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Rashid al-Din

Rashid al-Din

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Rashīd al-Dīn Tabīb also Rashīd al-Dīn Fadhl-allāh Hamadānī (1247–1318) , was a Persian physician of Jewish origin
Persian Jews
Persian Jews , are Jews historically associated with Iran, traditionally known as Persia in Western sources.Judaism is one of the oldest religions practiced in Iran. The Book of Esther contains some references to the experiences of Jews in Persia...

, polymath
Polymath
A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable...

ic writer and historian, who wrote an enormous Islamic history, the Jami al-Tawarikh
Jami al-Tawarikh
The Jāmiʿ al-tawārīkh, , or Universal History is an Iranian work of literature and history written by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani at the start of the 14th century.-The author:...

, in the Persian language
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, often considered a landmark in intercultural historiography
Historiography
Historiography refers either to the study of the history and methodology of history as a discipline, or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic...

 and a key document on the Ilkhanids (13th and 14th century). In 1980, an illuminated version of this manuscript in Arabic was sold at Sotheby's
Sotheby's
Sotheby's is the world's fourth oldest auction house in continuous operation.-History:The oldest auction house in operation is the Stockholms Auktionsverk founded in 1674, the second oldest is Göteborgs Auktionsverk founded in 1681 and third oldest being founded in 1731, all Swedish...

 to Nasser David Khalili
Nasser David Khalili
Nasser David Khalili, KCSS, KCFO is a British-Iranian property developer, art collector and philanthropist based in London. He holds [United Kingdom] citizenship....

 for £850,000, the then highest price ever paid for an Arabic manuscript.

His encyclopedic knowledge of a wide range of cultures from Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

 to China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 to the Steppes of Central Eurasia
Central Eurasia
Central Eurasia is a geographic term, which may refer to:* Central Asia, i.e., the five Central Asian Republics as well as the lower Volga Region in Russia, southern Siberia, Iran, Afghanistan, parts of China and Northern Pakistan, Kashmir and sometimes Mongolia and Tibet* The Caucasus region,...

 to Persia, the Arab lands, and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, provide the most direct access to information on the late Mongol era. His descriptions also highlight the manner in which the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 and its emphasis on trade resulted in an atmosphere of cultural and religious exchange and intellectual ferment, resulting in the transmission of a host of ideas from East to West and vice versa. Historian Morris Rossabi calls Rashid-al-Din "arguably the most distinguished figure in Persia during Mongolian rule".

Biography



Rashid al-Din Monafiq was born into a Jewish family at Hamadan
Hamadan
-Culture:Hamadan is home to many poets and cultural celebrities. The city is also said to be among the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities.Handicrafts: Hamadan has always been well known for handicrafts like leather, ceramic, and beautiful carpets....

 now hamadan Province
Hamadan Province
Hamedan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. Its center is Hamedan city. The province of Hamedan covers an area of 19,546 km². In the year 1996, Hamedan province had a population of approximately 1.7 million people....

). His grandfather had been a courtier to the founder Ilkhanate ruler Hulagu Khan
Hulagu Khan
Hulagu Khan, also known as Hülegü, Hulegu , was a Mongol ruler who conquered much of Southwest Asia...

, and Rashid al-Din's father was an apothecary
Apothecary
Apothecary is a historical name for a medical professional who formulates and dispenses materia medica to physicians, surgeons and patients — a role now served by a pharmacist and some caregivers....

 in the court. He converted to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 around the age of thirty.

Rashid was trained as a physician and started service under Hulagu's son Abaqa. He rose to become the Grand Vizier
Grand Vizier
Grand Vizier, in Turkish Vezir-i Azam or Sadr-ı Azam , deriving from the Arabic word vizier , was the greatest minister of the Sultan, with absolute power of attorney and, in principle, dismissable only by the Sultan himself...

 Ilkhanid
Ilkhanate
The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate , was a Mongol khanate established in Azerbaijan and Persia in the 13th century, considered a part of the Mongol Empire...

 court at Soltaniyeh
Soltaniyeh
Soltaniyeh is a city in and capital of Soltaniyeh District of Abhar County, Zanjan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 5,684, in 1,649 families. Soltaniyeh, located some to the north-west of Tehran, used to be the capital of Mongol Ilkhanid rulers of Persia in the 14th century....

