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The Anatomy of a Regicide Attempt: Shāhrukh, the Ḥurūfīs, and the Timurid Intellectuals in 830/1426–27

  • İLKER EVRİM BİNBAŞ (a1)
Abstract

This article provides a contextual analysis of the assassination attempt on the Timurid ruler Shāhrukh's life on 21 February 1427 in Herat. According to the contemporary Timurid chroniclers, Aḥmad-i Lur, a Ḥurūfī by profession, tried to kill Shāhrukh. Having survived the attack with light injuries, Shāhrukh reacted harshly and executed many of those who were accused of conspiring against him. During the interrogations, many other intellectuals who professed as a method of inquiry the ‘ilm-i ḥurūf (the science of letters) were also accused of participating in the conspiracy. In this article, I treat the assassination attempt as a moment of crisis in Timurid politics, study it in relation to the transformation of the intellectual landscape towards the mid-fifteenth century, and provide an in-depth textual and contextual analysis of the historiographical sources as well as the writings of those intellectuals who left a first-hand testimony of the subsequent interrogations. After a close scrutiny of the available evidence, I demonstrate that the interrogations of those intellectuals who practiced the science of letters predated the assassination attempt, and I argue that the assassination attempt was just an episode, albeit an important one, in Shāhrukh's attempts to control and regulate the emerging public sphere in Iran and Central Asia.

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I am truly indebted to John E. Woods, Judith Pfeiffer, Maria E. Subtelny, and Mayte Green-Mercado for commenting on earlier drafts of this article. I am also grateful to the anonymous reviewers of the article for their constructive feedback.

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1 Browne, E. G., A Literary History of Persia (Cambridge, 1920–24), Vol. 3, pp. 365366, 475; Köprülü, Fuad, Islam in Anatolia after the Turkish Invasion (Prolegomena). Trans. Leiser, Garry (Salt Lake City, 1993 [1922]), p. 43; Kiyā, Ṣādiq, Vāzhanāma-yi Gurgānī (Tehran, 1330 H.sh./1951–52), pp. 1113; Savory, Roger, “A 15th Century Ṣafavid Propagandist in Harāt”, in American Oriental Society, Middle West Branch, Semi-Centennial Volume: a Collection of Original Essays, ed. Sinor, Denis (Bloomington, 1969), p. 192; Gölpınarlı, Abdülbaki, Hurûfîlik Metinleri Kataloğu (Ankara, 1973), pp. 2, 26–27, 50; Āzhand, Ya'qūb, Ḥurūfiyya dar tārīkh (Tehran, 1369 H.sh./1990–91), p. 70; Khiyāvī, Rawshan, Ḥurūfiyya. Tārīkh, ‘aqā’id va ārā’ (Tehran, 1379 H.sh./2000–01), pp. 233234; Bashir, Shahzad, Fazlallah Astarabadi and the Hurufis (Oxford, 2005), pp. 101105; Usluer, Fatih, Hurufilik. İlk Elden Kaynaklarla Doğuşundan İtibaren (Istanbul, 2009), p. 21; Algar, Hamid, “Horufism”, EIr Vol. 12, pp. 483490. See also Aka, İsmail, Mirza Şahruh ve Zamanı (1405–1447) (Ankara, 1994), pp. 138140; Manz, Beatrice, Power, Politics and Religion in Timurid Iran (Cambridge, 2007), p. 42; Yüksel, Musa Şamil, Timurlularda Din-Devlet İlişkisi (Ankara, 2009), p. 118.

2 The Sufi networks in fifteenth-century Iran and Central Asia have been relatively well studied, but research into the clandestine informal networks is still in its infancy. Although terribly outdated, the standard reference work on the Sufi networks remains Trimingham, W. Spencer, Sufi Orders in Islam (New York, 1971). Heeding Shahzad Bashir's warning, I use the term ‘network’ as a substitute for the term ṭarīqa in order to avoid the latter term's associations with the Sufi orders of the early modern modern and modern periods. See Bashir, Shahzad, Sufi Bodies. Religion and Society in Medieval Islam (New York, 2011), pp. 1113. As for the clandestine or informal networks, pioneering research has been done by İhsan Fazlıoğlu and Cornell H. Fleischer. See Fazlıoğlu, , “İlk dönem Osmanlı ilim ve kültür hayatında İhvânu's-safa ve Abdurrahmân Bistâmî”, Divan 1 (1996) 2, pp. 229240; Fleischer, Cornell H., “Seer to the Sultan: Haydar-i Remmal and Sultan Süleyman”, in Cultural Horizons. A Festschrift in Honor of Talat S. Halman, ed. Warner, Jayne L. (Syracuse, 2001), pp. 290304. See also the illuminating articles in the following volume: Cooke, Miriam and Lawrence, Bruce B. (eds.), Muslim Networks from Hajj to Hip Hop (Chapel Hill, 2005).

3 See note 1 above for references.

4 Manz, Power, p. 40; Aka, Mirza Şahruh, pp. 115–125.

5 Born in Herat or in Khvāf and educated in Hamadān, Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrū had entered the service of Shāhrukh after the death of Timur in 807/1405 and subsequently emerged as the most prolific and prominent of all the Shāhrukhid historians. Woods, John E., “The Rise of Tīmūrid Historiography”, JNES 46 (1987): 97. See also Maria E. Subtelny and Melville, Charles, “Ḥāfeẓ-e Abrū”, EIr Vol. 11, pp. 507509.

