Iran's Culture 25 Dec 2023 BY Batul Iddi

Fal-e Hafez | Answers through Hafez Poetry

Have you ever encountered a poet whose verses have the power to offer a glimpse into your destiny and provide guidance in times of uncertainty?

Hafiz is a 14th-century Persian poet famous for his mystic poems. He was given the title of Hafez because of his profound knowledge of the Quran. His profound impact on Persian literature and culture is undeniable, but there is more to Hafiz than meets the eye.

Hafiz's Diwani is a collection of Hafez's poems, which continue to inspire and resonate with readers today. In fact, seeking guidance from his poetry has been a tradition in Iran for centuries.

In the Persian tradition, whenever one is faced with a crossroads or has a general question, one would keep that question in mind and then ask the Fale Hafez for guidance.

Through his mesmerizing poems, Hafiz had a unique way of invoking introspection, compelling the questioner to gaze into the mirror of their own soul.

In this intriguing practice known as Fale Hafez, the first line of the Ghazal, the reader catches after opening Hafez Diwani is believed to hold power to unlock the response to the specific inquiry, and the rest of the poem would unravel deeper clarifications. Join us to discover the life and wisdom of Hafiz and understand the Omen of Hafez, from its origin to how you can do it by yourself.


Life of Hafez

2. Life of Hafez

Shamsuddin Mohammad Hafiz, known as "Khajeh Hafez Shirazi," holds a place of honor among Iran's most celebrated poets. His name resonates throughout history, eternally linked to the essence of Iran itself. While precise details about his early life are scarce, it is believed that Hafez was born in Shiraz either in 1325 or 1326.

Hafez hailed from a family of modest background, with his father, Baha'd al-Din, migrating from Isfahan to Shiraz during the reign of the Atabak rulers of Fars. Hafez received a classical religious education from a young age, specializing in Qur'anic studies and theology. His deep knowledge of the Qur'an earned him the title "Hafez," referring to someone who memorized the holy book.

Despite his youth, Hafez quickly excelled in religious and literary knowledge, becoming a prominent figure in his twenties. Additionally, he wrote commentaries on religious texts and enjoyed the patronage of various rulers in Shiraz as a court poet.

Hafez's era coincided with the transition of power from the Atabaks to the Muzaffarid dynasty. He gained recognition during the reign of Sheikh Jamal al-Din Abu Sahak, the ruler of Fars, who fostered an environment of justice, progress, and security. Hafez expressed his gratitude towards Sheikh Jamal al-Din Abu Sahak in his poetry, praising his noble qualities.

However, following Abu Sahāq's reign, Amir Mobarzaddin Shahi seized power, ushering in a period of oppression and hardship. Hafez opposed the authoritarian rule and expressed his discontent through his poetry. Eventually, Shah Mahmud and Shah Shojae, the sons of Amir Mobarzaddin, overthrew their father, and Hafez found support and respect from the new rulers.

Towards the end of his life, Hafez witnessed the invasion of Iran by the brutal Amir Timur. During this tumultuous time, Hafez passed away in 1390. He was buried in a beautiful area in Shiraz called the Mosul River, which later became known as Hafezieh.

Hafez's poetry stood the test of time and gained widespread acclaim during his lifetime. His verses spread beyond Iran, reaching as far as India, where he was highly respected by rulers such as the Sultans of Al-Jalray and the kings of Bahmani in Deccan. Hafez's lyrical prowess, particularly in his ghazals and quatrains, is the foundation of his enduring reputation and immortal legacy.

| Read the full article: Tomb of Hafez - Famous Persian Poet


Divan of Hafiz

3. Divan of Hafiz

The Divan of Hafez or Diwan Hafez is a revered collection of poems penned by the renowned Iranian poet Hafez. Primarily composed in Persian, this anthology also includes macaronic language poems—written in both Persian and Arabic—as well as a ghazal exclusively in Arabic. The ghazals hold particular significance among the various forms of poetry in the Divān.

The Divan of Hafiz is considered a treasure in every Iranian household, held in high esteem alongside the holy Quran. Hafez's poems encapsulate a range of positive and negative emotions, providing an outlet for expression that may otherwise elude them. The verses of Hafez are imbued with multiple layers of meaning and often delve into the realm of the metaphysical.

Fale Hafez is a longstanding tradition among Iranians where you consult Hafez's poems in times of dilemmas and difficulties or when seeking insights into the future. Surprisingly, these verses can often offer uncannily relevant responses to personal problems, as if they were composed specifically for the individual seeking guidance. Consulting Hafez is not merely a superstitious act; rather, it involves aligning one's thoughts with the poet's wisdom in order to attain favorable outcomes. This practice allows individuals to draw inspiration and contemplate their own circumstances in light of Hafez's profound insights.


What is Fale Hafez and Its Origin?

4. What is Fale Hafez and Its Origin

Fale Hafez, in English, means The Omen of Hafez, is a popular form of fortune-telling practice in Persian culture that involves seeking guidance and insight into the future through the poetry of Hafez.

Fortune telling encompasses the concepts of prophecy and sequel, referring to information about the unknown future. The origins of fortune-telling can be traced back to ancient times. The practice can be found in various cultures throughout history, with different methods such as palmistry, nose reading, and sand divination.

The practice of Fale Hafez, or seeking fortunes through the poetry of Hafez, is believed to have origins that can be traced back to shortly after Hafez's death. After Hafez's passing, those who had opposed him prevented his burial in the Mosalla cemetery. To resolve the dispute, they decided to seek guidance from Hafez himself. They opened his sonnets and followed the guidance provided by Hafez Shiraz. All of Hafez's poems were written down and placed in a basket. Eighty-two verses were chosen, explicitly stating that Hafez's burial should not be hindered. This event solidified Hafez's reputation, and he was laid to rest with his name intact.