, near Qazvin
Qazvin
Qazvin is the largest city and capital of the Province of Qazvin in Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 349,821, in 96,420 families....

. He served as vizier
Vizier
A vizier or in Arabic script ; ; sometimes spelled vazir, vizir, vasir, wazir, vesir, or vezir) is a high-ranking political advisor or minister in a Muslim government....

 and physician under the Ilkhanate emperors Mahmud Ghazan
Mahmud Ghazan
Mahmud Ghazan was the seventh ruler of the Mongol Empire's Ilkhanate division in modern-day Iran from 1295 to 1304. He was the son of Arghun and Quthluq Khatun, continuing a line of rulers who were direct descendants of Genghis Khan...

, Oljeitu, before he fell to court intrigues under Abu Sa'id, whose ministers had him killed at the age of seventy. His son Ghiyath al-Din briefly served as vizier after him.

Jami al-Tawarikh


His encyclopedic history, the Jami al-Tawarikh
Jami al-Tawarikh
The Jāmiʿ al-tawārīkh, , or Universal History is an Iranian work of literature and history written by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani at the start of the 14th century.-The author:...

("Compendium of Chronicles") was commissioned by Mahmud Ghazan
Mahmud Ghazan
Mahmud Ghazan was the seventh ruler of the Mongol Empire's Ilkhanate division in modern-day Iran from 1295 to 1304. He was the son of Arghun and Quthluq Khatun, continuing a line of rulers who were direct descendants of Genghis Khan...

, and initially was a history of the Mongols and their dynasty, but gradually expanded to include the entire history since the time of Adam to Rashid al-Din's time.

Rashid was assisted by Bolad
Bolad
Bolad, also known as Bolad chingsang , was a Mongol minister of the Yuan Dynasty, and later served in the Ilkhanate as an ambassador of the Yuan emperor and adviser to the Ilkhans...

, a Mongol nobleman who was the emissary of the Great Khan to the il-Khanid court. Bolad provided him with much background about Mongol history, especially about the Borjigin
Borjigin
Borjigin , also known as the Altan urug , were the imperial clan of Genghis Khan and his successors....

 clan.

The Compendium was completed between 1307 and 1316, during the reign of Muhammad Khodabandeh (Oljeitu).

Calligraphy Workshop: Rab' i-Rashidi


The work was executed at the elaborate scriptorium
Scriptorium
Scriptorium, literally "a place for writing", is commonly used to refer to a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the copying of manuscripts by monastic scribes...

 Rab'-e Rashidi
Rab'-e Rashidi
Rab'-e Rashidi was an academic complex back in 13th century and during Ilkhanid dynasty. During its long history much damage happened, by natural disasters or during its reconstruction. Most of the structure covered by 6 meters depth of soil and dust...

 at Qazvin
Qazvin
Qazvin is the largest city and capital of the Province of Qazvin in Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 349,821, in 96,420 families....

, where a large team of calligraphers and illustrators were employed to produce lavishly illustrated books. These books could also be copied, while preserving accuracy, using a printing process imported from China.

The work was at the time of completion, c. 1307, of monumental size. Several sections have not survived or been discovered. Portions of the Jami al-Tawarikh survive in lavishly illustrated manuscripts, believed to have been produced during his lifetime and perhaps under his direct supervision at the Rab'-e Rashidi workshop.

Historiographical significance


Volumes II and III of the Jami al-Tawarikh have survived and are of great importance for the study of the Il-Khanate. Volume II is an account of the successors of Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

 while volume III describes the Ilkhanid Dynasty. In his narration down to the reign of Möngke
Mongke
Mongke means "eternal" in Mongolian language and may refer to:-Medieval:* Möngke Khan , Great khan of the Mongol Empire* Yesü Möngke, khan of Chagatai khanate, 1247-1252* Mengu-Timur Mongke (also Mönkh, Monkh, Munkh) means "eternal" in Mongolian language and may refer to:-Medieval:* Möngke Khan...

