Epistle of Princely Wisdom


Risālah-ʼi Khiradʹnāmah-ʼi Amīrī (Epistle of princely wisdom) is a short work written in the form of a commentary on what apparently are the musings of the Afghan ruler ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan (reigned 1880–1901) on the topic of ‘aql (intellect). ‘Abd al-Rahman’s observations concern both the variability in the allocation of reason and intellect in humanity, as well as the divine reasons for this unequal distribution. ‘Abd al-Rahman ends his short treatise with the declaration that regardless of any particular individual’s intellectual gifts, there exist in each period true sages whose authority should be recognized by all. The author of the commentary, ʻAbd al-Ra’uf (died 1915), includes the hadiths and other Arabic sources, as well as poems in Persian in his somewhat ingratiating and lengthy commentary. ‘Abd al-Rahman’s original text, which amounts to no more than two pages, is highlighted in red ink, while ʻAbd al-Ra’uf’s commentary is presented in black. The book was completed in Muharram 1304 AH (October‒November 1886) and is in manuscript form. The text is written on a light-cream paper in a nasta‘liq script with black ink. Some of the poems are in red ink.

Last updated: September 30, 2016