HAFEZ: Synagogue or Mosque

HAFEZ: Synagogue or Mosque
by Hafez for Beginners


One attribute of much of Persian thought is the fascinating strands of continuity you find. One such strand, that goes back all the way to Cyrus's reign some 2500 years ago - is the concept of respect for all modes of worship. When you think about it, in his day - "invaders" asked the new subjects to either convert or die. In fact until very recently in Europe, that was how a religious ruler exerted his or her power: "my way or the highway."

And Iranians have this heritage from some 2500 years ago, of breaking that norm. Wow!!  And it's wonderful when it pops up in Persian poetry, too - some 1800 years after Cyrus's reign, with Hafez here exalting the virtues of acknowledging that  all  see the holy in their own way. 


همه کس طالب یارند چه هشیار و چه مست

همه جا خانه عشق است چه مسجد چه کنشت

Hameh kass taleb-eh yarand cheh hoshiar o cheh mast

Hameh ja khaneh-yeh eshgh ast cheh masjed cheh kenesht

We all yearn for the Beloved, whether sober or intoxicated

And we all find Love, whether here in the mosque, or there in the snyagogue


3 PHOTOS: (Christianity, Judaism, Zorastrianism)

I was in the Friday Bazaar (Jomeh Bazaar) in Tehran in 2007 and there to take artisitc shots. So much detail! It was an overwhelming experience. But the thing that stood out most, was the ready presence of symbols from so many religions. The "farangi" in me felt it was strange and unusual, but when you observed the locals, that was who they were - it came very naturally to be mingling among all these artefacts. Incredibly impressive stuff - and my camera took many, many photos - the 3 here are all of from the Jomeh Bazaar expedition.



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more from Hafez for Beginners

Of the True Jews!

by Demo on

Let this blog 's readers be the judge who is calling who with the names & who is angry with what! Something for sure, however, that the true followers of Moosa (Moses) never ever attack other people of faith with their religions as they might also be worshipping the same deity as the GOD of Moosa, Moses that is!


Hafez for Beginners


by Hafez for Beginners on

Mousa67: Go to Mashad and see that ordinary people follow Islam the religion, in Iran, en masse!!!  And if you liked Cyrus saving the Jews, I recommend respecting other religions the way Cyrus did. I'd appreciate if you respected the original point of the Blog? And Cyrus, for that matter.



demo : you angrily calling me names for expressing my opinion

by mousa67 on

proves the point i was making to hafez for beginers. that followship of islam amongst iranians is increasingly limited to a bunch of west residing cyber mamoors like you.  you are pathetic no matter what user ID you use. you and your ilk are a shame to your religion.


Neither did Genghis and his sons! as testified by Hafez

by anglophile on

Mongols, after a brief and initial period of ransacking the mosques, converted to Islam and spread the faith . Hafez goes OTT in praising the incumbant mongol-descended king who was his contemporary: احمد الله علي معدله السلطان 

 احمد شيخ اويس حسن ايلخاني‏

خان بن خان و شهنشاه و شهنشاه نژاد 

 آن كه مي‏زيبد اگر جان جهانش خواني‏

ديده ناديده به اقبال تو ايمان آورد 

 مرحبا اي به چنين لطف خدا ارزان‏

ماه اگر بي‏تو بر آيد به دو نيمش بزنند

 دولت احمدي و معجزه‏ء سبحاني‏

جلوه‏ء بخت تو دل مي‏برد از شاه و گدا 

 چشم بد دور كه هم جاني و هم جاناني‏

بر شكن كاكل تركانه كه در طالع تست 

 بخشش و كوشش خاقاني و چنگز خاني‏

گر چه دوريم به ياد تو قدح مي‏گيريم 

 بعد منزل نبود در سفر روحاني‏


Phony IC's Koshers!

by Demo on



"The 'holy quran" is a clear example. just take a look at the blogs on
this site. i have never ever seen the followers of any other religion
ridiculing and turning away from their religion like this. just amazing."

With this degree of intelligence on IC, why does IRI need to block the site inside the country at all? No kiddings!   

Hafez for Beginners

massive lesson

by Hafez for Beginners on

mousa67:  - yes I agree that Cyrus was cool - Thomas Jefferson had two copies of Cyropedia at Monticello, to study effective governance.

