ḴĀKI ḴORĀSĀNI, EMĀMQOLI, Ismaʿili poet and preacher of 17th-century Persia (b. Dizbād; d. Dizbād, after 1056/1646). He was born in Dizbād, a village in the hills half way between Mashhad and Nišāpur, which at the time was the largest dwelling place of the Ismaʿilis of northern Khorasan. Little is known about his life and education but, judging from his poems, he was a talented poet and well versed in Islamic religious sciences. It appears that a visit to Dizbād by the thirty-sixth Ismaʿili imam, Morād Mirzā (d. 981/1574), left a lasting impression on the youthful Ḵāki, prompting him to devote his entire life to the preaching of the Ismaʿili faith. Local narratives of his encounter with the Ismaʿili imam, which is reminiscent of the encounter of Jalāl-al-Din Moḥammad Rumi with Šams Tabrizi, soon turned into legend and caused the inauguration of a new milestone in the cultural history of his native place that has survived to this day. Though not as a religious ceremony, on the last Friday of the month of Mordād in the Persian calendar (middle of August), people of Dizbād of all religious persuasions gather together in the depth of a gorge called Now ḤOeṣār to pay homage to the place were Ḵāki was blessed and granted spiritual insight by the imam.
Ḵāki seems to have been born during the reign of the Safavid Shah Ṭahmāsb (r. 930-84/1524-76). He recounts in his poems the name of Shah ʿAbbās I (r. 1587-1629) and was a contemporary of Shah Ṣafi (d. 1052/1642), and ʿAbbās II (d. 1077/1666). He was also contemporary to three Ismaʿili imams, namely Morād Mirzā, Ḏu’l-faqār ʿAli (d. 1043/1634), and Nur-al-Din, nicknamed Nur-al-Dahr (d. 1082/1671). His Ismaʿili preaching seems to have been successful enough to attract the attention of the Safavid king, probably ʿAbbās I, which led to his arrest and torture, but unlike his predecessor, the poet Abu’l-Qāsem Moḥammad Amri Širāzi (d. 999/1590), he was not blinded and killed (Daftary, 1994, p. 456). About the year 1640, the relationship between Ismaʿili imams and Safavid kings improved to the extent that Nur-al-Din accompanied Shah ʿAbbās II on his visit to Mashad in 1642, when Ḵāki was probably released and returned to his home in Dizbād (Ebn Yaʿqubšāh).
Nothing in prose has remained from Ḵāki, but the corpus of his poetic compositions comprises over 5,000 couplets which constitute his collection of poetry (divān), and a lengthy (ca. 1,300 couplets) religious maṯnawi entitled Ṭoluʿ al-šams. Two shorter versified treatises, Negārestān and Bahārestān (two qaṣidas in 980 and 79 verses, respectively), have also survived (Poonawala, pp. 279-80; Daftary, 1994, p. 123). The poems that have survived to our time seem to have been compiled later in his life. The content of Ḵāki’s religious writings fully complies with the late and post-Alamut Ismaʿili theological texts and the writings of Naṣir-al-Din Ṭusi (d. 671/1274), Ḵayrḵ-ᵛāh Herāti, and Abu Esḥāq Qohestāni. Ḵāki is said to have lived a long life; the location of his grave, though without a gravestone, is known to the local residents of Dizbād.
Ebn Yaʿqubšāh Ṣufi, Poem in Praise of the Ismaili Imam Nur-al-Din, Mss, Institute of Ismaili Studies, no. 14708.
Farhad Daftary, Ismāʿilis:Their History and Thought, Cambridge etc., 1990.
Idem, Ismaili Literature: A Bibliography of Sources and Studies, London and New York, 1994.
Z. Jeferali, “Khaki Khorāsānī,” in The Great Ismaili Heroes, Karachi, 1973, pp. 95-97.
Emāmqoli Ḵāki Ḵorāsāni, Divān (selections of), ed. Wladimir Ivanov as An Abbreviated Version of the Diwan of Ḵāki Khorasani, Bombay, 1933.
Ismail K. Poonawala, Biobibliography of Ismāʿili Literature, Malibu, Calif., 1977.
October 31, 2006
(S. J. Badakhchani)
Originally Published: December 15, 2010
Last Updated: April 19, 2012
This article is available in print.
Vol. XV, Fasc. 4, p. 356