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SARMAD, MOHAMMED SA'ID:

Persian poet of Jewish birth; flourished in the first half of the seventeenth century. He was born at Kashan of a rabbinical family, but later embraced Mohammedanism, and went to India as a merchant. In the city of Tatta, Karachi, he became infatuated with'a young Hindu named Abhichand, whom he converted to a mixture of Judaism and Mohammedanism. In 1647 Sarmad was in Haidarabad, not far from Tatta, and there meeting Moshan Fani, the author of the "Dabistan-i Madhahib," or "School of Sects," he gave him the material for a meager chapter on the Jews. According to Moshan Fani, Sarmad held that man's life and death are a day and a night succeeding each other indefinitely at regular intervals of one hundred and twenty years each, and that at death the body passes partly into minerals and partly into vegetables, animals, and the like. This doctrine shows Hindu influence, while his view that allusions to Mohammed exist in the Old Testament bears the impress of Islamitic teaching. During the rule of Shah Jehan, Sarmad was unmolested; but Aurungzebe soon after his accession to the throne in 1658 charged him with heresy and caused him to be put to death.

Sarmad was a poet of considerable ability; and several of his quatrains are still preserved. He is chiefly noteworthy, however, for having edited, together with Moshan Fani, a portion of Abhichand's Persian translation of the Pentateuch. This version, cited in the "Dabistan" as far as Gen. vi. 8, differs materially from the earlier Judæo-Persian translations by Jacob Tawus and others (see Jew. Encyc. iii. 190, vii. 317).

Bibliography:
  • The Dabistan, or School of Manners, translated from the Persian by Shea and Troyer, vol. ii., Paris, 1843;
  • Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum, London, 1881.
S. L. H. G.
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