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Persian Literature

Dari Persian literature was from the outset (second half of 3rd century AH) deemed as an Islamic literature, one that unlike Arabic literature did not have a jahili history. The influence of Islam on this literature far from being external was a result of the environment within which it rose and flourished. This literature first came into being during the reign of the Saffarids and assumed its final form during the time of the Tahirids. The aspect of this literature which dates back to the pre-Islamic period should not be seen as a prelude to its Islamic version. In the pre-Tahirid period and the early part of Ma’mun’s reign, Dari Persian literature was yet to acquire a script. What had come into being in this literature in the period following the Islamic conquests was confined to popular folk songs, such as those of the people of Bukhara, the children of Balkh, and Karkuy. Khusrawani songs, a particular type of which has been traced, appear to have enjoyed popularity up to the days of Shams Qays Razi, the author of al-Mu`jam. All these songs belong to the oral and popular literature. 

The first attested example of dari Persian poem dates back to the early period of the reign of Ma’mun, during his stay in Khurasan. None the less, the authenticity of the four lines reported by `Awfi, the author of Lubab al-albab, is still a matter of contention. There are other examples dating from the same period, with many instances of ancient usages which underline the possibility of their genuineness. In the History of Sistan, the firs ever Persian poem is attributed to Muhammad b. Wasif, secretary to the Samanid Ya`qub Layth. The interesting point to note here is that these poems in addition to being the oldest examples of Dari Persian poetry are the most ancient instances of Islamic poetry in Persian. 

As regards dari Persian prose works based on “literary interpretation”, none survives that is non-Islamic or that dates to the pre-Islamic period. The few works that have come down to us from the later period of the Islamic conquests are official documents and contracts which do not fall under the literary category.

The few works recovered from Turfan and Anqad in Turkistan belong to the religious heritage of the Manichaeans. The few pages of a Persian collection of poems called Bilawhar wa Yudasaf appear to belong to a long time after the oldest known Persian poem, i.e. to the time of Rudaki. In any event, the existing specimens of poetry composed in Persian are tinged with an Islamic color, be it the surviving parts of a commentary ascribed to Abu `Ali Jubba’i (d. 303 AH), a Mu`tazilite leader, or the remnants of a revised version of a lost work of theology, originally in Arabic with a Persian translation, known as Sawad al-a`zam, attributed to Abu ’l-Qasim Hakim Samarqandi (d. 342 AH), written at the behest of the Samanid Amir Nasr. 

The old introduction to the Shah Namah, known as Shah Namah-yi Abu Mansuri, and all the surviving Persian works on the Commentary of Tabari belong to this historical background, the totality of which points to the fact that the oldest examples of Persian prose, like their poetic counterparts, were of an Islamic context. In fact, the view that claims dari Persian literature, both in its prose and poetic forms, as having first appeared as Islamic literature, without any prior history to speak of, is one that can hardly be disputed. The fact that Persian speakers, during these and later centuries, expended effort in the dissemination of the Arabic tongue, as an Islamic language, and that they used it as a medium for the elaboration their scientific ideas is one that renders the Iranian culture of the period of the rise of dari Persian literature an Islamic culture. However, the fact that these works were dubbed by the Europeans of the Middle Ages as Arabic does not take away from the Iranian aspects of their authors. It should be borne in mind that the Arabic tongue which played such a key role in the development of the literary Persian was in fact one tinged with Islamic influences. The body of Arabic terms which found its way into the Persian language during the period of the conquests – the first few hundred years of the Islamic era – and which managed to gain an ever-increasing currency in the centuries to come was part of the same influence. If the Islamic conquests had failed to result in the long-standing dominion of the caliphate in Iran, these Arabic terms would never have found the chance to strike such deep and widespread roots in the Persian language. 

