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Hamid Algar

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780198090441

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198090441.001.0001

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‘Solitude in Society’: Jami as Social Critic and Polemicist

‘Solitude in Society’: Jami as Social Critic and Polemicist

(p.108) 6 ‘Solitude in Society’: Jami as Social Critic and Polemicist

Hamid Algar

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines Jami’s views about society. It argues that Jami’s own temperament was ideal for a certain mode of ‘solitude within society’. Apparent in much of his work is a tension between a thoroughgoing involvement in the society of his time on the one hand, and a wistful longing for solitude on the other. The paradox is comprehensible in that the misanthrope needs to mingle with his fellows in order to nurture and confirm his disdain for them. Jami also believed that the great majority of his contemporaries did not even count as true human beings, and had detailed criticisms to make of virtually every class of his contemporaries. He bestows his scorn impartially on elite and commonalty alike, with concentration on the former.

Keywords:   ʿAbd al-Rahman Jami, solitude within society, society

‘Solitude within society’ (khalvat dar anjuman), interpreted by Bahaʾ al-Din Naqshband to mean ‘being out wardly with men and inwardly with God,’ was, we have seen, a defining principle of the Naqshbandiyya. Jami praised his prescription as ‘a fine mode of conduct, rarely encountered in this world,’ and thought it best implemented by teaching and studying the formal sciences of religion, these acting as a ‘delicate veil’ for one’s inner states. According to Jami’s pupil, ʿAbd al-Ghafur Lari, the composition of poetry was for him another means to the same end. Whatever be made of these formulaic statements, there can be little doubt that Jami’s own temperament was fully conducive to a certain mode of ‘solitude within society’. For apparent in much of his work is a tension between a thoroughgoing involvement in the society of his time on the one hand, and a wistful longing for solitude on the other. The paradox is comprehensible, in that the misanthrope needs to mingle with his fellows in order to nurture and confirm his disdain for them.

If Jami be taken at his word, the great majority of his contemporaries did not even count as true human beings: ‘That which is meant by “man” (insan) is fully realized individual humans, not the bestial kind; “they are like cattle – nay, more misguided” [Qurʾan, 7. 149]’. Beyond this generic (p.109) disqualification he had detailed criticisms to make of virtually every class of his contemporaries. Dispersed in his various writings, they occur with particular frequency in the first daftar (segment) of Silsilat al-Dhahab. When Jami completed it in 873/1468, Bakharzi warned him that his numerous criticisms of the people of Herat would cause a stir in the city. He responded that he had not named anyone explicitly, and if someone found that a given criticism applied to him and became disturbed thereby, no fault would attach to the poet. If due allowance be made for poetic hyperbole, the portrait Jami draws can serve as a useful corrective to the conventional depiction of Timurid Herat as a city without blemish where learning and culture pervaded all aspects of life.

He bestows his scorn impartially on elite and commonalty alike, with concentration on the former. ‘The wearers of turbans’, i.e., the ulema, are denounced for their petty ambition and rivalry:

  • See, O intelligent one, how the great ones of our city/ have straitened for themselves the vast expanse of the world.
  • Thus whenever they gather in assembly/ each seeks to occupy the most prominent seat.
  • Fighting for control of a patch of somebody’s land/ they battle each other and unleash the sword of the tongue. (Fatihat al-Shabab in Divan, I. 841)

Jami accuses them too of failing to practise what they preach:

  • O you who have hoisted the banner (ʿalam) of knowledge (ʿilm)/ and raised your own head just like that banner,
  • You have gained repute indeed as a scholar/ but when it’s a question of practice (ʿamal), your banner suddenly droops. (Tuhfat al-Ahrar in Haft Awrang, I. 525)

(p.110) Even the books accumulated by such scholars are blackened with shame at the hands that are holding them.

