Sayyid Suhrāb Valī

Sayyid Suhrāb Valī is a figure who is the subject of many legends and traditions among the Ismāʿīlīs of Badakhshan. Ismāʿīlī tradition maintains that he was one of the chief disciples of Nasir-i Khusraw (d. after 1070), who charged him with leading the Ismāʿīlī community of Badakhshan after his death. However, Sayyid Suhrāb’s name also appears as the author of an Ismāʿīlī text titled Ṣaḥīfat al-nāẓirīn (also known as the Sī ū shish ṣaḥīfa), which was written in 1452 or 1453 (Badakhshānī). Other versions of this same text are attributed to a different author by the name of Ghiyāth al-Dīn ʿAlī b. Amīrān al-Ḥusaynī Iṣfahānī, who is known to have been in the employ of several of the Timurid governors of Badakhshan in the second half of the fifteenth century and who is known to have composed a number of other scientific treatises (Beben). It is not clear how two different versions of this text came to be attributed to two different authors, although it is possible that the name Sayyid Suhrāb may have been employed as a pseudonym by Ghiyāth al-Dīn when conducting work for the Ismāʿīlī daʿwa.

Very little is known with certain of Sayyid Suhrāb’s life. The conclusion to the Ṣaḥīfat al-nāẓirīn contains a brief autobiographical account in which the author states that he converted to Ismāʿīlism in his youth after encountering some of the ideas of Nasir-i Khusraw. Much more information is contained in the hagiographical traditions of the Ismāʿīlīs of Badakhshan, although the historicity of these accounts is not clear. In particular, Sayyid Suhrāb is the subject of an extensive narrative presented in an early nineteenth-century text titled Silk-i guhar-rīz, which states that he was a descendent of Imam Mūsā al-Kāẓim, through whom he traced his sayyid ancestry. The account relates that Sayyid Suhrāb’s family was originally from the town of Yazd in Iran, and that Sayyid Suhrāb’s father, Mīr Sayyid Ḥasan, upon hearing of the repute of Nāṣir-i Khusraw, entrusted his son to a renowned dervish by the name of Bābā Ḥaydar, who was asked to travel to Badakhshan and to deliver Sayyid Suhrāb, then four years old, to the tutelage of Nāṣir, who subsequently raised the child as his chief disciple and successor. In addition to these hagiographical accounts, the renown of Sayyid Suhrāb within the Central Asian Ismāʿīlī community is also reflected in a plethora of genealogical traditions among various families in the Badakhshan region, particularly in Afghan Badakhshan, who claim Sayyid Suhrāb as an ancestor and as a key link in an initiatic chain (silsilah) extending back to Nāṣir-i Khusraw (Mock 130; Shahrani 56).


Badakhshānī, Sayyid Suhrāb Valī. Sī ū shish ṣaḥīfah. Ed. Hūshang Ujāqī and Wladimir Ivanow. Tehran: Ismaili Society, 1961.

Beben, Daniel. "The Ṣaḥīfat al-nāẓirīn: Reflections on Authorship and Confessional Identity in a Fifteenth-Century Central Asian Text." In Before the Printed Word: Texts, Scribes and Transmission, ed. Wafi Momin (London: I.B. Tauris and the Institute of Ismaili Studies, forthcoming).

Daftary, Farhad. "Badakšāni, Sayyed Sohrāb Wali." Encyclopædia Iranica; available online at

Mock, John. "Shrine Traditions of Wakhan Afghanistan." Journal of Persianate Studies 4 (2011): 117-45.

Shahrani, M. Nazif. The Kirghiz and Wakhi of Afghanistan: Adaptation to Closed Frontiers and War. 2nd ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002.