THE Reader's attention is invited to the following points in this literal translation of the Sikandar Náma,e bara (the Book of Alexander the Great, relating his adventures as a conqueror by land), by Shaikh Nizámí of Ganja.

(a) The cantos and the couplets are numbered, rendering reference easy.

(b) Each line of the translation agrees with the corresponding line in the original Persian text; the two lines forming a couplet are not run into each other.

(c) A complete table of contents is given.

(d) Alternative renderings of passages and copious notes elucidating difficult and obscure points, make the Student's path as smooth and as easy as it is possible to make it by means of a trans­lation.

The Persian texts of the Sikandar Náma,e bara vary greatly. The Persian text of this translation is that which was brought out at Calcutta, in 1812* —under the auspices of Lord Minto, Governor-General of India, and under the direction of Dr. Lumsden, Professor of Arabic at Fort William, Calcutta—by Maulaví Badr 'Alí and Maulaví Husayn 'Alí; but assistance has been obtained from several other Persian texts.*

As he reads, the Student should number the couplets of his Persian texts so as to make them accord with those of his translation. Much trouble in making references will thus be saved.

The Sikandar Náma,e bara, as a whole or in part, is required for—

(a) The first examination in Arts at the University of Calcutta.
* (b) The examination for the Degree of Honour.*

The work done in this translation consists of seventy-two cantos, aggregating six thousand eight hundred and eighty-six couplets.

2. The original is in verse, but this translation is in prose. To render the Sikandar Náma in verse, one should be a poet at least equal in power to the author. Even then it would be well-nigh impossible to clothe the Persian verse in such an English dress as would truly convey its beauties. Moreover, if such a translation could be prepared—no matter how beautiful it might be in execution—it would be of little value to the Student. In support I would quote the following authors:—

Mr. Sale says:—

I have thought myself obliged to keep somewhat scrupulously close to the text, by which means the language may seem to express the Arabic a little too literally to be elegant English. We must not expect to read a version of so extraordinary a book with the same ease and pleasure as a modern composition.*

Sir W. Jones says:—

I would recommend a version (of the poem “Lailạ va Majnún,” by 'Abdu-'lláh Hátífí, A.D. 1520) in modulated but unaffected prose in preference to rhymed couplets; and though not a single image or thought should be added by the translator, yet it would be allowable to omit several conceits which would appear unbecoming in European dress. We cannot show less indulgence to a poet of Irán than we do to our immortal countryman, Shakespeare.

In the translation of the following twenty tales by Niámí of Ganja, not only every attempt at elegance, but even the idiom of our language and the usual position of words have been designedly sacrificed to a scrupulous fidelity.

Those who understand Persian have no need of any translation; those who are learning it will be assisted by a verbal one, however inelegant; those who neither know nor intend to learn it are at liberty, indeed, to say what they please of the images and sentiments which such a version preserves, but have no right to give an opinion on the original composition.*

Mr. E. H. Palmer says:—

I have translated each sentence as literally as the difference in structure between the two languages would allow, and, when possible I have rendered it word for word. Where a rugged or common-place expression occurs in the Arabic, I have not hesitated to render it by a similar English one, even where a literal rendering may perhaps shock the reader. To preserve this closeness of rendering I have had, in several instances, to make use of English constructions often inelegant.*

3. Where any attempt has been made to depart from the literal rendering, all connection with the original is lost, all the Oriental imagery, and all hope of giving aid to the Student.

Of Háfi, a passage is rendered by Nott, by Richardson, and by Sádiḳ; and another passage by Sádiḳ, Mooreed, Amator, Shourqueen, and by Gulchín—in such a way that there is similarity neither between one translation and another, nor between any of the translations and that translated.

An old judge says:—“The doings into English of Persian poetry scarcely ever convey the correct sense of the original.”

In proof thereof he produces translations, dissimilar to each other and incorrect as regards the original, of a passage from Khákání, by Jonathan Scott (in Smith's “Persian Múnshí,” p. 222) and by Gilchrist (in the “Oriental Linguist,” p. 159); and annexes the correct rendering.*

In his translation of the Sháh Náma, Mr. Atkinson says:—

Such are, since time began, the ways of Heaven, Such the decree of Fate; sometimes raised up,

And sometimes hunted down by enemies. Men, struggling, pass through this precarious life,

Exalted now to sovereign power; And now steeped in the gulph of poverty and sorrow.

To one is given the affluence of Karun; Another dies in want. How little know we

What hue our future fortune may assume. The world is all deceit; deception all!


