KĀBOLI, ʿAbdallāh Ḵᵛāja

(also known as Kāboli Naqšbandi and Heravi), historiographer and poet of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. 


KĀBOLI, ʿAbdallāh ᵛāja (also known as Kāboli Naqšbandi and Heravi), historiographer and poet of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. His pen names were “Gonāhi,” in his Taḏkerat al-tawāriḵ (including his poems therein; e.g. ms. Tashkent, fols. 93a, 177b, 258b), and “ʿAbdi,” based on two contemporary biographical collections (Moṭrebi 1998a, p. 549; idem, 1998b, pp. 136-37). These are the only known sources on Kāboli (cf. Storey-Bregel 1972, I, no. 416). Kāboli’s poems in the Taḏkerat are all chronograms of various length, but Moṭrebi (op. cit.) quotes a line from a ḡazal of his written as jawāb to a contemporary poet.

He lived in Kabul, then possibly in Herat, and, later, Send/Sindh. His Taḏkera, in particular, suggests that he was closely linked to Kabul (Nuriddinov, 1986, p. 55), where he probably started to compose it, in 990/1582.

His writings indicate that he was a Sunni follower of the Naqšbandi order. In 996/1587-88 he travelled to Bukhara to visit the tomb of Bahāʾ-al-Din Naqšband (q.v.) and Č(ah)ār Bakr village (Moṭrebi, 1998a, p. 549), where the influential Naqšbandi leader Ḵᵛāja Saʿd of the Juybāri (q.v.) clan resided. In addition to Transoxiana, he travelled widely, especially in Mughal India. He probably lived in Aḥmadābād during 1591-93, and in Lahore, Delhi, Agra, and Kashmir (Nuriddinov, 1986, pp. 58-61). In 1010/1601 he was in Mātila (now Mirpur Mathelo in Multan province), a small district in Sindh where he completed editing his Taḏkera in 1010/1601 (Taḏkera, ms. Tashkent, fol. 258b, colophon). In 1035/1625-26 he was still reported as living in Hendustān and referred to as “ḵᵛāja” (Moṭrebi, 1998b, p. 136).

At some point in life, Kāboli married a daughter of Ḵᵛāja Zayn-al-Din Moḥammad b. Sayyed Hādi Ḵᵛāja b. Ḵᵛājagi Maḥmud Naqšbandi, the powerful Sufi shaikh and the ṣadr of Samarqand and then Bukhara. This marriage into one of the great lineages of Naqšbandi “Sayyeds and Ḵᵛājas” (Moṭrebi, 1998b, pp. 135-36) likely occurred after 1020/1611, when the political shift (seize of power by the Janid Emāmqoli Khan) obliged the shaikh to leave Transoxiana and seek refuge in Mughal India, where he settled in Nowšahr(a), a town between Peshawar and Nilāb (ibid). Should this be the case, then Kāboli’s son, ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān, born in 1009/1600-01 (Taḏkera, ms. Tashkent, fol. 244a), was possibly from another wife.

Taḏkerat al-tawāriḵ (see Nuriddinov, 1986, passim; idem, 1980) is a hybrid work written in Persian prose and embellished with poems, those of the author included. The book is composed of an introduction and six chapters (ṭabaqa). The analysis of the autograph manuscript of the text (ms. Tashkent) shows that the text underwent an important revision by the author before or in 1010/1601 when the book was dedicated to the Emperor Akbar (q.v.) and Chapter 5 entirely rewritten to fit new circumstances (see below). A list of written sources appears in the introduction (see Szuppe, 2006, p. 338-39; idem, forthcoming); other acknowledged sources are direct accounts and stories collected from eyewitnesses. The six chapters are as follows. Ch. 1 (ms. Tashkent, fols. 2b-46b) dates/chronograms (tawāriḵ) of prophets (anbiāʾ). Ch. 2 (fols. 47a-94b) dates of saints (awliāʾ), eminent shaikhs and the ulama, including many Naqšbandi leaders, the spiritual line of Ḵᵛāja ʿObaydallāh Aḥrār in particular. Ch. 3 (fols. 94b-178a) dates of scholars (fożalā) and renowned poets. Ch. 4 (fols. 178b-238b) dates of kings and amirs. Ch. 5 (fols. 239a-248a), in the extant manuscript, portrays the life of Emperor Akbar (in the original version of the work, of which some traces are still detectable in the autograph Tashkent ms., Ch. 5 contained the dates of ḵavāṣṣ wa ʿawām “the nobles and masses”; on this revision and other corrections of the initial text, see Szuppe, 2006, pp. 349-50). Ch. 6 (fols. 248b-258b) is a series of versified chronograms for the dates of construction of public buildings such as mosques, madrasas, forts (rebāṭ), gardens (see Čārbāḡ), wells, bridges, and libraries, mostly situated in Sindh.

