The Mausoleum of Sa’adi is situated to the northeast of Shiraz in a pass flanked by mountains at a distance from Shiraz of four kilometers beside a hill known as Pahandez or Fahandezh and according to the statements of ancient historians, it is there that the great Sheikh Saadi had his place of retirement, and when he died, was interred there. And in the very place wherein his lifetime he had been the bright light of many assemblies, after his death also mystics and fellow-townsmen gathered around his tomb, and their attachment and devotion to him are reflected in the writings of historians and biographers of the eighth century A. H. , that is one century after his death, and some of these statements we proceed to quote.
The first historian who refers to Saadi’s dwelling-place is Ebn Batúta in the year 1347 A. D., which is about 57 years after Sa’adí’s death. In the course of his book, “Tuhfat ul anzár “, sometimes referred to as Rahleh. ye Ebn Batúta, he describes the tomb in this way. Among the shrines outside Shiraz is the tomb of Sheikh Saleh, known as Saadi» who was one of the greatest Persian orators.
He had a place of retirement, where he spent the closing years of his life. This place contains a beautiful garden, near which flows a copious stream and the Sheikh had made a small marble tank there for ablutions. People of this city regard his tomb as a place of pilgrimage. The author of the book “Shad ul ezár”, Composed in the year 1388 A D., has a description of Saadi, a summary and translation of which is as follows: He (that is, Saadi) was richly endowed with culture, self-restrained and a striver after purity of living and God had opened to him the His speech had an outward quality which delighted the common people and also an inward quality which the masters of intellect and sagacity could grasp. Several times he made the pilgrimage on foot to Mecca. He entered idol temples and smashed the idols. Afterward, he held in great respect.
He set up a place of retirement and fed the poor and indigent. The Muhammadans resorted to him. The birds and animals also were fed by him. He died in 1291 A. D., and they buried him in his quiet abode. Amir Dolatshahì Samargandi in his book «Tazkerat usSufara”, which was completed in the year 1486 A.D. writes The Shaikh at the close of his life selected a quiet spot outside the town and never again left his cell, and occupied himself with worship and devotion. King’s prominent people and pious men went to visit him. In another place he says, The tomb of Sheikh Saadi now in Shiraz is a pleasant place with a fine pool and a unique building, and people readily resort there. It is clear that in past centuries the Mausoleum of Saadi was several times reconstructed and repaired according to the regard felt for Saadi by the Shiraz Princes.
Some months ago when the asphalt round the tomb was being repaired and some digging took place several sections of a stone inscription on which were carved verses of Sa’adí in the Suls character were found. This was the stone placed over the doorway of the tomb which during some disturbance in the past had been broken in pieces. In the time of Karím Khán Zand among the improvements he carried out in Shiraz, he also restored the tomb of this great poet in the year 1717, And after that on several other occasions the princes, leading men and others, who held Saadi in honor restored and repaired his tomb.
The previous structure which stood until 1948 consisted of a two-story oblong building of burnt brick. In the lower story, which was one meter above the ground, and in the same place where the tomb-chamber now is was a room containing the gravestone surrounded by an iron grill. This structure was in no way worthy of the exalted position of so great a man. So according to the proposals of the local Society for the Preservation of the National Monuments of Fars, of which the writer is members and the effective efforts of the Central Society for the Preservation of the National Monuments, especially the constant endeavors of the distinguished scholar, Dr. Ali Asghar Hekmat Shirazi, who was himself, President of the Directive Council of that Society, in Teheran the present Mausoleum was built by Persian engineers and Shiraz workmen and the task was completed in the year 1952.
The total area of Saadi’s compound is 7700 square meters, The part occupied by buildings is 261 square meters and the rest is laid out as a garden. Underneath the compound, a spring of clear water flows, which can be reached by steps near the northwestern end of the building, and the water needed for the flowers and trees are drawn from that source by a pump. Bathing in that clear stream has been one of the pious practices of the people of Shiraz.
Saadi was born into a learned and accomplished family between the years 1209 and 1213 A. D. His name was Sheikh Mushref Din, and his father’s name was Abdollah, and since he lived in the time of the Atábak Abu Bakr Ben Zangi the sixth king of the Sulghurian dynasty he took the pen-name of Sa’adí from that of the reigning monarch. His father died when he was still a child.
The early stages of his education took place under the guidance of well-known Shiraz scholars and orators and he completed his more advanced studies under great masters in the Nezamiyyeh College at Baghdad, which was the best and most famous center of learning in the east. After concluding his studies, the restless and poetic spirit of Saadi induced him to leave his birthplace, and acquaint himself with other lands and peoples. So he spent the forty middle years of his life in travel, and during this long period, be made journeys to Syria, Iraq, Arabia, Asia Minor, Tripoli; parts of North Africa and also to India, Turkestan, Kashghar, and Balkh.
This prolonged, extensive and laborious travel perfected his knowledge, refined his nature, and endowed In the course him with a rich store of experience. In the course of these adventures, he met with many difficulties and satisfactions. He tasted chilling and heart-warming bitter and sweet experiences of life, memories of which are to some extent enshrined in the Bustan and Gulistan in the choicest poetry and prose. He became involved in the Crusades and was put to the labor of digging in the moat of Tripoli, but these ups and downs, and varying plights did not depress him, for he laid by in store many valuable experiences, and acquired a pure spirit and a joyful mind. Free of ties to persons and places he returned to his native city, Shiraz, and gave himself to the instruction of the people of his day.
