BORHĀN-E QĀṬEʿ (Conclusive proof), the title of a Persian dictionary compiled in India in the 11th/17th century by Moḥammad-Ḥosayn b. Ḵalaf Tabrīzī, who used the pen-name Borhān. He completed the work in 1062/1651 and dedicated it to ʿAbd-Allāh Qoṭbšāh (r. 1036-83/1626-72), the seventh sultan of the Shiʿite dynasty of Golconda in the Deccan. Little is known about the compiler’s career. The dates of his birth and death have not been recorded. He is said to have gone to India after finishing his studies at Tabrīz and to have joined the court of ʿAbd-Allāh Qoṭbšāh. This is certainly credible, because emigration of Iranian scholars and artists to India was quite common in the 10-11th/16-17th centuries, when Indian courts were keen on having such men; but it may have been Borhān Tabrīzī’s father or grandfather who went to India and he may have added the nesba Tabrīzī to his name in order to safeguard a privileged position by showing his Iranian origin. However that may be, he became the close friend of a learned man at Hyderabad, Shaikh Šams-al-Dīn Moḥammad b. ʿAlī Ḵātūn ʿĀmelī, who was a minister and author and had studied under Shaikh Bahāʾ-al-Dīn ʿĀmelī (953-1031/1546-1622), the great scholar of Safavid Iran.

It is uncertain whether Borhān Tabrīzī, or Mollā Borhān as he is sometimes called, was also a poet. In addition to verses from his pen in the preface of the Borhān-e qāṭeʿ, a quatrain by him with a chronogram of the date of the capture of the fortress of Ūdgīr (1053/1643-44) in each hemistich is quoted in the Ḥadāʾeq al-salāṭīn-e qoṭbšāhī of Neẓāmā, a contemporary litterateur. Evidently he had mastered the tech­niques of verse composition, but he did not leave a dīvān. His close association with Ebn Ḵātūn ʿĀmelī shows that he was a highly regarded scholar. Neẓāmā, who belonged to the same literary circle, not only mentions his Borhān-e qāṭeʿ and quotes one of his poems but also admires him as a polymath (jāmeʿ al-fonūn).

Borhān Tabrīzī’s fame, however, is due to the great popularity which his dictionary acquired. This can be attributed to the arrangement of entries in strict alphabetical order and the fact that Borhān combines the materials of other dictionaries in one volume, thus saving users the trouble of consulting several different books. It includes a large number of new words and compounds in various fields, particularly medical terms. Frequently reproduced in manuscript, it became the real basis of subsequent Persian dictionaries. The spread of printing further enhanced its popularity, and editions were repeatedly brought out in India and Iran. More than any other Persian dictionary, the Borhān-e qāṭeʿ was used by writers and linguists; at the same time it came under the scrutiny of scholars who exposed its many faults, including blatant errors (Ḥekmat, pp. XC-XCVI).

Borhān Tabrīzī states that his sources were the Farhang-e jahāngīrī of Mīr Jamāl-al-Dīn Ḥosayn b. Faḵr-al-Dīn Ḥasan Enjū Šīrāzī (completed in 1017/1608), Majmaʿ-al-fors of Moḥammad-Qāsem Sorūrī Kāšānī, Sorma-ye solaymānī of Taqī Awḥadī, and Ṣeḥāḥ al-adwīa of Ḥosayn Anṣārī (d. 806/1403; Ḥekmat, pp. LXXXI-LXXXVI), but he must have used other sources also. The entries in different printed editions of the Borhān-e qāṭeʿ number between 19,060 and 20,215 (see Moʿīn’s notes ibid., pp. LXXXVII-LXXXVIII). It contains a number of words from Iranian dialects, as well as Arabic, Turkish, Syriac, Greek, Latin, and Indian words. Borhān was not a linguist, and often labels words erroneously as Old Persian, Avestan, Pahlavi, and Dari (Moʿīn, pp. CIII-CV). He mentions the languages of Ḵᵛārazm, Sogdiana, and other Iranian dialects (for details see ibid., pp. CV-CX). Arabic words and Arabic-Persian and Persian­-Arabic compounds are numerous (ibid., pp. XCVIII-XCIX). Among the Indian words there are both Sanskrit words and words from vernacular Indian languages, especially Dakanī (ibid., p. C).

Borhān Tabrīzī cites 274 Pahlavi heterograms (hozvāreš), labeling them as Zand and Pāzand (be-loḡat-e zand o pāzand) and treating them as Persian, even though they have never been used in Persian verse or prose (ibid., pp. CI-CIII). Here he followed and went beyond the example of the Farhang-e jahāngīrī. For the first time in any dictionary the spurious Dasātīr (cf. EIr. III/2, p. 187) is extensively quoted. Different vocalizations are given for many words, but without indicating which is correct. All traditional meanings of a word are listed, but without any critical evaluation of them. Corrupt and misspelled words are quoted uncritically. In the historical and geographical entries there are many mistakes, and fables are treated as fact (Ḥekmat, pp. XC-XCVI).

Being very popular, the Borhān-e qāṭeʿ became guilty of leading lexicographers astray and encouraged poets and scholars to fill their writings with spurious and erroneous words. Spurious personal and family names found in the dictionary were widely adopted.

