Fursat al-Dawla Shirazi

Fursat Shirazi, Sayyid Muhammad Nasir Husayni (1854-1920), son of Mirza Ja’far. A writer, painter, and poet bearing the nom de plume Fursat and the titles Mirza Aqa and Fursat al-Dawla. Born into a cultured family in Shiraz, he developed a particular interest in learning sciences and arts. He studied under Shaykh Mufid, Aqa Mirza Abu al-Hasan Dastghayb, and Sayyid Jamal al-Din Asadabadi. He distinguished himself in his youth in Arabic grammar, logic, philosophy, arithmetic, astronomy, geometry and astrolabe and he knew Arabic, English, French, and the cuneiform and Pahlavi scripts. Interested in archaeology and conservation of ancient relics and monuments, he enjoyed studying grammar, rhetoric, philosophy, Qur’anic exegesis, mysticism, music, painting, poetry, and belles-lettres. He had a pleasant Shirazi accent. His speech was gentle and measured. A taciturn and generous man of good disposition, he led a simple life. He never married, but devoted his life to other people’s well-being. Having met Sayyid Jamal al-Din Asadabadi in Bushehr at the age of 32, they developed their friendship at later meetings. He has recorded some valuable quotations from Sayyid Jamal al-Din. Upon the return of Shu’a’ al-Saltana, Muzaffar al-Din Shah’s son, from Shiraz to Tehran he chose Fursat as his tutor and Muzaffar al-Din Shah granted him the title Fursat al-Dawla. Fursat was in Tehran during the Constitutional Revolution following which the Education Ministry was established and Fursat was appointed as the head of the Education Administration in Fars. Upon the establishment of the Justice Ministry, he was appointed the head of Education Administration in Fars. After a while, he was appointed the head of Administration for Education and Public Utilities and he as the head of both Administrations, those of education and justice simultaneously. Having traversed the Fars region and the ports in the south over a long period of time, he recorded the geographical conditions of those regions in his Athar al-‘Ajam. Fursat had learned Arabic grammar, rhetoric, logic, and philosophy from different masters, particularly Shaykh Mufid. He was a poet, painter, and musician of renown. He traveled to India and Iraq for some time. The offices he held include the Education Ministry, the Endowment Administration in Fars, Justice Ministry, journalism, teaching, and surveying. His vast domain of cultural, social, and political connections developed relationships with the personalities of the time, like Shaykh Mufid, bearing the nom de plume Davar; Hajj Taymur Khan Sayyah; Hajj Mu’tamid al-Dawla Farhad Mirza; Husam al-Saltana Murad Mirza, the governor of Fars and his brother, Mirza ‘Abd al-Karim ibn Mulla Ahmad Arsanjani; Mirza ‘Abbas Dara’i; Mirza Abu al-Hasan Dastghayb; Hajji Ahmad Khan, the vizier of Masqat and his son, Mirza Muhammad Khan Sadid al-Saltana; Sayyid Jamal al-Din Asadabadi; Muhanddis Pal; Manikji Sahib; Husayn Quli Khan Nizam al-Saltana, the governor of Fars; Riza Quli Khan Hidayat, Sardar Mukarram; Dr. Mann, the German; Malik Mansur Mirza Shu’a’ al-Saltana; Muzaffar al-Din Shah; As’ad al-Saltana; Sulayman Khan Rukn al-Mulk Shirazi; Zill al-Sultan; poets like Mun’im, Mirza-yi Suha, Mirza-yi Tarab, Sayyid Bazmi; personalities like ‘Abd al-Ghaffar Khan Najm al-Dawla; Mirza Jahangir Khan Sur Israfil; Mirza ‘Ali Asghar Khan Sadr A’zam (Chancellor); Mirza Muhammad Husayn Zuka’ al-Mulk; Abu al-Hasan Furughi; Hajj Fakhr al-Saltana; Siham al-Dawla, the governor of Fars; and Qawam al-Mulk Shirazi. His tomb is beside that of Hafiz in Shiraz. His works include Asar-i ‘Ajam, also known as Shiraznama; Ashkal al-Mizan on logic; Buhur al-Alhan on music, prosody, and poetry; Jughrafiya-yi Hindustan; Sarf wa Nahw; Khatt-i Ariya; Dabistan al-Fursa; Diwan of poetry; Munsha’at-i Fursat; Maqalat-i ‘Ilmi wa Siyasi (political and scholarly essays); Darya-yi Kabir; and Shatranjiyya. Asar-i ‘Ajam, also well-known as Shiraznama, is the most famous, the most complete, and the best of his works which includes 50 paintings by him and reflects his mastery in writing travelogues, analytical talent, and vast scholarly and historical knowledge besides his mastery of painting, indicating his simple, pleasant, and fluent styles of prose and poetry. The work includes travelogues including materials on history, geography, archaeology, and personalities in scholarship, belles-lettres, and politics flourishing in Fars, Shiraz, and occasionally other regions. The author has entitled the first and the second parts as Asar-i ‘Ajam and Shiraznama respectively. The first part includes reports of his