The History and Geography of Gunabad
.تابنده گنابادى، سلطان حسىن. تاریخ و جغرافیای گناباد. تهران: انتشارات حقيقت، چاپ دوم، ١٣٧٩، ۴٣٧ص
Tabandah Gunabadi, Sultan Husayn. Tarikh va Jughrafi-yi Gunabad. Tehran: Intisharat-i Haqiqat, 2001, 3rd ed., 437pp.


The History and Geography of Gunabad

تاریخ و جغرافیای گناباد

The author of this book is one of the famous members of the Nimatullahi Sufi order, and one should know that for many Sufi the concept of their history consists exclusively of an account of the biography and customs of the elders. The followers of the Nimatullahi order avoid politics to an obsessive level. In accordance with this world view, geography in this book is taken to be equivalent to “the path of being” (sayr-i afagh) and history is taken to be equivalent to “the path of the self” (sayr-i anfus). As such, one finds neither any geographical maps nor any history of political conflicts. In the end one can say that the book’s implicit aim is to link as much as possible the name of Gunabad to the Nimatullahi order and its elders, including Haj Mulla Sultan Muhammad Bidbakhti Gunabadi, who is pivotal to this order.
At the outset, the study takes a passing look at the historical remains, language, and culture of Gunabad. It then compiles a list of the surrounding villages with the name of each village accompanied by several pages of description. These mostly begin with the etymology of the names of each village, and continue with a relatively precise account of their irrigation methods and the condition of their aqueducts. They conclude with population numbers and the influence of Sufism among the people. However, the comparative situation of the area and relationship among villages remains unexamined.

The second part of the book is based on information collected from texts and oral sources; it gathers information about Gunabadi notables in the fields of religious jurisprudence, philosophy, mysticism, and poetry. The work is based on a great variety of old poems and books. Yet in its descriptions, especially those about the mystics, the book resembles a hagiography. That is to say, it describes the greatness of the mystics and their strangely unique ways. 

Despite this, the work – initially published in 1969 – counts as the first complete resource on the city of Gunabad. The book contains much important information about canals, irrigation systems, and the culture associated with them. As such, while the main audience of the book is those with an interest in mystics and Shia Sufis, anthropologists may also be considered as its potential readers. 

Iradj Esmailpour Ghouchani
Translated by Niki Akhavan 
Esmailpour Ghouchani, Iradj. “English abstract of 'The History and Geography of Gunabad'". Translated by Niki Akhavan. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi, 137. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Muslim Civilisations Abstracts - The Aga Khan University
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