ḠIĀṮ-AL-DIN ʿEZZAT RĀMPURI, MOḤAMMAD, Persian lexicographer, literary scholar, philologist, poet, and teacher (b. ca. 1199/1785; d. Rampur, 22 Ḏu’l-ḥejja 1268/7 October 1852).
Life. Ḡiāṯ-al-Din was born in Rampur to a family of scholars. His education began at home with his father, Jalāl-al-Din (pen-name Jalāl; b. ca. 1739; d. 1808), a learned scholar, respected teacher, and Persian poet (Mināʾi, pp. 104-5). Ḡiāṯ-al-Din also studied with Ḡolām Jilāni Refʿat (d. 1819), who is said to have instructed Ḡiāṯ-al-Din’s father in esoterism and ethics. Jilāni was a Persian poet, Ṣufi, and influential teacher at Rampur. He studied with Indian masters of the religious sciences, mysticism, and Arabic and Persian literature. He is also said to have studied Persian with a group of Iranians at Delhi.
Ḡiāṯ-al-Din also studied Persian with two of Ḡolām Jilāni’s protégés, ʿAnbaršāh Khan ʿAnbar (d. 1833-4) and Moḥammad-Kabir Khan Taslim (b. ca. 1767; d. 1250/1835-36). ʿAnbar, a descendant of Afghan immigrants, came to Rampur at a young age, studied Persian, and eventually worked as a tutor. He was employed as a reporter to the British at the court of the regent Nawab Naṣr-Allāh Khan (d. 1811) and thereafter as a private employee of local elites. ʿAnbar’s Persian works include a lexicon titled Merʾāt al-eṣṭelāḥāt (1818-19), a short work on Persian grammar, prose writings on various subjects, and poetry. Taslim, who came from a family of Afghan raʾis at Rampur, wrote Persian and Urdu poetry. He also wrote a Persian commentary on the letters of the Mughal historian Abu’l-Fażl ʿAllāmi to Emperor Akbar (Figure 1, Šawq, pp. 271-78, 328-29; Mināʾi, pp. 95, 236-39).
In addition to Persian literature, Ḡiāṯ-al-Din studied the Hellenic medicinal sciences (ṭebb). His teacher, Nur-al-Eslām (d. 1831), born into a family of influential scholars, was employed at the nawab’s court. In addition to being a master of medicinal sciences, Nur-al-Eslām was also an outstanding mathematician and the author of a Persian tract on the astrolabe, Resāla-ye osṭorlāb.
Ḡiāṯ-al-Din is said to have involved himself in Sufi practice. His father is reported to have had a devotional relationship with Ḡolām Jilāni. Similarly, Ḡiāṯ-al-Din is said to have been a devotee of the scholar and mystic Sayyed Jamāl-al-Din (d. 1826; Šawq, pp. 91-93, 306), whose large community of disciples at Rampur included the nawab of Rampur Aḥmad-ʿAli Khan (r. 1794-1840).
Early in his career, Ḡiāṯ-al-Din worked as a tutor and poet at the court of Nawab Aḥmad-ʿAli Khan (r. 1794-1840), and his writings suggest that he was especially close to the court during the regency of Aḥmad-ʿAli Khan’s uncle, Naṣr-Allāh Khan (r. 1794-1811). It seems that Aḥmad-ʿAli Khan did not value Ḡiāṯ-al-Din, and that he was forced to seek patronage outside of Rampur (Najmi, pp. 719-20). Indeed, Ḡiāṯ-al-Din’s letters suggest that he sought patronage at Lucknow (Šawq, pp. 305-06). He also appears to have been patronized by the governor (wāli) of Jaora, to whom he dedicated a commentary on Badr Čāči, completed in 1841.
Ḡiāṯ-al-Din was eventually employed by Aḥmad ʿAli Khan’s successor, Nawab Moḥammad-Saʿid Khan (r. 1840-55). He tutored Moḥammad-Saʿid Khan’s son, Yusof-ʿAli Khan (r. 1855-65) and grandson Kalb-ʿAli Khan (r. 1865-87), both of whom eventually became nawabs of Rampur. Ḡiāṯ-al-Din also taught Persian to a large number of students and is therefore sometimes referred to in the literature as mollā (teacher). Many of his students became prominent poets, writers, and scholars, including the celebrated Urdu poet Dāḡ Dehlavi (d. 1322/1905). Also among Ḡiāṯ-al-Din’s students were his two sons: Qamar-al-Din Jāni (1814-94), a Persian scholar and poet; and ʿAẓim-al-Din Jāni (d. 1917-18), who wrote in Persian for Ḥāmed-ʿAli Khan, who succeeded Kalb-ʿAli Khan as the nawab of Rampur (r. 1889-1930). ʿAẓim-al-Din’s writings include Ferdaws-e bahār (1870-1, describing the wedding of the nawab’s son) and Kaššāf al-ʿolum (1894, a handbook of the sciences dedicated to Ḥāmed-ʿAli Khan).
