BOSTĪ, ABU’L-FATḤ NEẒĀM-AL-DĪN ʿAMĪD ʿALĪ b. Moḥammad b. Ḥosayn b. Yūsof Kāteb, a notable bilingual secretary and poet of the 4th/10th century. (His fulll name, according to Yāqūt, I, p. 612, was Abu’l-Fatḥ ʿAlī b. Moḥammad [or Aḥmad] b. Ḥosayn b. Moḥammad b. ʿAbd-al-ʿAzīz.) He was born in Bost, Sīstān, where he received his education in literary studies (adab), jurisprudence (feqh), and Hadith. His teacher in Hadith was Abū Ḥātem Moḥammad b. Ḥabbān, who lived in Bost from 340/951 until his death in 354/965. Bostī was one of the most famous followers of the Shafeʿite school (Sobkī, Ṭabaqāt al-šāfeʿīya). Jorfāḏaqānī (p. 393) attributes to him two lines of a poem in Arabic which shows Bostī as a follower of the Hanafite school of jurisprudence (feqh), but in oṣūl as adhering to the Karrāmī sect. This is, however, quite doubtful as it is contradicted by other sources which refer to him as a Shafeʿite (e.g., Ḥājī Ḵalīfa, I, col. 772, II, col. 1626; EsmāʿīlPasha, I, col. 685). His main enduring fame is as a master of letter writing and as a poet in Arabic. As a youth he became the secretary of Bāytūz, the amir of Bost. When in 367/977 Bost was conquered by Seboktekīn (d. 387/997), Abu’l-Fatḥ spent some time in one of the villages of Roḵḵaj as a fugitive. Later, he entered the service of Seboktekīn at his invitation and was made his secretary, and he remained in this post until the beginning of the reign of Sultan Maḥmūd (388-421/998-1030). Having been slighted by Sultan Maḥmūd, he left his service and went to Transoxiana. Bostī died in 400/1009 or 401/1010 in Bukhara according to Ebn Ḵallekān (II, pp. 508-09) and Yāqūt (loc. cit.), or in Uzgand according to Manīnī’s commentary (šarḥ). Majmaʿ al-foṣaḥāʾ (I, p. 150) gives 403/1012-13 as the year of his death. Dawlatšāh (ed. Browne, p. 27), quoting a poem from ʿEmād Zūzanī, confuses him with Abu’l-Fatḥ Majd-al-Dīn and gives 430/1038-39 as the year of his death (cf. Ḥājī Ḵalīfa, I, col. 772).
Bostī’s Arabic prose work is, in the style of 4th/10th-century writers, rhymed, ornate, and decorative; he was particularly skilled in the use of paronomasia (tajnīs). Amīn Rāzī (Haft eqlīm I, p. 303) refers to his prose works including ʿĀdāt al-sādāt wa sādāt al-ʿādāt (The habits of the noble and the most noble habits), and quotes from it. Bostī’s poems commemorating the early victories of Yamīn-al-Dawla Sultan Maḥmūd were very famous. Abū Manṣūr Ṯaʿālebī Nīšābūrī (d. 429/1037), who had composed his Aḥsan mā sameʿto (The best of what I have heard) at the encouragement of Abu’l-Fatḥ Bostī, had spoken highly of him and had also made copious quotations from his works in his Yatīmat al-dahr. His dīvān of Arabic poems was published in Beirut in 1294/1877. One of his most famous poems is his qaṣīda ending in the letter nun in nearly eighty couplets called ʿOnwān al-ḥekam, which has been translated into Persian both by Badr Jājarmī (d. 686/1287) and, with commentary, by ʿĀdel b. ʿAlī ʿĀdelā (10th/16th century). According to ʿAwfī (Lobāb II, pp. 64-65), Abu’l-Fatḥ Bostī had a Persian dīvān of which only four didactic lines in the Khorasani style have been preserved by ʿAwfī and quoted by others.
F. Bostānī, Dāʾerat al-maʿāref V, pp. 22-24.
Ebn Ḵallekān, Wafayāt al-aʿyān, Cairo. Esmāʿīl Pasha Baḡdādī, Hadīyat al-ʿārefīn, I, Istanbul, 1951.
J. W. Fück, “Bustī,” in EI2 I, pp. 1388-89.
Ḥabīb al-sīar (Tehran) I, p. 372.
Ḥājī Ḵalīfa, Kašf al-ẓonūn, Istanbul, I, 1941; II, 1943.
Abu’l-Šaraf Nāṣeḥ Jorfāḏaqānī, Tarjama-ye Tārīḵ-e yamīnī, ed. J. Šeʿār, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966, index. Mīrḵᵛānd (Tehran), IV, pp. 22, 24, 89.
Nafīsī, Naẓm o naṯr, pp. 45, 395.
ʿOtbī, Tārīḵal-yamīnī, commentary on Šarḥ al-Manīnī, Cairo, 1286/1869, I, pp. 67-72.
Ṣafā, Adabīyāt I, 5th ed., pp. 457-58; III, 2nd ed., p. 559.
Sobkī, Ṭabaqāt al-šāfeʿīya IV, pp. 4-6.
Abū Manṣūr Ṯaʿālebī, Yatīmat al-dahr, Damascus, 1304/1886, II, pp. 204, 231; III, p. 225; IV, pp. 37, 160ff., 232, 236, 281.
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: December 15, 1989
This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 4, p. 388