6 HAB, Vol. 4, pp. 907–923.

7 HTZT, ff. 440b–446b. The manuscript is incomplete at the end (a note on ff. 1a and 445b says that a leaf dropped from the manuscript) and written by the same hand as the main text of the Zubdat al-tavārīkh itself. Hermann Ethé and V. V. Bartol'd had also mentioned the existence of this supplement, although Ethé did not realize that the manuscript was a copy of the Zubdat al-tavārīkh. See Sachau, Ed. and Ethé, Hermann, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstânî, and Pushtû Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library (Oxford, 1889), col. 90; Bartol'd, V. V., “O nekotorykh vostochnykh rukopisiakh v Konstantinopole i Kaire (Otchet o komandirovke)”, in Sochineniia, Vol. 8 (1973), pp. 244245. The editors of the Zubdat al-tavārīkh were not aware of the presence of the Tatimma, hence its absence from the present edition.

8 The following years include a tatimma in the Zubdat al-tavārīkh: 825, 826, 827, 828, 830 (only in the Bodleian manuscript). See HAB, Vol. 4, pp. 864–865; 872–873; 876–879; 894–895. Why Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrū wrote supplements to these years is a question which needs to be addressed separately.

9 HTZT, f. 440b.

10 HTZT, f. 446a.

11 Bartol'd made ample use of this manuscript in his account on the disastrous campaign of Ulugh Beg and Muḥammad Jūkī against Baraq Oghlan, see Barthold, V. V., Four Studies on the History of Central Asia. Vol. II. Ulugh-Beg, trans. V. and Minorsky, T. (Leiden, 1958), pp. 101103.

12 KMF, p. 1114. Browne translated the relevant section of the Mujmal-i Faṣīḥī from a rather late manuscript in 1915. See Browne, “The Mujmal or ‘Compendium’ of History and Biography of Faṣíḥí of Khwáf”, Le Muséon 3rd series 1 (1915), pp. 77–78. This nineteenth-century manuscript, now kept at the Cambridge University Library, dates the assassination attempt to 829/1425–26 instead of 830/1426–27.

13 JTK, f. 310a. See also PL3, pp. 507–508.

14 Haase, C. P., “‘Abd-al-Razzāq Samarqandī”, EIr Vol. 1, pp. 158160.

15 Tauer, Felix, “Timurlular Devrinde Tarihçilik”, Belleten 29 (1965), pp. 6162.

16 SMS, Vol. 2/1, pp. 381–385.

17 MRS, Vol. 6, pp. 691–693; Mu‘īn al-Dīn Zamchī Isfizārī (d. 915/1510), Rawżāt al-jannāt fī awṣāf-i madīnat-i Harāt, ed. Imām, Muḥammad Kāẓim (Tehran, 1338–39 H.sh./1959–1961), Vol. 2, pp. 8486; KHS, Vol. 3, pp. 615–617.

18 The structure of Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrū's oeuvre is notoriously complicated, and there is no exhaustive study on the early manuscripts of the Majma‘ al-tavārīkh or the Zubdat al-tavārīkh. For a general overview, see Tauer, Felix, Cinq opuscules de Ḥāfiż-i Abrū (Prague, 1959), p. xii; PL2, Vol. 1, pp. 346–347; Woods, “The Rise of Tīmūrid Historiography”, pp. 96–99.

19 The colophon in question reads: “Az gumrahān-i dīn chu bud īn qiṣṣa rā ẓuhūr * Tārīkh-i īn qażiyya shud az rūzgār-i żill”. In this colophon the word “żill” gives the date. Muḥammad Ṭūsī, Majma‘ al-tahānī va maḥżar al-amānī, ed. Najīb Māyil Haravī in Majmū‘a-yi rasā’il-fārsī, Vol. 3, p. 43 (hereafter MTMA). The unique manuscript of the Majma‘ al-tahānī is in Tehran at the Kitābkhāna-yi Millī-yi Malik. Ms. 477/3, ff. 1b–41b. The Majma‘ al-tahānī was partially edited by Ṣādiq Kiyā. See Ṣādiq Kiyā, “Āgāhīhā-yi tāza az Ḥurūfiyyān”, pp. 43–49. For a description of the manuscript, see Afshār, Īraj and Dānispazhūh, Muḥammad Taqī, Fihrist-i Nuskhahā-yi Khaṭṭī-yi Kitābkhāna-yi Millī-yi Malik vābasta ba Āstān-i Quds (Tehran, 1363 H.sh./1984), pp. 3334 (No. 49).

20 Āzhand, Ḥurūfiyya, pp. 71–72.

21 SMS, Vol. II/1, p. 377 = “Dar īn maqām Zubdat al-tavārīkh al-Bāysunghurī ikhtitām yāft”. For further details on Ulugh Beg and Muḥammad Jūkī's unsuccessful campaign to Sïghnaq, see Barthold, Ulugh-Beg, pp. 101–102.

22 HAB, Vol. 4, pp. 907–923. V. V. Bartol'd had noticed this problem in 1908, but I am not aware that he ever tried to solve it. See V. V. Bartol'd, “O nekotorykh vostochnykh rukopisiakh”, pp. 244–245.

23 Only two manuscripts of the Zubdat al-tavārīkh include the assassination attempt: Istanbul Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi Ms. Fatih 4321/1 and Oxford Bodleian Library Ms. Elliot 422.

24 The manuscript Kitābkhāna-yi Malik Ms. 4166 was copied for the library of Shāhruh and includes Shāhrukh's handwriting in the margin. PL3, p. 506; Mahdī Bayānī, “Yak nushkha-yi nafīs az Majma‘ al-tavārīkh-i Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrū”, Yādgār 4 (1326/1948), 9–10: 172; see also Bayānī, Khānbābā's introduction to Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrū, Ẕayl-i Jami‘ al-tavārīkh-i Rashīdī (Tehran, 1350 H.sh./1971–72), pp. 4650. The other copy in the same library, Ms. 4163, was copied in 1273/1856–57 from Ms. 4166. See also Afshār, Īraj and Dānishpazhūh, Muḥammad Taqī, Fihrist-i nuskhahā-yi khaṭṭī-yi Kitābkhāna-yi Millī-yi Malik vābasta ba Āstān-i Quds (Tehran, 1352 H.sh./1973), Vol. 4, p. 730. In the edited version, these two manuscripts end in HAB, Vol. 4, p. 906.