Ḡiāṯ-al-Din died on 22 Ḏu’l-ḥejja 1268 (7 October 1852) in Rampur and was buried there.
Works. Ḡiāṯ-al-Din’s earliest work appears to be Bāḡ-o bahār (1216/1802-3), a short (120-page) poetic romance which he wrote at the request of Ḡolām Jilāni and dedicated to Aḥmad-ʿAli Khan. He also wrote a long series dedicated to an anonymous begum of the nawab, titled Qeṣṣa-ye gol-o gēndā (ca. 1812-33). A manuscript of 8000 pages bound in eleven volumes is preserved at the Rampur Reza Library (Library Catalogue II, p. 209).
Ḡiāṯ-al-Din wrote a number of commentaries on canonical Persian texts. The earliest of these may be his Šarḥ-e Sekandar-nāma (1814-15; revised 1848-49), a commentary on the famous poem by Neẓāmi Ganjavi (q.v.), which Ḡiāṯ-al-Din dedicated to the Mughal emperor Akbar Shah II (r. 1806-37). Ḡiāṯ-al-Din also wrote commentaries on the Neyrang-e ʿešq, a maṯnawi by Moḥammad-Akram Ḡanimat Konjāhi (d. ca. 1125/1713); Gol-e košti, a maṯnawi on wrestling and physical exercise by Mir Nejāt Eṣfahāni (d. 1126/1714); and the qaṣida poetry of Badr Čāči, which he completed on 16 Šaʿbān 1257 (3 October 1841). Two commentaries on the letters of Abu’l-Fażl ʿAllāmi to the Mughal Emperor Akbar were published as Ḡiāṯ-al-Din’s work in 1870. However, one of them appears to have been written by his teacher Moḥammad-Kabir Khan Taslim (Šawq, pp. 328-29).
Ḡiāṯ-al-Din’s most celebrated commentary is arguably his study of the Golestān of Saʿdi, Bahār-e bārān (1843-44). In the preface to the work, he wrote that he intended Bahār-e bārān to be both comprehensive and accessible to novices. Bahār-e bārān, which he composed by using an early manuscript of the Golestān in consultation with at least nine commentaries, also includes translations of Arabic phrases into Persian, scansion of Arabic and Persian poetry, glosses on vocabulary, grammatical analysis, and discussions that tie the text to broader aesthetic and religious contexts.
Ḡiāṯ-al-Din is chiefly known among scholars of Persian for his Persian dictionary Ḡiāṯ al-loḡāt compiled in 1827, which was probably first published in Lucknow in 1848-9 (Šawq, p. 307). Ḡiāṯ-al-loḡāt circulated in manuscripts immediately after its completion and attained broad authority soon after its publication (for mss., see Storey, III/I, pp. 48-49). Through incorporation in the Farhang-e Ānandrāj and the Loḡat-nāma of Dehḵodā, it shaped the Persian lexicographical tradition in the 19th and 20th centuries. Such influence notwithstanding, its authority has not gone unquestioned. In the 19th century, Indian poet and lexicographer Mirzā Asad-Allāh Khan Ḡāleb (d. 1869) deemed Ḡiāṯ-al-Din an inferior Persian scholar, questioned the reliability of his sources, described him as a poor teacher with an imperfect knowledge of grammar (ṣarf and naḥw), and wrote that he did “not know Persian” (Ḡāleb, pp. 296, 979-80, 1019). In the 20th century, one historian claimed that Ḡiāṯ-al-Din’s lack of training in Arabic resulted in orthographic, morphological, and etymological errors in Ḡiāṯ al-loḡāt (Najmi, II, pp. 153, 185-86).
Ḡiāṯ-al-Din wrote several books dealing with the formal aspects of the Persian language. Meʿrāj al-ʿoruj is a study of prosody and rhyme. Jawāher al-taḥqiq (1845-46, written as a textbook for Kalb-ʿAli Khan) is a short work intended to correct common errors in usage. Āmad-nāma-ye fārsi, on Persian grammar, was also written as a manual for Kalb-ʿAli Khan at the request of his father, Nawab Yusof-ʿAli Khan. Ḵolāṣat al-enšāʾ (1843-34) is a primer on prose style that Ḡiāṯ-al-Din wrote for Kalb-ʿAli Khan as he taught him the Golestān of Saʿdi.