Some of these terms derived from the newly established religion. Those such as ayat (sign), adhan (call to prayer), iman (faith), thawab (recompense), jum`ah (Friday), jahad (jihad), hajj (pilgrimage), haram (forbidden), halal (permissible), du`a’ (invocation), ruku` (genuflection), sujud (prostration), salam (salutation), salat (ritual prayer), sawm (fast), `adhab (punishment), `aqa’id (beliefs), ghazwah (battle), `ayb (defect), fasiq (wrongdoer), qiblah (direction of prayer), qada and qadar (predestination), qalam (pen), kafir (infidel), lawh (tablet), mihrab (prayer niche), masjid (mosque), muslim (Muslim), and mu’min (believer). Some of this vocabulary belonged to the administrative aspects of the new government, such as imam, amr and nahy (proscription and prohibition), amir (emir), bayt al-mal (public treasury), ta`zir (penalty), thaghr (infiltration), jibayat (collection of taxes), jizyah (the poll tax levied on non-Muslims in Muslim states), hakim (ruler), hadd (penalty, punishment), kharaj (land tax), khutbah (sermon), khatib (preacher), khalifah (caliph), ra`yat (subject, citizen), zajr and habs (punishment and incarceration), sultan, ta`at (obedience), tughyan (rebellion), `asi (insurgent), `usyan (insurgency), qatl (homicide), qahr (wrath), katib (scribe), muhtasib (moral police), musalla (congregational prayer arena), mawla (patron, client), wali (guardian), and wazir (vizier). There were also a number of Arabic synonyms which entered the Persian language owing to special circumstances and which came to be used independently or in conjunction with their Persian equivalents, terms which were later incorporated into the everyday speech of Persian-speaking people as well as into their high literature. 

It is a distinct possibility that the variety in the Persian language and its dialects during the first centuries of the Islamic era was still reflected in the spread of dari Persian, a fact that may well account for the introduction of these unnecessary synonyms as a means of warding off the confusion resulting from this linguistic diversity. Examples of these synonyms include ayyam-e harb (the days of war), hayat wa mawt (life and death), khayr wa sharr (good and evil), sam` (hearing), sahl (easy), subh (morning), sa`b (difficult), sulh (peace), qalil wa kathir (scarce and abundant), lisan (tongue, language), and yawm (day), whose introduction into the Persian language was necessitated by administrative reasons and which later made a great contribution to the enrichment of the Persian tongue. 

There also existed a body of scientific, theological and philosophical terms in the dari Persian language which were derived from the Qur`an and Hadith or deduced from Arabic equivalents coined by the translators of works from Greek, Sanskrit, Aramaic, Syriac and Pahlavi, and which found widespread currency in the scientific Arabic of the early Islamic centuries. These included words like burhan (argument), jism (body), jawhar (substance), ruh (soul), `aql (intellect, reason), harakat (motion), zaman (time), zahir wa batin (outward and inward), quwwah (potentiality), maqulah (category), qiyas (analogy), and hujjat (evidence), which appeared in the Arabic language before infiltrating into the Persian tongue; another phenomenon which may be interpreted as an example of the influence of one language over the other. However, the fact that Arabic was the lingua franca among the scientists of the day did not undermine the capacity of Persian for the elaboration of scientific concepts. In fact, the same period witnessed the composition of scientific works in Persian whose authors had succeeded in coining equivalents for the existing Arabic terminology. Here, it should be noted that the capacity of the dari and Middle Persian for the expression of scientific ideas had long been known to the Arabs, dating back to the pre-Islamic period. 

