GOLŠANI, MOḤYI MOḤAMMAD, b. Fatḥ-Allāh b. Abi Ṭāleb, scholar and author in Persian and Turkish and inventor of an artificial language (b. 935/1528-29, d. after 1015/1606-07). Born in Edirne of a family originally from Shiraz, he went in 953/1546 to Istanbul and in 959/1552 to Cairo to join his brother who was in government service.

In Egypt, Golšani was made a deputy judge and became the disciple of Aḥmad Ḵayāli, son and successor of Shaikh Ebrāhim Golšani, founder of the Golšani order, whose daughter he married. He remained until his death in Cairo, serving as the custodian (torbadār) of the main Golšani hospice in the city. He is said to have died in 1014/1605-1606 (Ṭāher, p. 162), but he himself writes (Manāqeb, p. 492) that he was eighty years old in 1015/1605-1606.

Golšani had a sound knowledge of both Persian and Arabic and because of his excellent command of Persian, he was known to his Turkish contemporaries as “ʿAjam-e Kuček.” He invented a kind of forerunner to Esperanto called Balibilen.

Works. Golšani claimed to have written a hundred different works, but only forty-three of them are known today. His Persian works include Ketāb-e maʾāb, a work in two parts dealing with God’s knowledge (ʿelm-e ḵodā) from the viewpoints of legal scholars, the Sufis, and the philosophers; Ketāb-e ḥaqq al-yaqin, a book on simi-lar topics containing answers given by ʿAbd-Allāh b. Mobārak Marvazi to questions put to him, as well as relevant traditions and stories; a divān containing poems mostly in Persian and some in Turkish; Alfiya-yeMoḥyi, a collection of ḡazals in Persian and Turkish, sometimes wrongly ascribed to Moḥyi’s son; Maṣāder-e alsena-ye arbaʿa, a quadrilingual dictionary, in which Persian is taken as the base and equivalents are given in Turkish, Arabic, and his artificial language, Balibilen (e.g., the equivalent to Pers. ābādkardan “to cultivate, to develop” are: Turk. šanlatmak, Ar. taʿmir, Bal. baram); Moḵtaṣar-e ʿelm-e mawjudāt, a collection of mostly Persian quatrains and mostazāds dealing with Sufi topics and containing numerous chronograms on contemporary events; taḵmises of a poem of ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Jāmi and two ḡazals of Ḥāfeẓ. He also translated from Persian into Turkish the Fotuḥ al-Ḥaramayn of Moḥyi’l-Din Lāri (d. 933/1526-27) on the rituals of ḥajj, adding to it material of his own and re-entitling it Hoda’l-Ḥaramayn, and the Ḥosn o del of Fattāḥi Nišāburi (q.v.), expanding some parts of it and abbreviating others.

Thirty-four of Golšani’s surviving works are in Turkish. The major ones are: Loḡat wa qawāʿed-e Balibilen, a grammar of Moḥyi’s artificial language, in which he offers no explanation for its name; Manāqeb-e Ebrāhim Golšani, containing important information not only on the founder of the Golšani order, but also on the Āq Qoyunlu (q.v.), the early years of Shah Esmāʿil I Ṣafawi and his relations with the Ottomans; Nafaḥat al-asḥār, a versified work of 2,552 verses (bayts) listing the governmental personalities he knew and describing the stages of Sufi wayfaring; Aḵlāq-e kerām, the abbreviated version of the lost Aḵlāq-e kabir, in which he discusses ethical refinement, household management, and the art of governance; Bonyād-e šeʿr-e ʿāref or Resāla-ye qāfia, a work on rhyme written at the request of the muftiof Egypt, Bāqi Efendi. A unique copy of this last work is at the University of Istanbul Library (TY 1906). All the other works of Moḥyi are in a collection (majmuʿa) belonging to the Khedivial Library in Cairo (Ḥelmi, pp. 235-38).



Moḥyi Moḥammad Golšani, Manā-qeb-e Ebrāhim Golšani, ed. Tahsin Yazıcı, Ankara, 1982, pp. vii-xi.

ʿA. Ḥelmi Dāḡestāni, Fehrest al-kotob al-torkiya al-mawjuda fi’l-kotob-ḵāna al-ḵediviya, Cairo, 1306/1888-89.

Bursalı Mehmed Tahir, Osmanli Müellifleri, 3 vols. in 4, Istanbul, 1333-42/1914-28, I, pp. 162-63.

(Tahsin Yazici)

Originally Published: December 15, 2002

Last Updated: February 14, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XI, Fasc. 2, p. 113