The Life of Hafiz

Hafiz was born some time around 1320, in Shiraz. At an early age, he demonstrated prodigious ability with poetry, both writing and with memorizing. It is said he had memorized the entire Koran, as well as the works of Sufi masters Farid and Rumi by the time he was in his teens.

At the age of 21, Hafiz was initiated into the Sufi school of Attar. After this, the quality of his poetry had become such that he went from being a poor baker to serving as the court poet of the Shah. However, his controversial writings and teachings led him to fall out of favour, earning the wrath of both the Shah and the orthodox Muslim clergy, and in his late fourties Hafiz was forced to flee for his life to Isfahan. Eventually, however, the public demand for his return was such that the Shah pardoned him and he was allowed to return to the city of his birth. At the age of 60, determined to become Awakened, Hafiz drew a circle in the ground and remained within that circle for fourty days. At the end of this time, and on the fortieth anniversary of his initiation, Hafiz attained Awakening. For the next nine years until his death, Hafiz wrote more than half of his total body of poetic work (these are the poems which are considered to be the true core of his teaching), and taught students of his own as a Sufi Master.

When Hafiz died, his enemies in the Muslim clergy refused to grant him a Muslim burial. But again, the public outcry from the people of Shiraz was so great that the Muslim clergy agreed to undertake a test to see if Allah deemed Hafiz worthy.

Hafiz's poems were divided into two-line couplets, and all of these couplets were put together in a bunch. A young boy was chosen who would draw a single couplet at random, and the Priests and Hafiz's followers agreed that if the couplet bore a clear message that demonstrated divine favour, Hafiz would be given a Muslim burial. If not, he would be buried as a heretic.

The couplet that was drawn said:

"Neither Hafiz's body nor his life can deny,
For all his mischief, only heaven awaits him"

Hafiz was buried in a shrine in Shiraz, where he is still venerated as a Sufi master to this day.


The Poems of Hafiz        Return to The Library