25 Istanbul Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi Ms. Fatih 4321/1, ff. 600a–605a. See also Tauer, Felix, “Les manuscripts persans historiques des bibliothèques de Stamboul I”, Archiv Orientální 3 (1931), pp. 100101.

26 Oxford Bodleian Library Ms. Elliot 422, ff. 430a–440a. See also HAB, Vol. 1, pp. xxvii-xxviii. For the manuscript corpus of the Majma‘ al-tavārīkh and the Zubdat al-tavārīkh, see PL3, pp. 504–507.

27 HAB, Vol. 4, p. 911; HTZT, f. 440b; KMF, Vol. 3, p. 1114; SMS, Vol. II/1, p. 381. The Cambridge manuscript of the Mujmal-i Faṣīḥī, which was copied on 17 September 1856, gives the date as 23 Rabī‘ II 829, but this manuscript is a very late copy and it appears as though a later copyist collated it with the Maṭla‘-i Sa'dayn. Therefore, I omitted the discrepancy in this manuscript on the year of the incident from my discussion here. See Browne, “The Mujmal”, p. 77. According to Ja'farī's Tārīkh-i kabīr, the incident happened in 830 on a Friday. It does not specify the month and day of the incident. See JTK, f. 310a. One radical departure from the conventional dating of the incident to 830 comes from Ḥusayn Ālyārī, who gives 23 Rajab 829/31 May 1426, a day which falls on a Friday. Unfortunately, Ālyārī does not provide any reference for this information. See Ḥusayn Ālyārī, “Nāma’ī az pisar-i Fażlallāh Ḥurūfī”, Nashriyya-yi Dānishkada-yi Adabiyāt va ‘Ulūm-i Insānī 19 (1346 H.sh./1967), p. 175.

28 Dār al-khilāfa was one of the titles of Herat in the Timurid period, and the Īvān-i dār al-khilāfa was probably the Tāq-i manṣūra, i.e. the īvān-hall on the qibla-side of the Masjid-i Jāmi‘ in the “Musalla” building complex. See Diler, Ömer, Şehir Lakapları – Titles and Epithets of Islamic Towns (Istanbul, 2001), p. 138; Allen, Terry, A Catalogue of Toponyms and Monuments of Timurid Herat (Cambridge, MA, 1981), p. 106; Golombek, Lisa and Wilber, Donald, The Timurid Architecture of Iran and Turan (Princeton, 1988), Vol. 1, pp. 302305.

29 HAB, Vol. 4, pp. 911–915.

30 SMS, Vol. II/1, pp. 381–382.

31 Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrū names another figure as Aḥmad-i Lur, who was one of the amīrs of Sulṭān Aḥmad Jalayir in the battle against Qara Yūsuf Qaraqoyunlu on 28 Rabī‘ II 813/30 August 1410. See HAB, Vol. 3, p. 401. The manuscripts of the Zubdat al-tavārīkh are not consistent in reading this name. The editor of the text, Javādī, suggests the reading Aḥmad-i Lur. In the Fatih manuscript the name is Aḥmad-i Lur, and the Oxford manuscript records it as Aḥmad-i BR (Pīr?). See Istanbul Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi Ms. Fatih 4321/1, f. 468b, and Oxford Bodleian Library Ms. Elliot 422, f. 148a. This figure is probably the atabek Aḥmad, the ruler of the Lur-i Buzurg, who died during a popular uprising soon after 811/1408–1409. See NMT, pp. 49–52; YZN, Vol. 1, pp. 708, 721.

32 For Mawlānā Majd al-Dīn Astarābādī and the possible role of Ḥurūfīs in the assassination attempt see the third part of this article.

33 HAB, Vol. 4, pp. 915–920. The Tatimma also says that that Shāhrukh was generous towards the poor and needy after the assassination attempt. See HTZT, f. 441a.

34 SMS, pp. 382–384. See also MRS, Vol. 6, pp. 692–693 and KHS, pp. 616–617.

35 KMF, Vol. 3, p. 1114; SMS, Vol. II/1, p. 384; MRS, Vol. 6, pp. 693–694; KHS, p. 617.

36 HAB, Vol. 4, p. 910.

37 JTK, f. 310a.

38 HAB, Vol. 4, p. 915; SMS, Vol. 2/1, pp. 383–384. Samarqandī provides us with a very brief summary of his activities at the courts of Sulṭān Aḥmad-i Jalayir in Baghdad, Iskandar b. ‘Umar-Shaykh in Isfahan, and Shāhrukh in Herat. However, these stories appear to be aimed at demonstrating how freeminded he was and how he did not follow his patrons’ instructions. A collection of poetry is attributed to him by Mahdī Bayānī in his Aḥvāl va āthār-i khushnivīsān (quoted in HAB, Vol. 4, p. 976), but it appears to have been composed between 784 and 788, long before the assassination attempt.

39 Kamāl al-Dīn Ḥusayn Gāzurgāhī, (d. 909/1503–04). Majālis al-‘ushshāq, ed. Ghulāmriżā Ṭabāṭabā’ī-Majd (Tehran, 1375 H.sh./1996–97), pp. 215, 217, 226.

40 Jāmī, Nafaḥāt al-uns, pp. 590–93; Dawlatshāh Samarqandī (d. 900/1494–95), Taẕkirat al-shu'arā, pp. 346–352; ‘Alī Shīr Navā’ī, (d. 906/1501), Mecâlisü’n-nefâyis, Vol. 1, pp. 6–7; Navā’ī, Nesāyimü’l-maḥabbe min şemāyimi'l-fütüvve, pp. 418–19; Gāzurgāhī, Majālis al-‘ushshāq, pp. 222–227. In fact, only Jāmī and Gāzurgāhī mention the assassination attempt and Qāsim-i Anvār's subsequent departure to Samarqand. Jāmī's account (p. 593) appears to be a variation of the story found in the Maṭla‘-i Sa'dayn. After the assassination attempt, the investigators found out that the assassin, who is not named by Jāmī, had a house in Qāsim-i Anvār's almshouse (langar-i khidmat). Jāmī stresses the point that the house in the almshouse was locked (muqaffal).

