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IIS Publishes New Translation of Nasir-i Khusraw’s Last Known Work

30th August 2012

The IIS, in collaboration with I.B.Tauris is pleased to announce the publication of a new English translation of the last known work of 11th-century poet and philosopher Nasir-i Khusraw. “The things of this world are so many questions without answers,” wrote Nasir-i Khusraw deciding to give the book the title Jami‘ al-Hikmatayn, or “the joining of the two wisdoms” for it is a book of questions and answers about the world — or at least those questions he felt he could answer. 

The translator Professor Eric Ormsby is Senior Research Associate and Deputy Head of the Department of Academic Research & Publications at The IIS.

Nasir-i Khusraw set himself a grand ambition in this book: to explain “the how and the why of creation.” Like all his works, it was written during his exile in Badakhshan where he served as a Fatimid da‘i and hujjatinfo-icon for Khorasan; unlike his other works, the Jami‘ came about almost incidentally.

Ali ibn Asad, the amirinfo-icon of Badakhshan and Nasir’s protector, was puzzled by a long poem he had received. The poem, by a little-known Ismaili master of the previous century, consisted of almost a hundred questions on a wide range of subjects, including logic and grammar, astronomy and medicine, the nature of man and the nature of God. The amir memorised the poem, wrote it in his own hand and sent it to Nasir, asking him to answer the questions within it. In reply, Nasir drew on both Greek logic and philosophy and on Ismaili esoteric wisdom to create Jami‘ al-Hikmatayn. He tried to show that both of these “wisdoms” not only agree but form the inner and the outer truth of things.

Professor Eric Ormsby’s translation is based on the printed edition of the work, supplemented by the single surviving manuscript, now in the Süleymaniye Mosque Library in Istanbul. The translation includes an introduction and is annotated throughout.

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