Sample Literature Research Paper on Nasir –e- Khosrow


Nasir-e- Khusraw was a Persian poet and writer in the eleventh century. His major subjects were religious as he wrote accounts on his travels to Palestine, Arabia, and Egypt. Through his poems and religious writings, he became significant more so to the Ismaili Islam in central Asia and in Iran. In 1986, his safarnama was translated to English. The book offers unique information in a coherent, first hand picture of the sights of Jerusalem, Cairo, and Mecca. The study focuses on the religious influences of Nasir to Islam. The theme of this study therefore, is Nasir brings issues concerning religion and governance clearly and in a concise manner in his works. The study seeks to answer the following research questions:

  1. What is the significance of the journey to Mecca for Nasir?
  2. What pertinent issues does Nasir raise from his journey to Mecca?
  3. How does Nasir as the author address these issues?


Nâsir-i Khusraw whose full name was Abu Muin Nasir b. Khusraw b. Harith al-Kubadhiyani was born in 1004 in the eastern region of the Iranian province of Khurasan. Celebrated as the medieval cultured poet, philosopher, and traveler, Nasir was among the most significant figures in the 11th century in Iran. This era was marked by other significant personalities such as Omar Khayyam, Hasan bin Sabbah. and al-Mua’yyid ash-Shirazi (Khusraw, 9). His father rose to be a landowner in the region of Balkh. He sought for education from childhood and devoted more than 30 years attaining education. Nasir went on to memorize the Holy Quran and became skilled in issues regarding tradition. Having memorized the philosophy of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, Nasir benefitted from more than the assumed religions. He is assumed to be initially a Shiite as he kept referring to himself as an Alawi. However, having resided among the Sayyids before his death, Nasir is taken to be a Sayyid, with descendants strongly following the Sunnis. It is controversial how Nasir died, as no one knows how and when he died. Researchers however believed that he died at the age of 87 to 100 as it is assumed that he died in the year 481 A. H. at Yamgan and buried in the same place. His mausoleum is perceived a holy shrine by the residents of Badakhshan (Wright 102).

Nasir Khusraw pursued family customs and became a government worker in a financial level and a government secretary. In his adulthood, he began searching for answers concerning personal dissatisfaction. At forty years, he describes a dream he had that eventually transformed his life to assurance and preaching. He resigned from his position and began his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1046, which lasted for seven years. He travelled through Persia, Syria, and Asia Minor before arriving in Cairo the following year where he settled for three years (Nāṣir-i, Khusraw 36).

Studying and receiving training with other Fatimid intellectuals, Nasir acquired more insights on poetry, theology, grammar, and astronomy. After his return home, Nasir assumed the role of the head of the Ismaili administration. Due to the ongoing persecution in his home place, he had to flee to Yumgan region in Badakshan where he resided all his life (Al-Atawneh 723). His major Persian works included the travelogue, poetry, and philosophy. The travelogue described cities, societies, customs, and archaeological works of that period. His expertise in poetry has led many Persian speakers to rank him among the best poets. French majorly knew Nasir later in the nineteenth century after the translation of the Safar-nama by Charles Schefer of Paris. It was during this period that the German Scholar, Ethe and French orientalist Fagnan edited his other works. These translations offered significant introduction to the medieval prose.

Significance of the journey to Mecca for Nasir

The journey Nasir made to Mecca defined his later life as he rose to become one f the powerful imams of his time. He commenced on his journey as an orthodox Muslim and was converted to Ismailism in Egypt making him to come back as an Ismaili missionary of high ranking as a Hujjat. According to Khusraw (2), the truth that Nasir acquired was only Islam, interpreted from religion. Concerning his conversion, he gave two statements in his Safarnama. First, he had a dream at the beginning of his journey and secondly, he confessed of his qasidas. In his travelogue, he narrated how on a certain night as he was asleep, he dreamt of seeing a man who enquired from him how long he was to continue drinking wine that destroys human reason. The man advised him to seriously consider being sober. He answered that, “The wise have not invented any better means for reducing sorrows of the world.” That man told him that a senseless and unconsciousness does not result to peace of mind. A wise man fails to have followers when he in still unconscious. The addresser in the dream retorted that it is essential to search for an element, which flourishes reason and increases wisdom. Such element can only be located in Qibla. This man showed him the direction, which is apparently on the direction of Mecca and then he disappeared. This was first the sign of the Fatimid Imams in Cairo Egypt (Shani 308). Nasir resigned from his job and set out for the journey. He knew the risks involved by his actions but was obliged to obey the voice, which precisely was from either the Prophet or the Imam. According to the Islamic belief, it is the prophet only appears in a dream to pious personalities and not everyone (Kettella 95). Thus, the holy visitor in Nasor’s dream was holy with exceptional devotion and asset. The sincere devotion of his Shiite compelled him to convert to Ismalilsm so he could recover from the chronic drunkenness. Nasir was thus awakened from his intoxication, convinced to adopt the Ismailia faith before accepting higher training and instructions.

