AḤMAD ḴᵛĀJAGĪ B. JALĀL-AL-DĪN KĀSĀNĪ (866/1461-62—949/1542-43), known as MAḴDŪM-E AʿẒAM, Sufi, author of about thirty religious treatises, political activist, and founding ancestor of two important saintly lineages of Naqšbandī ḵᵛāǰagān. He was born into a family of sayyeds of Kāsān in the Farḡāna valley. As a youth he farmed for a living, then in Tashkent became a disciple of the Naqšbandī pīr Moḥammad Qāżī b. Borhān-al-dīn (d. 921/1515-16), a ḵalīfa of Ḵᵛāǰa Aḥrār (d. 895/1490). In the conditions of the time, the Naqšbandī ṭarīqa provided a link between nomad tribes, the artisan guild life of the cities and towns, and the cultivating population of the villages. As a leading Naqšbandī pīr, Kāsānī was able to use his broad following to wrest concessions from Central Asian rulers. He obtained the patronage of the Uzbek ruler of Karmīna, Jānī Beg b. Ḵᵛāǰa Moḥammad, and his sons, and he also won the patronage of the Uzbek khan, ʿObaydallāh, who gave Kāsānī enough gold to build a Naqšbandī hostel in Bokhara and housed him near the khan’s own quarters. Kāsānī helped force Baraq Khan b. Süyüṇč to lift his siege of Bokhara. Even Saʿīd Khan of the Mughals sent a gift to the Kāsān Naqšbandīs. Kāsānī died at his estate in the village of Dahbīd outside Samarqand, leaving as a legacy his reputation for sanctity and scholarship, his political role, and much property in waqf both in Mā Warāʾ-al-nahr and in Altïšahr. Although Kāsānī himself never visited Altïšahr, it was there that his descendants played their main historical role, dividing into two saintly lineages, the Esḥāqīya (called Qarataḡlïq) and the Āfāqīya (Aqtaḡlïq), and dominating the history of eastern Turkestan in the 11th-12th/17th-18th centuries. The Āfāqīya were instrumental in establishing the Naqšbandīya among the Sālārs and Huis of Tsinghai and Kansu in northwest China. The Jūybārī shaikhs of Bokhara also trace their selsela to Kāsānī.


Abu’l-Baqāʾ b. Ḵᵛāǰa Bahāʾ-al-dīn b. Maḵdūm-e Aʿẓam, Jāmeʿ al-maqāmāt (completed 1026/1617).

Šāh-Maḥmūd b. Mīrzā Fażl Čoras, Anīs al-ṭālebīn (completed ca. 1107/1695-96) and Tārīḵ (completed ca. 1087/1676-77), ed. and tr. O. F. Akimushkin, Pamyatniki pis’mennosti vostoka XLV Moscow, 1976.

Three Maǰmūʿāt of Kāsānī’s resālāt, catalogued in Persidskie i tadzhikskie rukopisi Instituta Narodov Azii AN SSSR (Kratkiĭ alfavitnyĭ katalog), ed. N. D. Miklukho-Maklaĭ, part 1, Moscow, 1964, nos. 3872-3874. Nafīsī, Naẓm o naṯr, pp. 400-01.

(J. Fletcher)

Originally Published: December 15, 1984

Last Updated: July 28, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 6, p. 649

Cite this entry:

J. Fletcher, “AḤMAD KĀSĀNĪ,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition, 1982, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ahmad-kasani