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“Human beings are members of a whole”: A poem for humanity

Iran marks National Day of Sa’adi Shirazi, the renowned Persian poet.

April 21st marks the National Commemoration Day of the eminent 13th-century Persian poet Sa’adi Shirazi, the Master of Speech, as he is called. It is an opportunity to recall the essence of human existence narrated in many of his works.  

Given the current outbreak of the Covid-19 throughout the world, many scholars and even politicians quote some of his poems and advices which emphasize on unity of humanity and necessity of loving and helping each other. The following poem of Sa’adi is also inscribed on the building entrance of the United Nations in New York.  

Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain.

As one of the major Persian poets, mystics and metaphysicians of the medieval period, Abu-Mohammad Mosleh al-Din bin Abdallah Shirazi, better known by his pen-name as Sa’adi, is recognized in the literary world for the quality of his writing style and in the spiritual realm for the depth of his thoughts.

Why do we love Sa’adi and listen to his advice?

The fact is that the words and freshness of Sa’adi’s poetry, as well as the foresight and wisdom of the tales of this famous Iranian poet, are so transcendent that anyone, without any reason, is enchanted by the balanced spirit and moderation in his poetry.

Sa’adi’s poetry reminds sympathy as the essence of human existence, as a balanced approach to daily life that can uproot many conflicts in the society.

Avoiding controversy in word and deed, and turning to a calm and gentle attitude for how to behave and live in coexistence is promoted in Sa’adi’s poetry.

Respecting for Sa’adi is respect for virtue, humanity and liberty in the world; these are the components that modern humanity needs more than ever. And for the sake of achieving it, he has also made his all efforts.

Saadi's two best-known masterpieces are the Bustan (The Orchard), composed entirely in verse, and the Golestan (The Rose Garden), in both prose and verse. The two put an emphasis on a unity in mankind and interdependence regardless of social barriers and labels.

Saadi is probably the first Persian poet to have been translated into European languages. A German version of the Golestan appeared in 1654.

Saadi's tomb is located in southern Shiraz. His mausoleum, also called Saadieh, is one of Iran’s major tourist attractions. Lines from Saadi's poems are still commonly used in conversations by Iranians today.

Many Persian elements have been used in the architecture of Saadi's tomb. It is also a National Heritage Site.

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