Nasir’s journey to Mecca was highly significant as it defined his later life as a poet and as a religious leader. He was able to recover from his chronic drunkenness and awake from the intoxication. Through the man in the dream, Nasir managed to direct others through the warning he had received. After the dream, Nasir was able to adopt a higher calling of his life, which was contrary to the government job he had. He managed to set out, travelling by the way of Shaburqan to Merv and visiting the tombs of the holy men gone ahead of him. He passed by the tomb of Sufi saint Bayazid of Bistan at Qumis, met ustad Ali Nisai, who was a pupil of Avicenna and professor on arithmetic, geometry and medicine. Nisai was instrumental later to his acquired knowledge in the arithmetic and medical fields. Going ahead, Nasir encountered poet Oatran, to whom he dispatched passages in poems of Daqiqi and Maujik. As he went on with his journey, he had the opportunity to meet significant Arabic philosophical poets like Abul-ala-af-Ma’arri, who greatly influenced his writings. In Syria, he went on to visit the tombs of prophets and other religious places such as Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Nasir attained climax in his life while in Cairo. This is the place where he encountered excellent administration of Imams of the Fatimid Caliphs. He encountered vast wealth, contentment and security of his subjects (Kettellb 64). This he further explains in his description of the mosques, gardens, and buildings. He acquired values skills on leadership from the Fatimid administration, became impressed with the authority of the military, and preservation of the laws peace and order. This impression is further noted in his travelogue where he stated that the Fatimids are the only lawful authorities and preservers of the garden of Allah. Thus, Nasir managed to acquire the rich lifestyle and wealth of the Muslims. He experienced prosperity, the rich bazaars, and tranquility in the Islamic regions he passed especially in Egypt, irrespective of the wars and differences he encountered in other countries such as Persia. He concluded that only the Ismailism could liberate the true believers of Islam from the unavoidable destruction. This is as a result of the wise and prudent leadership of the Ismaili in Egypt.

As he traversed the Islamic regions, Nasir encountered in Fatimid Caliph, Al-Imam Mustansir billah. In the Court in Cairo in 439 A. H. this personality was among the twelve ‘Hujjats’ of the Imam (Helen 94). Nasir managed to discuss with him the allegories of the holy Quran and the secrets of the religious law. From this religious acquisition, Nassir was better equipped with more comprehension regarding religious law. It is also at this location where Nasir acquired the right-fullness of the Imam and accepted him as his Imam. He recorded that he searched in the entire world for the meaning of the allegories of the Holy Quran but found them only with the Fatimid Caliphs. The excellent knowledge of the teacher was above all that he had ever acquired in his religious journey.

Nasir acquired philosophical knowledge at Jama-Azhar, held discussions with the intelligent Dai-ui-Duwa’t, where he acquired knowledge on philosophy. He came before Imam Mustansir billah, from whom he received the blessings of an Imam and the title of Dai-ud-Duwa’t. Hence, the journey to Mecca enabled Nasir modify his behavior and personality and acquire the higher discipline of an Imam, and a role model to Muslims (Shani 308). This journey enabled him to overcome personal luxuries and propagate the Da’wah with immense eagerness. In this religious works, he managed to send missionaries to provinces, he had knowledge of religions and the eloquence of these regions.

Pertinent issues Nasir raises from his journey to Mecca

From his journey, Nasir introduced the world to various Islamic cities he was well versed with. He comprehensively talked about them including intricate details about the colleges, mosques, scientists and the populations. He wrote his poems in his Diwan upon retirement, majoring on praise of Ali. He defines his passionate outcries over Khorasan and the rulers who drove him out of his home. Nasir explores on the satisfaction he acquires by living in solitude in Tumgan (Steiner 80). He goes on to include his dejection when he experienced hatred from his previous friends. He was apparently secluded from participating in the magnificent game of life. his other work, Gushayish wa Rahayish a Persian philosophical work discusses about creation, concerns related to the soul, epistemology and Ismaili Islamic doctrines.

From the outbursts of anticipation and desolation, Nasir enlightens the reader on aspects of morality and warning the reader on issues related to deception and treachery of humanity (Wright 197). The audience comes to realize the foolishness and prejudice of humankind, insincerity, giddiness, and brutality of the courts precisely. His works, Shish Fasi and the Book of Felicity contains aspects of cosmography and the requirements of shunning the company of fools and double-minded friends. These writings further enlighten the reader on the secret snares of greedy men in search for power and wealth. Comparing these writings culminates in the praise of Mustansir, warranting the reader to perceive it as a covert allusion to the eminent men revealed to the poet in Cairo. The man confirmed to him what he considered the delightful hierarchy to advanced facts and religious happiness. The Sa’datnama contains related series of outstanding teachings on practical understanding and the sanctions of honorable life of a more brutal and uncompromising character. Evaluating from extreme bitterness of attitude noticeable in the writings, the reader is inclined to believe it is a complaint touching the vile aspersions poured out on the writer’s moral and religious outlook throughout the tribulations that drove him to Yumgan.

