Iranian Influence on Moslem Literature, Part I by M. Inostranzev

Proofreaders Transcriber’s note: The spelling inconsistencies of the original have been retained in this e-text. IRANIAN INFLUENCE ON MOSLEM LITERATURE, PART I by M. INOSTRANZEV TRANSLATED FROM THE RUSSIAN, WITH SUPPLEMENTARY APPENDICES FROM ARABIC SOURCES BY G. K. NARIMAN 1918 GENERAL CONTENTS. CHAPTER I. Arabic Writers as Sources of Sasanian Culture 3 CHAPTER II. Parsi
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Transcriber’s note: The spelling inconsistencies of the original have been retained in this e-text.







CHAPTER I. Arabic Writers as Sources of Sasanian Culture 3

CHAPTER II. Parsi Clergy Preserve Tradition 25

CHAPTER III. Ethico-didactic Books of Arabs Exclusively of Iranian Origin 38

CHAPTER IV. Iranian Components of Arabic _Adab_ Literature 53

CHAPTER V. Pahlavi Books Studied by Arab Authors 65

CHAPTER VI. Arab Translators from Pahlavi 76

CHAPTER VII. Pahlavi Rushnar Nameh 89


(By the Translator).

APPENDIX I. Independent Zoroastrian Princes of Tabaristan after Arab Conquest 93

APPENDIX II. Iranian Material in Mahasin wal Masawi and Mahasin wal Azdad 101

APPENDIX III. Burzoe’s Introduction 105

APPENDIX IV. The Trial of Afshin,
a Disguised Zoroastrian General 135

APPENDIX V. Noeldeke’s Introduction to Tabari 142

APPENDIX VI. Letter of Tansar to the King of Tabaristan 159

APPENDIX VII. Some Arab Authors and the Iranian Material they preserve:–

The Uyunal Akhbar of Ibn Qotaiba 163 Jahiz: Kitab-al-Bayan wal Tabayyin 168 Hamza Ispahani 171 Tabari 174
Dinawari 177 Ibn al Athir 179
Masudi 182 Shahrastani 187
Ibn Hazm 192 Ibn Haukal 195


Ibn Khallikan 199 Mustawfi 203
Muqadasi 204 Thaalibi 205


The facile notion is still prevalent even among Musalmans of learning that the past of Iran is beyond recall, that the period of its history preceding the extinction of the House of Sasan cannot be adequately investigated and that the still anterior dynasties which ruled vaster areas have left no traces in stone or parchment in sufficient quantity for a tolerable record reflecting the story of Iran from the Iranian’s standpoint. This fallacy is particularly hugged by the Parsis among whom it was originally lent by fanaticism to indolent ignorance. It has been credited with uncritical alacrity, congenial to self-complacency, that the Arabs so utterly and ruthlessly annihilated the civilization of Iran in its mental and material aspects that no source whatever is left from which to wring reliable information about Zoroastrian Iran. The following limited pages are devoted to a disproof of this age-long error.

For a connected story of Persia prior to the battle of Kadisiya, beside the Byzantine writers there is abundant material in Armenian and Chinese histories. These mines remain yet all but unexplored for the Moslem and Parsi, although much has been done to extract from them a chronicle of early Christianity. The archaeology of Iran, as I have shown elsewhere, can provide vital clue to an authentic resuscitation of Sasanian past. Pre-Moslem epigraphy of Persia is yet in little more than an inchoate condition. Not only all Central Asia but the territories marching with the Indian and Persian frontiers, where persecution of the elder faith could not have been relatively mild, the population professing Islam have been unable to abjure in their entirety rites and practices akin to those of Zoroastrianism. Within living memory the inhabitants of Pamir would not blow out a candle or otherwise desecrate fire. While science cannot recognise the claims of any individual professing to have studied esoteric Zoroastrianism hidden in the hill tracts of Rawalpindi, the myth has a value in that it indicates the direction in which humbler and uninspired scholars may work. These regions and far beyond, teem with pure Iranian place-names to this day; and you meet in and around even the Peshawar district individuals bearing names of old Iranian heroes which, if the theory of persecution-mongers be correct, would be an anathema to the bigoted followers of Muhammad.

* * * * *

It is, above all, Arabic literature which upsets the easy fiction of total destruction of Iranian culture by the Arabs. In its various departments of history, geography and general science Arabic works incorporate extensive material for a history of Iranian civilization, while Arabic poetry abounds in references to Zoroastrian Iran. The former is illustrated by Professor Inostranzev’s pioneer Russian essay of which the main body of this book is a translation. The Appendices are intended to be supplementary and to be at once a continuation and a possible key–continuation of the researches of the Russian scholar and key to the contemned store-house of Arabic letters.

Professor Inostranzev is in little need of introduction to English scholars. He has already been made known in India by the indefatigable Shams-ul-Ulma Dr. Jivanji Modi, Ph.D., C.I.E., who got translated, and commented on, his Russian paper on the curious _Astodans_ or receptacles for human bones discovered in the Persian Gulf region. He shares with Professor Browne of Cambridge and the great M. Blochet a unique scholarly position: he combines an intimate knowledge of Avesta civilization with a familiarity with classical Arabic. It is not wilfully to ignore the claims of Goldziher, Brockelmann or Sachau or the Dutch savants de Goeje and Van Vloten. Deeply as they investigated Arabic writings, it was M. Inostranzev who first revealed to us the worth of Arabic: he unearthed chapters embedded in Arabic books which are paraphrase or translation of Pahlavi originals. He had but one predecessor and that was a countryman of his, Baron Rosen.

* * * * *

In preparing the Appendices, which are there to testify to the value of Arabic literature especially the annals and the branch of it called Adab, I have availed myself of the courtesy of various institutions and individuals. Bombay, perhaps the wealthiest town in the East where prosperous Musalmans form a most important factor of its population, has not one public library containing any tolerable collection of Arabic books edited in Europe. Time after time wealthy Parsis whose interest I enlisted have received from me lists of books to form the nucleus of an Arabic library but apparently they need some further stimulus to appreciate how indispensable Arabic is for research into Iranian antiquities. The Bombay Government have expended enormous sums in collecting Sanskrit manuscripts–a most laudable pursuit–and have published a series of admirable texts edited by some of the eminent Sanskrit scholars, Western and Indian. But the numerous Moslem Anjumans do not appear to have demonstrated to the greatest Moslem Power in the world, or its representative in Bombay, the necessity of a corresponding solicitude for Arabic and Persian treasures which undoubtedly exist, though to a lesser extent, in the Presidency. And what holds true of Bombay holds good in case of the rest of India. Some of the libraries in Upper India in Hyderabad, Rampur, Patna, Calcutta possess along with manuscript material cheap mutilated Egyptian reprints of magnificent texts brought out in Leiden, Paris and Leipzig. Nowhere in India is available to a research scholar a complete set of European publications in Arabic, which a few thousand rupees can purchase. The state of affairs is due to Moslem apathy, politics claiming a disproportionate share of their civic energy, to Government indifference and to some extent Parsi supineness and prejudice which, despite the community’s vaunted advancement, has failed to estimate at its proper worth their history as enshrined in the language of the pre-judged Arab.

Moulvi Muhammad Ghulam Rasul Surti, of Bombay, himself a scholar, lent me from his bookshop expensive works which few private students could afford to buy. No western book-seller could have conceived a purer love of learning or a gaze less rigidly fixed on “business”. Sir John Marshall, Director General of Archaeology in India, continued very kindly to permit me use of books after I had severed official connection with his library at Simla. Dr. Spooner who acted for him obligingly saw that as far as he was concerned no facilities were incontinently withdrawn from me at Benmore. I have particularly to thank the Librarian of the Imperial Library, Calcutta, who not only posted me books in his charge but went out of his way to procure me others. Mrs. Besant and her wealthy adherents have created at Adyar the atmosphere associated with the Ashramas and the seats of learning in ancient India so finely described by Chinese travellers. The Oriental Library there is unsurpassed by any institution in British or Indian ruled India. It is to be wished in the interests of pure scholarship that some one succeeds–I did not–in prevailing on the President of the Theosophical Society to lend books to scholars who may not be equal to the exertion of daily travelling seven miles from Madras to Adyar. Her insistence on a rigid imitation of British Museum rules in India, mainly because so many of the Theosophical fraternity cut out pages and chapters from books once allowed to be borrowed by them, inflicts indiscriminate penalty on honest research and seals up against legitimate use books nowhere else to be found in India.

I reserve for the Second Part of this book some observations on the Russian language with reference to Orientalism, and Arabic and Persian literatures in particular. Only after the outbreak of the War some interest has been aroused in England in matters Russian generally and a number of grammars and dictionaries and other aids to the study of this most difficult language have recently been placed on the market for the use of students who only a brief three years ago had to depend mainly on German for acquisition of Russian. This neglect of Russian is wholly undeserved. It is doubtful if the researches into Oriental histories and literatures by the Russians have been yet adequately appreciated in England, the tireless efforts of Dr. Pollen and the Anglo-Russian Literary Society notwithstanding. It is apparently still presumed that ripe scholarship in Arabic and Sanskrit is inconceivable except through the medium of the languages of Western Europe. No unworthy disparagement of French labours is at all suggested. But it is only fair to Russia to remember in India that the absence of a Serg d’Oldenberg would leave a lacuna which must be felt in Buddhist Sanskrit; without Tzerbatski the Jain literature both Magadhi and Sanskrit would be appreciably poorer; and that the Continent has produced nothing to exceed the series of Buddhist Sanskrit texts of Petrograd, where was published the still largest Sanskrit lexicon. Naturally in the province of Chinese and Japanese the Russian Academy at Vladivostock stood _facile princeps_ till only the other day its magnificent rival was established in London under the direction of Dr. Denison Ross. An individual scholar like Khanikoff, who like most of his countrymen in the last century preferred to write in French, and a Zukovski has done more signal service to Persian antiquities than could be honestly attributed to many a German name familiar to Indian scholars. The distinguishing feature of the Russian investigator, devoted to the past of Persia, is his uncommon equipment. The Russian bring to their task a mature study of Semitic languages and acquaintance with Avesta philology. Arabic literature teems with allusions to the religions, dogma, customs and the court of Sasanian Iran. Once intended for contemporaries equally at home in the Arabic and Persian idioms these references have in course of time grown obscure to copyists who have mutilated Iranian names of persons and places and specific Zoroastrian terms which had become naturalised in the language of the ruling Arabs. It is scholars like Baron Rosen and Rosenberg who have adequately appreciated the value of Arabic texts in which are interwoven verbal translations of celebrated Pahlavi treatises. Two such have been disinterred by the industry and erudition of Inostranzev.

This is the first book to be translated from Russian into English by an Indian and the obvious difficulties of the task may be pleaded to excuse some of the shortcomings of a pioneer undertaking. I look for my reward in on awakened interest in Arabic books which hold in solution more information on Persia than any set work on the history of Iran.

It would not be in place to advert to the present state of hapless chaos in Persia. The most sympathetic outsider, however, cannot help observing that her misfortunes are less due to her neighbours and their mutual relations than to her too rapid political strides and adoption of exotic administrative machinery repugnant to the genius of the ancient nation. Whatever the attitude of individual Mullas towards non-Moslems in the past the central authority and the people as a whole are actuated to-day with a spirit of patriotism which is still the keynote of the character of Persia’s noble manhood and womanhood. It declines to make religion the criterion of kinship.

The inconsistency in the spelling of Arabic words has not altogether been avoidable being due partly to a desire to adhere to the orthography adopted by authors whom I have consulted.


September, 1917.


