was a prolific writer. He did not write at all during his time of
seclusion and asceticism and, after that, he was continually involved in
teaching and training philosophy students who attended his
classes from all over Iran; however, at all times, when traveling or at
home, he seized all possible chances to write books and long or short
treatises in philosophy. As a result, he created a varied, useful, and
inferential philosophical collection of writings in different forms
and with different purposes.
Some of his
books are textbooks and quite useful for gaining a preliminary or
complementary acquaintance with philosophy and gnosis on the basis of
his specific school of thought, Transcendent Philosophy. Some of his
other books are on the explanation and demonstration of his own
theories, and some others can be considered as being on human ethics and
He has devoted
an important part of his works to the interpretation of the Qu’ran, and
although he died before he could write a philosophical and gnostic
commentary on the whole Qu’ran, his writings on this subject have certain features which have made them unique among similar
who was a Muhaddith (an expert in hadith and traditions
quoted from the Prophet (p.b.u.h) and his descendants), also wrote an important
work on hadith. This is a commentary on a famous book of
hadiths, called Usul al-kafi, by Kulayni Razi, and Mulla Sadra
commented on the chapter about ‘Usul’; however, perhaps because he died, it
was never finished. He also wrote two books on logic,
called Tanquih al-Mantiq and Risalah fil Tasawwur wa Tasdiq.
Those of his well-known
books which have been published so far include the following:
al-Hikmat al-muta‘aliyah fi’l-asfar al-arba‘ah
The discussions in this book start with the issues of being and quiddity
and continue with the issues of motion, time, perception, substance, and
accident. A part is devoted to proving the existence of God
and His attributes, and it ends with a
discussion of man’s soul and the subjects of death and resurrection. The
novelty of this interesting
and important book is its classification of its themes in the mould of
4 stages of gnostics’ spiritual and mystic journeys, with each stage
considered as one journey. Therefore,
this book begins with existents and continues with the Hereafter, God,
and the mustered people, because a gnostic’s journey in the
first stage is from his self and people towards God; in the second and
third stages from God to God (from His Essence to His Attributes and
Acts); and in the fourth stage from God to people. The original book is in 4 big volumes which have been
published in nine small volumes several times.
In fact, this book is, a philosophical encyclopedia and a collection of important
issues discussed in Islamic philosophy, enriched by the ideas of
preceding philosophers, from Pythagoras to Mulla Sadra’s contemporaries, and containing related responses on the basis of
new and strong arguments. All these features have made it the book of
choice for teaching at higher levels of philosophical education in
scientific and religious centers.
composition of this book gradually started from about 1015 A.H (1605
A.D), and its completion took almost 25 years, till some time after
1040 A.H (1630 A.D).
al-Tafsir (A Commentary upon the Qur’an)
life, Mulla Sadra interpreted
some of the chapters (Surahs) of the Qur’an. In the last decade of
his life, he started his work from the beginning of this Holy Book in
order to compile all his interpretations into a complete work, but death
did not allow him to finish this task. The names of the
chapters he interpreted in an approximate chronological order are follows: 1. chapter 57:
al-Hadid, 2. Commentary on Ayat
al-kursi (chapter 2: al-Baqarah), 3. chapter 32: Sajdah,
4. chapter 99: al-Zilzal, 5. verses al-Nur,
al-Yasin, al-Tariq, 6. chapter 87: al-A‘la, 7.
chapter 56: al-Waqi‘ah, 8. chapter 1: al-Fatihah, 9.
chapter 62: al-Jumu‘ah, and 10. chapter 2: al-Baqarah.
bibliography of Mulla Sadra’s book, each of the above has appeared as an
independent work, but we have cited them here all under the single title
of Commentary upon the Qur’an. He has also two other books on the
Qur’an, called Mafatih al-qayb and Asrar al-ayat, which
are considered as introductions to the interpretation of the Qur’an, and
represent the philosophy behind this task.