A century after its composition, some of the errors in the Borhān-e qāṭeʿ were noted by Serāj-al-Dīn ʿAlī Khan Ārzū (q.v.), who corrected many of them in his Serāj al-­loḡa. The poet Mīrzā Asad-Allāh Ḡāleb (1212-85/1797-­1869) of Delhi wrote a critical treatise, entitled Qāṭeʿ-e Borhān, rejecting some of the words, which elicited protests from Sayyed Saʿādat ʿAlī Mīr Monšī (Moḥreq-­e Qāṭeʿ-e Borhān), Mīrzā Raḥīm Bēg Mīrtahī (Sāṭeʿ-e Borhān), Āḡā Aḥmad ʿAlī Šīrāzī Jahāngīrnagarī (Moʾayyed-e Borhān), Amīn-al-Dīn Dehlavī (Qāṭeʿ al-­Qāṭeʿ), and others. The Moḥreq-e Qāṭeʿ-e Borhān was in turn answered by Najaf-ʿAlī Jahjarī (Dāfeʿ-e haḏayān), an anonymous author who was probably Ḡāleb himself (Laṭāʾef-e ḡaybī; Urdu), and by the Soʾālāt-e ʿAbd-al-­Karīm (Urdu). One of Ḡāleb’s letters is a retort to the Sāṭeʿ-e Borhān, and one of his Persian qeṭʾas a retort to the Moʾayyed-e Borhān. A collection of verses including Ḡāleb’s qeṭʾa and three other poems in support and refutation of Ḡāleb’s views came out under the title Hangāma-ye delāšūb. Ḡāleb also wrote Tīḡ-e tīz (Urdu) in rebuttal of the Moʾayyed-e Borhān. Tīḡ-e tīztar is a collection of qeṭʾas and Ḡāleb’s replies to them and Āḡā Aḥmad-ʿAlī Šīrāzī Jahāngīrnagarī’s Šamšīr-e tīztarh is rejoinder to Ḡāleb’s Tīḡ-e tīztar (Moʿīn, pp. CX-CXV).

A supplement to the Borhān-e qāṭeʿ entitled Molḥaqāt-e Borhān was compiled by ʿAbd-al-Majīd Qāʾemmaqāmī and others and printed at Calcutta in 1250/1834 (repr. 1274/1858; ibid., p. CXVI).

Reżāqolī Khan Hedāyat, Moḥammad Pādšāh, and Nāẓem-al-Aṭebbāʾ Nafīsī all made extensive use of the Borhān-e qāṭeʿ in compiling their dictionaries (Farhang-e anjomanārā-ye nāṣerī, Farhang-e Ānand Rāj, and Farnūdsār yā Farhang-e Nafīsī). Moḥammad­-Karīm b. Mahdīqolī Tabrīzī produced an abridged dictionary of currently used words from the Borhān-e qāṭeʿ (see borhān-e jāmeʿ).

The Borhān-e qāṭeʿ was also used by compilers of Persian dictionaries in other languages, e.g., J. A. Vullers (Latin), F. Johnson (English), F. Steingass (English), and J. J. Desmaisons (French).

In the early 13th/late 18th century the Ottoman Turkish scholar Sayyed Aḥmad ʿĀṣem ʿAntābī translated the Borhān-e qāṭeʿ into Turkish, correcting cer­tain entries and adding a number of words; this work, to which he gave the name Tebyān-e nāfeʿ, was printed in Constantinople in 1214/1799, in Cairo in 1215/1800, and reprinted in 1251/1835 (Moʿīn, pp. CXV-CXVI).

Printed editions of the Borhān-e qāṭeʿ were published in Calcutta in 1234/1818, 1238/1822, 1250/1834; in Bombay 1259/1843, 1274/1858; and in Tehran 1278/1862, 1300/1883, 1304-05/1887, 1317 Š./1938. A critical edition by Moḥammad Moʿīn was published in four volumes in Tehran in 1330 Š./1951 and reprinted in five volumes in 1342 Š./1963 with a number of introductory essays.



Neẓām-al-Dīn Aḥmad Ṣāʿedī Šīrāzī known as Neẓāmā, Ḥadīqat al-salāṭīn-e qoṭb­šāhī, Hyderabad (Deccan), 1961, p. 317.

Aḵtar Ḥasan, Qoṭbšāhī dawr kā fārsī adab (Urdu), Hyder­abad, 1973, pp. 143-47.

Moḥammad-ʿAlī Dāʿi’l-­Eslām, Farhang-e Neẓām, Hyderabad, 1346-58/1927-­39, prefaces to vols. 1 and 5.

ʿA.-A. Ḥekmat and M. Moʿīn, prefaces to the critical ed. of the Borhān-e qāṭeʿ, Tehran, 1330 Š./1951, pp. LXXVIII-CXXVI. [N. Aḥmad, Naqd Qāṭeʿ Borhān maʿ żamāʾem, New Delhi, 1985.

(Moḥammad Dabīrsīāqī)

Originally Published: December 15, 1989

Last Updated: December 15, 1989

This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 4, pp. 369-370