AFŻAL-AL-DĪN TORKA, name of three figures from Isfahan. 1. The only thing known about the first is that he was an adherent of Fażlallāh Astarābādī (d. 796/1394), the founder of the Ḥorūfīs (H. Ritter, “Studien zur Geschichte der islamischen Frommigkeit II. Die Anfänge der Ḥurūfīsekte,” Oriens 7, 1954, p. 15).
2. Son of Ṣadr-al-dīn Torka (a teacher of Qāzīzāda Rūmī), nephew of the Sufi poet, philosopher, and jurist Ṣāʾen-al-dīn Torka (d. 835/1432), grandson of the first Afżal-al-dīn Torka, and great-grandson of Abū Ḥāmed Ṣadr-al-dīn Moḥammad Torka Ḵoǰandī Eṣfahānī (a confidant of the Il-khanid vizier Rašīd-al-dīn). The Torka family stood in high regard in Tīmūr’s time, and was exempted by that ruler in 789/1387 when he had a large part of Isfahan’s population massacred after his commissioners were murdered. Returning from Persian ʿErāq to Samarqand, Tīmūr took with him Ṣāʾen-al-dīn and perhaps Afżal-al-dīn, but the latter was definitely living in Isfahan in 843/1439. In that year he completed and dedicated to Šāhroḵ a Persian translation of Šahrestānī’s al-Melal wa’l-neḥal (ed. M. R. Jalālī Nāʾīnī, Tehran, 1321 Š./1942) on the various religions and schools of philosophy. He had taken up this work at the request of Moḥammad Solṭān, Šāhroḵ’s grandson. It includes a commentary refuting the arguments of the unbelievers discussed in the text.
Afżal-al-dīn was among the officials and notables who, since they could not meet their fiscal obligations to Šāhroḵ, supported Moḥammad Solṭān’s occupation of Isfahan in 850/1446. This circle around the local leader ʿAlāʾ-al-dīn Moḥammad apparently sympathized with the Shiʿites and so also stood religiously opposed to the severely Sunni Šāhroḵ. Šāhroḵ retook the city, brought some of the notables as prisoners to Sāva, and on 16 Ramażān 850/5 December 1446 had some of them executed, including Afżal-al-dīn. Torka’s body was brought back to Isfahan after Šāhroḵ’s death (850/1447) and buried in Darb-e Lonbān.
Abū Bakr Ṭehrānī, Ketāb-e Dīārbakrīya, ed. N. Lugal and F. Sümer, Ankara, 1962-64, pp. 285-93.
Aḥmad b. Ḥosayn Kāteb, Tārīḵ-eǰadīd-e Yazd, ed. Ī. Afšār, 1345 Š./1966, pp. 235, 242.
R. Quiring-Zoche, Isfahan im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert, Freiburg, 1980, pp. 35-38, 224.
3. Theologian and jurist, son of the Isfahan qāżī Ḥabīballāh Torka, great-great-grandson of the second Afżal-al-dīn or of Ṣāʾen-al-dīn. After completing his studies he traveled to the court of the Safavid Ṭahmāsb I. For a time he shared the office of military judge (qāżī-e ʿaskar); after both incumbents were dismissed in Rabīʿ I, 977/August, 1569, he remained at court as a teacher. He exerted a strong influence in religious matters on Shah Esmāʿīl II (984-85/1576-78). When the shah wondered whether the common Shiʿite practice of the execration (tabarrāʾī) of the first three caliphs and ʿĀʾeša, the Prophet’s wife, was proper, Afżal-al-dīn confirmed him in the opinion that a curse on ʿĀʾeša could rebound on the Prophet, since he had treated her too kindly and spoiled her; the shah then forbade the practice.
After Esmāʿīl II died, Afżal-al-dīn returned to Isfahan as qāżī, but conflict with the local powers led him to give up the office and go to Mašhad. He served in the shrine of Emām Reżā as inspector of endowments (nāẓer-e sarkār), custodian of the key, chief of the shrine employees, and also as teacher. He attached himself to Shah Moḥammad Ḵodābanda and Prince Ḥamza Mīrzā as they were returning from a campaign against the Uzbeks in 991/1583, but he fell sick in Ray and died at nearby Andarmān on 1 Ḏu’l-ḥeǰǰa/16 December 1583. He was buried in a shrine at Ray.
Qāżī Aḥmad Qomī, Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ, MS Bayānī, fols, 344a, 459b.
Eskandar Beg, pp. 155, 213-16.
W. Hinz, “Schah Esmāʿīl II. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Ṣafawiden,” Mitteilungen des Seminars für Orientalische Sprachen XXXVI, 2. Abt., Berlin, 1933, pp. 77-80.
Quiring-Zoche, Isfahan (see under no. 2), pp. 225-28.
Originally Published: December 15, 1984
Last Updated: July 28, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 6, pp. 599-600
R. Quiring-Zoche, “AFŻAL-AL-DĪN TORKA,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/6, pp. 599-600; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/afzal-al-din-torka-name-of-three-figures-from-isfahan (accessed on 15 March 2014).