ḴORŠĀH B. QOBĀD ḤOSEYNI, NEẒĀM-AL-DIN (d. 25 Ḏu'l-Qaʿda 972/4 July 1565), a Hyderabad-based diplomat and historian of Iranian descent best known for his composition of a universal chronicle in Persian in the name of the Qoṭbšāhi ruler, Ebrāhim (r. 1550-80).
Life. There exists little information about Ḵoršāh’s life and career. Contemporary epistolary evidence (Ṭabāṭabāʾi Ḥasani, I, p. 290) suggests that he was related (aqvām) to the prominent Ismāʿili scholar, poet, and bureaucrat Šāh Ṭāher b. Rażi-al-Din Ḵāndi Ḥoseyni (d. 1546). This family link can be taken to imply that, like Šāh Ṭāher, Ḵoršāh too had an Ismāʿili descent. Reading between the lines, one can also assume that Ḵoršāh came originally from Ḵānd (also Ḵˇānd, Ḵond), a rural district located midway between Qazvin and Solṭāniyeh, from whence the propaganda network of the Moḥammad-šāhi branch of the Ismāʿili daʿwa in Iran was administered (Astarābādi, fol. 39b; ISMAʿILISM, iii. ISMAʿILI HISTORY). In the latter part of the 15th century, the Ismāʿili Sayyed notables of Ḵond had set up home in Solṭāniyeh (Ḵoršāh, 2000, pp. 262-63). This makes it distinctly possible to assume that either Ḵoršāh or his immediate predecessors might have spent part of their lives there toward the turn to the 16th century.
Under the first Safavid monarch Esmāʿil I (r. 1501-24), Šāh Ṭāher is reported to be one of the high-ranking religious scholars attending the Safavid court. Ultimately, however, cliquish intrigues on the part of his opponents from among the Shiite clerics and Safavid bureaucrats brought about his disgrace, forcing him to quit the shah’s court and take up residence for a while in Kashan. Early in Jomāda I 926/May 1520, Šāh Ṭāher eventually had to flee along with his close relatives—presumably including either Ḵoršāh himself or his parents—from Kashan to the port city of Jerun (present-day Bandar ʿAbbās). According to an autobiographical note (Šāh Ṭāher, fol. 69a; cf. Ṭabāṭabāʾi Ḥasani, I, p. 254), shortly after that Šāh Ṭāher and his kinsmen were sailed to Goa, from whence they first made their way to Bijāpur and then to Ahmadnagar, where, in the fullness of time, he managed to settle, at the court of Borhān Neẓāmšāh (r. 1509-52), into a prestigious bureaucratic career line (Astarābādi, fols. 39a-39b; Badāʾoni, p. 130; Šuštari, II, pp. 234-40; Ṣafavi, p. 29; Nahāvandi, II, pp. 413-14; Ṣafā, V/2, pp. 662-70; Golčin Maʿāni, I, pp. 791-802; Ahmad, p. 79; Sherwani, p. 421; Kazimi, p. 42; Shyam, pp. 63-66 and 80-83; Calmard, pp. 363-64).
It was no doubt Šāh Ṭāher’s political clout at the Neżāmšāhi court that helped Ḵoršāh build a successful bureaucratic career for himself in Ahmadnagar. Early in 1545, Borhān Neżāmšāh appointed Ḵoršāh as his envoy (ilči) to Safavid Iran. This diplomatic mission was in response to a letter from Ṭahmāsp I dated Moḥarram 949/April-May 1542, in which Šāh Ṭāher had been urged to either make an official visit to Iran or send one of his sons to the Safavid court. Šāh Ṭāher accordingly arranged for his yet underage son Ḥeydar to travel to Iran (Ṭabāṭabāʾi Ḥasani, I, pp. 287-88). Ḵoršāh seems to be the person in charge of this diplomatic mission, which was accredited to the Safavid court near the city of Rey in Rajab 952/September-October 1545. At that time, Ṭahmāsp I was busy with making preparations to stage a punitive campaign against Āqā Moḥammad Ruzafzun, the unruly governor of Māzandarān, and its capital city Sāri (Ḵoršāh, 2000, p. 153; Navidi Širāzi, pp. 94-95). Ḵoršāh’s residence in Safavid Iran as the envoy of Borhān Neżāmšāh lasted for some twenty months (Rajab 952/September-October 1545 to Rabiʿ I 954/May 1547), of which he spent eighteen months as ambassador-in-residence at the Safavid court (Ḵoršāh, 2000, p. 154).
