Creating the Quran (Reflection on a Couplet of Sa'di Shirazi)

Sa'di Shirazi is one of the most prominent poets of classical Persian language and literature. For many centuries, his Boustan and Golestan were taught to children at schools and now they are considered as important sources of Persian literature. One of the most frequent Persian literary themes is the praise of the Prophet Muhammad. At the beginning of Sa'di Boustan, Prophet of Islam praised beautifully. This section is very famous in Persian literature. One of the famous couplets of this section is: یتیمی که ناکرده قرآن درست کتبخانه چند ملت بشست Orphan, whose uncreated Koran soundly Effaced so many confessions’ libraries (Wickn’s translation) This article tries to provide a new meaning for this couplet based on the use of the "creating the Quran" in Persian texts.

Review of Literature

Various books and articles have been written on the interpretation of Sa'di's poetry so far. Some of these interpretations explain only part of Sa'di's poetry and others have explained his Golestan or Boustan as a whole. In this article we focus on just one couplet of Sa'di. Earlier commentators have described this couplet, but they generally committed an error. As far as we have searched, so far no one has specifically explained this couplet. Sadi's classical commentators as well as our contemporary commentators, such as Sodi, Sorori, Hansavi, Tikchand and Chalendari, Khazayli, Yousofi and Anzabi Nejad, they did not interpret the cuoplet correctly.


In the first step, various forms of this couplet are examined based on Boustan manuscripts. Then the old and new descriptions of Sa'di's Boustan are reviewed, and the different views on this couplet are being criticized. In the end, according to some texts published in Farsi, a new meaning of the couplet is presented which will solve its semantic problems.

Results and Discussion

To understand the exact and precise meaning of Persian classical poetry, we must examine linguistic, syntactic, semantic, and cultural aspects. At first, the Sadi's poetry was reviewed linguistically. The results of the reviews showed that the phrase "creating the Quran" has been used in ancient Persian texts. Exploring syntactics part also showed that the subject of this statement is the Prophet. Therefore, syntactically, it should read the couplet: Orphan, whose uncreated Koran soundly effaced so many confessions’ libraries. Most of the old and new commentators have made a mistake here because they supposed that making the Quran means revelation. Here a syntax error has caused a semantic error. Boustan commentators have supposed that the meaning of "creating the Qur'an" is the end of revelation; but we know that the revelation continued until the death of the Prophet. So, in the final stage, we go to the cultural aspects of couplet. Historical reports show that the Qur'an has not been compiled until the Prophet was alive. Based on cultural, syntactic, semantic, and linguistic support, we can now understand the meaning of the couplet. Sa'di says that the Prophet, while had not yet compiled the Qur'an, removes the books of other religions.


The old and new commentators of Sa'di's Boustan have been slipped into the description of this couplet. They assume the phrase "not creating Qur'an" in Sa'di's poetry means "the revelation is not over", but textual evidences show that it means that the Prophet still did not write the Qur'an as a book. This new meaning is based on evidence from the oldest Persian manuscripts and corresponds to the historical issues related to the early Islamic era; moreover, based on the new interpretation, the semantic problems of the couplet are also completely solved.

Literary Studies, Volume:51 Issue: 2, 2018
133 - 143  
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