Abū-Muhammad Muslih al-Dīn bin Abdallāh ShīrāzīSaadi Shirazi, better known by his pen-name Saʿdī or simply Saadi, was one of the major Persian poets of the medieval period. He is not only famous inPersian-speaking countries, but has been quoted in western sources as well. He is recognized for the quality of his writings and for the depth of his social and moral thoughts. Saadi is widely recognized as one of the greatest poets of the classical literary tradition.
Born in Shiraz, Iran, c. 1213, his father died when he was an infant. In his youth Saadi experienced poverty and hardship and left his native town for Baghdad to pursue a better education. As a young man he enrolled at the an-Nizamiyya center of knowledge (1195–1226), where he studied in Islamic scienceslawgovernancehistoryArabic literature, and Islamic theology. Saadi was also among those who witnessed first-hand Baghdad's destruction by Mongol Ilkhanate invaders led by Hulagu during the year 1258.
The unsettled conditions following the Mongol invasion of Khwarezm and Iran led him to wander for thirty years abroad throughAnatolia (where he visited the Port of Adana and near Konya met Ghazi landlords), Syria (where he mentions the famine inDamascus), Egypt (where he describes its music, Bazaars, clerics and elites), and Iraq (where he visits the port of Basra and theTigris river). In his writings he mentions the QadisMuftis of Al-Azhar, the grand Bazaar, music and art. At Halab, Saadi joins a group of Sufis who had fought arduous battles against the Crusaders. Saadi was captured by Crusaders at Acre where he spent seven years as a slave digging trenches outside its fortress. He was later released after the Mamluks paid ransom for Muslim prisoners being held in Crusader dungeons. After the Sack of Baghdad in 1258 by Hulegu and the Ilkhanate Horde, Saadi visited Jerusalemand then set out on a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. It is believed that he may have also visited Oman and other lands south of the Arabian Peninsula.
His best known works are Bustan (The Orchard) completed in 1257 and Gulistan (The Rose Garden) in 1258. Bostan is entirely in verse (epic metre). It consists of stories aptly illustrating the standard virtues recommended to Muslims (justice, liberality, modesty, contentment) and reflections on the behavior of dervishes and their ecstatic practices. Gulistan is mainly in prose and contains stories and personal anecdotes. The text is interspersed with a variety of short poems which contain aphorisms, advice, and humorous reflections, demonstrating Saadi's profound awareness of the absurdity of human existence. The fate of those who depend on the changeable moods of kings is contrasted with the freedom of the dervishes.