ʿALĪ AKBAR ḤOSAYNĪ ARDESTĀNĪ, Indo-Muslim taḏkera writer, remembered solely for his unpublished Maǰmaʿ al-awlīāʾ, an encyclopedia of Sufi saints compiled in 1043/1633-34 and dedicated to the Mughal emperor Shah Jahān (1037-68/1628-58). Its twelve chapters recount approximately 1,500 lives, beginning with the companions of the Prophet and covering members of the main mystic orders (salāsel) and their offshoots; thirty-six of the saints are poets and thirty-eight women. The introduction includes a list of authorities consulted and definitions of Sufi technical terms, such as walāyat, qoṭb, ḡawṯ, and abdāl; a conclusion discusses the first four caliphs. ʿAlī Akbar’s list of eighty sources includes earlier works like Ḥelyat al-awlīāʾ, Ḡonyat al-ṭālebīn, Kašf al-maḥǰūb, Taḏkerat al-awlīāʾ, Foṣūṣ al-ḥekam, al-Fotūḥāt al-Makkīya and near contemporary works like the letters of Aḥmad Serhendī (Maktūbāt-e emām-e rabbānī) and the Aḵbār al-aḵyār of ʿAbd-al-Ḥaqq Moḥaddeṯ Dehlavī; he sometimes borrows almost verbatim from this last work. Maǰmaʿ al-awlīāʾ was the earliest of several important hagiographic works which appeared during the reign of Shah Jahān; along with ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Češtī’s Merʾāt al-asrār, it consolidates the significant hagiographical information of the medieval period.
On the contents of Maǰmaʿ al-awlīāʾ, see Ethé, Cat. Ind. Off. I, pp. 270-74. Storey, I/2, p. 991 .
(K. A. Nizami)
Originally Published: December 15, 1985
Last Updated: August 1, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 8, pp. 856-857
K. A. Nizami, “ʿALĪ AKBAR ARDESTĀNĪ,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition, 1982, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ali-akbar-ardestani