 (1251–1259), Juvayni
Ata al-Mulk Juvayni
Atâ-Malek Jovayni was a Persian historian who wrote an account of the Mongol Empire entitled Ta' rīkh-i jahān-gushā .He was born in Juvain, a city in Khorasan in northeastern Iran...

 was Rashid al-Din's main source; however, he also utilized numerous now-lost Far Eastern and other sources. The Jami' al-Tawarikh is perhaps the single most comprehensive Persian source on the Mongol period.

For the period of Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

, his sources included the now lost Altan Debter
Altan Debter
The Altan Debter is an early, now lost history of the Mongols. Rashid al-Din had access to it when writing his Chronicles, Jami al-Tawarikh. And it is also believed that The Secret History of the Mongols is based on it....

(Golden Book), and historians find by comparison with material that survives in Chinese sources that he made good use of the source. His treatment of the Ilkhanid period seems to be biased, as he himself was a high official, yet it is still seen as the most valuable written source for the dynasty.

The most important historiographic legacy of the Jami' al-Tawarikh may be its documentation of the cultural mixing and ensuing dynamism that led to the greatness of the Persian and Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 empires, many aspects of which were transmitted to Europe and influenced the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. This was the product of the geographical extension of the Mongol Empire, and is most clearly reflected in this work by Rashid al-Din. The text describes the different peoples with whom the Mongols came into contact and is one of the first attempts to transcend a single cultural perspective and to treat history on a universal scale. The Jami attempted to provide a history of the whole world of that era, though many parts are sadly lost.

One of the volumes of the Jami' al-Tawarikh deals with an extensive History of the Franks (1305/1306), possibly based on information from Europeans working under the Ilkhanates such as Isol the Pisan
Isol the Pisan
Isol the Pisan, also known as Ciolo Bofeti di Anastasio or Zolus Bofeti de Anestasio , was an Italian merchant, diplomat, and military leader. For some time he resided at the court of the Mongol Ilkhan, Ghazan, in Persia, rising to become his ambassador or liaison to the Kingdom of Cyprus...

 or Dominican friars
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

, which is a generally consistent description with many details on Europe's political organization, the use of mappae mundi
Mappa mundi
Mappa mundi is a general term used to describe medieval European maps of the world. These maps range in size and complexity from simple schematic maps an inch or less across to elaborate wall maps, the largest of which was 11 ft. in diameter...

by Italian
Italian people
The Italian people are an ethnic group that share a common Italian culture, ancestry and speak the Italian language as a mother tongue. Within Italy, Italians are defined by citizenship, regardless of ancestry or country of residence , and are distinguished from people...

 mariners
Sailor
A sailor, mariner, or seaman is a person who navigates water-borne vessels or assists in their operation, maintenance, or service. The term can apply to professional mariners, military personnel, and recreational sailors as well as a plethora of other uses...

, and regnal chronologies derived from the chronicle of Martin of Opava
Martin of Opava
Martin of Opava, also known as Martin of Poland, was a 13th century chronicler.Known in Latin as Frater Martinus Ordinis Praedicatorum , he is believed to have been born, at an unknown date, in the Silesian town of Opava , thus sometimes called Martinus Oppaviensis, or also Martinus Polonus...

 (d. 1278).

Book transmission: printing and translation


Rashid al-Din also collected all of his compositions into a single volume, entitled Jami' al-Tasanif al-Rashidi ("The Collected Works of Rashid"), complete with maps and illustrations. He even had some of his shorter works, on medicine and government, translated into Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

. Anyone who wished was given access to his works and encouraged to copy them. In order to facilitate this, he set aside a fund to pay for the annual transcription of two complete manuscripts of his works, one in Arabic and one in Persian.

The printing process used at the workshop has been described by Rashid al-Din, and bears very strong resemblance to the processes used in the large printing ventures in China under Feng Dao
Feng Dao
Feng Dao was the Chinese government minister who, in 932, ordered the Confucian classics printed using movable wood blocks. About a century after the invention of block-printing, Feng Dao significantly improved the printing process, and utilized it as a political tool...

