On the glorious day of Nawrūz

A composition by Sayyid Fatḥ ʿAlī Shāh Shamsī (d. after 1206/1792) specifically about Nawrūz, which is recited annually by the South Asian Ismailis at the time of the festival.

The Pīr describes his encounter with Imam Shāh Khalīl Allāh (d. 1232/1817) on the day of the festival. In the first verse, the imam is tellingly described as lord of the resurrection. Considering the association of Nawrūz and spring with the revival of souls at the end of time, this epithet carries intriguing symbolic value, and is already a subtle indication of the sublimation of meaning that occurs throughout the composition. Saddened to learn that the imam had gone hunting in the woods, and overwhelmed by feelings of love, in search of his imam he too entered the forest, and it was there that he encountered Shāh Khalīl Allāh. While the occasion for the composition of the poem is clearly a physical encounter, it is evident that the author wishes, at the same time, to convey something of a profound spiritual experience. Symbols of transformation abound, including that of the coming of spring. The author is dyed in the eternal colour of the master, his life-breath blossoms like a flower and the empty caskets are filled with pearls, which are a symbol of supreme knowledge in the Indian poetic imagination. Most importantly, the author’s ultimate desire is fulfilled when he is blessed with a vision of the lord in the form of pure light.

On the glorious day of Nawrūz

The most luminous imam, lord of the resurrection, had gone


This humble servant’s heart was filled with longing

His very life-breath remained at the feet of the imam


I was bound to my lord in rapture by love

Being dyed in the master’s eternal colour

Such was the absorption of my thoughts in the lord of the


That the treasuries of truth overflowed with pearls


I strolled merrily with the lord

Obtaining the troves of both matter and spirit

The souls shall be saved

Of those who listen wholeheartedly to these words of gnosis


When a soul attains the mystic way

Its life-breath blossoms like a flower

Love envelops it in the fragrance of aloes and sandalwood

Pure as a swan, it lovingly glides along the lake


Shāh Khalīl Allāh was hunting near the citadel at the ring of


And graciously called for Fatḥ ʿAlī

My untold hopes were realised

The lord appeared eternally as light


Faithful brethren, venerate the lord with all your heart

Listen, O saints, such is the teaching of Sayyid Shamsī

Those who forget not the lord’s bounties

Shall never be touched by sorrow


—Sayyid Fateh-alī [Shāh] Shamasī

‘Navarojanā dīn sohāmaṇā’

Virani, Shafique N. “Spring’s Equinox: Nawrūz in Ismaili Thought.” Chap. 18. In Intellectual Interations in the Islamic World: The Ismaili Thread. Edited by Orkhan Mir-Kasimov, 453-481. London: I.B. Tauris in association with Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2020. www.academia.edu/41991484/Spring_s_Equinox_Nawrūz_in_Ismaili_Thought www.shafiquevirani.org

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Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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