The word Dari refers to the language that is popularly known as Persian or known as Farsi/Parsi. These different names have been synonymously in use throughout history and refer to the same one language. There are tree theories regarding the origin of the word Dari.
One states that the word Dari came from the word Darbar which means court, courts of Khorasanian Emperors. It argues that this language was the very respected and chosen language for communications at royal courts of kings. Thus it came to be known as the language of courts or Darbari. Later in time the word Darbari was shortened and evolved to Dari which still has the same meaning as Darbari. The second theory relates the origin of word Dari to the word Dara or valley. Many accomplished language researchers, admit that the language Dari itself was born in Khorasan (Afghanistan), a mountainous land where people live in numerous valleys (Dara). Therefore, the name Dari came to refer to the language spoken by people of the valleys (Dara) or in the valleys. The third theory is that the word of Dari comes from the word (D-Ari) which means (The Ary) as written in Kanishka's scriptures found in Rubatak, Afghanistan. The article (D as The) still a noun qualifier in Pashto language. this third option is mostly accepted all scholars.
Dari is a widely used language in Central Asia. It is the official language of Afghanistan, and what is today known as Tajikistan and Iran. Dari is a branch of the Western-Iranian languages, a subfamily of so called Indo-European languages.
Dari literature is one of the richest in the world and composed of the body of writings in Modern Dari. After the Arab conquest of 7th century Islam replaced Zoroastrianism and Arabic became the language of law, religion and culture in Khorasan (Afghanistan). However with the rise of Samanids and political revival of Khorasan (Afghanistan), Dari emerged as a literary medium and became the established literary form of Dari language. During the period of Samanids a new era of literary began. The ancient tradition of Khorasan (Afghanistan) and Islam merged together. Dari was specially instrumental in freeing Islam from an exclusive Arabic attachment and universalized Islam thus helping to preserve it.
Dari poetry had began sporadically in Khorasan(Afghanistan) in 9th century. The earliest main genres are the epic, qasida (Purpose poem), masnawi (long narrative poem), and ghazal (lyric). By 10th century Dari had become an important and melodious medium- as the remaining works of Rudaki, a versatile poet, indicate. He is regarded as the father of Dari poetry. After Rudaki's death the epic tradition, with its sources in Avesta and Middle Dari texts, began. The first epic poet was Marvazi Samarqandi who composed a Shah Nameh (Book of Kings) in 910. Daqiqi Balkhi another poet of tenth century wrote a better known Shah Nama in 975. However, Firdowsi Tusi composed another Shah-Nama (1010) which became the very best known epic in Dari literature.
Qasida, another form of poetry, was also first written by Rudaki. Mostly qasidas are panegyrics, sometime elegiac, didactic and occasionally they deal with philosophical or biographical literature. The average length of qasida is between sixty and hundred lines and they are written in couplets. Qasidas that are more than two hundred lines are also frequently written. The earliest exponents of this form of poetry Ansuri Balkhi, Asjadi, and Farrukhi were the greatest poets of their time. Of many panegyrists in the history of Dari literature, Anvari Balkhi was regarded as the foremost. In philosophical qasidas Naser-e Khosrow was very well respected. Omar Khayyan was another poet of this era who is considered to be of astonishing originality.
During the Samanid era the foundation of Dari prose was also laid. Several pieces of literature demonstrated the suitability of Dari language for sacred texts. Bal'ami, one of the wizier (high government official) of Mansur I Samanid, published a translation of the annals of Tabari. Also, in the same time, a group of theologian, made a Dari copy of Tabari's commentary on the Quran. These works and works of similar nature produced a clear demonstration that Dari was very suitable for religious works. In fact these works brought to an end the absolute domination of Arabic language over religious literature. Mansur I Samanid also commissioned the pharmacopeia of Abu Mansur Muwaffaq of Herat, the first Dari book on medicine. An extensive technical vocabulary, applicable to philosophy and science were also coined with the patronage of Samanids.
Thirteen and fourteen century were also a period when great poets lived and it is often called the golden age of Dari poetry. In this period, three great poet, Maulana Balkhi (Rumi), Sadi and Hafiz lived. They were excellent in a form o poetry called ghazal, a passionate mystical lyric form that is composed on a single rhyme. Ghazals were usually consists of five to fifteen couplets and they could be of variety of meters. The first mystic masnavi is believed to be written by Hakim Sanai of Ghazna and is known as Hadiqat al-Haqiqa (The Enclosed Garden of Truth). He was followed by Attar and Rumi. Rumi's Masnavi-e-Manavi consists of six books that contains 30,000 couplets. Masnawi's basic theme is love and Rumi in this book, is concerned with problems bearing on the conduct, meaning and purpose of life and the longing of the human soul for union with God. The Masnawi of Mawlana of Balkh is considered to be the most profound and the greatest work of Dari literature, and perhaps of all the Islamic literature. The Masnawi is often called Quran-e-Sani meaning the second Quran. Every page of it moves, absorbs and surprises the reader. Masnavi form of poetry was also suitable for epic and romantic stories. Of romantic masnawis the Khosrow -O-Shirin (Khosrow and Shirin) of Nezami is the best known.