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A SURVEY OF THE ENGLISH NEWSPAPERS OF PAKISTAN DURING 1955

…ḥikmat i mara ba madrasah keh burd?
THE INFLUENCE OF SHIRAZ SCHOOL ON THE INDIAN SCHOLARS
Muhammad Suheyl Umar

Shīrāz has been a land of extraordinary richness, erudition and wisdom throughout the ages. It should be said at the outset that no correct idea of the extent of the tremendous formative influences that Shīrāz— this homeland of numerous sages, poets, mystics, philosophers, scholars of distinction and men of learning and letters— has exerted on the intellectual, literary and religious life of almost all parts of the Persianate world[1] could be formed without taking into account all the various aspects of the Islamic civilisation to which the men of letters originating from Shīrāz have contributed through out the ages. The Indian subcontinent, which now comprises India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, was the area that, for well-known historical and cultural reasons, came under the direct influence of the Persianate worldview and was dominated by its scholarship and intellectual developments.

But that is an enormous task. Lengthy volumes need to be written to elucidate the outstanding contribution of the Shīrāzī scholars to different fields of learning, to the flowering of the Islamic civilisation in all its glory and greatness. The more pervasive the influence the more it becomes difficult to study it in a comprehensive and appropriate manner. Obviously it is an impossibility with in the scope of a paper. Even to touch upon the points that require a detailed investigation in this regard would take us too far afield. No mention, therefore, shall be made of the geniuses of Shīrāz like Sa‘dī and Ḥāfiẓ who have exerted perhaps the greatest influence on the Persianate world in the fields of literature and beyond. This is still one aspect of the issue. Even if we limit our attention to the field of religious sciences there is a host of Shīrāzī scholars who have made significant contributions to various principal and auxiliary sciences (‘ulūm al- ‘āliyah wa ‘ulūm al- āliyah) in the field of religious studies that have been of enduring importance and which, as far as the Indian subcontinent is concerned, have been immensely influential in shaping the curricula, formulating issues, providing insights about important questions, generating debates and, above all,  in creating the mindset, and informing the intellectual environment which generations of religious scholars and students of India imbibed and transmitted to the Muslim masses. When I say that I do not make a generalised statement. What I have in mind is the specific works of Shīrāzī scholars that have proved influential in their respective branches of religious sciences to an extraordinary degree.[2] Again one can not attempt to treat such a long list within the confines of a single paper even in a cursory manner.

Leaving the religious sciences beyond the pale of the present study, if we proceed to limit our focus further to the intellectual sciences (‘ulūm ‘aqliyyah) only, it still leaves us with too vast an area of study. Therefore, for the purposes of the present paper I have decided to focus my attention to a particular aspect of our intellectual history that pertains to the influence of the Shīrāzī Scholars on the Indian subcontinent before the advent and rise of the specific School of Shīrāz that goes by the name of transcendent theosophy as well as after that. The former shall be called the Shīrāz School in a general sense (maktab i Shīraz ba ma‘na i ‘ām) and the latter shall be designated as the Shīrāz School in a particular sense (maktab i Shīraz ba ma‘na i khāṣ).

The school of Islamic philosophy/theosophy that is the focus of our present conference has been called by many names in history as well as in more recent times. Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr termed it “the School of Iṣfahān” in his earlier writings while the organisers of our present conference have preferred to call it “the Shīrāz School.”[3] I have followed their nomenclature.

Having defined the parameters of our investigation we can ask ourselves the question how were the ‘ulama produced in India and what was the system of education that provided channels of transmission and influence for the prevailing ideas/sciences to the Indian scholars?

