Semnan province, the cradle of poets and mystics
Semnan province has many religious, pilgrimage, and historical places, and in terms of culture and traditions, it is the cradle of poets and mystics. The history of civilization, financial and spiritual achievements, national and religious beliefs, and customs of each country create the cultural attractions of the land, and the cultural and artistic works of the past can make a strong connection between individuals and nations. Bastam is the city near Shahrud, one of the pleasant climate areas in Semnan province, which is considered the city of mystics and one of the destinations of spiritual tourism in Iran. The city hosts mystics and poets who are prominent among the people, like as the Sheikh Abu al-Hassan al-Kharaqani, the Persian mystic, and Sufi, whose tomb stands in the village of Qala-e-Naw Bastam. He has had a significant impact on keeping Persian culture alive.
Introduction to Sheikh Abu al-Hassan al-Kharaqani
Sheikh Abu al-Hassan al-Kharaqani was born in 963 A.D and lived in the village. He was illiterate but had a heart ready to receive the truth from the universe by the Elm-e-Ladoni (a science obtained without education and learning directly) like Maulana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi. Generally, there is not much information about Kharaqani’s life because his family was from the lower classes. He made a living by farming and gardening and did not receive any money from anyone throughout his life, and was the only one who ran his monastery at his own expense. And he strictly avoided taking anything that belonged to the king’s property and considered it a great benefit not to meet them. Sheikh Abu al-Hassan al-Kharaqani had unique characteristics that fewer mystic has. For example, we can mention his reckless tone. Also, the Sheikh did not like the title of Sufi and used the title of chivalrous (Javanmard) for himself and considered talking to gentlemen and befriending them to be a true friendship. Sheikh Abu al-Hassan al-Kharaqani considered the Bayazid Bastami as his leader. One of his great mystic students was Khwaja Abdullah Ansari, who praised him in his notes. He finally died in 1034 A.D at the age of 73.
Famous anecdotes about Sheikh Abu al-Hassan al-Kharaqani
One of the memorable anecdotes about the Sheikh is the gorgeous sentence written on the head of his monastery and which contains a humanitarian nature:
Whoever enters the house, give him bread and do not ask about his faith, since who deserves the life in the sight of God, of course, deserves bread from Abu al-Hassan al-Kharaqani.
Another narration toward the Sheikh is about his sculpture on the entrance steps of the shrine. The statue contains two lions on both sides of him and a snake-shaped stick in his hand. The Sheikh said that he domesticated two lions and a snake, and the lions carried his firewood bag. According to the legend, a statue made of Sheikh Kharaqani at the top of the entrance stairs also has two lions sitting next to him.
The architecture of the tomb of Sheikh Abu al-Hassan al-Kharaqani
Until 1973, the Sheikh Abu al-Hassan al-Kharaqani tomb was an ordinary brick building, but then the Archaeology organisation built a new building for the great poet. There is also a piece of marble on the mausoleum of the Persian mystic with poems engraved on it. In the past, a mosque with a conical dome, tiles, and elaborate plastering, was near the tomb, which is nothing left but the altar these days. And a new mosque has been built around the altar instead, as a place of pilgrimage. The tomb design of Sheikh Abu al-Hassan al-Kharaqani is in the style of a Persian garden, and a water stream flows through it. Also, the addition of a library has doubled the mystical atmosphere of the tomb.