AMĪN AḤMAD RĀZĪ

better known as AMĪN RĀZĪ, 10th-11th/16th-17th century author of the Haft eqlīm, a famous geographical and biographical encyclopedia.

 

AMĪN AḤMAD RĀZĪ, better known as AMĪN RĀZĪ, 10th-11th/16th-17th century author of the Haft eqlīm, a famous geographical and biographical encyclopedia. A native of Ray, he came from a family known for its literary taste and erudition; many of his relatives held prominent official positions. His father, Ḵᵛāǰa Mīrzā Aḥmad, was appointed mayor (kalāntar) of Ray by Shah Ṭahmāsb Ṣafawī; his paternal uncle, Ḵᵛāǰa Moḥammad Šarīf, was a poet and minister to Moḥammad Khan Šaraf Oḡlī Taklū, governor of Khorasan, to the latter’s son, and subsequently to Shah Ṭahmāsb at Yazd, Abarqūh, and Isfahan. Ḵᵛāǰa Ḡīāṯ Beg, Amīn Rāzī’s first cousin and father of the Mughal queen Nūr Jahān, was influential at the court of Akbar and later became the powerful minister of Jahāngīr, with the title Eʿtemād-al-dawla. Rāzī states (I, p. 4) that he completed his encyclopedia in 1002/1593-94 (although part of the work was written later); the dates of his birth and death are unknown. He may have visited India during the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar (see Storey, I, p. 1169; Haft eqlīm I, preface, p. iii; Sayyed ʿAlī-Reżā Naqawī, Taḏkera-nevīsī-e fārsī dar Hend o Pākestān, Tehran, 1343 Š./1964, p. 117, n. 1). The Haft eqlīm (“Seven climes”) took Rāzī six years to complete (I, p. 2). In the style of other Persian taḏkeras, it provides extensive topographical, historical, and biographical information grouped according to the “climes” or divisions of the world. There is a preponderance of biographies, which number 1560; these are generally more comprehensive and precise than those found in some earlier sources, such as ʿAwfī’s Lobāb al-albāb and Dawlatšāh’s Taḏkerat al-šoʿarāʾ. The work contains citations of poetry not attested elsewhere, as well as prose passages by poets, e.g., the satirist ʿObayd Zākānī. The narrative is based upon authentic sources, thirty-nine of which have been identified by Naqawī (Taḏkera-nevīsī, pp. 118-19). Ethé provides a table of the contents of the work, arranged by clime (Cat. Ind. Off. I, pp. 380-499, no. 724). Although many manuscripts of the Haft eqlīm exist, the only complete printed edition is that of Jawād Fāżel (3 vols., Tehran, 1340 Š./1961). The Calcutta edition is more carefully edited, but it omits the fourth clime, which constitutes more than half the work.

 

Bibliography:

Rāzī, Haft eqlīm, ed.

E. D. Ross, ʿAbd-al-Moqtader, A. H. Harley, Maḥfūẓ-al-ḥaqq, M. Ishaque, and S. B. Samadi, Calcutta, 1918-72.

Rypka, Hist. Iran. Lit., pp. 452, 495.

Storey, I, pp. 1169-71.

(M. U. Memon)

Originally Published: December 15, 1989

Last Updated: August 3, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 9, p. 939