Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/22/21

Born: 1560
Died: 1620

Firishta or Ferešte (Persian: فِرِشتہ‎), full name Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah (Persian: مُحَمَّد قاسِم هِندو شاہ‎), was a Persian[1] historian, who later settled in India and served the Deccan Sultans as their court historian. He was born in 1560 and died in 1620.[2] The name Firishta means angel in Persian.


Firishta was born at Astrabad on the shores of the Caspian Sea to Gholam Ali Hindu Shah. While Firishta was still a child, his father was summoned away from his native country into Ahmednagar, India, to teach Persian to the young prince Miran Husain Nizam Shah, with whom Firishta studied.

In 1587 Firishta was serving as the captain of guards of King Murtaza Nizam Shah I when Prince Miran overthrew his father and claimed the throne of Ahmednagar. Prince Miran spared the life of his former friend, who then left for Bijapur to enter the service of King Ibrahim Adil II in 1589.

Having been in military positions until then, Firishta was not immediately successful in Bijapur. Further exacerbating matters was the fact that Firishta was of Shia origin and therefore did not have much chance of attaining a high position in the dominantly Sunni courts of the Deccan sultanates.[3] In 1593 Ibrahim Shah II ultimately implored Firishta to write a history of India with equal emphasis on the history of Deccan dynasties as no work thus far had given equal treatment to all regions of the subcontinent.

Overview of work

The work was variously known as the Tarikh-i Firishta and the Gulshan-i Ibrahimi. In the introduction, a resume of the history of Hindustan prior to the times of the Muslim conquest is given, and also the victorious progress of Arabs through the East. The first ten books are each occupied with a history of the kings of one of the provinces; the eleventh book gives an account of the Muslims of Malabar; the twelfth a history of the Muslim saints of India; and the conclusion treats of the geography and climate of India. It also includes graphic descriptions of the persecution of Hindus during the reign of Sikandar Butshikan in Kashmir.

Locked up in the difficulties of the Persian tongue, the literature of Asia has been hitherto little known in Europe. From an ignorance so unpardonable in this investigating age, a very unfavourable idea has prevailed concerning the learning, as well as history, of the eastern nations. Full of prejudices so natural to an European, the translator entered upon the study of the oriental languages. Whatever aid a knowledge of them might give to his private views, he little hoped to be able to convert his studies to the amusement or instruction of the public. To translate some piece of history, was, by his teachers, recommended to him as a proper exercise in the Persian. The works of Mahummud Casim Ferishta of Delhi, who flourished in the reign of Jehangire, about the beginning of the seventeenth century, was put into his hands for that purpose. As he advanced, a greater field gradually opened before him. He found, with some degree of astonishment, the minute and authentic history of a great empire, the name of which had scarcely ever travelled to Europe.

To open a door to the literary treasures, which lay concealed in the obscurity of the Persian, the translator resolved to proceed in his version of Ferishta's history, and to give it to the public as a small specimen of what men of greater abilities may hereafter meet with in that language. But before he had fully accomplished this design, injuries in rank, and other motives, forced him to quit the company's service, and to return to England. Being, at his departure from India, possessed only of one volume of the original, he has been obliged to confine himself to it; and to leave the second volume, which contains the particular histories of the Decan, Bengal, Guzerat, and Cashmire, to a more favourable opportunity, or to the employment of some other hand. This circumstance has occasioned some chasms in that part of the history which is now given to the public; and many material transactions of those nations, of whom Ferishta in his second volume treats, are only slightly mentioned.

The reigns of the Mogul Emperors, from Akbar, with whom our author concludes his general history, have been written by different historians. But so voluminous are those works, that to attempt a translation, would be a laborious and very tedious task. Since the days of Ferishta, no writer that has come to our knowledge, has abridged the history of India, and therefore the translator had formed a design to compile from various authors that very essential part of the history of the Mogul empire, which is not comprehended in the following translation.

-- History of Hindostan; From the Earliest Account of Time, To the Death of Akbar; Translated From the Persian of Mahummud Casim Ferishta of Delhi: Together With a Dissertation Concerning the Religion and Philosophy of the Brahmins; With an Appendix, Containing the History of the Mogul Empire, From Its Decline in the Reign of Mahummud Shaw, to the Present Times,(1768), by Alexander Dow.

Tarikh-i Firishta consists primarily of the following books:[3]

1. The Kings of Ghazni and Lahore
2. The Kings of Dehli
3. The Kings of Dakhin - divided into 6 chapters:
1. Gulbarga
2. Bijapur
3. Ahmadnagar
4. Tilanga
5. Birar
6. Bidar
4. The Kings of Gujarat
5. The Kings of Malwa
6. The Kings of Khandesh
7. The Kings of Bengal and Bihar
8. The Kings of Multan
9. The Rulers of Sind
10. The Kings of Kashmir
11. An account of Malabar
12. An account of Saints of India
13. Conclusion - An account of the climate and geography of India

Contemporary scholars and historians variously write that the works of Firishta drew from Tabaqat-i-Akbari by Nizamud-din,[4] Tarikh-i-Rashidi by Mirza Haider[4] and Barani's Tarikh.[5] At least one historian, Peter Jackson, explicitly states that Firishta relied upon the works of Barani and Sarhindi, and that his work cannot be relied upon as a first hand account of events, and that at places in the Tarikh he is suspected of having relied upon legends and his own imagination.[6]

