ʿABD-AL-VAHHĀB MOʿTAMAD-AL-DAWLA, “NAŠĀṬ,” Qajar official and poet, born in 1759 into a family of well-known sayyeds in Isfahan, who were originally from Jahrom in Fārs. His grandfather ʿAbd-al-Vahhāb, being the governor of Isfahan, had left considerable wealth to his children. The young ʿAbd-al-Vahhāb was given a thorough traditional education, which included studies in Persian and Arabic literatures as well as theology, mathematics, and logic. He became an accomplished calligrapher, his specialty being šekasta style. He also became fluent in both Arabic and Turkish.
As a young man ʿAbd-al-Vahhāb began writing poetry and became interested in the Bāzgašt (q.v.) movement, which advocated a return to the style of the old masters in Persian poetry. He was one of the main proponents of this movement, and his house became “a gathering place for the poets and wits of Isfahan” (Maǰmaʿ al-foṣaḥāʾ VI, p. 1054). It was at this period that he adopted the pen name of Našāṭ (Joy).
At the age of forty-three Našāṭ came to Tehran and joined the court of Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah as a secretary. In 1224/1809-10, he was appointed the head of the royal chancellery, and he received the title of Moʿtamad-al-dawla. Henceforth he was very often in the company of Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah, composing and writing most of the correspondence of the king as well as many other deeds and treaties. Although Našāṭ was a man of property and means, he accumulated a debt of thirty thousand tūmāns through being very generous and hospitable. This became a subject of frequent innuendoes and criticism by rival courtiers. Eventually Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah paid the debt all himself.
Apart from being a royal chancellor, Našāṭ performed several diplomatic missions. He accompanied a mission sent by Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah to Napoleon I and in 1233/1817-18 was sent to quell an insurrection in the province of Bāḵarz and the fortress of Ḡōrīān near Herat, which was led by the governor of these two towns, Bonyād Khan. Našāṭ while personally leading the army, was captured, but he was able to persuade Bonyād Khan to write a letter to Šoǰāʿ-al-dawla, the governor of Khorasan, and ask for pardon. Thus the whole affair was resolved, and Našāṭ returned to Tehran. In 1237/1821-22 he successfully put down another rebellion in Afghanistan. In 1236/October, 1821 Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah, imitating European examples, established the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Našāṭ became the first foreign minister of Iran. He held this position for four years. According to Fasāʾī (tr. Busse, pp. 172, 191), in 1240/1824-25 the office of chancellor was conferred upon Ḥāǰǰī Mīrzā Raḥīm Šīrāzī, “since the rank of Mīrzā ʿAbd-al-Vahhāb had grown beyond the title and task of chancellor of the empire. Because of his efficiency, he devoted his time to the handling of affairs which normally would have come within the competence of the prime minister. Out of his great humility, however, he did not call himself Prime Minister.” Mīrzā ʿAbd-al-Vahhāb died of consumption 5 Ḏu’l-ḥeǰǰa 1244/8 June 1829 in Tehran. His death was commemorated in a chronogram which runs: “Našāṭ (Joy) has gone from the heart of the world.”
Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah had the works of Našāṭ collected and lithographed in one volume in 1281/1864-65 at Tehran. The volume is divided into five bābs or sections, which include all his poetry and prose. The major part of his prose works consists of the text of the official documents and correspondence. His other prose works include didactic pieces and short anecdotes, which are written in imitation of Saʿdī’s Golestān in a very refined prose style interspersed with poetry.
The poetry of Našāṭ includes qaṣīdas, tarkīb-bands, maṯnavīs, and ḡazals. Though basically not a panegyrist, as a court poet he wrote several qaṣīdas praising Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah in a very exaggerated manner. His 250 ḡazals are his most significant contribution to Persian literature. Though he followed Saʿdī and Ḥāfeẓ in writing lyrical poetry, his ḡazals have a freshness and a certain degree of originality both in language and in subject matter. Našāṭ, like some other poets of his time, was attracted to Sufism and associated with Sufis. This has left its mark on his poetry, and most of his ḡazals are tinged with Sufi sentiments.
Ganǰīna-ye Našāṭ, Tehran, 1266/1849-50.
Ganǰīna-ye dīvān-e Našāṭ, ed. Ḥosayn Naḵaʿī, Tehran, 1307 Š./1928-29.
Secondary sources: M. T. Bahār, Sabkšenāsī, Tehran, 1337 Š./1958, III, pp. 331-32.
Ebrāhīm Ṣafāʾī, Nahżat-e adabī-e Īrān dar ʿaṣr-e Qāǰār, Tehran , 1333 Š./1954, pp. 17-26.
Mīrzā Abu’l-Qāsem Qāʾem-maqām, Monšaʾāt, Tehran, 1337 Š./1958, pp. 301-07.
Yaḥyā Āryānpūr, Az Ṣabā tā Nīmā, Tehran, 1351 Š./1972, pp. 29-35.
Fasāʾī, tr. Busse, pp. 173, 175.
Originally Published: December 15, 1982
Last Updated: July 15, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, pp. 170-171