travels and assignments prepared at the suggestion of notables from Persia and other countries in 1876, 1885, 1889, and 1893. The prose style of the work is the typical unadorned style with fewer Arabic words, though at times, it tends towards the extreme in adornment; nonetheless, Fursat’s style is eloquent and readable. The simple scholarly style of the work reflects the author’s erudition of the subject. Notwithstanding his serious intention to avoid rhetorical adornments, there are many instances of rhymed prose and figures of speech, reflecting the prose style under the Qajars. He is interested in purity of prose and poetry from alien elements. Fursat made use of numerous Persian, Arabic, English, and French sources and documents them after the fashion of scholarly works. Ashkal al-Mizan, a logical work, was published under the author’s supervision at the Nasirid print house in Bombay in the tenth year of the reign of the Qajar Muzaffar al-Din Shah. Fursat commenced it under the Qajar Nasir al-Din Shah and the premiership of Mirza ‘Ali khan Amin al-Sultan in 1885 and completed it in 1889. Fursat regards his book a souvenir from India to his compatriots and friends, particularly dedicating it to Mirza Ibrahim Khan Intizam al-Mulk under whom he studied painting and astronomy. He closes his book with replies to scholarly questions posed by Muhammad Masih Allah Dihlavi, the scribe who copied Ashkal al-Mizan. Fursat’s books Sarf va Nahw-i Khatt-i Ariya, and Mukhtasar-i Jughrafiya-yi Hindustan have been published in one volume, though the former deals with his studies of the cuneiform script, its origin, and decipherment, a copy of which he gave to his German instructor, Dr. Mann; the latter treats of geography, society, and economics of India, constituting replies to questions posed by Mu’tamid al-Sultan, Mirza Muhammad Khan, the former ambassador to the United States and the president of the royal bank in Isfahan and Shiraz. In his Buhur al-Alhan, he provides Persian vocalists with poetical compositions in different musical dastgahs and gushas. Well-versed in Persian music, he authored the book at the suggestion of a friend to enlighten him on the manner of the creation of music, the qualities of tones, melodies, and rhythms which are connected to prosody. Then, he proceeds to discuss the relationship between music and prosody, different meters and their musicality, the eight maqams, their names and gushas. Further he treats of the proper times of the day for different musical pieces; modern terminology, prelude, melody, dastgahs, their prosodic meters, and closes his book with some poetical compositions connected to each of the dastgahs. His Diwan-i Fursat, also known as Dabistan al-Fursa, falls into different parts. The first part, entitled Ahwal (biography), embraces his autobiography in a simple and fluent prose style from his early childhood to 1913; this part includes significant accounts, like studying with Shaykh Mufid, Hajj Sayyah, and Sayyid Jamal al-Din Asadabadi, the Constitutional Revolution, unrest in Fars, and establishment of education and justice administrations in Fars. The second part, consisting of his Divan, includes about 10,000 couplets in different forms. The first part of the Divan consists of 151 ghazals which have been composed and written until 1914. These ghazals, some of which are quite popular, have been published. The second part of the Divan includes qit’as, some of which are devoted to eulogies on the Prophet Muhammad and ‘Ali ; qasidas; musammats; tarji’bands; tarkib-bands; mathnawis; elegies; chronograms; and quatrains. In his ghazals, qasidas, musammats, and mathnawis, Fursat eulogized different personalities, like Shaykh Mufid, Mukhbir al-Saltana, Sarim al-Sultan, Amirzada Nasiri, Abu al-Hasan Mirza, Shaykh Ahmad Kirmani, Malik al-Bahr Kashmiri, Husam al-Saltana, Shu’a’ al-Saltana, Nasir al-Mulk, Muzaffar al-Din Shah, Tiraz al-Mulk, Mu’tamad al-Sultan, Nasr Allah Mirza, ‘Ayn al-Mulk, Husayn Quli Khan Nizam al-Saltana, ‘Abd al-Wahhab Khan Bayan al-Mulk, Sa’id al-Saltana, Rukn al-Tujjar, ‘Izz al-Dawla, and Nazhat al-Dawla. The third part of the Diwan includes his Taqrizat, selections of his epistolary writings. Darya-yi Kabir is a diverse compendium in Persian and Arabic prose on different disciplines. He spent two years on writing and painting the book whose unique manuscript, comprising 92 sections in octavo trim size, running to 1,200 folios, is available with the library of the tomb of Hafiz (Hafiziyya).

Asar-afarinan (4/ 282); Danishmandan wa Sukhansarayan-i Fars (4/ 125); Sukhanwaran-i Nami-yi Mu’asir (4/ 2260-2266).