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Iran of Great Literati

Philosophical Fragment

Fundamental Question

Philosophy Glossary



Nasser Khosro Ghobadiani

The toil and Strive of the world is though elongated

 It will be ended either good or bad

Oh universe, new passengers will be created

As one leaves the world, another will enter

Very quickly, we are passing and traveling

And waiting to reach that trip which is not ending

Nasser Khosro's Biography

 Nasser-ebn Hares-ul Ghobadiani-al Balkhi-al Marvzi, nicknamed Abu Moin, entitled and pen named "Hojat" was born in Dhul Qadah, 394 A.H. Lunar. In his Safar Nameh (travelogue), Nasser Khosro calls himself Ghobadiani Marvzi and it shows that he has born in Ghobadian and settled in Marv.

He calls himself ";Hojat" because he was appointed on behalf of Fatemid Caliph (Almostanser Bellah) as representative (Hojat) in Khorasan region and was commissioned for propagation and invitation in Iran and Transoxiana. Apparently, Nasser Khosro was from a rich family who had official and governmental jobs and the poems by him indicate that in his youth he had gone to the court of kings and rulers and as he has mentioned in his Safar Nameh, before age 26 he had the chance to meet Soltan Mahmood Ghaznavi and his son Masood and the then king called him "Khajeye Khatir" (means the precious noble).

As a whole, what is obvious is that in his youth he was rich and wealthy and had dignity, honor and respect and before banishment from his home- town he was a prosperous person having some properties including gardens and houses. There is no evidence about his appearance except his own hints in his works which indicate that in his youth he was strong, stout, of a nice stature with long hair but after wandering and going vagrant he became thin, and meager and his hair grew white. There is not a lot of information about his family and personal life but it seems that he had large family. He repeatedly reminisces about his son and family who were not accompanying him at the time of banishment and talks about the distress of their separation.

The Young Nasser Khosro

There are not enough information about his youth except those different hints which could be found in his desultory poems and compositions. What could be mentioned about him is that he started educating sciences and techniques early in his youth and became master of almost every common, logical and traditional sciences of his own time particularly Greek sciences such as geometry, medicine, music and philosophy.

Apparently, he had started writing and composing poems since very young age and had profound knowledge and skill in Arabic and Persian literature. According to his own quotation, for some period of time like any other poets he had spent his time drinking wine, making love and versifying and composing eulogies. He was both poet and accompanying secretary of the court. Besides thorough proficiency in Persian and Arabic he was probably aware of Hindi. In addition to other sciences, Nasser Khosro had the knowledge of astrology. Although he was not denying the effect of stars but he didn't believe the prediction and prophecy based on the astrology.

To learn sociology, and syntax and theology he toiled a lot and not only examined the Islamic religion but also learned other religions such as Hinduism, Saebin, Nasarenes and Zoroastrian. He also searched alchemy for a while and frequently spent his time on argumentation and reasoning in order get the Reality. These argumentations and reasoning and as he himself confesses not becoming obedient and also making questions of whys and asking and searching for reasons made his mind agitated and he there were no appropriate answers for his unlimited questions about creation, and also clear reasons for religious laws. In his 40s his conscientious became more agitated and distressed than ever and tried to find the Reality and in order to find it and sooth his own restless conscientious traveled to Turkistan, India and Indus and associated with different religions and religious sages and discussed with their philosophers but in spite of all his searches, he didn't reach to satisfying answers to his questions and whys.

Nasser Khosros's Morality and Idealogy

There are different opinions about his religion and the ideology that he was following. Most of the European writers who have written articles and done research concerning Nasser khosro believe that was Sunnite and probably

Hanafite (a sect of Islam).There are also some reasons for this claim. In "Safar Nameh" and particularly in a famous ode with this opening verse "the nature of the people, the wheel of heaven and seven stars......." (It should be mentioned that this part of the poem is lost in this version but obviously, in it he is praising, respecting and admiring The Three Caliphs, the Omayyads, Abbasides, Abu Hanifeh, Shafite, and other Sunnite clergymen. On the other hand, it seems that the version which is available to us is incomplete and there is no proof to indicate that this omitted part is forged. After traveling to Egypt and familiarity with Fatemite, he joined this group and wherever he was talking about Fatemid Caliphs he was attributing them to the descendents of Amir-al Mo'menin Hossein-ebn-e Ali (the Chief of the faithful). There is no doubt that after accepting Fatemid invitation in Shiism he had the bias and love toward Imam Ali and his descendants and The Three Caliphs, and he was remembering the Karbela event and expressing the eternal sorrow because of that event and enmity and hostility to Mo'avie's admirers and he was as biased as a Safavid Shiite. The complete works (Divan) of him is full of taunting remarks and even curses particularly to Abbasides. There are some exceptions in expression of Tavala and Tabara (amity and animus) and they refer to Abu Bakr and Omar. Nasser Khosro was using modified tone of speech and never expressed animus toward them.

