January 13, 2015

The Eloquent and Fluent Poems of Sardār Ghulām Muḥammad Khān, Known as the Dīwān of Ṭarzī Ṣāḥib Afghān

This work is a compendium of the compositions (primarily in verse) of Ghulām Muḥammad Khān (1830–1900), a prominent Pashto Afghan intellectual of the 19th century. Known by his pen name Ṭarzī (the Stylist), Ghulām Muḥammad Khān was a member of the important Bārakzay tribe of Kandahār. The dībācha (introduction) of this work includes an account of Ghulām Muḥammad Khān and his family’s exile from Afghanistan in 1882, which was ordered by Amir ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān (reigned 1880−1901). The important and detailed account of the family’s life outside Afghanistan, dated June 15, 1892, was written by Ghulām Muḥammad Khān’s son, Maḥmud Ṭarzī (1868−1935), a famous intellectual and author in his own right who is generally referred to as the father of journalism in Afghanistan. It describes his family’s stay in Karachi and subsequent immigration to Syria, where Ghulām Muḥammad Khān received the protection and sponsorship of the Ottoman ruler Abdülhamid II (reigned 1876−1909). The bulk of Ṭarzī’s dīwān (divan or collection) consists of his ghazals (lyric poems), which are grouped alphabetically according to the last letter of the radīf (rhyme). In Persian literature the ghazal generally denotes a metered and rhymed poem expressing the beauty and pain of love. The ghazal was derived from the qaṣīda (ode); and it matches the rhyme scheme of the qasida, although it is shorter, generally consisting of 12 verses or less. Many of Ṭarzī’s ghazals are response poems, referring to earlier poets in the Persian and Indo-Persian tradition. In this regard, the poems of ʻAbd al-Qādir Bīdil (1644 or 1645–1720 or 1721) and of Ṣā’ib Tabrīzī (1601 or 1602−77) figure prominently. In addition to poems in the ghazal form, Ṭarzī’s divan includes his rubāʻīyāt (quatrains) and other poetic forms, such as the tarjīʻ band and the tarkīb band (strophic forms, with a series of isolated verses marking the end of each strophe). This edition is dated August 10, 1893. The work was published by Sardār Muḥammad Anwar Khān and printed at the press of Fayḍ Muḥammadī in Karachi. The calligrapher is Muḥammad Zamān. The cover of this copy contains a handwritten note indicating Asmā’ Ṭarzī, wife of Maḥmūd Ṭarzī, as the owner, and containing the date 11 Sha’ban, 1336 AH (May 22, 1918). Upon his accession to the throne, the Afghan ruler Amir Ḥabībullāh (reigned 1901−18) gave amnesty to Ghulām Muḥammad Khān’s family, allowing its members to return to Afghanistan. A measure of the family’s improving fortune is that Asmā’ and Maḥmūd Ṭarzī’s daughter, Soraya, married Amir Ḥabīballāh’s son and was queen of Afghanistan from 1913 to 1929.

Poems of Abundant Benefit with Chronograms by Sardār Ghulām Muḥammad Khān, Known as Ṭarzī Ṣāḥib Afghān, Together with his Chronograms

This work is a collection of poems in the qaṣīda (ode) form by Ghulām Muḥammad Khān (1830–1900), a prominent Pashto Afghan intellectual of the 19th century. Known by his pen name Ṭarzī (the Stylist), he was a member of the important Bārakzay tribe of Kandahār. In 1882 Ghulām Muḥammad Khān fell into disgrace with the Afghan ruler Amir ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān (reigned 1880−1901) and was expelled from Afghanistan along with his family. He spent three years in Karachi, before immigrating to Damascus, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire. Ghulām Muḥammad Khān died and is buried in Damascus. (ʿAbd al-Raḥmān’s son Amir Ḥabībullāh, reigned 1901−18, was to reverse the policy of his father and confer amnesty on those exiled under his father’s reign, allowing Ghulām Muḥammad Khān’s family to return to Afghanistan.) In Persian poetry the qaṣīda denotes a poem consisting of an initial verse with two rhyming hemistiches, followed by a collection of paired hemistiches in which the second member only is rhymed. The qaṣīda form started out as a vehicle for panegyrics, but was soon adopted for didactic, philosophical, religious and even satirical purposes. Many of Ghulām Muḥammad Khān’s qaṣidas are poems in praise of the Prophet Muhammad and of other notable religious figures, such as the four rightly-guided caliphs and Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī (died 680), grandson of the prophet. Other figures who are subjects of poems in the collection include Maulānā Jalāl al-Dīn Balkhī (Rumī, 1207–73), and ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī (1077–1166), whose tomb in Baghdad Ghulām Muḥammad Khān visited on the way to Syria. Ghulām Muḥammad Khān also composed panegyrics for statesmen of his own era, including the Afghan ruler Dōst Muḥammad Khān (1793–1863), the Persian ruler Nāṣir al-Dīn Shāh (1831–96), the Ottoman sultan Abdülaziz (1830–76), whom Ghulām Muḥammad Khān calls “martyred,” and Ottoman sultan Abdülhamid II (1842–1918). The final section of the work contains chronograms depicting the birthdate of relatives and the dates when some of the notable men of his era died. The book was published by Sardār Muhammad Anwar Khān on April, 18, 1892, at the Fayḍ Muḥammadī press in Karachi. The calligrapher is listed as Muḥammad Zamān.

