The above reads:
Better be a beggar than king, better practice vice
And perfidy than be a bigoted, pious puritan;
Better make love with many mistresses in the street
Than make piety and abstinence in public show.
– Amīr Khusraw Dihlavī (d. 725/1325)
I couldn’t agree more.
The dominant attitude of the anti-clerical rhetoric in Persian poetry is permeated by criticism of judges, lawyers, aesthetics, spiritual advisors, and authority figures of that nature. This is one of the reasons that makes this poetry still relevant. A lot of people today can’t read Milton, because anti-clericalism is no longer part of the normal vocabulary. In the West, we live mostly in a secular society, so the conflict between clerics and anti-clerics does not exist. But that is not the case in the Middle East at all, which makes this conflict very relevant.
Dr. Leonard Lewisohn is Senior Lecturer in Persian and Iran Heritage Foundation Fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies of the University of Exeter where he teaches Islamic Studies, Sufism, history of Iran, as well as courses on Persian texts and Persian poetry in translation. He specializes in translation of Persian Sufi poetic and prose texts.
This is fascinating, and I learned a great deal. The lecture is below, and the Stanford Lecture Handouts for Anti-Clericalism in Medieval Persian Poetry are here.