JAMĀLI, ḤĀMED B. FAŻL-ALLĀH (b. Delhi, ca. 862/1457; d. Gujarat, 942/1535), a Persian-speaking Indian poet. The information about his life is scarce. Jamāli was born around 862/1457 in Delhi. He traveled widely in Islamic lands, visiting scholars, mystics, and religious figures, with several of whom he formed friendships (Seyed-Gohrab in Jamāli, 2002, pp. xi-xix; Hameed-ud Din in Jamāli, 1984, pp. 13-14; Storey, I/2, No. 1280, pp. 968-72; Nafisi, I, pp. 312, 404-5). ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Jāmi (d. 898/1492, q.v.) was one of his friends. ʿAli-Aṣḡar Ḥekmat states that Jamāli was Jāmi’s student, and that he returned to India after Jāmi died in Herat in 898/1492 (Ḥekmat, p. 55).

Jamāli’s spiritual teacher, Shaikh Samāʾ-al-Din Kanbuh (d. 901/1495), was affiliated to the Sohravardiya Sufi order (Trimingham, pp. 33-37). He was also Jamāli’s uncle and father-in-law. Jamāli venerated his teacher immensely and paid homage to him in one of his poems (Jamāli-Dehlavi, 2002, pp. 10-12; Purjawādi, pp. 30-33).

Initially, Jamāli had no significant relationship with the Lodi sultans, who ruled over northern India from the middle of the 15th century until the first quarter of the 16th century. Later, however, his spiritual guide, Shaikh Samāʾ-al-Din, advised him to function as poet-laureate to the Lodi sultan Sekandar II b. Neẓām Khan (r. 1489-1517). They had a dervish-king or philosopher-king relationship, in which the king respected the dervish/philosopher for his high spiritual status and consulted him on earthly and godly matters.

Jamāli died in 942/1535 in Gujarat and was buried in Delhi. His burial-place, called Dargāh-e Jamāli (‘The Court/Shrine of Jamāli’), has been visited by many pilgrims. We have little information about Jamāli’s personal life. He had three sons: Ḥasan, Šeyḵ-Gadāʾi (d. 976/1568-69), and ʿAbd-al-Ḥayy Ḥayāti. The latter was a famous poet and historian who wrote the history of Eslām Shah b. Šir Shah Suri (r. 1545-54). Šeyḵ-Gadāʾi was a poet and the chief chancellor at the court of Ebrāhim II b. Sekandar II Lodi (r. 1517-26) and later attended the court of Akbar (r. 1556-1605, q.v.; see Siddiqui).

Jamāli’s writings. Jamāli wrote a number of works in verse and prose. Some works ascribed to Jamāli were, in fact, written by Pir Jamāl Ardestāni (d. 879/1474), the founder of the famous Sufi order Pir-Jamāliya. The confusion is based on the fact that in various works Jamāli is referred to under different names, such as Darviš Jamāli, Mowlānā Jamāli, Mollā Jamāli, Šeyḵ Jamāli-e Kanbuh, and Jalāl Khan. Jamāli is, above all, famous for his two books. The first, entitled Siar al-ʿārefin (‘The Virtues of the Mystics’), is a memoir of Indian mystics of the Češtiya (q.v.) Sufi order (Purjawādi in Jamāli, 2005, pp. 127-62). The second book is the collection of his poems (divān, q.v.), which comprises nine thousand odd lines and includes three maṯnawi poems. One of the latter, Mehr o Māh (‘The Sun and the Moon’), is a poetical imitation of Moḥammad Aṣṣār Tabrizi’s (d. 784/1382-83) famous romantic poem Mehr o Moštari (‘The Sun and Jupiter’). Jamāli’s second maṯnawi poem is titled Bayān-e ḥaqāʾeq-e aḥwāl-e sayyed-e morsalin (‘The Explanation of the True States of the Lord of Messengers’) and consists of two parts which describe the spiritual journey of the Prophet Muhammad. The third maṯnawi poem is Merʾāt al-maʿāni (‘The Mirror of Meanings’); it is composed in the same way as Golšan-e rāz (‘The Rose-garden of Mystery’) of Maḥmud Šabestari (686-720/1287-1320). This poem can be divided into three parts: a) chapters one to three are devoted to the doxology, the praise of the Prophet, and the praise of the Master of the Path; b) chapters four to nineteen depict the beloved’s anatomy from head to foot; and c) chapters twenty to thirty-eight expound several terms connected to mystical states (aḥwāl), stations (maqāmāt), wine (šarāb), and love-play through the contemplation of a beautiful beardless youth (šāhed-bāzi; see Seyed-Gohrab in Jamāli, 2002, pp. xix-xlvi).



Jamāli’s selected works: Ḥāmed b. Fażl-Allāh Jamāli-Dehlavi, Maṯnawi-e Mehr o Māh: 905 h[ejri], ed. Ḥosām-al-Din Rāšedi, Rawalpindi, 1974.

Idem, Siar al-ʿārefin, ed. M. A. Qaderi, Lahore, 1976.

Idem, Masònawī Mirʾātul Maʿānī = Mirʾātül-Maʿānī mesnevisi / Shaikh Jamālī Dihlavī; facsimiles of all existing manuscripts with an introduction and annotation by Hameed-ud Din, ed. Gönül Alpay Tekin, Cambridge, Mass., 1984.

Idem, The Mirror of Meanings = Merʾāt al-maʿāni: a parallel English-Persian text tr. A. A. Seyed-Gohrab, critical Persian text N. Pourjavadi, Costa Mesa, Calif., 2002.

Idem, Merʾāt al-maʿāni, be enżemām-e gozida-ye Siar al-ʿārefin, ed. N. Purjawādi, Tehran, 2005.


Nazir Ahmad, “The Lahjat-i Sikandar Shahi, A Unique Book on Indian Music of the Time of Sikandar Lodi (1489-1517),” The Islamic Culture 28/1, January 1954, pp. 410-17.

ʿAli-Aṣḡar Ḥekmat, Naqš-e pārsi bar aḥjār-e Hend: fehrest-i az katibehā wa ḵoṭuṭ-e fārsi bar lowḥ-sanghā-ye Hendustān, Calcutta, 1957; 2nd ed., Tehran, 1958.

Saʿid Nafisi, Tāriḵ-e naẓm o naṯr dar Irān wa dar zabān-e fārsi tā pāyān-e qarn-e dahom-e hejri, 2 vols., Tehran, 1965.

Naṣr-Allāh Purjawādi, “Merʾāt al-maʿāni,” Maʿāref 11/1-2, November 1994, pp. 3-64.

S. A. A. Rizvi, A History of Sufism in India, 2 vols., New Delhi, 1978-83.

I. H. Siddiqui, “Gadāʾī Kambō, Shaykh,” EI2, at www. encislam.br.nl/subscriber /entry?entry=islam SIM-8554, accessed 28 November 2007.

C. A. Storey, Persian Literature: a Bio-bibliographical Survey, repr. ed., London, 1970.

J. S. Trimingham, The Sufi Orders in Islam, Oxford, 1971; repr. with a new introduction by J. O. Voll, New York, 1998.

I. Yaḡmāʾi, Dāstānhā-ye ʿāšeqāna-ye adabiyāt-e fārsi, Tehran, 1995.

(A. A. Seyed-Gohrab)

Originally Published: December 15, 2008

Last Updated: April 10, 2012

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