Iranian literary tradition in the opening centuries of Islam 1

The character of the Persian history during the Sasanian epoch 6

Importance of this epoch according to the Arab writers of the first centuries of Islam 10

The position of the Parsi community and the centres of the preservation of Persian tradition during the period of the Khalifat in Tabaristan, Khorasan and Fars 15

The castle of Shiz in the district of Arrajan in the province of Fars described by Istakhri, p. 118, 2-4; 150, 14-7; Ibn Hauqal, p. 189, 1-2; cf. the translator of the _Khoday Nameh_, Behram, son of Mardanshah of the city of Shapur in the province of Fars 19

This castle was the residence of those acquainted with the Iranian tradition (the _badhgozar_) and here their archives were lodged 20


To the Iranian element belongs a very rich role in the external as well as the internal history of Islam. Its influence is obvious and constant in the history of the Moslem nations’ spread over centuries. Whenever the circumstances have been favourable it has been clearly manifest; when the conditions have been hostile it is not noticeable at the first glance but in reality has been of great consequence. The causes of this are very complicated. And it is necessary on account of its universal value to examine a wide concatenation of facts. But from a general point of view there is no doubt that it has its roots principally in the continuity of the historical and cultural traditions. Particular significance attaches to the circumstance that just in the epoch preceding the Arab conquest Persia had experienced a period of national revival after the horrors that its sovereignty had undergone, at the hands, for instance, of Alexander the Great.[1] Therefore for the study of Iranian tradition in Islam the period of the Sasanian dynasty preceding the Arab conquest has a special significance.

[Footnote 1: This is explained by the hatred given expression to in the Parsi tradition regarding Alexander. Comp. J. Darmesteter _La Legende de Alexandre chez les Parses. Essais Orientaux_, Paris 1883, pp. 227-251.]

The Sasanian dynasty issuing from a small principality in the south of Persia–a principality which, properly speaking bears the title of the “kernel of the Persian nation”–occupies a considerable position in Persian history. Wide imperial aims were united with a plenitude of solid organisation of government so perfect that it passed into a proverb among the Arabs. In this last connection the Sasanian tradition survived for a long time a number of Moslem dynasties. The powerful influence which Iranian tradition exercised was felt by the Abbaside Khahlifs and after them by the Turkish Seljuks. But not only the science of government, a good deal of other matters of cultural and historical importance in the latter times have their explanation in the Sasanian epoch. Placed on the confines of the Greco-Roman world on the one hand, and China and India on the other, Sasanian Persia served during the course of a long time as a central mart of exchange of a mental as well as of a material nature. As against the Achaemenides, emulating the high Semitic culture of the West and the Hellenistic endeavours preceding the Parthian dynasty, the Sasanians pre-eminently were the promulgators of the Iranian principles. Alongside of this, however, although in a subordinate position, the development of the Hellenistic movement and the ancient Irano-Semitic syncretism continued to proceed. Simultaneously an ethical amalgamation proceeded especially in Western Persia where Semiticism was powerful for a lengthened period, Nevertheless, the Sasanians continued the unification of the Iranian inhabitants of central and western Persia. The political system of the Sasanian emperors[1] was based on this fusion. Before it pales the importance of the other facts regarding the political organisation of the Sasanians,–centralisation of government in a manner so that the elements of feudal constitution made themselves felt throughout the existence of the empire and even after the Arab conquest, when it left traces in circles representing Iranian traditions.

[Footnote 1: On the constitution of the Sasanian government, see A. Christensen, _L’empire des Sasanides, le peuple, l’etat, la cour_, 1907.]

The Iranophile tendencies which dominated the Sasanian epoch developed in intimate cooperation with the State religion (Mazdaism) and the Parsi priesthood. Among the latter continued the production of literary works. Besides, the redaction of the sacred books was completed in these times. Among them were conserved and propagated Persian ethical ideals, which found expression in literary forms, in ethico-didactic tracts, like those which we notice just in the same circles in later times. To the same end were preserved national traditions and ritual, some of which had nothing to do with Mazdaism. The ethical ideals of the church found strong support in the feudalistic circles comprising the larger and the smaller landholders, the _dehkans_ who, with particular zeal, preserved ancient heroic traditions.

Alongside of these national currents in the Sasanian empire there operated in full force those factors of cultural exchange of which we spoke above. Of those factors the most important that deserve our attention are questions regarding education and instruction. In this connection, Sasanian Persia found itself under powerful influences from the West. There are sufficient reminiscences of neo-Platonic exiles from Greece at the Sasanian Court and of the school of medicine in which the leading part belonged to Hellenic physicians. At the same time in the same field we have to examine other influences. For Sasanian Persia did not remain stranger to the sciences of India. We have information regarding the renascence of the activity of the translators of scientific works into the Persian language and the tradition of this activity survived down to the Moslem times. In connection with this theoretical scientific activity stood high perfection in exterior culture issuing to a considerable degree from exchange of materials. And even here the Sasanian tradition has survived the dynasties; in the study of the commerce and industry as well as the art of the Moslem epoch we have necessarily to refer back to the preceding times of the Persian history.

In pre-Moslem Arabia the high development of the civilisation of Sasanian Persia was well known. Among the subjects of the great Persian sovereigns in the western provinces of their empire there were a large number of Arabs who in commercial intercourse carried, to tribes of the Syrian desert and further south to the Arabian peninsula, reports regarding the great _Iran Shahar_. Not only legends of the heroic figures of the Iranian epic–Rustam and Isfandiar–but religious views and persuasions of the Persians found a place and were spread among the Arab clans. Thus we know that “fire-worshippers” were settled among the Arab tribe of the Temim.[1]

[Footnote 1: _See_ for example Ibn Rustah (B.G.A. VII, p. 217, 6-9).]

As regards the political influence of the Persians on the tribes of Arabia a vast deal has been related in the pre-Moslem epoch. As is well-known, thanks mainly to the Persian influence, there was a small Arab kingdom of the Lekhmides in the South-Western portion of the Sasanian empire[1]. It played its part, most beneficial for Persia, holding back on the one hand Roman-Byzantine onrush from the West, and on the other restraining the perpetual attempts at irruption into Persian territory by Arab nomadic tribes. Not long before the appearance of Islam, Sasanian influence was extended to the Arabs and the South as well as Yemen passed into the sovereignty of the Persians. Khusro and his Court appeared to the Arab an unattainable ideal of grandeur and luxury.

[Footnote 1: _Die Dynastie der Lekhmiden in al-Hira, Ein Versuch zur arabisch-persischen Geschichte zur Zeit der Sasaniden Berlin_, 1899.]

The rapid conquest of Persia by the Arab warriors proved a complete catastrophe to the Sasanian empire. But Persian culture was not to be extirpated by the success of Arab arms. Persia was overwhelmed only externally and the Arabs were compelled to preserve a considerable deal of the past. Having lost the position of rulers, the Persian priesthood preserved intact its control of the indigenous populace in the eyes of the latter as well as of the foreign Government. The same remark holds good of the class of landed proprietors.[1] Iranian tradition continued to live In and with them. Not only what was preserved but all that was destroyed for long left vestiges in the memory of the conquerors.

[Footnote 1: Regarding the part played by this class in the times of the Khalifs, see A. Von Kramer _Culturgeschiche des orients unter den Chalifen_ II. pp, 150, 62.]

Many years after the Arab conquest the ruins that covered Persia excited the admiration of the Arabs. Their geographers of the ninth and tenth centuries considered it their duty to enumerate the principal buildings of the Sasanians reminding the reader that here Khusro built in his time in bye-gone days a castle, there a mountain fastness, again at a third place, a bridge.[1] Regarding various ancient structures which had survived the Sasanian times, we refer, _inter alia_, to Istakhri, (ibid I), pp. 124; Ibn Hauqal (ibid II) 195; Ibn Khordadbeh (ibid VI) p. 43, (text); Ibn Rusteh (ibid VII), 153, 162, 164, 165, 166, 167, 189; Yakubi (ibid VII), 270, 271, 273, &c.

[Footnote 1: _See_ the enumeration of the noteworthy buildings of ancient Persia as given in Makdisi (B.G.A. III), p. 399, and Ibn-ul-Fakih (_ibid_ V), p. 267.]

The remains of the structures, monuments of art from the Sasanian times and the ages preceding them attracted the attention of the Arabs and they have left descriptions of the same in more or less detail.[1] From the information of the same Musalman writers we possess accurate accounts of the inhabitants of Persia and their religions. Thus, for instance, Yakubi indicates that the inhabitants of Isfahan, Merv, and Herat, consisted mainly of high-born Dehkans.[2] Makdisi notices a considerable number of fire-worshippers in several provinces of Persia, for instance, Irak and Jibal.[3]

[Footnote 1: Istakhri, p. 203, Ibn Hauqal, p, 266, 256, Makdisi pp. 396 and 445, Ibn Rusteh, p. 166.]

[Footnote 2: Yakubi, pp. 274, 279-280.]

[Footnote 3: Makdisi, pp. 126, 194.]


_Relate that the inhabitants of several localities of Kerman during the entire Umayyad period openly professed Mazdaism._

In a more detailed fashion, however, the Arab writers notice the Mazdian dwellers of Fars, the heart of the Persian dominion. Makdisi says that in Fars existed the customs of fire-worshippers but that the fire-worshipping inhabitants of the capital of the province of Shiraz had no distinguishing mark on their clothes; from which it follows that in that age these people were in no way differentiated from the Musalman subjects.[2] Istakhri[3] and Ibn Hauqal[4] relate that the bulk of the inhabitants of Fars consisted of fire-worshippers and they were there in larger number than anywhere else, Fars being the centre of sacerdotal and cultural life of the empire in the days of Persian independence. Very minute information is supplied us by these writers[5] regarding the ancient castles and fire-temples scattered over the whole of Fars in abundance. The latter is of capital importance since here was the residence of those two classes of Persian society, noblemen and priests, who were the staunchest conservators of the ancient national tradition.

[Footnote 1: Istakhri, p. 164; _Ibn_ Hauqal, p. 221.]

[Footnote 2: _See_ Makdisi, pp. 421, 429.]

[Footnote 3: P. 130.]

[Footnote 4: P. 207.]

[Footnote 5: Istakhri, pp. 116-119; also p. 100. Ibn Hauqal, 187-190; also p. 181.]

It is undoubted that the position of the Parsi community after the Moslem conquest was comparatively comfortable. Still sometimes it was darkened by excessive fanaticism and the intrigues of the followers of other faiths. Although sometimes the Parsis could push themselves forward to positions of officials and instructors and played an important part in the history of the Khalifate, generally speaking, this community was a close one leading a more or less exclusive life, a circumstance enabling the conservation of national peculiarities and attachment to antiquity. As time went on, however, the condition of their existence necessarily became worse and the consequence was the gradual emigration of a portion of the community from the motherland to Western India.

In the entire Parsi literature we come across only one historical composition which recounts this emigration. But the narrative is so obscure that of the main occurrence in it there must have remained only a general memory.[1] This book is called the “Kisseh-Sanjan” and was written at a very late date at the very close of the 16th century, so that the data given in it have to be looked upon as a reverberation of ancient tradition.[2]

[Footnote 1: The modern historian and Parsi scholar Karaka, in analysing the events subsequent to the Arab conquest follows the views of the old School of writers regarding this epoch as a complete destruction of all the previous organisation and the triumph of fanaticism of the new faith. See D.F. Karaka, _History of the Parsis_, Vol I; on the history of the Parsis subsequent to the Arab invasion _see_ page 22 ff.]

