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  • Print publication year: 1977
  • Online publication date: March 2008


In imperial Persia secular literature had been of a courtly character, and both its form and content reflected the tastes and interests of the kings and nobles who were its chief patrons. The destruction of Sasanian power brought to an end this system of patronage, and in the subsequent period of disruption, change and readjustment, Muslim Persians began to apply their talents to the enrichment of Arabic writing. The Shah-nama was written in an era when historical events, particularly in eastern Persia, encouraged a hopeful and spirited mood. The Sufi way of life, which advocated intense love and devotion as the means of attaining truth, found a considerable following in Persia, and Sufi convents grew increasingly popular after the fourth/tenth century. Persian mystics often were men of outstanding sensitivity and employed poetry or poetical diction to express their thoughts and to move their fellow men.
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The Cambridge History of Islam
  • Online ISBN: 9781139055055
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