The Picked Flowers of Nezami Ganjavi's Garden of Decorum, Morality, Mysticism and Civilized Thoughts
Cultural Council of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran > News > Iran News > The Picked Flowers of Nezami Ganjavi’s Garden of Decorum, Morality, Mysticism and Civilized Thoughts


The Picked Flowers of Nezami Ganjavi’s Garden of Decorum, Morality, Mysticism and Civilized Thoughts

Article by By Dr. Ali PourMarjan

Cultural Councilor of the Embassy of the Isl.Rep.Of Iran – Nairobi


In the name of God

Hakim Nezami Ganjavi is praised to be one the pillars of Persian decorum throughout the History of Persian literature. Although, more of his poems’ features have been addressed in literary books and less has been spoken about his mysticism and mystical views, together with his role in the civilization. I attempt to say a few words about Nezami’s literary integrity, moral, spiritual, and mystical heredity, and his dedication to Persian civilization.

Section 1: Nezami’s scientific and literary dignity

As he said, he troubled himself in the way of achieving science and arts; also he said that he had to endure torments and miseris in order to be skilled in different sciences and arts of his time. So he indeed deserved to be called Hakim.

I didn’t spend my life playfully

Because I had another occupation than sleeping and eating

I hadn’t slept a night cheerfully

Not until I could open new gates of knowledge that night

 In another work, he praises himself for being benefited to dominate different sciences.

In there anybody who have seen on a flower            

A greater well-sung nightingale than me?

A person who has embellished a book in every science

Or has a hand in every knowledge

A person who has accepted any art from the arts delightfully

A person who is an expert in every art

He’s a learned hakim, familiar with astronomy.

 I know what is going on inside the universe’s compass

I’m a sage in conjugation and mysteries of declension

I’ve solved horoscopes tables to tables

And unraveled the astrolabes of sagacity

Is there anybody who’s asked me about the mysteries of universe,

And I had not specified to him the mysteries one by one?

 Nezami is one of the poets who must be determined among the Persian poetry’s pillars and a definite professor of this language. He’s one of the spokesmen like Ferdowsi and Saadi, who could be benefited to have a special style and method. But Nezami’s greatest prerogative is his skills in narration and story-telling. Also there have been many cases in this field before him, Nezami’s method of story-teeling heightened Persian fictions to a peak none could ascend.

Nezami also heightened Persian’s lyrical fictions in a way that none could ascend the peak of his style after him. His works were called Khamsa of Nizami, and he was loved by the literary and poetic society, in a way that many of the poets who came to being after his time, dreamt upon making well-praised works like him or ascending to his dignities and honors. His effects were strong enough to make around 70 artist compose a work just like Nezami’s Khamsa. Among these poets, there were many well-known ones like Amir Khusrow, Jami, Vahshi Bafqi, Salman Savoji, and Khwaju Kermani.

Khamsa is the most precious one among his works, including Makhzan al-Asrar, Khosrow and Shirin, The Story of Layla and Majnun, Haft Peykar, and İskendernâme. He also points out towards these works and says:

I first gathered Makhzan al-Asrar together

And I didn’t neglect working on any of them

If I owned any sweetness and charm in my tongue

I poured them all in Khosrow and Shirin

Then I finished working on that and knocked out of it

To knock the door of The Story of Layla and Majnun

After narrating the story of Layla and Majnun

And rode my horse on the path of Haft Peykar

Section 2: Moral, spiritual, and mystical dignity of Khamsa of Nezami

Persian verse and Persian literature have an indissoluble bond with Spirituality and Mysticism. This bond roots inside the human’s inner self and emotions. Basically, the birth of a verse happens when the poet experiences some inner sentimental moments. So when these moments repeat themselves, the poet confronts too many inner experiences. Gradually, he feels ready to transfer these feelings and experiences to others; mysticism is also an inner experience, discovery, and internal intuition. If these occurrences happen to a person who has already felt pain or remorse in his heart: he would compose a pure poem, express what is inside his heart and pour out everything he perceives inside. Consequently, when these mystical concepts are transferred to the audience in poetic expression, it immortalizes them. In Persian literature, we owe this inheritance to some great figures like Nezami Ganjavi.

In order to get familiar with his spiritual progress and pilgrimage, we need to analyze the 6th century Sufism and Mysticism mind stream. The poets had various styles in expressing their mystic and lyric literary concepts. In early stages of the 6th century the poetic works of the 5th century poets were still present. Although this fact never stopped them from bringing new methods and styles. This is the period in which the narrators changed their styles and this novelty is among one of the proudest honors to the poets. The poets of this century totally adjusted themselves with too much attention to the imaginations and insisted on bringing exact and elegant themes to decorate their expressions.