41 Two ghazals by Qāsim-i Anvār were recorded by Samarqandī in the Maṭla‘-i Sa'dayn, and by Dawlatshāh Samarqandī in the Taẕkirat al-shu'arā as his reaction to the incident, but they are too vague to be located in any particular context. See SMS, Vol. 2/1, pp. 384–385; Dawlatshāh Samarqandī, Taẕkirat al-shu'arā, p. 347. Anvār, Qāsim-i, Kulliyāt-i Qāsim-i Anvār, ed. Nafīsī, Sa‘īd (Tehran, 1337 H.sh./1958–59), pp. 1415, 236–237.

42 The manuscript corpus of the Mujmal-i Faṣīḥī is not consistent on this point. The earliest manuscript, Ms. Or. 1710 at the Library of Sofia, says that it was Shāhrukh who had enmity vis-à-vis Qāsim-i Anvār, but the manuscript at the Kitābkhāna-yi Mīllī-yi Tabrīz holds Mīrzā Bāysunghur responsible for Qāsim-i Anvār's expulsion from Herat. See KMF, Vol. 1, pp. lxxvii, 1114.

43 SMS, Vol. 2/1, p. 384; Kirmānī, ‘Abd al-Razzāq (fl. 911/1506), “Taẕkira dar Manāqib-i Shāh Ni'matullāh Valī”, in Matériaux pour la Biographie de Shah Ni'matullah Wali Kermani, ed. Aubin, Jean (Tehran, 1983), p. 67.

44 Savory, “A 15th Century Ṣafavid Propagandist in Harāt”, pp. 192–193. It should be emphasised that the earliest source that refers to Qāsim-i Anvār's popularity in Herat as the source of friction with Shāhrukh's administration is Samarqandī's Taẕkirat al-shu'arā which was written in 892/1486. Jāmī in the Nafaḥāt al-uns (wr. 883/1478–79) does not refer to his appeal to the general public in Herat, but as Savory argued convincingly, Jāmī's account of Qāsim-i Anvār is utterly unreliable, as he is more interested in distancing him from his alleged Safavid connections.

45 Qāsim-i Anvār, Kulliyāt-i Qāsim-i Anvār, pp. 193, 340.

46 ‘Abbāsī, Ḥabīballāh, “Ḥurūfiyya va Qāsim-i Anvār”, Majalla-yi Dānishkada-yi Adabiyāt (Winter 1378 H.sh./2000), p. 103.

47 Ṭabasī, Darvīsh Muḥammad, (fl. 828–42/1424–39), “Jām-i jahān-numā-yi shāhī”, in Athār-i Darvīsh Muḥammad Ṭabasī, eds. Afshār, Īraj and Dānishpazhūh, Muḥammad Taqī (Tehran, 1351 H.sh./1972), p. 336. The Jām-i jahān-numā-yi shāhī was written on Ẕū al-Ḥijja 839/23 Juna 1436.

48 Ibid. p. 337. For further discussion on Ṭabasī and his political ideas, see Binbaş, “Sharaf al-Dīn ‘Alī Yazdī”, (PhD diss., The University of Chicago, 2009), pp. 346–350.

49 Gāzurgāhī in his Majālis al-‘ushshāq claims that Shāhrukh sent his apologies to him with Mīrzā Jūkī and Amīr Fīrūzshāh in 833/1429–30, but I could not verify this information in earlier sources. See Gāzurgāhī, Majālis al-‘ushshāq, p. 327.

50 Navā’ī, Mecâlisü’n-nefâyis, Vol. 1, p. 10; KHS, Vol. 4, p. 9.

51 Khvārazmī, , Javāhir al-asrār va zavāhir al-anwār, ed. Sharī‘at, Muḥammad Javād (Isfahan, 1981), pp. 172–73.

52 Khvārazmī, Javāhir al-asrār, p. 25. For the governors of Khvārazm Ibrāhīm-Sulṭān and his father Shāh Malik, see Ando, Shiro, Timuridische Emire nach dem Mu'izz al-ansāb (Berlin, 1992), p. 166–67. Curiously, Khvārazmī did not discuss the science of letters in his Kunūz al-ḥaqā’iq, which is his earlier commentary on the Masnavī. See Kunūz al-ḥaqā’iq fī rumūz al-daqā’iq, London British Library Ms. Or. 12984. Devin DeWeese also demonstrated that Khvārazmī revised his work on politics entitled Naṣīḥatnāma-yi Shāhī around the year 830/1426–27, and rewrote it under the title Yanbu‘ al-asrār fī naṣāyikh al-abrār. Although both recensions are by and large identical, Khvārazmī omitted various historical references, most notably the names of his patron Amīr Shāh Malik Bilkut (d. 829/1426) and his son Ibrāhīm Sulṭān. See Devin DeWeese, “The “Kashf al-Huda of Kamal al-Din Husayn Khorezmi: A Fifteenth-Century Sufi Commentary on the ‘Qasidat al-Burdah’ in Khorezmian Turkic (Text Edition, Translation, and Historical Introduction)”, (PhD diss., Indiana University, 1985), pp. 224–227. The reason why Khvārazmī decided to revise his earlier work has not been properly explained. The obvious reason is the death of Shāh Malik, but a closer comparison of the two recensions — or a better edition that takes into consideration the surviving manuscripts of the Naṣīḥatnāma-yi Shāhī — would help us to contextualise this work.