The literal rendering is :—

Thus is the usage of the house of deceit (this world); Sometimes in exaltation; sometimes in degradation.

Thus it was as long as the sky revolved; It is sometimes strife and bitterness; sometimes sweetness and love.

This one, Thou bringest forth to the lofty sphere; That one, Thou makest contemptible, and pitiable, and despicable.

This one, Thou bringest from the moon to the pit (of degradation); That one, Thou bringest from the pit to the moon.

This one, Thou bringest forth, and givest (him) sovereignty; That one, Thou givest to the fish in the sea.

Not Thine—love for this one. Not Thine—hate to that one. O World Creator! Thou art the best knower.

Thou art the height and the depth of the world: I know not what Thou art; whatever is—Thou art.


Were it desirable, and did space suffice, many instances might be cited from quite recent Oriental publications, in which the writers have displayed their own powers of verse at the sacrifice of the beautiful imagery and thought of the original.

The translating of Oriental verse into English verse may be deemed impracticable; for, save in a few cases of wonderful success, it must have, to the Reader who knows the original, something of the effect of hearing a song through a telephone.*

4. On the beauty of Oriental literature, I may be allowed to cite the opinion of Sir W. Jones, who says :—

Persia has produced more writers of every kind (chiefly poets) than all Europe together, since their way of life gives them leisure to pursue those arts which cannot be cultivated to advantage without the greatest calmness and serenity of mind.

At Oxford is a manuscript (in Hyper. Bodl. 128) containing the lives of a hundred and twenty-eight of the finest Persian poets; the moderate poets are without number.

The delicacy of their lives and sentiments has affected their language, and rendered it the softest as it is one of the richest in the world. Those authors who are generally esteemed in Persia are neither slavish in their sentiments nor ridiculous in their expressions.

A variety of causes have concurred to obstruct the progress of Eastern literature.

Some have never heard of the Asiatic writings; others will not be convinced that there is anything valuable in them. Some pretend to be busy; others are really idle. Some detest the Persians because they believe in Muhammad; others despise their language because they do not understand it.

We all love to excuse or to conceal our ignorance.

Another reason is the great scarcity of books, necessary to be read before it (Persian) can be perfectly learned. The greater part of them are preserved in the libraries of Europe, where they are shown more as objects of curiosity than as sources of information. Thus, while the writings of Greece and of Rome are studied by every man of liberal education,—the works of the Persians, a nation equally distinguished in ancient history, are either wholly unknown to us, or considered destitute of taste or of invention.

M. de Voltaire, who excels all writers of his age and country in the elegance of his style, acknowledges the beauty of the Persian images and sentiments.

The work of Firdausí remains entire, a glorious monument of Eastern genius and learning, which, if ever it should be generally understood in its original language, will contest the merit of invention with Homer himself, whatever may be thought of its subject or of the arrangement of its incidents.

In no language (ancient Hebrew excepted), are there more pious and sublime addresses to the Being of beings, more splendid enumerations of His attributes, or more beautiful descriptions of His visible works, than in the Ḳurán (Arabic); in the poems of Sa'dí, Niámí, and of Firdausí (Persian); in the four Vedas, and in many parts of the Puránas (Sanscrit).

I must request that in bestowing these praises on the writings of Asia I may not be thought to derogate from the merit of Greek and Latin poems, which have justly been admired in every age. Yet I cannot but think that our European poetry has subsisted too long on the perpetual repetition of the same images and incessant allusions to the same fables; and it has been my endeavour for several years to inculcate this truth—that if the principal writings of the Asiatics were printed with notes and illustrations, and if the languages of the Eastern nations were studied in our great seminaries of learning (where every other branch of useful knowledge is taught to perfection)—a new and ample field would be opened for speculation; we should have a more extensive insight into the history of the human mind; we should be furnished with a new set of images and similitudes, and a number of excellent compositions would be brought to light, which future scholars might explain and future poets might imitate.*

5. Sir W. Ouseley says :—

Of the Sikandar Náma,e bara va baḥrí, I made several years ago an abridgement in prose, which shall form part of my future work on the history of Alexander.

It was not unreasonable to expect that some interesting traditions might be preserved among the Persians; and if these traditions differ from the narratives of our historians, we must recollect that the Greeks disagree in reporting even the transactions which they had witnessed, a discordance censured by Strabo (book xv.) and by Arrian (Pro-œmium).