The occurrence of a large number of Persian and Iranian words in the non-Arabic vocabulary of the Qur`an, and an even larger number of such words in the Arabic poetry of the pre-Islamic period testifies to the fact that the introduction of Arabic words into Persian should not be solely viewed as a literary exigency, but as a sign of the influence of Islam; the primary reason for such assimilation was the domination of Islam and the need to conform to the terminology of the Qur`an. The impact of the Arabic language on the colloquial and literary Persian was not solely limited to loan words. Owing to the Islamic background of the Iranian culture of the period, a considerable number of Arabic expressions and metaphors were introduced into Persian language, some of which were either of the Qur`anic origin or were derived from the Hadith and exegetical literature, and which became part of the Persian literary heritage. These included such expressions as the fire of Abraham, the fire of Sinai, the garment of Joseph, the sage of Canaan, the sorrow of Jacob, the beauty of Joseph, the wisdom of Luqman, the breath of Jesus, the patience of Job, the deluge of Noah, the temperament of Adam, the staff of Moses, the ship of Noah, the language of David, and the kingdom of Solomon, which have numerous examples in Persian, many of which are derived from Qur`anic notions. None the less, though the gradual influx of Arabic words and phrases into Persian did not result in its ancient heritage fading into oblivion, it paved the way for the evolution of the Persian language towards a wider acceptance of Islamic influence. Not only the techniques of Arabic eloquence, which were themselves derived from the Qur`an, came to leave their mark on the style and other aspects of the Persian literature, various literary devices of the Arabic prose and poetry, such as rhyme and harmony, were increasingly imitated especially in what was termed as technical Persian prose. In fact, from its inception, the Persian poetry also adopted the literary techniques of Arabic: it took up some of the meters (sing. wazn) of the Arabic poetry, discarded some, and focused on some that had been neglected by the Arabs themselves. In terms of rhyme (qafiyah), as well, from the very outset, in the first centuries of the Islamic era, Persian poetry came under the spell of its Arabic counterpart. Though it came to add radif (the adjunction of a word or a short phrase, always shorter than a hemistich, to the rhyme letter and its repetition throughout the poem) to the qafiyah, it borrowed the later from the Arabic poetry. Here, it should be noted that the attempt by some scholars to prove the existence of qafiyah in the Pahlavi poetry of the pre-Islamic period, based on the evidence of Yadagar-i Zariran, is yet to be fully substantiated. In other examples of the same period, such as Andar Matn-i Shah Vahram, the occurrence of qafiyah may be attributable to an Arabic influence. The versified Andarz Danakan appears to belong to the same category. Some scholars have seen ample grounds in extending the theory of Arabic influence to the Pahlavi Darakht-i Asurik. In spite of the fact that the literary devices current during the `Abbasid period contained elements of the Persian culture of the pre-Islamic period, the flow of this influence was reversed during the 3rd century AH and afterwards, when Islam became the predominant factor. The communication between the local government with the central seat of caliphate in Baghdad and the need to steer clear of possible misinterpretations resulted in a situation where all correspondences were conducted in Arabic. This led to a spread of Arabic prose structures and styles, which were inevitably picked up by those with a Persian background. This influence was in evidence both in the Persian prose as well as its verse. This openness to Arabic influences was both an indication of an acceptance of the dominant, official literature of all the Muslim community, and a sign of an ever-deepening Islamic education. Therefore, all letters and official replies were couched in the style of the caliphal court. In poetry the dominant style was of the traditional Arabic qasidah (ode) and ghazal (elegy). Qasidah, though part of the jahili heritage of the pre-Islamic period, was adopted by Iranians as a form of Islamic poetic tradition. Other styles such as musammat (a type of stanza), ghazal, qat`ah (piece), and tarkib-band (strophe) were offshoots of qasidah, which were somewhat superior to the existing poetic forms in Persian literature. 

In spite of all this, not all of the common meters and styles in Arabic poetry came to be accepted and imitated by Persian poets, just as they did not feel bound by the limitations imposed by the rules of Arabic poetry on the number of lines of an ode or elegy. The Muthannawi genre, which found widespread popularity in Persian, may not be entirely free from the influence of Arabic arjuzah (boastful poems). None the less, the scope and variety of Persian forms of Muthannawi were never to be matched in Arabic literature. The ruba`i (quatrain) and that which came to be known as the couplet (du bayti), whose origin is a source of controversy, are said to have originated with Rudaki. But of whatever origin, their non-Arabic nature is a matter of consensus. However, the affinity of the ruba`i to popular folk literature, with such prominent examples as those of Baba Tahir, makes its ascription to Rudaki rather problematic. 

Apart from meter, rhyme and other techniques of Arabic poetry, Persian poetry, from the outset of its maturity in the Samanid period, began to adopt other Arabic poetic genres, such as madh (eulogy), hija’ (an invective diatribe or insult in verse), fakhr (boast), ratha (elegy), shukr (thanksgiving), `itab (admonition), tashbib (ghazal, elegy), i`tidhar (bemoaning), wasf (description) and hikmat (wisdom). In fact Persian poets gave rise the new genre of marshal poetry, with no precedents in Arabic literature, and made it a vehicle for the expression of national and religious heroic concepts. Therefore, it may be concluded that the imitation by Persian poets of the techniques and genres of Arabic poetry is in reality an attempt at harmonization with the mainstream of Islamic poetry. It is owing to the same reason that the oldest known odes in the Persian language, attributed to Muhammad b. Wasif, Bassam b. Kurd Khariji and Muhammad b. Mukhlad Sakzi, are considered as Islamic poems, in spite of the occurrence in them of such Arabic terms and phrases as lawh, (tablet), khatt (inscription), “lamin al-malik?” (“Who is the king?”), Adam, Hawwa (Eve), Makkah (Mecca), haram (sanctuary), and “the miracle of the Meccan prophet”. These poems more than being viewed as Persian poetry are considered as belonging to the literature of Islam. 

