BAYHAQĪ, ẒAHĪR-AL-DĪN ABU’L-ḤASAN ʿALĪ B. ZAYD (ca. 490-565/1097-1169), also known as Ebn Fondoq, an Iranian polymath of Arab descent, author of the Tārīḵ-eBayhaq. What is known of Bayhaqī’s life stems from the autobiographical section of his lost work on the history of Iran (410-560/1020-1165) Mašāreb al-tajāreb (preserved in Yāqūt, Odabāʾ V, pp. 208-13), from scattered remarks in his extant works, and from the reminiscences of ʿEmād-al-Dīn Eṣfahānī whose father was a long-time friend of the author in Ray (ibid., p. 214).

Bayhaqī was a descendant of one of the Prophet’s companions, Ḵozayma b. Ṯābet Ḏu’l-Šahādatayn whose descendants had settled around Bost. The eponym of the family, Ḥākem Abū Solaymān Fondoq, was sent to Sabzavār as a judge by the Ghaznavid Sultan Maḥmūd (r. 388-421/998-421; see Tārīḵ-eBayhaq, ed. A. Bahmanyār, Tehran, 1348/1929-30, pp. 101-02). Most of Bayhaqī’s forefathers were judges or imams (ibid., p. 2). He was born in Sabzavār, the main city of the Bayhaq district, where his father’s estates were located. In his introduction to Tārīḵ-eBayhaq (p. yb, n. 1), Moḥammad Qazvīnī shows that 499/1106, the date given by Yāqūt, is based on a misreading; as Bayhaqī himself states (pp. 76-77), he was a schoolboy when the vizier Faḵr-al-Molk b. Neẓām-al-Molk was murdered (500/1106-07). Bayhaqī’s broad education in literature and the sciences began in Nīšāpūr. In 507/1113-14, accompanied by his father, Bayhaqī visited the renowned ʿOmar Ḵayyām (Tatemmat Ṣewān al-ḥekma, ed. M. Šafīʿ, Lahore, 1935, p. 116), and in 517/1123, he went to Marv where he completed his studies in feqh with the Hanafite jurist Abū Saʿd Yaḥyā b. Ṣāʿed. In 521/1127, he returned to Nīšāpūr where his studies were “interrupted by marriage” (Yāqūt, p. 209). Bayhaqī spent the next few years serving his father-in-law the governor of Ray Šehāb-al-Dīn Moḥammad b. Masʿūd, who in 526/1132 secured for him the position of qāżī of Bayhaq. Bayhaqī may have made enemies in his new post; but, whatever the case, he soon grew tired of it and resigned. He then repaired to his father-in-law’s home in Ray to devote himself to the study of mathematics and astrology. In 529/1135, Bayhaqī returned to Nīšāpūr but did not remain long; a year later, to improve his understanding of astrology, the restless scholar was off to Saraḵs where he squandered all of his money (Yāqūt, Odabāʾ V, pp. 210f.). He spent 532-36/1138-42 in Nīšāpūr. After an attempt to establish himself in Bayhaq failed “because of his relatives’ envy” (ibid.), Bayhaqī finally returned to Nīšāpūr where he “threw his walking-stick away” (ibid.) and settled down to life in the seminary and the mosque. Bayhaqī enjoyed the favor of court circles, in particular, the patronage of the vizier Ṭāher b. Faḵr-al-Molk. In 543/1148, when Demetrius, king of Georgia, posed certain questions (of unknown purport) in Syriac (soryānī) and Arabic via an envoy to Sultan Sanjar, the sultan had Bayhaqī respond to them (Tārīḵ-eBayhaq, p. 163). According to Yāqūt (ibid., p. 208), Bayhaqī died in 565/1169-70.

In his Mašāreb al-tajāreb (Yāqūt, Odabāʾ V, pp. 211ff.), Bayhaqī enumerates seventy-one of his own works, among which are four Persian works: Rasāʾel, ʿOqūd al-mażāḥeq, Naṣāʾeḥ al-kobarāʾ, and Qeṣaṣ al-anbīāʾ, as well as his Tārīḵ-eBayhaq and an astrological treatise Jawāmeʿ al-aḥkām al-nojūm (Storey, II/1, p. 48). Bayhaqī’s works encompass all the learning of his time: Koranic, doctrinal, and legal studies, algebra, astrology and astronomy, including the use of the astrolabe, medicine, and pharmacology. Many are works of philology, including treatises on grammar and rhetoric, commentaries on Nahj al-balāḡa, on the poems of Boḥtorī and Abū Tammām, and on Ḥarīrī’s Maqāmāt. Specimens of Bayhaqī’s own poetry have survived as excerpts from his now lost anthology Wešāḥ domyat al-qaṣr, a continuation of Bāḵarzī’s well-known Domyat al-qaṣr.

Apart from the Jawāmeʿ al-aḥkām and scattered poems, Bayhaqī’s only extant works are historical. Preserved in part in other historians’ works (e.g., those of Yāqūt, Ebn al-Aṯīr, Ebn Abī Oṣaybeʿa, Jovaynī, and Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfī) is Bayhaqī’s Mašāreb al-tajāreb, a sequel to ʿOtbī’s Tārīḵ-eyamīnī (Tārīḵ-eBayhaq, p. 20). His Tatemmat Ṣewān al-ḥekma, a sequel to Abū Solaymān Sejestānī’s Ṣewān al-ḥekma, and the history of his native region, Tārīḵ-eBayhaq, which is modeled on an earlier, nonextant work by ʿAlī b. Abī Ṣāleḥ Ḵᵛārī, have survived intact.

Neither a chronicle nor an analytical history, Tārīḵ-eBayhaq is of the genre of works called manāqeb, largely prosopographies written in praise of a particular region and of the learned men who were born or resided there. After brief sections on the geography and history of Bayhaq, Tārīḵ-eBayhaq describes its prominent families, compiled by the author himself (p. 21): sayyeds (pp. 54ff.); various ruling dynasties (pp. 66ff.); the house of Ḵᵛāja Neẓām-al-Molk and the Mohallabids; and Bayhaqī’s immediate family the Ḥākemī/Fondoqīs (pp. 101ff.). The major part of the work is devoted to the region’s notables, beginning with scholars and divines (pp. 137ff.), followed by the heads of the ʿAlids (noqabāʾ; pp. 253ff.), Persian poets (pp. 255ff.), and the grandees (pp. 264ff.). The work concludes with a brief catalogue of significant battles (pp. 266ff.) and a series of oddities found in Bayhaq (pp. 276ff.).



M.-T. Bahār, Sabkšenāsī II, 3rd ed., Tehran, 1349 Š./1970, pp. 365-71.

Brockelmann, GAL I, p. 324; S. I, p. 557.

D. M. Dunlop, “al-Bayhaḳī,” in EI2 I, pp. 1131-32.

Aḥmad Faṣīḥ Ḵᵛāfī, Mojmal-e faṣīḥī II, ed.

M. Farroḵ, Mašhad, 1341 Š./1962, p. 242.

M. Moʿīn, Majmūʿa-ye maqālāt I, ed.

M. Moʿīn, Tehran, 1364 Š./1985, pp. 148-49.

Storey, I/1, pp. 353-54; I/2, pp. 1105-06, 1350.

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(H. Halm)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: December 15, 1988

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