Sharaf Khan Bidlisi

For other people named Bidlisi, see Bidlisi (disambiguation).
Sharaf Khan Bidlisi
Şerefxanê Bedlîsî
شەرەفخانی بەدلیسی
Emir, Mir and Khan

A portrait of Sharaf Khan Bidlisi
Reign Emirate of Bitlis
Successor Shamsaddin Bag Abu Alma'ali
Born February 25, 1543
Died 1603 (60 years)
Full name
Sharaf Khan Bidlisi
Dynasty Bitlisi dynasty
Father Shamsaddin Batlisi
Religion Islam
Sharaf Khan Bidlisi statue at Slemani Public Park in Slemani, Iraqi Kurdistan (previously Sulaymaniyah)

Sharaf Khan Bidlisi or Sharaf al-Din Bitlisi (Kurdish: شەرەفخانی بەدلیسی, Şerefxanê Bedlîsî; Persian: شرف‌خان بدلیسی) (949-1012/1543-1603-04)[1] was a medieval Kurdish emir and a politician from the Emirate of Bitlis.

But he is more known as a historian, writer and poet. He wrote exclusively in Persian. Born in the Garmrood village, in central Iran, between Arak and Qom, at a young age he was sent to the Safavid's court and obtained his education there.

He is the author of one of the most important works on medieval Kurdish history,[2] written in 1597, Sharafnama. He created a good picture of Kurdish life and Kurdish dynasties in the 16th century in his works. Outside Iran and Kurdish-speaking countries, Sharaf Khan Bidlisi has influenced Kurdish literature and societies through the translation of his works by other scholars.

He was also a gifted artist, and a well-educated man excelling as much in mathematics and military strategy, as he did in history.

Early life

Sharaf Khan Bidlisi was born on February 25, 1543, in the Markazi province, Iran in the Garmrood village, during the exile of his father. The Rojaki dynasty, which had ruled intermittently as an independent emirate from their capital of Bitlis since at least the 9th century, and therefore, he never took up the common tribal title of "Khan", preferring instead the royal title of emir or mir, "prince." He was most commonly known as, Mir Sharaf (Prince Sharaf). Later his family was taken under protection of the Safavid dynasty.[3] He was schooled at Tahmasb's court, and wrote in 1596:

"When I turned nine (in 1551) I entered the private harem (haram-i khass)... for three years (1551–1554) I served the family (Silsila) of that refined (pakiza atvar) shah as a page at the inner palace."
Sharaf Khan Bidlisi

Bedlîsî speaks of his education entailing instruction in the Quran, readings in on the principles of the shari'a, a piety and purity. Due to Shah Tahmasb's religious disposition, Bidlisi was introduced to religious scholars, who warned him against evil people, and instead encouraged friendship with the virtuous. And once Bidlisi attained maturity, he was thought the martial arts (sipahigira), archery, polo, racing, swordsmanship, and the precepts of chivalry – humanism and generosity.[4]

In 1576 Tahmasb of the Safavids gives him the title the Mir of Mirs; appoints him leader of all Iranian Kurdish tribes.[5] He accepts his title, but only two years later, Sharafkhan abandons his previous stand, and supports the Ottomans in their war against the Iranians, offering them 400 soldiers. Between 1578 and 1588, Sharafkhan virtually led all the Ottoman wars against the Persians.[6] Sultan Murad III, the Ottoman Sultan, grants Sharafkhan the title of Khan. He becomes the Mir of the Batlisi province. As he turned 53, Sharafkhan gave the authority of his dynasty to his son Shamsaddin Bag Abu Alma'ali.


Main article: Sharafnama

He was thinking for a long time to write a book about Kurdish history, and finally in 1597 Sharaf Khan Bidlisi started his composition of his epic, Sharafnama.

The Sharafnama divides its history into four parts. The first one deals with the five Kurdish dynasties that have enjoyed status as royalty (Saltant): the Marwanids of Amed, the Hasanwayhids of Dinavar and Sharizur, the Fadluyids of the Great Lur, the princes of little Lur, and finally, Saladin the Great and the Ayyubids. The second part lists dynasties that have had coin struck and the khutba recited in their names. (The Khutba is a religious invacation pronounced at the Friday day prayers meeting that mentions the Prophet, the first four caliphs and the current rulers). The third part numbers the families of the hereditary governors, while the fourth details the history of the mirs of Bitilis.[7]

He wrote his works in Persian, and it was not until 1879 that it was translated into Kurdish (Kurmanji) by the Kurdish polymath Mahmud Bayazidi (1797–1859). Its hand-written version is preserved in the Russian National Library, and was published for the first time in 1986. In 1972, the Sorani version of Sharafnama was written for the first time by the late Kurdish scholar Abdurrahman Sharafkandi (1920–1991), also known as Mamosta Hajar. In 1873–1875, the French scholar François Charmoy translated Sharafnama from Persian into French and published it in Saint Petersburg, in Russia. Among many other languages, Sharafname has been translated into Arabic, English, Turkic languages, Russian, Greek and Armenian.


He died in his own principality (Emirate of Bitlis) in 1603 at the age of 60, and left thousands of writings.


Being one of the oldest books ever written by a Kurd, the creation of Sharafnama is a turning point in the history of Kurds and their rich culture. The fact that a Kurd, for the first time, put Kurdish culture under a spotlight is of special importance in contrast to other studies that were done before Sharafnama.

Bidlisi has a unique place in Kurdish history. After his Sharafnama, a number of copies and other works similar in nature surfaced over the centuries within the cultural sphere on rich Kurdish history. In the text of the Sharafnama, the empires of the Kurds parallel those of the Arabs, Persians and Turks, some, according to Bitlisi, reaching back over 4,000 years. Sharaf khan's Sharafnama is today safely kept in Oxford.

See also


  1. Glassen, Erika. "BEDLĪSĪ, ŠARAF-AL-DĪN KHAN". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2015-03-31.
  2. R. Izady, Mehrdad (2005). The Sharafnam̂a, or, The history of the Kurdish nation, 1597.
  3. Singh, NK (2004). Encyclopaedic Historiography of the Muslim World.
  4. R. Babaie, Sussan (2004). Slaves of the Shah: new elites of Safavid Iran.
  5. R. Izady, Mehrdad (1991). The Kurds: a concise handbook.
  6. N. S. Sellers, Mortimer (1996). The New world order: sovereignty, human rights, and the self-determination.
  7. M. Gunter, Michael (2009). The A to Z of the Kurds.
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