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Hakīm Abol-Qāsem Ferdowsī Tūsī (), more commonly transliterated as Ferdowsi, (9351020) was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shāhnāmeh, the national epic of Persian-speaking world as well as the entire Iranian realm.


Ferdowsi was born in 935 in a village near Tus, in Greater Khorasan (now part of the Iranian province Razavi Khorasan).
His father was a wealthy land owner and he was a pious Muslim. . His great epic, the Shāhnāmeh ("The Epic of Kings"), to which he devoted more than 35 years, was originally composed for presentation to the Samanid princes of Khorasan, who were the chief instigators of the revival of Iranian cultural traditions after the Arab conquest of the seventh century.
When he was just 23-years old, he found a “Shāhnāmeh” written by Abu-Mansour Almoammari; it was not, however, in poetic form. It consisted of older versions ordered by Abu-Mansour ibn Abdol-razzagh. The discovery would be a fateful moment in the life of the poet. Ferdowsi started his composition of the Shahnameh in the Samanid era in 977 A.D. During Ferdowsi’s lifetime the Samanid dynasty was conquered by the Ghaznavid Empire.
After 30 years of hard work, he finished the book and two or three years after that, Ferdowsi went to Ghazni, the Ghaznavid capital, to present it to the king. There are various stories in medieval texts describing the lack of interest shown by the new king, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, in Ferdowsi and his lifework. According to historians, Mahmud had promised Ferdowsi a dinar for every distich written in the Shahnameh (60,000 dinars), but later retracted and presented him with dirhams (20,000 dirhams), which were at that time much less valuable than dinars (every 100 dirhams worth 1 dinar). Some think it was the jealousy of other poets working at the king’s court that led to this treachery; the incident encouraged Ferdowsi's enemies in the court. Ferdowsi rejected the money and, by some accounts, he gave it to a poor man who sold wine. Wandering for a time in Sistan and Mazandaran, he eventually returned to Tus, heartbroken and enraged.
He had left behind a poem for the King, stuck to the wall of the room he had worked in for all those years. It was a long and angry poem, more like a curse, and ended with the words:
"Heaven's vengeance will not forget. Shrink tyrant from my words of fire, and tremble at a poet's ire."
Ferdowsi is said to have died around 1020 in poverty at the age of 90, embittered by royal neglect, though fully confident of his work’s ultimate success and fame (clearly seen especially in last verses of his book). One tradition claims Mahmud re-sent the amount promised to Ferdowsi’s village, but when the messengers reached his house, he had died a few hours earlier. The gift was then given to his daughter, since his son had died before his father at the age of 37. However, his daughter refused to receive the sum, thus making Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh immortal.
Later the king ordered the money be used for repairing an inn in the way from Merv to Tus, named “Robat Chaheh” so that it may remain in remembrance of the poet. This inn now lies in ruins, but still exists.
Some say that Ferdowsi's daughter inherited her father's hard earned money, and she built a new and strong bridge with a beautiful stone caravanserai nearby for travellers to rest and trade and tell stories.
Ferdowsi was buried at the yard of his own home, where his mausoleum now lies. It was not until Reza Shah Pahlavi's rule, in 1925, that a mausoleum was built for the great poet.

Ferdowsi and religion

Ferdowsi was a Shia Muslim, which is apparent from the Shahnameh itself and confirmed by early accounts. On the one hand, he was lenient as regards religion. As Nöldeke remarks, Ferdowsi remembered the religion of his forbears with respect, and, at the same time, nowhere did he show any signs of a deep Islamic faith. Indeed, to the contrary, here and there are moments in the Shahnameh which, even if they were present in his sources, should not strictly have been given currency by the pen of a committed Muslim. On the other hand, however, he also showed a prejudice in favor of his own sect (i.e. Shi'ism) and, as is apparent from the exordium to the Shahnameh, considered his own sect to be the only true Islamic one. The explanation for this contradiction lies in the fact that during the first centuries of Islam, in Persia, Shi'ism went hand in hand with the national struggle in Khorasan, or very nearly so, such that the caliphate in Baghdad and its political supporters in Persia never made any serious distinction between the "Majūs" (Zoroastrians), "Zandīq" (Manicheans), "Qarmatīs" (Isma'ili Shi'ism), and "Rāfezīs" (Shias in general)


  • 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 ISBN 90-277-0143-1
firdausi in Arabic: فردوسي
firdausi in Bosnian: Firdusi
firdausi in Breton: Ferdowsi
firdausi in Bulgarian: Фирдоуси
firdausi in Catalan: Firdawsī
firdausi in Czech: Firdausí
firdausi in Welsh: Ferdawsi
firdausi in Danish: Firdausi
firdausi in German: Abū l-Qāsem-e Ferdousī
firdausi in Estonian: Abu'l-Kasim Firdausi
firdausi in Spanish: Ferdowsi
firdausi in Esperanto: Abol-Gasem Ferdoŭsio
firdausi in Persian: فردوسی
firdausi in French: Ferdowsi
firdausi in Hindi: फ़िरदौसी
firdausi in Icelandic: Ferdowsi
firdausi in Italian: Ferdowsi
firdausi in Hebrew: פירדוסי
firdausi in Kara-Kalpak: A'bilqasım Ferdawsiy
firdausi in Georgian: ფირდოუსი
firdausi in Kurdish: Firdewsî
firdausi in Latin: Firdausi
firdausi in Hungarian: Firdauszí
firdausi in Malay (macrolanguage): Hakim Abul Qasim Firdausi Tusi
firdausi in Mongolian: Фирдоуси
firdausi in Dutch: Ferdowsi
firdausi in Japanese: フェルドウスィー
firdausi in Polish: Ferdousi
firdausi in Portuguese: Ferdusi
firdausi in Russian: Фирдоуси
firdausi in Simple English: Ferdowsi
firdausi in Slovenian: Firdusi
firdausi in Swedish: Firdausi
firdausi in Telugu: ఫిరదౌసి
firdausi in Tajik: Абулқосими Фирдавсӣ
firdausi in Turkish: Firdevsi
firdausi in Ukrainian: Фірдоусі
firdausi in Volapük: Ferdowsi
firdausi in Waray (Philippines): Firdawsi
firdausi in Chinese: 菲爾多西
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