Quatrain on Divine Mercy


This calligraphic fragment includes a ruba'i (iambic pentameter quatrain), a few words of which are lost due to water damage. The poem begins with an invocation to God as "Ya Malak al-Muluk" (the King of Kings) and then praises God's mercy as a torrential rain, which allows humans to find fana' (annihilation) in the Divine. This spiritual blossoming resembles the growth of plants on the surface of a hard stone. On the back of this fragment appears the inscribed attribution "Mawlana Sultan Mīr ʻAlī," intended to identify the calligrapher whose name was either lost or erased on the fragment's recto. If this attribution is accepted, then one may conjecture that this work was executed by the great Persian calligrapher Mīr ʻAlī Ḥusaynī Haravī (circa 1476–1543), who was active in the city of Herāt (in present-day Afghanistan) during the 16th century until he was taken to Bukhara (present-day Uzbekistan) in 1528–29 by the Shaybanid ruler 'Ubaydallah Khan Uzbek. Mīr ʻAlī  was not only a master calligrapher and the creator of Nasta'liq script, but a poet in his own right. These lines may well have been written by him for one of his benefactors, with the purpose of drawing a poetic parallel between God's omnipotence and the earthly ruler's authority.

Last updated: September 30, 2016