Among the ulema, Jami singles out the faqih (jurisprudent) for particular excoriation. Although such a person may be regarded as ‘prime exemplar of the age’ (muqtadayi zamana), he will typically be of low intelligence and vile disposition. With a herd of donkeys in tow, he happily wastes his breath on endless debate, with particular attention to relatively trivial matters such as the fiqhi regulations concerning menstruation and lochial discharges. To pronounce something permissible or impermissible is his greatest delight, and although incapable of addressing the major tasks of religion (kar-i din), he imagines himself the most perfect of men (Silsilat al-Dhahab in Haft Awrang, I. 134).

But worst of all among the turban-wearers are those who, accepting judicial and administrative positions, ‘make of the Shariʿa a pretext for harassing the Muslims and work injustice in the guise of justice’, in part by placing the tura (customary law of the Chingizids) on the same level as Islam. This lamentable equivalence showed itself, in Herat and elsewhere, primarily in the levying of the tamgha, a sales tax not mandated by the Shariʿa. A case of tamgha extortion recounted by Jami contains enough vivid detail to suggest an actual event he himself witnessed. If, he relates, someone sells a length of canvas not bearing the stamp of the tamgha collector, first a pretext will be made of the Shariʿa, and the wretch will be quizzed concerning fasting and prayer. Innocent of all crime, his back and sides will be scourged until black. He will be paraded around the market with his wares hung round his neck before being sent off to the police station; there, the money will be beaten out of him that the chief of police needs for women and wine (Silsilat al-Dhahab in Haft Awrang, I. 164–5). Opposition to the tamgha was common to both Timurid realms, as we have seen; in (p.111) 865/1460, Khwaja Ahrar had obtained from Abu Saʿid an undertaking to abolish it throughout Transoxiana.

Poets, also left unnamed, are condemned as venal and corrupt plagiarists. At night, they sit combing through the works of past masters for suitable flights of fancy and the next day sell their wares to their patrons, demeaning themselves and their art in the act. Jami upbraids them as follows:

  • For how long will you keep weaving cloaks for every scoundrel and knave/ from the warp of your greed and the woof of verbosity?
  • For how long will you call ‘noble’ the vile,/ describe as affable pure fools?
  • The one from whose tightly grasped fist/ not a hundred needle jabs could squeeze out one drop of blood,
  • The palm of his hand you name ‘ocean of generosity’,/ describe it as a ‘pearl-scattering sea’.
  • The one whom months, nay years, of instruction/ could not help tell apart alif and dal,
  • Him you describe as intimate with ‘the origin of pre-eternity’,/ enlightened with ‘knowledge of post-eternity’.
  • And the one who on hearing the snarl of a cat/ runs for a hole like a scared mouse,
  • Him you call ‘a roaring lion’, ‘a raging tiger’/ or something still more heroic. (Tuhfat al-Ahrar in Haft Awrang, I. 544)

Such criticisms may well have been justified, but it will be appropriate to remind ourselves here that Jami himself was by no means averse to the panegyric, his claims to the contrary notwithstanding; and it is questionable whether all those he praised possessed the virtues he ascribed to them.

Jami’s harshest and lengthiest criticisms are reserved for the pseudo-Sufis (Sufi-namayan) of his time, those who, aiming for personal aggrandizement and enrichment, concerned (p.112) themselves only with the outward trappings of the path and were oblivious to its meaning. His denunciations of them may well constitute the severest indictment ever written in Persian of these regrettably perennial charlatans. Precisely the detailed fashion in which he condemns them suggests palpable outrage as well as a high degree of personal and prolonged observation.

To go into business as a Sufi shaykh in Timurid Herat would seem to have been quite easy. First one would set up a khanaqah (‘hospice’) and assemble the tools of the trade, and seat himself on a sajjada (the prayer mat that would serve as a seat of authority). Then a clutch of idiots would gather around the shaykh with unquestioning devotion. They would consider him superior to the rest of mankind, regard as absolute truth every word that he uttered, and fabricate for him a hundred miraculous deeds (karamat) that would serve to ensnare still more simpletons (Silsilat al-Dhahab in Haft Awrang, I. 134).