The “History of Alexander,” in Latin, by Julius Valerius, printed at Milan, 1817, translated from the Greek of Æsop, relates in prose of Alexander the same fables that Firdausí uttered six or seven centuries later. Probably, in the first or the second century, the fabulous anec­dotes of Alexander passed, in their Eastern dress, from Persia into Egypt, and were thence transmitted to Greece and to Rome.

The fables related by Julius Valerius, Joannes Malala, Cedrennus, and others, are embellishments of ill-understood passages in the classical history of Alexander.*

6. With regard to the difficulties in the way of acquir­ing a knowledge of Oriental languages, the following is apposite:—

My wonder is that so little has been done in the way of printing correct editions and translations of Oriental books. If students in their European classical education have the aid of accurate translations and commentaries of the Greek and the Roman authors,—is it not unac­countable how they are left without almost any such assistance in acquiring a knowledge of Persian, in which they have not only to encounter the difficulty of learning a language entirely new to them, but also to undergo the nearly insuperable labour of decyphering illegible lithographic editions?

No monthly list of printed books is published, but we have new Latin and new Greek grammars and dictionaries, and the thousandth reprint of a Greek or a Latin author, with notes.

If classical literature, which has been studied in all parts of Europe for five centuries, still stands in need of such assistance,—how much greater must be the need in the case of Oriental literature, which is of much greater difficulty. Few of the standard works are in print; those printed often want heads of chapters, pages, glossaries, indices, tables of contents, division into sentences and paragraphs.

The charge of neglecting to provide such indispensable assistance is especially applicable to this country. On the Continent, Oriental books are printed, and attempts made to make them more easily read and understood.*

Remembering that Modern Persian is drenched with Arabic, whose daughter it is, the following is note­worthy:—

In Sanscrit and cognate languages the roots of verbs are biliteral, so that the permutation of fifty Indian letters would give 50 x 49=2450 roots.

In Arabic the roots are (with a few exceptions) triliteral, so that the twenty-eight Arabian letters would give 28 x 27 x 26=19656 roots.

Although many of its roots are lost, and some were perhaps never in use, yet if we suppose 10,000 of them (without reckoning quadri-literals) to exist, and each of them to admit only five variations, one with another, in forming derivative nouns,—an Arabic dictionary ought to contain 50,000 words, of which each may receive a multitude of changes by the rules of grammar. No man uninspired was ever a complete master of Arabic; in fact, no man now living in Europe or in Asia can read without study a hundred couplets together in any connection of ancient Arabian poems.

The great author of the Ḳámus (a dictionary) learned by accident from the mouth of a child in a village of Arabia the meaning of three words which he had long sought in vain from grammarians, and from books of the highest reputation.*

7. That encouragement and help will in future be given there is some hope, not only from the evidence afforded by the occasional publication in these days of Oriental works, but also by the Report (November 8, 1871) of the Board of Oriental Studies at Cambridge.

The Board of Oriental Studies are unanimously of opinion that the time has now arrived for assigning to the Oriental languages a more prominent position among the studies of the University

The Board beg to recommend the establishment of two independent Triposes—(1) the Semitic, (2) the Aryan.

In the Semitic (first) group, Hebrew (with Chaldee), Syriac, and Arabic might be taken as the best representatives.

In the Aryan (second) group, Sanskrit holds the first and foremost place. Persian also possesses an extensive literature of special value for historic and theosophic investigations; it is cultivated by the Muhammadans in India, as well as by those in Persia itself, and might therefore be introduced with advantage into the Tripos.


8. On the Sufí,istic passages scattered throughout this work, the Student may consult:—

Discourses by Sir W. Jones, delivered before the Asiatic Society, vol. ii. pp. 131–150; De Bode's “Bukhárá”; “A History of Muham-madanism,” by Charles Mills, 1818, p. 473; “History of Persia,” by Sir John Malcolm, 1829, art. “Soofees”; Lane's “Modern Egyptians,” vol. i. chap. 3; “Sind,” by Richard Burton, chap. viii.; “Notes on Muhammadanism,” by C. E. Hughes, p. 227; “A Muhammadan brought to Christ,” London, C. Missionary House, 1869, pp. 10-16; “Islám,” by T. Stobart, 1878, p. 201; the Printed Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts in the British Museum, by Dr. Charles Rieu, 1881, pp. 35-45 (Quaritch & Co.).*

9. Full well I know that grave defects must have their place in a work so long and so arduous as this. All endea-vours to translate a Persian poem into another language must fall short of their aim when the obligation is imposed of producing a translation that shall be at once literal, idiomatic, and faithful to each thought of the original. Of my faults I am very sensible; but I have no doubt that those who discern them and know the difficulty of the undertaking will give me fair quarter.

