NAWM-NĀMA, the dream journal of Šehāb-al-Din Fażl-Allāh Astarābādi (b. Astarābād 740/1339-40; d. Nakhjavan, 1 Ḏu’l-qaʿda 796/28 August 1394), the founder of the Ḥorufi movement (see ḤORUFISM).

Although the title Nawm-nāma is broadly used in the contemporary scholarship on the Ḥorufis, it seems that the short descriptions of dreams noted in the last folios of some of the manuscript copies of the Jāvdān-nāma, the major work of Fażl-Allāh, did not exist in the form of an independent work and did not bear any special title.  It seems that they came to be known under the title of Nawm-nāma through confusion with another work ascribed to Fażl-Allāh, the Now-nāma, or the Nosḵa-ye now (“New book” or ‘New exemplar’), a work on the Ḥorufi doctrine which has no connection with the dream journal.  Indeed, the written form of the two words is very close in the Arabic script: now (nun + wāw) and nawm (nun + wāw + mim).  In addition, in the last folios of the manuscript of the Jāvdān-nāma of the Cambridge University Library (Ee. 1.27), the extracts from the Now-nāma (fols. 404b-406a, the title Now-nāma being mentioned at the margin of the fol. 404b) are immediately followed by the dream journal (fols. 406a-411b), giving the impression that the latter is included in the former. 

While Edward G. Browne states clearly that the Now-nāma or Nosḵa-ye now is a complement to the Jāvdān-nāma (Browne, 1898, p. 77, n. 1), Ṣādeq Kiā apparently thought that Now-nāma is a scribal error for Nawm-nāma and quotes the incipit of the Now-nāma, which appears on the folio 404b of the manuscript of the Cambridge University Library, as that of the Nawm-nāma (Kiā, p. 43).  He notes, however, that Browne in his catalogue of the Persian manuscripts of the library of Cambridge (Browne, 1896, p. 71) did not correct the title and left Now-nāma as it is written in the manuscript (Kiā, p. 43, note 1). It was probably this confusion in addition to the scribal errors on the cover pages of the manuscripts (the covers of some manuscripts of the Now-nāma bear erroneously Nawm-nāma, while the title Now-nāma is clearly written in the beginning of the manuscript) that led Abdülbaki Gölpınarlı to attribute erroneously the title Nawm-nāma to two manuscripts of the Now-nāma (Istanbul Millet Kütuphanesi, Ali Emiri Farsi no. 1011[2] and no.1030 [1]), which do not contain any mention of the dreams (Gölpınarlı, 1973, pp. 76, 82-83; see Usluer, pp. 211-35).  Judging from the title mentioned in the incipit, this same error applies also to the two other catalogue mentions of the Nawm-nāma: Konya Mevlana Muzesi MS 307/1723(1) (Gölpınarlı, 1967, II, p. 43) and Staats und Universitätsbibliotek zu Göttingen Ms. Pers. 46(3) (Divshali and Luft, pp. 22-24), which are in reality copies of the Now-nāma and may not include the dream journal.  Kāmel Moṣṭafā Šebi refers to Fażl-Allāh’s dream journal as Now-nāma (Šebi, II, pp. 157, 160), but, based on what was just discussed, it appears that the dreams were probably not the part of the Now-nāma.

There are at least two extant copies of the dream journal of Fażl-Allāh inserted at the end of the manuscript of the Jāvdān-nāma of the Cambridge University Library, of which some extracts in original Astarābādi dialect are quoted by Browne (1896, pp. 83-86) and by Kiā (pp. 236-46; original text and translation in the literary Persian).  Another copy is contained in the folios 334a-339a of the manuscript of the Jāvdān-nāma from the library of the late scholar Rudolf Tschudi.  This manuscript was used by Helmut Ritter in his work on the Ḥorufis (Ritter p. 21) and is now preserved in the library of the University of Basel under the number M VI 72.  The manuscripts of the Jāvdān-nāma of the British Library (Or 5957) and of Istanbul Millet Kütuphanesi (Ali Emiri Farsi 920) do not contain the dream journal, but it is possible that some more copies will be discovered in other extant manuscripts of the Jāvdān-nāma or the Now-nāma.

The contents of the Nawm-nāma are discussed by a number of scholars (e.g., Browne, 1896, pp. 71-72; Kiā, pp. 34-36; Ritter, p. 21; Guluzade, pp. 108-10; Bashir, pp. 29-32). The following account is based on the manuscript of the Cambridge University Library.  The Nawm-nāma contains mostly the short notes, and sometimes more detailed descriptions, of the dreams that Fażl-Allāh had in the course of his life.  The exact time span of the diary is difficult to determine, because only few dreams are dated: the earliest mention is the beginning of the Ṣafar 786/March 1384 (fol. 408b), and the most recent, 24 Jomāda II 796/26 April 1394 (fol. 406b), which would be only few months before the presumed date of Fażl-Allāh’s death in August of the same year. 

