ʿĀLĪ, MĪRZĀ NŪR-AL-DĪN MOḤAMMAD NEʿMAT KHAN, satirist, historian, and Persian poet of Mughal India (d. 1121/1709-10). Both his father, Ḥakīm Fatḥ-al-dīn, and his son, Ḥakīm Ḥāḏeq Khan, were famous physicians. Born in India, ʿĀlī accompanied his father to their ancestral city of Shiraz (according to Ḵᵛošgū, Mašhad; see Storey, I, p. 589), where he received his early education. He entered government service during the reign of Shah Jahān (1037-68/1628-57). Anṣārī (Fārsī adab, p. 128) speculates on the basis of some of ʿĀlī’s verses that his first employment under Awrangzēb (1068-1118/1658-1707) was with Princess Zēb-al-nesāʾ. Later he was superintendent (dārūḡa) of the royal kitchen, receiving the title of Neʿmat Khan in 1104/1692-93; he was then promoted to keeper of the crown jewels, with the title Moqarrab Khan. At the accession of Shah ʿĀlam I (1119-24/1707-12) he was given the title Dānešmand Khan and appointed official historian.
ʿĀlī wrote both poetry and prose; for a time he employed the taḵalloṣ Ḥakīm. The bulk of his poetry is made up of ḡazals, where his penchant for light-hearted lampooning makes room for morally lofty verse in a simple, graceful style; complexity and intricacy, which abound in his satires, are kept to a minimum. ʿĀlī composed a maṯnawī of approximately 4,000 couplets, identified by Belgrāmī as Soḵan-e ʿĀlī (Sarv-e āzād, p. 137) but popularly known as Maṯnawī-e Neʿmat Ḵān ʿĀlī, in which he expounds his moral and religious views through parable and allegory. A freer and more self-conscious poetic personality emerges from his satirical compositions (haǰwīyāt); he often directed these at people whose bruised egos might have cost him dearly, but he escaped unharmed because of his absence of ill-will and jealousy. Though he never directed his satire against a fellow poet or writer, Bīdel dubbed him the satirizing ḥāǰǰī (Anṣārī, Fārsī adab, p. 127). A qeṭʿa about the impending marriage of Kāmgār Khan, son of the Mughal minister Jaʿfar Khan, is so riddled with allusions to Arabic grammar, geometry, and medicine that the comic material is transformed into a work of great literary value, as attested to by the fact that it gave rise to three separate textual explications, including one by Āzād Belgrāmī (Ḵezāna-ye ʿāmera, pp. 336-47).
A less extravagant but by no means less humorous vein pervades much of ʿĀlī’s prose, which includes: Rūz-nāma-ye waqāʾeʿ-e ayyām-e moḥāṣara-ye dār-al-ǰehād-e Ḥaydarābād, also known as Waqāʾeʿ-e Neʿmat Ḵān-e ʿĀlī or Waqāʾeʿ-e Gūlkonda, a satirical account of Awrangzēb’s siege of Hyderabad in 1098/1687; Jang-nāma or Razm-nāma, an account of the war of succession between the princes Moʿaẓẓam and Aʿẓam, prefaced by a description of Awrangzēb’s war against the Mahārāṇā of Udaipur, the rebellion of Prince Akbar, and the conquest of the Deccan (published several times in Lucknow and Cawnpore; tr. Agra, 1909, and Lucknow, 1928; See Storey, I, p. 592); Bahādoršāh-nāma (also appears under different titles; see Storey, I, p. 600), a fairly comprehensive official record of the first two years of the reign of Bahādor Shah I; Resāla-ye ḥosn o ʿešq, a love story which underscores ʿĀlī’s critical attitude towards many societal ills; Resāla-ye haǰw-e ḥokamāʾ or Monāẓara-ye aṭebbāʾ, a satire on the incompetence of physicians; and Neʿmat-e ʿoẓmā, exegesis of the Koran completed in 1115/1703-04 and dedicated to Awrangzēb.
See also Neʿmat Khan ʿĀlī, Dīvān, Lucknow, 1881; Cawnpore, 1894.
Nūr-al-ḥasan Anṣārī, Fārsī adab be ʿahd-e Awrangzēb (Urdu), Delhi, 1969, pp. 127-42, 428-33, 485-96.
Āzād Belgrāmī, Ḵezāna-ye ʿāmera, 2nd ed., Cawnpore, 1900, pp. 336-47.
Idem, Sarv-e āzād, Lahore, 1913, pp. 136-39.
Marshall, Mughals in India, pp. 62-64.
Storey, I, pp. 589-92.
(M. U. Memon)
Originally Published: December 15, 1985
Last Updated: August 1, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 8, pp. 836-837
M. U. Memon, “ʿĀLĪ, NEʿMAT KHAN,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/8, pp. 836-837, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ali-enmat-khan (accessed on 30 December 2012).