THIS work comprehends a History of Muhammadan nations up to the thousandth year of the Hijra era. It is from this cir­cumstance that it obtains its name, Alf signifying in the Arabic language one thousand. The Emperor Akbar directed its com­pilation by several learned men,* and may have perhaps fixed upon this particular period of one thousand years, in conformity with a notion he is said to have entertained and expressed, that the Muhammadan religion would be abolished, after lasting that period.*

At the commencement of the work, many different authors were employed, but, subsequently, the chief labour devolved upon Mauláná Ahmad, the son of the Kází of Thatta,* and the author of Khulásatu-l Hayát, “the Essence of Life.” An in­teresting account of the different parties engaged on it is given by 'Abdu-l Kádir Badáúní in the following passage from his Muntakhabu-t Tawáríkh.

“About this time (A.H. 990), Mullá Ahmad, of Thatta, a bigot, who had the impertinence* to call himself a physician, came from the Dekhin, and was presented at Court. His ances­tors, who resided in Sind, were Fárúkís of the Hanífah sect, and Mullá Ahmad used, in consequence of his apostacy, to shower anathemas upon those unfortunate persons. * * * In the time of Sháh Tahmásp he associated in 'Irák with some heretic Íránians, but he even exceeded them, notwithstanding their notorious heresy. When Sháh Ism'aíl II. deserted the faith of his father, and became a Sunní, and persecuted the heretic Shí'as, Mullá Ahmad accompanied Makhdúm Sharkí (an un­compromising Sunní, who wrote the Kitábu-n Nawáfiz) on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Thence he proceeded to the Dekhin, and afterwards to Hindústán, and finding no opposition to the pro­secution of his designs, he began to teach his absurd doctrines,* and invite converts to the Shí'a persuasion; but in a short time he met the penalty of his evil deeds. He had as yet had no interview with Shaikh Faízí, and had not yet assumed that air of confidence, with which his intimacy with that minister in­spired him, when I saw him one day in the bázár, where some 'Irákis took the opportunity of mentioning my name to him in terms of praise. Upon this, he addressed me, and said, ‘I see the mark of a Shí'a stamped on your forehead.’ ‘Just as much,’ I replied, ‘as I see Sunní stamped upon yours.’ The bystanders laughed, and were much gratified at the retort. I shall, please God! notice the close of his life in the proper place.”

“The year 1000 of the Hijra era, which is in general use, being now completed,* the Emperor Akbar ordered a history to be written of all the Muhammadan kings, and directed that such a name should be given to the work as to denote the year of its composition. It was for this reason that the work was entitled Alfí. He further ordered the word Rihlat (death) to be sub­stituted for Hijra (flight) in the different dates, and employed seven persons to undertake the compilation from the date of the decease of the Prophet to the present day, and to mention therein the events of the whole world.”

“He assigned the first year to Nakíb Khán, the second to Sháh Fath-ulla, and so on to Hakím Humám, Hakím 'Alí, Hájí Ibráhím Sirhindí (who had just then arrived from Gujarát), Mirzá Nizámu-d dín, and myself; so that by such distribution thirty-five years were finished in the course of a week.”

“During the period that I was compiling the events of the seventh year, and was engaged on the life of Khalif 'Umar, the model of purity (may God be propitious to him!), I had just completed an account of the foundation of Kúfa, and the destruc­tion of Madá-ín, from the ruins of which the new city was embellished, and the marriage of Ammi Kulsúm, the daughter of the Amíru-l muminín 'Alí* (may God be propitious to him!), as well as the institution of five stated times for prayer, the fall of the city of Nasíbín, and the large black scorpions which were made use of to effect its capture, when, one night, Mírzá J'afar Ásaf Khán thought proper to dispute the correctness of these facts.* Notwithstanding this, Shaikh Abú-l Fazl and Ghází Khán Badakhshí confirmed my assertions. Shortly after­wards, when I was asked whence I got this information, I replied that I had seen it in books, and had written accordingly, and that it was not my own invention. Immediately the Rauzatu-l Ahbáb and other historical books were called for from the library, and given to Nakíb Khán to verify the accuracy of the state­ment, which, by God's grace, being found correct, I was relieved from the charge of invention.”

“At the recommendation of Hakím Abú-l Fath, the compila­tion of the work from the thirty-sixth year was entrusted solely to Mullá Ahmad of Thatta, who, however, wrote whatever coincided with his sectarian prejudices—a fact which is well known. The compilation of two volumes was finished up to the time of Changíz Khán, when Mirzá Fúlád, one night, pretend­ing that the King had sent for Mullá Ahmad, summoned him from his house, and murdered him in a street of Lahore, in revenge for some injury which he had suffered at his hands, as well as because he was violently opposed to him in matters of religion. For this act he was sentenced to death.”

“The remainder of the work was written by Ásaf Khán, up to the year 997* H. In the year 1000 H.* I was ordered to proceed to Lahore, to revise the composition, to compare it with other histories, and to arrange the dates in their proper sequence. I compared the first two volumes in one year, and entrusted the third to Ásaf Khán.”*

In another part of his History (A.H. 1003), 'Abdu-l Kádir again speaks of the Táríkh-i Alfí being divided into three books, two composed by Mullá Ahmad, “the heretic, may he meet with his deserts!” and the third by Ásaf Khán (J'afar Beg).* Major C. Stewart, however, in his Catalogue of Típú Sultán's Library, says it is divided into five books, and that it extends from A.D. 622 to 1592. The error of making it commence from A.D. 622 arises from his supposing that its dates refer to the Flight, instead of the Death, of Muhammad [making a difference of ten years and two months]. This alteration of a universal era, and the substitution of one especially for this work, is a very objection­able feature of the Táríkh-i Alfí, excellent as it is in many other respects.

It will be observed that 'Abdu-l Kádir promised to relate further particulars of Mullá Ahmad in their proper place, and he fulfils that promise in the following passage, which affords as amusing an instance of odium theologicum as is to be met with in any country.

“During this month (Safar, 996 A.H.) Mirzá Fúlád Birlás persuaded the heretic Mullá Ahmad, who was always openly reviling the first Khalifs, to leave his own house at midnight under some pretence, and then assassinated him. The chrono-grams of which event are, ‘Bravo! Fúlád's stiletto!’ and ‘Hellish hog!’* and indeed when I saw that dog in the agonies of death, I observed his countenance to be exactly like that of a hog: others also observed the same. (May God protect me from such a dreadful fate!)* Mirzá Fúlád, was bound alive to the leg of an elephant in the city of Lahore, and thus attained martyrdom.

“When Hakím Abú-l Fath sent some one to inquire of him, whether sectarian prejudices had induced him to kill Mullá Ahmad, he replied that had that been the reason, he would have selected a more noble victim than the Mullá. The Hakím reported this speech to the King, who remarked that Mirzá Fúlád was an implacable villain, and ought to suffer death. He therefore ordered him to be drawn, while yet living, by an elephant, although he was very nearly obtaining a pardon through the intercession of the ladies* of the royal household. The Mullá expired three or four days after the Mirzá.

“It is said, that when the Shí'as were bathing the Mullá pre­vious to burial, they fixed, according to the observances of their religion, a tent peg in his back, and dipped him several times in the river, and that when he was buried, Shaikh Faizí and Shaikh 'Abú-l Fazl appointed watchmen to guard his tomb; notwithstanding which, when the Court departed for Kashmír, the people of Lahore disinterred his vile carcase, and burnt it.”