After short stays in Rey, Savādkuh, and Solṭāniyeh, from March to December 1546 Ḵoršāh ranked as one of Ṭahmāsp I’s boon companions, living among his bureaucratic and military retinue either in Qazvin or on their way to Armenia and Georgia on the occasion of a joint campaign against the rebellious Safavid prince Alqāṣ Mirzā and local rulers in the Kakheti and Kartli kingdoms of Georgia (Rumlu, pp. 407-408; Ḵuzāni Eṣfahāni, fols. 129b-30b, 132a-33a; Posch, pp. 46-49; GEORGIA, ii. HISTORY OF IRANIAN-GEORGIAN RELATIONS). In his narrative, Ḵoršāh makes references to his sojourns in the Ujān (present-day Bostānābād) summer campsite on the foot of the mount Sahand as well as in Naḵjavān, Čoḵur-e Saʿd (Yerevan), and Georgia (Ḵoršāh, 2000, pp. 156-58). Ḵoršāh’s residence at the Safavid court, to say nothing of his family background, was crucial in his intellectual formation as an insider informant on the realities of political life in Iran. During his stay he had made friends, inter alia, with local bureaucrats and powerbrokers in the provinces of Māzandarān and Gilān (Ḵoršāh, 2000, pp. 242, 220-21, 255). What is more, the Safavid grand vizier Qāżi Jahān Seyfi-Qazvini (d. 1553) and descendants of the former Safavid ṣadr Mir Jamāl-al-Din Astarābādi (d. 1525), whom Šāh Ṭāher asked to supervise his underage son at the royal college (Šāh Ṭāher, fols. 17a-17b, 31a-32a), seem to be among Ḵoršāh’s close friends in Safavid Iran. In Rabiʿ I 954/May 1547, Ḵoršāh left Iran in the company of the royal couturier (qayčāji), Naqāwat al-omarāʾ Adham Beg b. Div Solṭān Rumlu, who had just been appointed as head of the Safavid diplomatic mission to the courts of the Shiite rulers of Hyderabad, Bijāpur, and Dowlatābād in the Deccan (Ṭabāṭabāʾi Ḥasani, I, p. 290-91; Ḵuzāni Eṣfahāni, fol. 134a).
Studies dealing with Ḵoršāh’s chronicle (Rieu, I, p. 107; Dānešpažuh, p. 964; Minorsky, pp. 50-51; Islam, p. 239; Monzavi, VI, p. 4103; Jalāli, p. 104; Rāzpuš, p. 416) commonly claim that he had spent “nineteen years” of his life in Safavid Iran before returning to Ahmadnagar in 1563-64, where he would finish his universal chronicle. As the first scholar to come up with such a claim, Rieu cites folio 45a of the British Library Ms. Add. 23,513, where, he points out, the second discourse (goftār) of the first chapter of the chronicle begins. Without providing further textual evidence, he then concludes that in 1563-64 Ḵoršāh “still” resided at the Safavid court. However, a close study of the contents of the unpublished parts of Ḵoršāh’s chronicle, though in the form of a different manuscript, indicates that no reference at all has been made throughout the first chapter of the chronicle to either the dates in question or Ḵoršāh’s nineteen-year residence in the country. In the sixth chapter of the chronicle (Ḵoršāh, 2000, pp. 115, 118, 186) there are at least three references to the year 1563-64, but none hints at the author’s residence in Iran. It should be noted that, when dealing with the arrival of a Safavid diplomatic mission at the court of the Qoṭbšāhi ruler Homāyun sub anno 1547-48, Ḵoršāh (2000, p. 115) makes it clear that at that time he lived in Ahmadnagar. There is no evidence to suggest that Ḵoršāh did quit Ahmadnagar after 1547-48, the year in which Šāh Ṭāher’s son Šāh Ḥeydar returned hurriedly from Iran to the Deccan to succeed his father Šāh Ṭāher as spiritual leader of the Ismāʿili community in Ahmadnagar (Ṭabāṭabāʾi Ḥasani, I, pp. 338-39; cf. Roemer, p. 170; Calmard, p. 365). As mentioned above, Šāh Ḥeydar had been sent to Iran by his father to complete his studies at the Safavid royal colleges in Tabriz and Qazvin. According to an alumnus of this institution of higher education, it had been founded with the objective of educating scions of provincial notables and ruling households in alliance with the Safavids in the fields of Shiite theology and jurisprudence (Bedlisi, I, pp. 449-50).
