23 February 2021
Colleagues at SOAS were deeply upset to learn of the death of Dr Mohammed Ziauddin Ahmed Shakeb (M.Z.A. Shakeb) on 20 January 2021. He was a world- renowned historian and archivist on the history of the Deccan, Mughals and ancient Indo-Persian relations. Dr Shakeb was a member of the Department of Indology (Indian History) between 1980-87.
Shakeb’s landmark catalogues, Mughal Archives Vol I: A Descriptive Catalogue of the Documents Pertaining to the Reign of Shah Jahan, in 1977 and the Compendium of Grants, 1974 while at the State Archives of Andhra Pradesh remain essential reading for students and academics seeking to learn how to read administrative documents in Indo-Persian. His forensic ability in assessing manuscript provenance, material objects and documentary genres allowed him to thrive as the leading expert for Persian and Arabic manuscripts at Christie’s auction house in London for 30 years. Shakeb continued to archive key Mughal documents for the British library such as the Batala Collection of Mughal Documents 1527-1757 in 1990.
Whilst Shakeb taught at SOAS in the 1980s, he remained an active historian, linguist and teacher, going onto be the Director of courses for Urdu teachers training at Middlesex University up until 1998. Shakeb supervised many researchers throughout his time, and had a lasting connection with SOAS, often organising and speaking at events in the KLT or Brunei Gallery.