It is thus not surprising that Jami calls on the reader of Silsilat al-Dhahab to be wary of the Sufis, in the city and beyond, for all of them, he says, are vile exploiters of their devotees. (Correcting himself a few lines later, he declares that none of them truly deserve the titles of Sufi or shaykh.) These charlatans greedily consume whatever they are given; when they perform dhikr, it is only for the sake of adorning their banqueting spread, and the accoutrements of material comfort are their sole object of contemplation (fikr, the concomitant of dhikr). They call their dwellings khanaqah or langar (literally ‘anchor,’ but used in the Persian of Khorasan and Central Asia to mean a place of lodging for Sufis), and adorn them with fine carpets and precious vessels and pots. They always have one eye on the door to see what the next devotee will bring – meat, perhaps, or two or three mawnds of flour – entitling him to sit next to the ‘Shaykh of the Age’. (p.113) Then the shaykhs talk nonsense nonstop until the food is done cooking. It may happen, too, that some corrupt soul will glimpse a handsome, beardless young man, and tempting him with the abundance to be found with a certain shaykh, present him to him as a servant or adoptive son. The ‘gift’ is accepted, but for a transparently immoral purpose (Silsilat al-Dhahab in Haft Awrang, I. 189–90).

One method whereby a shaykh gains fame and a following is by engaging in deafeningly loud dhikr and crying out ecstatically at all hours. He may be facing the qibla in worship, but his real orientation is to those whose attention he craves. ‘What is all this?’ the townspeople ask naively on hearing the din; ‘it is the shaykh, purging himself of spiritual neglect,’ is the grave answer they receive from a herd of his asinine devotees. Occasionally someone will rush in and whisper in the ear of the shaykh, ‘Such-and-such a grandee or emir wishes to become your follower!’ The shaykh and his companions are then beside themselves with pride, and the noise of their dhikr reaches a pitch that induces despair in all within earshot. One of the devotees foams at the mouth, another pummels himself with both hands. Yet another rips apart his smock and his cloak, and still another yelps in mock ecstasy and embarks on a bout of false weeping. Finally the shaykh brings the dhikr to an end and starts discoursing on unveiling and inspiration and the difference between spiritual states and stations, but only by way of imitation (taqlid) of the true Sufis, not of spiritual realization (tahqiq) (Silsilat al-Dhahab in Haft Awrang, I. 82–3).

It should not be thought that Jami is denouncing the vocal method of dhikr in favour of the silent dhikr (dhikr-i khufya) espoused by the Naqshbandiyya; it is rather the desire to attract attention that he criticizes, irrespective of the method that is chosen. For he proceeds to show how the silent method, too, can be practised with ostentation, (p.114) for when the shaykh lowers his head in silence, the effect is to proclaim, ‘I am now concealed in the world of the unseen.’ If someone then chances by, the shaykh’s disciple will whisper to him, ‘Begone! For you cannot bring him back to the shore from the ocean of mystery!’ While thus silent, the shaykh may actually be thinking of his wife and children, of repairing his house and renovating his shop. Vocal dhikr can even be superior to its silent counter part, for at least the words pronounced are verifiably correct, while the shaykh in his silence may well be at the mercy of stray thoughts and desires (Silsilat al-Dhahab in Haft Awrang, I. 86–7).