Finally, I would mention that the translation was made in a tropical country, in leisure moments, amidst the pressure and the stress of professional duties most arduous and laborious, and under circumstances most harassing and wearing.


Calcutta, East India,

April, 1880.



(a) “The Fragrant Gales of Sociality,” by Maulaví Núru-'d-Dín 'Abdu-'r-Rahmán Jámí, born A.H. 817, died 898 or 899. Calcutta, A.D. 1858.

(b) “Biographical Notices of Poets,” by Daulat Sháh bin Alláhu-'d-Daulat bin Bakhtu-'s-Samarḳandí, in A.H. 952.

(c) “The Bringer of News of those Gone to God,” by Abú 'Abdu-'lláh Muhammad Fáil bin Sayyid Ahmad bin Sayyid Hasan, in A.H. 1060. The author, descended from a family that lived at Tirmiz, near Bukhára, lived at Akbár-ábád (Agra), in India. Calcutta, 1833, p. 54.

(d) “The Fire Temple of Ázar,” by Hájí Luf 'Alí Ázar, born A.H. 1134. Calcutta, 1833, p. 318.

(e) “The Explanations of Doubts with the Names of Works of Sciences,” by Musafạ bin 'Abdu-'lláh Kátib-i-Jalábí Hájí, who died A.D. 1199. London, 1842, p. 176.

(f) “The Friend of Characters, with Narratives of Individuals of Mankind,” by Ghiyásu-'d-Dín; a history from the earliest times up to A.H. 930. Bombay, 1857, p. 112.

(g) “The Seven Heavens,” or History of the Masnaví of the Persians, being an introduction to Niámí's Iḳbál Náma,e Sikandarí (the Sikandar Náma,e bahrí), by Maulaví Ágha Ahmad 'Alí. Bibliotheca Indica, Asiatic Society of Bengal, New Series, No. 294, 1873, p. 26.

(h) The Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum, by Charles Rieu, Ph.D. 1881, vol. ii. pp. 564-567. B. Quaritch & Co., London.

1. Abú Muhammad bin Yusuf bin Mu,ayyid-i-Nizámu-'d-Dín, * was born A.H. 535 at Nakrash,* in the province of Kum; but he spent nearly the whole of his life at Ganja,* a town of Arrán, the modern Elizabethopol, in Ázarbíján, where he died in great renown and sanctity, A.H. 599.* After his death the five following works of his were collected, probably by his son, and called the “Khamsah,” the quintuple; or Panj Ganj, the Five Treasures:

(1.) Makhzanu-'l-Asrár (by the Kashfu-'z-Zunún, called the Panj Ganj), or the Magazine of Secrets.

This, the first of his compositions, was completed in A.H. 559, and dedicated to Fakhru-'d-Dín Bahrám Sháh, son of Dá'úd, king of Armenia and Rúm, who gave Niámí five thousand dínárs of gold and a camel laden with rich stuffs.

Bahrám Sháh, a grandson of a Saljúkí Amír Mangúchak Ghází, was the hereditary ruler of Arzanján, and a vassal of Kilij Arslán (A.H. 558-578), who had given him a daughter in marriage. He died A.H. 622.

A Persian text was edited by Nathaniel Bland, in London, 1844, and lithographed at Kánpúr, 1869. An English translation in manu­script, by J. H. Hindley, is preserved in the British Museum. The contents are given by Von Hammer.

(2.) Shírín va Khusrau (Shírín, the lady; and Khusrau Parvíz, the king, A.D. 591).

This was completed A.H. 576,* and dedicated to Shamsu-'d-Dín Abú Ja'far Muhammad.

The Persian text was lithographed at Láhúr, A.H. 1288. For the contents, see Von Hammer's “Schirin ein Persiches Romantisches Gedicht nach Morgen-landischen Quellen.” Leipzig, 1809.

(3.) Laila va Majnún (Laila, the lady; and Majnún, the distraught lover).

This was completed A.H. 584, and dedicated to Jalál-i-Daulatu-'d-Dín Abú-'l-Muaffar Ikhtishán, son of Minúchihr.

A Persian text was lithographed at Lakhnau, A.H. 1286, and a translation made by James Atkinson, in London, A.D. 1836.

Of this master-work Niámí says:—Five thousand couplets and more were written in less than four months. Had I not been hindered by other occupations, they might have been written in fourteen nights.

(4.) Haft Paikar (the Seven Images).

