ḤĀJI PIRZĀDA, Moḥammad ʿAli Nāʾini, Persian traveler (b. between 1835 and 1840 in Nāʾin, d. March 1904 (Figure 1). Ḥāji Pirzāda, who came from a Sufi family, moved to Tehran where he became a disciple of the Neʿmat-Allāhi (q.v.) Shaikh Ḥāji Mirzā Ṣafā, with whom he traveled to Istanbul in 1858 (Fragner, p. 45). In the Ottoman capital, Ḥāji Pirzāda enjoyed the protection of the Iranian ambassador Ḥosayn Khan Mošir-al-Dowla, who introduced him to the major personalities in international diplomatic circles. In the early 1860s, Ḥāji Pirzāda traveled to Europe, Syria, and Egypt, as well as to Mecca on pilgrimage.
In October 1885 Ḥāji Pirzāda began his second major journey, which took him to Europe via Bombay and Cairo, and kept him far from Iran until September 1888. During his residency abroad, Ḥāji Pirzāda had the chance to meet illustrious individuals like Lord Salisbury and William Gladstone, and to enjoy the friendship of the very young Edward Granville Browne, whose genius and sincere interest in Islamic and especially Persian culture he already appreciated (Afšār, 1333 Š./ 1954, pp. 420-23).
As Ḥāji Pirzāda’s Safar-nāma reveals, he enjoyed meeting people and attending gatherings of diverse kinds: from the Iranian ambassador in London (i.e., Malkom Khan), to the leader of the Ismaʿili community in Bombay, the Agha Khan; from the Iranian mercantile communities settled in Europe to the Bektāši (q.v.) confraternity in Cairo.
Ḥāji Pirzāda’s diary is written in the simple and monotonous style typical of Persian travel diaries of the 19th century; it also follows the convention of the Qajar safar-nāmas in its description of the wonders seen abroad (monuments, museums, and libraries, postal and transportation systems, etc.). In addition, Ḥāji Pirzāda, a pious and traditional man, expresses a sincere apprehension for those Iranians abroad whom he felt had forgotten their culture and religion, and whose behavior in his opinion cast a shadow over the entire Iranian nation. When he returned to Iran, Ḥāji Pirzāda benefited from the friendship of Nāṣer-al-Din Shah, and his successor, Moẓaffar-al-Din Shah.
Iraj Afšār, “Edvārd Brāwn wa Ḥāji Pirzāda,” Yaḡmā 7, 1333 Š./1954.
Idem, “Yād-dāšthāʾi az safar-nāma-ye Ḥāji Pirzāda,” Yaḡmā 12, 1339 Š./1960.
Bert Fragner, Persische Memoirenliteratur als Quelle zur neueren Geschichte Irans, Wiesbaden, 1979, p. 45.
Hāṟjji Pirzāda, Safar-nāma, ed. and intro. Ḥ. Farmān-Farmāʾiān, 2 vols., I. Az Tehrān tā Landan, II. Az Landan tā Eṣfahān, Tehran, 1342-43 Š./1963-64
Originally Published: December 15, 2002
Last Updated: March 1, 2012
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Vol. XI, Fasc. 5, pp. 552-553