Mosharraf al-Din, bynamed Saadi, was born in Shiraz around 1200. Little is known of his life – not even the exact date of his birth. However, it is known that he lost his father in early childhood and was sent to Baghdad to study at the Nezamiyeh College, where he accuired the traditional sciences of the time. Saadi traveled through many countries, perhaps in an attempt to escape the unsettled conditions prevailing after the Mongol invasions of Iran. He wandered around Anatolia, Syria, Egypt, and Iraq. It is possible that he made the pilgrimage to Mecca. In his works, he refers to his travels in India and Central Asia, but these journeys cannot be confirmed. In North Africa he was held captive by the Franks, and was put to work in the trenches of the fortress of Tripoli. Well might he say of himself – and one cannot imagine a better traveller’s motto – “I have wandered through many regions of the world, and everywhere have I mingled with the people. In each corner I have gathered something of good.”


When Saadi reappeared in Shiraz he was an elderly man. He seems to have spent the rest of his life there, in a hermitage which he built for himself on the spot where his tomb now stands. He died at a very advanced age in 1292.
Saadi took his pen name from Saad ibn Zangi. His best-known works are the poem Bustan (“The Orchard”,1257) and the didactic work Golestan (“The Rose Garden”, 1258), in both prose and verse. Saadi is also remembered as a great lyricist and panegyrist, particularly for his ghazals, in which he is rivaled only by his great fellow-townsman Hafez. Saadi’s golden maxims are highly valued by the Iranians, who consider them treasures of real wisdom. Indeed, the university of great poet’s words has caused them to be placed in such a faraway setting as the entrance to the Hall of Nations in New York;

 


Of one essence is the human race,
Thusly has Creation put the Base; 
One limb impacted his sufficient, 
Fall all Others to feel the Mace.

 

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