Work. Invariably titled Tāriḵ-e ilči-e Neẓām Šāh, Tāriḵ-e Qoṭbšāhiyeh, Tāriḵ-e Qoṭbi, and/or Ḵolāṣat al-tavāriḵ, Ḵoršāh’s magnum opus is in fact a general history of major pre-Islamic and Islamic dynasties and ruling households in Iran, Central Asia, Asia Minor, Arabia, Iraq, and India. The chronicle is organized into preamble (dibāčeh), introduction (moqaddameh), and seven chapters (maqāleh)—obviously a testimony to the author’s belief in seven historical cycles as an integral part of the Ismāʿili worldview (Ḵoršāh, fols. 3b-4b; Nišāburi-Kanturi, III, p. 94, no. 1330; Storey-Bregel, I, pp. 406-7; Monzavi, VI, p. 4103; Diānati, IV, p. 931; Rieu, I, p. 107; Meredith-Owens, p. 14; Marshall 1967, p. 262, no. 924; idem 1996, p. 109). The preamble opens with verses written in praise of ʿAli b. Abi Ṭāleb, the first Shiite imam, and then Ḵoršāh goes on to explain his aim of composing a universal history “free from bombast, digression, and verbosity” (Ḵoršāh, fols. 2b-3a). The myth of genesis along with the history of Abrahamic prophets from Adam to Noah is illuminated and discussed in the introduction (fols. 4b-14b).
The first chapter (Ḵoršāh, fols. 14b-98a) details the history of a select group of pre-Islamic kings and military conquerors. Central to Ḵoršāh’s narrative in this first chapter is his coalescing of Iranian and Islamic readings of universal history into an integrated, albeit historically flawed, synthesis, wherein the Pišdādi kings of Iran are depicted as being political heirs to Abrahamic prophets. The lives and times of scores of Iranian mythical and historical kings and military strongmen, Abrahamic prophets, Greek philosophers and rulers are outlined in the first chapter. Drawing predominantly on Ferdowsi's Shāhnāmeh as well as on Ṭabari’s chronicle among other sources, the first chapter does mainly follow a topical approach, but toward the end of it, Ḵoršāh narrows his focus on dynastic history of the Sāsānids, thus shifting to a chronological narrative line.
The second chapter (Ḵoršāh, fols. 98a-152b) is devoted to the life and political career of the Prophet Moḥammad and the reigns of the first three rightly guided caliphs, followed by biographical entries on the Shiite imams from ʿAli b. Abi Ṭāleb to Mahdi as well as an account of the Umayyad and ʿAbbasid caliphs. Entries on the Shiite imams end often with brief remarks on the migration and resettlement of their offspring in various parts of Iran, extending on what is related in the writings of the 15th-century genealogist Jamāl al-Din Aḥmad b. ʿAli al-Mohannā also known as Ebn ʿAnba al-Aṣḡar (d. 1425). Interestingly enough there is no reference to Ṭahmāsb I’s ancestors under biographical entry on the seventh Shiite imam (fols. 141a-42b), from whom the Safavids claimed to be descended. The third chapter (fols. 152b-252a) concerns those ruling dynasties whose rise to power in Iran and other parts of the Islamic world coincided with the reign of the ʿAbbasid caliphs, from the Ṭāherids to the downfall of the caliphate in the middle of the 13th century. The fourth chapter (fols. 252a ff.) is dedicated to the history of Genghis Khan and his descendants in Iran and Central Asia.
