Firishta (Persian: فرشته) or Ferishta, full name Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah (Persian: محمد قاسم ہندو شاه), was a Persian historian who was born in 1560 and died in 1620. The name Firishta means angel or one who is sent 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 Ahmadnagar, Hindustan, 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 Murtuza Nizam Shah when Prince Miran overthrew his father and claimed the throne of Ahmadnagar. 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. 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 Ibrahim. 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.
Tarikh-i Firishta consists primarily of the following books:
- The Kings of Ghazni and Lahore
- The Kings of Dehli
- The Kings of Dakhin - divided into 6 chapters:
- The Kings of Gujarat
- The Kings of Malwa
- The Kings of Khandesh
- The Kings of Bengal and Bihar
- The Kings of Multan
- The Rulers of Sind
- The Kings of Kashmir
- An account of Malabar
- An account of Saints of India
- 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, Tarikh-i-Rashidi by Mirza Haider and Barani's Tarikh. 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.
According to the scholar T. N. Devare, Firishta's account is the most widely quoted history of the Adil Shahi, but it is the only source for a fabricated story asserting the Ottoman origin of Yusuf Adil Shah, the founder of the Adil Shahi dynasty (Devare 67 fn2, 272). 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).
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.
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. 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 Mahometan 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; Tr. by Jonathan Scott (1794). Ferishta's History of Dekkan..(Vol. 1). John Stocksdale, London.
- Firishta, Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah Astarabadi; Tr. by Jonathan Scott (1794). Ferishta's History of Dekkan..(Vol. 2). John Stocksdale, London.
- "Medieval Period". Government of Maharashtra. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
- Elliot, Henry Miers. The History of India, As Told by Its Own Historians. BiblioBazaar. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
- Hasan, Mohibbul. Kashmir Under the Sultans. Aakar Books. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
- Mayaram, Shail. Against History, Against State. Orient Blackswan. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
- Jackson, Peter. The Delhi Sultanate. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
- Ray, Sukumar. Bairam Khan. Mirza Beg. p. 138. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Devare, T. N. A short history of Persian literature; at the Bahmani, the Adilshahi, and the Qutbshahi courts. Poona: S. Devare, 1961.