Amir Khusrau




  2. I’jaz-i-Khusrawi is his literary prose work that defines styles of writing, and provides elaborate descriptions of various cultural and artistic traditions of his time. It is divided into five volumes with creative discussions on rhetoric, prosody, collectives, figures of speech, chronograms, logic, philosophy and Islamic jurisprudence. In writing each volume Amir Khusrau has discussed different sciences in epistles, documents and letters addressed to friends and relatives.

    Volume one preface begins with a Hamd (praise of God), followed by a Na't (Praise of the Prophet) and a Mankabat (Praise of Ali or a saint) of Sheikh Nizamuddin Auliya. It contains the praise of Sultan Alauddin Khilji in which a number of achievements of the Sultan have been mentioned. It deals with nine styles of prose writing, which were invented by the predecessors and cotemporaries of Khusrau.

    Volume two consists of specimens of farmans (Kings orders), parvanas (Documents issued by the governors) and other letters. In the epistles, Khusrau displays his knowledge of astronomy and   views about political economy. Here Khusrau is the first to state that the sun is central to the solar system and that the light reflected by it makes all satellites and stars shine.

    Volume three is comparatively thin and contains two khats. The first one is divided into several brief sections relating to old usages and alterations. The second one is composed of fifteen harfs concerning new styles of writing invented by Amir Khusrau.

    Volume four is an important source of information about the life and culture in the Sultanate of Delhi. Volume five contains a number of documents and letters. It begins with the praise of God, which is followed by the Sultan’s confession of his duties.
    Details of image: Tughra stating Mohammad as the Prophet of God. Detail from the metal door leading to the dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin from the baoli (step well). Photo: Prashant Banerjee.

  4. This short history of the reign of Sultan Alaauddin Khilji was completed by Khusrau in 711 AH and it narrates the events that took place between 695 AH and 711 AH. Khusrau himself gives the reason for its composition as follows:
    “The humble slave Khusrau whose pen, in spite of all its power and versatility, is unable to compass the barest fraction of the glorious king's praises, had been destined to sing of the glories of this reign, and God in His bounty opened to him the doors of all the treasures in the sky and on the earth giving him such jewels as had been denied even to men like Buhtari and Abu Tammam. Yet still these priceless jewels were not worthy of being scattered on the heaven-like threshold of the mighty monarch. But as nowhere in the market of nature could one obtain a better commodity, I had, perforce, to be content with stringing them together for a present in the hope that they will be accepted by the king who is an ocean of generosity. When I saw that the wry and twisted words of this slave won the benign approval of
    the king, I was tempted to try my hand in prose, as I had done in poetry for perchance the king may deign to look at my composition as the sun looks at the capable stone. Although my pen has always been devoted to poetry and has left untouched the beauties of prose, I dare present this bride to the king, knowing that the eye of great men does not pry into defects. If I had an eternal life I could not spend it better than in singing the praises of the king, but as I know that life is short, I had to be content with having just a handful of water from the unfathomable sea of his excellence.”

    The contents of the work are as follows:

    • Alauddin’s expedition to Deogir when(695 H.).
    • His march on Delhi and accession to the throne the same year.
    • The measures adopted by him for the spread of peace and prosperity in the
      kingdom, and for the suppression of heresy and unlawful practices.
    • His buildings : The Jami' Masjid, the Alai Minar, the ramparts of Delhi, and the
      Shamsi tank .
    • His successful campaigns against the Mongols and the dire punishment meted out
      to them.
    • The Conquest of Gujarat (698 AH) and of Ranthambhor (700 AH)
    • The Conquest of Malwa (750 AH); of Chitor (703 H.)
    • Punitive expedition against Deogir, under Malik Kafur (706 AH) and the Conquest
      of Siwana by the king himself in 708 H.
    • The Conquest of Tilang (Talingana) by Malik Kafur, 709 AH
    • The Conquest of Ma'bar by Malik Kafur, 710 H. and the return of the victorious
      armies to Delhi in 711 H .

    Khusrau concludes with a short epilogue containing excuses for what he calls an imperfect and faulty composition, and prays to God to make it acceptable to the king and popular with all men.
    Details of image: Folio from Khazain ul Futuh. Courtesy: Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Arabic Persian Research Institute, Tonk, Rajasthan

  6. Afzal-ul-Fawaid is comparatively a short piece of work. It is a collection of the sayings of Nizamuddin Auliya. written in imitation of his contemporary Hasan Sijzi's, Fawaid -ul- Fuad. Its language is extremely easy, and unadorned by any figures of speech, providing a good specimen of Persian as it was spoken in Khusrau's time.

    There is very little in this work that would attract the attention of an ordinary reader, but elements of useful information may be gleaned here and there by one interested in things spiritual. One may also, incidentally, find a few details about Khusrau's own spiritual career, and, something about his contemporaries, who frequented the assemblies of the saint and listening to his saintly utterances or to the more convivial songs of the qawwals that kept them awake and restless with spiritual ecstasy. It is divided into four parts. The first part opens with a high-flown eulogy of the saint, and describes the poet's formal initiation into his spiritual circle in 713 AH., when the saint gave him a four cornered cap and an upper vest (barani). Khusrau presented this portion to the saint in Jumad II, 719 AH., and the saint granted him permission to continue the work, praising his efforts very highly, and giving away as a reward his own cap and robe. The second part, commenced after 719 AH., and was evidently left incomplete by Khusrau.
    Details of image: A folio from Afzal-ul-Fawaid. Collection: Darul Musannefin, Azamgarh.