53 HAB, Vol. 4, p. 916; SMS, Vol. 2/1, p. 384; KMF, Vol. 3, p. 1114.

54 Browne, A Literary History of Persia, p. 368; Gölpınarlı, Hurûfîlik, p. 15. The names of the daughters of Fażlallāh were as follows: Fāṭima Khātūn, Bībī Khātūn, Umm al-Kitāb, Fātiḥat al-Kitāb, and Kalimatallāh al-‘ulyā. According to Āzhand, the mother of Majd al-Dīn was a fifth unnamed daughter of Fażlallāh. Kalimatallāh al-‘ulyā was involved in another incident together with a certain Mawlānā Yūsuf, and was executed by Jahānshāh Qara Qayunlu in 845/1441–42. See Āzhand, Ḥurūfiyya, pp. 37–38, 96–99; Bashir, Fazlallah Astarabadi, pp. 105–106.

55 The full name of the author is Ghiyās al-Dīn Muḥammad b. Ḥusayn b. Muḥammad al-Ḥusaynī al-Astarābādī, who is also the author of the Istivānāma, which is one of the most important sources on the life of Fażlallāh. The letter was written in Bā‘anqaba, which, I believe, is a mistake for Ba'qūba, a small city northeast of Baghdad. It was first edited by Gölpınarlı, Abdülbaki, “Faḍlallāh-i Ḥurūfī’nin oğluna [sic] ait bir mektup”, Şarkiyat Mecmuası 1 (1956), pp. 3757 (hereafter MGM). As the title of his article suggests, Gölpınarlı first attributed the letter to a son of Fażlallāh, but in 1973 he corrected his earlier view. See Gölpınarlı, Hurûfîlik Metinleri Kataloğu, pp. 50, 56. The letter was re-edited, without reference to Gölpınarlı's earlier edition, by Ḥusayn Ālyārī, “Nāma’ī az pisar-i Fażlallāh Ḥurūfī”, pp. 175–197. Gölpınarlı promised to prepare an annotated translation of the letter into Turkish at the beginning of his article, but to the best of my knowledge, the promised translation never materialised. Zumrud Kuli-Zade provided a brief summary of the contents of the letter in her 1970 monograph on the Ḥurūfiyya. Kuli-Zade treated the letter as a treatise, and attributed to it the title “Shāmil-Nāma”, but she did not explain where she found this title in the text. See Kuli-Zade, Z., Khurufizm i ego predstaviteli v Azerbaydzhane (Baku, 1970), pp. 87, 210–213.

56 Gölpınarlı refers to another manuscript, according to which Amīr Nūrallāh was the son of Makhdūm-zāda, a daughter of Fażlallāh. Reconstructing the family relationships of Fażlallāh is a task beyond the scope of this article. See Gölpınarlı, Hurûfîlik, p. 9.

57 SMS, Vo. 2/1, p. 390. The letter says that they were brought to Gūyān and Baḥrābād. Gūyān is a colloquial form of Juvayn in Khorasan. See HAJ, p. 105.

58 Amīr Fīrūzshāh is Jalāl al-Dīn Fīrūzshāh b. Arghunshāh (d. 848/1444–45), who was one of the most powerful amīrs in Shāhrukh's administration. Shaykh Luqmān is Shaykh Luqmān b. Pīr Luqmān Barlas (d. 841/1437) and Khvāja Pīr Aḥmad is Khvāja Ghiyās al-Dīn Pīr Aḥmad Khvāfī (d. 857/1453). For further discussion on Shāhrukh's dīvān, see Manz, Power, pp. 79–110.

59 The identities of Sayyid Shahristānī and Kvāja Sayyidī Muḥammad are unknown to me.

60 This is a reference to Shāhrukh's first Azerbaijān campaign between 11 Sha'bān 823/21 August 1420 and 19 Shavvāl 824/17 October 1421. Shāhrukh had arrived at Dāmghān on 11 Shavvāl 823/19 October 1420. See HAB, Vol. 4, p. 719. Whether they are true or not, these rumours were not recorded by the Timurid historians. To the best of my knowledge this is the only reference to a joint Qaraqoyunlu-Ḥurūfī attack against Shāhrukh. For Shāhrukh's first Azerbaijān campaign, see Aka, Mirza Şahruh, pp. 115–125; Manz, Power, pp. 34–35. For the Qaraqoyunlu perspective, see Sümer, Kara Koyunlular, pp. 116–123.

61 MGM, pp. 37–40.

62 MGM, pp. 39–41. Shāhrukh's wife Gawharshād appears to be present during the interrogation, as Ghiyās al-Dīn uses of the terms mal‘ūn and mal‘ūna (m. and f. “accursed”).

63 Shāhrukh left Sulṭāniyya on 2 Shavvāl 833/24 June 1430 and arrived at Herat on 8 Muḥarram 834/26 September 1430. See SMS, Vol. 2/1, pp. 414–415.

64 MGM, pp. 41–43. The scholars who attended the debate are Mawlānā ‘Imād al-Din ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Abharī (843/1439), Mawlānā Żiyā’ al-Dīn Nūrallāh Khvārazmī (d. 838/1435), and Mawlānā Faṣīḥ al-Dīn Muḥammad Khvāfī (d. 837/1434). See KHS, Vol. 4, pp. 11, 13, 15.

65 MGM, pp. 41–44. It is difficult to identify the names in this interrogation. Busayḥāq must be a colloquial form for Abū Isḥāq. Khvāja Zayn al-Dīn Ghazvīnī is probably the amīr who was part of Abā Bakr b. Mīrānshāh's retinue, and who was later appointed to the Dīvān-i Tabrīz when Sulṭān-Aḥmad Jalayir captured Tabrīz on 26 Muḥarram 809/13 July 1406. Sulṭān-Qazan Mīrzā was the nephew of Qara Yūsuf Qaraqoyunlu, and participated in the battle against Sulṭān-Aḥmad Jalayir on 28 Rabī‘ II 813/30 August 1410. See HAB, Vol. 3, pp. 165, 168, 401; KMF, Vol. 3, pp. 1033, 1080.