After his inclination to Fatemite, as a whole, his ideology and morality was according to Esmaili's manners and the followers of Fatemid Caliphs and as it was mentioned in his biography, he called himself "Hojat" and tried to propagate this school in Khorasan. According to his own words, after coming back from Egypt he evolved into a very pious, devout and virtuous person. He didn't drink wine and did fast and prayed regularly and in undergoing mortification he reached to the onerous degree and as he expressed himself he reached to the stage of " Tark-e Halal" (quitting lawful things), and in piousness was an extremist and in Safar Nameh, he emphasizes on quitting the world. In his complete works (Divan) he also mentioned that he stopped worldly pleasures and there he talks about the day in which he passed Euphrates River (that is the day he entered the realm of Fatemite).

Transformation in Nasser Khosro'r Life

At last because the sharp and reality seeking mind of our sage and philosopher could not be satisfied with those narrative and logical principles of his own time (which were satisfying just for ordinary people) and after dreaming in Jozbanan in Jamadi-ul­Akhir 437 A.H. Lunar and in order to reach reality (Haghighat), he started religious journey to Mecca (hajj) and set out toward Hejaz with his brother Abu Saeed and his Indian slave. This journey took 7 years. Concurrent with his return to Balkh in Jamadi-ul­Akhir 444 A.H. Lunar,and his visit with his other brother Khaje Abul-Fath Abd­ul Jalil and the end of his journey, a new period started in his life. In this journey he traveled 4 times to Mecca for Hajj and visited northeastern, northwestern, southwestern and center of Iran, Armenia and its cities, Asia Minor, Aleppo, Tripoli, Damascus, Syria, Palestine, the Arabian peninsula, Egypt (spent almost 3 years there), Tunisia, Nubeh and Sudan. Detailed account of his journey to Mecca and Egypt which was written based on his daily notes by himself after the return to Balkh is the subject of a book explaining a 2220- Para Sang journey. At the end of Safar Nameh he stated that he would have another journey toward east and promised to accompany the new travelogue as appendix of Safar Nameh but it is not clear that these materials were completed or not. In his travels, and in order to find Haghighat (the reality) and the answers to his questions and the problems which had found in Islam, its principles and religious laws Nasser khosro visited many scholars, wise men and philosophers of every country of different sects of Islam, astrologers, physicians and other skilled men. He also visited Nasarenes and Jewish, Saebin and Hindu scholars and other scholars of different countries such as Indus, Turkey, Rome, Arab and non­Arab countries and discussed with them about these issues and problems but couldn't find answers for them. Finally, he reached Cairo (Egypt) and entered Esmailis Batenid Faction through one of Fatemite whose name has not been mentioned and he calls him "doorkeeper" of science and seemingly it means "Bob"(door) and that is "Hojat-e A'zam"(grand representative).

After that and in order to propagate that religion and invite people to Fatemite in Khorasan he returned to his own homeland and became one of the 12 Hojats of Fatemite and their missionary in Khorasan and took the guardianship and supervision of Shiite of the city and he became the leader of the followers of the religion (he called them flock of the followers and himself as the shepherd)

Works of Nasser Khosro

Nasser Khosro has created lots of compositions and writings in poetry and prose and also many poems in Persian and Arabic and in his time both of his Arabic and Persian complete works (Divans) were well known. Of his Arabic poems there is no trace left and also there are no poems left from his youth regarding praises, lyrics (Ghazals), or jests as if he himself destroyed them.

-       Nasser Khosro's Safar Nameh is the first book written in prose by the author and he had explained his own seven-year journey in it.

 -      Zad-ul-Musaferin is his most important book which consists of his principles and his own philosophical and intelligent ideas.

-       Roshanai Nameh which is a book written in poetry in preaching, advice and philosophy was complied as Divan (complete works).

