born 1325/26, Shiraz, Persia
died 1389/90, Shiraz, Persia

Khwajeh Shams al-Din Muhammad Hafiz-e Shirazi, usually known simply as "Hafiz" or "Hafez" for short, was a poet and mystic of Sufism. Hafiz was born in Shiraz, Iran around 1325-36 CE. His father died while he was still young, leaving him and his mother in poverty. Hafiz worked in a bakery, giving (according to accounts of his life some 300 years later) one third of his earnings to his mother, one third to a local school in which he was enrolled, and one third to charity. At the school, he learned the Qu'ran by heart, thus earning the name Hafiz.

His education included great poets such as Saadi of Shiraz, Farid-ud-din Attar, Rumi, and others. He attended poetry meetings, but was ridiculed for beign a dunce. According to legend, he fell in love with a rich young lady who was unavailable to him, and he began writing his poetry out of longing for her. In his desperation, he held a vigil at the tomb of Baba Koha, a local saint, for forty nights -- it was said that anyone who could do so would have his heart's desire. After forty nights, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and told him he could have whatever he wished. Stricken by the beauty of God's messenger, he said. "If God's messenger is so beautiful, how much more beautiful must God be!" He told the angel, "I want God!" Gabriel directed him to a local Sufi named Muhammad Attar, and there Hafiz began training.

Many books of Hafiz's poetry are currently in print, including but not limited to:

  • The Gift
  • The Subject Tonight Is Love
  • I Heard God Laughing

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