FEDĀʾĪ ḴORĀSĀNĪ, MOḤAMMAD, b. Zayn-al-ʿĀbedīn b. Karbalāʾī Dāwūd (b. ca. 1266/1850; d. 1342/1923), foremost Persian Nezārī Ismaʿili author and poet of modern times, who is referred to as Ḥājī Āḵūnd in the Persian Nezārī community. Fedāʾī was born in Dezbād/Dīzbād or Dezbād-e Bālā (Razmārā, Farhang IX, p. 180), an Ismaʿili village in the mountains between Mašhad and Nīšāpūr in northern Khorasan. He was a descendant of Emāmqolī Ḵākī Ḵorāsānī, an important Nezārī poet of the Safavid times (d. after 1056/1646). After completing his early education in Dezbād and Darrūd, another Ismaʿili village near Nīšāpūr, Fedāʾī spent some time in Mašhad, studying the religious sciences, including feqh and kalām, at the Bāqerīya madrasa (Herātī, Intro., p. 3).

In 1313/1896, Fedāʾī set off on the first of his three journeys to India to see the Nezārī imam of the time, Solṭān Moḥammadšāh Āqā Khan III (1885-1957; see ĀQĀ KHAN). In 1317/1900, Fedāʾī visited Bombay again and stayed there for a few years, also gaining access to Āqā Khan’s valuable library. In 1321/1903, the Nezārī imam finally gave an audience (dīdār) to Fedāʾī and on that occasion issued a farmān appointing him as the moʿallem (teacher) in charge of the religious affairs of the Persian Nezārī community. On his return journey, Fedāʾī passed through Ḥejāz and made the pilgrimage to Mecca, whence his popular designation of Ḥājī Āḵūnd. In 1324/1906, Fedāʾī, leading a group of prominent Nezārīs from Dezbād, paid his last visit to the Nezārī imam in Bombay, where he also testified in court on behalf of Āqā Khan III in the course of the hearings of the famous Ḥājī Bībī Case, concerning the case of claims filed by Ḥāji Bībī, a cousin of Āqā Khan, against the latter’s estate and income (Āqā Khan, pp. 79-80).

During the turbulent years of the Constitutional Revolution in Persia, Fedāʾī, who had hitherto been campaigning successfully throughout the Nezārī community of Khorasan for strengthening the religious identity of the Persian Nezārīs and the authority of Āqā Khan III, fell victim to the intrigues of some dissident Ismaʿilis, who, under the leadership of Morād Mīrzā, were challenging the Āqā Khan’s authority, and to the persecutions of some local Twelver ʿolamāʾ. Until then, the Persian Nezārīs had observed their religious rituals mainly in the manner of the Twelver Shiʿites. Āqā Khan III eventually succeeded in preventing persecution of his Khorasani followers through the intervention of the British consul at Mašhad (Daftary, 1990, pp. 534-38).

Fedāʾī composed several doctrinal works, including the Eršād al-sālekīn, the Kašf al-ḥaqāʾeq, the Ketāb-e dāneš-e ahl-e bīneš, and the Ḥadīqat al-maʿānī, a treatise on feqh. Copies of these unpublished works, not listed in Fedāʾī’s sections in the Ismaʿili bibliographies of Wladimir Ivanow (pp. 153-54) and Ismail K. Poonawala (pp. 284-85), were shown to the present writer in Dezbād and Mašhad in 1985 by Fedāʾī’s sole surviving grandson, Ṣadr-al-Dīn b. Mollā Šams-al-Dīn Mīršāhī. Fedāʾī also composed, probably at the suggestion of Āqā Khan III, a history of Ismaʿilism entitled Hedāyat al-moʾmenīn al-ṭālebīn, the first work of its kind by a modern Nezārī author. It is, however, permeated with all types of errors and extends from the origins of Ismaʿilism to the Āqā Khans and the modern times; its copies are preserved by the Nezārīs of Badaḵšān in Afghanistan and Tajikestan (Berthels and Baqoev, p. 102). The sections on the Āqā Khans, comprising the most interesting parts of this work, were evidently added around 1328/1910 by a certain Mūsā Khan b. Moḥammad Ḵorāsānī, who died in Poona in 1937 (see Daftary, 1984). Mūsā Khan and his father had been in the service of the Āqā Khans in Bombay. Fedāʾī’s dīvān of poetry, collected by his descendants and still unpublished, contains about 12,000 verses. His poetry, mainly in the form of maṯnawīs, qaṣīdas, or ḡazals are not generally of high quality. They deal primarily with religious and didactic themes or are eulogies of the Nezārī imams. Fedāʾī died in Dezbād and was buried there next to Ḵākī Ḵorāsānī; the site was modestly repaired in 1966.



Details on Fedāʾī’s life and works are contained in Ṣadr-al-Dīn Mīršāhī’s unpublished biography of Fedāʾī and also in the introduction to one of Mīršāhī’s collections of Fedāʾī’s works (MSS Mīršāhī Collection, Mašhad).

See also A. A. Semenov, “Ismailitsky panegirik obozhestvlennomu ʿAliyu Fedai Khorasanskogo” (An Ismaʿili panegyric on divinized ʿAlī by Fedāʾī Ḵorāsānī), Iran 3, 1929, pp. 51-70 (containing an edition and translation of Fedāʾī’s "Qaṣīda-ye negārestān”).

A. Berthels and M. Baqoev, Alphabetic Catalogue of Manuscripts found by 1959-1963 Expedition in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, ed. B. G. Gafurov and A. M. Mirzoev, Moscow, 1967.

Āqā Khan Sultan Moḥammadšāh III, The Memoirs of Aga Khan, London, 1954.

F. Daftary, review of Hedāyat al-moʾmenīn al-ṭālebīn in Našr-e dāneš, no. 4, June-July 1984, pp. 32-37.

Idem, The Ismāʿīlīs. Their History and Doctrines, Cambridge, 1990, index; tr. F. Badraʾī, Tārīḵ wa ʿaqāʾed-e Esmāʿīlīya, Tehran, 1375 Š./1996.

Idem, A Short History of the Ismailis, Edinburgh, 1998, pp. 203-4.

Fedāʾī Ḵorāsānī, Ketāb hedāyat al moʾmenīn al-ṭālebīn maʿrūf ba Tārīḵ-e Esmāʿīlīya, ed. A. A. Semenov, Moscow, 1959; repr. Tehran, 1362 Š./1983, editor’s introduction (in Russ.).

Ḵayrḵᵛāh Herātī, Faṣl dar bayān-e šenāḵt-e emām, ed. W. Ivanow, 3rd ed., Tehran, 1960.

W. Ivanow, Ismaili Literature: A Bibliographical Survey, Tehran, 1963.

I. K. Poonawala, Biobibliography of Ismāʿīlī Literature, Malibu, Calif., 1977.

(Farhad Daftary)

Originally Published: December 15, 1999

Last Updated: January 24, 2012

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