Quatrain on Reaching Divine Unity


This calligraphic fragment includes a rubaʻi (iambic pentameter quatrain) on the subject of spiritual transformation. At the top right, an invocation to God, Huwa al-ʻaziz (He is the Glorified), precedes the quatrain’s verses, which read: “When the close of my pain became the reason of my cure / My lowness changed into loftiness, and disbelief became faith / Spirit and heart and body were the obstacle to the path (toward God) / But now body became heart, heart became spirit, and spirit became the ‘Spirit of Spirits’.” The mystic describes his path towards God as hijab (veiled) because of his physical self. Only once he transforms himself into pure spirit can he be united with God, the Jan Janan (Spirit of Spirits). This motif of revelation and divine unity through spiritual metamorphosis is typical of ʻirfani (mystical) poets, such as Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi (popularly known in Persian as Mawlana, and in English as Rumi, 1207–73). Below the quatrain, the calligrapher, (Mir) ‘Imad al-Hasani, has signed his work with his name and a request for God’s forgiveness. Mir ‘Imad was born in 1552, spent time in Herat and Qazvin, and finally settled in Isfahan (then capital of Safavid Persia), where, as a result of his implication in court intrigues, he was murdered in 1615. He was a master of nastaʻliq script, whose works were admired and copied by his contemporaries and later collected by the Mughals. Many works in international collections are signed by him, although whether all these pieces are really by his hand remains uncertain.

Last updated: September 30, 2016