It was during this time that he collected his sayings and writings and reflections on the past and composed and presented to the Persian-speaking people his two great masterpieces of literature in Persian prose and poetry, the Gulistan and the Bustan in the years 1257 and 1258 A. D. Saadi was the most eloquent of all Persian speakers and writers and up to now, no one comparable to him has appeared. His poems and exhortations, like the bright rays of the sun, illuminate the world of Persian literature, and his prose also, though more than seven hundred years have elapsed, is still the most fluent and elegant Persian prose in existence.
The position of Saadi in Persian literature is such that if supposedly, the Persian world had no other literary and philosophic personality, he alone by his works would suffice to make Persian literature immortal. Saadi made the acquaintance of many of the scholar’s orators and leading men of philosophy and religion, enjoyed their society, and engaged them in the discussion. He was a scholar who in his life-time became famous and renowned and he received from other scholars learned circles and people in general marked consideration, respect, and regard, and as he has said, his personal qualities were universally spoken of and his writings had the value of gold leaf. Not only in his own country but neighboring lands, and among scholars of the day and reigning monarchs, he was held in esteem, and after his day also his writings continued to be circulated and pas8ed from hand to hand.
The Gulistan was studied by Indian and Turkish monarchs and kings and princes of those countries used to commit his poems and writings to memory Saadi’s books in past centuries have repeatedly been translated and printed in most of the living languages of the world, and his sayings have constantly been the subject of reference and investigation on the part of scholars and orientalists. His entire works constitute a rich store of Persian literature the value of which is beyond computing. Saadi was an intrepid and courageous speaker and in place of the exaggerated eulogies of other speakers and flatterers, he exhorted the kings and rulers of the time to show justice and equity, and to give attention to the petitions and welfare of the people. He displays with apt description and attractive illustration like a moving scene before the eyes of his readers, the varied fortunes and the transference from hand to hand off the position wealth and property of kings, and he draws there. From the conclusion that a man, whatever rank and position he may hold should be well-disposed a servant of humanity, and a protector of the weak, the underprivileged, and the distressed.
He considers mankind to be members one of another and believes that all were created of one essence so that when one member is in pain and discomfort, the other members would also be deprived of ease and security. And he also concludes that if anyone is unaffected by the afflictions of others he is not worthy of the name of a man. And in another place among his lyrics, he says that what gives distinction and value to a man is his soul and spirit, his virtues and good deeds and not his costly and well-cut clothing and if only a man’s physical features such as his eyes, mouths ear and nose are distinctive, and there is no trace in his composition of moral excellence and praiseworthy qualities, he is nothing more than a lifeless picture. Saadi was not only a master of prose and verse and a poet but also a great authority on social science and character and a great philosopher, whose ethical and social teachings have illuminated the way that men should go.
The complete works of Saadi cover about 1300 pages, and consist of several books: The Gulistan (Flower Garden) mostly in prose: The Bustan(Orchard) The Qasaed (Elegiacs); The Ghazaliyat (Lyrics); The Taiyebat (Pieties) The Badaye (Rarities); The Khavatim (Finalities). All of these give expression to Saadi’s clear thinking and human interest which he had acquired as a result of a life of study, experience, investigation travel to far horizons and distant peoples, and contact and acquaintance with men of other countries and different religions. They are full of ethical social and literary counsel. The advice he gives on educational matters and his philosophical and ethical sayings are far too extensive to be included in this brief account. What has been said is a mere drop in the deep ocean of morality and virtue of this eminent world master of literature, and the writer with his limited literary acquirements will not be able to interpret and elucidate them, for articles and treatises could be written on Saadi’s every short and pregnant phrase, each one of which by itself would be sufficient to guide whole communities.
Some examples of his saying
We quote here as examples of his saying, a few short sentences from the Golestan, each one of which contains a world of meaning that those who know no Persian may become acquainted with one of the great personalities in the history of world literature. The following sentences are all antithetic, and in rhymed prose, the beauty of which cannot be represented adequately in an English translation:
Wealth consists of talents, not of money, and greatness is in intellect not in years.
He knows the worth of happiness who has known distress.
Show compassion to your weak subject, that no powerful enemy may trouble you. Whoever acts treacherously should dread the day of reckoning He whose account is clear can render it without fear.
Kings are to care for their subjects, subjects to obey their kings.
Sweep if needs be your friend’s floor, but do not even knock at your enemy’s door.
The flowing locks of the fair sex are like a chain enslaving the mind.
While you show no attachment, you will win no contentment.
The brother, who is self-inflated, is neither brother nor related.
It is easier to assure oneself of a meal, than the butcher of the cost of it.
A beautiful character is better than a thousand silk robes.
The virtuous man, wherever he goes is respected and given an honored place, but the worthless fellow hunts for scraps and meets with adversity.
No pains, no gains.
A young woman would rather be shot at than put up with an old man.
Liberal expenditure is evidence of a settled income.
All may be trained alike, but their capacity will vary.
The miser s silver will come to light when he has passed from sight.