عنوان مقاله [English]
Persian literary works with no apparent political themes have for long played an effective role in the political orientation of Iranians. In fact, a great part of Iranshahri political doctrine has found its way intothe literary works in the Islamic era. These include the four firstchapters ofNizami’sMakhzan al-Asrar(The Treasury of Mysteries). A glimpse at NizamiGanjavi’s bibliography (Radfar, 1992) and Dictionary of NizamiScholorship(Noroozi, 2012) shows that in spite of Nizami scholars’efforts, the political thoughts ofNizamiareyet to be explored.
European scholars have also showed interest in Nizami’spoetry and thoughts. In the introduction to her English translation of Haft Peykar, Julie Scott Meisamihas presented an analysis of this book (Meisami, 1995). Michael Barry’s profound and unique interpretation of Nizami’sHaft Peykar (Barry, 2006) is a valuable book published in France. It has also been translated into Persian. The subject of our study, however, has not been directly addressed by any of the above-mentioned scholars.
Russian, Azarbaijani, and Tajik scholars such as Krimsky, Berthels, Rafili, Hoseinov, Mirza Khaleghzadeh, Dadkhodayova, Mirza Torsonzadeh, A’lakhan Afsahzad have also conducted studies on Nizami. However, due to the dominantthoughts of their research, they have neglected the political aspects of Makhzan al-Asrar (VafiSani, 2015). The articles addressing the political thoughts of Nizami are the following:
1. Iranians’ method of government as reflected in Nizami’sworks (Safayee, 1974)
2. Political thoughts reflected in Haft Peykar(Matini, 1991)
3. Nizami’sbooks of wisdom (Ansari, 1992)
4. Politics and kingdom as reflected in Nizami’sthoughts (Rajaee, 1992)
5. Iranshahri political doctrine in Nizami’sEskandarNameh (Momtaz, 2005)
6. Iranshahri political doctrine in Iranian painting, a case study of BahramGoor and the shepherd who hanged his dog, from Nizami’sKhamsehon King Tahmasb’s period (KeshavarzAfshar, Tavoosi, &Zeymaran, 2010)
Research in the history and pre-Islamic Iranians’ intellectual tradition familiarizes us with a consistent model of political and strategic ideas, which is generally referred to as the Iranshahri political doctrine (Rezaee Rad, 1999). This doctrine has been survived for centuries while maintaining its capability to generate thought and to cohabit with other cultures. In other words, the existence of permanent elements in Iranian intellectual tradition before Islam had given it the privilege to be imitated and used as a superior doctrine on government by Muslim rulers (Ghaderi&RostamVandi, 2006)
AsSeljuks came to power, many Iranian thinkers realized that the best way to prevent bloodshed andviolence was to teach them how to run the country by using Iranians’ political thoughts and experience. Nizam al-Mulk was the greatest example of such thinkers and his Siyasatnameh (Book of Government) is the key book in teachingthe Iranians effective rules to Seljuk Empire and the subsequent dynasties. To show the importance of the book, it suffices to say that all the books written afterwardson the subject of politics and government were to a greater or lesser degree affected by it. Influenced by the content and method of Siyasatnameh, Nizamirecounts the attributes of a king,at the first four chapters of his Makhzan al-Asrar. Towards the end of the Seljuk period, he seemed to wish to uphold the legacy left by the great vizier.
Nizami had studied not only Shahnameh, Sanai’sHadighat al-Haghighah (The Walled Garden of Truth), Nizam al-Mulk’sSiyasatnameh, Gorgani’sVis VaRamin (Vis and Ramin), and KelilehvaDemneh, but alsohehad been influenced by Ghazali’s works. In these works, Nizami had found points about the various magnificent manifestations of man’s nature which were not known at the time. This gave him the background knowledge to use in designing his ideal model of government.
This research is based on the descriptive-analytical method using library resources. This study is an attempt to provide answers to the following questions:
1. In his first work, which is the result of seclusion, self-discipline and interior journey, and his first experience of expressing Shari’ah in verse, how does Nizami define concepts such as justice, politics, and government?