After Ḡiāṯ-al-Din died, a collection of his tracts on various subjects, mostly related to Persian literature, was compiled and completed by his son Qamar-al-Din and titled Montaḵab al-ʿolum (1852-3). Qamar-al-Din also collected Ḡiāṯ-al-Din’s letters as Monšaʾāt-e ʿEzzat (1852). Most of Ḡiāṯ-al-Din’s writings circulated only in manuscript form until the 1890s, when his son Moḥammad ʿAẓim-al-Din worked with Naval Keshor to publish them (see Bibliography).
Manuscript catalogues and bibliographies record that, in addition to the literary and lexicographical works discussed here, Ḡiāṯ-al-Din also wrote a history of the prophets, titled Lobb al-albāb, and two texts on medicine, Mojarrabāt-e ḡiāṯi, and Ḵawāṣ al-adawia.
Ḡiāṯ-al-Din also wrote Persian ḡazal and qaṣida poetry under the pen name (taḵalloṣ) ʿEzzat, and some of his Rēḵta (Urdu) verse has also survived (Mināʾi, pp. 227-28).
Rayāḥin-e ʿaẓim (1890), compiled by Ḡiāṯ-al-Din’s son, Moḥammad ʿAẓim-al-Din, includes a selection of Ḡiāṯ-al-Din’s Persian letters as well as his prefaces, including those works that are not mentioned in manuscript catalogues or surveys of his work. These include a commentary on the Bustān of Saʿdi; a book on festivals (ʿIdi-nāma); and an annotated Persian translation of the Arabic Merʾāt al-ʿārefin, which Ḡiāṯ-al-Din attributed to Imam Ḥosayn b. ʿAli. Ḡiāṯ-al-Din’s letters are addressed to religious scholars, mathematicians, friends, loved ones, patrons, and court officials, and offer insight into the social, intellectual, and political environment at Rampur in his time.
Bahār-e bārān, šarḥ-e Golestān, Lucknow, 1891.
Ḡiāṯ al-loḡāt, Tehran, 1958.
Montaḵab al-loḡāt: Čeraḡ-e ḥedāyat bar ḥāšia-ye Ḡiāṯ al-loḡāt, Rampur, 1905.
Rayāḥin-e ʿaẓim, ed. Moḥammad ʿAẓim-al-Din, Rampur, 1890.
Šarḥ-e Abu’l-Fażl, do daftar, Lucknow, 1890 and 1897.
Šarḥ-e har se daftar-e Abu’l-Fażl, Lahore, 1870 (likely written by Moḥammad-Kabir Khan Taslim).
Šarḥ-e qaṣāʾed-e Badr Čāč, Lucknow, 1898.
Šarḥ-e Sekandar-nāma, Lucknow، 1891 (listed in Edwards, p. 465).
Sayyed ʿAli Belgrāmi, Fehrest-e kotob: Qalami - mawjuda kotob-ḵāna, Hyderabad, 1901.
Moḥammad Dabirsiāqi, Farhanghā-ye fārsi wa farhang-gunahā, Tehran, 1989, pp. 176-78.
Edward Edwards, A Catalogue of the Persian Printed Books in the British Museum, London, 1922.
Mirzā Asad-Allāh Khan Ḡāleb, Ḡāleb kē ḵoṭuṭ, New Delhi, 2002.
ʿAbd-al-Ḥayy Ḥasani, Nozhat al-ḵawāṭer wa bahjat al-masāmeʿ wa’l-nawāẓer, Beirut, 1999.
Amir Aḥmad Amir Mināʾi, Enteḵāb-e yādgār, Lucknow 1982.
Moḥammad Najm-al-Ḡani Khan Najmi, Aḵbār al-ṣanādid, 2 vols., Rampur, 1997.
Rampur Raza Library, Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts, 3 vols., Rampur, 1996-2000.
M. H. Razvi and M. H. Qaisar Amrohvi, Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Maulana Azad Library Aligarh Muslim University: Habibganj Collection (Persian) Part II: Islamic Science, History, Biography, etc., Aligarh, 1985.
Edward Denison Ross et al., eds., Catalogue of the Arabic and Persian Manuscripts in the Oriental Public Library at Bankipore: Persian Poets Firdausi to Hafiz, Calcutta, 1908.
ʿAli Ašraf Ṣādeqi, “Ḡiāṯ al-loḡāt,” in Dāneš-nāma-ye zabān wa adab-e fārsi IV, Tehran, 2012, pp. 744-46.
Aḥmad-ʿAli Šawq, Taḏkera-ye kāmelān-e Rāmpur, Delhi, 1929.
Šabbir ʿAli Khan Šekib. Rāmpur kā dabestān-e šāʿeri, Rampur, 1999.
(Gregory Maxwell Bruce)
Originally Published: February 13, 2017
Last Updated: February 13, 2017Cite this entry:
Gregory Maxwell Bruce, “ḠIĀṮ-AL-DIN RĀMPURI,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2017, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ghiat-al-din-rampuri (accessed on 13 February 2017).