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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

for the village in Nepal see Sanai, Nepal
Born 1080 (?)
Died 1131
Occupation Persian Poetry
Genres Sufi Poetry, Wisdom Literature
Notable work(s) The Walled Garden of Truth

Hakim Abul-Majd Majdūd ibn Ādam Sanā'ī Ghaznavi (Persian: حکیم ابوالمجد مجدود ‌بن آدم سنایی غزنوی) was a Persian [1]Sufi poet who lived in Ghazna, in what is now Afghanistan between the 11th century and the 12th century. He died around 1131.



He was connected with the court of the Ghaznavid Bahram-shah who ruled 1118-1152. It is said that once when accompanying Bahramshah on a military expedition to India, Sanai met the Sufi teacher Lai-khur. Sanai quit Bahramshah's service as a court poet even though he was promised wealth and the king's daughter in marriage if he remained.


Sanai's best known work is The Walled Garden of Truth or the The Hadiqat-ul Haqiqah (حدیقه الحقیقه و شریعه الطریقه). Dedicated to Bahram Shah, the work expresses the poet's ideas on God, love, philosophy and reason[2]. The work contains 10,000 couplets in 10 section.

For close to 900 years, in the East at any rate, The Walled Garden of Truth has been consistently read and employed as a classic and Sufi textbook. According to Major T. Stephenson: Sanai’s fame has always rested on his Hadiqa; it is the best known and in the East by far the most esteemed of his works; it is in virtue of this work that he forms one of the great trio of Sufi teachers — Sanai, Attar, Jalaludin Rumi.. Sanai taught that lust and greed, emotional excitement, stood between humankind and divine knowledge, which was the only true reality (Haqq). Love('Ishq') and a social conscience are for him the foundation of religion; mankind is asleep, living in what is in fact a desolate world. Sanai's view on common religion was that it was only habit and ritual.

Sanai's poetry had a tremendous influence upon Persian literature. He is considered the first poet to use verse forms as the qasidah (ode), the ghazal (lyric), and the masnavi (rhymed couplet) to express the philosophical, mystical, and ethical ideas of Sufism. His book of poetry (divan) contains some 30,000 verses.

Influence and Legacy

Rumi acknowledged Sanai and Attar as his two primary inspirations, saying, "Attar is the soul and Sanai its two eyes, I came after Sanai and Attar."

Sanai's walled garden of truth was also a model for Nezami's Makhzan al-Asrar (Treasury of Secrets).

Sample Poetry

Of Those Who Heed Not

A discerning man questioned one of the indifferent, whom he saw to be very foolish and thoughtless, saying, Hast thou ever seen saffron, or hast thou only heard the name? He said, I have it by me, and have eaten a good deal of it, not once only, but a hundred times and more. Said the wise and discerning man to him, Bravo, wretch! Well done, my friend! Thou knowest not that there is a bulb as well! How long wilt thou wag thy beard in thy folly?

He who knows not his own soul, how shall he know the soul of another? and he who only knows hand and foot, how shall he know the Godhead? The prophets are unequal to understanding this matter; why dost thou foolishly claim to do so? When thou hast brought forward a demonstration of this subject, then thou wilt know the pure essence of the faith; otherwise what have faith and thou in common? thou hadst best be silent, and speak not folly. The learned talk nonsense all; for true religion is not woven about the feet of everyone.


Of him who feeds me

When they capture the hawk in the wilds, they secure it neck and feet; they quickly cover up both its eyes and proceed to teach it to hunt. The hawk becomes accustomed and habituated to the strangers, and shuts its eyes upon its old associates; it is content with little food and thinks no more of what it used to eat. The falconer then becomes its attendant, and allows it to look out of one corner of an eye, so that it may only see himself, and come to prefer him before all others. From him it takes all its food and drink, and sleeps not for a moment apart from him. Then he opens one of its eyes completely, and it looks contentedly, not angrily, upon him; it abandons its former habits and disposition, and cares not to associate with any other. And now it is fit for the assembly and the hand of kings, and with it they grace the chase. Had it not suffered hardship it would still have been intractable, and would have flown out at everyone it saw.

Others are heedless,—do thou be wise, and on this path keep thy tongue silent. The condition laid on such an one is that he should receive all food and drink from the Causer, not from the causes. Go, suffer hardship, if thou wouldst be cherished; and if not, be content with the road to Hell. None ever attained his object without enduring hardship; till thou burn them, what difference canst thou see between the willow and aloes wood?


Social Critiscm

His work reflects the Sufi concern with awakening:

Man Asleep

While mankind remains mere baggage in the world
It will be swept along, as in a boat, asleep.
What can they see in sleep?
What real merit or punishment can there be?

Hakim Sanai Ghaznavi was perhaps the earliest visualiser of a Pan-Islamic Union in the Muslim world divided in bitterness and bloodshed between the Sunni and Shia sects, where the unfortunate and unimportant misunderstandings and rival traditions of these two sects are forgone to build a united Islamic world.

A couplet from his Diwan reads:
"Ai keh na shanasi khafi ra az jali hushiyar bash!

ای که نشناسی خفی را از جلی هوشیار باش

Ai giraftar e Abu Bakar o Ali hushiyar bash!"

ای گرفتار ابوبکر و علی هوشیار باش

(O! He that can not read fine print from the bold, beware!
O! He that is engrossed in Abu Bakar and Ali, beware!)


  1. ^ "Sanāʾī." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 17 Jul. 2008 <>.
  2. ^ "Sanāʾī." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 15 Jul. 2008 <>.
  3. ^ Source: From: Enclosed Garden Of Truth, Edited and translated by J. Stephenson in 1910
  4. ^ Source: From: Enclosed Garden Of Truth, Edited and translated by J. Stephenson in 1910

References used

  • "Hadiqatal-Haqiqa Washari'at al-Tariqa" In Encyclopedia Iranica by J.T.P. De Bruijn [1]
  • E.G. Browne. Literary History of Persia. (Four volumes, 2,256 pages, and twenty-five years in the writing). 1998. ISBN 0-7007-0406-X
  • Jan Rypka, History of Iranian Literature. Reidel Publishing Company. 1968 OCLC 460598. ISBN 90-277-0143-1
  • Bo Utas, A Persian Sufi Poem: Vocabulary and terminology. Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies Monograph Series, Curzon Press, 1977. OCLC 4705360

Further reading

  • Sanai in original Persian
  • A Thousand Years of Persian Rubaiyat: An Anthology of Quatrains from the Tenth to the Twentieth Century Along With the Original Persian by Reza Saberi (Palang-faack - Nov 2000)
  • Diwan i Hakeem Sanai Ghaznavi - Foreword and research by Rahi Mu'airi. Maktab Kahkashan. Mashad, Iran.
  • Sanai, D. L. Pendlebury [Trans] (1974) The Walled Garden of Truth - Abridged (London: Octagon Press)
  • English translation of parts of the Hadiqa

See also

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