FORUZĀNFAR, Badiʿ-al-Zamān


FORŪZĀNFAR, Badīʿ-al-Zamān (بدیع‌الزمان فروزانفر)(b. ca. 1903, Bošrūya, a district of Ferdows [q.v.], Khorasan, d. 1349 Š./1970 Tehran; Figure 1) Persian literary scholar and critic, professor at the University of Tehran, member of the Persian Academy.

Badīʿ-al-Zamān is the honorary title granted to him in 1920 by Qawām-al-Salṭana, who was then the governor of Khorasan. Forūzānfar’s former title was Shaikh ʿAbd-al-Jalīl and his pen name Żīāʾ. His given name was Moḥammad-Ḥasan. Born into a family of clerics, he was the son of Āqā Shaikh ʿAlī Aḥmadī Bošrūya. Forū zānfar’s childhood and youth were spent studying the Koran and Arabic. At sixteen he left for Mašhad to study Persian and Arabic literature and Islamic law (feqh) under Adīb Nīšābūrī (q.v.) and other scholars. He moved permanently to Tehran in 1922 and spent a few more years completing his education at Sepahsālār madrasa, where he chose the surname Forūzānfar while keeping the title Badīʿ-al-Zamān.

In Tehran, he joined the Ministry of Education and taught Islamic law and Arabic at Dār al-fonūn (q.v.; 1926), logic at the Law School (Madrasa-ye ʿālī-e ḥoqūq; 1927) and Persian literature at the Teachers’ College (Dār al-moʿallemīn-e ʿālī; 1929). Simultaneously he continued lecturing on exegesis (tafsīr) and Arabic rhetoric (balāḡat) at Sepahsālār(1931). He was appointed vice president of the Faculty of Theology (Dāneškada-ye maʿqūl o manqūl) when it was founded in 1934 at University of Tehran. Meanwhile, on the strength of his monograph on the biography of Jalāl-al-Dīn Rūmī he was granted the equivalent of a doctoral degree, required for professorship at the state universities, in Persian literature and was appointed professor of this field at the Faculty of Letters and Teachers’ College (now renamed Dāneš-sarā-ye ʿālī) and professor of Islamic mysticism at the Faculty of Theology (1935) of which he later became the president, succeeding Kāẓem ʿAṣṣār, a position he kept until his retirement (1967), when he became the head of the Royal Library. As an emeritus professor, however, he continued lecturing at the University of Tehran for the rest of his life.

Badīʿ-al-Zamān was also known as a poet in Mašhad and during his early years in Tehran, but his increasing preoccupation with his literary scholarship, and later with politics, resulted in his almost completely neglecting the writing of poetry after 1931. His lectures at the Persian Literary Society (Anjoman-e adabī-e Īrān; ca. 1927), together with his bold criticism of the outstanding scholar Moḥammad Qazvīnī’s critical edition of Čahār maqāla-ye Neẓāmī ʿArūżī (which was followed by counter-criticism and rebuke by Qazvīnī’s friends and followers in the journal Ārmān (1930-31) brought him fame in Persian literary circles of Tehran. His first significant work, Soḵan o soḵanvarān, though left incomplete (only two of the four proposed volumes were published, in 1929 and 1933) heightened his reputation as an able scholar and literary critic. His other publications, including Montaḵabāt-e adabīyāt-e fārsī (1934), Resāla dar taḥqīq-e aḥwāl wa zendagānī-e Mawlānā Jalāl-al-Dīn Balḵī mašhūr ba Mawlawī (1936; a monograph on Rūmī), Tārīḵ-e adabīyāt ḵolāṣa-ye taqrīrāt-e … Forūzānfar dar sāl-e taḥsīlī-e 1308-1309 dar Dāneš-sarā-ye ʿalī (1938), Farhang-e tāzī ba pārsī (1940), and Ḵolāṣa-ye Maṯnawī (the first two books of Rūmī’s Maṯnawī, condensed and annotated; 1942) furthered his scholarly authority, particularly on Persian classical mystic literature.