The merit of the work lies in the first-hand, occasionally detailed information on contemporary conditions, especially in the north-western provinces under the Mughals. As such, the book belongs to a tradition of “history in chronograms” especially popular in Transoxiana in the late mediaeval period (Szuppe, 2006, pp. 335-38). Also noteworthy are the biographical details of the Naqšbandi shaikhs and men of letters, both historical and contemporary, including those personally known to the author.

Manuscripts of Taḏkerat al-tawāriḵ. (1) Tashkent (autograph), dated 11 Rabiʿ I 1010/9 Oct. 1601, copied in a qaṣaba in Mātila district, Bakkar province (in Sindh), 258 fols., ms. no. 2093, Biruni Oriental Institute, Academy of Sciences, Tashkent. This is an updated and edited version of the text, dedicated to Emperor Akbar. For history of the ms., see Validov, pp. 250-51; Sobranie I, pp. 67-68; Nuriddinov, 1977; idem, 1986, pp. 64-73; Szuppe, 2006. (2) Dushanbe, dated 1147/1734-35, bound in 19th cent. by ʿAbd-al-Ḥakim b. Mollā Ḵᵛoqandi, 255 fols., ms. no. 138, A. A. Semënov Collection, Institute of History, Archaeology, and Ethnography, Academy of Sciences, Dushanbe (described by Nuriddinov, 1986, pp. 74-80; see also Szuppe, 2006, pp. 346-48). (3) Hyderabad, ca. late 16th cent., ms. no. Ta. 6, Salar Jung Museum and Library, Hyderabad, India (see Ashraf, II, no. 579, pp. 231-32; only briefly mentioned by Nuriddinov, 1986, p. 80).



Muhammad Ashraf, A Concise Descriptive Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the Salar Jung Museum and Library, Hyderabad, 1966.

Solṭān-Moḥammad Moṭrebi Samarqandi, Taḏkerat al-šoʿarāʾ, ed. Aṣḡar Jānfedā, Tehran, 1998a.

Idem, Nosḵa-ye zibā-ye Jahāngir, ed. Esmāʿil Bikjānuf and Sayyed ʿAli Mujāni, Qom, 1998b.

Sh. Nuriddinov, “Antologia ‘Tazkiratut-tavarikh’ Abdalakha Kabuli i ee rukopisi,” in Voprosy èstetiki, poètiki i tekstologii literatur Vostoka, Moscow, 1977.

Idem, “‘Tazkirat-ut-tavarikh’ Abdallakha Kabuli kak literaturnyï istochnik po persoyazychnoï literature konca XV nachala XVI veka,” in Respublikanskaya konferentsiya molodykh uchenykh i specialistov AN Tadzhikskoï SSR, Dushabe, 1980.

Idem (Nur-al-Dinuf), Taḏkerat al-tawāriḵ-e ʿAbdallāh-e Kāboli, Kabul, 1986.

Sobranie vostochnykh rukopiseï Instituta Vostokovedeniya Akademii Nauk Uzbekskoï SSR I, ed. A. A. Semënov et al., 11 vols., Tashkent, 1952-87.

Charles A. Storey, Persidskaya literatura: Bio-bibliograficheskiï obzor, ed. and tr. Yu. E. Bregel, 3 vols., Moscow, 1972.

Maria Szuppe, “Notes sur l’historiographie indo-persane: une ‘chronique’ en chronogrammes de ʿAbdallāh Kābolī (ca. 990/1582),” in Michele Bernardini, Masashi Haneda, and Maria Szuppe, eds., Liber Amicorum. Études sur l’Iran médiéval et moderne offertes à Jean Calmard (special issue of Eurasian Studies 5/1-2), 2006, pp. 333-56.

Idem, “A Glorious Past and an Outstanding Present: Writing a collection of biographies in Late Persianate Central Asia,” in Louise Marlow, ed., The Rhetoric of Biography: Narrating Lives in Arabic, Persian and Turkish Literature, Ilex Foundation Series, forthcoming.

A. Z. Validov, “O sobraniyakh rukopiseï v Bukharskom khanstve (otchët o komandirovke),” Zapiski vostochnogo otdeleniya imperatorskogo russkogo arkheologicheskogo obshchestva 23/3-4, 1916, pp. 245-62.

(Maria Szuppe)

Originally Published: November 5, 2010

Last Updated: November 5, 2010