ʿABDALLĀH ḤOSAYNĪ, a scribe and poet in the service of the Mughal emperors Akbar and Jahāngīr. While in their employ he signed calligraphy as Moškīn-qalam and composed poetry under taḵalloṣ Vaṣfī (Badāʾūnī, ed. Fārūqī, p. 759; tr., III, p. 518; Bayānī, Ḵošnevīsān II, pp. 353-54). ʿAbdallāh may be the Vaṣfī Kābolī mentioned by Badāʾūnī (p. 659) or the poet and scribe Vaṣfī listed by Neṯārī ( Moḏakker-e aḥbāb, pp. 204-5). The origin of ʿAbdallāh’s family is obscure. Badāʾūnī mentions only that his mother is related to Neẓām-al-dīn Aḥmad (d. 1003/1594-95; ed. Fārūqī, p. 659, tr., III, p. 518). Bayānī’s assertion that the family is descended from Neʿmatallāh Valīallāhī (q.v.) appears to be incorrect ( Ḵošnevīsān II, p. 353).

ʿAbdallāh is probably identical with the Mīr ʿAbdallāh listed in the Āʾīn-e Akbarī as a court scribe (tr., I, p. 103). ʿAbdallāh had the rank of aḥadī at Akbar’s court (Badāʾūnī, ed. Fārūqī, p. 659; tr., III, p. 518). During Jahāngīr’s rebellion (1008-13/1599-1604) ʿAbdallāh formed part of that prince’s retinue. During this time he copied a manuscript of Ḥasan Dehlavī’s Dīvān (completed Moḥarram, 1010/July, 1601; Beach, The Grand Mogul, pp. 34-40; pl. 1). He uses a fluid style of nastaʿlīq script similar to that popular in Herat and Bokhara during the early years of the 10th/ 16th century. Underneath the manuscript’s colophon a painter has executed ʿAbdallāh’s portrait showing him writing a letter to Jahāngīr. Other examples of ʿAbdallāh’s calligraphy are found in albums and bear dates between 1011/1602-03 and 1025/1616-17 (Bayānī, Ḵošnevīsān II, pp. 354-55). The date of ʿAbdallāh’s death is unknown.

ʿAbdallāh may have settled in Lahore during the early years of the 17th century. His son, Moḥammad Ṣāleḥ, who served Shah Jahān as court historian and director of the royal library (ketābḵāna), is closely associated with that city (Ṣāleḥ, ʿAmal-e Ṣāleḥ I, preface, pp. 2-6).


Milo Beach, The Grand Mogul: Imperial Painting in India 1600-1660, Williamstown, 1978.

Ḥasan Neṯārī Boḵārī, Moḏakker-e aḥbāb, ed. Fazlullah, Delhi, 1969.

Moḥammad Ṣāleḥ, ʿAmal-e Ṣāleḥ: Shāh Jehānnāma, ed. Yazdānī and Qorayšī, Lahore, 1967.

(P. P. Soucek)

Originally Published: December 15, 1982

Last Updated: July 15, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, p. 197

Cite this entry:

P. P. Soucek, “Abdallah Hosayni,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, p. 197; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abdallah-hosayni-early-mughal-period-scribe-and-poet (accessed on 17 January 2014).