For years the literature of Persia has attracted the attention of European scholars in particular, so much so that a large body of critiques and studies has been produced. But it is worthy of notice that it is more the poetry of Persia than prose that has been the subject of research and appreciation. No doubt scholars like Schefer, Lees, Elliot, Browne, Áqá Mírzá Muḥammad Khán, Professors Barthold and Nicholson and others have brought to light many a forgotten standard work and have also edited them; but the quantity of prose that has come within their purview is insignificant as compared with the poetic literature that has been the subject of Oriental scholarship. Not that the Orientalists have any particular intellectual or aesthetic distaste for prose or that material is not ready to hand. In spite of the great scourge of 1265 A. D. which afflicted Persia and its intellectual and literary life and resulted in the destruction of countless invaluable works, there still exists a considerable amount of prose literature that can be profitably utilised by modern scholarship. Indeed it is gratifying to note that an increasing and deserved attention is now being given to it.

One of the monumental works that have survived the Mongol Invasion is that great Collection of Anecdotes, the Jawámi‘u’l-Ḥikáyát wa Lawámi‘u’r-Riwáyát of Sadídu’d-Dín Muḥammad-‘Awfí, to which the following pages serve as an analytical Intro­duction. The great importance of this work is indicated in Chapter II; may this Introduction to it prove, in even so small a measure, a source of help and assistance to all those who may be engaged in research in the different branches of Islamic history, literature, and science.

I wish I could have published the whole or a part of the original text of ‘Awfí along with this Introduction, but it appears that a few more years will have to elapse before I can finally edit it and see it through the press.

Before concluding, it is my chief duty to acknowledge all my obligations. I have dedicated this work to two persons, one, my late revered father Muḥammad Ghiyáthu’d-Dín, who inspired in me from my childhood a love for literature, the other, the late Professor Browne, who at the close of his memorable life, during the four years I worked under him at Cambridge, generously afforded me incalculable guidance in the pursuit of knowledge. As they are no longer living in body, may my humble effort win their spiritual approbation and blessing. These are not my only benefactors. H. E. H. the Niẓám’s government awarded me a special European Scholarship allowance which enabled me to carry on my researches in various Eastern and Western countries. To my Alma Mater, Cambridge, I owe my doctorate. The Trustees of the Gibb Memorial Fund have shown admirable generosity in publishing my Thesis in their Series. Prof. Nicholson, whom once the late Prof. Browne called the “godfather” to my work, stands foremost among those who have helped me in my studies. From the stage of manuscript to the correction of the last proofs, Dr. Nicholson has bestowed on the work such considerable pains and personal interest that words fail me to give adequate expression to my sense of gratitude towards him. There is another benefactor, Áqá Mírzá Muḥammad Khán of Qazwín, whose name I mention with deep reverence. It was he who when I met him in Paris broadened my vision of historical criticism and widened the horizon of the present work. To Sir Denison Ross, Professors Margoliouth, Barthold, Marquart, Kratchkovski, Thomas, Massignon, Messrs Edwards, Ellis, Storey, Blochet, Krenkow, Wharton, and Prof. Iqbál of Lahore I am indebted in various ways. I cannot end without expressing my sense of obligation to all those authors whose works I have consulted and the various librarians through whom Mss. and works of reference were made available to me. Nor can I forget two of my pupils, ‘Abdu’l-Jalíl and Bindú Madhua, who have so dutifully helped me in the preparation and correction of the proofs of the Index.

I regret that in spite of the efforts of several careful proof-readers, a number of mistakes have crept into the book, so that I have found it necessary to add a list of corrigenda. I hope and trust that any mistakes which may have escaped my notice will be kindly overlooked by indulgent readers.

Maḥbúb Vale, Ḥaydarábád-Dn.
22 Feb. 1929. M. NIẒÁMU’D-DÍN.