ʿUmar Yumgī

ʿUmar Yumgī is another legendary religious leader (pīr) within the Central Asian Ismāʿīlī tradition who is said to have been one of the chief disciples of Nāṣir-i Khusraw. In some narrative traditions he is described as having been a king of Badakhshan named Malik Jahānshāh at the time of Nāṣir-i Khusraw’s arrival there, who was given the name of ʿUmar Yumgī following his conversion by Nāṣir-i Khusraw. This tradition is represented in a source (BMP008) that is evidently the oldest document in the collection, dated to 830/1426-27. This document supplies ʿUmar Yumgī/ Malik Jahānshāh with a sayyid lineage extending through Imām Muḥammad Bāqir. However, the link with Malik Jahānshāh is not present in all accounts of ʿUmar Yumgī, while other accounts of Malik Jahānshāh make no mention of ʿUmar Yumgī, and so it is possible that this may represent a synthesis of two distinct narrative traditions.

Aside from the aforementioned genealogical document, ʿUmar Yumgī does not appear in the sources again until the early nineteenth century. An extended account of him is given in a text titled Silk-i guhar-rīz, which is a legendary history of the Ismāʿīlī daʿwa that was authored in the city of Jurm c. 1835 (Beben 344-402). This source, which was composed by a descendant of Sayyid Suhrāb Valī, depicted ʿUmar Yumgī and Sayyid Suhrāb as the two chief disciples of Nāṣir-i Khusraw. According to this account, Nāṣir appointed Sayyid Suhrāb to the position of māʾdhūn-i akbar (which comes directly below Nāṣir’s rank of ḥujjat within the hierarchy of the Ismāʿīlī daʿwa), while ʿUmar Yumgī is given the lesser rank of māʾdhūn-i aṣghar. A later account from an early twentieth century text, the Baḥr al-akhbār, adds a further detail describing a geographical division of the lands of Badakhshan and adjoining regions between the two disciples: Sayyid Suhrāb Valī was given the lands “on the right,” meaning to the east and north of Yumgān, including the lands of Zībāk, Ishkāshim, Wakhān, Shughnān, and Darwāz, while the territories “on the left,” including Chitrāl, Ispānj, and Ṭāliqān, were entrusted to ʿUmar Yumgī (Badakhshī 43). Some descendants of ʿUmar Yumgī still serve as religious leaders today in the Garm Chashma region of Chitrāl, in present-day Northern Pakistan (Ay 101).

Despite the clear territorial assignation claimed in the Baḥr al-akhbār, ʿUmar Yumgī is also associated in a number of narrative traditions with the Shākhdarah region of Shughnān in Tajik Badakhshan. In the Silk-i guhar-rīz we find an account of the author’s grandfather, Khwājah Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ, a descendant of Sayyid Suhrāb who served as one of the chief Ismāʿīlī pīrs in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, who commissioned a certain Khwājah Badal, described as the chief of the clan of ʿUmar Yumgī, as his chief deputy in the Shākhdarah and Ghārān valleys of Shughnān. ʿUmar Yumgī also appears in narratives connected with a legendary pīr by the name of Khwājah Āfāq Muḥammad, whose shrine is located in the village of Sezhd in the upper Shākhdarah valley, who is said to have married the sister of ʿUmar Yumgī.


Ay, Zahide. "The Wakhis of Gojal (Upper Hunza): An Historical Analysis within the Context of Ismailism in Badakhshan." Alevilik-Bektaşilik Araştırmaları Dergisi 19 (2019): 81-112.

Badakhshī, Saidjaloli. Bahr-ul-akhbor. Ed. R. Rahmonqulov. Khorogh: Pomir, 1992.

Beben, Daniel. "The Legendary Biographies of Nāṣir-i Khusraw: Memory and Textualization in Early Modern Persian Ismāʿīlism." Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University, 2015.