Mulla Sadra’s Teachers, Children, and Students
Mulla Sadra was a master of all the sciences of
his time; however, in his eyes, none of them were as important as philosophy. As
mentioned previously, due to the outstanding spiritual and economic facilities
provided by his family, particularly by his father, he enjoyed the benefits of
studying under the most knowledgeable teachers of that period.
In Qazwin, Mulla Sadra studied under two prominent masters, Shaykh Baha
al-Din and Mir Damad, and, when the capital changed to Isfahan in 1006 A.H/1596
A.D, he moved there in their company, and in addition to completing his higher
education, particularly in philosophy, started a profound line of research on
contemporary philosophical issues. Due to his great talent, depth of thought,
and vast knowledge of rational sciences, logic, and gnosis, Mulla Sadra
succeeded in developing a series of unprecedented principles and basic rules. In
this way, the young tree of Transcendental Philosophy, which is the name of his
unique school of thought, gradually grew until it raised its head high in the
Mulla Sadra acquired most of his scholarly knowledge from the two
above-mentioned masters. Thus it is worth knowing a little more about
these unparalleled thinkers.
1-1. Shaykh Baha al-Din ‘Amili
Shaykh Baha (953-1030 A.H) was not Mulla Sadra’s first teacher; however, it
seems that among all his teachers, he played the most significant role in
developing Mulla Sadra’s personality, and exercised the greatest influence upon
the formation of his spiritual, moral, and scientific character.
He was the son of a Lebanese jurisprudent called Shaykh Hussayn, the son of
Shaykh Abdul Samad
‘Amil is one of the northern cities of Syria,
and is populated by Shi‘ite Muslims. At that time, it was ruled by the cruel
and tyrannical Ottoman government. A lot of Shi‘ite jurisprudents and scholars
living in this city fled the cruelties of the Ottoman rulers and sought
refuge in Safavid Iran. Shaykh Baha al-Din was seven (or possibly 13) years old when
he came to Iran with his father, who was later appointed the religious leader of
Muslims, which was a sublime and spiritual position, in Harat in Khorasan. Baha
al-Din began to acquire the sciences of his time in Iran and soon became a very
Shaykh Baha’s vast knowledge of different fields, from jurisprudence,
interpretation, hadith and literature to mathematics, engineering,
astronomy, and the like, as well as the stories narrated about the wonders of
his life, have turned him into a fabulous and legendary character, unparalleled
by any other scientist in the one thousand-year-old history of science after
Islam. In fact, in terms of knowledge, he can be considered an equal to
Pythagoras or Hermes in the history of Greek science.
1-2. Mir Damad
Mir Muhammad Baqir Hussayni, known as Mir Damad, was one of the most prominent
scholars of his time and a great master of the Peripatetic and Illuminationist
schools of philosophy, gnosis, jurisprudence, and Islamic law. His father, too,
was a jurisprudent and was originally from Astarabad (today’s Gorgan). He
spent his youth studying in Khorasan and was later honored by becoming the
son-in-law of a famous Lebanese scientist called Shaykh Ali Karaki, who was
known as the second researcher, the high counselor of the Safavid king. Because
of this honor, he became known as ‘Damad’ (the Persian word for son-in-law).
Some people believe that Mir Damad was born in 969 A.H (1562 A.D), but there is
no certain evidence for this. He was born in Khorasan and passed his adolescence
in Mashad (the center of Khorasan province),
and because of his genius, he reached high scientific levels in a very short
time. When he arrived in Qazwin (the Safavid capital at that time) to
complete his education, he soon became famous and achieved the station of
Mulla Sadra, who had most probably gone to Isfahan with his father in childhood,
went to Mir Damad’s classes and passed the higher courses of
philosophy, hadith, and other sciences once more under his supervision.
When the Safavids moved their capital from Qazwin to Isfahan, Mir Damad moved
his teaching center there, too. During his years of residence in Isfahan Mulla
Sadra took the greatest advantage of his classes, and his scientific relation
with this knowledgeable teacher was never disrupted. Mir Damad fell ill in 1041
A.H (1631 A.D) on his way to Iraq and passed away there.