Throughout Iranian history, it is mentioned on numerous occasions that kings and rulers sought guidance from Hafez's poems, often tying their decisions and actions to his horoscopes. For instance, during the reign of Shah Tahmasp, when he lost his ring and became greatly distressed, he ordered the Divan of Hafez to be consulted in hopes of finding the lost ring. Another anecdote involves Shah Abbas, who contemplated invading Tabriz after his extensive conquests but had some doubts. He turned to Hafez's poetry for guidance and found explicit mention of the conquest of Tabriz, which gave him the confidence to proceed and achieve success.

| Read more: Shahnameh - The Epic Persian Book of Kings


Does Fale Hafez Really Predict the Future?

5. Does Fale Hafez Really Predict the Future

Fortune telling is a subject that has intrigued many of us, prompting the question: Does fortune have any basis in reality?

While it lacks scientific evidence, numerous individuals believe in horoscopes and even shape their lives around them. Even for those who don't believe in fortune, the prospect of glimpsing into the future can be exhilarating. In essence, many Iranians partake in fortune-telling not necessarily due to belief but for the excitement and amusement it brings.

It is also widely acknowledged that science alone cannot satisfy all human needs, and certain phenomena do not require scientific validation. Psychologists often assert that positive mental imagery and elevated thoughts can bring about significant changes, and fortune-telling can contribute to this process. Essentially, a good omen illuminates the beliefs hidden within our subconscious. In other words, the future predicted by fortune-telling originates from our unconscious minds rather than predetermined fate—it is an exploration of our inner selves.


When Do Iranians Engage in Fale Hafez?

6. When Do Iranians Engage in Fale Hafez

Partaking in Fale Hafez is not bound by a particular time or location, so you can recite Hafez's sonnets and seek an omen whenever you desire. However, certain occasions are commonly associated with consulting Hafez's Divan for a horoscope. These occasions include Nowruz (the Persian New Year), Chaharshanbe Suri (a fire festival celebrated before Nowruz), Shab-e Cheheleh (a winter solstice celebration), 13 Bedar (a festive day in spring), the last Wednesday of the month, and the thirteenth day of the month. On these special events, Iranians engage in Fale Hafez and draw guidance from Hafez's verses.

| Suggestion: Iranian Festivals and Celebrations


Fale Hafez in Yalda Night

7. Fale Hafez in Yalda Night

Predicting the future has been cherished among the Iranian people for ages, especially on Yalda night. While the exact details of the ancient Taf'al ritual performed on this night remain unclear, it later transformed into the tradition of engaging in Fale Hafez.

On Yalda Night, Iranians come together to celebrate the longest night of the year. They gather and decorate a colorful table, staying awake until morning. During the night, family members also engage in Fale Hafez by reciting Hafez's poetry and seeking guidance through his poems.


How to Take Fale Hafez

8. How to Take Fale Hafez

Taking Fale Hafez involves specific customs believed to yield accurate results. Typically, an elderly family member, respected and literate enough to read and interpret Hafez's sonnets, takes upon themselves the task of taking a horoscope for others and declaring their interpretation. These are the following steps to take, Faleh Hafez:

  1. Intention: The first and crucial step is to set a clear intention for the fortune you seek. Focus your intention on a specific question or matter, ensuring sincerity.
  2. Recite Surah Fatiha: It is customary to recite Surah Fatiha before taking Fale Hafez. This act is believed to enhance the accuracy of the answer received. Some consider it a vow to unravel obstacles in their endeavors, although it is not the primary ritual of fortune-taking. It serves as a dedication to the soul of the esteemed poet.
  3. Oath: After reciting Surah Fatiha, the individual taking the fortune swears, using Hafez's phrases, to ensure a favorable outcome. The oath may include expressions such as, "I swear by Allah and by your horn that you will reveal what is right and fulfill my desires." Poetic variations may be used, tailored to the intent-person's preferences.
  4. Open the Book: With closed eyes, the individual holds the book with their left hand and randomly opens a page using the fingers of their right hand. In some traditions, a child with a pure heart and intention may be chosen for this task, while in others, the individual or an elder performs it.
  5. Interpret the Omen: Among the opened pages, the right page is selected, and the top sonnet on that page is considered the answer to the horoscope. In cases where the first verse of the sonnet is on the previous page, the individual must go back and read the poem from the beginning of the sonnet aloud.

The interpretation of the poem is subjective and can vary based on personal understanding and intuition. It is believed that the response lies in the individual's own subconscious and that the poem serves as a catalyst for self-reflection and insight.

To interpret the poem, you have to look for lines in the sonnet that align with the intentions set. If the answer is not found, move to the next sonnet, known as the falsifying witness. These verses confirm and reiterate the contents of the previous Ghazal, aiding in finding the answer. It is advised not to seek fortunes on a particular topic multiple times, so strive to find the response through the concepts within the same opened poems.


Bottom Line

Hafez is a mystic Persian poet of the 14th century who left an undeniable mark on Persian literature and culture. His deep understanding of the Quran earned him the title of Hafez.

Hafiz had a remarkable ability to evoke introspection through his mesmerizing poems, prompting individuals to reflect upon their own souls. In the intriguing practice of Fale Hafez, the first line of the Ghazal that catches the reader's eye upon opening Hafiz's Diwani is believed to offer a profound way for individuals to connect with themselves, seek guidance, and find answers within the depths of their own being.

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