In the later centuries, like those of the rise of Persian poetry and prose, the Iranian literature remained focused on religious themes. Even in the case of heretical movements, which were de facto revolts against this tendency, this orientation toward religion remained an important characteristic of the Islamic literature, throughout the first centuries of the Islamic era as well as in the later periods. This is a fact underlined by all scholars of the Iranian history and literature. None the less, the arguments advanced in support of this position by such scholars as A. J. Arberry and Jan Ripka are less than convincing and are in need of revision. The fact that many Islamic sects and ideologies as well as many religious movements of the early centuries of the Islamic period rose from Iran is an indication of this characteristic.

This religious tendency may be traced among the oldest examples of Persian poetry, whose affiliation makes them an unlikely candidate for the expression of such feelings. In one of his odes Rudaki reminisces penitently about his younger years and compares the world to a dream or fable. In the examples of poetry of the likes of Shahid Balkhi, Abu Tayyib Mas`abi, Khusrawi Sarakhsi and Kasa’i Marwazi, mentioned in biographical works, one encounters such ideas as belief in predestination, the need to ponder the ephemeral nature of the world, and an inclination toward the afterlife, all of which reflect a religious attitude as well as provide a picture of the predominant beliefs and ideas in the Islamic environment. 

The link between local Iranian governments and the central government in Baghdad gave rise to a community of bilingual poets and authors, whose existence was part and parcel of this relationship. This, in turn, resulted in the religious and Islamic orientation in Persian literature, which continued to be impacted by its Arabic counterpart for many centuries to come. This influence was not just limited to the courts of the Samanids and Buyids, whose patronage of Arabic literature was a necessary condition for their continued ties with the caliphate at Baghdad, but was also in force during the Ghaznavid period. Tha`alabi’s book of Yatimat al-dahr and its supplement, Tatimmat al-yatimah, indicates the abundance of bilingual poets and scholars in Khurasan, Iraq and the Jibal as well as the fact that the literature of the period was in close relationship with its Arabic counterpart. 

Cultural developments which gave rise to new movements with ideological orientations, e.g. Sufism, philosophy, Shu`ubism and heretical movements, continued to leave their mark on Persian literature, this was even true in cases where these beliefs were in conflict with the mainstream ideology of the Islamic community, while being somewhat related to the realities of the Islamic world. In the Samanid and Ghaznavid periods, which marked the apogee of the Persian poetic genius, Persian-speaking poets and authors praised and imitated the style of their Arab counterparts, and considered themselves on a par or even superior to them. In his khamriyyah, nuniyyah ode, reported in the History of Sistan, Rudaki boats of himself as being in the same league as Jarir, Abu Tamam Ta’i and Hisan. `Unsuri, the poet laureate of the Ghaznavid court, at times, followed the thought of Abu Tammam and Mutannabi and even adopted their themes. Manuchehri, who boasted an extensive knowledge of Arabic poetry, adopted many of its styles and went as far as comparing himself to the likes of A`sha Maymun and Abu ’l-Shays A`rabi. The high esteem in which Arabic poets and poetry was held by Persian men of letters continued well into the Saljuk era. Lama`i Jurjani, Nasir Khusraw and Amir Mu`izzi were among those who walked in the footsteps of Arab poets. The last-named deems himself as superior to Abu ’l-`Ala’ Ma`arri. Some of the poets of this period, such as Mas`ud Sa`d, `Abd al-Wasi` Jibili and Rashid Watwat, composed a number of their works in Arabic. In fact the composition of mulamma`at (macaronic verses in Persian and Arabic) and Arabic odes continued well into the days of Sa`di and Jami. 

