Naṣab'nāmah-i Ḥaḍrat-i Sayyid Suhrāb

About the Collection

The perception of Badakhshan as a remote and “peripheral region” in the Islamic world has marginalized the study of Ismailism and the peoples of the Badakhshan region within the scholarship on Islamic Central Asia. Our knowledge of the historical development of the Ismaili community in Badakhshan, the construction of confessional traditions, and the institutionalization of Ismaili religious authority is fairly limited, as the existing evidence in the form of Persian documents and manuscripts remains largely inaccessible as historical sources. Yet pirs and khalifas from Tajikistan and Afghanistan maintained a Persianate documentary and literary tradition rich with untapped insight.

Led by Dr. Jo-Ann Gross and supported with a three-year National Endowment for the Humanities Collaborative Research Grant, this project is centered on digitizing roughly 65 original, privately held genealogical histories (nasab-namahs) and property documents from Badakhshan in Tajikistan and Afghanistan dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Using an archive of photographs compiled during Dr. Gross’ 2004-2019 field research in the region, it is the first effort to make available the history of genealogical documentation in the Ismaili community as a source for local knowledge of the Ismaili tradition of Badakhshan.


This project brings a humanities perspective to the study of knowledge production in the context of genealogical history. It is one of the first efforts to systematically collect and interpret primary data from both Afghan and Tajik Badakhshan, with a view towards understanding their historical and social connections. The goal is to make this corpus of Persian-language texts available as historical sources by digitizing them and identifying their features. A co-authored forthcoming book will define the local genres of genealogy and document production in this collection and analyze them as a source for local knowledge of the Ismaili tradition.