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Kipchak and Chagatai Literatures

The consolidation of the Mongol-Turkish government of the Golden Horde in the Kipchak steppe coincided with the annexation of the area to the vast expanse of the Islamic territory. This trend toward Islamization became especially strong in the reign of Uzbek Khan (712 – 742 AH). During this period, Khwarazm, as a region in the vanguard of the movement to accept Islam and as one with a long history of literary traditions, was part of the Golden Horde territory and served as a bridge for cultural exchanges, especially in terms of the transmission of literary styles. On its western flank, the Golden Horde was also in contact with Arab countries, especially Egypt, a situation which made their contact with Islam and major centers of Islamic civilization more harmonious. Among the first literary creations of the Golden Horde mention may be made of a prose work about the lives of the prophets (710 AH / 1310 AD), by Rabghuzi, which contains accounts of the lives of pre-Islamic prophets (PBUT) as well as other Qur`anic tales, such as those of the Partisans of Kahf and the Partisans of Fil (elephant). The style of the work bears close affinity to the works of the same genre in Persian and Arabic. Also worthy of mention is the ethico-religious Mu`in al-murid (713 AH), by Khwarazmi, whose first section is devoted to discussions of the principles of faith and the rest to the elaboration of the states and stations of Sufis and the notion of iradat (devotion). Another work of this group is Nahj al-faradis, which in four chapters (sing. bab) discusses the sirah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and those of the first four caliphs, as well as the ethical vices and virtues. Since the framework of the book is based on forty hadiths, it may be considered as belonging to the works of arba`iniyyat (collections of forty) genre. 

The legend of Kisk Bash (the Severed Head) is a collection of poems belonging to the same literary circle (circa 7th – 8th cen. AH). In spite of its non-Shi`ite provenance, the work is strongly influenced by the personality of Imam `Ali (PBUH) and Shi`ite traditions about his virtues. The main theme of the story is circumstances which led to the attribution of the title of Asad Allah (the Divine Lion) to Imam `Ali (PBUH). The story opens with the coming of a severed head to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to seek justice for the wrong done to it by the maleficent demons (sing. div), and the dispatching of the Imam to assist it in his cause, elements of which may be found in a number of gharib (strange, i.e. uncommon) hadiths. The special aspect of the story of Kisk Bash is that in it the Great Div (the leader of demons) is bent on destroying the entire community of Muslims, and has gone as far as imprisoning some 1,500 of them in his fortress. In the story, the severed head is the symbol of belief in God which has been separated from its body through the oppression of the div, who has thrown its beloved wife in a dungeon. The story paints a detailed picture of the defeat of the demons at the hands of the Muslims, as well as the braveries of Imam `Ali (PBUH), an instance of whose magnanimity is said to have been his offer to spare the life of the Great Div if he chose to embrace belief in God. Broadly speaking, in the story, the Great Div is the personification of Iblis (Satan) and its battle with Imam `Ali (PBUH) is a symbol of the struggle between Islam and kufr (infidelity), which occasioned the appellation of the Divine Lion for the Imam.

 source: Pakatchi , Ahmad "Islam Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.8 , pp.499- 500

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