A significant part of Forūzānfar’s scholarship was devoted to Rūmī and his associates. The critical editions of Rūmī’s Fīh mā fīh (1951); the Maʿāref of Bahāʾ-e Walad, Rūmī’s father (2 vols., 1954-59); the Maʿāref of Sayyed Borhān-al-Dīn Moḥaqqeq Termeḏī, Rūmī’s childhood tutor and later his spiritual mentor (1961); Dīvān-e Šams with a glossary of technical terms (10 volumes, 1957-67); and the authorship of Maʾāḵeḏ-e qeṣaṣ o tamṯīlāt-e Maṯnawī (1954) and Aḥādīṯ-e Maṯnawī (1955) confirmed him as, according Helmut Ritter, the indefatigable researcher on Rūmī ("der unermüdlische Maulānāforscher,” Oriens 13-14, 1961, p. 485).

His other works on Islamic mysticism and philosophy are Zenda-ye bīdār (the Persian translation of Ḥayy b. Yaqẓān of Ebn Ṭofayl; 1955); Šarḥ-e aḥwāl wa naqd o taḥlīl-e āṯār-e Farīd-al-Dīn Moḥammad Aṭṭār Nīšābūrī (1961); and critical editions of Tarjama-ye resāla-ye qošayrīya (1966), Manāqeb-e Awḥad-al-Dīn Kermānī (1968), and Meṣbāḥ al-arwāḥ of Šams-al-Dīn Bardasīrī (posthumous, 1970). However, he died before he could complete his Šarḥ-e Maṯnawī-e šarīf (Explication of Rūmī’s Maṯnawī) and other works on Rūmī and his school. The three published volumes of this book (1967-69), covering up to distich 3012 of the first volume of the Maṯnawī, encapsulate the forty years he spent on research on the subject and, though incomplete, contain the essentials of Rūmī’s thought and doctrine.

Forūzānfar’s articles and poems are collected and edited by ʿEnāyat-Allāh Majīdī in Majmūʿa-ye maqālāt wa ašʿār-e Ostād Badīʿ-al-Zamān Forūzānfar (1972) and Mabāḥeṯ-ī az tārīḵ-e adabīyāt-e Īrān (1975). Forūzānfar attended several international scholarly conferences in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Middle East countries, generally as a delegate from Persia. He was appointed a member of the Senate for one term (1328-31 Š./1949-52), his only political accomplishment.

Forūzānfar was one of the pioneers of literary studies in modern Persia. As a literary critic he was objective and accurate. In his views on the classical Persian poetry he was under the influence of his mentor, Adīb Nīšābūrī, who paid particular attention to the formal aspects of poetry, especially prosody and rhetoric. Moreover, the polemics invoked in the schools and periodicals of Tehran persuaded Forūzānfar to pay more attention to the religion and ethics of the poets of earlier times and to their relation with their patrons and other contemporaries. He was particularly conspicuous among his generation for his daring and candid criticism of classical poetry. His lifelong research in Maṯnawī and works on Islamic philosophy and mysticism gave his writings an extraordinary depth and unique attraction.



M. Āḏar, “Čašmandāz-ī dīgar az zendagī-e Adīb-e Nīšābūrī,” in Y. Jalālī Pandarī, ed., Dīvān-e Adīb Nīšābūrī, Tehran,1988, pp. 103-21, esp. pp. 115-16.

M. B. Borqaʿī, Soḵanvarān-e nāmī-e moʿāṣer, 3 vols., Tehran, 1950-57, I, pp. 22-24.

M. Esḥāq, Soḵanvarān-e Īrān dar ʿaṣr-e ḥāżer, 2 vols., Calcutta, 1932, I, pp. 32-37.

Forūzānfar, “[Autobiography],” Rāhnemā-ye Ketāb 4, 1961, pp. 682-84.

ʿA.-Ḥ. Ḵalḵālī, Taḏkera-ye šoʿarā-ye moʿāṣer-e Īrān, 2 vols., Tehran, 1954-58, II, pp. 251-56.

Kelk, nos. 73-75, 1996, pp. 186-306 (articles dedicated to the memory of Forūzānfar).

MDAT 89, 1975 (a special issue dedicated to the memory of Forūzānfar).

S. Reżāzāda Šafaq, Tārīḵ-e adabīyāt-e Īrān, Shiraz, 1974, pp. 647 f.

R. Yāsamī, Adabīyāt-e moʿāṣer-e Īrān, Tehran, 1937, pp. 27-29.

(Abd-al-Hosayn Zarrinkub)

Originally Published: December 15, 2000

Last Updated: January 31, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. X, Fasc. 2, pp. 117-118