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Islamo-Biblica in Tarikh III - Safavid and Qajar Histories




Islamo-Biblica in Tarikh III - Safavid, Qajar and other Histories, 1500-1796.

Stephen Lambden

In progress and under revision- 09-03-2016

■ The Rawḍat al‑ṣafā  of Mīrkhwānd (d.903/1498).

 According to Rosenthal the 13th century saw a "steady flow of Arabic and Persian universal histories" (Rosenthal 1968:148). Despite their sometimes considerable use of  Islamo-Biblica or Isrā’īliyyāt they cannot be possibly all be mentionedor analyzed here. Notable, however,  among the pre‑Safavid chronicles is the Rawḍat al‑ṣafā fī sīrat al‑anbiyā’ wa’l‑mulūk wa’l‑khulafā’  (Garden of Purity respecting the Lives of the Prophets, the Kings and the Caliphs;  7+1 vols.) of the late Tīmūrid writer Muhammad  b. Khwāndshāh  b. Maḥmūd, Mīrkhwānd1 (d. 903/1498).  Refer Storey, 1:92‑101 (342); Zaryāb, `preface’ [1:xff] Beveridge [Manz], `Mīrkhwānd..’ EI2  VII:126‑7; Quinn, 2000:14.

This lengthy work has a long opening section `On the beginning of creation, the stories of the Prophets (qiṣaṣ‑i   payāmbarān), the circumstances of the Iranian kings and of the sages of old (ḥukamā‑ yi pīshīn)’ (ed. `Abbās Zaryāb,1:15‑198).2  It cites around forty Arabic and Persian histories and exists in numerous often confused manuscripts. Apparently lacking an autograph ms. variant texts are represented by several 19th century lithograph editions (Bombay, 1845, 1848; Tehran, 1853‑56; Lucknow, 1874;1883) some having been translated into Turkish, Latin and other European languages. The Raḍwat  was also supplemented and extended in Qājār times by Riḍā’  Qulī Khān Hidāyat (d. 1288/1871)  as the  Rawḍat al‑ṣafā‑ yi Nāṣirī.  

The Rehatsek 1891‑2 partial translation of the first volume of the  Rawḍat al‑ṣafa is an English  rendering of the Bombay Lithograph printing of 1271/1854. It includes passages not found in the recent (1375 Sh./ 1996) Zaryāb edition printed in Tehran.

∎ Ghiyāth al‑Dīn, Khwāndamīr (d. c. 941/ 1534‑5)

            Mīrkhwānd’s grandson the Persian historian Ghiyāth al‑Dīn, Khwāndamīr (d.c. 941/ 1534‑5)  summed up and supplemented  his grandfather’s Rawḍat al‑ṣafā’   in his Khulāṣat al‑ akhbār  (905/1499). Khwāndamīr also completed his grandfather’s Rawḍat al‑ṣafā’ writing a seventh volume and a conclusion. Refer Storey, 1:92‑101 (342); Zaryāb, `preface’ [1:xff] Beveridge [Manz], `Mīrkhwānd..’ EI2  VII:126‑7; Quinn, 2000:14

He also authored another more  extensive, multi‑volume  general history covering  the period from the creation until just after the death of the Ṣafavid Shāh Ism ā’īl (d. 930/1524 CE).  This latter work is entitled Tārīkh ḥabīb  al‑siyar  f ī akhbār afrād bashar  (The Beloved of Histories regarding the traditions of the most singular  of mortals;  930/1524). In an independent manner it draws on sources additional to the Rawḍat   for  the pre‑Islamic era and other periods. 3  In the 1333/1954  edition of Khwāndamīr  edited  by Humā’ī  (4 vols.) in excess of 250 pages are devoted to pre‑Islamic history (Storey, I:101ff; Beveridge & deBrujin,EI2 V:1020‑1022; Quinn, 1996 :3‑5).

∎ Safavid Histories and

 Numerous Safavid historical chronicles, including the partially published  Takmilat al‑akhbār    of  Zayn al‑`Ābidīn `Alī Abdī Beg Shīrāzī  (d. 988/1580) and the late Safavid Tārīkh‑i sulṭānī  composed in 1115/1703 during the reign of Sulṭān Ḥusayn by Husayn b. Murtaḍā Ḥusayn Astarabādī  (d. ??), contain large amounts of pre‑Islamic history and qiṣaṣ al‑anbiyā’  materials (cf.Storey 1/1:134).


