is a historical city in the Fars province of Iran. The ruins of Takht-e
Jamshid or Perspolis (a monumental palace which was destroyed and
burnt by Alexander the great) are in the vicinity of this city. In
Mulla Sadra's time, the Safavid dynasty ruled Iran. These kings
granted independence to Fars province, which was ruled by the king's
brother. It is said that Mulla Sadra's father Khwajah Ibrahim
Qawami, served as the minister
of the ruler of Fars.
He was a knowledgeable and
extremely faithful politician. He was rich and held a high
position, but had no children. However, after much prayer and
supplication to the Divine Portal, God gave him a son whom they
named Muhammed (Sadr al-Din, 979 A.H/1571 A.D), but called Sadra.
Later he was nicknamed Mulla, that is, great scientist. In the
years to come, his title of Mulla Sadra became more famous than his
real name and replaced it on people's tongues.
Muhammed (or Sadra) was the only child of the minister of the ruler
of the vast region of Fars and enjoyed the highest standards of a
noble life. It was a common tradition at that time for aristocrats'
children to be educated by private teachers in their own palaces.
Sadra was a very intelligent, strict, energetic, studious, and
curious boy and mastered all the lessons related to Persian and
Arabic literature, as well as the art of calligraphy, during a very
short time. Following the old traditions of his time, he might have
also learnt horse riding, hunting, and fighting techniques.
Mathematics, astronomy, medicine (to some extent), jurisprudence,
Islamic law, logic, and philosophy were also among the courses that
youngsters were supposed to pass at that time. The young Sadra, acquired
something in all
those fields of knowledge; however, he was mainly interested in
philosophy and, particularly, in gnosis.
left from his youth clearly reveal his interest in gnostic
literature in general, and the Persian poems of Farid al-Din Attar
(1119-1193 A.D), Jalal al-Din Rumi, known as Mevlana (1207-1273
A.D), Iraqi (d.c. 1288 A.D), and Ibn-Arabi's (1165-1240 A.D)
sophism, in particular.
certainly educated in Shiraz for some time, but the main part of his
education was most probably completed in the capital of that time,
Qazwin. This is because the ruler of Fars came to the throne after
the death of the Shah, who was his brother, and, inevitably,
moved to Qazwin (985 A.H/1577 A.D), thus it seems highly improbable
that his minister and counselor would not have accompanied him, or
have done so, but left his family and only son behind.
time, Mulla Sadra became familiar with two prominent geniuses and
scientists, that is, Shaykh Baha al-Din Amili and Mir Damad, who
were not only unique in their own time, but also unparalleled by any
scientist appearing during the 4 centuries afterwards. Mulla Sadra started
studying under them and, through his outstanding talents, became the
best of all their students in a very short time.
was not only an expert in Islamic sciences (particularly in
jurisprudence, hadith, interpretation, theology, and gnosis),
but also a master of astronomy, theoretical mathematics,
engineering, architecture, medicine, and some secret supernatural
fields of knowledge; however, it seems that, due to his ideas, he did not teach philosophy and theology.
genius, Mir Damad, knew all the sciences of his time, but his domain
of teaching was limited to jurisprudence, hadith, and,
mainly, philosophy. He was a master of both the Peripatetic and
Illuminationist branches of Islamic philosophy and considered
himself as an equal to Ibn-Sina and Farabi, and the master of all
philosophers following them. Mulla Sadra obtained most of his
knowledge of philosophy and gnosis from Mir Damad, and always
introduced him as his true teacher and spiritual
Safavid capital moved to Isfahan (1006 A.H/1598 A.D), Shaykh Baha al-Din and Mir Damad,
accompanied by their students, moved there, too, and started their
task of spreading knowledge. Mulla Sadra, who was about 26 or 27
years old at that time, no long as needed instruction and had become a master
himself, was thinking about establishing new philosophical
principles and founding his famous school of thought. All the
details of his life are not clear. We do not know how long he
stayed in Isfahan and where he went after that. Apparently, he had
moved from Isfahan before 1010 A.H. and returned to his own town,
Shiraz. His father's estates and properties were in Shiraz, and
although he gave a lot of them to the poor, a part of them still
exists in Shiraz and Fars in the form of properties consecrated to
Sadra's life in Shiraz and his later migrations comprise another
period of his life which will be discussed in the next
. Two years
after Descartes's birth in 1596 A.D.