ḴALIL, MOḤAMMAD EBRĀHIM (b. Kabul, 1896; d. Kabul, 1984), Afghan scribe, calligrapher, poet and historian. Son of Mirzā Fażl-Aḥmad, he traced his genealogy to Shaikh Aḥmad b. Abu’l-Ḥasan Jāmi (better known as Aḥmad Žandapil). Ḵalil studied privately with his parents and excelled in the art of calligraphy, especially the nastaʿliq and šekasta styles (see calligraphy). In the meantime, he learned the fundamentals of accounting, finance, and bookkeeping. In 1918, during the reign of Amir Ḥabib-Allāh Khan (r. 1901-19), he joined the expanding state bureaucracy. When Shah Amān-Allāh (r. 1919-29) came to power, Ḵalil was hired, probably because of his outstanding talent in Persian calligraphy, as a secretary (monši) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He later served, on a short-term basis, as secretary in the Afghan embassies in Delhi, London, and Paris. During Shah Amān-Allāh’s much publicized and lengthy trip to Europe and the Middle East (lasting from December 1927 to July 1928), Ḵalil served as personal secretary to Queen Ḥomayrā and private tutor to Crown Prince Raḥmat-Allāh (Rasuli, pp. 370-71).

During the reign of Moḥammad Nāder Shah (r. 1929-33), Ḵalil was sent to Herat (q.v.) as director of finance. With the establishment of the National Bank (Bānk-e Melli) in 1934, Ḵalil was appointed as a director of the bank. Soon after taking up the post at the National Bank, Ḵalil, along with a number of leading intellectuals and literati of the time, was incarcerated, without charge, by the prime minister, Moḥammad Hāšem Khan. He spent nearly ten years in prison in Kabul. Upon his release in 1943 he was selected as a member of the Historical Society of Afghanistan (see anjoman-e tāriḵ-e afḡānestān). In 1950, Ḵalil was appointed as the editor-in-chief of the journal Āriānā, the official publication of the Historical Society. He retired from public office in 1960 and devoted himself to Persian poetry, historical studies, and calligraphy (Ḵasta, pp. 329-30).

Ḵalil is the author of several books and book-length monographs. His writings include Rāhnemā-ye ḵaṭṭ (Kabul, 1958); Esteḵrāj-e tāriḵ dar naẓm (Kabul, 1958); Mazārāt-e Kābol (Kabul, 1960); Ḥālāt-e Solṭān Ebrāhim Adham (Kabul, 1961); Šarḥ-e ḥāl va āṯār-e Amir Ḵosrow Dehlavi (Kabul, 1961); and Kolliyāt-e Moḥammad Ebrāhim Ḵalil (Kabul, 1968), which consists of some 16,000 couplets in various conventional poetic genres, exploring different themes and topics.



Moḥammad Ḥanif Balḵi, “Ḵalil,” in Par-e tāvūs, Kabul, 1985, pp. 314-15.

Aḵtar Rasuli, “Ḵalil,” in Dāneš-nāma-ye adab-e Fārsi III, Tehran, 1999, pp. 370-71.

Ḵāl Moḥammad Ḵasta, “Ḵalil,” in Moʿāṣerin-e soḵanvar, Kabul, 1960, pp. 329-30.




(Wali Ahmadi)

Originally Published: December 15, 2010

Last Updated: April 19, 2012

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Vol. XV, Fasc. 4, p. 384