Muhammad Qasim Firishta completed the Gulshan-i Ibrahim, also known as the Ta'rikh-i Firishta and Ta'rikh-i Nawras-nama, in 1015/1606-1607. In it he recorded the history of early Indo-Muslim dynasties, from the time of Sebuktigin of Ghazna. Writing under the patronage of Ibrahim ’Adil Shah of Bijapur, Firishta's Ta'rikh is an assimilation of earlier histories and oral tradition. In it he draws on Barani and the Tabakat-i Akbari of Nizam al-Din Ahmad Bakshi (1001/1592-93). As a historical source, Firishta was considered by European scholars to be authoritative from the end of the 18th century when parts of his history first appeared in English translation. Alexander Dow translated and published the Ta'rih in London in 1798 in two volumes as The History of Hindostan, from the Earliest Account of Time, to the Death of Akbar. A Persian manuscript of Firishta's Ta'rikh was edited by John Briggs and Mir Khairat ‘Ali Khan but was not published until 1247/1831-32 in Bombay under its Persian title Ta'rikh-i Firishtah. Briggs published an English translation of the work almost in its entirety in 1829 under the title History of the Rise of the Mohammedan Power in India, which appeared in four volumes. As a historical source, Firishta's account is suspect and his references to the architecture of Delhi are probably secondhand....

Firishta is believed to have depended heavily on Barani’s Ta’rikh-i Firuz Shahi, but he seems to be unaware of ‘Afif s work. See Hardy, "Firishta," Encyclopedia of Islam 2 (1966), pp. 921-922.

-- The Architecture of Firuz Shah Tughluq, Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy in the Graduate, School of The Ohio State University, by William Jeffrey McKibben, B.A., M.A., 1988© by William Jeffrey McKibben 1988


According to T. N. Devare, Firishta's account is the most widely quoted history of the Adil Shahi, but it is the only source for asserting the Ottoman origin of Yusuf Adil Shah, the founder of the Adil Shahi dynasty. Devare believes that to be a fabricated story. Other sources for Deccani history mentioned by Devare are those of Mir Rafi-uddin Ibrahim-i Shirazi, or "Rafi'", Mir Ibrahim Lari-e Asadkhani, and Ibrahim Zubayri, the author of the Basatin as-Salatin (67, fn 2). Devare observed that the work is "a general history of India from the earliest period up to Firishta's time written at the behest of Ibrahim Adilshah II and presented to him in 1015 AH/1606 CE. It seems, however, that it was supplemented by the author himself as it records events up to AH 1033 (1626 CE)" (Devare 272).[citation needed]

On the other hand, Tarikh-i-Farishti is said to be independent and reliable on the topic of north Indian politics of the period, ostensibly that of Emperor Jehangir where Firishta's accounts are held credible because of his affiliation with the south Indian kingdom of Bijapur.[7]

Despite his fabricated story of Yusuf's Ottoman origin, Firishta's account continues to be a very popular story and has found wide acceptance in Bijapur today.

In 1768, when the East India Company officer and Orientalist Alexander Dow translated Firishta's text into English language, it came to be seen as an authoritative source of historical information by the English.[8]

Firishta's work still maintains a high place and is considered reliable in many respects. Several portions of it have been translated into English; but the best as well as the most complete translation is that published by General J. Briggs under the title of The History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India (London, 1829, 4 vols. 8vo). Several additions were made by Briggs to the original work of Firishta, but he omitted the whole of the twelfth book, and various other passages which had been omitted in the copy from which he translated. Edward Gibbon used Firishta's work as one of the sources of reference for Indian history in Decline and Fall.


• Firishta, Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah Astarabadi (1794). Ferishta's History of Dekkan..(Vol. 1). Jonathan Scott (trans.). John Stocksdale, London.
• Firishta, Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah Astarabadi; Tr. by Jonathan Scott (1794). Ferishta's History of Dekkan..(Vol. 2). John Stocksdale, London.

See also

• List of Muslim historians


1. Minorsky, V. (1955). "The Qara-qoyunlu and the Qutb-shāhs (Turkmenica, 10)". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 17 (1): 52. doi:10.1017/S0041977X00106342. JSTOR 609169. Another tendency of Firishta (a Persian of Astarabad) is to underline (...)
2. "Medieval Period". Government of Maharashtra. Archived from the original on May 28, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
3. Elliot, Henry Miers (December 2008). The History of India, As Told by Its Own Historians. BiblioBazaar. ISBN 9780559693335. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
4. Hasan, Mohibbul (2005). Kashmir Under the Sultans. Aakar Books. ISBN 9788187879497. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
5. Mayaram, Shail (2004). Against History, Against State. Orient Blackswan. ISBN 9788178240961. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
6. Jackson, Peter (16 October 2003). The Delhi Sultanate. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521543293. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
7. Ray, Sukumar (1992). Bairam Khan. Mirza Beg. p. 138. ISBN 9789698120016. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
8. Cynthia Talbot (2015). The Last Hindu Emperor: Prithviraj Cauhan and the Indian Past, 1200–2000. Cambridge University Press. p. 49. ISBN 9781107118560.
• This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ferishta, Mahommed Kasim". Encyclopædia Britannica. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 274.
• Devare, T. N. A short history of Persian literature; at the Bahmani, the Adilshahi, and the Qutbshahi courts. Poona: S. Devare, 1961.
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