- For the village in Nepal see Sanai, Nepal
Hakim Abul-Majd Majdūd ibn Ādam Sanā'ī Ghaznavi (Persian: حکیم ابوالمجد مجدود بن آدم سنایی غزنوی) was a Persian poet who lived in Ghazni between the 11th century and the 12th century in what is now Afghanistan. He died between 1131 and 1141.
Sanai was a Sunni Muslim. He was connected with the court of the Ghaznavid Bahram-shah who ruled 1117 – 1157.
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.
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
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).
- 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.
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;
- 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.