Jami had a similarly measured attitude to samaʿ, the rhythmical movements to musical accompaniment practised by some Sufis. Unlike other Naqshbandis of the time, he was not unreservedly hostile to the practice, and even engaged in it himself, when brought to spontaneous ecstasy by his evocation of beauty (female, in this case) in Yusuf va Zulaykha. True samʿ was, however, different from that in which the spiritually deficient (naqisan) engaged; theirs was simply a form of worldly and frivolous dance (raqs; an indulgence viewed by Sufis as utterly distinct from samaʿ). This degenerate form of samaʿ was commonly a prelude to gluttonous indulgence. When all were seated, Jami recounts, a servant would spread the banqueting cloth, decked out with various foods illicitly acquired: bread baked from flour stolen from poor villagers by the chief of police, the meat of a sheep seized and donated by a plundering Turk, and fruit snatched from the gardens of widows. Such was the dancers’ in ordinate greed that they even omitted the formality of intoning Bismillah!, before pouncing on the feast laid out before them (Silsilat al-Dhahab in Haft Awrang, I. 84–5).

Then there are those who falsely present themselves as dervishes (i.e., solitary mystics without formal affiliation to a shaykh). They choose isolation on the pretext of concern (p.115) for their fellows; their slogan is, ‘as long as you harm no one, do whatever you want.’ Their purpose is to engage in all manner of forbidden acts, following an example set by ‘the antinomians of old’ (mubahian-i kuhan); by these, Jami probably intends those degenerate Malamatis, ‘people of blame’, who imagined that the disfavour they earned by flaunting immoral conduct would detach them from society and bring them closer to God. They prate of detachment (tajrid) and rattle forth the terminology of the mystics, all the while hoarding their silver and gold and imbibing the juice of the grape. Such practice is not dervishhood, but sheer heresy (zandaqa) (Silsilat al-Dhahab in Haft Awrang, I. 163–4).

As for the common folk, with lives uncomplicated by scholarly concern or sectarian dispute, they are easily dismissed. From evening till dawn they are concerned only with food and sleep; their talk is only of earning and spending; gluttony and lust are all that activates them. If they are travelling merchants, their sole intention is cheating the people in the next city they visit, and the injustice they mete out to those in their caravan is no less than that of the brigand. If they are farmers, they sow the seed of greed, and if artisans, their concern is only to deter mine what craft is best for grabbing gold and silver from the unwary. And if their trade involves weighing and measuring, they can be relied on only to cheat their customers. But all these scoundrels, Jami cautions, count as honest by comparison with others (Silsilat al-Dhahab in Haft Awrang, I. 122–3).

This apparent contempt for the masses is belied to some degree by Jami’s own relatively simple, even egalitarian, mode of life; in appearance and garb he was indistinguishable from his servants. A visitor from Sistan who had never seen Jami before once sought him out at his residence, expecting to see him decked out in fine clothes and wearing one of the large, multi-layered turbans that were (p.116) becoming fashionable among the learned. Instead, he saw sitting on a bench in front of the house a man wearing a simple cotton cloak and a waistcloth of the type one wears in the hammam, its ends hanging loose, and on his head a skullcap with a small turban twisted around it. This was none other than Jami himself, but the Sistani assumed him to be one of the servants and addressed him accordingly. Further misunderstandings ensued before the visitor came penitently to realize his error.

There is certainly no doubting that vast sums of money came Jami’s way, from places as diverse as Istanbul, Iraq, Tabriz, and India, as well as Khorasan; he recounts this, not without satisfaction, in his autobiographical qasida, the Rashh-i Bal. Much of this wealth, however, was spent on maintaining mosques and madrasas and meeting the needs of his students rather than personal indulgence, and the hostel he established provided food and lodging not only for Sufis but also for travellers of all types. Let us recall also his repeated interventions on behalf of those who had suffered injustice at the hands of the Timurid court and its agents; some of the petitions he wrote in his own hand are still extant. His ‘solitude within society’ had therefore a benevolent as well as a censorious dimension.

