Saib

Mirza Muhammad Ali-

Persian poet of the 17th century ( AD ). His date of birth is considered to be 1601 AD.  His Father, Mirza Abdul Rahman was a leading merchant of Tabriz.

When Shah Abbass 1st ( 1587 to 1629 ) made Isfahan his capital, he caused many merchants to settle there, in the quarter named Abbassid. At the same time Saibs father moved to Ishfahan, where Saib is supposed to have been born. Saib is referred to as Tabrizi and also Ishfahani.

His upbringing took place in Ishfahan and he obtained his education at home and became involved in poetical exercises at a young age. Saib received his training in poetry from Rukna Masih of Kashan ( d.1660 ) and from Sharaf al din Shifai ( d.1628 ).

During his youth he made a pilgrimage to Mecca and Mashad.

In 1624 Saib set out for India. His journey took him through Herat and Kabul- in Kabul he found access to Zafar Khan, the brother of a distinguished Mughal Nobleman. They struck a friendship forever.

At the beginning of the reign of Shah Jahan ( 1627- 1658 ), Zafar Khan was called back to India where Saib travelled with him too.

The Emperor Shah Jahan bestowed upon Saib the command of 1000 horsemen, and 20000 rupees.

In 1629 Zafar Khan was sent to the Deccan , and Saib accompanied him there also. When Saib travelled to Burhan Pur he received the news that his father was in Agra to entice him back to Persia.

Zafar was made Governor of Kashmir. Saib accompanied him there and then preceeded to Persia with his father. He never left Persia again.

Saibs stay in India had lasted for 9 years. His verses show that he longed for his homeland.

In Persia he would visit places to meet poets and learned men. His fame kept growing and his work was in demand from rulers and dignataries. He was appointed as a poet leureate by Shah Abbass 11 ( 1642- 66 AD ).

He died at Isfahan in 1677.

According to his ” Khizarnama-yi- amira ” he was a Sunni and was well liked by all classes of Persians, who were Shia. Unlike other poets he was free from greed, rivalry and malice.

The total number of verses ascribed to him are up to 125000 . According to Shible Numani , Saib was the most prolific of the latter day poets.  He is said to have prepared some collections of his verses according to their subject matter.

One of them named ” Mirat al Djamal ” (  The Mirror of  Beauty) ,  contains verses relating to the physical features of the beloved , another called ” Mirat al Khayal ” ( The Mirror of Thought ), included in its contents allusions to mirror and comb, and yet another entitled ” Maykhana “  ( Tavern ), devoted itself to examples of verses mentioning wine and tavern.

Saib was well versed in the art of calligraphy , a family legacy that can be traced to his uncle Shams al Din Tabrizi ( d.1533 ). Many of Saibs manuscripts are in existence in his own writings indicating his skill in the “Nastalik ” form calligraphy.

Among the verse forms employed by Saib , the predominant one is the Ghazal.

He also wrote the Mathnawi and the Kasida. But it is the ghazal that lend stature to his poetry. The poet sought to change the direction of the ghazal by investing into it a new imagery and refereshing though pattern.

One of the devices he employed was the ” Irsal i mathal ” in which the poet makes a statement in the first line of the couplet and re inforces it by an example in the second line.

Saib was the leading exponent of the Indian style of Persian poetry- Sabak i Hind. But due to the change in this to Persianised style in the 18th and 19th centuries, his fame declined.

However, his fame is being re instated in India and Persia.