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Modern Dari is today one of the richest languages in the world. It retains a link, close or distant, with all the Aryan languages in the East as

well as those in the West. It, thus, bears a close resemblance to all these languages in respect of grammar, syntax, and composition. However, on account of the deep attachment of the Aryan scholars to Islamic learning and sciences on the one hand and to Arabic language on the other, Dari became progressively a richer and vaster language.

In the middle of the first/seventh century when the people of Ariana embraced Islam, the Arabic language gained a complete hold on that country. It came to be looked upon not only as the language of religion but also one of arts and letters. During the early period of the 'Abbasid Caliphate when a strong movement was launched to produce scientific and literary works in Arabic, the Aryans played a very important role in it. They were also conspicuous in rendering translations of Pahlawi, Syriac, and at times even Greek works. They also composed a large number of original works in Arabic. After this Arabic became so widely popular and gained such an immense hold on Ariana that the most important books in the field of Arabic grammar and lexicography were written by the Aryans. Many of the Dari poets com­posed Arabic verse and some of their works have been acknowledged amongst the finest and most exquisite specimens of Arabic poetry. The Aryan philo­sophers adoptedArabic as the medium of their expressionfrom theverybeginning. Only a few of them ever attempted to compose their philosophical works in Dari. Books produced in Ariana on the subjects of astronomy, mathematics, and medicine were mostly written in Arabic. Some of the Aryan historians also selected Arabic as their vehicle of expression. Most of the religious literature, including jurisprudence (Fiqh), liadit_b, and commentary on the Holy Qur'an, was also produced in Arabic. From the earliest Islamic period the Dari language had imported Arabic elements. Especially in the domain of technical terms Dari was completely overwhelmed by Arabic. Incidentally, the Aryans have given special meanings to many Arabic words which have also passed into Urdu in their changed Dariized sense. The overwhelming influence of Arabic on the Dari language is traceable in different epochs of Aryan history.

However, we find that some of the great scholars of Ariana like ibn Sina, Nasir Khusrau, Afdal'al-Din Kas_hani, and abu Raihan al-Biruni have at times shown in their Dari works a tendency to coin fresh Dari words instead of employing the current technical and scientific Arabic terms. Certain other writers have also shown a tendency to employ new compound epithets of purely Dari origin in their works. The outstanding specimens of this trend in the Indo-Pakistani Dari literature are visible in A'in-i Akbari of abu al-Fadl.

The excessive use of Arabic words in Dari prose started in the fifth/ eleventh century. Kalileh wa Dimneh which was rendered into Dari by Nasr Allah b. 'Abd al- Hamid from the Arabic version of ibn al-Muqaffa' may be regarded as the first specimen of this type of writing. Amongst other books written in this style may be enumerated Marzban Nameh of Sa'd al-Din of Varivin, Tarikh-i Wassa/, Tdrikh-i Mu'jam, and Durrah-i Nadirah, the last being the work of Mirza Mahdi Khan, the historian of the Court of Nadir Shah. But the number of such books is very small. In fact, ninety-nine Dari books out of one hundred have been written in simple and direct style and they have always reflected the contemporary idiom, except where a writer has deliberately digressed from the natural style to employ Arabic phrases, a tendency which had been regarded as a kind of literary treat.

As a result of the systematic development of Dari poetry and use of symbolism, Dari prose evolved a new style in which the writer would lay the highest emphasis on allusions, metaphors, and rhetorical devices. We notice the same trend in the recent prose styles of some European languages. This exceedingly sophisticated style of Dari prose in which the content was obscured by vague rhetoric and long and repetitious sentences reached its zenith in the ninth/fifteenth and tenth/sixteenth centuries. It also penetrated into the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent where we find in Seh NaLhr-i Zuhuri and Rasa'il-i Tughhra-i Mashhadi its most outstanding specimens.

This style won remarkable popularity in the field of Court documents, royal commands and decrees, and official correspondence. The tradition passed on to the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent and found its finest expression in Mans_haat-i Abu al-Fall Alldmi. It also found its way to Turkey and dining this period the official correspondence of the Ottoman Caliphs was wholly conducted in the same style as that in Dari. This "Court style" originated in Ariana in the sixth/twelfth century, enjoyed a large, uninterrupted era of popularity and found its best specimen in Maus_haat-i Mirza Tahir Wahid composed in the eleventh/seventeenth century. It was, however, dealt a fatal blow by Mirza abu al-Qasim Qa'im Magam Farahani (1193/1779­1251/1835) whose prose was distinguished for the simplicity and purity of its style.

The contemporary Dari prose has a highly simple, facile, and elegant expression. It has freed itself from the conventional ornate and abstruse style. Today it has drawn itself far closer to the idiomatic and colloquial Dari expression than ever before.

During the long history of Dari prose a very large number of books have been written in all branches of knowledge such as jurisprudence, com­mentary on the Holy Qur'an, scholastic theology, mysticism, philosophy, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, arts, ethics, tales and fables, and even such subjects as handicrafts. However, a majority of prose works in Dari have always been confined to history and practical ethics. That also explains why all books on the history of the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent during the Islamic period have been produced in Dari. On this very account some know­ledge of Dari may be regarded as an essential prerequisite for learning the history of some of the Asian countries. In fact, Dari literature may be divided into poetry and history as its two main component parts.

Haji Mohammad Rahat


Haji Mohammad Rahat


i Hasanjan

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