ABU’L-ʿALĀʾ GANJAVĪ, NEẒĀM-AL-DĪN MAḤMŪD, 6th/12th century poet at the court of Ḵāqān Faḵr-al-dīn Manūčehr Šervānšāh. He is also referred to as Ostāḏ-al-šoʿarāʾ, an allusion to the fact that two more illustrious poets, Falakī and Ḵāqānī Šervānī, were among his pupils.
Internal evidence from his poetry indicates he was born between 490 and 500/1096-1106 (B. Forūzānfar, Soḵan va soḵanvarān, Tehran, 1312 Š./1933, II, p. 323). He entered the Šervānšāh’s service at age forty-four (ibid.) and was instrumental in introducing the young poet Ḵāqānī to the king. Later Abu’l-ʿAlāʾ was accused of divulging his master’s secrets, and this prompted him to defend himself in a qaṣīda dedicated to the king. This poem, the most complete one surviving, is preserved in at least three versions. (For the longest, sixty lines, see Šoʿāʿ-al-molk Šīrāzī in Armaḡān 14, 1312 Š./1933, pp. 705-13; for the others, see Haft eqlīm III, p. 301; Maǰmaʿ al-foṣaḥāʾ I, p. 200). About 100 lines of his poetry are scattered in biographical dictionaries (taḏkeras). A qaṣīda of thirty lines, a panegyric to eight Shiʿite imams, is also attributed to him; but, as Šoʿāʿ-al-molk has shown, its style and diction clearly indicate its more recent composition.
Abu’l-ʿAlāʾ is known to have quarreled with his son-in-law and former pupil, Ḵāqānī, whom he satirized in a poem. Ḵāqānī retaliated with a much more severe attack, accusing his former teacher, apparently without foundation, of Ismaʿili tendencies (Toḥfat al-ʿerāqayn, ed. Y. Qarīb, Tehran, 1335 Š./1956, p. 235). The date of Abu’l-ʿAlāʾ’s death is given as 554/1160 (Ṣāleḥ Eṣfahānī, Šāhed-e ṣādeq, in Yādgār 2, 1324 Š./1945, no. 26-27) and , less credibly, 571/1174 (Šoʿāʿ-al-molk, op. cit.).
Mostawfī, Tārīḵ-e gozīda, ed. ʿA. Navāʾī, Tehran, 1336/1957, p. 722.
Dawlatšāh, Taḏkerat al-šoʿarāʾ, Tehran, 1337 Š./1958, p. 57. Ātaškada, p. 53.
Tarbīat, Dānešmandān, p. 276.
M. Modarres, Rayḥānāt al-adab, 2nd ed., Tabrīz, 1333 Š./1954, VI, p. 205.
Browne, Lit. Hist. Persia II, pp. 392-93.
Dīvān-e Ḵāqānī, ed. Ż. Saǰǰādī, intro., p. XIV. Nafīsī, Naẓm o naṯr, p. 107.
Originally Published: December 15, 1983
Last Updated: July 21, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 3, pp. 252-253
Ż. Sajjādi, “ABU’L-ʿALĀʾ GANJAVĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/3, pp. 252-253; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abul-ala-ganjavi-poet (accessed on 31 January 2014).