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21.0 Hakim Nizari Birjindi Kohistani

Hakim Naeemuddin bin Jalal-ud-din Nizari is acknowledged as one of the renowned Persian savants and poets of Seventh Century Hijri. He was also one of the famous Ismaili Da'i (Missionary) of post-Alamut era. Out of respect for Hazrat lmam Shah Nizar and to show his unequivocal allegiance to the Shia lmami Ismaili Nizari sect, he adopted the nom-de-plume (Takhallus) NIZARI. As he hailed from Birjind in Iranian Kohistan, he is also known as Birjindi or Kohistani.

He was born at Birjind in 645 Hijri (1247 C.E.) which facts he himself has corroborated in his Masnavi "DASTOORNAMA." However, very little has come to light about his early life and academic career.

The Mongol invasion of Iran and the heartless massacre of Ismailis had put an end to the small but pre-potent Ismaili theocracy of Alamut. To escape merciless persecution at the hands of Mongols as well as the bigoted local populace, the Imams after Hazrat lmam Ruknuddin Khayr Shah and their followers had to scatter and go into hiding. Hazrat Imam Shamsuddin Muhammad and his successors had to camouflage their identities under the guise of craftsmen or tradesmen. Similarly, Ismaili Da'is (Missionaries) too carried on their missionary activities underground.

During that period Mysticism (Sufism) had gained widespread popularity and Ismaili Da'is, taking advantage of this trend, adopted Mystic (Sufistic) terminology as a vehicle for propagation of Ismaili Nizari doctrines. Hakim Nizari too adopted this mode to successfully expound and propagate his faith.

Ismaili faith contains such dynamic elements that notwithstanding adoption of various foreign modes of expression for propagation to suit different times and places, it retains the pristine originality of Islam. It's survival and progressive expansion over the last twelve centuries despite innumerable odds and ceaseless persecution is ample proof of this fact.

Though the verses of Hakim Nizari are replete with Sufistic terminology and themes, it is the traditional belief of Ismailis as well as considered opinion of non-Ismaili scholars that he was without doubt a staunch Ismaili and his prosody amply reflects the spirit of Ismaili Nizari faith. For instance, to show his implicit devotion to Ahl e Bait, he sings:

"Muhabbati tu chunan muhakmast dar dili mun,

Ki aetekadi Nizari ba khandani Ali,

'Darunam Chunan pur kun az hubbi aal,

Ki digar na ganjad daran kilo kal."

(My heart is so full of your (Imam's) love as the faith of Nizari is firm on the descendants of Mowla Ali. Fill my heart with the love for Prophet's progeny so that no room for anything else is left.)

In another verse he waxes eloquently in eulogy of

Hazrat Imam Shamsuddin -Muhammad:

"Taji deen shahzadia Aalam, Ourat-ul-ain Khisrui Muazzam, Bul Maali Muhammad ibn Ali Mewai lutfi baghi lamayzli."

(O'crown of the faith, Prince of the Universe, the light of the great King's (Prophet's) eyes, exalted and the fruit of God

Almighty's garden of Grace, Hazrat Ali.)

Hazrat Imam Shamsuddin Muhammad had settled in Azerbaijan and lived a secluded life in the guise of an embroidery merchant. Only a few topmost Da'is knew about his whereabouts. most of them had spread out to far corners of Iran and Indo-Pak sub-continent ostensibly as merchants or Sufi Dervishes but actually to propagate the Ismaili faith in the areas of their respective assignment. Periodically they used to return to report and seek Imam's blessings and guidance. Hakim Nizari had also made such a pilgrimage to the Imam's headquarters in Azerbaijan and has left a record of his journey in his versified SAFARNAMA, describing his travel from Khasp in Birjind to Azerbaijan Koh-Khaf, Armenia, etc., and his audience with Hazrat Imam Shamsuddin Muhammad.

Hakim Nizari had attained a high stature in exoteric and esoteric knowledge and had developed close friendships with some of the famous learned men and Sufis of his time, especially Hazrat Mehmood Shabistry, Shaikh Solahuddin Shirazi and Shaikh Saadi. His relations with Hazrat Mehmood Shabistry were very intimate and a study of Shabistry's famous poetical work "GULSHAN-E-RAZ' reveals that either he had adopted Ismailism or was deeply effected by its esoterism (taawil).

Shaikh Saadi is also to have had developed a close friendship with Hakim Nizari and it is said that both of them used to visit each other. Scholars of medieval Persian literature over that Shaikh Saadi's verses abound with respectful references to Hakim Nizari, giving the unmistakable impression of Saadi too having had secretly accepted Ismaili faith or developed Ismailitic proclivities under Hakim Nizari's influence. In one verse, probably of the time towards the close of his life, he openly declares his affinity for the Prophet's progeny (Aley Rasool) surprisingly in a definite Ismaili vein (note the use of typically,.Ismaili term Ba-haqqi Bani Fatimi") :

"Khudaya Ba-haqqi Bani-Fatimi, Ki ba Kauli Imam Kuni Khatimah Agar dawatan rud Kuni ya kubool, mano dasto damani Aley-Rasool"

(0 God Almighty. for the sake of Bani-Fatimi Sustain my faith till the end. Whether you accept my entreaties or not, my hand firmly clings to the skirt of the Prophet's progeny (Aley-Rasool).

During his life-time., Hakim Nizari secretly but ably and with great success carried on his mission of Ismaili Da'wa. According to Oriental Biographical Dictionary, towards the close of his life he had retired to the seclusion of his birth place to devote most of his time to prayers and meditation doing a little farming for a living. He died in 720 Hijri (1320 A.D.) during the Imamat of Hazrat Imam Kasim Shah.

Hakim Nizari is considered one of the outstanding learned-men and mystics of his time. Having achieved mastery in exoteric and esoteric branches of knowledge developed up to his time, he won the dignified appellation of Hakim (Doctor), which was usually reserved only for sages and savants having mastery over the profound subjects like literature, logics, philosophy, Metaphysics, Medicine. Mathematics. Theology, etc.

Spiritually also Hakim Nizari is reported to have attained a high status. Maulvi Yasir states in his Annals that once he was passing through Birjind when he learnt of the death of the ruler of that region. While the grave for the deceased ruler was being dug out next to the grave of Hakim Nizari. the grave diggers accidentally demolished a part of Nizari's grave. To the astonishment of all present it was found That Hakim Nizari's body was as fresh as the day it was buried more than two years back. His mausoleum is visited and respectfully cared for by the people of Kohistan even today.

Hakim Nizari is acknowledged a great savant of his time and esteemed as an outstanding mystical poet of medieval Persia. Professor E. G. Browne in his literary History of Persia has ranked him with Hakim Nasir Khusraw. He has composed Rubaiyat, Kasaid, Ghazza], Mathnavi, etc. proving his mastery over almost every type of Persian metrical form. Though in some verses he has referred to wine, love , etc. their usage in no way reflects upon his piety or spiritual status as such wordily metaphors and simile were commonly used by the mystical poets of his time of express divine love and its spiritually intoxicating effects. His works extent today are listed by Professor lvanow in his "A Guide to Ismaili Literature" as follows:-

1. Diwan, 2. Abdnama, 3. Masnavi, 4. Safarnama, 5. Dastoornama, 6. Azher-o-Mazhar, 7. Rubaiyyats etc. etc.

By:
Mr. Fakquir Muhammad. Karachi (Pakistan)

person_place_reference: 
Hakam Nizari Birjindi Kohistani


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