Mir Fendereski has also been cited as one of Mulla Sadra’s teachers. His
complete name is Mir Abulqasim Astarabadi, and he is famous as Fendereski. He
lived for a while in Isfahan at the same time as Mir Damad, spent a great part
of his life in India among yogis and Zoroastrians, and learnt certain things
In spite of what is commonly believed, there
is no valid evidence indicating the existence of any student-teacher relation
between Mir Fendereski and Mulla Sadra; moreover, the school of philosophy left
by Fendereski and publicized by his students, such as Mulla Rajab Ali Tabrizi,
is completely in contrast to that of Mulla Sadra.
We do not know precisely when Mulla Sadra got married, but he was most probably
40 when he did so and his first child was born in 1019 A.H (1609 A.D).
He had five children, 3 daughters and two sons, as follows:
Um Kulthum, born in 1019 A.H (1609 A.D)
Ibrahim, born in 1021 A.H (1611 A.D)
Zubaydah, born in 1024 A.H (1614 A.D)
Nizam al-Din Ahmad, born in 1031 A.H (1621 A.D)
Ma‘sumah, born in 1033 A.H (1623 A.D)
Mirza Ibrahim, whose formal name was ‘Sharaf al-Din Abu Ali Ibrahim Ibn
Muhammed’, is said to have been born in Shiraz in 1021 A.H (1611 A.D). He was
one of the scientists of his time and was considered a philosopher,
jurisprudent, theologian, and interpreter. He had also studied
other sciences such as mathematics. He wrote a book called
on the interpretation of the Qur’an and a commentary on Rozah, a book
written by the well-known Lebanese jurisprudent, Shahid. Some other books in
philosophy have also been attributed to Mirza Ibrahim.
Mulla Sadra’s other son, Ahmad, was born in 1031 A.H (1621 A.D) in Kashan and
passed away in Shiraz in 1074 A.H (1664 A.D). He was also a philosopher,
literary man and poet and some books have been attributed to him.
Mulla Sadra’s eldest child was his daughter, Um Kulthum, who was a poet and
scientist and a woman of prayer and piety. She married Mulla Abdul Razzaq
Lahiji, Mulla Sadra’s famous student.
His second daughter was called Zubaydah. She married Faydh Kashani (another of
Mulla Sadra’s students) and had some children who were
well-known. She too was
famous for having a vast knowledge of science and literature, and being a
Ma‘sumah, Mulla Sadra’s third daughter, was
born in 1033 A.H (1623 A.D) in Shiraz and was famous for being a knowledgeable
woman and a master of poetry and literature. She married one of Mulla Sadra’s
other students, Qawam al-Din Muhammed Neyrizi, although some people believe that her
husband was yet another of her father’s students, a person called Mulla Abdul Muhsin Kashani.
In spite of the long time that Mulla Sadra was involved in teaching philosophy,
interpretation, and hadith, including the last 5 (or 10) years of his
life in Shiraz (1040 till 1045 or 1050), and more than 20 years in middle of his
lifetime in Qum (from about 1020 till 1040) or perhaps a few years before that
in Shiraz or Isfahan, there are few records of his
students’ names in historical documents and writings.
Undoubtedly some prominent philosophers and scientists were trained in his
classes; however, surprisingly enough, none of them became famous, or if they
did, we have no knowledge of their names. This, of course, might have been due
to the weak relation between their lives and that of their masters.
Nevertheless, we do know of 10 of Mulla Sadra’s well-known students, among whom Faydh Kashani
and Fayyadh Lahiji are the most well-known ones.
3-1. Faydh Kashani
Muhammed Ibn al-Murtada, nicknamed
Muhsen, was known as Faydh. He was mainly famous for being a master of
jurisprudence, hadith, ethics, and gnosis. His father was one of the
scholars of Kashan. Faydh went to Isfahan (the capital of the time) at the age
of 20. Later he went to Shiraz and acquired the sciences of that time. Then he
went to Qum, where Mulla Sadra had established a vast teaching center. Having
become acquainted with this great master, Faydh studied under him for about 10
years (until the former returned to Shiraz) and was honored by being accepted as
his son-in-law. He even went to Shiraz in Mulla Sadra’s company and stayed there
for another two years; nevertheless, since at that time (about the age of forty)
he had become a knowledgeable scholar and a master of all sciences, he returned
to his town, Kashan, and established a teaching center there.
During his lifetime, in addition to training a great number of students, he
composed several books on jurisprudence, hadith, ethics, and gnosis. His
method of treating the science of ethics was such that he was called the Second
Ghazzali; however, his gnostic
taste and scientific depth of knowledge were much higher than those of Abu Hamid
He was also a poet. He has left a book of
poems in Persian, mainly consisting of gnostic and moral poems, and mostly in
the lyric form.