Among these mainstreams, Sanai’s method and style in mystic and ascetic poems was highly imitated. Many of the poets tried to model his elegies and lyrical poets to produce new poems. Nezami also follows Sanai in preaching and advice. He tried to imitate Sanai’s exact accent, thoughts and perceptions. Not only Sanai brought upon new styles and methods in producing elegies and lyrical poems which was uncommon at that time, but also he succeeded in making a new school in composing mystic and social couplets. Sanai’s couplets were highly imitated after his time.

Just like Nezami and Nasir Khusraw, Nezami was also occupied with preaching and studies. Or at least he dedicated a part of his life to do this job. Kisai Marvazi’s poems are a perfect, mature model for the 4th century preaching and mystic works; but the exact perfection is brought upon around the 5th, 6th and 7th century.

The romantic and lyrical poems in Persian poetry first started around the 3rd century. But the lyrical poems perfection period first started at the 4th century, when the poets started composing a new style of poems called odes. Nezami also has many delicate and good odes which often mixes it with mystic elements.

From the doctrinal perspective, Nezami’s poesy followed the moral-mystical works of Sanai, in expression, he followed Nasir Khusraw’s dogmatic-moral works. In addition, he followed Anvari to compose scientific concepts. His art dazzles in using his silver-tongue, fluent language with using the exact words in the proper situations and having the best-structured wordings. These factors pictured the best of his spiritual, mystic and moral concepts beautifully. Among his master strokes, it’s enough to point the lyrical poems out. Together with picturing his festive ceremonies to wisely show the moral principles, virtue, decency and philosophical values.

As we can see in The Story of Layla and Majnun, he presents a pure, holy and blessed love. Moreover, he obviously shows his disgust towards lechery and unrestrained acts. He continuously exhibits his support for the superiority of virtue. Then, he adds his sweet tongue to induce the matter of chastity, adhering boundaries until a good healthy marriage is achieved; subsequently he emphasizes the act of chastity and virtue to be so beautiful. According to Nezami, what makes the elements of chastity, are the fear of God, decency, prudency, modesty, patience and the belief in Haram and Halal. At this point, he introduces these acts to be among the components of human bliss.

Among the characteristics of Nezami, we can touch on the chastity of his style. Except for Makhzan al-Asrar, there are so many love scenes in Nezami’s works. But he never leads these love figures towards the erotic scenes. In picturing some situations like Khosrow II visiting Shekar, or his visit to Shirin, The meeting of Alexander with the maidens or Bahram V’s stay at the Haft Peykar with the maidens at his side, he never surpasses the borders of chastity. So while reading, his poems introduce him as a chaste, patient, courteous, merciful, and content man. These all are the results of his sagacity.

In his fervent prayers, he prays to God. His one and only audience is God who understands him perfectly, knows his speeches. We can see the heart-felt speeches of Nezami, through his fervent prayers. To see his mysticism and spirituality, we need to take his fervent prayers in consideration. Because his true intentions are easily conveyed through these poems and these concepts are the reason that puts him among the philosophers.

Nezami’s speeches are exactly based on his inner thoughts and intentions. He expresses reality as it naturally exists. He then emphasizes on the things that should be included among these realities. It means that Nezami’s poetry exudes out of his pure inner side. In another word, when he talks, the charm and conjuration is exuded out of his words. And from his poems, there exudes philosophy and sagacity.[1] This is exactly the kind of poem which is accepted by Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib and he always supported these sort of poets.

Nezami had a strong belief in prayers and worship. He never excluded prays to be the act of stagnation, hence he insisted on working, while praying by its side. Because this instruction is among the deeds of our holy prophet and the infallible Imams. Most of Nezami’s verses have conceptual and moral aspects. However, sometimes some rays of mysticism occurred to his mind. That’s the reason which delights his poems and shapes them in their perfect form. [2]

The only distinction that divides Nezami’s poems from other poetic works and eternalizes them, is his moral, spiritual and ascetic concepts; owing to the fact that rhetorical poems are like the steam of the salt water that cannot satisfy the expression of a thrist. That’s why the rhetorical poems wouldn’t satisfy a pained heart.

Here we brought some examples of Nezami’s spiritual and ascetic concepts, derived from his poems:

  1. God’s name is the key for starting all the thoughts and ending all the talks. For this reason, the key point of reaching a God-like sagacity is God’s name. it’s based on the speeches of Muhammad who said ” کل امر ذی بال لم یبتدا باسم الله و هو ابتر”; which means if a deed does not start with the name of God, it’d be incomplete. Nezami also says “In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful / Is like a key to sagacity’s door”

 The start of the thoughts and the end of the speech

Is the name of God, so to him you beseech[3]

And in another place he says:

“Oh you! That your name is the best of the starts

How can I start speaking without using your name?

