Muhtasham Kashani

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Muhtasham Kashani
Tomb of Muhtasham Kashani in Kashan, Iran
Tomb of Muhtasham Kashani in Kashan, Iran
Full NameSayyid Ali Muhtasham Kashani
EpithetKamal al-Din
Well-known AsMuhtasham
Religious AffiliationTwelver Shi'a
Place of BirthKashan
Burial PlaceKashan
Known forTarkib band 'Ashura'i
ProfessorsMuhammad Sidqi Istarabadi
StudentsMir Taqi al-Din Muhammad Husayni Kashani
WorksKulliyyat-i Muhtasham

ʿAlī Muḥtasham Kāshānī (Persian: علي محتشم کاشاني) (b. 905/1499-1500 - d. 996/1587-8), known as Kamal al-Din, the son of Khwajih Mir Ahmad Kashani, was a poet at the time of Safavid dynasty (10th/16th century). He was a draper or weaver in Kashan. His most famous poem is known as Tarkibband-i Muhtasham. The poem is usually written on decorations of mourning ceremonies for Imam Husayn's (a) martyrdom. Many poets have composed poems following this poem form afterwards. He was buried in Kashan.


Sayyid Kamal al-Din 'Ali, the son of Mir Ahmad Kashani, whose pen name is Muhtasham, was a poet living at the beginning of Safavid times. He was contemporary with Shah Tahmasb Safavi. He was born about 905/1499-1500 in Kashan. He lived ninety-one years and passed on in 996/1587-8 in his birthplace. After receiving basic education of that time, Muhtasham became a weaver. He has mentioned his career in many poems. His burial place in Kashan is known as "Muhtasham neighborhood".[1]

Due to chronic sore feet, Muhtasham did not travel much. However, It is recorded that he has traveled to Isfahan, shrine cities of Iraq, and Khurasan. His qasidas [a form of writing poem] during his travels are great.[2]

He has written some poems praising Safavid kings and princes, especially Shah Tahmasb and his children. He has also written six quatrains on the occasion of ascending Shah Isma'il II to the throne. These poems are well-known and 1128 chronograms have been derived from them. Waqar Shirazi (d. 1298/1880-1) has written a book and explained these six quatrains. He lived at the time of development of Iranian poets' relationship with the Indian subcontinent. Although he himself never went to India, his poems were sent to Indian sultans by his brother, 'Abd al-Ghani.[3] He has written some poems praising Indian Shahs including Akbar Shah, 'Abd al-Rahim Khan, and Khan Khanan.[4]

Literary Backgrounds

Muhtasham is well-known for his poem about 'Ashura which is in twelve strophes. In addition to poetry, Muhtasham was great at prose as well. Two books of Risala-yi Jalaliyya and Naql-i 'ushshaq, which are compositions of prose and poetry, prove it. He was also great at writing "chronograms" and some examples can be found in his divan.[5]

His divan includes qasidas, ghazals, marsiyas, madihas, qat'as, ruba'is, and mathnawis. The part of qasidas has been called Jami' al-latayif and the part of ghazals has been called Naql-i 'ushshaq.[6] Taqi al-Din Kashani believes that three divans of Saba'iyya, Jalaliyya, and Shababiyya, which contain seven thousands verses altogether, Divan-i qasa'id-i a'imma (a) wa madh-i padishahan which contains eight thousands verses, and Risala-yi Mu'ammayat wa tawarikh are among the works of Muhtasham Kashani.[7] Kulliyyat-i Muhtasham which includes seven divans of Saba'iyya, Shababiyya, Shaybiyya", "Jalaliyya", "Naql 'ushaq", "Daruriyyat", and "Mu'ammayat" has been compiled by Mir Taqi al-Din Kashi.[8]

Teachers and Students

Muhtasham learned poetry from Sidqi Astarabadi. He was friends with Hayrati Tuni, Wahshi Bafqi, Hali Gilani, Damiri Isfahani and had correspondence with them. Mir Taqi al-Din Muhammad Husayni Kashani, the author of the Khulasat al-ash'ar, Muzaffar al-Din Hasrati, Naw'i Khabushani, Zuhuri Tarshizi were among his students.[9]

