KHATIBI NURI, HOSAYN (ḴAṬIBI NURI, ḤOSAYN; b. Tehran, 31 Tir 1295/22 July 1916; d. Tehran, 31 Šahrivar 1380 Š./21 September 2001), scholar and administrator.

Early life and education.  Ḵaṭibi’s father, Sheikh Moḥammad-ʿAli Nuri, originally from Nur in the province of Māzandarān, was both a teacher and the deputy-custodian of Madrasa-ye Marvi, the well-known traditional religious seminary in Tehran.  Ḥosayn was the eldest of the five children from his father’s third wife.

He received his early education at Ṯorayyā elementary school, and part of his secondary education at Aqdasiya, before entering Dār al-fonun (q.v.) polytechnic college. Subsequently, he studied Persian literature at the Teachers’ Training College (Dānešsarā-ye ʿāli; see EDUCATION xviii). This was followed by graduate studies at the newly created Ph.D. program in Persian literature at the Faculty of Letters and Humanities of the University of Tehran.  His doctorate, on medieval Persian prose (“Naṯr‑e fanni‑e fārsi az āḡāz tā pāyān‑e qarn‑e haftom‑e hejri”), supervised by the poet and scholar Moḥammad-Taqi Bahār, was awarded with distinction in 1945 (Ḵaṭibi, 2003, pp. 33, 38, 100-101). While working on his thesis, Ḵaṭibi also taught as an instructor at the Teachers’ Training College as well as at a secondary school. In 1951, when Bahār passed away, Ḵaṭibi occupied his chair at the Faculty of Letters, a position he held until 1978.

Academic, social, and political activity. Ḵaṭibi was also engaged by the Faculty of Law and Political Science. In 1939, he was appointed as director of its library. Here too his abilities impressed the dean of the Faculty, ʿAbd-Allāh Moʿaẓẓami, who later became deputy-speaker of the Majles and was instrumental in transferring Ḵaṭibi to the Majles as assistant manager of the official parliamentary gazette (Ruznāma-ye rasmi). Later he was promoted and became the gazette’s director, a position he held until he was elected to the parliament as the representative from Lār in 1963.  A major concern of his as the director of the gazette was the retrieval and compilation of the parliamentary proceedings for publication. Under his personal supervision, the proceedings of the parliament to the end of the sixth Majles were compiled and published (Ḵaṭibi, 2003, pp. 111-18).

Publication of the Loḡat-nāma.  Ḵaṭibi was also involved in the publication of ʿAli-Akbar Dehḵodā’s (q.v.) Loḡat-nāma.  He brought to Moʿaẓẓami’s attention the urgent need to ensure the completion of Dehḵodā’s lifetime endeavor. Following parliamentary approval, a committee was set up, which included Ḵaṭibi, to make the necessary preparations for the continuation of the project, and employ scholars to assist in organizing the numerous files and notes. The first volume of the Loḡat-nāma was published in 1946 with a foreword written by Ḵaṭibi but signed by Moḥammad-Ṣādeq Ṭabāṭabāʾi, the speaker of the Majles at the time (Ḵaṭibi, 2003, pp. 118-21).

Red Lion and Sun Society. On Moʿaẓẓami’s recommendation, Ḵaṭibi began working with the charity organization, Red Lion and Sun Society (Jamʿiyat‑e šir o ḵoršid‑e sorḵ, renamed Jamʿiyat‑e helāl‑e aḥmar‑e Irān, ‘Red Crescent Society of Iran,’ after the 1979 Revolution).  He embarked on a fund-raising campaign, which collected an unexpectedly large sum of money, prompting the Society to invite him to continue his cooperation with it as an unpaid member.  In March 1948, he was appointed director of publicity at the Society.  He also set up the Society’s periodical, Majalla-ye jamʿiyat, with the help of Jalāl Āl‑e Aḥmad (q.v.) and with the literary scholar Ḏabiḥ-Allāh Ṣafā as its editor. In May 1949, Ḵaṭibi was appointed managing director (modir‑e ʿāmel) of the Society, a post he held up until 17 February 1978. Here too his administrative capabilities were in full display. Ḵaṭibi was able to expand its scope quickly, building dozens of hospitals, clinics, orphanages, and relief and charity centers for the needy throughout the country (ʿĀqeli, I, p. 620).  To ensure the continuity and enhancement of relief work all over the country, he helped to set up the Youth Organization (Sāzmān‑e javānān) as part of the Red Lion and Sun Society, to train young students, with effective cooperation of the Ministry of Education. His energetic leadership also resulted in substantial private sector assistance in cash, land, various endowments, expertise, and technology (Ḵaṭibi, 2003, pp. 166-75). 