[Footnote 2: E.B. Easrwick, Translation from the Persian of the “_Kisseh-Sanjan_” or “History of the arrival and settlement of the Parsis in India.” J.B.B.R.A.S., I. 1844, pp. 167-191. (_See_ also Vol. 21, extra number, 1005, pp. 197-99).]

From the circumstances detailed in this book it appears that the emigrators after the establishment of Musalman domination passed a hundred years in a mountainous locality and only after the lapse of these long years migrated to Hormuz, from where they proceeded to the peninsula of Gujarat and finally after negotiations with the local chief settled in Sanjan. Subsequently fresh refugees joined them from Khorasan. From this last we can infer that the emigration was gradual and this is confirmed by the fact that in case of migration in a mass the diaspora of the Parsis would have left some traces in the Arabic literature. Further there is no doubt that considerable number of Parsis remained behind in their country and their descendants are the modern Persian Guebres who, together with the Parsis of India, may be called the only preservers of ancient Iranian tradition to the present times.

Thus, throughout Persia in the first centuries of Islam national elements with, changed fortunes persisted in their existence. It is, however, to be remarked that their success was not uniform in, every quarter of the country, that their fate depended to a considerable extent upon the geographical position and the historical life of the various provinces of the land. Western provinces owing to their proximity to the centre of the Arab ruling life had more than the rest to mingle with, the Arab stream, and to participate in the cycle of events in the Arabic period of the history of the Musalman East. Central Persia, owing to its geographical position, could not constitute the point _d’appue_ of the Persian element. For the latter the most favourably situated provinces were those in the North, East, and South, Tabaristan, Khorasan, and Fars.


As is well-known throughout the floruit of the Arab empire this province found itself in almost entire independence of the central power. Local dynasts called the Ispahbeds enjoyed practical independence and in those times Arabo-Moslem influences simply did not exist. Local rulers,–Bavendids, Baduspans, Karenides–appeared successively or simultaneously following the traditions left to them by the Marzbans or the land holders and partly the successors of the great King who were independent from the times of the Arsacide dynasty.[1] Subsequently as Aliides and Ziyarids, they were closely attached to Shiaism with its definite expression of Persian sympathy. Nevertheless, this province was not favourable for a particularly successful national evolution. The fact was that even in the Sasanian epoch Tabaristan remained a distant and obscure frontier division and did not take part in the progress of civilisation of the times. Therefore it could not form the centre of gravity of Persian life although there is no doubt that in several respects in this province there were preserved typical features of Sasanian antiquity.

[Footnote 1: For a general conspectus of the history of the provinces with regard to their independence during the Sasanian and Arab domination, _see, e.g._ F. Justi, G.I. Ph., II, pp. 547-49–“History of Iran from the earliest to the end of the Sasanides” in German–Appendix I.]


It was otherwise with the Eastern provinces of Khorasan, too far distant from the territary occupied by the Arab settlers, and too densely inhabited by Iranians to rapidly lose its previous characteristics. On the contrary, we know from the historians that in this province Iranian elements remained steadfast throughout the Umayyad dynasty and it was exclusively due to the support given by Khorasanians to the Abbasides that the latter succeeded in overthrowing the previous dynasty and commenced the era of powerful Iranian influences in the history of the Musalman Orient.[1] Khorasan played a vital part in the development of the modern Persian literature and especially its chief department, poetry. The entire early period of the history of modern Persian poetry, from Abbas welcoming with an ode Khalif Mamun into Merv down to Firdausi, may be labelled Khorasanian. There flourished the activity of Rudaki, Kisai, Dakiki, and other less notable representatives of the early period of modern Persian bards.[2] The culture of poetry was favoured not only by the geographical position of the province of Khorasan but by its political conditions. Already in the beginning of the ninth century in Khorasan there had arisen national Persian dynasties and under their patronage began the renascence of the Persian nation (Taherides, Saffarides, Samanides).

[Footnote 1: On the history of Khorasan in the Umayyad period _see_ J. Wellhausen _Das Arabische Reich und Sein Sturz,_ p, 247 f. and p. 306 f.]

[Footnote 2: _See_ the general survey of this period in J, Darmesteter, “The Origins of the Persian Poesy”, in French and E.G. Browne “Literary History of Persia”, I, p, 350 ff.]


Under different circumstances but with considerable significance for the Persian national ideals lay the Southern province of Fars. Here with tenacious insistence survived not only national but also political traditions of ancient Sasanian Persia. Here was the centre of a government and from here started fresh dynasties. After the Arab conquest this province came into much more intimate connection with the Khalifate, than, for instance, Khorasan. But Persian elements were favoured by its geographical position,–the mountainous character of its situation and the consequent difficulty of access by the invaders. We already produced above the information of the Arab geographers of the tenth century regarding the abundance of fire-temples and castles in Fars. They relate that there was no village or hamlet of this province in which there was no fire-temple. Residence was taken up in strong castles by the native aristocrats whose ideals were rooted in the Sasanian epoch. Just in these geographers, Istakhri and Ibn Hauqal, is to be found information of unusual importance, so far as we can judge, regarding the conservation of the Parsi tradition in Fars These authors have been up to now not only not appreciated but their significance for our question has not yet been adequately recognised.

Istakhri and Ibn Hauqal enumerating the castles of Fars declare as follows regarding the castle of Shiz:[1]

“The castle of Shiz is situated in the district of Arrajana. There live fire-worshippers[2] who know Persia and her past. Here they study. This castle is very strong.”

[Footnote 1: Istakhri, p. 118, 2-4; Ibn Hauqal, p, 180, 1-2.]

[Footnote 2: In the text occurs the Persian word _badgozar_, that is to say, the rhapsodists, the relators of the national traditions; on this word see B.G.A. III, pp. 182-83, and Vuller’s _Lexicon Persico-Latinum_ S.V. For a parallel to the archives of the Achamenide empire _see_ F. Justi, _Ein Tag aus den Leben des konigs Darius._]

Further we read the following in Istakhri (page 150, 14-17):–

“In the district of Sabur on the mountain there are likenesses of all the noteworthy Persian kings and grandees, of illustrious preservers of fire, high _mobeds_ and others. Their portraits, their acts and narratives about them are successively recorded in volumes. With particular care are preserved these volumes by the people living in a locality in the district of Arrajan called the castle of Shiz.”

From this information we learn that in one of the castles of Fars down to the tenth century there were preserved manuscripts written probably in the Pahlavi language containing narratives from Persian history and illustrated with, portraits after the style of the Sasanian reliefs to be found in the rocks in the district of Sabur.[1] This strong mountain fastness was probably little accessible to the Arabs and afforded an asylum to the _mobeds, dehkans_ and others interested in the past of their country.

[Footnote 1: That is after the style of the Sasanian bass-reliefs which were preserved in his time on the rocks in the vicinity of Shapur and the most famous type of which are the bass-reliefs representing the triumphs of the Sasanian Shapur I, over the emperor Valentine].

These facts generally important for the history of the preservation of the epic, historic and artistic traditions of Iran, are particularly important for the investigation of the sources of the Arabic translations of the Sasanian chronicles and of the epopee of Firdausi. As we know, the translators of these chronicles were Persian “fire-worshippers” or Musalmans who had adopted Islam only externally and had remained true to the ancient Persian religion. Among them the foremost is called _Mobed_ belonging to the city of Sabur in the province of Fars. He is important as a worker in the Iranian historical tradition and about him we shall have occasion to speak later on. This _Mobed_ probably made Arabic translations of Sasanian chronicles from materials in the archives in the castle of Shiz. Further, the information adduced by us above regarding the castle refers to times a little previous to the age of Firdausi and undoubtedly among the materials in these archives were the sources of the Shah Nameh which were available to Firdausi through intermediate versions. Finally, we see that these Sasanian histories were illustrated, a fact which is confirmed by the statement of other Arab writers as we shall see later on. Generally the district of Arrajan enjoyed its ancient glory with reference to its cultural connections. Yakut[1] has preserved for us the information that at Raishahar in the district of Arrajan there lived in the Sasanian times men, versed in a peculiar species of syllabary who wrote medical, astronomical and logical works.

[Footnote 1: “_Muajjam ul Buldan_”, ed. Wustenfeld, II, p. 887. This passage has been translated by Barbier de Maynard in his “Geographical, Historical and Literary Dictionary of Persia”, in French, pp. 270-271. _See_ also Fihrist II, p, 105.]

What we have studied above establishes the existence of Persian literary tradition in its national form for several centuries after the Arab invasion. Now we have to survey wherein lie the characteristic features of this tradition and what were its main contents. And we pass on to their consideration.


The Parsi Clergy and the Musalman Iranophile party of the Shuubiya 26

The part played by them in the conservation of the Persian literary tradition 30

The different varieties of this tradition; scientific, epico-historic, legendary and ethico-didactic 32


We have demonstrated above that in the time subsequent to the Arab conquest Iranian tradition found a congenial asylum in the bosom of the Parsi priesthood. There it was maintained and developed orally as well as in a written form. The most competent among the Persian historians who employed the Arabic language in those times turned to the Parsi clergy for information. Of this we have first-hand proof in their own works and in the quotations from other works preserved in later authors. For example, they frequently remark “the Mobedan-mobed related to me”, “the _mobed_ so and so told me” and so on. In their quest for ancient Persian books, too, Arab authors searched for them among the Parsi priesthood and it was only there that they found them. Thus it was the merit of the Parsi community that it conserved Iranian traditions daring unfavourable times and handed them on to Moslem Persia under more auspicious conditions.

Involuntarily we are led to a comparison, to their advantage, with the activity of the Iranophile party of the same times in the Moslem community, the party of the Shuubiya,[1] In their capacity as promoters of learning and exponents of literature they concentrated their activity in the cultured centre of the Khalifate at Baghdad and other cities, and being familiar with Persia played an important part in the development of Moslem culture of the Middle Ages. But in the preservation of the Iranian tradition they turned to much restricted and greatly exclusive Parsi circles. In the second half of the tenth century and in the eleventh century the currents which were preparing the Persian renascence party were lost and their significance forgotten. But for the purpose of illuminating historical questions a careful examination of these currents deserves our undivided attention. It was owing to them that literary materials were preserved which were sometimes direct translations from books belonging to the Sasanian period. The course by which these materials found their way into Arabic literature can be definitely traced. They came from Parsi centres through older circles of Moslem civilisation which were sympathetic towards Persia. Generally speaking they were trustworthy transmitters. As a matter of fact the Shuubiya turned only to the Parsi circles for materials and in the explanation of the material they did not distinguish them from their other sources. Their sources betray themselves by an exaggerated Parsi partiality where the penchant of these circles is clearly manifest. And these are intimately connected with certain questions of daily life,–the struggle for power between the Arab and the Iranian element in the Khalifate. Enthusiastic partisans of the Persian element, these circles as a counterblast to the poverty of civilizing factors of the pre-Islamic Arab nation, turned to the glories of Persia, principally of the Sasanian past. Iranophile writers had no need for inventions, since historical truth was on their side. The effectiveness of their method was indisputable. In this connection Iranian tradition among the Musalmans as transmitted by Arab writers must take precedence of a similar transmission, the Christian literature of the East, where all possibility was excluded of polemics such as obtained under the Moslem domination between the pro-Iranian and anti-Iranian parties. It is, therefore, to be regretted that the literary activities of the Musalman circles sympathising with Persian culture have descended to us only in occasional extracts and are sometimes confined only to the titles of books written by them.

[Footnote 1: For details, Goldziher. _Muhammedanische Studien,_ I, 147-310.]