Zayn al‑`Ābidīn `Alī Abdī Beg Shīrāzī  (d. 988/1580).

  • Takmilat al‑akhbār

Sayyid Ḥusayn Ibn-Murtaḍā Ḥusaynī Astarābādī (           )

تاريخ سلطانى : از شيخ صفى تا شاه صفى

Tārīkh‑i sulṭānī  composed in 1115/1703 during the reign of Sulṭān Ḥusayn by Husayn b. Murtaḍā Ḥusayn Astarabādī

Partial publication of the Persian text:

Iḥsān Išrāqī ed. Tārīkh-i sulṭānī : az Shaykh Ṣafī tā Shāh Ṣafī.  Tehran: ʻIlmī, 1366/1987. 314pp.



∎ ADD to IV

This author of Kashf al-zunūn said with regard to this matter that the Evangel was a book which was revealed to Jesus, the son of Mary, and, discussing the lack of authenticity and genuineness of the present gospels, he said:

The Evangel which was in reality revealed to Jesus was a single book which was absolutely free from contradictions and inconsistencies. It is the Christians who have put the false blame on Allah and His Prophet (Jesus) by ascribing the present gospel to them.


The Nāsikh al‑tawārīkh  (Supplanter of Histories) of Siphir (d.1297/1880).

More recent among histories  is the Persian general history entitled  Nāsikh al‑tawārīkh  (Supplanter of  Histories, around 14 vols.) of Muhammad Tāqī Kāshānī,  Sipihr (= `Celetial Sphere’; d. 1297/1880). Completed in the early 1850s 4 this extensive work  contains much about pre‑Islamic prophets, sages and nations, spanning (in  the Tehran [Amīr Kabīr 1958‑?] edition) almost 1,000 large and dense pages (vol.1 has  600+ pages and vol. 2 has 338 pp.).

There have been many 19th century printings of the Nāsikh   including Tehran 1860; 1888‑9; early 1890s; Bombay, 1892, etc. (Storey. 1:152f, 1247; Minorsky, `Sipihr’ EI2 IX:658).

The Nāsikh al‑tawārīkh  is a very wide ranging work. There are, for example, sections on America (cf. I:27)  and ancient Chinese figures  (I:475f). It claims to have drawn  on a huge array of over two hundred (listed) Arabic, Persian, European and other historical sources including  a good many works dealing with pre‑Islamic religion, scripture and  Isrā’īliyyāt‑qiṣaṣ al‑anbiyā’   such as the Tārīkh‑i  tawrat va injīl` (The history [historical potions]  of the Torah and the Gospels’),  Ṭabarī’s Tārīkh,  a  Qiṣaṣ al‑anbiyā’  work[s] (of Tha`labī?),  a `History of (Tārī kh‑i)  Wahb b. Munabbih (!), the (abovementioned)  Rawḍat al‑safā’ ,  Majlisī’s  Ḥayāt al‑qulūb , a work  entitled  Kamāl‑i  aḥadīth‑i qudsiyyah‑yi  āl‑i  isrā’īl  (The Perfection of the sacred traditions of the family of Israel) and the book of Dhū’l‑Qarnayn  ascribed to Mīrzā Faḍl Allāh, a Tarīkh‑i banī Isrā’īl  (History of the children of Israel) as well, among numerous other miscellaneous titles such as the Mīzān al‑ḥaqq  (presumably of that of Pfander) (Nāsikh al‑taw ārīkh [195?  ed.]  I:29‑32).

Throughout the Nāsikh   there are  very precise though  idiosyncratic  chronological datings  "after the Fall [of Adam]" (hubūṭ‑i  Ādam; loosely  anno mundi )  for hundreds of pre‑Islamic figures and events.  Siphir has it, for example, that Jesus was born 5, 595 years after the fall while Mānī son of (the Parthian prince)  Qātan (sic.  Pātrik; founder of the Manichean movement)   is described as "among the non‑Arab  sages" ( āz jumlih‑yi ḥukamā‑ yi `ajam) and dated to  5,804 AM ( Nasīkh,  II:112f). Mānī’s dates were actually 216‑274[77?] CE.  Like the updated Rawḍat  al‑ṣafā, the Nāsikh al‑tawārīkh  was very probably known to Bābī‑Bahā’ī leaders and writers; in part  because their updated supplements contain inaccurate and critical accounts of Bābī beginnings. In an unpublished letter of `Abd al-Baha' to Lotfullah Ḥakīm, the Nāsīkh al‑tawārīkh  is strongly criticized.