You are the helper in every field

Your name is like a key to any locked door”[4]

  1. God is a preexistent, eternal and pristine figure without which any creature cannot stand a chance for existence and god has a dominance over the whole existence. Nezami tries to notify all the human beings to their exact nature and says if any person looks at the world around us with a pure heart, he would find God inside him and based on his own capacity. Hence God is above all the changes in the world.

God pre-existed before anyone who came into existence

God will exist after anyone’s decay and death

He’s the dean of the whole existing world

He’s the reason that a pen can connect the words

He’s the start and the end of life

He can give birth or destroy the whole universe[5]

And in another place he says:

He’s the first one, without the need of any first to begin him with

He’s the last, while his existence does not have any lasting

There’s nothing who’s got the eternality but him

His the blessed one whom has no mortality

God! You are the one who does not change

You are the one who never died and will never die

We’re all mortals, yet you’re immortal

The possession of sublimity is yours and only yours.[6]

  1. If a person attracted to the name of God, and does not find holy peace, he’ll lose the patience on the way of his love towards God. He says: O God! Your name brings upon such an attraction that if a person mutters your name out of a real love, his soul would ascend to Paradise.

If you have not received calmness by taking yourself to God,

And have not been attracted to the charm of His name, you’re spoiled.[7]

We can find God in any kind of existence:

There’s an obvious sign of God on every creature

There’s a sign of God on every fragment

If there’s any light around burning candles

It’s a sign of God’s unity and oneness[8]

  1. God is the creator of all of the beings around the universe and he’s the one who has made them, without needing a person to create him. Nezami avoids referring to the cause-and-effect relationship between God and creatures. He departs himself from philosophical theories including the precedence of the universe as well; and this is one of the Islamic standpoints.


O You, who made all the existence be

No one will reach your power and dignity[9]

Additionally, in another place he adds:

O you, who made things out of nothing

You’re both the executant and the provider[10]

  1. In another place, he expresses the creating ability of God over other creatures, notifies the human being to their nature, and believes the existence of God to be above all humane theories.

O You whom all the existence owe you their being

A weak poor soil gets rich by your will

  1. Furthermore, Nezami has an interesting view over the poetry: In Nezami’s point of view, the poets can have a dignity like or close to the prophets. In Nezami’s perspective, the poets have a serious duty upon their shoulders.

The poets who produce rhymes nicely

Put the treasures of the two cosmos into the words

A key that can open the gates of these treasures,

Is in the hand of a wise poet

The most important factor is when Nezami explains that this duty would not accumulate by a complicated, exact, and profound language or a highly philosophized or scientific speech. Yet the art of a poet is expressing long, deep, and complicated concepts in a warm, pleasing, and amusing tongue. Basically none of the long, complicated spiritual concepts could be conveyed in another way. Nowadays, this factor is known as “form and content”. It means that Nezami believes in the fact that without any form, there wouldn’t be any content. Because the key for the gates of treasure is in the tongue of a poet who knows rhyming and criticism. Hence, it shows that the poets have a high, elevated dignity.

Even more, he explicitly configures the poets to have the same duty and path as the holy prophets.

The mystic veil inside the poesy

Is the same as of the holy prophets

 If there’s any great dignity in the eyes of God,

First goes to the prophets and then to the poets.

It means that first came the holy prophets who shaped their words in the style of their own times; then it’s the poets’ turn to implant the same words inside them; then shape it like the common aesthetics of their time to make it flow like a factorized current. So the poet’s duty is not like imitating what the holy prophets already said, but they view the same thing the prophets viewed, and the unity between these two groups[11] is based on this unique truth.

These two groups are as close as the friends

Sharing the same brain whilst the second acts like a cover to the first.

Section 3: Nezami and Persian Civilization

It has been said that Nezami Ganjavi had such an important, strong, and major impact on Persian civilization, along with its developments. Not only he was well aware of the history of Islam, but also he was fully aware of the pre-Islamic history. Furthermore, he studied the notions and thoughts pre-Islamic eras.

That’s why he looks for Ferdowsi in this field.

Nezami was fully aware of Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings, and his familiarity continued to the rest of his life. His closeness to Shahnameh is the exact reason for him to be interested in the pre-Islamic history. Even some of the critics cursed or mocked him for the pre-Islamic influences on his verses. Due to the excessive attention of Nezami towards the magi beliefs, these critics regarded Nezami not worthy enough out of their Islamic prejudices. They also blamed him for the renewal of magi traditions in his works.