I will also maintain my Persian heritage's position of not bashing any "Holy Book" -  It's a profound position and remember, there was plenty to "bash" in Cyrus' day, too. He just put his foot down and refused to - Massive lesson.



of "holy book bashing".

by mousa67 on

surely any "holy book" whose verses have been consistently cited & used as justification for rape, murder, deception and terrorism, with it's own followers as the primary victims, deserves a lot more than just bashing.

the 'holy quran" is a clear example. just take a look at the blogs on this site. i have never ever seen the followers of any other religion ridiculing and turning away from their religion like this. just amazing.

but i agree with you on cyrus. cyrus was cool and freed the jews. that is why jews need to return the favor by helping to free iranians from islamic republic. 

Hafez for Beginners


by Hafez for Beginners on


Aviva: Nice to see you here, and thanks for the explanation of the 3 versions of essentially the same word: "bet ha knesseth", "kenissah", and "kenesht". Fascinating! It reminded me of the story from Rumi's Massnavi - where a Turk, an Arab, a Persian and a Greek are all fighting over what they should buy to eat - not known to all of them, they are all saying "Grapes" - but each in their own language. Fighting over the same thing - without knowing. The moral of the story being that humanity often fights over imaginary differences - that when you dig deeper, we all pretty much want the same thing! Thanks for the detailed explanation, again!

Iraj Khan: Indeed a picture is worth a 1000 words. Those 3 photos, collaged here into 1 photo, were all taken in one afternoon randomly going through bric and brac at the Friday Bazaar. It was a very easy and soothing experience, how these objects were being sold non-chalantly under one roof. "Engar Na Engar" beh gholeh marouf... It was just lovely and natural.


Anglophile: Thank
you for your comments and views. With due respect, Hafez is far more
subtle and intelligent than either you or me - hence his
across-the-board appeal to ALL - and that was the point of the Blog. 
From the atheist, to the most devout religious observer - Hafez finds a way to deeply connect -  I don't think
either of us could ever in our dreams even, present to humanity a book that does that. Respectfully, Afsaneh.



"Knesset" / Kenesht

by Aviva on

In hebrew

bet ha knesseth or beit ha knesseth  means  house of meeting or assembly, an alternative term for synagogue.

In modern farsi, it is "kenissah",

and kenesht in Hafez poem


Knesseth usualy refered as Knesseth Israel, is the parliament .


افسانه: نفی حکمت مکن از بهر دل عامی چند


No one denies that Hefez advocates tolerance but not at the price of denying the facts, accepting falsities or favouring one faith over the other. No one is talking about bashing any faith or its holy book. I can see that your sensitivities on this issue have Islamic undertones. Hafez never denies the importance of Quran in reaching the state of piety but never accepts it as a means of reaching a union with the Creator otherwise knowns as love (Eshq) as is clearly revealed in this verse: عشقت رسد به فریاد ار خود به سان حافظ

قرآن ز بر بخوانی در چارده روایت

   And as for Cyrus and his legacy of interfaith tolerance I am afraid "Persians" and their records are not as clean as you imply. Just think about the dwindling Zoroasterian population over one and a half millennia and, shamefully, the savage massacre of the followers of the Baha'i faith over the last hundred and seventy years and to this very day. Hafez agrees:)

یاد پدر نمی‌کنند این پسران ناخلف


Demo:Wrong on both accounts

by anglophile on

I ask you to cite a single occurance of the word Eshq in Quran and once again you beat about the bush and bring an example of Hobb (with tashdid on "b" not on "o" as you insist). Where is Eshq in the verse you cited?:



And the word Eshq  IS used in divine Islamic texts as famously shown in the following Hadith Qudsi. Here Eshq  is distinctly identified as a superior feeling than Hobb :


قال الله تعالی :

مَن طَلَبَنی ، وَجَدَنی وَ مَن وَجَدَنی ، عَرَفَنی

وَ مَن عَرَفَنی ، اَحَبَّنی وَ مَن اَحَبَّنی ، عَشَقنَی

وَ مَن عَشَقتَنی ، عَشَقتَهُ وَ مَن عَشَقتَهُ ، قَتَلتَهُ

وَ مَن قَتَلتَهُ ، فَعَلّی ديَتَهَ وَ مَن ديَتَهُ عَلَیّ ديَتَهُ

فاَنَا ديَتَهُ


iraj khan


by iraj khan on

that's the Hafez in us.