The history of the Timurid and Uzbek khans of Central Asia and Khorasan is outlined in the fourth chapter. The fifth chapter, as sketched out by Rieu (I, p. 109), includes the history of the Timurids from the advent of Tamerlane to the year 1562-63, when an attempt by the Timurid prince Mirān Mobārakšāh to retain Samarqand was thwarted by the Uzbeks (Ḵoršāh, 1965). The sixth chapter of the chronicle explores the dynastic histories of the Turkmen rulers (Qara qoyunlu and Aq qoyunlu), the Safavids, ruling households of Māzandarān, Gilan, and Shervān, and the Ottomans. The closing chapter details the history of the Qoṭbšāhi rulers of Delhi, the Afghan dynasty of Delhi, the Ḵalajis of Bengal and Mandu, and the five ruling households of Gujarat.
In the preamble, Ḵoršāh makes it clear that, from a young age, he has always been thinking of using his knowledge of Islamic history and historiography as a basis for the composition of a universal history. As it appears from the text of his narrative, Ḵoršāh had been working on various versions of his chronicle between October 1545—i.e., one month after his arrival in Safavid Iran—and the days leading up to his demise (Ḵoršāh, 2000, pp. 115, 118, 153, 156, 158, 186, 265). Most of Ḵoršāh’s early readings in Islamic history have been included in his chronicle. As to the ancient and medieval periods of Islamic history, Ḵoršāh draws extensively on the works of outstanding historians such as Ṭabari, Rašid-al-Din Fażlallāh, and Mir Ḵˇānd.
So far as the Safavid history is concerned, Ḵoršāh’s chronicle is rated as “an independent source” authored by “a stranger” at the Safavid court (Calmard, p. 366). However, a careful study of the contents of the Safavid section of the sixth chapter of his chronicle indicates that much of it (Ḵoršāh, 2000, pp. 1, 8, 19, 27, 48, 51, 63, 67-68, 81, 212) is a reproduction of the accounts given by two early Safavid chroniclers, Ḡiāṯ-al-Din Ḵˇāndmir (d. 1536) and Yaḥyā b. ʿAbd-al-Laṭif Seyfi Qazvini (d. 1542). Ḵoršāh’s narrative on the Safavids is laden with extensive quotes from a number of contemporary Safavid poets, including Arjāsb Omidi Ṭehrāni (d. 1519), a protégé of the Safavid grand viziers Yār Aḥmad Ḵuzāni Eṣfahāni and Mirzā Šāh-Ḥoseyn Eṣfahāni, and Mir Qāsem Qāsemi Gonābādi (d. 1574), the poet laureate at the court of Ṭahmāsp I (for quotes from Omidi Ṭehrāni’s divān see Ḵoršāh, 2000, p. 56, 62/Omidi Tehrāni, fol. 66a; for quotes from Qāsemi Gonābādi, see Ḵoršāh, 2000, pp. 4, 9-10, 12, 15-16, 19, 21, 24, 26, 35, 52, 58-59, 61/Qāsemi Gonābādi, pp. 180 [vv. 884-86], 196-97 [vv. 1204, 1214-15, 1217], 202 [vv. 1319-21], 212 [vv. 1510, 1516], 237 [vv. 2015-16], 250 [vv. 2254-55, 2261], 242 [v. 2121], 284 [vv. 2916-18, 2923], 286 [vv. 2956-57, 2961-62], 302 [vv. 3272-73, 3275], 325 [v. 3700], 331 [3815, 3817-19], 336 [vv. 3923-24, 3927], 339 [v. 3974], 340 [vv. 3986-87]). A handful of poems by Šāh Ṭāher and Ṭahmāsp I also appear here and there in Ḵoršāh’s narrative (Ḵoršāh, 2000, pp. 80, 126, 200). What is more, Ḵorşāh (2000, pp. 62, 77) folds into his account on the reign of the first Safavid monarch personal reminiscences of Šāh Ṭāher as well as of Ṭahmāsp I. When it comes to the reign of Ṭahmāsp I, Ḵoršāh relies on two major sources, the first being the memoirs (taḏkereh or vāredāt-e aḥvāl) of Ṭahmāsp I and the other, oral testimony from local grandees in the service of the Safavid throne (Ḵoršāh, 2000, pp. 115, 121, 127-28, 160, 180). State archives in Iran and the Deccan constitute another major source on which Ḵoršāh’s chronicle is based. The full or abridged text of at least eleven letters and missives can be found in the sixth chapter of Ḵoršāh’s chronicle (Ḵoršāh, 2000, pp. 38-46, 88-89, 115-17, 118, 120-21, 136, 147-48, 162-63, 165-66, 179, 194-96).
