Until the discovery of the Persian
ʿAlī-nāma, Ibn Ḥusām’s
Khawarān-nāma (completed in 830/1427) was believed to be the oldest Persian epic poem involving the often wondrous exploits of ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib and the beginnings of Shīʿism. The
Khawarān-nāma takes its inspiration from Firdawsī’s
Shāh-nāma (completed in 400/1010), but then adapted to fit the Shīʿī theme, with ʿAlī and his companions often taking the place of Rustam and other heroes. With this facsimile edition of the
ʿAlī-nāma we now have access to a much older poem on this subject. Composed by someone using the alias of Rabīʿ, it was completed in 482/1089 in Khurāsān, most probably in or near the town of Sabzawār, just seventy years after the completion of Firdawsī’s
Shāh-nāma. The text is important because long before others, it acknowledges the heroes of the
Shāh-nāma, some of whom were actually written into the script.