“Ah Love! Could thou and I with Fate conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire
Would not we shatter it to bits – and then
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!”
Reading Persian poems always makes me smile. Poets like Khayyam, Ferdowsi and Hafez have their special ways with words. Their quatrains consist of four short lines only but are full of pleasant surprises and revelations. Beneath physical and earthly expressions lay deep and spiritual meanings. Their masterly use of symbols, images, and metaphors in combination with rhythms take readers on a romantic, mystical, and philosophical journey.
Once we had made our way from Tehran all the way to Shiraz, I came to realize that our discovery of Iranian mosques and holy shrines was just like reading Persian poems. Most mosques and shrines follow a typical structure with a courtyard, a mihrab (a niche indicating the direction of Mecca), a central dome, and one or more minarets. But their architects had their special ways with how they use structural transitions, geometric patterns, lights, and colors to create sophisticated optical effects and transform each mosque or shrine into an ethereal house of worship. No matter what religion you follow, even in case of an atheist like me, you will feel like you are taken to another world, a spiritual and enchanting place where your prayers will be answered and your wishes come true.
Among all the mosques and shrines that we visited, Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz stood out as the most unique. It is mostly known as the Pink Mosque because of the rose-colored tiles lining its ceilings. However, picking out this one color does not do justice to the carnival of light that dance through its interior each morning, when the sun hits its stained glass windows, explodes into a thousand tiny disco balls, and floods the walls, columns, and carpets with a simmering kaleidoscope of colors. Light is no longer just light, colors are no longer just colors, they turn into something magical, something that takes your breath away, something beyond us that cannot be put into words. Each visitor is free to interpret the myriad forms and colors in their own way, re-pack it into their own little poem filled with their own emotions, feelings, thoughts, and personal meanings. In that moment you truly feel ‘poetry surrounds us everywhere’.
Nasir al-Mulk Mosque
Shah-e-Cheragh means the Shrine of the Lord of the Light. The interior of this mausoleum/mosque is inlaid with hundreds of thousand pieces of cut glass, which makes its surface glittering like jewels.
Hafez is one of the most famous Persian poets. His tomb in Shiraz is now a major tourist attraction.
Street arts near Hafez Tomb, Shiraz
The ceiling of Pars Museum, Shiraz