Ḵoršāh’s chronicle has only partially been published. Charles H. A. Schefer published in his Chrestomathie persane (II, pp. 56-104) parts of the chronicle dealing with the dynastic history of the local rulers of Shervān, Bieh-Pas (Rašt) and Bieh-Piš (Lāhijān) regions of Gilān, the Marʿaši Sayyeds of Māzandarān and their immediate successors under Esmāʿil I, and the Sayyed rulers of Hezār-Jarib in eastern Māzandarān. The fifth chapter of the chronicle on the Timurids was published in 1965 in New Delhi, and in 2000 an edited version of select parts of the sixth and seventh chapters of the Tāriḵ-e ilči-e Neẓāmšāh was brought out in Tehran.
Ḵoršāh b. Qobād Ḥoseyni, Ḵolāṣat al-tavāriḵ, Ms. 5239, the Majles Library, Tehran [incomplete in fine].
Idem, Tāriḵ-e ilči-e Neẓāmšāh, Ms.756, Millet Genel Kütüphanesi, Istanbul.
Idem, Tāriḵ-e Qoṭbšāhi, Ms. 3306, the Milli Library, Tabriz.
Idem, Tāriḵ-e Qoṭbi niz mosammā be-Tāriḵ-e ilči-e Neẓāmšāh, ed. M. Ḥ. Zeydi, New Delhi, 1965.
Idem, Tāriḵ-e ilči-e Neẓāmšāh: Tāriḵ-e Ṣafaviya az āḡāz tā sāl-e 972 hejri-e qamari, ed. M. R. Naṣiri and K. Haneda, Tehran, 2000.
Moḥammad Qāsem b. Hendušāh Astarābādi, Tāriḵ-e ferešteh, jeld-e dovvom, Ms. 14201, the Majles Library, Tehran.
ʿAbd-al-Qāder Badāʾoni, Montaḵab al-tavāriḵ, Lucknow, 1868.
Šaraf b. Šams-al-Din Bedlisi, Šarafnāmeh, ed. V. Véliaminof-Zernof, 2 vols., St. Petersburg, 1860-62.
Fażli b. Zayn-al-ʿĀbedin Ḵuzāni Eṣfahāni, Afżal al-tavāriḵ, Ms. Or.4678, Oriental and India Office Collections, the British Library, London.
ʿAbd-al-Bāqi Nahāvandi, Maʾāṯer-e raḥimi, ed. M. H. Husain, 3 vols. in 4 pts, Calcutta, 1924-31.
Šāh Ṭāher b. Rażi-al-Din Ḥoseyni Ḵāndi, Enšāʾ-nāmeh, Ms. Harl. 499, the British Library, London.
ʿAbdi Beg Navidi Şirāzi, Takmelat al-aḵbār, ed. ʿA.Ḥ. Navāʿi, Tehran, 1990.
Arjāsb Omidi Tehrāni, Divān [part III of a miscellaneous manuscript (majmuʿa)], Ms. 2658, the Majles Library, Tehran.
Mir Qāsem Qāsemi Gonābādi, Šāh Esmāʿīl nāmeh, ed. J. Š. Keyhāni, Tehran, 2008.
Ḥasan Rumlu, Aḥsan al-tavāriḵ, ed. ʿA. Ḥ. Navāʾi, Tehran, 1979.
Sām Mirzā Ṣafavi, Toḥfeh-ye sāmi, ed. V. Dastgerdi, Tehran, 1936.
Yaḥyā b. ʿAbd-al-Laṭif Seyfi Qazvini, Lobb al-tavāriḵ, ed. M. H. Moḥaddeṯ, Tehran, 2007.
Nurallāh b. ʿAbdallāh Šuštari, Ketāb-e mosṭatāb-e majāles al-moʾminin, 2 vols., Tehran, 1986.
ʿAli b. ʿAzizallāh Ṭabāṭabāʾi Ḥasani, Borhān-e maʾāṯer, I, New Delhi, 1936.
Studies and catalogues.
