Wednesday, June 28, 2017

From the Ḥadīqat al-shīʿa to the question of philosophy in Najaf

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Mahdī Tadayyun and Andrew Newman both questioned the attribution of the Ḥadīqat al-shīʿa to Aḥmad b. Muḥammad known as al-Muqaddas al-Ardabīlī (d. 993/1585). Adabīlī was a major jurist of his time who had studied the intellectual disciplines with luminaries of the 'school of Shiraz' and along with his co-student ʿAbdallāh Yazdī (d. c. 995/1587) taught these subjects in Najaf. As Khwānsārī (d. 1895) says in Rawḍāt al-jannāt,

On the basis of an analysis of the anti-Sufi section, Newman concluded that he thought the text (at the very least the anti-Sufi part) was actually written by the famous anti-Sufi theologian and polemicist Muḥammad Ṭāhir Qummī (d. 1098/1687) who has earlier trained in Najaf and may well have used the prestige of Ardabīlī to authority to the text. In recent years there has been much interest in Qummī and his influential refutation of mystically inclined philosophy is about to be published by Brill.

["Sufism and anti-Sufism in Safavid Iran: the Authorship of the Ḥadīqat al-shīʿa revisited", Iran 37 (1999), pp. 95-108; Mahdī Tadayyun, "Ḥadīqat al-shīʿaKāshif al-ḥaqq?" Maʿārif 2 (1364 Sh/1985), pp. 105-21]

[Newman places the motivation of Qummī's attacks and the Sufi and anti-Sufi groups to the differences between the Shaykhāvand and Rustam Bēg cabals in the middle of the 17th century - and on this he draws heavily on Kathryn Babayan's work. Of course, one other possibility might be Qummī's resentment at the ascendency of Sufi-minded philosophers and theologians at court and maybe also in Najaf where he studied and where students of Ardabīlī may well have continued the tradition of teaching philosophy and kalām. The role of these intellectual disciplines in the early modern milieu of Najaf, apart from some brief pages in the recent work of ʿAbd al-Jabbār Rifāʿī, remains terra incognita).

Earlier Safavid biographers did not raise any questions - both al-Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī in his Amal al-āmil, and ʿAbdullāh Afandī in Riyāḍ al-ʿulamāʾ have the same entry on Ardabīlī. Here is the Amal passage followed by Riyāḍ (which tells us something about the influence of the former on the latter):

Similarly, Sayyid Ḥasan al-Ṣadr in his Takmilat Amal al-āmil insists on the soundness of the attribution to Ardabīlī:

However, Afandī does not mention the Ḥadīqa as a work of Ardabīlī in his Taʿlīqat ʿalā Amal al-āmil. And Majlisī is known to have questioned the attribution. Sayyid Muḥammad Shafīʿ Ḥusaynī-yi ʿĀmilī in his continuation of Sayyid Nūrullāh Shūshtarī (d. 1610)'s Majālis al-muʾminīn, penned in the middle of the 18th century, is clear that he was informed that the attribution is incorrect:

[Maḥāfil al-muʾminīn fī dhayl Majālis al-muʾminīn, eds. Ibrāhīm ʿArabpūr and Manṣūr Chughtāʾī, Mashhad: Astān-i quds, 1383 Sh/2004, p. 213]
Sayyid Muḥammad Ibrāhīm Qazwīnī was a major scholar who died in around 1151/1738. Ḥazīn mentions having briefly studied with him. [See Sayyid Ḥasan al-Ṣadr, Takmilat Amal al-āmil, II, p. 11] He was almost definitely a relative of ʿĀmilī.

Some other studies have suggested that the Ḥadīqa cannot be the work of Ardabīlī since he adhered to the doctrine of monism (waḥdat al-wujūd) which is explicitly attacked in the Ḥadīqa or again at least the anti-Sufi section - an article in Persian on this point is here. In his Gloss on the New Commentary on the Tajrīd of Ṭūsī (Ḥāshiya ʿalā ilāhīyāt al-Tajrīd) in the section on affirming the singularity of the Necessary Being, he argues that this and the very reality of being can only be One; everything else is ascribed conceptual existence. It amounts to a position of the school of Ibn ʿArabī who considered only God to be wujūd muṭlaq (the influence could come through the Jurjānī tradition on this question via his teacher Jamāl al-Dīn Shīrāzī's teacher Jalāl al-Dīn Davānī):

Certainly many of the biographical dictionaries point to his saintly character and hint at mysticism - such as Khwānsārī (who refers to the Ḥadīqa as Zubdat al-shīʿa):

While a very small detail, what this might indicate is how biographical dictionaries develop and draw upon each other and especially on the kinship and other networks that informed the scholarly work of the ʿulema. The focus on Ardabīlī brings us to the fascinating question of the study of the intellectual disciplines in the Iraqi shrine cities and considering the intellectual history of the commentary culture on the Tajrīd between the polemics of Davānī and Dashtakī in the later 15th century and the establishment of this cycle as a key teaching text for the Avicennan tradition with Lāhījī and Khwānsārī in the later 17th century. In my current research project one of the questions I am considering is precisely the Tajrīd cycle and its later manifestations from the Safavid period onwards.

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