We noticed above the revival of scientific activities in Sasanian Persia. This activity for the most part has its significance in its quality of being a connecting link, in the first place, as the transmitter of Greek knowledge to the East, and secondly, as the unifier of this knowledge with the heritage which Sasanian Persia had received from scientific works belonging to Semitic culture, as well as from the science of India. The principal representatives of this activity were not Persians, but Christians, mainly the Syrian Nestorians, and Monophysites from the school of Edessa.[1]

[Footnote 1: For a general account of the character of this activity see T.J. de Boer, _History of Philosophy in Islam_, 17-20.]

What was the share in these operations of the Persians themselves it is hard to tell. But at all events, it was not considerable.[1] The general character of this activity does not leave particular room for wide creative science, since it has expressed itself pre-eminently in compilations, translations of philosophical, astronomical, astrological, medical, mathematical and ethical commentaries on Greek and some Indian authors. It was not in this field that the activity of the Persian sacerdotal community in the Sasanian epoch was concentrated. And latterly in the period of the development of analogous scientific work dining the eastern Khalifate under the Abbasides the principal role belonged just to the same class of scholars, Christian Syrians, with just this difference that the activity of the latter continued among the Musalman alumni of various nationalities whilst in Sasanian Persia their operations were cut short by the unfortunate circumstances of the Arab inroads. It is interesting that in the Abbaside period the translations made from the Persian authors or authors belonging to Persia appertain to a certain special _genre_ of works of a technical nature, books on warfare[2], on divination, on horse-breaking[3], on the training of other animals, and on birds[4] trained to hunting. These special treatises were of no abstract scientific contents but referred to the practical demands of life.

[Footnote 1: As regards philosophical traditions of Sasanian Persia in the Musalman epoch principally we may refer to the influence of the system of “_Zervanism_” on the adherents of the system of “_Dahar_”, de Boer 15 and 76.]

[Footnote 2: See my studies on the _Ain-Nameh_.]

[Footnote 3: See my book on _Materials from Arabic Sources for Culture History of Sasanian Persia_.]

[Footnote 4: Fihrist 315.]

A different kind of importance attaches to histories devoted to government and national life of the Sasanian period and to the epic and literary tradition of Persia. Their value as history has been acknowledged and appreciated by the progressive circles of the Musalman community. Contemporary researches directing the greatest attention to this aspect of Iranian movement appreciated its value and thanks to their works, we are enabled to speak with some clearness regarding books of exceeding importance. Traces of ancient Iranian epic tradition are observable in some Greek writers, Ktesias, Herodotus, Elian, Charen of Mytelene and Atheneus. But it has survived in a considerable quantity in the Avesta.[1]

[Footnote 1: The principal works for investigating the Persian historical and literary tradition are, besides the introduction to his edition and translation of the Shah-Nameh by Mohl, Noeldeke’s German _History of the Persians, and Arabs at the time of the Sasanians_, his introduction, and his Iranian national epic G.I.Ph. II, 130–212; Baron Rosen, _On the question of the Arabic translations of the Khudai Nameh_ (Paraphrase by Kirst in W.Z.K.M.X, 1896); H. Zotenberg, History of the Kings of Persia by Al-Thalibi, Arabic text with translation, especially Preface, XLI-XLIV. A number of profound ideas and ingenious suggestions are made in the various articles and reviews by Gutschmid. (See Appendix V, p. 141).]

The most recent and pregnant exposition is by Lehmann.

It existed also in official writings of the Sasanian times, recensions of which, we possess in several Arab histories and in the Shah Nameh. Like the scientific literature these writings were subjected to a final redaction towards the close of the Sasanian dynasty and it is this recension that has mainly come down to posterity. Alongside of official writings of a general character, there existed various books of epic-historical contents, for instance, the _Yadkari-Zariran_.[1] As in these writings, so in the versions appearing from them at later times, the materials embodied were of a kindred nature, like the Romance of Behram Chobin, Story of Behram Gor, the narrative of the introduction into Persia of the Game of Chess. Besides these there were writings relating to local histories. It is noteworthy that the epic element was and is preserved with persistence by the Parsis. Mohl notes that the majority of Persian epic poems, excepting the Shah Nameh, has been preserved only in manuscripts belonging to Parsis[2]. Farther development of this phase of Persian literary tradition bifurcated into two directions. It has been shown that the official chronicles of the Sasanian times exercised influence on the development of the Musalman science of history. On the other hand, the epic was resuscitated in heroic romances and tales[3]. Alongside of the historical traditions and the epos stands the romantic poesy which has entered into Musalman literature in a marked degree in the shape of Iranian tradition. At the time this species of poetry prospered in Arabic literature there was a strong Persian influence and some of its representatives were undoubtedly inclined to Persian literary motifs, for instance, the Shuubite Sahal Ibn Harun.[4]

[Footnote 1: We refer mainly to the epic cycle of Soistan for the views of the authorities on which see Mohl (LXII) and Noeldeke _National Epic_, 80-81. As a supplement to the bibliography furnished by Noeldeke see V. Rugarli, the _Epic of Kershasp_, G.S.A.I., XI, 33-81, 1898.]

[Footnote 2: LXVII, note 2.]

[Footnote 3: On the process of the latter nature see Mohl LXXII ff. Regarding one of the principal representatives of the later stage of this development see Abu Taher Tarsusi, Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1, 115.]

[Footnote 4: Fihrist 120, 1-13. For this kind of poetry see Fihrist 306, 8-308, 14, and compare also the books characterised at page 314, 1-7.]

To the same type of literary monuments we have to add the vast field of story literature. Although a considerable portion of it belongs to the province of migratory subjects, and although to Persia belongs often only the role of the transmitter, nevertheless, collections of stories of this class undoubtedly had their assigned place in the Sasanian epoch and the dependence of the core of the _Thousand and One Nights_ on the Persian stories collected in the _Hazar Afsan_[1] is indisputable. We shall not, therefore, stop here further regarding facts which have been decided more than once. We will only observe that in connection with the Persian literary age of the Sasanians we have to indicate a series of works of the character of epic tales arisen from the ancient historical period of the western boundary of Persia and representing “stories of the Babylonian kingdom” which have been enumerated among the books of this class and also among Persian books,–a circumstance which proves that these tales originated in Sasanian literature. Finally, just as in historical and especially in narrative literature, Persian tradition survived to the Musalman times so also it continued to live in the writings of the ethico-didactical category. The importance of the Pahlavi translation of the book of _Kalileh and Dimneh_ for the migration of this collection of tales to the West is well-known. The significance of Pahlavi translations is not less evident with regard to the _Hazar Afsan_ in connection with the _Thousand and One Nights_. Still Persian tradition in the field of ethico-didactic literature has been studied and appreciated much less than in the historical and story literature. We have now to examine a few questions in connection with the Persian tradition regarding the ethico-didactic literature of the early Musalman epoch. We shall devote the following chapter to its study.

[Footnote 1: Fihrist 304, 10-305, 2. Fihrist 306, 6; Fihrist 305, 7.]


The ethico-didactic books in the Fihrist (315, 19-316, 25) 38

They are almost exclusively of Persian origin 38


Opinion on the importance of the influence of ethical and didactical works of the Sasanian times on the literature of this class of early Moslem epoch, generally speaking has been expressed in scientific works and has found admittance into a few general surveys of Persian literature. To the literary monuments go back a number of books on what is called _Adab_, good behaviour or agreeable manners, in modern Persian literature. Besides several literary monuments of later ages,[1] for the solution of this question, capital importance attaches to the information given in the _Fihrist_ of an-Nadhim which is the fundamental source of the history of entire Arabic literature bearing on our period. Further on we shall draw upon this work with the object of determining this species of literary tradition in Arabic books of the first centuries of Islam.

[Footnote 1: P. Horn, Geschichte der persischen Letteratur, _(Die Letteraturen des Ostens in Finzeldarslellungen_ Bd VI) 38, and _Die Mittelpersische Letteratur_, 237.]

Great importance for this problem lies in that portion of the Fihrist which when first edited had elicited little interest, and where are enumerated the titles of books of ethico-didactic character, Persian, Greek, Indian, Arabic, by well-known authors and by anonymous writers[1]. We are aware that in the Fihrist there are partly Arabic, partly Persian, titles of books which have come down to us in a mutilated form, but at the same time some of them have reached us in their correct shapes and others are often easily restorable.

[Footnote 1: Fihrist 315, 19-316, 23.]

In this section of the Fihrist we have in all forty-four titles of books. Among them a large number can be directly traced to Persian origin and a portion were evidently written under Persian influence. To the first class we have no hesitation in assigning fourteen names of books, since as we shall see, two of them or possibly three pertain to one and the same work. We will examine these titles in some detail.

1. The first book is by Zadan Farrukh and is a testament to his son[1]. Although we are not able to recall a book of this title among the Pahlavi literature that has come down to us, still the general character of this work is presented to us in perfect definiteness. It is undoubtedly one of the testaments or counsels, the so-called _Pand Nameh_ or _Andarz_, of a father to a son, or some one person to another, and the typical representatives of which in the Pahlavi literature appear to be the well-known book of testament of Adarbad to his son, the book of advice to his son by Khosro Anushirvan and the book of counsel to the latter by his Wazir, Buzurj Meher[2].

[Footnote 1: In the text the term is Zadan Farrukh, but Justi already in his _Iranisches Namenbuch_ in 1895 proposed the reading Zadan Farrukh.]

[Footnote 2: As regards the first, see my _Materials from Arabic Sources,_ page 68-69. For the second, West Pahlavi literature G.I. Ph. II, 112. For the third, in Pahlavi verse West 113. For Musalman times see Schefer Chrestomathy 3-6 and Salemann and Zukovski, Persian Grammar page 41-49. Also compare _Melanges Asiatiques_ IX, 215. In Arabic Anthologies especially of the character of what is known as Furstenspiegel the maxims of this wise Wazir are very frequently quoted. See for instance, _Sirajul Mulk_ of Tartushi, also compare the bibliography in V. Chaubin, of Arabic works, Leige 1892, page 66.]

Alongside of this most celebrated _Pand Nameh_ in the Pahlavi literature are also famous a number of other analogous literary monuments traceable to definite persons, while some are anonymous. They are of a nature, for instance, of a simple testament from father to son[1].

[Footnote 1: West 109-111, and 113-115.]

As we have already observed, and as we shall have occasion to speak further, this category of literary remains undoubtedly survived in the Musalman literature and partly in the literature of the Arabs. For the study of the Pahlavi literature this class of tracts has already evoked attention and has called forth several editions and translations. We notice that their interest goes beyond that of Pahlavi literature proper and they are important also for the history of the literature of Musalman nations. Moreover, they are of interest from a general point of view, for the study of Musalman culture. In fact, by their very character these works are brief catechisms with no pretensions to abstract theoretical acquaintance with the sacerdotal tracts, composing another important section of Pahlavi literature, but immediately connected with the daily ordinary life. It goes without saying that whoever read them in the original, their interest did not lie in their theoretical character, but that they were rendered into Arabic and modern Persian languages with a view to the same practical end. Hence however monotonous they are,[1] whatever wearisome character these books possess, they are of great interest for the purpose of comparison with similar productions of Musalman literature and for the purpose of establishing their influence in the unfolding of ethical ideas of the Musalman east, which are far from being clearly made manifest. This side of the question deserves, in my opinion, in these days ampler attention and research.

[Footnote 1: See Noeldeke “_Persische Studien_” II, S.B.W.A, 1892, 29, Noeldeke remarks, with reference to this class of literature, “that the investigation of this fatiguing business demands an unusual amount of patience”, see for instance, the comparison instituted between ethical norm in the Parsi and in the Musalman Literature by Darmesteter in _Revue Critique_, 21, 1-8.]

