فارسی

Muhtasham Kashani

An Iranian poet of the Safavid era

Born: 1500, Kashan, Iran
Died: 1588, Kashan, Iran
 

Biography

 

Sayyid Kamal al-Din 'Ali, the son of Mir Ahmad Kashani, whose pen name is Muhtasham, was a poet living at the beginning of Safavid times. He was contemporary with Shah Tahmasb Safavi. He was born about 905/1499-1500 in Kashan. After receiving basic education of that time, Muhtasham became a weaver. He has mentioned his career in many poems. Much is not known about his life. Due to chronic sore feet, Muhtasham did not travel much. However, it is recorded that he has traveled to Isfahan, shrine cities of Iraq, and Khurasan. His qasidas [a form of writing poem] during his travels are great.
He has written some poems praising Safavid kings and princes, especially Shah Tahmasb and his children. He has also written six quatrains on the occasion of ascending Shah Isma'il II to the throne. These poems are well-known and 1128 chronograms have been derived from them. Waqar Shirazi (d. 1298/1880-1) has written a book and explained these six quatrains. He lived at the time of development of Iranian poets' relationship with the Indian subcontinent. Although he himself never went to India, his poems were sent to Indian sultans by his brother, 'Abd al-Ghani. He has written some poems praising Indian Shahs including Akbar Shah, 'Abd al-Rahim Khan, and Khan Khanan.
Muhtasham is well-known for his poem about ‘Ashura’ which is in twelve strophes. In addition to poetry, Muhtasham was great at prose as well. Two books of Risala-yi Jalaliyya and Naql-i 'ushshaq, which are compositions of prose and poetry, prove it. He was also great at writing "chronograms" and some examples can be found in his divan. 
His divan includes qasidas, ghazals, marsiyas, madihas, qat'as, ruba'is, and mathnawis. The part of qasidas has been called Jami' al-latayif and the part of ghazals has been called Naql-i 'ushshaq. Taqi al-Din Kashani believes that three divans of Saba'iyya, Jalaliyya, and Shababiyya, which contain seven thousand verses altogether, Divan-i qasa'id-i a'imma (a) wa madh-i padishahan which contains eight thousand verses, and Risala-yi Mu'ammayat wa tawarikh are among the works of Muhtasham Kashani. Kulliyyat-i Muhtasham which includes seven divans of Saba'iyya, Shababiyya, Shaybiyya", "Jalaliyya", "Naql 'ushaq", "Daruriyyat", and "Mu'ammayat" has been compiled by Mir Taqi al-Din Kashi. 
Muhtasham learned poetry from Sidqi Astarabadi. He was friends with Hayrati Tuni, Wahshi Bafqi, Hali Gilani, Damiri Isfahani and had correspondence with them. Mir Taqi al-Din Muhammad Husayni Kashani, the author of the Khulasat al-ash'ar, Muzaffar al-Din Hasrati, Naw'i Khabushani, Zuhuri Tarshizi were among his students.
Although at the time of Muhtasham Kashani, Isfahani style, had begun to become common, he has not used this style at all. In his two risalas of Jalaliyya and Naql-i 'ushshaq, Muhtasham has written some ghazals in the style of wuqu'. The style of his other ghazals are similar to the styles of 'Abd al-Rahman Jami, Baba Faghani Shirazi, and Wahshi Bafqi which reaches a complete association with Iraqi style. On the contrary, like ancient poets, he has adopted the Khorasani style for his qasidas. His tarkibband on 'Ashura, is a prominent example of the Iraqi style in Persian.
Mutribi Samarqandi writes, "Most people believe that there is no one more famous and more sweet-tongued than Muhtasham among Iraqi style poets". Also, Taqi al-Din Kashi calls Muhtasham as Khaqani of the age and Salman Sawaji of the age and writes, "Although Muhtasham is great at writing various kinds of poems, he rarely writes mathnawi".
Throughout last four centuries, the tarkibband of Muhtasham has been the most popular poem on 'Ashura in Persian. Afterwards, a lot of poets wrote tarkibbands following the form and rhyme of his tarkibband, but among all the works, the tarkibband of Muhtasham has been wholeheartedly embraced by the laity and has been always written on the decorations of husayniyyas. The fame of Muhtasham's tarkibband is not limited to Iran, but rather it is loved by many people from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. Even those Arabs who are familiar with Farsi literature, feel respect for the tarkibband of Muhtasham.
According to Iskandar Beik Munshi, When Muhtasham wrote a qasida praising Pari Khan Khanum, (the daughter of Shah Tahmasb), Shah Tahmasb persuaded Muhtasham to write poems in praise of Ahl al-Bayt (a). Therefore, Muhtasham wrote a tarkibband in praise of Imam 'Ali (a). In addition to his tarkibband, there is a qasida in mourning of Imam al-Husayn (a) in his divan.
Muhtasham lived 91 years and passed on in 996/1587-8 in his birthplace. His burial place in Kashan is known as "Muhtasham neighborhood".
In recognition of his years of scientific and cultural services, the Society for the Appreciation of Cultural Works and Dignitaries (SACWD) honored him the title of ‘Iran`s dignitary’ in a commemoration ceremony.
 

Works

 

•    Jami' al-latayif 
•    Kulliyyat-i Muhtasham