Abd Allah Musharaf al din b Muslim b Saadi
Known as Shaykh Saadi, poet and prose writer of 13th century AD. One of the most renowned authors of Persian poetry.
Born in Shiraz ( modern day Iran ), probably between 1213-1219 and died in the same city in 1292. Saadi was the foremost Persian poet up to hs time. Only a few certain facts can be ascertained with certainty about his life. He was orphaned at an early age. He studied and then taught at the Nazzimiya in Baghdad.
One of his teachers was Al Suharwardi and Ibn al Djawi. Saadi was married at least twice and travelled the world of Islam and beyond extensively.
With typcal humour he cautioned his audience not to believe travellers tales ( Gulistan ). Saadi showed strong sympathy for orphans in his work. He is said to have met his contemporary – Maulana Rumi , and also met the historian Djuwayni.
Saadis first debateable work after his youthfull travels was the Bustan ( 1257 ). His Gulistan ( 1258 ) was dedicated to the rulers son- Saad Abu Bakr. Hence his pen name -Saadi.
He is criricised for his apparent readiness to praise whoever was in power in Fars. He claims that it was indigence that drove him to write panegyrics and it should be ponted out that his work frequently consists of moral advise. His panegyrics contain fine passages , for example, the verse of the Mongol ” Sahih Diwan ” . His works include the long poem in mathnawi form, the Bustan, the prosimetrum ( makama ) Gulistan, panegyrics ( kasaid ) on various prominent persons elegies ( marthiyat ) , numerous lyric poems ( Ghazliyat ) , a number of shorter epigremmatic poems ( kikat and rubaiyyat ). Saadi also wrote some Kasaid in Arabic.
His fame rests mainly with the Gulsitan and Bustan , and also his ghazals. The Bustan and Gulistan are both collections of moralising anecdotes.
Both are a first in Persian literature and raise Persian to a new level of sophistication.
The social background of Saadis Gulistan was that which saw the Mongol invasion and the sack of Baghdad.
Saadi is considered to be patronising rulers -but this could have been done to ensure survival. However, in his work is the sy
mpathy for the weak and plea for tolerance. The popularity of his work may be due to the themes of moralising and also his need for survival at the same time- both themes are in Bustan and Gulistan. Alot of his moralising passed into the everyday stock of morals.
Both Gulistan and Bustan imply the impossibility of absolute standards when dealing with fallible humanity.
For his moral conclusions are illusive and mutual respect is preferable to disruptive ethical absolutism.
Saadis innovations , or refinements and oragnisation of previosuly extant elemets are no less apparent in his ghazals.
It is with Saadi that the Ghazal achieves its classical perfection and in his hands the ghazal is emancipated from the Kasida. With Saadi the emotional tenor has become inward rather then public and this inwardness is confirmed by the submission of the poets own takhalus as the culminating moment of the poem.
His ghazals are divided into 4 groups: 1) tayyibat ( nobel, pleasure )- this is the largest group 2) Baday ( rarities ) 3) Khawatim ( final ) 4) Kadim ( ancient ).
Ghazals are considered his greatest works. However, in the west the Bustan and Gulistan are more admired then his ghazals.
The destruction of the Mongol invasion threatened the fabric of Islamic civilisation and in this period the culture of peripheral areas flourished.
One such are was Fars where Islam continued strongly.
However, at this time the ” coming of age ” of Persian as a language of International Islamic culture is also evidenced by Rumi in Turkey and Amir Khusraw in India.
Previous poets such as Attar had looked beyonf the Court for subject matter but mainly for Sufi reasons.
Saadi does it from pure human sympathy.
His work , the Bustan ( derived from the Persian word , Bu, meaning smell, perfume. ) is a didactic poem written in the city of Shiraz in 1257 AD , in 10 chapters.
The work is a classic and has been translated in many languages, including English.
In Turkish there are its commentaries- notbaly those of Shami and Sudi , both at the end of 16th century AD. The Bustan was translated into Turkish by Taftazani in 1354 AD.