Poetic Style

Although at the time of Muhtasham Kashani, Isfahani style, had begun to become common, he has not used this style at all.[10] In his two risalas of Jalaliyya and Naql-i 'ushshaq, Muhtasham has written some ghazals in the style of wuqu'. The style of his other ghazals are similar to the styles of 'Abd al-Rahman Jami, Baba Faghani Shirazi, and Wahshi Bafqi which reaches a complete associations with Iraqi style. On the contrary, like ancient poets, he has adopted the Khorasani style for his qasidas. His tarkibband on 'Ashura, is a prominent example of the Iraqi style in Persian.[11]

Mutribi Samarqandi writes, "Most people believe that there is no one more famous and more sweet-tongued than Muhtasham among Iraqi style poets".[12] Also, Taqi al-Din Kashi calls Muhtasham as Khaqani of the age and Salman Sawaji of the age and writes, "Although Muhtasham is great at writing various kinds of poems, he rarely writes mathnawi".[13]


Throughout last four centuries, the tarkibband of Muhtasham has been the most popular poem on 'Ashura in Persian. Afterwards, a lot of poets wrote tarkibbands following the form and rhyme of his tarkibband, but among all the works, the tarkibband of Muhtasham has been wholeheartedly embraced by the laity and has been always written on the decorations of husayniyyas.[14] The fame of Muhtasham's tarkibband is not limited to Iran, but rather it is loved by many people from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. Even those Arabs who are familiar with Farsi literature, feel respect for the tarkibband of Muhtasham.[15]

According to Iskandar Beik Munshi, When Muhtasham wrote a qasida praising Pari Khan Khanum (the daughter of Shah Tahmasb), Shah Tahmasb persuaded Muhtasham to write poems in praise of Ahl al-Bayt (a).[16] Therefore, Muhtasham first wrote a tarkibband in praise of Imam 'Ali (a) following Mulla Hasan Kashi's poem, after that, one night in his dream, he visited Imam 'Ali (a) and Imam (a) wanted him to write a marsiya beginning with the following opening:

Muhtasham wrote the rest of the poem up to the verse: "هست از ملال گرچه بری ذات ذوالجلال" (though away with distress is the Essence of the Almighty) but he could not continue. One night, he visited Imam al-Mahdi (a) in his dream. He (a) continued the poem as: "او در دل است و هیچ دلی نیست بی ملال" (he is in the heart and no heart is without distress) and the poem was completed.[17]

In addition to his tarkibband, there is a qasida in mourning of Imam al-Husayn (a) in his divan.


  1. Muḥammadzāda, Dānishnāma-yi shi'r-i 'Āshūrāyī, p. 803.
  2. Muḥammadzāda, Dānishnāma-yi shi'r-i 'Āshūrāyī, p. 803.
  3. Muḥammadzāda, Dānishnāma-yi shi'r-i 'Āshūrāyī, p. 803.
  4. Naṣīrī, Athar āfarīnān, vol. 4, p. 140.
  5. Mujāhidī,Kārawān-i shi'r-i 'Āshūrā, p. 154.
  6. Muḥammadzāda, Dānishnāma-yi shi'r-i 'Āshūrāyī, p. 804.
  7. Kāshī,Khulāsat al-ash'ār, p. 16.
  8. Naṣīrī, Athar āfarīnān, vol. 4, p. 140.
  9. Naṣīrī, Athar āfarīnān, vol. 4 p. 140.
  10. Mujāhidī,Kārawān-i shi'r-i 'Āshūrā, p. 155.
  11. Mujāhidī,Kārawān-i shi'r-i 'Āshūrā, p. 155.
  12. Muṭribī Samarqandī, Tadhkirat al-shu'arā, p. 496.
  13. Kāshī,Khulāsat al-ash'ār, p. 15.
  14. Mujāhidī, Kārawān-i shi'r-i 'Āshūrā, p. 155.
  15. Mujāhidī, Kārawān-i shi'r-i 'Āshūrā, p. 155.
  16. Muḥammadzāda, Dānishnāma-yi shi'r-i 'Āshūrāyī, p. 803.
  17. Wāla Dāghistānā, Tadhkirat riyāḍ al-shu'arā, vol. 4, p. 2058-2059.


  • Muḥammadzāda, Marḍīyya. Dānishnāma-yi shi'r-i 'Āshūrāyī. Tehran: Wizārat-i Farhang wa Irshād-i Islāmī, 1386 sh.
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