66 The Gawharshād Madrasa was part of a large building complex and the entire construction was completed in 841/1437. Here Ghiyās al-Dīn is probably referring to the year 836, which is the date given by Samarqandī as the completion date of the madrasa. The first Friday prayer was performed there on 8 Ṣafar 836/4 October 1432. See SMS, Vol. 2/1, pp. 424–425. See also Golombek and Wilber, The Timurid Architecture of Iran and Turan, Vol. 1, p. 303.

67 Among those who were present during the interrogation were Amīr ‘Alīka, Amīr Fīrūzshāh and his brothers Khvāndshāh and Maḥmūd Shāh, Muḥammad Darvīsh, Mawlānā Luṭfallāh Ṣadr, Qāżī-zāda-yi Abharī, Mawlānā Nūrallāh, and Mawlānā Faṣīḥ.

68 MGM, pp. 43–48.

69 Ulugh Beg's presence in Herat for interrogations causes some chronological problems. Ulugh Beg was in Herat three times: i) 9 Rabī‘ I 825/3 March 1422 when he stayed for about two months; ii) 15–28 Ẕū al-Ḥijja 828/28 October-10 November 1425; iii) 19 Ramażān – 20 Shavvāl 837/29 April – 30 May 1434. See HAB, Vol. 4, pp. 810–812, 893–895; SMS, Vol. 2/1, pp. 443–445. Therefore, there must be another visit of Ulugh Beg to Herat sometime after Shāhrukh returned to the capital from his second Qaraqoyunlu campaign.

70 Jalāl al-Dīn Bāyazīd Parvānachī. See HAB, Vol. 3, p. 518; HMA, f. 137b. See also Barthold, Ulugh-Beg, p. 152.

71 Qāḍī-zāda-yi Rūmī was a famous astronomer and mathematician from Bursa. He later went to Samarqand and played a crucial role in Ulugh Beg's observatory. See Jamil Ragep, “Ḳāḍī-zāde Rūmī”, EI2 Suppl. Vol. 7–8, p. 502. For the concept of the mahdī and late medieval Muslim messianic movements, see Bashir, Shahzad, Messianic Hopes and Mystical Visions. The Nūrbakhshīya between Medieval and Modern Islam (Columbia, 2003), pp. 3141.

72 MGM, pp. 49–53.

73 MGM, pp. 53–56. Shāh Muḥammad was the eldest son of Qara Yūsuf Qaraqoyunlu (d. 823/1420). He had captured Bagdad in 814/1411, and had been ruling there semi-independently from his father and his brothers Iskandar (d. 841/1438) and Jahānshāh (d. 872/1467), who independently claimed the Qaraqoyunlu throne after the death of Qara Yūsuf. See Faruk Sümer, Kara Koyunlular, pp. 88–89. For Shāh Muḥammad's religious and political views, see Minorsky, Vladimir, “Jihān-Shāh Qara Qoyunlu and his Poetry”, BSOAS 16 (1954), p. 274.

74 Gölpınarlı, Hurûfîlik, p. 14.

75 Bashir, Fazlallah Astarabadi, pp. 90–97.

76 For example, Mīr Sayyid Isḥāq, one of the vicegerents of Fażlallāh, wrote the Maḥramnāma between 828/1425 and 832/1428, and it would be interesting to know if the assassination attempt played any role in the composition and plan of the work. Gölpınarlı, Hurûfîlik, pp. 83–85. Like many other issues related to the Ḥurūfīs, this also requires further investigation and research.

77 TNMD, p. 210. The Ikhvān al-ṣafā network was first discussed by İhsan Fazlıoğlu in a short article published in 1996, and was further explored by Cornell H. Fleischer and Evrim Binbaş. See Fazlıoğlu, “İlk dönem Osmanlı ilim ve kültür hayatında İhvânu's-safa ve Abdurrahmân Bistâmî”, pp. 22–40; Fleischer, “Seer to the Sultan”, p. 292; Binbaş, “Sharaf al-Dīn ‘Alī Yazdī”, pp. 99–106. For the life and works of Turka, see Matthew Melvin-Koushki, “The Quest for a Universal Science: The Occult Philosophy of Ṣā’in al-Dīn Turka Iṣfahānī (1369–1432)”, (PhD diss. Yale University, 2012), esp. pp. 58–68.

78 See for example, Manz, Power, p. 241.

79 TNMA, p. 171–72; Melvin-Koushki, “The Quest”, pp. 52–53.

80 This list includes only Turka's minor treatises. He composed other more voluminous works in this period, too. He completed Bazm u Razm on 24 Rabī‘ II 829/5 March 1426, Tamḥīd al-qawā’id in 830/1426–27, and Sharḥ-i Fuṣūṣ al-Ḥikam on 3 Rabī‘ I 831/22 December 1427. However, I chose to exclude them from my analysis here because larger works would require a longer planning and execution, and it would be difficult to contextualise them in a specific context, which is the assassination attempt in our case. For the list of Turka's complete works, see Bihbahānī, Sayyid ‘Alī Mūsavī, “Aḥvāl va Āthār-i Ṣā’in al-Dīn Turka-yi Iṣfahānī”, in Collected Papers on Islamic Philosophy and Mysticism, eds. Mohaghegh, M. and Landolt, H. (Tehran, 1971), pp. 136145, and Ni'matī, Akram Jūdī's introduction to her edition of Turka's Sharḥ-i Naẓm al-Durr (Tehran, 1384 H.sh./2005–2006), pp. lxxxviiic; Matthew Melvin-Koushki, “The Quest”, pp. 78–158.

81 TNMA, pp. 169–170.

82 TNMA, pp. 169, 194; TNMD, pp. 201, 217. It was probably composed sometime in 835. A paragraph in the Nafsat al-maṣdūr-i duvvum refers to an incident that happened five years earlier. The incident that he refers to is most probably the assassination attempt. See TNMD, p. 199.