From his writings, Travelling Provisions of Pilgrims and the Face of Religion, hypothetical descriptions of his religious and philosophical principles are incorporated. Nasir’s poetry is stuffed with advice and wisdom (Haynes 156). Being a role model, Nasir guided his subjects through his poetry. The Persian poetry is mostly enjoyed by the typical present Persian speaker. These poems can additionally be taught in grade school. The journey reveals background of Ka’bah as originating from Adam. After conducting his research, Nasir concluded that God Almighty through his perfect wisdom revealed to Adam about the holy structure, not only for himself but for his descendants too.

How Nasir addresses Pertinent issues

Nasir noted particular concerns in his travelogue, Safarnama thereby defining the prospect of conventional Persian travel writing. The travelogue contains aspects of his seven-year journey in the Islamic world. At the onset, he set out on a Hajj through a less direct route. He headed north towards the Caspian Sea. He therefore described numerous challenges and elements of life in the Islamic world through the Persian travelogue. The travelogue is therefore highly essential as it depicts an accurate account of the condition of the Muslim world (Khusraw 208).

Later in his life, Nasir compiled the Safarnama that he had used to compile notes about his seven-year journey. He applied a straightforward prose to write the travelogue, instead of the poetic and philosophical nature of Diwan. He describes himself, his life and monumental decisions made towards Mecca (Khusraw 69). He offers an account of extraordinary dream, in which he communicates with a man that motivates him to seek only the beneficial and intelligence aspects. From his account, he gains an impetus to perform a hajj from the direction the man in the dream gives. Later on in his travelogue, Nasir defines cities and town, particularly focusing on Mecca. Through the vivid descriptions, the audience and religious faithful are able to acknowledge and appreciate the cities, and precise civic buildings.

Another approach Nasir adopted to introduce precise concerns to his writings was through the Persian philosophical writing, Gushayish wa Rahayish. This writing was translated to English under the title ‘Knowledge and Liberation’. He managed to introduce aspects of the souls and the body, epistemology, creation and Ismaili Islamic doctrines. Conventional Persians were able to read accounts of different stories from Nasir’s account. ‘The Book of Felicity’ and ‘The Book of Enlightment’ were additional writings through which Nasir managed to introduce topics related to cosmography, mainly, Avicenna’s theories. These books are useful as they highlight the pure Ismaili ideologies, moral maxim, and inventive thoughts of man. These writings were useful to Nasir as they offered him an opportunity to discuss the theoretical descriptions of religion and philosophical principles. Concerning mathematical concept, Nasir gives an account that no one could surpass him in coming up with mathematical concepts to solve mathematical problems. Through finding a solution to a problem, Nasir was able to assist readers overcome tasks and challenges (Bader, 10). In poetry, Nasir gave wisdom and advice to the audience regarding different aspects. Among these poems were “The Gourd and the Palm tree.”



Among the foremost Persian poets and writers in the eleventh century is Nasir-e- Khusraw whose major subjects were religious. Nâsir-i Khusraw whose full name was Abu Muin Nasir b. Khusraw b. Harith al-Kubadhiyani was born in 1004 in the eastern region of the Iranian province of Khurasan Nasir was influential in his poems and religious writings, through his safarnama were translated to English. The book offers unique information in a coherent, original perspective of Jerusalem, Cairo, and Mecca. From the study, Nasir greatly contributed to Islamic religion. The theme of this study therefore is Nasir conveys issues concerning religion and governance clearly and in a concise manner in his works. Research questions of the study therefore are:

  1. What is the significance of the journey to Mecca for Nasir?
  2. What pertinent issues does Nasir raise from his journey to Mecca?
  3. How does Nasir as the author address these issues?

. Travelling to Mecca, Nasir’s journey was highly significant as it defined his later life as a poet and as a religious leader. He recovered from chronic drunkenness and awake from the intoxication. It is through this journey that Nasir is able to introduce the world to various Islamic cities. From his poems in his Diwan, Nasir explores on the satisfaction he acquired by living in solitude in Tumgan. He includes his dejection when he experienced hatred from his previous friends. He was apparently secluded from participating in the magnificent game of life. His Gushayish wa Rahayish discusses about creation, concerns related to the soul, epistemology and Ismaili Islamic doctrines.


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Khusraw, Nāṣir-I. Nasir-i Khusraw’s Book of travels. Ed. Wheeler McIntosh Thackston. Mazda Publishers, 2001.

Nāṣir-i, Khusraw, and W M. Thackston. Nasir-i Khusraw’s Book of Travels: Safarnāmah. Costa Mesa, Calif: Mazda Publishers, 2001. Print.

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