ʿABD-AL-ʿALĪM NAṢRALLĀḤ KHAN “QAMAR,” government official, historian, biographer, translator, and grammarian in British India. He was born at Ḵorǰa near Bolandšahr in the early 19th century. His father, Ḥakīm ʿOmar Khan Aḥmadī Ḵešgī, died when ʿAbd-al-ʿAlīm was only ten years old. After his father’s death, ʿAbd-al-ʿAlīm moved to Nizamabad in Azamgarh district, where his uncle, Fatḥ Khan, was taḥsīldār (revenue officer). There he had an opportunity to study with the well-known scholar, Mawlavī Aḥmad-ʿAlī Čeryakotī. Later, he qualified for service with the British government of India and was appointed a deputy collector in 1838. About 1860 he gave up his position with the British, and in 1865 he entered the service of the Neẓām of Hyderabad as chief judge (nāẓem) of the criminal court (fawǰdārī ʿadālat). Later he became ṣadr taʿalloqadar, a position akin to that of a revenue commissioner in British India (Storey, I, p. 576).
ʿAbd-al-ʿAlīm was deeply religious and known for his inclination to Sufism. As an officer, he was widely respected for his honesty and integrity. The British resident at the court of Hyderabad, Sir Richard Temple, commented his firmness and uprightness as a criminal judge (R. Temple, Journals Kept in Hyderabad, Kashmir, Sikkim and Nepal, London, 1887, I, pp. 31, 99).
ʿAbd-al-ʿAlīm was a prolific writer; his disciple/biographer, Farīd Aḥmad, has listed nineteen works by him. Tārīḵ-e Dakan (Lucknow, 1870, 1879) contains a lucid description of Hyderabad, its people, and its administrative system and the author’s recollections of personal experiences during his stay there. Jāmeʿ-e Fatḥ Ḵānī (Delhi, 1948) is a biography of his uncle. (An Urdu translation of this work by Pandet Dayā Nāth “Ārām” Dehlavī has also been published, Delhi, 1949.) Other Persian works include Bayāż-e delgošā, a biography of his spiritual guide, Shah ʿAbd-al-ʿAlīm Lōhāravī (Aligarh, ca. 1853); Golšan-e hamīša baḥār, a taḏkera of over 400 Indian poets, which also contains the author’s autobiography (Aligarh, 1854); Šarḥ-e robāʿīyāt-e Yūsofī, a commentary on the quatrains of Yūsofī (Agra, 1863; Kanpur, 1882); Yomn-e aẓfarī, a grammar of Eastern Turkish (Lucknow, 1878); Toḥfat al-moṣallīn, a Persian version of Sadīd-al-dīn Kašgārī’s Monyat al-moṣallī; and Teryāq-e ḵorǰa, a pharmaceutical booklet dealing with antidotes against snakebite (Meerut, 1862). ʿAbd-al-ʿAlīm also wrote a number of books in Arabic and Urdu before dying in his native village of Ḵorǰa on 27 Moḥarram 1299/19 December 1881.
Storey, I, pp. 756-57, 904, 1042-43, 1103.
Raḥmān-ʿAlī, Taḏkera-ye ʿolamā-ye Hend, Lucknow, 1914, p. 237.
M. Farīd Aḥmad, Bayāż-e ǰānfeża (Urdu), Agra, n.d.
Originally Published: December 15, 1982
Last Updated: July 13, 2011
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Vol. I, Fasc. 1, p. 96