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Muhammad Bal'ami

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Abu Ali Muhammad Bal'ami (Persian: ابو علی محمد‎), also called Amirak Bal'ami (امیرک بلعمی) and Bal'ami-i Kuchak (بلعمی کوچک, "Bal'ami the Younger"), was a Persian historian, writer, and vizier to the Samanids. He was from the influential Bal'ami family.



The Tarikh-i Bal'ami, a Persian translation of al-Tabari's History of the Prophets and Kings by Muhammad Bal'ami.

He was born in Lashjerd in the district of Merv, then part of the Samanid Empire. He was the son of Abu'l-Fadl al-Bal'ami (also called Bal'ami-i Buzurg; "Bal'ami the Elder").[1] Muhammad Bal'ami was appointed vizier during the late reign of Abd al-Malik I (r. 954-961) and kept holding the office under Abd al-Malik's successor Mansur I (r. 961-976). According to Gardizi, Bal'ami died in March 974 while serving in office, but according to the Persian historian al-Utbi, he was later from removed the vizierate office, and was reappointed later as the vizier of Nuh II (r. 976-997), but chose to retire in 992, dying in an unknown date before 997.


Bal'ami most famous work is Tarikh-i Bal'ami, which is a Persian translation and alteration of al-Tabari's History of the Prophets and Kings; it contains supplementary material, some of which is found nowhere else. Bal'ami himself states several times in the book that he has corrected al-Tabari's version. Contrary to al-Tabari, Bal'ami's version is presented from a Persian (mainly Khorasanian) point of view.[2] Having been written in 963, the Tarikh-i Bal'ami is the oldest New Persian prose work after the preface of the Shahnama-yi Abu Mansuri by Abu Mansur Muhammad.[3]

The 12th-century poet Nizami Aruzi makes mention of a book composed by Bal'ami named Tawqi'at, and two lines by Bal'ami are cited in the Farhang-e Jahangiri by Jamal al-Din Hosayn Enju Shirazi. However, it is not known if this refers to Bal'ami or his father, Bal'ami the Elder.[3]


  1. ^ Frye 1975, p. 152.
  2. ^ Yarshater & Melville 2012, p. 10.
  3. ^ a b Khalegi-Motlagh 1989, pp. 971-972.


  • Ashraf, Ahmad (2006). "Iranian identity iii. Medieval Islamic period". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. XIII, Fasc. 5. pp. 507–522.
  • Frye, R.N. (1975). "The Sāmānids". In Frye, R.N. (ed.). The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 4: From the Arab Invasion to the Saljuqs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 136–161. ISBN 0-521-20093-8.
  • Khalegi-Motlagh, Dj. (1989). "AMĪRAK BALʿAMĪ". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. I, Fasc. 9. pp. 971–972. Archived from the original on 2012-11-17.
  • Zadeh, Travis (1986). "al-Balʿamī". The Encyclopedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume III. Leiden and New York: BRILL. ISBN 90-04-09419-9.
  • Yarshater, Ehsan; Melville, Charles (2012). Persian Historiography: History of Persian Literature A, Volume 10. I.B.Tauris. pp. 1–400. ISBN 9780857721402.

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