This work is a
commentary on a book called Hidayah which was written on the
basis of Peripatetic philosophy, and was previously used for giving a
preliminary familiarity with philosophy to students. However, it is
rarely used today.
al-Hikmat al-muta‘aliyyah, this book is a summary of
the second half of Asfar. It does not include any of the
discussions that Mulla Sadra viewed as useless and unnecessary. He
called this book the Beginning and the End due to the fact that he
believed that philosophy means the knowledge of the Origin
and the Return. This book is mainly on issues related to theology and
eschatology, and is considered one of Mulla Sadra’s important books.
This book is
similar to al-Mabda’ wa’l-ma‘ad, but is shorter. It is,
in fact, a handbook to familiarize readers with Mulla Sadra’s
For many philosophers the issue of
the origination of the world is both a complicated and debatable problem. In this book, in addition to quoting the theories of
pre- and post-Socratic philosophers as well as those of some Muslim
philosophers, Mulla Sadra has proved his solid theory through the theory
of the trans-substantial motion.
As the name
suggests, this is a gnostic and educational book.
theme of this book is the quality of existents’ resurrection in the
Hereafter. Here, Mulla Sadra has expressed the theory of the
resurrection of objects and animals in the Hereafter.
This is a
short but profound and rich book on existence and its related subjects.
Professor Henry Corbin has translated it into French and written an
introduction to it. It has also been recently translated into English.
In this book, Mulla Sadra
presented a brief account of important philosophical problems. It seems to be an inventory of the Divine inspirations
and illuminations he had received all through his life.
This book is
about theoretical and actual gnosis, and on the science of monotheism. It
presents some guidelines and instructional points to wake up the
deals mainly with issues such as existence in mind and epistemology.
Here, Mulla Sadra has combined epistemology and ontology.
Also called al-Hikmat al-‘arshiyyah, this is another reference book about Mull Sadra’s philosophy. Like in
al-Mazahir, he has
tried to demonstrate the Beginning and the End concisely but Precisely.
This book has been translated by Professor James Winston Maurice has
translated this book into
English and written an informative introduction to it.
philosophical book has been mainly written in the Illuminationist style,
and represents Mulla Sadra’s ideas during the early periods of his
has written this book as a commentary upon some of the issues discussed
in the part on theology (Ilahiyyat) in Ibn Sina’s al-Shifa.
Sharh-i shifa has also been published in the form of glosses
clearly expressing Mulla Sadra’s ideas in this regard.
Sharh-i hikmat al-ishraq
This work is a
useful and profound commentary or collection of glosses on Suhrawardi’s
Hikmat al-ishraq and Qutb al-Din Shirazi’s commentary upon it.
Ittihad al-‘aqil wa’l-ma‘qul
This is a monographic treatise on the demonstration of a complicated
philosophical theory, the Union of the Intellect and the Intelligible,
which no one could prove and rationalize prior to Mulla Sadra.
consists of at least three treatises in which Mulla Sadra responds to
the philosophical questions posed by contemporary philosophers.
Ittisaf al-mahiyyah bi’l wujud
monographic treatise deals with the problem of existence and its
relation to quiddities.
In this book, Mulla Sadra explained the problem of individuation and
clarified its relation to existence and its principiality, which is one
of the most fundamental principles he has propounded.
Sarayan nur wujud
This treatise deals with the quality of the descent or diffusion of
existence from the True Source to existents (quiddities).
Limmiyyah ikhtisas al-mintaqah
A treatise on
logic, this work focuses on the cause of the specific form of the
is about man’s determinism and free will.
is about the problem of Divine Decree and Destiny.
In this book
(which is probably the same as Zad al-salik), Mulla Sadra has
tried to demonstrate resurrection and the Hereafter using a
is not related to Mulla Sadra’s book of al-Shawahid al-rububiyyah.