In the preface of Khosrow and Shirin he recalls his interval times after producing Makhzan al-Asrar, when he met a faithful believer friend who heard about Nezami’s religious dignity and the efforts of our prominent poet, on composing Khosrow and Shirin. So he came to visit Nezami and blamed him about:

While you are still going on this fasting

Do not break your fast on a feast of a wicked carrion

Why wasting your life as if golden-coating a silver piece

You can compose a more valuable words than these

While you are a prominent poet of Islam

Why are you trying to renew Magian rituals


Nezami’s faithful friend is actually trying to convince him to return from his Magian beliefs, and make him compose Islamic moral verses again. As if he says “The romantic theme and the period of time you chose to write your story about, is not suitable for a faithful poet like you.” At that moment, Nezami starts to sing a few verses of Khosrow and Shirin, then that faithful friend of his who appeared to have interests in literature, gets delighted by his verses and persuades him to go on.

Seems like the religious critics had never spared Nezami and Ferdowsi. Saba Kashani, a prominent poet during the times of Qajar dynasty, blames Ferdowsi and Nezami in his Shahanshah Nameh; The Book of the Kings for praising the fire worshippers.

Blame on their mind and soul

Both the poet of Ganja and the poet of Tous

They bothered themselves for nothing

And their treasures[12]  benefitted the dragon[13]

One of them drew the name of Khosrow Parviz

The other ruined the name of Muhammad

One of them renewed the signs of Zand[14]

 The other praised beliefs of the Magians

There are lots of moral and theological criticisms in Persian Literature. In theological criticism, the critic denies or objects towards some of the poets’ beliefs. Although there are indeed some traces of theological criticisms in Persian history and culture, whenever Persian culture reached towards some cultural peaks, the Persian social history thinkers addressed the ancient Persian history and culture as a rich and chief way. The rational and intellect-training motives were contemporaneously growing together with the Persian-Islamic civilization through the ancient Persian History. That’s rooted in the fact that rationality and the importance of intellectuality has always been one of the obvious noble characteristics of Persian thinkers.

Consequently, Nezami seeks to find a Persian-Islamic Utopia in his Iskendername[15] (Sharaf Nameh and EQbal Nameh) where it was ruled based on sagacity and justice. A kind of Utopia which is included through scientific research of various periods of time. This idea has shown its effect on developing the Persian civilization.

Perhaps Nezami is the last thoughtful poet before Mongolian Conquer; who paid too much attention towards the ancient Persian history and culture, while simultaneously utilizing the Islamic thoughts too.

About the influence of Ferdowsi in Nezami’s works, he pointed out to the matter of Ferdowsi’s quick reference of Khosrow and Shirin. Hence Nezami goes back to that story to narrate the untold truth.

The Hakim once narrated this story

The love story happened between these two people

When he got 60 years old

The arrow he used while being youth was fallen down[16]

The narration of this love story that was once among his interests

Was no longer suitable for him

I didn’t say what that wise man once said

Because it’s not proper to say a told speech again

Ferdowsi mostly focused on the historical and kingly occurrences of the time of Khosrow and Shirin. But Nezami instead enters the romantic aspect of them. That’s why he calls this book “The Book of Sensuality” which in Persian means “Havas Nameh”

Although Makhzan al-Asrar is one of Nezami’s eloquent and beautiful works, it’s still the most complicated and the least-easily-understandable work of his As if he addressed himself in this book and tries to gain a level of purification by using spiritual contemplation meditation. At this level, he connects his skill at story-telling with his subconscious as the source of his stories. In other words, in Makhzan al-Asrar we see the behind-the-stage version of films and performances, which is included in his next four works of Khamsa.

The other important fact is the double-edged female and male figures repeating themselves in his works. In Makhzan al-Asrar, Nezami talks about the Muhammad’s ascension. Accordiong to the tales, Muhammad is ascended to heaven by a horse called Boragh; while this horse had the face of a woman. In addition, in Makhzan al-Asrar, Nezami talks about his own ascension and how he departed his own being to reach the world of inside. We can see this subject is Khosrow and Shirin too. Khosrow is first trapped by his own self, so he needs an external energy, a Shirin, to pull him out of his selfhood and make him free. In Haft Paykar, we also have a female energy in the depth of Bahram’s self, through which he changes and develops. Despite the classic works, at Nezami’s we don’t see static or typical characters. All the characters are inside a dramatic phase, changing dynamically. In Nezami’s works, the female figure presents femininity and the male one presents masculinity. Women are like an outer energy that connects to the inner capacities of the men, enough to make them move, change and become dynamic.