83 For an analysis of the theological and doctrinal aspects of the Nafsat al-maṣdūr-i awwal and Nafsat al-maṣdūr-i duvvum, see Lewisohn, Leonard, “Sufism and Theology in the Confessions of Ṣā’in al-Dīn Turka Iṣfahānī”, in Sufism and Theology, ed. Shihadeh, Ayman (Edinburgh, 2007), pp. 6382; Melvin-Koushki, “The Quest”, pp. 58–62, 423–39.

84 TMNA, pp. 171–72.

85 TRI, p. 223.

86 TRI, pp. 225–226 = “Avvalā dar ānki Khudā-yi ta‘ālā yagāna ast ba yagānagī-yi ḥaqīqī. . .”.

87 TRI, pp. 227–229. See also Lewisohn, “Sufism”, p. 66.

88 TRI, pp. 227–229, 255.

89 Based on this evidence we would suggest that he went to Herat sometime in April or early May 1426, but we need more direct evidence to push the argument further.

90 TNMA, p. 171.

91 TNMA, p. 171. Turka here is referring to the debates on the Mongol yasa and Muslim sharī‘a in the 15th century. For an overview of these discussions, see Togan, “Uluğ Bey zamanında yasa ve şeriat tartışmaları”, Tarih Çevresi (1994), 10, pp. 9–16; For Shāhrukh's religious policies, see Subtelny, Maria, Timurids in Transition. Turko-Persian Politics and Acculturation in Medieval Iran (Leiden, 2007), pp. 2432.

92 TNMA, pp. 170, 172.

93 TNMA, p. 176.

94 TNMA, p. 173.

95 TNMD, pp. 205–207, SMS, Vol. 2/1, p. 409. One of Turka's closest companinons, Sharaf al-Dīn ‘Alī Yazdī, was also present during this campaign as part of Ibrāhīm-Sulṭān b. Shāhrukh's retinue, and it is quite probable that Yazdī and Turka met in Azerbaijān. Since Yazdī was also trying to keep a low profile during this period—he withdrew from public life in 832/1429, it is highly unlikely that he would have intervened on behalf of Turka. Binbaş, “Sharaf al-Dīn ‘Alī Yazdī”, p. 118.

96 TNMD, pp. 213–214. This, of course, directly contradicts what Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrū would like us to believe.

97 TNMD, p. 211.

98 TRShQS, pp. 103–117.

99 Lewisohn compared Turka's taxonomy with al-Ghazālī's division of the intellectuals into four groups: Scholoastic theology, Ismā‘īlī authoritarianism (ta'līm), Philosophy, and Sufism. See Lewisohn, “Sufism”, p. 76. For a more comprehensive analysis of Turka's hierarchies, see Melvin-Koushki, “The Quest”, pp. 315–320.

100 TRShQS, pp. 110, 116.

101 TRShQS, p. 116 = “Chunānchi har chi az avval-i azal ast tā ākhir-i abad hama āshikārā gardad va hīch pinhān banamān”.

102 TRShQS, p. 116 = “. . . khāṣṣ-i īn zamān ast”.

103 TNMD, p. 210.

104 TRShQS, p. 111 = “khādimān-i khāṣṣ-i Ḥażrat-i khatamī va vārithān-i kamāl-i arjumand-i ū-yand. Va ẓuhūr-i in ṭawr makhṣūṣ-i hamīn zamān-i sa‘ādat-qirān ast”.

105 TRShQS, p. 112.

106 Toufic Fahd, La divination arabe, pp. 219–228.

107 Henry Corbin, “Typologie des spirituels selon Sâ’inoddîn ’Alî Torkeh Ispahânî (ob. 830/1427)”, pp. 259–260; Lewisohn, “Sufism”, p. 76.

108 TI, p. 264; TNMA, p. 194.

109 MTMA, p. 39.

110 Samarqandī, Taẕkirat al-shu'arā, pp. 456–462; Navā’ī, Mecâlisü’n-nefâyis, Vol. 1, pp. 20–21. Muḥammad Qazvīnī, the sixteenth-century translator of Navā’ī's biographical dictionary adds that he was a companion (muṣāḥib) of Mawlānā Rafīqī, who was a poet in the court of the Aq-Qoyunlu Sulṭān Ya'qūb b. Uzun Ḥasan (d. 896/1490). See; idem. Majālis al-Nafā’is. Trans. Fakhrī-yi Harātī and Muḥammad Qazvīnī (Tehran, 1323 H.sh./1945), pp. 192, 304–305.

111 MTMA, pp. 41–42.

112 Ateş, Ahmed, İstanbul Kütüphanelerinde Farsça Manzum Eserler (Istanbul, 1968), pp. 387388; Ṣafā, Ẕabīhullāh, Tārīkh-i adabiyāt dar Īrān (Tehran, 1977), Vol. 4, pp. 458459.

113 KMF, p. 1113; Dawlatshāh Samarqandī, Taẕkirat al-shu'arā, p. 377, KHS, Vol. 4, p. 6; Jāmī, ‘Abd al-Raḥmān, (d. 898/1492), Nafaḥāt al-uns min ḥażarāt al-quds, ed. ‘Ābidī, Maḥmūd (Tehran, 1375 H.sh./1996–97), p. 454; ‘Abdallāh Vā’iẓ, Sayyid Aṣīl al-Dīn, Maqṣad al-iqbāl-i sulṭāniyya, ed. Haravī, Māyil (Tehran, 1351 H.sh./1972–73), p. 85. There is another Muḥammad Ṭūsī, who was Khalīl-Sulṭān b. Mīrānshāh's Persian secretary, but I am not sure if he is identical with the author of the Majma‘ al-tahānī. See HMA, f. 127a.