 (932–953):
when any book was desired, a copy was made by a skillful calligrapher on tablets and carefully corrected by proof-readers whose names were inscribed on the back of the tablets. The letters were then cut out by expert engravers, and all pages of the books consecutively numbered. When completed, the tablets were placed in sealed bags to be kept by reliable persons, and if anyone wanted a copy of the book, he paid the charges fixed by the government. The tablets were then taken out of the bags and imposed on leaves of paper to obtain the printed sheets as desired. In this way, alterations could not be made and documents could be faithfully transmitted. Under this system he had copies made, lent them to friends, and urged them to transcribe them and return the originals. He had Arabic translations made of those works he composed in Persian, and Persian translations of works composed in Arabic. When the translations had been prepared, he deposited them in the mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

 library of the Rab'-e Rashidi.

Controversy


Scholars are in dispute about whether Rashid al-Din's Letters are a forgery or not. According to David Morgan
David Morgan (historian)
David Morgan is a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His book The Mongols is considered a standard in the field. Originally published in 1986, a new expanded edition was published in 2007....

 in The Mongols Alexander Morton has shown them to be a forgery, probably from the Timurid
Timurid Dynasty
The Timurids , self-designated Gurkānī , were a Persianate, Central Asian Sunni Muslim dynasty of Turko-Mongol descent whose empire included the whole of Iran, modern Afghanistan, and modern Uzbekistan, as well as large parts of contemporary Pakistan, North India, Mesopotamia, Anatolia and the...

 period. One scholar who has attempted to defend the letters' authenticity is A. Soudovar, in his article "In defense of Rasid-od-din and his Letters".

Fahlavi Poems


There are some Fahlavi poems by him apparently in his native dialect: a hemistich called zabān-e fahlavī (1976, I, p. 290), a quatrain with the appellation bayt-efahlavī, and another hemistich titled zabān-e pahlavī( Fahlavi language).

Loss of influence and death


In 1312, his colleague, Sa'd al-Dawla, fell from power and was replaced by Ali Shah, who soon began intriguing to bring down Rashid al-Din. Then, in 1314, Mohammed Khodabanda
Mohammed Khodabanda
Mohammed Khodābande or Khudābanda, also known as Mohammed Shah or Sultan Mohammed , was the fourth Safavid Shah of Iran. He was the son of Shah Tahmasp I by a Turcoman mother, Sultanum Bekum Mawsillu...

 died and power passed to his son, Abu Sa'id. Young and inexperienced, Abu Sa'id sided with 'Ali Shah. In 1318, Rashid al-Din was charged with having poisoned Oljeitu. During the trial, Rashid al-Din proved that the letter cited against him in evidence was a forgery, but he was convicted anyway and executed on July 13, at the age of seventy.

His property was confiscated and—even worse from the standpoint of both art and history — Rab'-e Rashidi, with its scriptorium
Scriptorium
Scriptorium, literally "a place for writing", is commonly used to refer to a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the copying of manuscripts by monastic scribes...

 and its precious copies, was turned over to the Mongol soldiery. Only two fragments of the Jami' al-Tawarikh have survived, one of them the manuscript sold at Sotheby's
Sotheby's
Sotheby's is the world's fourth oldest auction house in continuous operation.-History:The oldest auction house in operation is the Stockholms Auktionsverk founded in 1674, the second oldest is Göteborgs Auktionsverk founded in 1681 and third oldest being founded in 1731, all Swedish...

 in 1980. A century later, during the reign of Timurlane's son Miranshah
Miranshah
Miranshah is the capital or headquarters of North Waziristan in Pakistan. It is the site of a town, which has s small airfield that was built by the British for World War II. The area in which Miranshah sits is extremely dangerous mainly due to Taliban activities and U.S. Drone...

, Rashid ad-Din's bones were exhumed from the Muslim cemetery and reburied in the Jewish cemetery.

Professor Saadat Noury
Saadat Noury
Saadat Noury , also spelled as Saadat Nouri, is an Iranian author, a poet, and a journalist. His full name is منوچهر سعا دت نوری Manouchehr Saadat Noury .-Early life and family:...

 in his article "First Iranian Record on Fingerprinting" claimed that "Khajeh Rashiduddin Fazlollah Hamadani (Rashid-al-Din Hamadani) was most likely the first Iranian who was familiar with the biometric methods and he was the one who introduced the old scientific technique of fingerprint."

See also




External links