BAHĀʾ-AL-DĪN BAḠDĀDĪ, MOḤAMMAD B. MOʾAYYAD BAḠDĀDĪ (or BAḠDĀDAKĪ) ḴᵛĀRAZMĪ, a master of the art of Persian letter-writing (tarassol) in the 6th/12th century (d. after 688/1289). He was from Baḡdādak, a place in Ḵᵛārazm. According to the Tārīḵ-egozīda (apud M. Qazvīnī in ʿAwfī, Lobāb I, pp. 349-50), he was the younger brother of Shaikh Majd-al-Dīn Abū Saʿīd b. Moʾayyad Baḡdādī (Baḡdādakī) Ḵᵛārazmī, a well-known mystic in the period around the turn of the 6th/12th and 7th/13th centuries. Nothing else is known about his background and early life. His rise to fame began when he took charge of the dīvān-e enšāʾ (chancellery) of the Ḵᵛārazmšāh ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn Tekeš b. Īl Arslān (r. 568/1172-596/1200). In the Haft eqlīm (I, p. 106) he is said to have also been the secretary of the next Ḵᵛārazmšāh, Sultan Moḥammad (596/1199-617/1220), but this is hard to verity.
Bahāʾ-al-Dīn’s connection with the Khwarazmian court twice landed him in prison: once after a disagreement with Tekeš’s vizier Neẓām-al-Molk Šams-al-Dīn Masʿūd Heravī (d. 596/1199-1200), and for a much longer time, from 582/1186 to 585/1189, when he was detained at Marv by Tekeš’s brother and rival for the throne, Solṭānšāh Moḥammad b. Īl Arslān (d. 589/1193). He was set free when the two brothers made peace (Jovaynī, II, p. 23). During this second spell he wrote his Resāla-ye ḥabsīya (Message from prison), a fine specimen of Persian prose. After his release he reentered the service of ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn Tekeš. There are mentions of him from then until the year 588/1192 (ibid., p. 28). Rāzī’s statement (Haft eqlīm I, p. 106), followed by Hedāyat’s Majmaʿ al-foṣaḥāʾ (I, p. 443) that he died in 545/1150 is therefore incorrect.
Bahāʾ-al-Dīn won fame in his own lifetime for the excellence of his prose writings and the cogency of his poems. The collection of his official letters named al-Tawassol ela’l-tarassol (Guide to letter-writing; q.v.) received high praise among contemporary litterateurs such as ʿAwfī (Lobāb I, p. 139) and Saʿd-al-Dīn Varāvīnī, the author of the Marzbān-nāma. He excelled in writing ornate Persian prose, usually laden with Arabic words and phrases. In the history of Persian prose he stands among the foremost pioneers of this style.
Bahāʾ-al-Dīn’s al-Tawassol ela’l-tarassol was printed together with his Resāla-ye ḥabsīya at Tehran in 1315 Š./1936. A complete qaṣīda (in praise of ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn Tekeš) and eleven other verses from his pen are quoted in ʿAwfī’s Lobāb al-albāb; they are enough to show that he was a skillful writer of poetry in the style prevalent in the 6th/12th century.
See also Bahāʾ-al-Dīn Moḥammad b. Moʾayyad Baḡdādī, al-Tawassol ela’l-tarassol, ed. Aḥmad Bahmanyār, Tehran, 1315 Š./1936.
ʿAwfī, Lobāb I, pp. 139-42, 328-30; ed. Nafīsī, pp. 121-25 and notes, esp. pp. 592-93; Nafīsī, Naẓm o naṯr I, pp. 86, 94, 115, 120.
M. Qazvīnī, Bīst maqāla-ye Qazvīnī II, Tehran, 1332 Š./1953, pp. 252-56.
Ḏ. Ṣafā, Adabīyāt II, 5th ed., Tehran, 2536 = 1356 Š./1977, pp. 973-77.
Idem, Ganjīna-ye soḵan III, Tehran, 1353 Š./1974, pp. 50f.
Originally Published: December 15, 1988
Last Updated: August 23, 2011
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Vol. III, Fasc. 4, pp. 430-431