2. The second book in the Fihrist is attributed to a _Mobedan-mobed_ that is, head of the Parsi clergy, who in Arabic texts is sometimes called simply Al-Mobedan and whose name was not understood by Flugel[1]. The same word is met with in a mutilated form in another place in the Fihrist[2]. (119-20).

[Footnote 1: Fugel took it for a dual, and consequently divided the name into two.]

[Footnote 2: The book next following is called _Kitab kay Lorasp_ and apparently it had to do with questions connected with Persian literary tradition.]

He is mentioned by Ali Ibn Rayhani, Arabic author, who stood in near relationship to the Khalif and who was partial to the Zindiks, that is, in this case, to the Dualists. He is a reputed author of several books among which there is one whose title was restored by Justi in the _Namenbuch_[1]. The conjecture of Justi that this name should be read Mihr Adar Jushnas is fully supported by a sketch of it in a passage of interest to us in the Fihrist. Justi hesitated to declare whether this was the name of the book or of its author. But in another place in the text this word is accompanied by the designation Al-Mobedan from which we can undoubtedly conclude that this book was ascribed to a particular person, the supreme _Mobed_ Mihr Adar Jushnas. Therefore, this title of the book should be read as that of the book of Mihr Adar Jushnas, the Mobedan. This book stands at the head of the works we are considering in the Fihrist. Therefore, we can fully trace it to the Persian literary tradition.

[Footnote 1: _Namenbuch_ Mahr Adar Jushnes.]

3. Similarly there can be no scepticism regarding the individual nature of the book called the _Book of the Testament of Khusro to his son Ormuz_, the admonition given to the latter when he handed over to him the reins of government and the reply of Ormuz. Flugel already perfectly correctly noticed that by Kisra we must here understand Kisra Anushirvan. In this way in this book or in the first half of it we have certainly the _Andarz Khusro_, the celebrated work in the Pahlavi literature which has been preserved up to our times and which has been translated into the European languages.[1] It contains a number of counsels of Khusro to his son and occupies the place of importance in this species of literature. It is of a pseudo-epigraphic character.

[Footnote 1: See West, 112. The full title is: _Andarz-e-Khusro Kavadan. IV._]

4. With this book is identical another mentioned just there but a little further and entitled the _Book of Counsels of Kisra Anushirvan to his son_ who was called “a well of eloquence”. In this way these third and fourth titles indicate one and the same book sufficiently known in the Persian literary tradition in which we are interested.

5. To the same category belongs another book ascribed to the Kisra. It is possible that in this book we have a treatise identical with the one referred to above as the book of the Testament of Khosro Anushirwan, since in several redactions his testaments are represented as advice to his son while in some they stand as admonition directed to the general public.[1]

[Footnote 1: Salemann, _Mittel-persische Studein, Melanges Asiatiques_, ix, 1888, 218.]

6. Under the sixth heading appears a _Book of Counsels of Ardeshir Babekan to his son Sabur._ This work which was sufficiently known and made use of in the early Moslem period has not come down to us in the original Pahlavi. We know of the existence of a verse translation of this book in the Arabic made by Belazuri (Fihrist, 113 and 114). Moreover, this work was considered as a model composition (probably as represented by Belazuri), and in this connection it was comparable (Fihrist 126, 15-19) to _Kalileh wa Dimneh,_ the Essays of Umar Ibn Hamza,[1] Al Mahanith,[2] the tract called _Yatima_ of Ibn al Mukaffa, and the Essays of Ahmed Ibn Yusuf, secretary of Mamun. In view of the importance attached to this and the following _risalas_ by the author of the Fihrist, it would be interesting to have their editions and translations.

[Footnote 1: A relative of the Khalif Mansur and Mahdi, a secretary of the former Fihrist, 118, 8-12. In the _Kitab al Mansur wal Manzum_ of Ahmed ibn Abi Taher (_vide_ Baron B.P. Rosen, _On the Anthology of Ahmed ibn Abi Taher_, Journal of the Russian Oriental Society, Vol. III, 1889, page 264). The essay probably referred to is called _Rasalat fi al Khamis lil Mamun_. (Or Rislat al Jaysh). See Fihrist, II, 52.]

[Footnote 2: This was probably the title of the epistle of Umar Ibn Hamza to Ali ibn Mahan preserved by the same Ahmed ibn Abi Taher. As regards persons by the name of Mahan in the Musalman period see Justi _Namenbuch_ 185.]

Extracts from this testament especially from its concluding portion, have been handed down to us in the _Kitabat Tambih._[1] They relate to the prophecy of Zaradusht regarding the destruction of the Persian religion and empire in the course of a thousand years after him.[2]

[Footnote 1: By the same Ahmed ibn Abi Taher has been preserved the Essay of this Ahmed ibn Yusuf on “Thankfulness”–_Risalat Ahmed ibn Yusuf fishshukr_ which possibly is referred to by the author of the Fihrist. See also there the highly important _Risalat ibn Mukaffa fissahobat_.

B.G.A. VIII, 98, 16-99, 1. Macoudi, _Le livre de l’avertissement et de la revision_, trad. par Carra de Vaux, Paris, 1897, 141-142.]

[Footnote 2: In connection with this prophecy, as regards the changes which were made in the chronological system of the Persian history see A. Gutschmid, _Kleine Schriften,_ III, Leipzig, 1892. 22-23, and 97, &c.]

It is highly interesting that just like the well-known testament by Tansar to the king of Tabaristan this testament was written at a considerably later period, in the time of Anushirwan.[3]

[Footnote 3: See on this question Christensen 111-112 and Appendix VI.]

Regarding the general character of this apocryphal testament we may judge by the counsels of the founder of the Sasanian dynasty which have come down to us in various Arabic and Persian historical works and in the Shah Nameh.

7. The 7th title refers to the book of a certain _mobedan mobed_ on rhetorical passages which were analogous probably to the anonymous _Pand Namehs_ which are found in the Pahlavi literature.

8. The 8th is the book on the correspondence between the Kisra and a Marzban.[1]

[Footnote 1: Does not this appear like a book containing the correspondence on the well-known episode in the history of the Persians in Yemen and the letters which were exchanged between the Marzban or Mavazan and Khosrau Parviz? (See Noeldeke, Tabari 237, 264, 350-351).]

9-10. The 9th and the 10th titles relate to books of questions directed on a certain occasion by the king of Rome to Anushirwan and on another occasion by the king of Rome to another emperor of Persia.

11. The 11th book refers to the order of Ardeshir to bring out from the treasury books written by Wisemen on “Government.”

12. The 12th book was written for Hormaz, son of Kisra, _i.e.,_ Kisra Anushirwan on the correspondence between a certain Kisra and “Jamasp.”[1]

[Footnote 1: Are we to understand under this name a reference to the well-known Jamasp Hakim occurring in Pahlavi literature (Weat, 110)?

On the Persian wisdom of Jamasp, see C.H.L. Flise, cher _Kleinere Schriften_ 3 Leipzig, 1888, 254-255, and Justi _Namenbuch_, 109.

The name, however, cannot be clearly read, Hadahud (see Fihrist, 316, 13) where instead of Mardyud should be read Mardwaihi. In the same book 162, 6, instead of Zaydyud should be read Zaiduya. As regards the name Hadahud generally, see Justi, 177, who mentions a son of Farrukhzad.]

13. The 13th book is attributed to a certain Kisra and it is added that it treated of gratitude and was written for the benefit of the public.

14. Finally, the 14th heading referred no doubt to one of those Persian books written by Persians bearing Persian names and embodying various stories and anecdotes.

Of the remaining 30 books, 11 belong to the Moslem period but were composed at the time of complete Persian influence on Arabic literature. We have three books on Adab written for Khalif Mahdi, Rashid and for the Barmecide Yahya ibn Khalid. Then there are nine books by authors who are partly unknown and partly belong to the same period of Persian influence and who have been mentioned in other places in the Fihrist.

Of the remaining 19 books a considerable number is to be found to have issued from Persian sources. Of Persian origin probably were two books translated by the aforesaid Mihr Adur Jushnasp–one relating to ‘Adab’ and the other on ‘house-building.’

The book on the refutation of the Zendiks by an unknown author was probably derived from Parsi circles. For, especially in the reign of Mamun there existed various controversies with the followers of Mazdaism and Dualists.[1]

[Footnote 1: A. Barthelemy, Gujastak Abalish. _Relation d’une Conference Theologique, presidee par le Calife Mamoun_, Paris, 1887. (Bibliotheque de l’ecole des hautes etudes, sciences philologiques et historiques, LXIX., fascicule.)]

Further, undoubtedly under Persian books must be reckoned the book of the ‘Counsels’ of ancient kings and the book of the ‘Questions’ to certain Wisemen, and their Answers. If these are not of direct Persian origin they are similar in contents to Persian books. Two books included in this list, namely, one by a certain Christian on ethico-didactical subjects as is stated in the title itself, drawn from Persian, Greek and Arabic sources, and the other, a book translated by the author of the Fihrist himself containing the anecdotes regarding the people of a superior class and of the middle class–these two books on account of their contents embody the experiences relating to ethico-didactical questions and were of the nature of compilation similar to the book of Ibn Miskawaihi of whom we shall speak later on. Finally, all the remaining books relate to that class of anecdotal and didactic literature which spread so wide among Arabic writers through Pahlavi and originating from Indian authors. Such books were, for instance, the story of Despair and Hope, the Book of Hearing and Judgment, the Book of the two Indians, a liberal man and a miser, their disputation, and the judgment passed on them by the Indian prince, etc. That our assumption is highly probable is confirmed by the mention among these books of the book of the philosopher and his experiences with the slave girl Kaytar.[1]

[Footnote 1: This book no doubt is a portion of the well-known fable Lai d’–Aristote preserved in certain ancient monuments of Arabic literature. The same book is mentioned among Persian books in another place in the Fihrist. (305-6). Kitab Musk Zanameh, w[=a] shah Zanan. These two books have been variously transcribed by the copyists.]

The name has been much mutilated and serves as an example of the degree to which Persian titles have been corrupted. Nevertheless, thanks to the circumstance that the name of the slave girl has come down to us, in the Arabic version of the story we are able to trace the title adduced in the Fihrist.[1]

[Footnote 1: Le Livre des beautes et des antithesis attribute a Abu Othman Amr ibn Bahr al-Djahiz texte publie par G. Van Vloten, Leyde, 1898, 225-257; E. G., Browne, “some account of the Arabic work entitled Nihayatu’l-irab fi Akhbari’l Furs wa’l-Arab,” particularly of that part which treats of the Persian kings, J.R.A.S. (900, 243-245).]

This name is Mushk Daneh or a grain of Musk. The book of Musk Daneh and the _mobed_ became famous in Arabic literature as a separate Persian composition.[2]

[Footnote 2: Similarly the title Shahzanan in the Fihrist is possibly Mobedan, (See Browne 244, 2, 3, 11, 15; 245, 4, 15; and Van Vloten 255, 16; 256, 1, 4, 14; 257, 7, 9; or Shaikh al mobedan, Browne 245.)]