Afsaneh, excellent picture, thanks for posting it here.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Hafez for Beginners


by Hafez for Beginners on

Anglophile: The point of the Blog was "Tolerance" of how and who you choose as your conduit to a higher power, "Love",  God. Do read the last Beyt of          Yussef-eh Gomgashteh

Demo: Thanks, and to add to your point, surely any Holy Book bashing is not nice - you would have thought  "Persians" with Cyrus as their ancestor would get that, right? That he built an Empire through refusing to point fingers at other's relgious beliefs.



by Demo on

"Certain women in the city said: 'the governor's wife has sought to seduce her servant. he has made her heart stricken with love for him. clearly, we perceive her to be in error." (Quran The Story of Joseph, 12:30)

If we in Farsi are using the word 'Esgh' instead of 'Hoob' to express love then that is our choice & not that of Quran. A pure or genuine muslim per Quran is the one who believes there is one & one only creator & does his/her best to learn & to follow the words of GOD. But his/her rank stays only & only with GOD alone.


And how do you define a "genuine Muslim"?

by anglophile on

Hafez did not believe in his own:


گر مسلمانی از این است که حافظ دارد

آه اگر از پی امروز بود فردایی


Also show me one incident of the Arabic word  "Eshq" in Quran , instead of giving me a synonym. Just one! 


Hafez: A Genuine Muslim

by Demo on



"............For, if GOD had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, [all] monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in [all of] which the name of GOD's name is abundantly extolled- would surely have been destroyed [ere now]. GOD will certainly aid those who aid his (cause);- for verily GOD is full of strength, exalted in might, (able to enforce his will)." (Quran 22:40).*

* The implication is that the defence of religious freedom is the foremost cause for which every one has to stand up for.

PS: Quran is all about love. The Arabic word 'Hoob' means both 'liking' & in its extreme as 'love.' It has been repeated in many places in Quran. Humans could 'love' a lot of things such as 'this world,' 'their children,' 'their spouses,' & etc. per the Quran's teachings but the love of GOD must be superior to them all. And Hafez seems like a good model for such love.

Hafez for Beginners


by Hafez for Beginners on

Anglophile: I don't view Hafez as a Moslem hater. He hated institutionalization of any religion, sure - and he abhorred "preachers" that yes, can be found in any religous abode

But I hope other posters point more to the realities of the Blog - that the culture respects any kind of Union with God - in Mosque, in Kharabat, or eslewhere - as the Beyt you just quoted pointed to in your final quote. That's the theme of the BLOG today - and I find it a fascinating position 

Thanks! If you have comments on this theme, whether via Hafez or any other poet on the planet, it would be lovely to hear, too!


Hafez is (at best) conflicting

by anglophile on

There are a number of verses that clearly state that mosque is not a place wherein one may find 'love'. 


دوش از مسجد سوی میخانه آمد پیر ما 

چیست یاران طریقت بعد از این تدبیر ما

ما مریدان روی سوی قبله چون آریم چون

روی سوی خانه خمار دارد پیر ما

در خرابات طریقت ما به هم منزل شویم

کاین چنین رفته‌ست در عهد ازل تقدیر ما


also in


من ز مسجد به خرابات نه خود افتادم

اینم از عهد ازل حاصل فرجام افتاد 


and more significantly


یاد باد آن که خرابات نشین بودم و مست

وآنچه در مسجدم امروز کم است آن جا بود 


Which is a clear indication that something that did exist in "kharabat"  was lacking in mosque i.e. love! Which in turn tallies favourably with his contention that there is no trace of love in the holy book (in this case Quran):


بشوی اوراق اگر همدرس مایی

که علم عشق در دفتر نباش


but on the other hand he is not prepared to totally rule out such a possiblity if one truly seeks union with the Creator:



غرض ز مسجد و میخانه‌ام وصال شماست

جز این خیال ندارم خدا گواه من است  



Hafez should be interpreted within the context and not without. Each Ghazal was composed for a reason and the reason must be sought in the socio-political climate of the period in which it was composed as well as in the ups and downs of his  his private life (of which we know very little).


Thank you. 



Hafez for Beginners

"Knesset" / Kenesht

by Hafez for Beginners on

I can't say for sure: - but "Knesset" - the word for the Israeli parliament and "Kenesht" that symbolized synagogue (church, or temple, too) and here in Hafez's poem,  seem to be the same word.  Do post a note on this if you know mere.