This was composed at the desire of King 'Ala,u-'d-Dín Karb (?) Arslán, of the line of Aḳsunḳur, and completed A.H. 593. In some copies Alap Arslán, or Ḳizil Arslán (who died A.H. 587), has erroneously been substituted for Karb, or Karba.*

A Persian text was lithographed at Bombay, A.D. 1849, at Lakhnau, A.H. 1290. One of the seven tales was published, with a German translation, by F. Von Erdmann—“Behramgur und die Russiche Fuer Stentochter.” Kasan, 1844.*

(5.) Sikandar Náma.

This consists of two distinct parts—the Sikandar Náma,e bara and the Sikandar Náma,e bahrí.*

(a.) The Sikandar Náma,e bara* (Sharaf Náma,e Khusraván, or Sharaf Náma,e Sikandar), or “Book of Alexander the Great, relating his Adventures as a Conqueror by Land,” written after the Haft Paikar* (A.H. 593), was completed, according to the Haft Asmán, in A.H. 597, and dedicated to Nașratu-'d-Dín Abú Bakr (son of Jahán Pahlaván Muhammad), who succeeded his uncle, the Atábuk Ḳizil Arslán, in Tabríz, A.H. 587, and died A.H. 607.

There are many lithographed Persian texts.* Extracts will be found in—Franz Von Erdmann's work, “De Expeditione Russorum Berda am Versus,”* Kasan, 1838; in Charmoy's “Expedition d'Alexandre contre les Russes,”* St. Petersburg, 1829; in Spiegel, “Die Alexander sage bei den Orientalen,” Leipzig, 1851, pp. 33-50.

(b.) The Sikandar Náma,e bahrí (Khirad Náma,* or Iḳbál Náma,e Sikandarí), or “Book of Alexander the Great, relating his Adventures, as a Sage and a Prophet, by Sea,” was dedicated to Malik al Káhir 'Izzu-'d-Dín Mas'úd bin Núru-'d-Dín Arslán, who became the ruler of Mosul in A.H. 607, and died A.H. 615.

The great weight of evidence of an earlier date for Niámí's death must throw doubt on the authenticity of this dedication, which is wanting in most of the early copies, as well as in the printed texts, and which is almost entirely transcribed (with the exception of proper names) from canto xi. of the Sikandar Náma,e bara.

In other copies, the dedication is to Nasratu-'d-Dín, and at the end is an epilogue to a king called 'Izzu-'d-Dín, whose proper name, Mas'úd, is given farther on. This king, the son of Kutbu-'d-Dín Maudúd, ascended the throne of Mosul in A.H. 576, and died A.H. 589.

A Persian text was edited by Dr. Sprenger at Calcutta, 1852 and 1869,* and a lithographed text at Kánpúr, 1878. A short statement of the contents will be found in Erdmann's work, vol. i. p. 24, and an abstract in Dr. Bacher's memoir,* pp. 101-171. See also Dr. Ethé Alexander's “Zug Zum Lebensquell, Sitzung Sherichte der Bayerischen Akademie,” 1871, pp. 343–405.

2. The Átash Kada,e Azar and the Kashfu-'z-Zanún substitute the Ikbál Náma for Shírín va Khusrau; but they are in error.*

3. The Makhzanu-'l-Asrár is written in the metre called sarí' (used for philosophical verse); Shírín va Khusrau and Laila va Majnún are in hazaj (used for love verse); Haft Paikar is in khafíf (used for festive verse); and the Sikandar Náma,e bara va bahrí are both in mutakárib (used for war-epics).

Since the time of Nizámí, it has been obligatory for poets to begin Díwáns with the hamd, the praise of God, followed successively by the na't, the praise of the Prophet; the munáját, the prayer for himself; the madh-i-sultán, the praise of the king; the sabab-i-tálíf, the cause of the composing of the book; and the sitáyish-i-sukhan, the praise of speech.

4. In the Tazkirat-i-Daulat Sháh and the Átash Kada,e Azár it is stated that, besides the Khamsah, Nizámí wrote twenty thousand couplets in the form of kasá,id (idyls), ghazaliyát (odes), kitá'át (fragments), and rubá'iyát (tetrastichs),* which have disappeared.

5. Nizámí's father left him early an orphan; and his mother, who was of distinguished Khurd race, died when he was but a young man. He was married three times, and had, it would seem, only one son.

In the Sikandar Náma,e bara, Nizámí expresses a hope that his tomb at Ganja may become the place of pilgrimage of good men.* In the Átash Kada it is stated :—

“His tomb full of light is the place of pilgrimage of the great ones of the land.”