The Persian, sources of the compilation of Ibn Miskawaihi 54

Preponderance of the Persian element in the evolution of the Musalman morals 57

The “Book of Adab” by Ibn al Muqaffa and other similar Arabic works 59


At the head of works under the title of ethico didactic writings, which have come down to us stands a group most characteristically denominated _Adab ul Arab val Furs_ belonging to the pen of a writer of the 10th and 11th centuries, Ibn Miskawaihi whose name is pronounced in Persian Ibn Mushkuya. At the basis of this collection lies the ancient Persian pseudepigraphical book _Javidan khired_, or “Eternal wisdom.” But in the body of it there is a series of literary monuments of Sasanian literature and its descendants.[1] The author is known, besides, by his philosophical works, as a historian[2] and as such he is particularly important for the history of the Buides.[3] And his Persian origin would point to his sympathy for Persian literary tradition. As a matter of fact, his ethico-didactic collection is based on a book of the Sasanian epoch. It would appear that this circumstance has undoubted significance for the determination of the influence in the compilation of Moslem ethical ideals. However, in contradiction to this basal fact and notwithstanding that in the province of the development of Islam as a religion, Persian element played an important part,[4] the development of the Moslem ethical tracts in contemporary literature, for the most part, is dependent upon more antique, specially Greek, tradition. J. Goldziher recognizing the importance of the influence of Parsism on Islam says the exact demonstration of the dependence of these phenomena on the culture historical facts, whose consequences they are, would be the most interesting task which those studying Islam in its present position can place before themselves. Many of the dominating views regarding the original spirit of Islam would receive the needed correction by such investigation.

[Footnote 1: On this work and its manuscripts see my _Material from Arab sources_ 68-69.]

[Footnote 2: For Miskawaihi as a philosopher see Boer 116-119.]

[Footnote 3:–He was the treasurer and a close friend of the Buide Adudad-Daula.]

[Footnote 4: For a general sketch of Moslem ethics in ancient times see Carra de Vaux, _Gazali_, 129-142, and _Encyclopaedia of Islam_ 4, 244-246.]

Let us examine three points regarding the influence on Moslem morals and general conduct. In the first place stand the moral writings of ecclesiastical character. The morality is rooted in and based on the moral of the Bible and then on the developed Moslem law and has absorbed in itself some of the elements of the ethics of Christianity. In the second place, there is a series of ethical documents of a most valued nature in the shape of proverbs, dicta, maxims, fables, constituting a kind of moral philosophy, often independent of each other, varied in their character, and different as to time and the place of their compositions. Here we may separate a certain stratum of Persian element, and an analysis of them may reveal partly contemporary knowledge and partly elements of foreign religious ethics. The third but not the last place in importance is occupied by the Greek ethical tradition in which latterly are discernible important Christian constituents. Recent studies have yielded us as their result, this structure of Musalman ethics. But it is to be noted that the theoretical deductions at first sight do not find confirmation in facts. For we do not know which Greek books on ethics were translated in the beginning of the period of the scientific development of Islam, and for the support of our thesis we have to point to the possibility of oral transmission of Hellenic ethical tradition through Syriac scholars, although this circumstance does not militate against our hypothesis. Besides a small amount of translations from Greek ethical works, especially the books of Aristotle, there are observed among the works embodied in this tradition a series of pseudographs which, however, can have only an external relation with the Greek sciences and which would rather lead to the second group of the influences on Musalman ethical monuments namely, the group of monuments of “Oriental wisdom.” The most typical of the pseudographical _wisaya_, or “Testaments” are ascribed to Aristotle, Pythagoras, and others. To our mind, they are derived from Persian tradition to the same extent, if not in a larger extent than from the Christian. Actual studies demonstrate that the basal work for this epoch was the book above-mentioned of Ibn Miskawaihi which as we saw above, issued from Persian literary tradition. And the character of that tradition can be explained from exterior circumstances without an analysis of its contents. The fact is that Ibn Miskawaihi worked upon that class of Persian material, for instance the _Pand Nameh_ or _Andarz_, which had nothing to do with the province of the indefinite gnomic literature but which had the character of a catechism and therefore expresses a definite system of religious morals, the morals of Parsism.[1] The appreciation of the influence of Parsism on Islam has only just commenced. But we are already in a position to emphasise the great influence, which Parsi ethics have exercised on Islam and this influence has been attested by a number of Greek and Christian witnesses. So far, for an acknowledgment of this influence serves a purely external fact, namely, a glance at the bibliography of the ancient ethico-didactic tracts in the Musalman literature and an examination of the contents of the book of Ibn Muskawaihi. A number of additional facts confirm this hypothesis.

[Footnote 1: For a general review of the morals of Parsism see A.V.W. Jackson’s G. I. Ph. Vol. II, 678-683.]

Well-known is the importance enjoyed in the beginning of the epoch of the development of the Arabic Musalman literature, by the activities of the Parsi Ibn al Muqaffa.[1] He is famous as the first commentator of the Greek books on logic in Arabic literature, but he is particularly renowned as the efficient supporter of the Persian literary tradition and its translator into the Arabic literature. His rendering of _Kalila and Dimma_ is well-known. It enjoys a prime role in the migration of this collection of stories to the West. Well-known also is his translation of the Persian book of _Khoday Nameh_,–that is, the official chronicle of the Sasanian times and of the _Ain Nameh_, the Institutes of the time. We shall have occasion to speak about these books later on. To him also belong the books closely connected with the Sasanian epoch, namely, the _Book of Mazdak_ the _Book of Taj_ to which we shall refer further on. It is interesting that he is also the reputed author of two books on Adab, perhaps among the most ancient ones in Arabic literature.[2] One of these books called the Smaller was probably contained in the other which is called the Larger and has the purely Persian title of Mah farra Jushnas. (This is how the title is to be read according to Hoffmann and Justi).[3] Since the interest of Muqaffa was concentrated in the province of Persian culture it is indisputable that his activity was not confined in this direction to one book and the contents of the book have vestiges in a high degree of dependence on Persian motifs. This is proved by a variety of circumstances. We have descended to us his book called _Al Yatima_, a tract on that aspect of morals which was especially diffused in the Sasanian epoch and was devoted to politics and in form represented the species of writings called Furstenspiegel.[4] A tradition of this kind of literature for long continued to live in the Musalman writers and the typical representative of the species seems to be the famous _Siyasat Nameh_, of Nizam-ulmulk, the Saljuk Wazir. On some occasions it directly serves as a source for the internal history of the Sasanian domination. It bears particularly on didactic literature though it has been as yet very ill studied from the comparative standpoint. The Sasanian influence is perfectly obvious. Some portions of Al Yatima of Ibn Muqaffa may be parallelled to corresponding remnants from Pahlavi literature in the _Kabus Nameh_ and the _Siasat Nameh._[5] We know further that books under the title of Persian Adab were spread among those who sympathised with Mazdaism and Manichism in the circle of Moslem society.[6] These books by their character were comparable to books on Mazdak but also to Kalila wa Dimna.

[Footnote 1: Fihrist, 118, 18-29, and Ibn al Qifti’s _Tarkh al hukama_ edited by Lippert, page 220, 1-10.]

[Footnote 2: Brockelmann, On the rhetorical writings of Ibn all Mukaffa, Z.D.M.G. 53, 231-32.]

[Footnote 3: Hoffmann “Extracts from Syrian acts of Persian martyrs”, 1880 page 289 note, and Justi, _Namenbuch_ 186.]

[Footnote 4: Precise information regarding its contents is rather to be found in Ibn al Qifti than in the _Fihrist_. In the former the heading is _Fi taat us Sultan_, in the latter _Fi rasail._ See _La perle incomparable ou_ l’art du parfait courtisane de Abdallah ibn al-Muqaffa, 1906. See the French translation from the Dutch rendering of this tract.]

[Footnote 5: On the political ideas of the latter see Pizzi, Le idee politiche di Nizam-ul-Mulk G.S.A. 1., 131-141.]

[Footnote 6: Tabari “Annales” Vol. 3, 1309, 9-15, and Browne A literary History of Persia, 1, 332.]

Besides Muqaffa a number of writers of the epoch of the development of Arabic Musalman literature interested themselves in themes connected with Persian antiquities. One of them, Aban Ibn Abdul Humiad ar Rakashi otherwise known as Aban al-Lahiki chose a number of themes from ancient Persian literature and according to the Fihrist versified them (119, 1-6-163, 7-10). Such subjects were–_Kalila and Dimna,_ the _Book of Barlaam and Yuasef, the Book of Sindbad_, the _Book of Mazdak_ and finally books on two popular representative of the Sasanian dynasty, namely, the _Book of the acts of Ardasher_ and the _Book of the acts of Anushirvan._[1]

[Footnote 1: Versification of the history of Anushirvan is also to be met with in later Parsi literature, see, Sachau, Contribution to the knowledge of the Parsi literature, J.R.A.S. 1870 page 258.]

Another author, Ahmed Ibn Tahir Taifur, wrote according the Fihrist (146, 21) a special Book of Hormuz son of Kisra Anushirvan.[1] No doubt, further more, writers of Persian origin followed in their books on _Adab_ Persian models. Such probably was the book of Adab by an author whose name has been mutilated in the Fihrist (139, 15, 18). There is another class of writings which bears relation to this one and which is mentioned in the Fihrist. It is quite possible that on this literary Persian tradition, were based also some of the tracts under the title of “_Books on counsels_” a considerable number of which we meet with in the Fihrist.[2]

[Footnote 1: See the essay of Baron Rosen on the anthology of Ahmed Ibn Abi Tahir.]

[Footnote 2: 78, 15; 105, 10; 293, 12; 204, 17-18; 204, 29; 207, 21; 210, 23; 212, 22-23; 217, 4-5; 220, 25; 222, 14; 234, 23; 281, 20; 282, 5.]

Ethico-didactical treatises in the form of counsels, maxima or testaments, constitute a singular group of literary mementos the genesis of which in the Musalman literature maybe established only after an examination of similar books in the Persian writings of the Sasanian times. Examples of a like class of testaments, literary compilations under the title, for the most part, of pseudo-graphs going up to pre-Moslem period we have already noticed in the _Book of the counsels of Ardasher_ and the _Pand Nameh_ of Kisra Anushirvan.


The _Taj Nameh_ as mentioned in the Fihrist page 305, and page 118, and repeatedly referred to in the _Uyunal Akhbar_, Part I, of Ibn Kutayba 65

The Persian book with illustrations mentioned by Masudi in his _Kitab at Tambih_, page 106-7 and the illustrations in the scrolls in the castle of Shiz 68


We have indicated in the preceding chapter the translations of Ibn al Muqaffa from Persian books into Arabic. Besides those of an ethico-didactic contents, among them there were books of historical character. All these translations have not come down to us. Extracts of these renderings into Arabic, however, have been preserved in the original and sometimes in paraphrase. Unusually important was the translation of the book called the _Khuday Nameh,_ the value of which has long been appreciated by science. Questions of vital importance in connection with this history are its relation to the _Shah Nameh_ and the examination of its various translations in the Musalman period. The loss of this book, perhaps the most important monument of Middle Persian literature, is to be particularly deplored in that with it has perished the connecting link of the historical evolution of Iran, incorporating the religious and clerical legislature in an official redaction. Of capital importance also was another book called the Ain Nameh[1] or the Book of Institutes, a valuable source of the internal history of the Sasanian Empire, comprising a descriptive table of official dignitaries or the _Gah Nameh._[2] Judging by the clue given in the Fihrist (118,28) it would appear that the _Book of Taj_ also was a historical one since it has been explained that the book treated of the “Acts of Anushirwan.” As a matter of fact, among the books written by the Persians on epic and historical subjects and indexed in the same Fihrist (305, 8-13) has been mentioned the _Book of Taj._[3]

[Footnote 1: See below and also my book on _The Materials from Arabic sources,_ &c., 63-66. Like Masudi in his _Kitab_ at Tambih, Asadi in his _Lughal al-Furs_ (Asadi’s _neupersischen Worterbuch Lughat al-Furs,_ edited by P. Horn, 1897, 110, 1), identifies the word _ain_ with the word _rasam,_ practice or custom. As regards the word _ain_ in the Iranian languages see Horn _Grundriss der neu persischen Etymologie_, 15-16; Hubschmann, _Persische Studien_ 11, and B.G.A. IV, 175, and VIII, Glossarium IX. To understand the ancient usage of the term the modern Parsi expression _Dad wa ain din_ in the sense of religious law and custom helps us. In this phrase the word _dad_ corresponds to the modern Musalman _shariyat_ and the word _ain_ to _adat_. Regarding its special meaning in the Umayyad times see J. Wellhausen _Das Arabische Reich und sein Sturz_ 189.]