In prose also the influence of Arabic writers continued to reign supreme. In sultaniyyat, akhawaniyyat and biographical works the style of Persian authors began to gravitate towards their Arab peers. The employment of saj` (rhyme) and badi` (various figures of speech) as well as examples and poems from Arabic authors imparted to the Persian prose of the Saljuk era a high degree of technicality, with a pronounced Arabic slant. The prominent instances of this tendency were Nasr Allah Munshi, Sa`d al-Din Warawini, Nasih b. Zafar Jurfadqani and Ahmad b. Hamid Kirmani, the author of `Aqd al-`ala. This advocacy of the Arabic style in Persian literature was an indication of the influence of Islam and the sense of obligation towards faithfulness to the prevalent Islamic culture of the period. This influence was given further impetus through the use of the Iraqi style, which provided Persian authors of both prose and verse with the opportunity to showcase their mastery of Arabic literary styles and techniques as well as the ideas current in the Muslim philosophical circles of the day. The literature of the time of Saljuks and Khwarazmshahis is reflective of the intellectual milieu of the schools and khanaqahs, the two foci of Islamic thought and sentiment. The period is marked by the strong influence of religious sentiments in Persian poetry. These sentiments were especially pronounced in the works of Sana`i, Khaqani, Nizami and Sa`di, what came to be known in Persian poetry as the style of tahqiq. 

During this period, the spread of schools, on the one hand, and that of khanaqahs, on the other, placed the Iranian literature, poetry in particular, within a distinctively religious context. Sana`i underscored the transient aspect of the worldly existence and the need for self-denial and avoidance of actions proscribed by religion and ethical considerations. Khaqani made a strong case for religious tendencies within the framework of his edifying and ascetic poetry. Nizami, in his Makhzan al-asrar (the treasure trove of mysteries), presented a novel approach to the elaboration of religious concepts, while his mathnawis contained such topics as the divine unity, the praise of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), and the descriptions of his Ascension (mi`raj). Jamal a-Din Isfahani composed an ode in which he drew a picture of the Judgment Day based on mainstream Islamic beliefs, where he expressed his disapproval of philosophical views of the subject. His tarkib-band in praise of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) came to be considered as a masterpiece, enthusiastically acknowledged by the renowned critic of the period Shams Qays Razi in his al-Mu`jam. And finally Sa`di whose hortatory and mystical poems are an undeniable indication of his and his audience’s deep-seated religious beliefs. 

During this period of efflorescence of the classical Persian poetry and prose religious life also came to assume a higher level of refinement. The schools multiplied and khanaqahs and ribats became ubiquitous throughout the Islamic territory. Religious gatherings became venues for the brilliant performances of such great orators as Abu ’l-Mafzar `Ibadi, Baha’ al-Din Walad Balkhi and Ruzbihan Baqli, while exegetical sessions at mosques and sama’ assemblies at khanaqahs stirred the religious emotions of the masses. At the same time, philosophy came to be deplored by an increasing number of people. Ghazzali’s attacks on philosophy, in such prominent works as Tahafut al-falasifah (the incoherence of the philosophers) and al-Munqidh min al-dilal (the deliverer from error), went a long way toward diminishing the value of philosophy in the eyes of the orthodox and ruling classes. Though, the earlier part of the period was marked by the existence of the likes of Anwari and Khayyam, who had a penchant for philosophical speculations, the later part of the period was characterized by a dominant anti-philosophical tendency. Khaqani equates philosophy with “myth” and dubs it as “the quagmire of ignorance”. Nizami, `Attar and Mawlawi also voiced their hatred and disavowal. The theologians of the day wrote works in its refutation and caliphs fed to the flames books written on the subject. Shihab al-Din `Umar Suhrawardi, the head of the Sufi masters of Baghdad, devoted a book to the need to avoid engagement in philosophical endeavors. This widespread decline of philosophy coincided with the blossoming of Sufism. The number of khanaqahs continued to rise, wherein shaykhs held penitential assemblies. The style of tahqiq, which was spearheaded by the Sana`i and Khaqani, was given wider currency by the likes of Zahir Faryabi, Jamal al-Din Isfahani and his son Kamal Isma`il. The spirit of religiosity came to dominate the poetry of this period, a tendency which was to reach its zenith in the works of Sa`di, Amir Khusraw and Jami. 

