Abû'l-Majd Majdûd b. Adam Sanâ'î 1 was born at Ghazna, and lived in the reign of Bahrâmshâh (A.H. 512-548, A.D. 1118-1152). Ouseley says of him that he "while yet young became one of the most learned, devout, and excellent men of the age which he adorned. His praise was on every tongue; for, in addition to his accomplishments in the Sufi philosophy, he possessed a kind and benevolent heart, delightful manners, and a fine taste for poetry . . . . Sanâî in early life retired from the world and its enjoyments, and the reason for his doing so is supposed to have arisen from the following circumstance.
"He had frequented the courts of kings and princes, and celebrated their virtue and generous actions. When Sultan Ibrahim of Ghazni determined upon attacking the infidel idolaters of India, Hakim Sanâî composed a poem in his praise, and was hurrying to the court to present it before that monarch's departure. There was at that time in Ghazni a madman known as Lâi Khûr (the ox-eater), who often in his incoherent wanderings uttered sentiments and observations worthy of a sounder head-piece; he was addicted to drinking wine, and frequented the bath. It so happened that Sanâî, in passing a garden, heard the notes of a song, and stopped to listen. After some time the singer, who was Lâi Khûr, addressing the cup-bearer,
said, 'Saki, fill a bumper, that I may drink to the blindness of our Sultan, Ibrahim.' The Saki remonstrated and said it was wrong to wish that so just a king should become blind. The madman answered that he deserved blindness for his folly in leaving so fine a city as Ghazni, which required his presence and care, to go on a fool's errand in such a severe winter. Lâi Khûr then ordered the Saki to fill another cup, that he might drink to the blindness of Hakim Sanaî. The cup-bearer still more strongly remonstrated against this, urging the universally esteemed character of the poet, whom everyone loved and respected. The madman contended that Sanâî merited the malediction even more than the king, for with all his science and learning, he yet appeared ignorant of the purposes for which the Almighty had created him; and when he shortly came before his Maker, and was asked what he brought with him, he could only produce panegyrics on kings and princes,--mortals like himself. These words made so deep an impression on the sensitive mind of the pious philosopher, that he secluded himself from the world forthwith, and gave up all the luxuries and vanities of courts.
"Sirâjuddin Ali, in his 'Memoirs of the Poets,' says, that in consequence of the sudden impression occasioned by Lâi Khûr's remarks, Sanâî sought instruction from the celebrated Sheikh Yusef Hamdani, whose cell was called the 'Kaabah of Khorâsân.'
"It was about this time that Behrâm Shah offered him his sister in marriage, which honour, however, he gratefully declined, and almost immediately set out on a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medinah. It is to the refusal of the royal bride that he alludes in his Hedîkeh, as an apology to the king, in the following lines:--'I am not a person desirous of gold or of a wife, or of exalted station; by my God, I neither seek them nor wish them. If through thy grace and favour thou wouldest even offer me thy crown, I swear by thy head I should not accept it.'" The account of Sanâ'î's conversion contained in the foregoing extract is probably, as Browne says, of little historical value.
Sanâ'î composed the present work after his return from the pilgrimage; according to most copies he completed it in A.H. 525 (A.D. 1131), though some MSS. have A.H. 534 or 535 (A.D. 11391141).
Sanâ'î was attacked during his lifetime on account of his alleged unorthodoxy; but a fatwa was published by the Khalîfa's court at
Baghdâd, vindicating his orthodoxy against his calumniators. His commentator `Abdu'l-Latîf, if in his Preface (v. post.) mentions the suspicions of the various sects on the subject of the Hakîm's heresies.
Several dates are given for the Hakîm's death. His disciple Muhammad b. `Ali al-Raffâ (Raqqâm), in a preface to the work preserved in one of the Bodleian MSS., gives Sunday, the 11th Sha`bân A.H. 525 (A.D. 1131). This date, however, fell on a Thursday; the 11th Sha`bân of the year A.H. 545 (A.D. 1150), which is the date given by Taqî Kâshî and the Âtashkada, was, however, a Sunday. Daulatshâdh and Hâjî Khalfa give A.H. 576 (A.D. 1180, 1181). Since the poet completed his Tarîqu't-Tahqîq in A.H. 528, the earliest of the three dates is impossible; the second would appear -to be the most probable.
Besides the Hadîqatu'l-Haqîqat, the first chapter of which is here presented, Sanâ'î wrote the Tarîqu't-Tahqîq ("Path of Verification"), Gharîb-nâma ("Book of the Stranger"), Sairu'l-`ibâd ila'l-Ma`âd ("Pilgrimage of [God's] servants to the Hereafter"), Kâr-nâma Book of Deeds "), `Ishq-nâma (" Book of Love "), and `Aql-nâma ("Book of Reason"), as well as a Dîwân, or collection of shorter poems in various metres. All these works, with the exception of the Haqîqa and the Dîwân, are said by Prof. Browne, from whom the above list is taken, to be very rare.
vii:1 For the facts contained in the following sketch I am indebted to Sir Gore Ouseley's "Biographical Notices of the Persian Poets," Lond., Or. Trans. Fund, 1846; Rieu's and Ethé's Catalogues; and Prof. Browne's "A Literary History of Persia," Vol. II.