The contents of the dreams contained in the journal are most miscellaneous.  They include ecstatic visions, some of them with strong eschatological and messianic coloration, references to the specific positions of the Ḥorufi doctrine, encounters with prophets (Adam, Abraham, Moses, Salomon, Jesus, Moḥammad), mentions of the Apostles of Jesus, of the Greek sages (ḥokamā-ye Yunān), of Alexander the Great, called the ‘Two-Horned’ (Ḏu’l-qarnayn), and of the members of family of the Prophet Muhammad (ʿAli b. Abi Ṭāleb, Ḥosayn b. ʿAli).  Particularly interesting in the context of Fażl-Allāh’s biography is the mention of the localities (Astarābād, Baku, Borujerd, Dāmḡān, Isfahan, Ḵᵛārazm, Mashhad, Tabriz) and of the contemporaries of Fażl-Allāh, from well-known political personages—Shah Oways Jalāyeri (d. 776/1364-75; see JALAYERIDS), Ṭoqtameš Khan (d. 1406 or 1407), and Tamerlane (d. 807/1404)—to dervishes whose personalities are still to be identified.  Notwithstanding its sketchy and allusive style, the journal is thus an important source of information on Fażl-Allāh’s intellectual and political connections and aspirations, as well as the geographical pattern of his travels.  Some personal names and places mentioned in the Nawm-nāma, such as Rudbār-e Astarābād (fols. 407a, 409b), Ḥeṣār-e Gerdkuh (fol. 406b), and Shaikh Ḥasan (fol. 407b) nourished the hypothesis on the possible connection between the Ḥorufis and the Nezāri Ismaʿilis (Browne, 1896, pp. 71-72) and led to some premature conclusions (cf. Ivanow, p. 188: “It displays many contacts with Ismailism, Alamut, even refers to Sayyidnā Ḥasan b. aṣ-Ṣabbāḥ”) not supported so far by the data found in the early Ḥorufi works (Mir-Kasimov, 2007, p. 22). 

Besides its historical importance, the dream journal acquires a particular significance, because the initiation in the dream interpretation (the date of this event, 765/1363-64, is mentioned in a marginal note in fol. 406a) was the first step in Fażl-Allāh’s spiritual career, and the theory of dreams and of the world of imagination (ʿālam al-meṯāl) is one of the central lines of his doctrine (see ASTARĀBĀDĪ FAŻLALLĀH, ḤORUFISM, and JĀVDĀN-NĀMA).  Interestingly enough, the most important dreams and visions that marked the spiritual career of Fażl-Allāh are not mentioned in his own journal.  We find the description of these dreams in the dream journals (ketāb-e ḵᵛāb-nāma) of his followers, Naṣr-Allāh Nāfaji (used by Ritter in his account on Fażl-Allāh’s life) and Sayyed Esḥāq Astarābādi; the latter work was translated into Ottoman Turkish by ʿEzz-al-Din ʿAbd-al-Majid Taravi (d. 1459-60).  Both of these works, which continue the Ḥorufi tradition of the dream-related literature, are important sources of information on the biography of Fażl-Allāh and on the early Ḥorufi history.


Hamid Algar, “Astarābādī, Fażlallāh,” in EIr. II, 1965, pp. 841-44. 

Fażl-Allāh Astarābādi, Jāvdān-nāma, British Library, London, MS Or. 5957. 

Sayyed Esḥāq Astarābādi, Ḵᵛāb-nāma, Istanbul Millet Kütuphanesi, Ali Emiri Farsi, MS 1042. 

Shahzad Bashir, Fazlallah Astarabadi and the Hurufis, Oxford, 2005. 

Edward G. Browne, The Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the Library of the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, 1896. 

Idem, “Some Notes on the Literature and Doctrines of the Hurufi Sect,” JRAS, 1898, pp. 61-94. 

Soheila Divshali and Paul Luft, Verzeichnis der orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland II: Persische Handschriften, Wiesbaden, 1980. 

Abdülbâki Gölpınarlı, Mevlana Müzesi Yazmalar Kataloğu, 3 vol., Ankara 1967-72.  Idem, Hurufilik metinleri kataloğu, Ankara, 1973. 

Zümrüd Guluzade, Ḵurufizm i ego predstaviteli v Azerbajdžane, Baku, 1970. 

Wladimir Ivanow, Ismaili Literature: A Bibliographical Survey, Tehran, 1963. 

Moḥammad-Ṣādeq Kiā, Vāža-nāma-ye Gorgāni, Tehran, 1951. 

Orkhan Mir-Kasimov, “Étude de textes hurûfî anciens: l’oeuvre fondatrice de Fadlallâh Astarâbâdî,” Ph.D. diss., École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris, 2007. 

Idem, “‘Le journal des rêves’ de Faḍlallāh Astarābādi: edition et tradition annotée,” Studia Iranica 38/2, 2009, pp. 249-304.

Naṣr-Allāh b. Ḥasan-ʿAli b. Majid-al-Din Ḥasan Nāfaji, Ḵᵛāb-nāma, MS Vatican Pers. 17. 

Hellmut Ritter, “Studien zur Geschichte der islamischen Frömmigkeit II: Die Anfänge der Hurufisekte,” Oriens 7/1, 1954, pp. 1-54. 

Kāmel Moṣṭafā Šaybi, al-Ṣela bayna al-taṣawwof wa’l-tašayyuʿ, 2 vols., Beirut, 1982. 

ʿEzz-al-Din ʿAbd-al-Majid b. Ferešta Taravi (Firişteoğlu Abdülmecid), Tarjama-ye Ḵᵛāb-nāma, Istanbul Üniversitesi Kütuphanesi Türkçe, MS 9685(1). 

Fatih Usluer, “Hurufi Metinleri ile Ilgili Bazı Notlar,” Türk Dili ve Edebiyatı Araştırmaları Dergisi, Ege Universitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi yayınları 13/1, 2007, pp. 211-35.


(Orkhan Mir-Kasimov)

Originally Published: September 17, 2015

Last Updated: October 5, 2015

Cite this entry:

Orkhan Mir-Kasimov, “NAWM-NĀMA,” Encyclopædia Iranicaonline edition, 2015, available at (accessed on 17 September 2015).