Nezami’s ascension is exactly against what is believed to be his ascension. Instead of going higher or towards the sky, he tries to go down and reach deep inside. Thereby he finds his truth and reality.

The ascension Nezami is talking about, is descending from personhood. This is the exact kind of descension Saadi says when he talked about:

The person who descended himself, then ascended as a result of it

He came upon his nothingness, to gain the chance of being

When he puts hubris and selfishness aside, the world of knowledge and meaning opens the gates of it towards him. So he would hear the sound of his heart, narrating the stories. So the source of absolute beauty which is shown inside Khamsa of Nezami, is actually the written story of the sound of his heart. Then he says about the aged invisible speaker inside him, who he can’t hear the sound of anymore. So Nezami’s poetry is based on his unconscious, not by sitting around somewhere and philosophizing something; which is the exact same thing done by self-centered artists we can see nowadays or in the past.

Another important factor is that Nezami produces his stories in a way to come across his deeply-rooted knowledge or concepts. The concepts he had in mind since the start of the story.

Although it’s possible to say anything

While composing which is the source of existence

If a person can insert the truthfulness

Why to bother yourself producing a lie

He means that although we can insert any kind of speech while composing, no rational being expects everything to be exactly like the real scientific rules, or historical events, etc. But Nezami mostly uses a historical framework to narrate his story.

If we call Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh as the book of the wars, Khamsa of Nezami would be called Bazm nameh (the book of festivity) or in his own language, the book of sensuality. Ferdowsi forms our social and national identity, while Nezami forms our personal and individual identity. Ferdowsi puts the veils of sagacity aside by an epic tongue; while Nezami does the exact thing in a romantic tongue. Ferdowsi shows us where Khosrow Parviz and Behistun came from or what are their roles in our history. Nezami sheds light upon the qualities and details, enabling us to see the delicacies and beauties through a nearer look or touch. So when we read Khosrow and Shirin, our visit to Behistun or other heredities of that time get a new meaning and concept. So it’s no longer visiting some rocks and inscriptions.


There’s no doubt or secret

About the reality of his heredities,

The basis of Behistoon and the shape of Shabdiz[17]

Likewise Khoslow Parviz’s castle in Madayen city

Or the sensuality of that poor Farhad



That’s right that in the 18th and 19th century, the world was so proud and subdued by science. As this result ended the world coming towards worshipping the science instead of liking it. So human beings put the sagacity aside. But it never convince the humane soul; until the 20th century, that this matter showed itself in a statement which was held in Vancouver, Canada, in 1989, By this statement, scientists protested that the kind of science that lacks sagacity, will become like a burning vehicle, and if we do not take this matter into consideration, it would definitely destroy the Earth. This statement was made in the 21st century with UNESCO in cooperation. That’s when the learnings of Nizamiye, the teachings of Molavi, Ibn Sina, Tolstoy, and so on were again raised inside the scientific centers of the world. So scientists referred to these philosophical works to satisfy their needs.

That’s right that not only do we need to put aside these chief library sources sometimes, we are in desperate need for the exact understanding of personal, social and individual concepts, together with the other manners of life. Nezami Ganjavi is indeed a great honor for both Iran and Azerbaijan; who presented wonderful teachings for the whole world. He’s like a light who bore all the veils of the world away, and led so many hearts around the world, towards the divine sagacity. The thoughts of such a great figure can be the best and the biggest bridge to strengthen the brotherhood and friendship between Iran and Azerbaijan. Hence both nations and their thinkers would attempt to transfer his spiritual, moral and civilized thoughts around the world; in order to make a noble, novel future near us. That’s all.

Thank you


[1]  Al-Bidaya wa’l-Nihaya, Vol. 9, P. 49

[2] Mohammad-Taqi Ja’fari’s book, P. 87

[3] Makhzan al-Asrar

[4]  The story of Layla and Majnun

[5] Makhzan al-Asrar

[6] Makhzan al-Asrar

[7] Makhzan al-Asrar

[8] Khosrow and Shirin

[9] The Story of Layla and Majnun

[10] Haft Paykar

[11]  By “two groups” we mean the holy prophets and the poets.

[12]  Means their works and verses

[13]  By means of the dragons, he wants to refer to the fire worshippers and Ghebres.

[14]  exposition of the Avesta

[15] “The Book of Alexander”

[16] The arrow here is the pen

[17]  Khosrow Parviz’s horse