Jami’s denunciations of virtually every class of the elite and the commonalty may be ranged under the heading of social criticism, expressions of disquiet at the state of affairs he saw surrounding him. But he also seems to have derived from the principle of ‘solitude within society’ a mandate for polemical engagement with scholarly or sectarian tendencies he found abhorrent; we have already described the energetic response he made to the opponents of Ibn ʿArabi. A corollary of Jami’s high, unquestioning regard for al-Shaykh al-Akbar and the Sufi tradition in general was a disdain for the rational (p.117) sciences – Avicennan philosophy and kalam (scholastic theology) – that were being cultivated at the time in the madrasas of Herat. Jami’s vast erudition certainly embraced the key texts of both disciplines, particularly kalam, for they had been part of his curriculum in Herat and Samarqand, but they had signally failed to impress him. He even suggested that the failure of certain scholars – left, following his usual practice, unnamed – to act in accordance with their knowledge was connected to their immersion in books such as the Isharat of Ibn Sina and the Maqasid of Iji.

Such attitudes were not confined to Jami. None other than Bayqara, in another of his interventions in the scholarly sphere, once saw fit to prohibit the teaching of both philosophy and kalam, with such stringency that the students of these disciplines requested Jami to intercede on their behalf. His response was by no means friendly. He conceded that logic serves as a tool for the acquisition of all the sciences, but the study of a single treatise on the subject should be enough; the glosses and commentaries deal exclusively with trivial matters of wording and terminology and should therefore be avoided. Kalam is deemed permissible for the purpose of refuting erroneous doctrine, but complete mastery of the discipline is beyond the reach of most students, so why should they even embark on it? Moreover, although kalam is based on the concerns of the Shariʿa, it is subject to subtle contamination by the very philosophical doctrines it seeks to refute. Several days later, Kamal al-Din Shaykh Husayn, teacher of the students in question, him self took up their concerns with Jami. His response was in essence the same. Logic was categorically permissible, but kalam was a discipline fraught with danger, for while studying the arguments and proofs of the adversary, the novice might gradually come under their influence and stray from the right path. Moreover, kalam was incapable (p.118) of bestowing certainty; some of its practitioners maintained that divine speech is verbal and others that it is non-verbal, and neither camp can prove its case definitively. So too with the philosophers (hukamaʾ): they necessarily fall short of certainty. The arguments put forward by early philosophers have been refuted by their successors, and they, too, are likely to be discredited in the future.

Even this exchange did not put paid to the matter. Bayqara convened a debate between the opponents and proponents of the rational sciences, and requested Jami – hardly a disinterested party – to function as umpire. Since, however, his mandate was to reconcile the two groups, he adopted a somewhat conciliatory attitude on this occasion. Kalam, he declared, had been condemned outright by earlier scholars for its tendency to introduce division into the community, but once the variety of conflicting opinions had expanded beyond all reasonable measure, kalam became a necessity for refuting the patently false. Even then, however, its cultivation counted as a fard kifaya, i.e., a duty falling not on the individual but on one or two people capable of fulfilling it on behalf of the community. Insofar as kalam was to be taught in institutions of learning (darskhana-yi mudarrisan), it should come at the end of each session of instruction. Finally, for good measure, and perhaps as a way of showing equidistance from the two warring factions, he condemned those jurists (fuqahaʾ) who relied on fabricated hadiths to deceive and exploit the Muslims, a topic unrelated to the purpose for which the debate had been convened.

Jami was far more unyielding in his hostility to Shiʿism. Information on the strength and orientation of the Shiʿi minority in late Timurid Herat is sparse. It is sometimes imagined that the emphatic devotion to the Twelve Imams manifested by many Sunnis at the time, including Jami himself, was the sign of a general move in the direction of (p.119) Shiʿism. Such was not the case, but it remains true that the Shiʿi community, despite its minority status, was becoming increasingly assertive. Jami complained that in his time the ‘Rafidis’ – a pejorative name for Shiʿis often encountered in Sunni polemics – had so fully abandoned courtesy as to call Sunnis ‘Kharijis’ – the retaliatory insult employed by Shiʿis. Shiʿism as such, he maintained, was the malicious invention of ‘a handful of ignorant Jews’ and it had no connection to the Twelve Imams, whom Jami, in common with several of his contemporaries, sought to appropriate entirely for Sunni Islam.