114 MTMA, pp. 15–16 = “ta'mīr biqā‘ al-khayr min shiyam al-awliyā’”.

115 HAB, Vol. 4, pp. 916–918; MTMA, pp. 28–31.

116 Āzhand, Ḥurūfiyya, pp. 71–72.

117 MTMA, p. 13 = “idhā taghayyara al-sulṭān taghayyara al-zamān . . . gar buvad shāh-i mulk ra marażī * hama āfāq dar maraż bāshand”.

118 MTMA, pp. 16–20.

119 MTMA, pp. 20–24.

120 According to Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrū it was not Ma'rūf-i Khaṭṭāt, but ‘Aẓud who was tortured. See HAB, Vol. 4, p. 918.

121 MTMA, pp. 21–28.

122 MTMA, pp. 28–30.

123 MTMA, pp. 31–32.

124 MTMA, pp. 32–33. The issue of the Christian belief in the continuation of prophethood is a reference to Qur’ān 61:6: “And when Jesus son of Mary said, ‘Children of Israel, I am indeed the Messenger of God to you, confirming the Torah that is before me, and giving good tidings of a Messenger who shall come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad’”.

125 Only Āzhand refers to this figure without any explanation. See Āzhand, Ḥurūfiyya, p. 77.

126 MTMA, p. 33.

127 MTMA, pp. 33–36.

128 Zayn al-Dīn Khvāfī's biography is relatively well studied. For his life and intellectual network, see Köle, Bekir, Zeynüddîn Hâfî ve Tasavvufi Görüşleri (Istanbul, 2011), pp. 25122; Norris, H. T., “The Mir’āt al-Ṭālibīn, by Zain al-Dīn al-Khawāfī of Khurāsān and Herat”, BSOAS 53 (1990), pp. 5759; and for his influence and political activities, see Manz, Power, pp. 228–238; Paul, Jürgen, “The Khwājagān at Herat during Shāhrukh's Reign”, in Horizons of the World: Festschrift for İsenbike Togan, eds. Binbaş, İlker Evrim and Kılıç-Schubel, Nurten (Istanbul, 2011), pp. 223226.

129 KMR, pp. xxxiii-lxv, 473–579. See also Köle, Zeynüddîn Hâfî, p. 54.

130 KMR, pp. 484, 554–556.

131 KMR, pp. 487–488.

132 KMR, p. 541.

133 KMR, pp. 544–546.

134 KMR, pp. 546–547.

135 KMR, pp. 553–554.

136 KMR, pp. 554–555. In Islamic philosophy, the Sophist is “one who exercises arbitrary judgment” as opposed to dialectics. In other words, the Sophists were relativists. See Netton, I. R., “al-Sūfisṭā’iyyūn”, EI2 Vol. 9, p. 765.

137 Goldziher, I. [A. M. Goichon], “Dahriyya”, EI2 Vol. 2, p. 95. According to Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī, al-dahr is “the permanent moment which is the extension of the divine majesty and is the innermost part (bāṭin) of time, in which eternity in the past and eternity in the future are united”. Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī, Kitāb al-Ta'rīfāt, p. 111. The translation of al-Ta'rīfāt is by Goldziher.

138 KMR, pp. 484, 555.

139 KMR, pp. 484, 556.

140 KMR, pp. 571–572.

141 KMR, p. 556.

142 KMR, pp. 486–487.

143 Norris, “The Mir’āt al-Ṭālibīn”, p. 59; Manz, Power, p. 229.

144 Bashir, Sufi Bodies, p. 99.

145 MTMA, pp. 38–42.

146 Roemer, Hans R., “Bāysonḡor, Gīāṯ-al-Dīn”, EIr Vol. 4, pp. 69.

147 Maria E. Subtelny studied Shāhrukh's pro-Sunnī policies in a range of studies. For her most recent contribution to the subject see Subtelny, Timurids, pp. 24–28. See also eadem, “The Sunni Revival under Shāh-Rukh and its Promoters: A Study of the Connection Between Ideology and Higher Learning in Timurid Iran”, in Proceedings of the 27th Meeting of Haneda Memorial Hall Symposium on Central Asia and Iran August 30, 1993 (Kyoto, 1993), pp. 14–23; eadem, “The Cult of ‘Abdullāh Anṣārī under the Timurids”, in Gott ist schön und er liebt die Schönheit – God is Beautiful and he Loves Beauty, eds. Alma Giese and J. Christoph Bürgel (Bern, 1994), pp. 377–406. See also Subtelny, and Khalidov, Anas B., “The Curriculum of Islamic Higher Learning in Timurid Iran in the Light of the Sunni Revival under Shāh-Rukh”, JAOS 115 (1995), pp. 210236.

148 Bashir, Messianic Hopes, pp. 31–41; Manz, Power, pp. 209–210.

149 The classic study on patronage and its political function in the Timurid Empire is Aubin, Jean, “Le Mécénat timouride à Chiraz”, Studia Islamica 8 (1957), pp. 7188. Aubin draws his examples mostly from an earlier period when Mīrzā Iskandar b. ‘Umar-Shaykh ruled in Shīrāz semi-independently soon after the death of Timur. In recent decades the Timurid arstistic patronage has been studied relatively well from the perspective of art history. See Lentz, Thomas W. and Lowry, Glenn D., Timur and the Princely Vision. Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century (Los Angeles, 1989), pp. 67157, and more recently Brend, Barbara, Muhammad Juki's Shahnamah of Firdausi (London, 2010), pp. 2237.

150 Manz, Power, pp. 209–210.

151 Bashir, Messianic Hopes, pp. 45–54; DeWeese, Devin, “The Eclipse of the Kubravīyah in Central Asia”, Iranian Studies 21 (1988), pp. 5463.

* I am truly indebted to John E. Woods, Judith Pfeiffer, Maria E. Subtelny, and Mayte Green-Mercado for commenting on earlier drafts of this article. I am also grateful to the anonymous reviewers of the article for their constructive feedback.

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