It is an inventory of his particular theories and opinions which he has
been able to express in philosophical terms.
wrote this treatise on the reality of man’s temperament and its
relation to the body and soul.
consists of Mulla Sadra’s interpretations of those Qura’nic verses which
have secret and complicated meanings. It is considered to be one of the
chapters of Mafatih al-qayb.
Isalat-i ja‘l-i wujud
This book is
on existence and its principiality as opposed to quiddities.
A treatise on resurrection and people’s presence in the Hereafter, it
deals with man’s being rewarded in Paradise and punished in Hell.
This book is
used as an abridged dictionary for interpreting words in the Qur’an.
Radd-i shubahat-i Iblis
Sadra has explained Satan’s seven paradoxes and provided appropriate
This is Mulla
Sadra’s only book in Persian. Here, by resorting to the main three moral
principles, he deals with moral and educational subjects related to
scientists, and advises contemporary philosophers.
The title of
this book means ‘demolishing the idols of the periods of barbarism and
man’s ignorance’. His intention here is to condemn and disgrace impious
In this book,
Mulla Sadra deals concisely with formal logic. It is a good book to use
deals with issues of the philosophy of logic and enquires into concept
Diwan shi‘r (Collection of Poems)
wrote a number of scholarly and mystic poems in Persian which have
been compiled in this book.
Collection of Scientific-Literary Notes
In his youth,
Mulla Sadra studied many philosophical and gnostic books; moreover,
due to his poetic taste, he had access to the poetry books written by
different poets and was interested in them. Therefore, some short notes
of his own poetry, the statements of philosophers and gnostics, and
scientific issues remain from his youth, and comprise a
precious collection of juvenalia. It is said that this book can familiarize the
readers with subtleties of Mulla Sadra’s nature.
have been compiled in two different collections, and it is likely that
the smaller collection was compiled on one of his journeys.
Except for a
few letters exchanged between Mulla Sadra and his master, Mir Damad,
nothing else from their correspondence is extant. These letters have been presented at
the beginning of the 3-volume book of Mulla Sadra’s Life, Character
and School, which have been written in Persian. This book has also
been translated into English.
* * * * *
* * * * *
If we consider
the above 39 books along with his 12-volume books of interpretation,
which we referred to as Tafasir (number 2), as well as with his
Mafatih al-qayb and Asrar al-ayat, we have
cited more than 50 of his works so far. Some other books
have also been attributed to him. However, we will not refer to their
names, since they have either been discussed in other more comprehensive
books, or Mulla Sadra’s authorship has been denied.
One of the
problems which has raised a lot of arguments concerning Mulla Sadra’s
books is the place and time of their composition. Most of his books
carry no date of composition, and, in order to know about this, one must refer to
certain documents and other evidence. For example, the composition dates of
some of his books are implied in his al-Mabda’ wa’l-ma‘ad,
al-Hashr and interpretations of some of the Surahs (chapters)
of the Qur’an.
al-Mabda’ wa’l-ma‘ad was written in 1019 A.H (1609 A.D),
Interpretation of Ayat al-kursi in about 1023 A.H (1613 A.D);
Kasr al-asnam in 1027 A.H (1617 A.D); Iksir al-‘arifin in
1031 A.H (1621 A.D); the treatise of al-Hashr in 1032 A.H (1622
A.D); the treatise of Ittihad al-‘aqil wa’l-ma‘qul in about 1037
A.H (1627 A.D); and Mafatih al-qayb in 1029 A.H (1619 A.D). The
dates of his other books can only be reckoned approximately.
In order to
know about their place of composition, we must take into consideration that Mulla
Sadra went to Qom and its suburbs from Shiraz or some where else before
1015 A.H (1605 A.D), and then moved from Qom to Shiraz in about 1040 A.H
(1630 A.D). Therefore, the books which he wrote before 1040 A.H must
have been written in Qom or some where in its vicinity, unless he wrote some of these books and treatises on his long journeys.