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Sana'i Ghaznavi
An abridged version of the Hadiqa al-haqiqa by Sana'i, created in Qajar Iran, dated 3 May 1806
An abridged version of the Hadiqa al-haqiqa by Sana'i, created in Qajar Iran, dated 3 May 1806
Native name
سنایی غزنوی
Ghazni, Ghaznavid Empire
Ghazni, Ghaznavid Empire
OccupationPersian literature
GenreSufi poetry, Wisdom Literature
Notable worksThe Walled Garden of Truth

Hakim Abul-Majd Majdūd ibn Ādam Sanā'ī Ghaznavi (Persian: حکیم ابوالمجد مجدود ‌بن آدم سنایی غزنوی), more commonly known as Sanai, was a Persian[2][3] poet from Ghazni who lived his life in the Ghaznavid Empire which is now located in Afghanistan. He was born in 1080 and died between 1131 and 1141.[4]


Sanai was a Sunni Muslim.[3] He was connected with the court of the Ghaznavid Bahram-shah who ruled 1117 – 1157.[5]


He wrote an enormous quantity of mystical verse, of which The Walled Garden of Truth or The Hadiqat al Haqiqa (حدیقه الحقیقه و شریعه الطریقه) is his master work and the first Persian mystical epic of Sufism. Dedicated to Bahram Shah, the work expresses the poet's ideas on God, love, philosophy and reason.[6]

For close to 900 years The Walled Garden of Truth has been consistently read as a classic and employed as a Sufi textbook. According to Major T. Stephenson: "Sanai’s fame has always rested on his Hadiqa; it is the best known and in the East by far the most esteemed of his works; it is in virtue of this work that he forms one of the great trio of Sufi teachers — Sanai, Attar, Jalaluddin Rumi." Sanai taught that lust, greed and emotional excitement stood between humankind and divine knowledge, which was the only true reality (Haqq). Love (Ishq) and a social conscience are for him the foundation of religion; mankind is asleep, living in a desolate world. To Sanai common religion was only habit and ritual.

Sanai's poetry had a tremendous influence upon Persian literature. He is considered the first poet to use the qasidah (ode), ghazal (lyric), and the masnavi (rhymed couplet) to express the philosophical, mystical and ethical ideas of Sufism.

Influence and legacy[edit]

Poetic influence[edit]

Rumi acknowledged Sanai and Attar as his two great inspirations, saying, "Attar is the soul and Sanai its two eyes, I came after Sanai and Attar." The Walled Garden of Truth was also a model for Nizami's Makhzan al-Asrar (Treasury of Secrets).[7]

Modern cultural references[edit]

There is a reference to Hakim Sanai's poetry near the end of the 2017 film The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro. In the final scene of the movie, the narrator recites a few verses of poetry without specific attribution, although there is a reference in the film's credit sequence to "Adapted works by Hakim Sanai." Researching for the Library of Congress blog From the Catbird Seat, Peter Armenti confirmed with the assistance of Catbird blog readers that the poem spoken at the end of The Shape of Water is del Toro's adaptation of Priya Hemenway's translation of an original poem by Hakim Sanai. Hemenway's translation appears in The Book of Everything: Journey of the Heart’s Desire : Hakim Sanai’s Walled Garden of Truth (2002).[8]


  • Sanai's poetry stresses the possibility of an "awakening";

While mankind remains mere baggage in the world
It will be swept along, as in a boat, asleep.
What can they see in sleep?
What real merit or punishment can there be?

He who knows not his own soul, how shall he know the soul of another? and he who only knows hand and foot, how shall he know the Godhead? The prophets are unequal to understanding this matter; why dost thou foolishly claim to do so? When thou hast brought forward a demonstration of this subject, then thou wilt know the pure essence of the faith; otherwise what have faith and thou in common? thou hadst best be silent, and speak not folly. The learned talk nonsense all; for true religion is not woven about the feet of everyone.[9]

His means for this awakening is surrender to God, his poetry has been called "the essential fragrance of the path of love". He hits out at human hypocrisy and folly;[10]

  • Others are heedless,—do thou be wise, and on this path keep thy tongue silent. The condition laid on such a one is that he should receive all food and drink from the Causer, not from the causes. Go, suffer hardship, if thou wouldst be cherished; and if not, be content with the road to Hell. None ever attained his object without enduring hardship.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ C.E. Bosworth, The Later Ghaznavids, (Columbia University Press, 1977), 108.
  2. ^ Bruijn, J.T.P. de (1997). "Sanāʾī". In Bosworth, C. E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W. P. & Lecomte, G. (eds.). The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Volume IX: San–Sze. Leiden: E. J. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-10422-8.
  3. ^ a b Edward G. Browne, A Literary History of Persia from the Earliest Times Until Firdawsh, 543 pp., Adamant Media Corporation, 2002, ISBN 978-1-4021-6045-5, ISBN 978-1-4021-6045-5 (see p.437)
  4. ^ C.E. Bosworth, The Later Ghaznavids, 108.
  5. ^ Ghulam Abbas Dalal, Ethics in Persian Poetry. (Abhinav Publications, 1995), 95.
  6. ^ "Sanāʾī." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 15 Jul. 2008 <>.
  7. ^ J.T.P. De Bruijn (December 15, 2002). "ḤADIQAT AL-ḤAQIQA WA ŠARIʿAT AL-ṬARIQA". Iranica. Retrieved 2010-09-06.

    The Ḥadiqat al-ḥaqiqa is not only one of the first of a long line of Persian didactical maṯnawis, it is also one of the most popular works of its kind as the great number of copies made throughout the centuries attest. Its great impact on Persian literature is evidenced by the numerous citations from the poem occurring in mystical as well as profane works. It has been taken as a model by several other poets, including Neẓāmi, ʿAṭṭār, Rumi, Awḥadi, and Jāmi.

  8. ^ "Who wrote the poem at the end of "The Shape of Water"? | From the Catbird Seat: Poetry & Literature at the Library of Congress". Armenti, Peter. 2018-03-09. Retrieved 2018-07-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  9. ^ Source: From: Enclosed Garden Of Truth, Edited and translated by J. Stephenson in 1910
  10. ^ Osho, Unio Mystica, Vol 1, Chapter 1, Rajneesh Foundation International
  11. ^ Source: From: Enclosed Garden Of Truth, Edited and translated by J. Stephenson in 1910


  • "Hadiqat al-Haqiqa wa Shari'at al-Tariqa" In Encyclopædia Iranica by J.T.P. De Bruijn [1]
  • E.G. Browne. Literary History of Persia. (Four volumes, 2,256 pages, and twenty-five years in the writing). 1998. ISBN 0-7007-0406-X
  • Jan Rypka, History of Iranian Literature. Reidel Publishing Company. 1968 OCLC 460598. ISBN 90-277-0143-1
  • Bo Utas, A Persian Sufi Poem: Vocabulary and terminology. Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies Monograph Series, Curzon Press, 1977. OCLC 4705360

Further reading[edit]