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Legends of Hafez

Many semi-miraculous mythical tales were woven around Hāfez after his death.
It is said that by listening to his father's recitations Hāfez had accomplished the task of learning the Qur'an by heart at an early age (that is in fact the meaning of the word Hafez). At the same time Hāfez is said to have known by heart, the works of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, Saadi, Farid ud-Din and Nezami.

According to one tradition, before meeting his patron, Hajji Zayn al-Attar, Hāfez had been working in a bakery, delivering bread to a wealthy quarter of the town. There he first saw Shakh-e Nabat, a woman of great beauty, to whom some of his poems are addressed. Ravished by her beauty, but knowing that his love for her would not be requited, he allegedly held his first mystic vigil in his desire to realize this union. During this he encountered a being of surpassing beauty who identified himself as an angel, and his further attempts at union became mystic; a pursuit of spiritual union with the divine. The obvious Western parallel is that of Dante and Beatrice.

At age 60 he is said to have begun a Chilla-nashini, a 40-day-and-night vigil by sitting in a circle which he had drawn for himself. On the 40th day, he once again met with Zayn al-Attar on what is known to be their fortieth anniversary and was offered a cup of wine. It was there where he is said to have attained "Cosmic Consciousness". Hāfez hints at this episode in one of his verses where he advises the reader to attain "clarity of wine" by letting it "sit for 40 days".

Although Hafez almost never traveled out of Shiraz, in one famous tale Tamerlane (Timur) angrily summoned Hāfez to account for one of his verses:

اگر آن ترک شیرازی بدست‌آرد دل مارا
به خال هندویش بخشم سمرقند و بخارا را

If that Shirazi Turk would take my heart in hand

I would remit Samarkand and Bukhārā for his/her Hindu mole.

Samarkand was Timur's capital and Bokhara was his kingdom's finest city. "With the blows of my lustrous sword," Timur complained, "I have subjugated most of the habitable globe... to embellish Samarkand and Bokhara, the seats of my government; and you would sell them for the black mole of some boy in Shiraz!" Hāfez, so the tale goes, bowed deeply and replied, "Alas, O Prince, it is this prodigality which is the cause of the misery in which you find me".

So surprised and pleased was Timur with this response that he dismissed Hafez with handsome gifts.

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