History of Afghanistan, from the Earliest Period to the Outbreak of the War of 1878

History of Afghanistan from the Earliest Period to the Outbreak of the War of 1878 is a political and military history of Afghanistan that was published in London in 1879, shortly after the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878−80). The author, George Bruce Malleson, was a British army officer and military historian who had served in India and who wrote prolifically on the history of India and Afghanistan. The central theme of the book is the strategic importance to the British Empire of Afghanistan as a buffer against Russian expansion toward India. Malleson explains why Afghanistan, a mountainous “country of rocks and stones,” has an importance “far beyond its territorial value.” Following an opening chapter on the physical features of the country and the ethnic composition of its population, Malleson recounts the succession of dynasties and leaders through the centuries, from the Ghaznavid Empire (977–1186) to the reign of Dōst Moḥammad Khān (1826−39 and 1842–63). As the narrative approaches Malleson’s own day, it becomes unabashedly nationalistic and partisan. The book argues for a forceful policy in which the protection of India against possible Russian threats should take precedence over the views of independence-minded Afghan rulers. Malleson criticizes the policy of Prime Minister William Gladstone and Thomas Baring, Earl of Northbrook, viceroy of India from 1872 to 1876, for attempting to pursue by diplomatic means agreements that would have prevented the Second Anglo-Afghan War. The work was translated into Pushto and published in Peshawar in 1930.

The Generations of the Nations, or the Descendants of Humanity

Ṭabaqāt al-umam aw Al-salāʼil al-basharīyah (The generations of the nations, or The descendants of humanity) is an ambitious work of ethnography and anthropology, aimed at describing human societies in both their historical development and contemporary features. The book was published in 1912 by the Hilāl printing house of Cairo. Its author, Jirjī Zaydān, was born in Beirut in 1861 and studied medicine at the local American University. He later completed his literary and philosophical education in Cairo, before returning to Lebanon, where he studied Hebrew and Syriac. Zaydān worked as a journalist for the newspapers Al-Muqtaṭaf and Al-Hilāl, and his works include books on the philosophy of language and on Arabic rhetoric. In the book presented here, he offers an overview of historical and contemporary societies from all over the world. The book opens with chapters on the geological eras of the earth, the origin of man, and prehistoric societies. Zaydān devotes several chapters to the invention of writing and to the use of different systems of numeration in early civilizations. Subsequent chapters deal briefly with historical and modern societies, including ancient Egypt, the Sumerians, Akkadians, Mongols, Native Americans, Mayans, Aztecs, and modern Western societies. For each of these societies, Zaydān offers an overview of their customs, main discoveries, religious and philosophical beliefs, and literary production.

From a Father to his Son: Letters on Education, Schooling, and the Arts

Min wālid ilā waladihi: wa-hiyya rasā'il fī al-tarbiyya wa-al-ta‛līm wa-al-ādāb (From a father to his son: Letters on education, schooling, and the arts) is a collection of the letters that the author wrote to his son, Jamāl al-Dīn Aḥmad Ḥāfiz ‛Awwaḍ, during the latter's student years at the American University in Beirut. The book was published in Cairo in 1923. The first six letters are mostly devoted to the expression of the father's love for his son and to general themes of education and schooling. The father insists on the central importance of the development of the natural inquisitive spirit in the student. Some of the letters are dedicated to more specific themes. One is the importance of the study of languages and, in particular, of the Arabic language as mother tongue and the language of the Islamic faith. Another theme is the study of Arabic literature through the works of its most refined authors, such as Ibn Khaldūn, Ibn Qutayba, and Al-Jāḥiẓ. A third topic is the importance of learning the English language and its literature for its sheer beauty and for the moral values that authors such as Shakespeare and Dickens convey in their works. Further letters are devoted to the importance of the translation of foreign works into Arabic, to the study of history as a source of good examples in life, and to the study of the natural sciences. The final letters in this collection provide suggestions regarding the choice of a career, life after university, and how to achieve success in life.

The Book of Literary Expressions

Published in 1885 by the Jesuit Fathers’ printing press of Beirut, the present volume contains an edition of one of the three extant versions of Kitāb al-Alfāẓ al-Kitābiyya (The book of literary expressions) by the tenth-century grammarian, ‛Abd al-Raḥmān ibn ‛Īsā al-Hamḏānī. This work presents a collection of difficult words and expressions found in classical Arabic literary texts. For each word or expression, the author offers a number of synonyms and paraphrases intended to guide the reader to a better understanding of the lexical, grammatical, and syntactical peculiarities of the language used by authors writing in classical Arabic. There are no explicit references to the literary works where these expressions are found; they are all introduced by the phrase “it is said.” Qurʼanic verses are mentioned as well, when the features discussed in the chapters have parallels in the Qurʼan. An index to all the expressions analyzed in the book and a word index conclude the work.