-       Sa'adat Nameh consists of 300 verses and similar to Roshanai Nameh was composed in preaching and philosophy.

-       Vajhe Din which is based on Esmailis faction is about the interpretations and the inner meanings of principles and laws of Sharia' and was written after his banishment.

-       The next book attributed to Nasser khosro is Khan-e Akhavan and evidently there is a version of it available in comprehensive library of

Aya Suffieh.

-       There are no traces of versions of Bostan-ul-Oghul which Nasser Khosro has mentioned the name in zad-ul-Mosaferin and Resaleye lavab asa'aleh and Dalil-ul-Motehayerin which Bayan-ul-Adyan attributes it to Nasser Khosro. There are not also any trace of some other books of him that he frequently has mentioned the names in his poems and particularly in Zad­ul-Musaferin he talks about his other works in which he repeatedly rejected Mohammad-ebn Zakaria's ideas and promises to compose a book based on this issue.

-       The other book such as Exir A'azam in logic and philosophy, Ghanun A'azam, in strange sciences, Almostufi, in religious jurisprudence, Dastur A'azam, Tafsir-e Quran(interpretation of Quran), based on Esmailis ideology, Kenz-ul­Haghayegh, Personal adventures and story and a book in Greek sciences and a book in magic are attributed to him. Of course the reality of the existence of such books is unknown, disputable and full of historical controversies.

-       There is also a thesis, called Ser-rul-Asrar about captivating stars attributed to Nasser Khosro in the beginning of his Divan which was printed in India but there is no doubt that the attribution of this thesis to him is baseless.

As a whole, it could be mentioned that his books consist of only those works which are historically attributed to him and are related to his style of thinking and have been mentioned at the beginning of this section.

End of the Road

After his return, Nasser Khosro settled down in Balkh and after a while using the title of "Hojat" started his efforts in propagating Esmailis religion and invitation to Fatemid Caliph. The responsibility he accepted was one of the most dangerous and difficult issues because in Khorasan the number of Esmailis Shiite was very limited and there were a lot of opponents and they were very powerful and at the same time very biased and revengeful and Esmailis had to hide or dissimulate or take sanctuary to save their own lives.

At last advertising and propagation of Esmailis religion by Nasser Khosro intrigued the scholars of Khorasan particularly of Balkh. Although his dignity and scientific literary position didn't lead to his murder or stoning to death but rebellion of people or probably Caliph's excommunication and accusing him of cynicism and as an atheist lead to his banishment from his own city and country. Perhaps he himself had to hide and escape or as he says he had to emigrate (Hegirat). In any case after his running away from Balkh or his escape, he acted secretively for a while in the same place and his place of residence was not known and only a group of his relatives knew his place. In Vajhe Din he has mentioned that "Hojats should be hidden". But finally he had to emigrate and stay in a determined center and sought a shelter in Mazandaran. Perhaps the reason for this emigration was because Gorgan and Tabarestan rulers were Shiite and it's not unlikely that due to Esmailis invitation and propagation in Mazandaran Nasser khosro selected that region as the center of his activities. His term of residence in Mazandaran is unknown. According to some writers after leaving this city he settled in Neyshabur for a while and then went to Badakhshan and close to the city resided in a mountainous village called Yamkan which had arduous road and was difficult to capture and apparently he stationed there for the rest of his life. In one of his odes he expresses: "15 years passed and I am still homeless" and it shows the length of the time he was wondered. The point worth mentioning is that in these journeys and movements his family was not accompanying him and seemingly he was driven away by his friends and relative in someway. Just as he has mentioned in his odes he is complaining about his separation from his family and faithlessness of his kinsmen.

In Yamkan, Nasser Khosro continued his duty in propagating Fatemite as he did in Khorasan. The owner of Bayan-ul Adyan, who was contemporary of Nasser Khosro, 4 years after his death said: "he was a god damned character and a great composer....." and somewhere else he has mentioned "he was living in Yamkan and misleading people and his ideas were established and remained there" What is interesting is that the effect of this eloquent and knowledgeable scholar's propagation still could be found in Badakhashan and its neighborhood and the presence of Esmailis in Neyshabur at the moment is somehow related to his advertising and propagation.

Finally, this sagacious scholar (most probably) died at the age of 87 in 481 A.H. Lunar and passed away in Badakhshan Yamkan.

HOMA magazine No 32


  If aren't being done contemplation, will be thought out instead of you

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