Hafez Paradigm Chaos in Dealing with Political Affairs

As one of the most prominent poets, thinkers and mystics of his era, Hafez also possessed political ideas and actions. This study seeks to provide answers to the following questions: Given the position of Hafez as a significant mystic and poet, what view did he follow regarding political affairs and the objective manifestation of monarchy in his era? What are the reasons behind Hafez’s different and turbulent interaction with politics? Has he exclusively placed the monarchy agents and officials including imperial Muhtasib, Mufti, and jurists under criticism or does it include the monarchs themselves? Why are there eulogies to certain rulers and monarchy agents in his Divan? Was Hafez involved in bureaucratic occupations?

Review of Literature

There has been extensive research conducted on Hafez, his poetry and its artistic, rhetoric and content features and hermeneutic structure. Moreover, many have written about the life of Hafez in biographies and history books. For example, in his book, Hafez-e-Shirin Sokhan (Hafez the mellifluous poet), Mohammad Moin examines the sociopolitical conditions of the poet’s era in which he dedicates an extensive chapter to introduce Hafez’s contemporary poets, rulers, and ministers, their characteristics and their connections to Hafez. In a recently published book titled Tarhi az Hafez (A blueprint of Hafez) by Mirhossein Valovi, the entire biographies and accounts of the poet are investigated; in this book, the author has collected and compiled an all-embracing account of the poet’s life using 4 history books and 23 biographies. As a result, the book can be considered as an unprecedented biography and a clear, enlightening, valuable, and valid reference for those interested in Hafez and the Persian literature. There has also been numerous studies on Hafez’s social criticism and humour. For instance, in his book titled, In Kimia-e-Hasti, Shafiee Kadkani writes a broad chapter on the examination of humour in Hafez’s poetry. Following a definition of humour, the author states that all humorous references in Hafez’s poetry include a religious element which is the most significant feature of his poetry in which the contradictory structure of the society is illustrated through personal art and satire; a society established on hypocrisy (Shafiee Kadkani, 2006). Furthermore, the book titled, Hafez va Erfan-e-Irani (Hafez and Iranian mysticism) by Khosro Mallah can be pointed out in which the sociopolitical environment of Hafez and the artistic aspects of his poetry along with an account of Hafez’s poetic artistry and his political, critical themes are described. Calling Hafez the National Poet, the author reminds the reader of Hafez’s constant rejection of the common religion of the era, i.e. a religion of hypocrisy and pretension. In this regard, a paper titled, “The link between literature and politics: political view of Hafez: a peaceful coexistence” by Mahdi Parham was published in Political-Economic Information Journal. In this paper, the author observed the modern concept of politics, articulated the notion of “Dialogue among civilizations”, and deemed Hafez’s opinions in this area useful. In another study titled, “Tolerance in Divan-e-Hafez” by Mohammad Hosein Nikdaar Asl published in Boostan-e-Adab Journal of Shiraz University, subjects including tolerance towards enemies, rejection of selfishness and wrongdoing, and beneficence are addressed. In another recently published book titled, Siasat Andishi-e-Hafez (Political thinking of Hafez) by Fatemeh Zolfaqarian, Skinner’s Hermeneutics method was used for a reading of poems while a particular type of political narrative was explored in Hafez’s poetry. Albeit, politics in this book is regarded as power relations at presumed macro and micro scales. Nevertheless, there has been very few academic attempts on the interaction between Hafez and the politicians of his era, and particularly the poet’s dominant, presumed perceptions of political affairs as well as his behavioral pattern in this area. While most have pointed out Hafez’s criticism of the Mufti, Mystic, and Muhtasib, this has not been accompanied by more profound questions compared to the present paradigm foundations in Hafez’s political behavior. The present study seeks to examine how Hafez interacted with politics using Kuhn’s theory of paradigm shift; subsequently, the “Iran-Shahr” political pattern manifested in Hafez’s poetry was examined. According to the author, no contradiction was found between this theory and the political narrative of Hafez’s Divan.


In this inquiry, first Kuhn’s theory of paradigm shift was explained, the biography of Hafez and the sociopolitical status of the poet’s era were studied, poetic evidence were collected from his Divan, and finally, they were examined using the descriptive-analytical method. In order to provide a context to test the research hypothesis that is, absence of dominant uniform paradigm presumptions and a specific behavioral pattern in Hafez’s perception of politics, first Kuhn’s theory was explained as the theoretical framework employed to test the hypothesis followed by offering an illustration of the political situation in Hafez’s era.


Given the behavior of Hafez in the field of politics, it can clearly be understood that his interaction with monarchy and his perception of political affairs in general is devoid of cohesion over time and particular gaps can be seen in his political behavior. His distance from or closeness to the government depended on both his intrinsic motivations and how the government interacted. In the period of King Shaikh Abu Is’haq Injou, it appears that Hafez was one of his practitioners; poetic evidence in Divan suggest that Hafez has endorsed the majority of agents, ministers and authorities of the period. However, Hafez praised these figures with respect to their good qualities whilst maintaining his own self-respect at all times. After Shaikh Abu Is’haq was murdered by Amir Mobarez-al-Din, the poet resigned from his position in the government. Through a critical discourse, Hafez attempted to reveal the hypocrisy and pretension of the sovereign state and attacked the religious elements used by the state to oppress the will of people using a humorous tone. Following the assassination of Amir Mobarez-al-Din by his own son, King Shoja’ sat on the throne and Hafez became closer to the royal court once again; apparently, he assumed bureaucratic roles in this period as well. However, after another insurrection by which King Shoja’ was removed from the throne, Hafez resigned from the court as well and followed the path of asceticism. Thus, as can be seen, Hafez rejected hypocritical asceticism and religion of the era along with religious pretension at all times. Ultimately, King Shoja’s imprudent son sat on the throne; Hafez, spending his old age at the time, can be seen as a benevolent advisor who consults the young prince. But as the prince was not content with his advices, the poet resigned from his position in the government once again.


It is clear that Hafez’s political actions over time is devoid of a fixed paradigm with uniform metaphysical presumptions and specific pattern with certain objectives and instruments. Therefore, using Kuhn’s interpretations, it can be expressed that Hafez’s attitude towards political affairs is subject to paradigm shift, resulting in the absence of a secure practice in the poet’s confrontation with the events of his era; his stances reflect the instability of the sociopolitical conditions of his time and he is unable to evaluate the distance between such events and political ideals derived from a single paradigm through a conceptual device related to political thoughts, depriving him of a particular policy when faced with political affairs.

Literary Studies, Volume:51 Issue: 2, 2018
27 - 49
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