Islamic, Universal Concepts in the Shahnamah



As an Iranian literary work, it might seem that The Shahnamah is a national Epic which has been composed to promote Persian language and protect historical and cultural identity of Iranians against the dominance of alien cultures. However, this paper attemp to argue that the investigation of the stories, characters, and the symbols presented in the Shahnamah indicate that Ferdowsi's thought and ideas go beyond the borders of a single culture and cover a broader scope which encompasses the whole universe and human beings. This is related to the fact that the Shahnamah is deeply rooted in Islamic ideas and world view. In this view, we find that the Shahnamah is a splendid literary work which by presenting typical ideas, images and profound human experiences such as reason, love, justice, creation, life, death and invalidity of secular life, among many others, conveys universal Islamic messages rather than mere nationalism and racism. In fact, while Ferdowsi is exploiting ancient Iranian stories, the very mythical nature of these stories gives an opportunity to him to address all human beings. These features in the Shahnamah hav ever since been the source of inspiration for different Iranian and non-Iranian artists to create valuable works in calligraphy, painting, poetry, story and play writing, music, cinema and other arts.