Moṣaddeq’s premiership (1951-1953). During the latter part of Moḥammad Moṣaddeq’s two years in office as prime minister, Ḵaṭibi was appointed chief director of one of the premier’s main offices, handling the prime minister’s official correspondence with ministries and foreign legations.  The exact date of this appointment is not known; the royal decree formally appointing Ḵaṭibi to the new office was signed on 16 July 1953 (Ḵaṭibi, 1998, apud Rasuli), just over a month before the overthrow of Moṣaddeq.  However, as Ḵaṭibi was Moṣaddeq’s own choice, he might well have started the new job much earlier, the royal decree serving as a formal acknowledgment.  Ḵaṭibi would go to Moṣaddeq’s residence on a daily basis, and his last visit was on the very day of the coup d’état of 1953 that led to Moṣaddeq’s fall.  Wary of the conflict between the shah and Moṣaddeq, Ḵaṭibi went into hiding for a few days; but, despite his great concern, he returned to work after a few days and continued working with the Red Lion and Sun Society (Ḵaṭibi, 1998, apud Rasuli, pp. 232-33).

Organization of Volunteers (Sāzmān‑e dāvṭalabān).  Ḵaṭibi was also the driving force behind the expansion of the Organization of Volunteers, affiliated to the Red Lion and Sun Society. Those in the Organization worked pro bono and even paid a monthly membership fee. Those who had donated considerable sums or endowed pieces of land would become honorary members.  The Organization had more than 260 branches throughout the country.  During his long public service, Ḵaṭibi took effective measures to increase the number and enhance the standards of the Society’s centers for blood transfusion by training qualified nurses.  He also did a great deal to make the Relief Organization, also affiliated to the Society, as effective as possible (Ḵaṭibi, 2003, pp. 163-82).  For example, in 1971, when relations between Iran and Iraq became strained, thousands of Iranian residents in Iraq were expelled in a humiliating manner.  The government directed the Red Lion and Sun Society to take care of this serious forced exodus, and this was carried out efficiently under Ḵaṭibi’s supervision (Ḵaṭibi, 2003, pp. 184-87).  The Society undertook a similar task for the Bārzāni Kurds who had taken refuge in Iran, setting up camps in several cities.  Under Ḵaṭibi’s directorship, the Society performed some remarkable medical services (including the construction of well-equipped hospitals) in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Persian Gulf sheikhdoms (Ḵaṭibi, 2003, pp. 190-95, 208-12). 

During the premiership of Amir-ʿAbbās Hoveydā, dissatisfaction with the Ministry of Health’s poor management of the state-run hospitals throughout the country prompted a royal decree by the shah: almost all such hospitals and other non-private medical centers were to be entrusted to the Red Lion and Sun Society.  Despite the enormity of the task, Ḵaṭibi carried out the responsibility competently (Ḵaṭibi, 2003, pp. 213-21). 

Mahd‑e kudak.  One of Ḵaṭibi’s innovative services was to introduce what came to be known as Mahd‑e kudak, the name Ḵaṭibi coined for day care centers, an idea that had occurred to him after an official invitation to visit France by the French Red Cross. Ironically, his only source of income during his last years of life was the day care center that his wife had set up at a northern suburb of Tehran (Ḵaṭibi, 2003, pp. 200-201). 

His career as member of Parliament.  As pointed above, Ḵaṭibi was elected in 1963 to represent the southern city of Lār in the 21st Majles (ʿĀqeli, p. 620; Ḵaṭibi, 2003, pp. 237-38).  He was re-elected to the 22th-24th terms of the Majles, this time from Tehran.  In the 21st Majles (early 1964), he was chosen as deputy-speaker (nāyeb-raʾis), a position he held as long as he was a Majles representative (Ḵaṭibi, apud Rasuli, pp. 238-39). 

Scholarship. Ḵaṭibi’s full-time involvement with the Red Lion and Sun Society did not leave him sufficient time for academic research and scholarly publications.  His only literary productions in book form were Tāriḵ‑e taṭawwor‑e naṯr‑e fanni (1965) and the first volume of Fann‑e naṯr dar adab‑e pārsi (1985, repr. 1996), basically an expanded version of his 1945 dissertation.  The first of these books consisted of two parts. In the first part, Ḵaṭibi described the history of the changes in and features of Persian prose from its beginning (4th/10th cent.) to the end of the 7th/13th century; and, in the second part, he presented a critical study of prose and its three main genres: epistolary, narrative, and maqāma (lit. “séance,” “assembly,” a particular kind of thematic narrative and stylistically ornate rhymed prose) in those four centuries.  He had planned to extend his study to the end of the 19th century in the second volume, and to complete his critique by concentrating on other prose genres (Ḵaṭibi, 1996, pp. 15-17).  However, he did not live long enough to finalize the second volume, whose manuscript he had already prepared in the course of more than thirty years as a professor of stylistics (Ḵaṭibi, 1996, p. 14).  Ḵaṭibi’s other book, Fann‑e naṯr, is an instructive manual for both teachers and students of Persian literature.  It demonstrates the author’s extensive and critical reading of Persian prose classics, and bears witness to his sound literary judgment and admirable command of prose.  His well-structured and lucid prose also points to his poetical talent, borne out by the poetry he has left behind (including a large number of prison poems), only a fraction of which have so far been published (Qanbari, I/2, p. 174). He also produced more than twenty articles, most of them on stylistics, an area that constituted his main focus of academic interest. 