2. Through which references have Iranshahri-related concepts found their way into his mind and tongue?
To find convincing answers to these questions, the cultural heritage of the Sassanid, the Post-Islamic sources such asShahnameh, Sanai’sHadighat al-Haghighah, KelilehvaDemneh, Siyasatnameh (Siyar al-Molouk), and Ghazali’sNasihat al-mulukhavebeen examined.
3. Results and Discussion
The findings are summarized as it follows:
1. Nizami, as a social reformer and ethical teacher,utilized the richness of Persian and the knowledge from the above-mentioned sources,andtried to reform the government through Iranians’ political thought and action. That is why some of the components of the political doctrine of Iranshahri such as the role of minister, justice, lack of justice, and its consequences for nature, integration of religion and state, etc. have frequently been referred to in Makhzan al-Asrar’s stories,andare mostly inspired by Anushirvan’s desired tradition of kingdom.
2. In Makhzan al-Asrar, Nizami considers lack of justice as the root of all social maladies. For him, politics, in its theoretical sense, constituted a quest for justice for everyone and having faith in the good-nature of human beings.In fact, he was not pessimistic of reaching that goal. This explains his belief in the possibility of changingking’sbehavior, through advising.
3. Nizami, influenced by the Iranian culture, believed that the main duty of a king was to establish justice; thus, any king doing injustice was not to be called aking. In the story of the old woman and Sanjar, Nizami calls the king “an aggressive Hindu” (NizamiGanjavi, 2008) simply because he failed to do his duty; that is, to rule justly.
4. In the ancient Iranian intellectual tradition, the king was the source of all good and evil, whose action affected the people and the country. Kings were likened to springs of which pure or fowl water flowed forth depending on their nature. If the king was just, there would be abundance as well as much rain and rivers, and springs would be overflowed. Farmers would gather riper crops from the fields, roads would be safer, and the government would thrive (Crone, 2010). This thought seems to have affected Nizami’sworks through Shahnameh, Siyasatnameh, and Ghazali’s works as well as through the cultural atmosphere of the 12th century. Nizami has clearly expressed his understanding of this ancient political tradition in the story of Anushirvan and the ruined village.
5. Even though Nizami did not attend the kings’ courts, he performed from his own position of seclusion his duties as a counselor and vizier. Considering the function of viziership in the social and political structure of the ancient Iran, he considered himself a poet-vizier by following Bozorgmehr, the wise vizier of Anushirvan. In the story of Anushirvan and the ruined village, he describes the vizier as a man of wit and wisdom, and says that a king’s injustice will ruin the country. He also states that the survival of a kingdom, as well as peace and satisfaction of the people and the thriving of the country depends on the wisdom and impartiality of the vizier.
6. Nizami also believed in the integration of state and religion, as described in the Letter of Tansar and King Ardeshir’s Covenant, as well as in most of the works from the Islamic era such as Ferdowsi’sShahnameh (2014), Miskawayh’sTajarib al-Umam(1990),Sanai’sHadighatal-Haghighah(1980), NasrallahMunshi’sKelilehvaDemneh (1983),Nizamal-Mulk’sSiyaral-Molouk(1961), and Ghazali’sal-Iqtisad fial-I'tiqad(1993). Nizami’s spiritual position brought him respect among the kings. This gave him the privilege to protest against kings in his own poetical way, reminding them of their main duty as guardians of religion and the country (NizamiGanjavi, 2008).
7. The establishment of new and just rules is one of the features of Iranshahri political doctrine. A new orderdoes not involve a dramatic change or revolutionin the modern sense of the word, but a social reform; an improvement of what is wrong or corrupt. Nizami seems to clearly show this in the story of Anushirvan and the ruined village, where Anushirvan, being deeply affected, finds that the best way to restore the society to its previous state is to rule justly.
8. Books of advice provide particularly suitable means to address maladiesof the society. A glance at Makhzan al-Asrar shows that the poet critically examinesall inhuman subjects which draw the society toward evil. He argues that the Prophet’s tradition has been deviated. In particular, he holds pleasure–seeking kings and impious clergymen accountable for this deviation (NizamiGanjavi, 2008). In the third chapter, criticizing the social circumstances, he says that humanity has vanished and good people are hidden like angles (ibid). Nizami’saims at eradicating the social maladies by reviving the ethical principles. He believes that by purifying man from worldly belongings, he can construct a society based on mortification and devotion, which is less congenial to man’s nature.