[Footnote 2: Most probably in connection with the materials of this book stood A collection of Persian genealogy written by the well-known Ibn Khurdadbeh (Fihrist 149, 4), representing a peculiar antithesis to the numerous selections of Arab tribal and family genealogies.]

[Footnote 3: Here are first mentioned the two books translated by Jabala ibn Salim, namely, the _Book of Rustam and Isfandiyar_ and the _Book of Behram Chobin_ (the well-known Romance of the King about which, sea Noeldeke’s Tabari 474-478), and further the _Book of Shahrzad and Aberviz_ (which no doubt was connected with the _Thousand and one Nights_), the _Book of Kar Nameh_ or the “Acts” of Anushirwan belonging to the same class of books as the _Kar Nameh of Ardashir_. Then the books that interest us are the _Book of Taj_, the _Book of Dara and the Golden Idol_, the _Ain Nameh_, the _Book of Behramgor and his brother Narseh_ and finally, one more _Book of Anushirwan._]

It is possible that the book of Ibn al Mukaffa was not the first translation of the Persian book since this title is applied by not a few other Arabic writers of the time to some of their own works. (For example, Abu Ubaida, See Goldziher _Muhammed Studien_ 1,198).

In his time Baron Rosen called attention to quotations from a certain _Book of Taj_ in _Uyunal Akhbar_ of Ibn Qutaiba.[1] These quotations are only to be found in the first part of the _Uyunal Akhbar_. All these quotations, eight in number, bear a didactic character, and excepting three, refer back to Kisra Abarviz and contain his testament to his sons (two), secretaries, treasurers and _hajibs_. Of the remaining three one bears on general maxims of practical politics. Another is a testament of an ancient Persian king to his Wazir. And the third is a maxim of one of the secretaries of a king. In this manner all these citations are of an ethicodidactic nature; only they have been invested with a historical environment and under ordinary circumstances would represent the general type of writings on political conduct for rulers, standing for the class of literature designated _Furstenspiegel_. A similar class of citations is preserved in the “speeches from the throne” and the counsels of the Sasanian kings which we come across in various Arab historical and anthological works bearing on Sasanian Persia, as also in the Shah Nameh.

[Footnote 1: Baron Rosen, Zur arabischen Literatur geschichte der altern zeit, 1. Ibn Qutaiba; _Kitab Uyunal Akhbar_ (Melanges Asiatiques, VIII, 1880, 745-779, especially 774-775). These citations correspond to those in the edition of Brockelmann as follows: 21, 12-16; 27, 11-15; 32, 2-8; 44, 13-45, 4; 67, 13-66, 8; 84, 8-16; 107, 2-17; 120, 16-121, 5.]

Gutschmid already noticed in his time that by the Persian historians to each Sasanian ruler was ascribed a maxim and indicated that with reference to Ardashir and Anoshiravan these maxims may be taken as the basis since the _Book of Counsels_ of the former was well-known and a large number of edifying proverbs of the latter had found admittance into the national language.[1] Let us add that, as we showed above, there has been preserved a similar class of _Books of Counsels_, the reputed author of which is Anoshiravan. The putative dicta of the other Sasanian kings Gutschmid considered as fabricated being designed to be brief characterisations of each of them. Gutschmid further advanced the conjecture that these apophthegms formed the texts under the portraits of the kings in the book which was used by Hamza Ispahani[2] and which was seen by Masudi.[3] According to the information supplied us by the latter (Masudi) he saw this book in Istakhr in an aristocratic Persian family, and that it included, besides information of a scientific character, the history of the Persian kings and their reigns and a description of the monuments erected by them.[4] In the book were the portraits of the Sasanians and it was based on the documents found in the royal archives. And the portraits also were prepared from the materials deposited there. The book was completed in A.H. 113 (A.D. 731), and it was translated for the Khalif Hisham from the Persian into the Arabic language.

[Footnote 1: Gutschmid, Kleine schriften, III, 35-36.]

[Footnote 2: About this book see Gutschmid, III, 150-151.]

[Footnote 3: B.G.A. VIII, 106, 5-107, 5. Translation by Carra de Vaux 150-151. See Christensen 90-91.]

[Footnote 4: Gutschmid 150, 151.]

We called attention above to the information supplied by Istakhri and Ibn Haukal regarding the castle of Shiz and the preservation in it of the archives and the portraits of the Sasanian kings. It is highly probable that for the reproduction of these portraits of the sovereigns the authors were guided as much by the bas-reliefs, not far from this castle, as by the tradition regarding them which was embalmed in older books belonging to the class mentioned by Masudi which undoubtedly existed in the Imperial archives.[1] Along with the literary tradition there must have survived the artistic tradition. It is highly probable that the peculiar Persian art of illuminating manuscripts which was yet unknown according to Masudi in his own time,–the embellishing of books with gold, silver, and copper dust was practised by the Manichians whose calligraphy[2] delighted the Musalman authors and whose style of illustrating manuscripts must have been fashioned after the art displayed in those books which in the tenth century were preserved in the castle of Shiz[3] and which at an earlier period were widely desseminated among the Parsi circles.

[Footnote 1: Connected with ancient tradition, but dependant upon modern science, are the portraits of the Sasanian kings in the recently published _Nameh Khusrawan_, Tehran 1285, (A.D. 1868).]

[Footnote 2: In connection with the art of the Persian calligraphist and illustrative of the Sasanian epoch stand the indications of the ancient Moslem writers regarding the Avesta, which is reported to have been inscribed by Zoroaster in gold ink on parchment and also writings in gold ink of certain ancient Persian books. According to the _Zafar Nameh_, Anushirwan directed that the maxims of Buzurjamihr should be written down in golden water,–(ba-abizar). From early Sasanians also comes the custom of writing on valuable parchment or paper. Masudi speaks of the purple ink of these books.]

[Footnote 3: See Browne, “A Literary History”, I, 165-166.]

Now we revert to the supposition of Gutschmid. Had he known the quotations from the _Book of Taj_ in _Uyunal Akhbar_ he would have adduced them in confirmation of his hypothesis, and he would have compared the book mentioned by Masudi with the _Book of Taj_ referred to among the Persian books enumerated in the Fihrist. On the basis of the last-mentioned work it may be affirmed that in the Sasanian times there existed a certain _Taj Nameh_ comparable to the _Khuday Nameh_ and _the Ain Nameh_. The extracts in the _Uyunal akhbar_ do not contain anything of a special nature with reference to king Anushirwan so that the _Book of Taj_ on the “Acts of Anushirwan” mentioned in the Fihrist among the books of Ibn al Mukaffa could hardly have comprised what has been quoted in _Uyunal akhbar_. The materials at our disposal are too scanty to establish its relation with the Sasanian _Book of Taj_.[1]

[Footnote 1: The supposition (Zotenberg, Thaalibi XLI,) according to which Firdausi saw an illustrated “Book of Kings” rests on a misunderstanding. The fact is that certain verses have been incorrectly translated by Mohl (IV, 700-701, Verses 4071-4075).

Mohl translated the passage as follows: “There was an aged man named Azad Serw who lived at Merv in the house of Ahmad son of Sahl; _he possessed a book of kings in which were to be found the portraits and figures of the Pehlwans_. He was a man with a heart replete with wisdom and a head full of eloquence, and a tongue nourished with ancient tradition; he traced his origin to Sam, son of Nariman, and he knew well the affairs regarding the fights of Rustam.”

A more correct translation would be: “There was a certain old man by name of Azad Serw living in Merv with Ahmad son of Sahl. _He had a Book of Kings. In figure and face he was a warrior_; his heart was full of wisdom, his head full of eloquence, and in his mouth there ever were stories of the ancient times. He traced his origin back to Sam, son of Nariman, and preserved in his memory many a tale of the battles of Rustam.”]


The list of the translators from Persian into Arabic as given in the Fihrist, (244, 25-245, 6) 75

The different categories of these translators

Omar ibn al Farrukhan of Tabaristan (Fihrist 273, 14-18) and his _Kitab al Mahasin_ 79

Other authors of books of analogous titles in the first centuries of Islam,–the relation of these books to the books of “Virtues and Vices” (cf. Baihaqi, pseudo-Jahiz) and the connection of these books with the Parsi religious idea of the licit and the illicit,–_Al Mahasin wal Masavi_, and the _Shayast la Shayast_. 83


In the Fihrist (244, 25-245, 6) are stated a number of names of the principal translators from the Persian into the Arabic language. Assuredly this list is far from complete. The author names only a few calling attention to only particular translators. The passage in question in the Fihrist has been more than once utilised. The entire section has not been exhaustively examined. We believe that from it we can infer the general character of the contents of those translations which were prepared from Persian into Arabic and can gather some further indices regarding this list of names.

To examine the list of translators in order. First of all as may be expected is mentioned Ibn al Muqaffa about whom the Fihrist speaks in detail at another place. Then follow the family of Naubakht; Musa and Yusuf, the sons of Khalid; Abul Hasan Ali ibn Zyad at Tamimi–of his principal translations is mentioned “the Tables of Shahriyar;” Hasan ibn Sahal mentioned at the head of astronomers; Balazuri; Jabala ibn Salem, secretary of Hisham; Ishak ibn Yazid, translator of the Persian history entitled _Khuday Nameh_; Muhammad ibn al Jahm al Barmaki; Hisham ibn al Kasim; Musa ibn Isa al Kisravi; Zaduya ibn Shahuya al Isfahani; Muhammad ibn Behram al Isfahani; Behram ibn Mardanshah, Mobed mobedan of the City of Sabur in Fars; Umar ibn al Farrukhan of whom special mention is made by the author of the Fihrist.

An examination of the aforesaid names of translators in order would, it seems to us, afford material for the solution of the problem regarding the different varieties of Persian literary tradition in the first centuries of Islam. Ibn al Muqaffa stands in the first place belonging to him by right. He was a genuine encyclopaedic translator familiar with the Arab society with all its influence of spiritual Sasanian life of Persia finding expression in its literature. He translated scientific, epico-historical, and ethico-didactic books. Hence we can understand that in the Fihrist has been assigned to him a special notice as noted by us above.

The family of Naubakht, mentioned next, represents a group of scholars mentioned separately in the Fihrist.[1] The head of the Naubakhts, was an astronomer to the Khalif Mansur and his son Abu Sahl succeeded to his father’s occupation. The grandsons of Naubakht wrote books on astronomy as well as jurisprudence. Persian literary tradition is earliest recognised in the astronomical works of the grandsons of Naubakht. The author of the Fihrist places this Hasan ibn Sahl, as already indicated by Flugel, at the head of astronomers. And the same scientific character no doubt was attached to the activities of Musa and Yusuf,[2] the sons of Khalid mentioned there as well as at Tamimi, the author of the astronomical tables _Zichash Shahriyar_. In this manner these translators mentioned after Ibn al Mukaffa constituted in a manner a peculiar group of scholars who prepared translations from Pahlavi into Arabic.

