Tazkirat al-Ahwal

تذکرۃ الاحوال Translated by: Mana Kia. Original language: Persian

٘Muhammad Ali ‘Hazin’ Lahiji

Delhi, India
1692 – 1766

[From Hazin’s days of study as a young man]

During those days [in Isfahan], of all the strange occurrences and events, there was the passion for a beauty [with such] manner of beautiful qualities, that my heart became maddened.

You showed me a trace of the beauty of the friend but / Should this world and the next collide I have no agitation or malevolence

A novel agitation befell the secluded palace of my mind and from my restless heart arose sedition and tumult.

I have made my morning lesson at the head of the tavern / Put the times of prayer in the cause of the beloved

Fire strikes the harvest of a hundred rational ascetics / [From] this burning brand that I have placed on [my] maddened heart[1]

The nightingale heart of my frenzied state took to composing this melody in a soaring voice:

I say it openly and I am happy with my utterance / I am the slave of love, and free of both worlds

On the tablet of my heart there is nothing but the contour of the beloved’s stature / What should I do, my teacher has taught me nothing else[2]

Even more extraordinary, during the time I was humble and supplicating at the other end of the [beloved’s] lane, when the [the beloved] came outside I began repeatedly reciting this verse:

O Rose, it not just my tumult that burns for you / The riot of a hundred devastated [lovers] burns for you

One night I went to a garden with a group of faithful friends. Mawlana Ali Kawsari Isfahani was present, the famous calligrapher who was the master of outward form and inner meaning in discourse. He was a rarity of the time, and in the beauty of his voice and composition, his song was second only to the wondrous David. In the middle of the night he composed music. First he took to singing this verse:

Come tonight so that in the meadow we may make full [our] goblets / You mark the candle and rose and I the nightingale and moth

A state came over this inflamed one for which there is no description. A thousand times my elemental body must have been emptied of its ruling spirit. Until morning his song was the same verse. He would sing it, then become silent, and then after a moment he would sing the same song.

After a while I met with an arduous complication. One night a pain in my joints appeared, and having grown in intensity by the morning it took hold of all the joints of my body [until] I was incapable of movement. A group of physicians came to administer treatment and prescribed perspiration and the drinking of China root. It [the treatment] was hard on me because of the assault of sorrows.

[Then] one of the physicians, Mirza Sharif, son and successor of the well-known Hakim Jalal al-Din, who was ingenious among physicians and adorned with the ornaments of wisdom and integrity, undertook a different tactic of treatment. After two or three days, the aforementioned physician, having been afflicted by the same illness, took to his bed. I composed a ghazal for that occurrence whose opening verse is this:

Opening Verse of the Ghazal

If you kill me for the crime of love, I am grateful for the favor / [but] what is the sin of the untroubled ascetic, oh Lord, I am perplexed

And [also] from this ghazal:

In the primary school of existence the book of love is the tablet of the heart / It is good that you have drawn the lines of my nullification on the contours of the [beloved’s] body’s

After two months God (the exalted) granted me healing from that chronic pain and I turned again to education.


Hazin Lahiji, Muhammad ‘Ali. Tarikh va Safarnamah-i Hazin. Ed. ‘Ali Davvani. Tehran: Markaz-i Asnad-i Inqilab-i Islami, 1375 [1996].  Please note: this source has been renamed Tarikh va Safarnamah-I Hazin by this recent editor.


Further Reading:

Alam, Muzaffar. “The Culture and Politics of Persian in Precolonial Hindustan.” In Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia, ed. Sheldon Pollock, 131-98. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

Kia, Mana. “Accounting for Difference: A Comparative Look at the Autobiographical Travel Narratives of Muhammad ‘Ali Hazin Lahiji and ‘Abd al-Karim Kashmiri.” Journal of Persianate Studies 2 (2009): 210-236.

—. “Contours of Persianate Community, 1722-1835,” Ph.D. diss, Harvard University, 2011.

Kinra, Rajeev. “Make it Fresh: Time, Tradition, and Indo-Persian Literary Modernity.” In Time, History, and the Religious Imaginary in South Asia, ed. Anne C. Murphy, 12-39. London: Routledge, 2011.

Metcalf, Barbara D. and Thomas R. Metcalf. “Chapter 2 – Mughal Twilight: The Emergence of Regional States and the East India Company.” In A Concise History of Modern India, 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. 29-55.

Babayan, Kathryn. “Shaping a Mainstream: Mystics, Theologians, and Monarchs,” (403-437); and “Conversion and Popular Culture,” (439-482) in Mystics, Monarchs and Messiahs: Cultural Landscapes of Early Modern Iran. Cambridge: Harvard Center for Middle East Studies, distributed by Harvard University Press, 2002.

[1] These are verses from the ghazals of Khwajah Shams al-Din Muhammad “Hafiz” Shirazi (d. 1390).

[2] Ibid.