Ḵaṭibi’s last scholarly contribution was a lecture on Bahār, his mentor and model in many ways (Torābi, pp. 317), delivered at a commemoration ceremony held in Paris (May, 2001; Ketāb‑e māh, no. 46-47, p. 113).  It was later published in his posthumous Ranj‑e rāygān (pp. 363-90).

Final years. In the aftermath of the Revolution of 1978-79, Ḵaṭibi was arrested and sentenced to six-years imprisonment, later commuted to four and half years. He was eventually released, physically weak and spiritually broken.  In 1991, he was invited to teach graduate students and supervise their theses by two newly founded post-revolution universities in Tehran (Rasulipur, Introduction to Ḵaṭibi, 2003, p. 13).  Almost a decade later, he was diagnosed with cancer of the liver and died in 2001. He was buried in Emāmzāda Ṭāher cemetery on the Tehran-Karaj road.


Works. (a) Books.

Tāriḵ‑e taṭawwor‑e naṯr‑e fanni, Tehran, 1965. 

Fann‑e naṯr dar adab‑e pārsi, Tehran, 1985; 2nd ed., Tehran, 1996.

Čand manẓuma, Tehran, 2002.

Ranj‑e rāygān: Ḵāṭerāt‑e siāsi, farhangi, va ejtemāʿi, ed. Mortażā Rasulipur, Tehran, 2003.

(b) Articles. “Ḵayyām va Abu-’l-ʿAlāʾ Maʿarri,” Mehr 4, 1937, pp. 913-20.

“Naṯr‑e fanni dar qarn‑e šešom va haftom‑e hejri,” Āmuzeš o parvareš 15/8-10, 1945, pp. 1-12.

“Baḥṯ darbāra-ye naṯr‑e fārsi‑e moʿāṣer,” in Naḵostin kongera-ye nevisandegān‑e Irān, Tehran, 1946, pp. 176-80.

“Barmakiān (yak ḵānavāda-ye nikukār‑e Irāni),” Šir o ḵoršid‑e sorḵ 1/2, 1948a, pp. 8-9, no. 3, pp. 12-13, no. 4, pp. 9-13.

“Naṯr‑e fārsi‑e Ebn‑e Sinā,” Majalla-ye Dāneškada-ye adabiyāt 1/4, 1948b, pp. 91-98.

“Sabk‑e ašʿār‑e Bahār,” Yaḡmā 4, 1951, pp. 454-61, 496-500.

“Moḵtaṣar-i rājeʿ be āṯār va sabk‑e ašʿār‑e Doctor Moḥammad Eqbāl Lāhuri,” Majalla-ye Dāneškada adabiyāt 1, 1953, pp. 56-68.

“Eqbāl o sabk‑e hendi,” Yaḡmā 7/5, 1954, pp. 210-18.

“Takāmol‑e naṯr‑e fārsi,” in Marzhā-ye dāneš, 4 vols., Tehran, 1960-63a, III, pp. 1-18.

“Jelwahā-ye šeʿr‑e fārsi,” in Marzhā-ye dāneš 4 vols., Tehran, 1960-63b, IV, pp. 197-213.

“Baḥṯ dar āṯār va sabk‑e ašʿār‑e ʿAllāma Eqbāl,” Helāl 16/4-5, 1968, pp. 124-30.


Bāqer ʿAqeli, “Ḵaṭibi, Doktor Ḥosayn,” Šarḥ‑e ḥāl‑e rejāl‑e siāsi va neẓāmi‑e moʿāṣer‑e Irān, 3 vols., Tehran, 2001, I, pp. 619-20. 

Moḥammad-Taqi Malek-al-Šoʿarāʾ Bahār, Sabk-šenāsi yā tāriḵ‑e taṭawwor‑e naṯr‑e fārsi, 2nd ed., 3 vols., Tehran, 1958. 

Ketāb‑e māh‑e adabiyāt o falsafa 46-47, Tehran, 2001, p. 113.

Omid Qanbari, “Doktor Ḥosayn Ḵaṭibi,” Nāma-ye Anjoman 1/2, 2001, pp. 173-74. 

Mortażā Rasuli, “Goftogu bā Doctor Ḥosayn Ḵaṭibi,” Tāriḵ‑e moʿāṣer‑e Irān 2/6 and 2/7, 2014, pp. 233-39.

Moḥammad Torābi, “Dar anduh‑e dargozašt‑e Doktor Ḥosayn Ḵaṭibi,” Boḵārā 19, 2001, pp. 316-22.

(Majdoddin Keyvani)

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