Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mullā Hādī Sabzavārī: Some corrections

I'm grateful to my former tutor John Gurney for pointing out some errors in my piece on Sabzavārī (d. 1873) in Iranian Studies last year. I will list them here just to clarify:

1) I stated that Edward G. Browne (d. 1926) had met Sabzavāri - not sure exactly where I sourced that. This is impossible as Browne was in Tehran around fifteen years after Sabzavāri died [A Year among the Persians was published in 1893]. His information, including the description of Sabzavāri that I cited, was mediated by Mīrzā Asadullāh Sabzavāri who was a student and close to the sons of Sabzavārī, Mullā ʿAbd al-Qayyūm and Mullā Ibrāhīm.

2) I also suggested that Gobineau (d. 1882) had met Sabzavāri - this is also incorrect. Again, his acquaintance was also mediated although Sabzavārī was his contemporary and he seems to have been familiar with the recently published Sharḥ-i manẓūme [Sharḥ ghurar al-farāʾid] in 1273/1856. Gobineau spent time in Tehran in the late 1850s and again in 1861 to 1863 and his book Religions et philosophies dans l'Asie centrale was completed in 1863.

3) I stated that Badāyiʿ al-ḥikam of Mullā ʿAlī Zunūzī (d. 1889) was written at the behest of Nāṣiruddīn Shāh. This is inaccurate. While there is a panegyric for him in the proemium to the text (which for some reason was omitted by Aḥmad Vāʿiẓī in his edition with an ellipsis - clearly some revolutionaries cannot tolerate any praise of any monarch), the work was a response to a request to explain some issues made as the text states by the philosophically-minded prince ʿImād al-Dawla Badīʿ al-Mulk.

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