Art And Culture

Dadbeh to Explicate Khaqani’s Defiance of Philosophy

Khaqani’s anti-philosophical role has been unique and significant throughout the history of Persian literature
 Statue of Khaqani at the park in Tabriz named after him Statue of Khaqani at the park in Tabriz named after him

Why was the 12th century Persian poet Khaqani Shirvani, considered a philosopher himself, at odds with philosophers and philosophy?

The question will be answered today, November 16, by the great master of mystical literature Ali Asghar Dadbeh at the Cultural Center of Book City Institute, located on Ahmad Qasir Avenue in Tehran.

The meeting starts at 4:30 pm and Dadbeh will speak on 'Philosophy in the Eyes of Khaqani'.

The Book City Institute ( has described Shirvani, one of the most enigmatic poets and prose-writers in the history of Persian literature in the following words:

"In the 12th century, Khaqani was among the pioneers in opposing philosophy and philosophers.  One can even say that his anti-philosophical role has been unique and significant throughout the history of Persian literature. In several instances, he emphasizes that speeches should not be mingled with philosophy. Some of his poems strongly criticize philosophers and philosophy.

Why is he so defiant toward philosophers? When speaking of philosophy, did he mean something different from what we recognize today? What drove him to challenge philosophy so relentlessly?  And finally, how much was his hostility toward philosophy influenced by the writings of earlier philosopher and mystic Ghazali (1058-1111)?"

  Master of Mysticism in Literature

Dadbeh, 69, is emeritus professor of Islamic philosophy and mysticism in literature at Tehran's Allameh Tabatabai University, Iran's largest specialized public university in humanities and social sciences.

He is the head of the literature group at The Great Islamic Encyclopedia whose center was founded by historian, theologian and writer Seyed Mohammad Kazem Mousavi Bojnourdi, 73. Dadbeh is also the chairman of Persian Language and Literature Department at the College of Humanities, Tehran North Branch of Azad University.

He has authored around 300 articles in philosophy, mysticism, literature and Islamic discourse for encyclopedias, magazines and academic journals. He was conferred the title of 'Iran’s luminary in mystical literature and Islamic philosophy' in 2002.

  Life and Works of Khaqani

Khaqani, whose full name is Afzal al-Din Badil Ibrahim ibn Ali Khaqani Shirvani, is mainly known for his brilliant court poems, satires and epigrams, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. His father was a Muslim carpenter and his mother was of Nestorian Christian origin. Brought up in poverty, he was fortunate to be educated by his learned uncle. As a young man he composed lyrics under the name of Haqaiqi (truth seeker). He then gained entry into the court of the ruler of Shirvan (now in Azerbaijan Republic), Khaqan Manouchehr, from whom he took his pen name, Khaqani.

  Prone to Challenge

Khaqani always rose to a challenge. Embittered by personal disputes and court intrigues, he set out on a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1156-57, after which he composed one of his greatest works, the Tuhfat al-Iraqayn (Gift of the Two Iraqs). It consists of five parts and is essentially a description of the poet’s travels. Returning to the court, Khaqani was imprisoned for reasons that are not clear. His sufferings moved him to write a ‘Habsiyah’ (jail ballad), considered one of the finest of its kind.

The obscure nature of his style renders his work difficult for the average reader. He filled his poems with Christian imagery, one of the few Persian poets to have done so.

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