6. As it may interest the Reader to have some details of the life of this great poet in the words of the native historians, the following from Daulat Sháh is given :—

The lineage of Shaikh Niámí was of the pure soil of the village of Naḳrash, which is reckoned within the district of Kum, in 'Iráḳ-i-'Ajam. His worthy father having gone to Ganja—which, of the towns of A'zar-bíján, is esteemed, and whose water and air are celebrated for agreeableness—Niámí was there born, as he himself says in the Iḳbál Náma.

The qualities of this illustrious man are beyond computation. In the science of the way of God (Șúfí,ism),* his discipleship ended with Kay Furrukh, of the town of Zanjar. They say that, from the first period of youth up to the end of his life, he was not—like other poets, by reason of the overpowering nature of the appetites of lust and concupiscence—impetuous, nor an opposer of Suláns and great ones. Rather, indeed, his threshold was the head-rubbing place (in adoration) of Khusraus of exalted rank, so that King Atábuk Ḳizil Arslán,* with the desire of proving his worth, went to the Shaikh's retired corner.

By God's power the Shaikh, discovering his intention, displayed to the Sulán the dignity of the great ones of the earth.

After a while (the illusion removed) the Sulán beheld a weak old man, sitting on a piece of felt-cloth, who had before him the Book (the Ḳurán), an inkstand, a pen, and a staff.

In respect to the sanctity and the sincerity of the Shaikh, complete confidence came to the Sulán.

In the ranks of verse the Shaikh is higher than what I write. In the opinion of your humble servant, he is one of the four pillars of the country of verse.* In the year A.H. 576 the Humá of his purified soul flew to its holv nest.

After his death, the learned and the intelligent collected five books containing the ideas and thoughts of the holy Shaikh, and called the compilation the Khamsah, every book of which was versified at the entreaty of possessors of crown and throne.

Although, by the vicissitudes of Time and the want of connection of the books, not a fifth part has been left correct,—yet it is a pillar of the Panj-Ganj. For the poor of empty purse of the market of verse have, from these treasuries of the jewels of speech, coloured the pocket and the skirt of the heart and the eye, and still do so.

Selecting from the poems of the Khamsah is difficult, for the reason indeed, that if one should write all its lofty verses, they would be beyond the capacity of this book, and there would be need of another book; and if your humble servant should write a few couplets only, it would be unjust to the author. Hence, your hunble servant has left the selecting of selections of the Khamsah to the reader.

They attribute the story of “Vísa va Rámin”—some to Shaikh Niámí of Ganja, and some to Niámí 'Arúa of Samarḳand.*

In the opinion of your humble servant, if the tale be indeed by Shaikh Niámí of Ganja,—it must have been written early, when his verse had not reached maturity.

Besides, the tale was certainly dedicated to Sulán Mahmúd, son of Mașa'úd and grandson of Malik Sháh Saljúkí; and Niámí of Samar-ḳand lived only in the time of Malik Sháh Saljúkí.

For the tale of Shírín va Khusrau, Ḳizil Arslán gave Niámí fourteen villages well-built and populous.

In the Nafhatu-'l-Uns, it is said :—

Shaikh Niámí had a full portion of knowledge of external sciences and usages; but he withdrew his head from worldly things, and turned his face towards God, Most High and Worthy of Praise.

From beginning to end he passed his long life in contentment, devotion, retirement, and solitude. His five poems, the Khamsah, were written at the entreaty of Suláns of the age, who—hopeful that their names might, by means of his poems, remain on the page of Time— supplicated him to do so. For the most part, the verses are apparently tales, but really the means of revealing truths and of recognizing God.

In the Mukhbaru-'l-Vásilín, it is said :—

Of religion and of the world,—Niámí was the Shaikh;

Of the renowned prophets of God,—an example was he:

By the city of Ganja (the city of treasure) was acquired the treasure of religion,

For the sake of the existence of that perfect one.

Of his composition are five poems (the Khamsah);

His composition is higher than the habitation of reason.

The year of his departure (in death) from the world in exaltation and power

Is thus written—

“The Ganjaví (the man of Ganja, Niámí, is) the rose of Paradise.” The date is thus found :—

= 20 = 20 = 3
= 50 = 30 = 50
= 3 = 400
= 6
= 10
89 50 453

Hence, Niámí died A.H. 592, or A.D. 1195. The custom of fixing the date of an event by a word, a sentence, a hemistich, or by a whole verse, dates from A.H. 600 (circa).