A remarkable instance of Shiʿi assertiveness came at the beginning of Bayqara’s reign: a certain Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Karbalaʾi sought to have the Friday sermon at the Masjid-i Jamiʿ read in the name of the Twelve Imams, a distinctly Shiʿi practice. When consulted by Bayqara, Jami told him to reject the proposal, for, he argued, all Twelve Imams are implicitly included in the invocation of peace and blessings on the family and descendants of the Prophet that is traditionally made in the Sunni khutba; the Shiʿi practice, by contrast, excludes all mention of the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs.

Another manifestation of enhanced Shiʿi self-confidence at around the same time was the regular discovery or restoration of imamzadas (shrines of actual or purported descendants of the Imams), each becoming ‘a gathering place of ruffians and thugs,’ according to Bakharzi. Whether such was the case may be doubted; the issue was surely an attempt to enhance the visibility of the Shiʿi community and to dominate the localities in which the shrines were located. In any event, Jami tried to block the whole enterprise and, supported by the ulema of Herat, he had Bayqara issue a command for ‘the limbs of the evildoers to be severed by the sword of punition’. Thus it is phrased by Bakharzi (Maqamat, 157); (p.120) whether as a literal account of what befell the Shiʿis in question or by way of rhetorical flourish, is unclear.

In the year 885/1480, by means of a distinctly miraculous process, a tomb purporting to be that of ʿAli was detected at the locality near Balkh now known as Mazar-i Sharif (see above, p. 59). Jami’s endorsement of the shrine as authentic clearly involved a change of mind on his part, for not long before he had paid his respects to ʿAli at the shrine in Najaf, generally regarded by Sunnis and Shiʿis alike as the place of the Imam’s burial. The welcome Jami accorded this fortuitous discovery may therefore be interpreted as a further response on his part to the intensive Shiʿi search for imam zadas; it was also of a piece with his larger enterprise of detaching the Twelve Imams from Shiʿism.

Not all the confrontations between Jami and the Shiʿis involved the court. Once, a Shiʿi scholar took issue with a hadith reported by Bukhari – and therefore worthy of automatic credence on the part of Jami – but the rebuff was so crushing that ‘the wretch was unable to speak thereafter.’ Another time, a Shiʿi preacher from Qaʾin sought to engage him and other Sunni notables in debate, but Jami declined, on the grounds that he was too easy a target; even an old servant woman could easily defeat him. On the same occasion, Jami even declared that the repeated failure of Shiʿis to gain lasting and substantial power was in itself a proof of the falsity of their creed. This was a particularly infelicitous argument, for a mere nine years after Jami’s death, Shah Ismaʿil began establishing a Shiʿi state that was to endure for more than two centuries; and when his armies reached Herat in 916/ 1510, they did not fail to desecrate Jami’s tomb, as we shall soon see.

More a personal trait than a criticism of his time and its mores was Jami’s disdainful attitude to women, a corollary, (p.121) perhaps, of his lifelong attraction to handsome young men. In clear contravention of the normative model of the Prophet, he exalts celibacy as the ideal, for, he suggests, it was the lack of marital attachment that enabled Jesus to ascend to the heavens. If a man is neither driven mad by lust nor fully bereft of intelligence, ‘Why should he fetter himself, hand and foot/ cast his faith and his heart to the winds?’ If he nonetheless marries, he will have plunged unwittingly into ‘the ravine of perdition’. True, there may be an ideal bride free of all defect: unaccustomed to leaving the home, her beauty will never have been glimpsed by anyone, and if nonetheless someone’s gaze happens to fall on her, she will modestly blush. Such a woman exists only in the imagination, but if, ‘to suppose the impossible’, she were to be found, ‘regard her as a great gain; the ground on which she walks is more precious than the blood of one hundred men.’ Even then, however, one should not become sub ordinate to her; her opinion should be sought only to do the opposite of what she suggests. Wives are, moreover, hopelessly ungrateful; even if you shower gold and silver on them for a hundred years, attend to their every whim, to the extent of bringing brocade from Shushtar, pomegranates from Yazd, and apples from Isfahan, none of this will count for anything in their view, and they will feel free to proclaim, ‘O blight of my life, O plague of my soul, never did I receive anything from you!’ Marrying two women at the same time is particularly hazardous; they will conspire together against the husband, ‘like two vipers loaning each other poison.’ (Salaman va Absal in Haft Awrang, I. 410–11).

