Sunday 28 November 2010

Tongues of the Hidden

  You blow away the hats of worldly status
And shatter the coronets of power with royal ease...
With the eyes of a deer you tame the lion of the sun
And the fold of your brow razes the arc of Jupiter

These are the words of Shams al-Din Muhammad, also known as Hafez of Shiraz, born 1315. But when I read these lines, I think of Kate Middleton preparing to tame the lions of English royalty, with her charm, her ease of gaze and lifted brow. 
Hafez, means one who knows the Qu'ran by heart, but the ghazals of Hafez are no literal interpretation of Islam. In fact, the saying goes, every Persian home has a Qu'ran and a Hafez. Hafez' concern is for the world of beauty and nature, for that which cannot be seen, and thus was he titled lesan al-ghaib, or the tongue of the hidden...
When the wise man views the leaves of the green tree
Each leaf is a sign of God's creation.
Islam is at a deeply painful confluence in our times. Words have become weapons. So it has been a pleasure to return to the poetry of the Shahnameh exhibiting at the Fitzwilliam Museum. The Book of Persian Kings, was written by Ferdowsi in 1010; its epic style and its author are comparable only to Homer in ancient Greece. And from Ferdowsi to Nizami to Hafiz, I found myself meeting Jila Peacock, a half Iranian doctor and artist extraordinaire. She has shaped ten animal poems from the metaphysical poet's work, each using the Nast'aligh script, which can be read both phonetically and iconically. In the world of Islamic Art, calligraphy is the highest form of artistic expression. In a culture where the word is the icon, calligraphy remains the only art to evoke the essential character of the Islamic world in a continuous tradition.

And so, naturally, when I asked Jila Peacock to sign my copy of her book, Ten Poems from Hafez, she wrote my name

Shayesteh (the Iranian phonetic way)
Shaista (the Indian English way)
and in Naskh, (the meaningful way).
She said she thought my name meant Outstanding.

But we know that Shaista means.... Fighting!!!


Maia said...

You always find just the right words ;)

Cinquefoil said...

That was so interesting, full of things I did not know before and feel like I now want to go and find out more about. So I guess, outstanding indeed. :)

S said...

Hi Shaista! This is an interesting post! I am amazed at the calligraphy this person has done. By the way, have you ever read any of Rumi's poetry?

Will you please comment on the poem on my blog. I really like your poetry and would love to hear what you think of mine.


Shaista said...

@Freddy, I have left a comment on your poem - go check :)
Yes I love Rumi's poetry - do you ever visit Ruth at synchronicity? She has a second blog called Rumi Days - i think you'd like it.

Juniper said...

A wonderful post and such exquisite artwork/poetry, a gift indeed to have met Jila Peacock, and I think she may have been onto something in describing you and your name as outstanding.

Tess Kincaid said...

I particularly like Jila's peacock, and so very appropriately so. Her words and images are lovely!

rauf said...

i am not dressed well today also Shaista so i'll stand outside and shout.

It is Shamsh-uddin Muhammad. laam (letter L) in al is silent. i have to tell you that its my high school knowledge and i may be wrong Shaista. and i'll be 63 in January. and i am completely out of touch with Urdu. i deeply regret that. Like fair skin, it was an obsession of learning English which made me ignore my mother tongue. Haafiz is a custodian, a protector. (here a custodian of Khurr-aan, one who memorises) Khuda Haafiz is may God protect you. or May God be your custodian.

Please check outstanding Persian names Jabir ibn Hyyan and Muhammad ibn Zakria al Razi. 8th century, Many firsts to their credit. Genius like Einstein. i think the world has not recognised their contributions, discoveries and inventions. Both were open critics of Islam. Persia was well advanced in Medicine and surgery in the 8th century itself. Both were chemists and doctors philosophers poets apart from many other things. The words chemistry and alchemy comes from the Farsi word Kimiya. Ilm-e-Kimiya is knowledge (or study) of chemicals.
Omar Khayyam came up with helio centric theory four hundred years before Copernicus did. He kept his theories calculations to himself for the fear of losing his head (literally) free thinking was allowed to a certain extent. But helio centric theory was against Islam. Galileo got himself in a big mess 500 years later saying the same thing.

enough of history.

your name doesn't have ye (E) Shaista, after Sha (sheen alif (aa)) comes a hamza (aayi) then comes tah
but you hold back on the ending ha which is half pronounced. i'll write it and mail you. i had a good hand Shaista, used to be good in cligraphy, all gone now.

Naksh is a sketch, nakhsha is a map a drawing, i have to remind you Shaista this is my high school knowledge, long before your mom and dad were born. i may be wrong.

please put the words well bred, highly refined, pure (purity of thought) highly intricate in a blender and turn on the switch you'll pour out Shaista. oh how unpoetic and crude i am !

Lydia said...

A beautifully expressed post, Shaista.

I am going to give the link to your blog to my blogging friend, Di, as a result of her latest post about visiting a friend who has lupus in Ohio. I do not know the blog title of her friend but if interested you can ask Di. :)

Jeanne-ming Brantingham said...

Outstanding fighter!

Ser said...

Wonderful calligraphy. Simply gorgeous. Btw. left comment in your email (gmail account) with regards to Reiki. Cheers.

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