N. Ahmad, “Language and Literature, v. Persian,” in H. K. Sherwani, ed., History of Medieval Deccan (1295-1724), 2 vols., Hyderabad, 1973-74, vol. 2, pp. 75-115.
M. Diānati, Fehrestvāre-ye dastneveštehā-ye Iran, 12 vols., Tehran, 2010.
J. Calmard, “Safavid Persia in Indo-Persian Sources and in Timurid-Mughal Perception,” in The Making of Indo-Persian Culture, ed. M. Alam, F. N. Delvoye, and M. Gaborieau, New Delhi, 2000, pp. 351-91.
M. T. Dānešpažuh, “Yek pardeh az zendegāni-e šāh Tahmāsb Ṣafavi,” Majalleh-ye Daneškadeh-ye adabiyāt o ʿolum-e ensāni-e Dānešgāh-e Mašhad 7/4, 1971, pp. 915-97.
A. Golčin Maʿāni, Bā kāravān-e Hend, 2 vols., Mashhad, 1990.
R. Islam, Indo-Persian Relations: A Study of the Political and Diplomatic Relations between the Mughal Empire and Iran, Tehran, 1970.
N. Jalāli, “Moʿarrefi-e nosḵeh-ye ḵaṭṭi-e Tāriḵ-e Ilči-e Neẓāmšāh,” Ketāb-e māh-e tāriḵ o joḡrāfiā 37-38, October-November 2000, pp. 103-106.
M. R. Kazimi, “Shah Tahir-ul-Hussaini,” Indo-Iranica 38, 1965, pp. 41-49.
D. N. Marshall, Mughals in India: A Bibliographical Survey (I: Manuscripts), Bombay, 1967.
Idem, Mughals in India: A Bibliographical Survey (I: Manuscripts, Supplementary Part I), New Delhi, 1996.
G. M. Meredith-Owens, Handlist of Persian Manuscripts 1895-1966, London, 1968.
V. Minorsky, “The Qara-Qoyunlu and the Quṭb-Shāhs (Turkmenica, 10),” BSOAS 17/1, 1955, pp. 50-73.
A. Monzavi, Fehrest-e nosḵehā-ye ḵaṭṭi-e fārsi, 6 vols., Tehran, 1969-74.
T. Ḥ. M. Nišāburi-Kanturi, Fehrest-e mašruḥ-e baʿż kotob-e nafiseh qalamiyeh maḵzune-ye kotobḵāne-ye Āṣafiyeh Sarkār-e ʿĀli, 4 vols., Hyderabad, 1929-39.
W. Posch, Der Fall Alkâs Mîrzâ und der Persienfeldzug von 1548-1549: Ein gescheitertes osmanisches Projekt zur Niederwerfung des safavidischen Persiens, Edition Wissenschaft Reihe Orientalistik, Bd. 11, Marburg, 2000.
Š. Rāzpuš, “Ḵoršāh b. Qobād Ḥoseyni,” Dānešnāme-ye jahān-e eslām, 16, 2011, pp. 416-17.
C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 3 vols., London, 1879-83.
H. R. Roemer, “Buchrezension von der Tarikh-i-Qutbi von Khwurshah bin Qubad al-Husaini, herausgegeben von S. M. Husain Zaidi (New Delhi, 1965),” Der Islam 45/1-2, 1969, pp. 169-71.
Ḏ. Ṣafā, Tāriḵ-e adabiāt dar Iran, 5 vols., Tehran, 1990.
C. H. A. Schefer, ed., Chrestomathie persane à l’usage des élèves de l’École Spéciale des Langues Orientales Vivantes, 2 vols., Paris, 1883-85.
H. K. Sherwani, “The Quṭb Shāhīs of Golkonda—Hyderabad,” in idem, ed., History of Medieval Deccan (1295-1724), 2 vols., Hyderabad, 1973-74, vol. 1, pp. 411-91.
R. Shyam, The Kingdom of Ahmadnagar, New Delhi, 1966.
Storey-Bregel = C. A. Storey, Persidskaya literatura: bio-bibliografichskii obzor, Russian tr. of Persian Literature: A Bio-Bibliographical Survey with additions and corrections by Y. E. Bregel, 3 vols., Moscow, 1972.
Last Updated: October 18, 2013