BADAḴŠĀNI, Sayyed SOHRĀB WALI (سید سهراب ولی بدخشانی, fl. 9th/15th cent.), the most prominent Central Asian Nezāri Ismaʿili theologian and author of the early centuries after the fall of Alamut in 654/1256. Few details are known about the life and career of Badaḵšāni, who flourished during the 9th/15th century. He was born in the early decades of that century in Badakhshan (Badaḵšān), now divided between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, into a non-Ismaʿili family. According to his own statement (pp. 68-69), he converted to Ismaʿilism soon after the age of twelve and spent his entire life in his native land in the midst of the Pamir mountains. It should be noted here that in the aftermath of the split of the Nezāri Ismaʿilis into Moḥammadšāhi (or Moʾmeni) and Qāsemšāhi branches in the early 8th/14th century, the Nezāris of Badakhshan had initially overwhelmingly followed the Moḥammadšāhi line of the Nezāri imams; Badaḵšāni also belonged to that community.
Badaḵšāni lived either at the time of the 29th imam, Ṭāher b. Rażi-al-Din (d. 868/1464), or the 30th imam, Rażi-al-Din II b. Ṭāher (d. 915/1509), of the Moḥammadšāhi Nezāris, a period coinciding with the annexation of Badakhshan to the Timurid dominions in Transoxania by Abu Saʿid (r. 855-73/1451-69). The Ismaʿilis of Badakhshan were severely persecuted during the reigns of Abu Saʿid and his successor, Soltan Aḥmad (r. 873-99/1469-94), who were ardent Sunnis. Given these circumstances, the Central Asian Nezāri Ismaʿilis, who were now obliged to observe taqiya (precautionary dissimulation) very strictly, did not produce too many doctrinal treatises (see Daftary, 2007, pp. 403 ff., 451 ff.). As one of the few exceptions, Badaḵšāni wrote his best-known work, entitled Si wa šeš ṣaḥifa, in 856/1452. Manuscripts of this Persian text have been preserved in the private collections of the Nezāris of Badakhshan as well as in the Nezāri communities of northern areas of Pakistan, including Hunza and Chitral. Badaḵšāni died at an unknown date, perhaps not too long after 856/1452.
The Ismaʿilis of Badakhshan, who gave their allegiance to the Nezāri missionary activities (daʿwa) only towards the final decades of the Alamut period (483-654/1090-1256) in Nezāri history, elaborated a distinctive religious tradition expressed in the Persian language. This tradition revolved around the Ismaʿili teachings of the Fatimid period, as reflected especially in the writings of Nāṣer-e Ḵosraw (d. after 462/1070), a Persian poet and proponent of Ismaʿili ideas, mixed with the Nezāri doctrines of the Alamut period. All these ideas are amply found in Badaḵšāni’s Si wa šeš ṣaḥifa, also designated as Ṣaḥifat al-nāẓerin in some manuscript copies of the work recovered from Central Asia (Bertels and Bakoev, pp. 69-70; Ivanow, p. 163; Poonawala, p. 267). This work, comprised of 36 chapters (ṣaḥifa), deals with a variety of metaphysical and theological topics, such as cosmology, revelation (tanzil), eschatology (maʿād), resurrection (qiāmat), and their interpretations on the basis of esoteric exegesis (taʾwil). It also contains chapters on prophethood (nobowwat) and imamate.
Badaḵšāni’s Si wa šeš ṣaḥifa, published in the Ismaili Society of Bombay’s series, draws extensively on the writings of Nāṣer-e Ḵosraw, who is referred to as ḥażrat ḥojjat-al-ḥaqq, or Amir Sayyed Nāṣer (pp. 7, 9, 13, 22, 30, 48, 58, 69). The author also refers (p. 5) to the Nezāri community as the “possessors of the religious teaching authority” (arbāb-e taʿlim), a designation generally used in reference to the Nezāris of the Alamut period. Indeed, Badaḵšāni must have had access to the Nezāri literature of the Alamut period, as he elaborates various doctrines connected to the declaration of spiritual qiāmat at Alamut in 559/1164 by Ḥasan II, who was recognized as the first manifest imam of the Alamut Period. Badaḵšāni evidently produced several other works as mentioned in his Si wa šeš ṣaḥifa, including Rawżat al-motaʿallemin (p. 55), Resāla-ye asrār al-noṭfa (p. 19), and Resāla-ye ḥodudiya (p. 46), which have not been recovered. The late Moṣṭafā Ḡāleb (pp. 304-5) wrongly attributed a number of anonymous works to Badaḵšāni.
Andreĭ E. Bertels and Mamadvafo Bakoev, Alfаvitnyǐ katalog rukopiseǐ obnaruzhennykh v Gorno-Badakhshanskoǐ Avtonomnoǐ Oblasti èksepeditsieǐ 1959/1963 gg./Alphabetic Catalogue of Manuscripts Found by 1959-1963 Expedition in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, ed. Bobodzan Gafurovich Gafurov and A. M. Mirzoev, Moscow, 1967.
Sayyed Sohrāb Wali Badaḵšāni, Si wa šeš ṣaḥifa/Ṣaḥifat al-nāẓerin, ed. Hušang Ojāqi, Tehran, 1961.
Farhad Daftary, “Badaḵšāni,” in Dāʾerat al-maʿāref-e bozorg-e eslāmi XI, Tehran, 2002, pp. 520-21.
Idem, Ismaili Literature: A Bibliography of Sources and Studies, London and New York, 2004, pp. 62, 110.
Idem, The Ismāʿīlīs: Their History and Doctrines, 2nd ed., Cambridge, 2007. Moṣṭafā Ḡāleb, Aʿlām al-Esmāʿiliya, Beirut, 1964.
Wladimir Ivanow, Ismaili Literature: A Bibliographical Survey, Tehran, 1963. Ismail K. Poonawala, Biobibliography of Ismāʿīlī Literature, Malibu, Calif., 1977.
Originally Published: May 27, 2016
Last Updated: May 27, 2016Cite this entry:
Farhad Daftary, "BADAḴŠĀNI, Sayyed SOHRĀB WALI," Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2016, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/badakhshani-sohrab (accessed on 27 May 2016).