In the last years of his life Shah Safi invited him to
Isfahan to serve as the leader of Friday prayers there, but he refused this
invitation and returned to his own town. However, the insistence of the another
Safavid king (Shah Abbas II) dragged him to Isfahan, most probably in the years
after 1052 A.H (1643 A.D).
Faydh wrote more than 100 books, the most famous of which are Mafatih in
jurisprudence, al-Wafi in hadith, al-Safi and al-Asfia
on the interpretation of the Holy Qur’an, Usul al-ma‘arif in philosophy
and gnosis, and al-Muhajj al-bayza’ in ethics. All these books are
written in Arabic, and each is considered important in its own right.
Faydh had six children. His son, Muhammed
‘Alam al-Huda, was a well-known
scholar who composed many of works. According to the date written on his
gravestone, Faydh died in 1091 A.H (1681 A.D) at the age, apparently, of 84.
3-2. Fayyadh Lahiji
Mulla Sadra’s other student was Abd al-Razzaq Lahiji, the son of Ali, known as
Fayyadh. He was mainly famous as a philosopher and theologian and was considered
one of the distinguished poets of his time.
He spent a part of his life studying in Mashad (the center of Khorasan province) and then, in about 1030 A.H (1621 A.D), or a few years after that, he went to
Qum, became acquainted with Mulla Sadra, attended his classes, and, later, became
one of his most faithful students. Before Mulla Sadra’s return to Shiraz,
Fayyadh was honored by being accepted as his son-in-law (probably in about 1035
Unlike his friend Faydh Kashani, Fayyadh did not go to Shiraz with Mulla Sadra.
It is likely that Mulla Sadra left him in Qum as his substitute to continue his
teaching work as a master.
Fayyadh was a prominent philosopher who sometimes appeared in the role of a
theologian following Khwajah Nasir al-Din Tusi (writer of Tajrid al-kalam).
He had a profound poetic and literary taste and, as one of the outstanding poets
of that time, had a Diwan (collection of poems) consisting of a variety
of 12,000 couplets in ballad, lyric and quatrain (ruba‘i) forms.
He was one of the most well-known and distinguished figures of the Safavid period
whom the Safavid Shah greatly admired and respected. He was also quite popular
among ordinary people. He socialized with them and loved them very much and, in
return, received their great respect and devotion. However, in reality, he was a
God-fearing, pious, and secluded man who was heedless of worldly attractions
(This judgment was made by his contemporaries about him).
Lahiji wrote many works in philosophy and theology, the most famous of which
are: Shawariq al-ilham (a commentary on Tajrid al-kalam), Gohar
murad (written in a simple language on theology) a commentary on
Suhrawardi’s al-Nur, glosses on Sharh isharat, and some other
books, treatises, and a collection of poems.
Fayyadh was the father of at least three sons, who were all among the scholars
of their time. Mulla Hasan Lahiji, who became a
master and succeeded his father in Qum was his eldest son. Fayyadh is said to have lived for 70
years. He passed away in 1072 A.H (1662 A.D) in Qum and was buried in the same
3-3. Mulla Hussayn Tunekaboni
Sadra’s famous students is Mulla Hussayn Tunekaboni or Gilani. Tunekabon is a town in Mazandaran
province in the north of Iran, on the shores of Caspian Sea. A great number
of well-known philosophers and scientists have come from this town.
There are many things about his life that we do not know. Nevertheless, what is certain
is his expertise in Mulla Sadra’s school of thought, and teaching philosophy and
gnosis. His decease or martyrdom was quite sad. On his hajj pilgrimage, when
making his visitation to Ka‘ba (in Mecca in Hijaz in Saudi Arabia), he was
passionately holding the walls of the House of Ka‘bah in his arms and rubbing his
face to them in a mystic manner, but the laymen assumed that he was insulting
the court of Ka‘bah and, thus, hit him harshly. After this incident he suffered
so much, so that he could not bear the depression anymore and passed away in
Mecca in 1105 A.H (1695 A.D). He has also left some books in philosophy to later generations.
3-4. Hakim Aqajani
Hakim Mulla Muhammed Aqajani has been cited as one of Mulla Sadra’s students.
Not a great deal is known about his life either. He is mainly famous for the
commentary he wrote on Mir Damad’s (Mulla Sadra’s master) important and
difficult book, al-Qabassat, in 1071 A.H (1661 A.D).