At the same time, the flames of the religious strife between Shi`ites and Sunnis were further fanned by the rise of panegyrists in the cities of Khurasan and Iraq, who deeply stirred the religious sentiments of the masses, while leaving their mark on the poetry and prose of the day. In the Safavid period, or a bit earlier, the Shi`ite-Sunni dispute gave rise to a body of polemical literature, which in turn imparted an air of intense religiosity to the literary life of Iran. Another development of the period was an influx of Shi`ite religious scholars from Iraq and Bahrain into Iran, which had adopted Shi`ism as its official religion, a development which left a deep impress on the literature of the period. Mourning assemblies for martyrs, which led to the development of ta`ziyah (the passion play), contributed to the rise of a body of elegies for those who lost their lives in Karbala. A celebrated example of such elegies is the tarkib-band (twelve bands) composed by Muhtasham Kashani, which came to enjoy widespread popularity. Odes in praise of the Infallible Imams (PBUT), which were mainly recited in assemblies held on various religious festivals, raised the scope and dignity of this particular genre which had debilitated into mere panegyrics in praise of sundry rulers and persons of worldly means. 

The dominant religious sentiments of the period, which exerted great influence over the literary works of the day, apart from prompting poets into composing elegies for the martyrs of Karbala, provided the impetus for the creation of religious epics, which were modeled after the epic style of Firdawsi. The motifs of these epics mainly revolved around the battles of the Holy Prophet and Imam `Ali (PBUT), with heavy religious overtones. Examples include the Khawaran Namah of Ibn Hisam Quhastani (d. 875 AH), the Shah Namah of Hiyrati (d. 961 AH) and Hamlah-yi Haydar of Badhil Mashhadi (d. 1123 AH), all of which are representative of the literary innovation and religious feelings of the populace. During the same period, or shortly thereafter, passion plays came into prominence, plays which appear to have originated from collective declamations from the book of Rawdat al-shuhada, performed during religious ceremonies. These plays mainly comprised recreations of the scenes of Karbala performed during the month of Muharram, but they were also those devoted to the sufferings of other Shi`ite imams and Qur`anic prophets performed on occasions other than Muharram. This literary genre continued to develop during the Qajar period, with most of its works belonging to what may be termed as folk literature. None the less, the huge number of existing ta`ziyah manuscripts is an indication of the crucial role of religious sentiments in the literary life of the period, its folk literature in particular. The origin of the ta`ziyah is unclear. Its ascription to the wailing tradition of the Magi and the progeny of Siyawash, as mentioned in the History of Bukhara, owing to the huge time gap between the pre-Islamic period and the Qajar era, is rather improbable. The poignancy of these plays has been ascertained by those with direct experience of them. The strong sentiments displayed in the elegies of the Qajar period, composed for the martyrs of Karbala, were as strong as those dating from the Safavid era. Even the elegies of the Infallible Imams (PBUT) composed by such Qajar poets as Qa’ani and Yaghma, whose lifestyles did not meet with the approval of the orthodox, were true mirrors of the popular sentiments of their time. The feelings reflected in the works of Qajar poets are still in evidence to this very day. 

The Sufi works of the past two hundred years, like those of the previous centuries, are indicative of the role of religious feelings in Persian literature. The various reflections of the common Islamic culture in Persian literature is clearly in evidence in folk tales, in wisdom sayings, in the stories of prophets, in the maxims of Sufi masters, and in the hermeneutic orientation of some of the literary works of the past and present. Of course, what has been discussed in the present work regarding the scope of the influence of Persian literature and its interface with Arabic literature is not necessarily all that can be said on the subject. In fact, even within this limited scope Persian literature succeeded in proving its innovative genius and intellectual independence, and even managed to gain certain advantages over Arabic literature. On the other hand, Arabic literature, in its broader sense, adopted many elements from the ancient culture of Iran, while many Arabic words entered into the Persian tongue, some of which underwent alterations. Even as regards free verse, which has no precedence in Arabic literature, there are ancient examples in Persian literature, including a lost work attributed to Hakim Abu ’l-Hasan Khashubi, titled Tawbah Namah. 

There are also specimens of didactic poetry in Persian, the likes of which are hardly found in the literature of the Arabs. As regards amorous and mystical poetry, there are instances in Persian literature which have been taken up as models by Muslims of other tongues, including Turkic and Urdu. Persian shah namahs, muthanawis and literary tales are unsurpassed in the Islamic literature. What has been created in didactic mysticism by `Attar, Sana`i and Mawlana Jalal al-Din has no rivals in Arabic literature. The characteristics of this literature, especially those which were given rise outside of the common culture of Muslims, are of an immense diversity, one which calls for extensive research.

 source: Zarinkoon , Abdolhosain "Islam Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.8 , pp.490- 495

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