DĀNEŠ-NĀMA-YE ĪRĀN WA ESLĀM (Encyclopedia of Iran and Islam). In 1348 Š./1969 Bongāh-­e tarjoma wa našr-e ketāb (q.v.; Institute for translation and publication) considered publishing a Persian trans­lation of the second edition of the The Encyclopaedia of Islam. But, as the treatment of Iranian-speaking lands in that reference work was found somewhat inadequate (reflecting lack of adequate research on relevant Iranian topics), compared to the treatment of some other Islamic countries, and as the subject matter did not encompass pre-Islamic Iran, it was decided to combine the translation of articles from The Encyclopaedia of Islam with additional, original ar­ticles, in order to produce a comprehensive and up-to-­date survey of Iranian culture and history. The trans­lations were assigned to a number of experienced translators, chief among them Aḥmad Ārām and Aḥmad Bīrašk. Original articles were invited primarily, though not exclusively, from Persian scholars.

The first fascicle of the Dāneš-nāma appeared, under the editorship of the present writer, in 1354 Š./1975, in 286 pages; it comprised all the articles beginning with the letter Ā and included an introduction in which the purpose, scope, and method of the work, as well as a brief history of Persian encyclopedias, were delineated. Other fascicles followed, each consisting of 120 pages, sold at Rls. 50 ($ .68 each). Several scholars, including the late Jahāngīr Qāʾemmaqāmī, Bīrašk, Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Moṣāḥeb and ʿAbbās Zaryāb Ḵoʾī, participated as part-time or free-lance editors. Kamāl Ejtemāʿī, an employee of the Institute, helped with proofreading the articles. Design and printing were supervised by ʿAbd-Allāh Sayyār, a deputy director of the Institute, who had long experience in Persian printing. The eighth fascicle appeared in 1357 Š./1978.

Shortly thereafter the Institute was taken over by revolutionary forces, and its function and publication program were radically altered. The ninth fascicle had, however, already been printed, and it was issued reluctantly with inclusion of a derogatory disclaimer about the activities of the former direction stamped on the front page. Fascicle 10, concluding with the entry “Eḵwān al-Moslemīn” had also been set in type; it appeared two years later with a brief introduction by the new managers of the Institute, declaring that they had been faced with difficulty in continuing the Dāneš-nāma by the same methods and in the established direction, as a great number of the articles had been translated from The Encyclopaedia of Islam, which, though not without its uses, was, “like many Western works on Islamic culture, not free from deviations, prejudices, and defects.” Furthermore, they complained, in published fascicles figures like Mustafa-Kemal Atatürk, who had “risen against Islam,” had been glorified, and others, like Mūsā b. Maymūn (Moses Maimonides), “a fanatical Jewish thinker” who had denied the Prophet Mohammad’s revelation, had been praised. In addition, some of the published information about Shiʿite doctrine was said to be false. As a result, the “Institute” had decided to correct such “aberrations and errors,” though in fascicle 10 only minimal intervention had been possible, as it had already been set in type.

In fact, however, publication of the Dāneš-nāma was suspended for ten years. In 1371 Š./1992 a new fascicle, beginning with letter B, was published by a new organization, Bonyād-e dāyerat al-maʿāref-e Īrān wa Eslām; in it translations or abridged renderings of articles from The Encyclopaedia of Islam and other encyclopedias, including the Encyclopædia Iranica, are combined with original articles. No further fas­cicles have appeared to date.



(Ehsan Yarshater)

Originally Published: December 15, 1993

Last Updated: November 14, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VI, Fasc. 6, pp. 652-653