iraqi who wrote a mystical and spiritual book “LAMAAT” or Flashes.
Abdul Hassan Yamin Uddin Khosrow alias Ameer Khosrow was born in 1253 at Patiyali Sultanate Dehli, presently Uterpardesh India and died October 1325 in Delhi India. Khosrow wrote in Persian, Arabic and Hindi languages. He was famous for his sweet language and also called as “The parrot of India”. At last a satirist poet Zakani is also the most favourite poet of thirteenth century.
The Fifteenth Century onwards
Fifteenth century of Persian history is rich in provision of notable historians and poets. Nizam Uddin Shami the author of Zafar Namah (a history of Taimur), Yazdi, Hafiz Abru, Khafi, Dawlat Shah and Mir Khand (author of Rauzat-us-Safa or Garden of Purity) Dawani (author of Akhlaq-e-Jalali), Kashafi (author of Kalila wa Dimna also known as Anwar-e-Subaili or the Lights of Canopus). The prominent poets of fifteenth century are Sufi Maghribi, Qasim-e-Anwar, Katibi, Nemat Ullah Wali and Jami.
Noor Uddin Abdul Rahman Jami is regarded as last eminent figure of classical Persian literature in Persian history. He was born in 1414 at Nishapur, Khorasan and died on 19 November 1492 in Herat, Afghanistan. Jami wrote more than forty five precious books. Some of his famous books are “Baharistan”, “Yousaf-wa-Zulaikha”, “Suleman-wa-Absal”, “Lawaih”, the precious pearl, and “Laila-wa-Majnoon”. Persian poetry fallen into decline after the sudden death of Jami. Jame was a great loss for Persian poetry.
Hatif was another promising romantic and historical poet in Persian history. He was the promising nephew of Maulana Rumi, who deeply inspired from him. Other followers of Rumi were Asifi, Fighani (known as “the little Hafiz”, Ahli and the Sufi poet Hilali. Khairati, Qasmimi, Kashi, Shani, Fasihi and Shafai are the famous Persian poets of sixteenth century.
Mirza Muhammad Ali Saeb Tabraizi, the next prominent and educated poet of seventeenth century who considered as best Persian poet after Maulana Jami in Persian history. A bright minded and original Persian poet in Persian history. He was born at Isfahan, Iran in 1602 and died in 1677. Saeb also remain attached with court (DARBAR) of Mughal emperor Shah Jehan in India but soon returned to Iran and joined the court of Shah Abbas II. He worked hard on relate of modern poetry with old forms and created a new school.
Azhar is one of his follower in eighteenth century, who was famous for tremendous prose writing. He wrote Atesh Kadah (the place of fire-worship), which contain biographies of more than eight hundred poets. Azhar also wrote a Divan and a romantic epic. He wrote a lot on history and autobiographies of poets and monarchs / rulers.
Saba was the laureate poet of second Qajar Irani emperor Fateh Ali Shah, who ruled Iran from June 1779 to October 1834. Saba was the eminent poet of nineteenth century in Persian history. He wrote a divan and Shahan Shah Namah. Mirza Habib Ullah Shirazi alias Qaani is another intelligent, outstanding and well-known poet of Qajar era in Persian history. He was born in 1223 AH in Shiraz and died in Tehran in 1270 AH, who wrote renowned book titled PARESHAN. Qaani also knows Arabic, English, French languages along with Persian language.
Modern Persian Poets or Revival of Persian Literature
Revival of Persian literature stated from early twentieth century. Prince Iraj Mirza has participated a lot in its revival. Iraj was a great and talented Persian poet in Persian history. He was born in October 1874 in Tabraiz, the capital Azarbaijan (presently east Azarbaijan) and died in March 1926. Iraj Mirza worked for freedom of women. The other prominent Persian poets of twentieth are Adib, Bahar, Lahuti, Shahryar, Aref and the poetess Parvin E’tesami.
The Persian poets of most modern era Nima Yoshij, Raadi, Khanlari, Islami, Gulchin, Ahmed Shamlou, Mehdi Akhavan Sales, Masood Farzad, Sohrab Sepehri, Fereedon, Moshiri, Sadiq Hadayat, Samad Behrangi and Sadiq Choubak. The modern prominent lady poets of modern era are Forough Farrukhzad.