Despite all this, Jami does not discount the possibility of love as a bond between man and woman, at least in the context of his romantic masnavis. In Layli va Majnun, he even seems to express sympathy for the lovelorn woman whom (p.122) custom bars from joining her beloved, for he has Layli proclaim:

  • Men are blest, wherever they go/ but the wings of women, the wretched, are bound.
  • Women may not come and go in the pursuit of their love/ women are not in control of their affairs.
  • If love should rear its head/ this is a virtue in a man, but a fault in a woman (Layli va Majnun in Haft Awrang, II. 250).

In light of the foregoing, it is not surprising that after losing his first, anonymous wife, Jami postponed remarriage until he was fifty. As noted above, the bride was a granddaughter of his spiritual preceptor, Saʿd al-Din Kashghari, and the union served as an expression of loyalty to him. As for Jami’s dealings with other women, the limited anecdotal evidence suggests that they were of a piece with his overall misogyny. A learned lady of Herat, a poet and astronomer by the name of Bija Munajjima, had a mosque constructed in the vicinity of Jami’s dwelling in the expectation that he would occasionally pray there. However, he rebuffed her hope with a crudely insulting line of verse. She responded with a subtler and more effective line of her own, implying by means of a pun that Jami had surrounded himself with asses (Navaʾi, Majalis al-Nafaʾis, 350).

Jami’s ultimate preference would have been, it seems, solitude among books, not in society – seclusion in the absolute sense of the word, undiluted by any form of social intercourse. Such, at least, is the conclusion to be drawn from these lines of verse, which in addition provide a concise summary of his interests and tastes (Silsilat al-Dhahab in Haft Awrang, I. 137–8):

  • Make of your home a place of seclusion,/ sit facing the wall of retreat.
  • (p.123) Bind your heart solely to God,/ sever your mind from all thought of men.
  • Stand vigilantly at the gate of your heart,/ let none of your breaths be taken in vain.
  • If to ward off temptation by the evil-inclined self (nafs-i ammara)/ companion be needed,
  • Take choice books as your intimate friend,/ for they are the best of companions in this age.
  • Lay hold of a Qurʾan, well-copied and clear,/ accurate in all ways, like the mind of the wise.
  • Study the authentic hadith of the Prophet,/those that derive from his exalted conduct and character;
  • Acquire copies of Bukhari and Muslim/ free of all defect and error.
  • Read, too, the well-known commentaries on the Qurʾan,/ those far removed from distortion and innovation.
  • Then also texts on the principles and ordinances of the Shariʿa,/ whatever be worthy and most suitable,
  • And on the arts of language, on grammar and syntax,/ the finest that has ever been written.
  • Read, too, the treatises of the people of unveiling and witnessing (ahl-i kashf-o-shuhud),/ the dicta of those who have tasted the reality of being (ahl-i zawq-o-vujud),
  • Whatever appeals to reason and understanding/ discloses itself to the intelligent mind.
  • And from the Divans of eloquent poets,/the speech of the masters of verse,
  • Whatever expands your straitened breast,/ whether it be qasidas, masnavis, or ghazals.
  • Once you have gathered all these requisites,/ then avert your heart from all commerce with men.

(p.124) And for our part, not wishing to disturb Jami in the tranquillity of his library, let us now bid him farewell and embark on a survey of his legacy.