[Footnote 1: 176, 20-177, 9; 177, 9-19; 274, 7-13; 275, 25-6. See Ibn al Kifti 165, 1-5 and 409, 3-14.]

[Footnote 2: See Ibn al Kifti, 1711, 10-11.]

Balazuri and Jabala ibn Salem have already been mentioned above. The first translated into verse a Book of the Counsels of Ardeshir and the second the Book of Rustam and Isfandiyar as well as the romance of Behram Chobin. In this way the themes handled by these writers may be called epico-historical and ethico-didactic. Purely historical questions interested the seven succeeding translators from Ishaq ibn Yazid to Mobed Behram. These persons are sufficiently known in their special departments of literature. They were the translators into the Arabic language of the _Khuday Nameh_.[1] Accordingly we may group them in a class by themselves.

[Footnote 1: Compare the essay of Rosen mentioned above _On the question of the Arabic translations of the Khuday Nameh_, 173-176, and 182-186.]

The next author mentioned at this place in the Fihrist as a translator stands by himself,–Umar ibn al Farrukhan. He is altogether unknown as a translator of historical works. Hence he was not included in the group of persons mentioned before. On the other hand, had he been set down in this passage of the Fihrist as a translator of scientific works he would have been assigned a place not at the close of the list but in the middle of the translators of this class of books, that is, after Ibn Muqaffa and in the midst of the descendants of Naubakht and other persons mentioned above. Therefore we think that Umar ibn Farrukhan was a translator of another species of work or, may be, works. In support of our assumption we must call attention to that place in the Fihrist where are enumerated the books of this author and to which an-Nadhin himself refers in the analysis of the number of translators from Persian into Arabic.

Besides this place in the Fihrist, Umar ibn Farrukhan of Tabaristan has been mentioned in two other places. Once briefly,[1] (268, 25-26) as the annotator of the astronomical book of Dorotheya Sidonia and in another place (277, 14-18) in a few lines[2] specially devoted to him. Here he is mentioned as the annotator of Ptolemy as translated by Batrik Yahuya ibn al Batrik and as the author of two books, one of astronomical contents and the other entitled _Kitab al Mahasin_, that is the book of good qualities and manners.[3] This latter book demands a few lines from us.

[Footnote 1: Ibn al Qifti 184, 9–10.]

[Footnote 2: Ibn al Kifti 241, 20-242, 12. (This has been pointed out in the Fihrist Vol. II, 110-111, and in ZDMG XXV, 1871, 413–415.) Further mention of him in the same book 98, 9 and 184, 10.]

[Footnote 3: An account of the literary activity of this author was given in the work of H. Suter, _Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber und ihre Werke_, Abhandiungen Zur Geschichte der mathematischer Wissenschaften Supplement zum, 45 Jahrgang der Zeitschrift fur Mathematik und Physik, Leipzig, 1900, 7-8. Haji Khalfa cites only the astrological books of Omar Ibn Farrukhan I, 198 and V, 35, 386. See also Justi _Namenbuch_ 95, Nos. 15 and 19.]

Umar ibn Farrukhan is mentioned in the section of books on astronomy, mathematics, physics, mechanics, and music. In this group are mentioned a number of writers who composed works on these sciences, beginning with Euclid and ending with the contemporary authors of an-Nadhin. In the midst of them, an-Nadhin has also mentioned the grandsons of Naubakht. Not one of them wrote any _Kitab al Mahasin_ which appears, therefore, to be the independent work of Umar ibn Farrukhan. This book, further, could not have been of a scientific astronomical, or mathematical nature as is obvious from its subject-matter which related to good manners and conduct. This book has been mentioned in this group only because here are enumerated the works of Umar ibn Farrukhan. And good manners and conduct constituted, as we saw above, a favourite theme of Parsi literature: wherefor the book heads the list. Similar to it are the contents not only of _Andarzes_ and _Pand Namehs_ but of a series of tracts on religious subjects. Hence we think that it was mainly owing to this book that Umar ibn Farrukhan was included among the number of principal translators from Persian into Arabic and came to be enumerated among the translators to whom is ascribed a certain amount of speciality. For he was the solitary representative of his category of translators of ethicodidactic books intimately connected with the problems of the Paris religion. Possibly Umar ibn Farrukhan was the first to introduce this species of literature into Arabic, and we must add, employed for his material as well as ideas Parsi tracts. Originally from Tabaristan, he, in the words of Ibn al Qifti, was introduced to Abu Maashar al Balkhi, stood well with Jaffer the Barmecide, and subsequently with Fazl ibn Sahl, the Wazir who recommended him to his sovereign al-Mamum. And for this Khalif Mamun he prepared a number of translations. The sympathy of these persons for the Persian literary tradition could not have been confined to the translation of scientific works, but must have extended to the preservation of Persian ethico-didactic tradition in literature.

Books with the title of _Kitab al Mahasin_ are to be met with in the Fihrist, if not often, several times. A book with this title (77, 21) has been ascribed to the celebrated Ibn Qutaiba. It was composed doubtless after the book of Umar ibn Farrukhan, for Qutaiba flourished at the close of the reign of Mamun and his literary activities could be referred to the ninth century. Qutaiba undoubtedly interested himself in Persian literary materials. Hence it can be concluded that his _Kitab al Mahasin_ was not foreign to the materials and in form could be the first imitation of Farrukhan. Further it is interesting to note that books with this title were attributed especially to Shia authors such as Abu Nadar Muhamed ibn Masud al Ayashi who wrote _Kitab al Mahasin al Akhlak_ or a book of good morals (195, 10) and Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Khallid al Barki who wrote _Kitab al Mahasin_ (2213-4, also 7-9). And the interest of Shia authors in Persian tradition was unquestionable. A book with the same title of _Kitab al Mahasin_ is ascribed to a certain Ibn al Harun, (148, 17) an author who has been assigned in the Fihrist a place among the writers on Adab and as responsible for a book called _Kitab al Adab_. Now the discussion of Adab as we said above is intimately connected with Persian tradition. And this tradition probably survived in the books which had for their theme “the good qualities of Adab.”[1] We believe that all these books were devoted to Persian literary tradition, in close relation to which stands the book on “good qualities and manners” mentioned in the Fihrist as translated from the Persian language into Arabic by the man from Tabaristan, Umar ibn al Farrukhan.

[Footnote 1: For instance, _Mahasin al Adab of Ispahani_, see Brockelmann, _Geschichte der Arabischen Litterature_ I. 351.]

Co-related with these books on “good qualities” stand, in our opinion, the books on “good morals and their opposite,” or “goodness and wickedness,” _Kutub al Mahasin wal Azdad_, or _Kutub al Mahasin wal Masawi_. Although in the Fihrist we do not come across books with this title, we have a book so named from the beginning of the tenth century whose author was Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al Baihaki.[1] Under the title of _Kitab al Mahasin wal Azdad_ we likewise possess a work ascribed to Jahiz.[2] Both these books evidently go to a common origin.[3] It is quite possible that antithesis was originally not excluded from these _Kutub al-Mahasin_, from which were developed a special species of educative treatises,–those on “good qualities and their opposites.” Continuing our comparison with the Parsi literature, we notice that a similar kind of antithesis is most commonly employed there.

[Footnote 1: Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al Baihaki, _Kitab al-Mahasin val masavi_, herausgegeben von Dr. F. Schwally, Geissen 1902.]

[Footnote 2: _Le livre des beautes et des antithesis attribue a Abu Othman Amr ibn Bahr al-Djakiz_, texte arabe publie par G. Van Vloten Leyde; 1898.]

[Footnote 3: See the review by Barbier de Meynard of the edition of _Mahasin wal Azdad_ in the Revue Citique, 1900, 276.]

In the Parsi ecclesiastical literature of an ethical nature we find definitely settled what is “proper” and, on the other hand, what is “improper.”[1] It is well known that books under this title,–“the proper and the improper” or “the licit and the illicit”–are to be found among the Pahlavi tracts the time of whose composition can be fixed somewhere between the seventh and the ninth centuries A.D.[2] Comparing the Pahlavi tracts with reference to these questions with Arabic books on good and bad qualities and manners, we have to bear in mind the general features, general outline, as well as the conditions of civilisation of the period when these books were written, in other words, the circumstances of their intimate relation generally of a cultural nature, particularly of a literary form obtaining between the Arab and Persian nations, and between Islam and Parsism. Not only in detail, but also in their nature these books must be differentiated in proportion as were different the clergy who wrote these ethical tracts from didactic works of a strong legendary element belonging to the pen of secular people. These literary monuments must be differentiated quite as much as their authors and with reference to them we may institute the same parallel which we suggested above between the Parsi clergy and the Iranophile party of the Shuubiya.

[Footnote 1: Shayed-na-shayed.]

[Footnote 2: _Shayast la-shayast_ West Pahlavi Texts, Part I, 1880. Sacred Books of the East, Vol. V. 237-407.]

Furthermore, associated with these literary features was also that class of Arabic books, so well known and the period of which interests us, the books on _Questions and Answers._[1]

[Footnote 1: Kitab al Masael wa Jawabat.]

And this is precisely the form in which some of the better known of the Parsi books have been cast, for instance, the _Minog-i-Khrad_[1] and the _Dadistan_[2] The second of these books decidedly belongs to the ninth century. Its contents no doubt, were strongly divergent from others owing to its dependence on altered conditions.

[Footnote 1: Sacred Books of the East, Vol. XXIV, 1-15.]

[Footnote 2: Sacred Books of the East XVIII, 1-277.]

We have already indicated the importance of the citations in early Arabic anthologies incorporated from Persian historical works.[1] This nature of quotations are to be found also in books on “good and bad morals and conduct.” Further we find embedded in Arabic works a considerable amount of matter of great importance, a circumstance of vital moment for the investigation of the survival of Persian literary tradition. A number of passages similar to those found in these books are undoubtedly embodied in various Arabic anthologies. We give below from the two works _al Mahasin wal Masavi_ and _al Mahasin wal Azdad_ extracts bearing on Persian subjects.[2]

[Footnote 1: See Noeldeke “National Epos” 13.]

[Footnote 2: See Part II.]

The list of Persian subjects comprised in these Arabic books afford us a sufficient idea of the wealth and variety of the material on these points to be recovered from Arabic discourses on manners and morals.


The Book of Ali Ibn Ubaida ar Raihani


We spoke above about the Arabic writer Ali ibn Ubayd ar Rayhani who was prone to Persian cultural tradition in general and to the literary tradition in particular. Besides the ethico-didactic book, _Mehr Adar Jushnas_, he is the reputed author of a book on Adab which has a Persian title (Fihrist 1, 119, 22 and II, 52),[1] and also another book the title of which could not be deciphered by Flugel when he edited the text of the Fihrist, (Fih. 119, 21). The title consists of two words which can be read conjecturally as _Rushna nibik_.[2] Such a name of a book we know to exist in Middle Persian literature.[3]

[Footnote 1: _Kitab Adab Jawanshir_].

[Footnote 2: As regards the mutilation of Persian proper names in the Fihrist, such comparatively wellknown books as _Khuday_ Nameh appear in some of the manuscripts of the Fihrist as Baktiyar Nameh instead of _bakhuday Nameh_; see Rosen’s essay on the Translations of the Khuday Nameh, 177.]

[Footnote 3: West; Sacred Books of the East Vol. V. page 241, note 1, and Sacred Books of the East Vol. III, 169. [The first authority is not quite clear to me. The second authority is evident: “writing which the glorified Roshna, son of Atur-frobag, prepared–for which he appointed the name of the _Roshan Nipik_.” Tr.] _Re_ the name of Rushen see Justi