Mount Qaf

Cosmology An illustration in Zakariya al-Qazwini's "The Wonders of Creation" showing "a disk-like earth with the surrounding range of Qaf Mountains resting on the back of a giant bull (al-Rayyan), which in turn stands on a vast fish (Bahamut) held up by an angel. This type of visualisation of the structure of the universe was not unusual in the thirteenth century."[1].

Mount Qaf, or Qaf-Kuh, also spelled Cafcuh and Kafkuh (Persian: قاف‌کوه‎), or Jabal Qaf, also spelled Djebel Qaf (Arabic: جبل قاف‎), or Koh-i-Qaf, also spelled Koh-Qaf and Kuh-i-Qaf or Kuh-e Qaf (Classical Persian: کوہ قاف) is a legendary mountain in the popular mythology of the Middle East.

Iranian traditionEdit

Historically Iranian power never extended over all of the Northern Caucasus and ancient lore shrouded these high mountains in mystery.[2] In Iranian tradition this mountain could be any of the following:

Arabic traditionEdit

Mount Qaf in Arabic tradition is a mysterious mountain renowned as the "farthest point of the earth" owing to its location at the far side of the ocean encircling the earth.[3] Because of its remoteness, the North Pole is sometimes identified with this mountain.[4][5] It is also the only place in this world where the roc will land.[3]

Zakariya al-Qazwini published ʿAjā'ib al-makhlūqāt wa gharā'ib al-mawjūdāt ("The Wonders of Creation", literally "Marvels of things created and miraculous aspects of things existing")[6] in the 13th century, a book that was influential in early modern Islamic society. According to Qazwini's cosmology, the sky is held by Allah so that it does not fall on Earth. The Earth is considered flat and surrounded by a series of mountains —including Mount Qaf— that hold it in its place like pegs; the Earth is supported by an ox that stands on Bahamut, a giant fish (Arabic: بهموتBahamūt) dwelling in a cosmic ocean; the ocean is inside a bowl that sits on top of an angel or jinn.[7]

According to certain authors, the Jabal Qaf of Muslim cosmology is a version of Rupes Nigra, a mountain whose ascent —such as Dante's climbing of the Mountain of Purgatory, represents the pilgrim's progress through spiritual states.[8]

Sufi traditionEdit

In some Sufistic oral traditions, as conceived by Abd al-Rahman and Attar, Mount Qaf was considered as a realm of consciousness and the goal of a murid. Hadda Sahib (d. 1903) is said to have visited Mount Qaf in one night and was greeted by the king of peris.[9]

In literatureEdit

Mount Qaf (original Turkish title Kafdağı) is also the title of a novel by Turkish author Müge İplikçi.

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Daniel G. Prior: Travels of Mount Qāf: From Legend to 42° 0' N 79° 51' E. in: Oriente Moderno, Nuova serie, Anno 89, Nr. 2. (Studies on Islamic Legends) 2009, pp. 425–444


  1. ^ Qāf is the Arabized form of the Middle Persian word gâp meaning "unknown". The oldest mention of Gapkuh or the "unknown mountain" is in an inscription of Shapur I (241-272 AD) for the mountains between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. The name of the Caucasus Mountains is said to have ultimately come from Kapkof or Kafkaz, corrupted variant(s) of Gapkuh.


  1. ^ Lebling, Robert (2010). Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 9780857730633. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  2. ^ كوه قاف در اسطوره و عرفان ايراني Archived 2009-02-19 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Mount Qaf - Mythology Dictionary
  4. ^ Ibrahim Muhawi & Sharif Kanaana. Speak, Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales. Berkeley University of California Press
  5. ^ Irgam Yigfagna; al-Jabal al-Lamma
  6. ^ The Wonders of Creation - World Digital Library
  7. ^ Zakariya al-Qazwini. ʿAjā'ib al-makhlūqāt wa gharā'ib al-mawjūdāt (The Wonders of Creation). Original published in 1553 AD
  8. ^ Irgam Yigfagna; al-Jabal al-Lamma, p. 44
  9. ^ PRIOR, DANIEL G. “TRAVELS OF MOUNT QĀF: FROM LEGEND TO 42° 0' N 79° 51' E.” Oriente Moderno, vol. 89, no. 2, 2009, pp. 425–444. JSTOR, Accessed 18 Mar. 2020.