Before the arrival of the British in the Indian subcontinent with their civilising mission and the ‘white man’s burden” there was only one monolithic educational system in India, the traditional madrsah system with Dars i Niẓāmī (the curriculum institutionalised by Niẓām al-Dīn Sihāliyawī[4]) at the core of its curricula, and it continues till this date in India and Pakistan in a more or less similar form.[5] The alternative educational system offered by the British through modern colleges and universities has never been able to replace it. Fortunately we have a detailed record of Dars i Niẓāmī and the subjects/books used therein for the last three hundred years down to the present day madrasahs. Information on the earlier educational system and curricula of India, in  the times when Dars i Niẓāmī was not yet institutionalised i.e. till the end of the 17th/ turn of the 18th century, is not lacking either. Dars i Niẓāmī comprised the following seventeen sciences with several of their auxiliary and secondary sciences:

Grammar (‘ilm al-ṣarf), Morphology (‘ilm al-naḥw), logic (manṭiq), philosophy and theosophy (falsafah wa ḥikmat), Geometry (‘ilm al-hindasah), astronomy (‘ilm al-hayat ), rhetoric and science of letters (‘ilm al-balaghah wa ma‘ānī), law or jurisprudence (fiqh), principles of jurisprudence  (uṣūl al- fiqh), kalām and theology (‘ilm al-kalām wa ‘aqā’id), exegesis or Qur’ān commentary (‘ilm al-tafsīr), principles of exegesis or Qur’ān commentary (uṣūl al- tafsīr), Ḥadīth, principles of the science of Ḥadīth (uṣūl al-ḥadīth), principles of dialogue/argumentation (‘ilm al-munāẓarah), Arabic language and literature) and prosody (‘ilm al-‘arūḍ). The number of standard textbooks used for studying these sciences, with certain variations, ran into eighty-three. It is interesting to note that a large number of these texts were produced by the Shīrāz Scholars[6] or by their students but we can not enter into its details here. Suffice to say that it is an authentic indicator of the influence of Shīrāz scholars that we mentioned earlier in the field of religious sciences in general apart from its specific influence in the field of philosophy. Even in those areas of the Muslim world where Dars i Niẓāmī was not institutionalised, like in Iran, a survey of standard textbooks used in the traditional madrsah system reveals very similar results. The studies made by Mirza ñāhir Tunikabūnī and later on by S. Hossein Nasr and others clearly testify to the importance of the Shīrāz School in this regard.[7]

Even in the times when the Dars i Niẓāmī was not yet institutionalised i.e. till the end of the 17th/ turn of the 18th century, the Indian milieu is no less permeated by the works and ideas of the geniuses of Shīrāz because the subjects and overall curriculum were almost the same though arranged in a less systematic manner.

A search for the contribution/influence of the Shīrāz School in both these periods could, therefore, yield positive results if we take a closer look at the subjects that were taught, the works that were used, the commentaries and super-commentaries, glosses and super-glosses and explanatory notes that were written on these works of Dars i Niẓāmī, with specific reference to the intellectual sciences cultivated by the Shīrāz School. It is so because if the Indian scholars were trained through these works generation after generation for hundreds of years and their whole world view was informed by these ideas and they were engaged with these works at different levels, ranging from passive acceptance and imbibing to creative tensions and dialogues resulting in more sophisticated positions and refined thoughts, then there could be no better example of an intellectual influence. Such an investigation would not only be illuminating with regard to the overall significance and importance of the Shīrāz School but may also be helpful to find answers to certain unresolved questions about some more specific aspects of its reception in India.

Since we are only dealing with the intellectual sciences for the present I have singled out three subjects that fall under this category, namely, logic (manṭiq), philosophy and theosophy (falsafah wa ḥikmat), kalām and theology (‘ilm al-kalām wa al-‘aqā’id). The books (taking into consideration the major works only) that were used and are still in use for the study of these sciences are the following:

Manṭiq

Īsagojī by Athīr al-Dīn Abharī (d. 1263)

Sharḥ Risālah al-Shamsiyyah (known as Quṭbī) by Quṭb al-Dīn Rāzī (d. 1364)

Tehdhīb al-Manṭiq by Sa‘d al-Dīn Taftazānī (d. 1389)

Mīr Quṭbī by Mīr Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī (a commentary on the Quṭb al-Dīn Rāzī’s Sharḥ Risālah al-Shamsiyyah) (d. 1413)

Ṣughrā Kubrā by Mīr Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī (d. 1413)

Sharḥ al- Tehdhīb al-Manṭiq by ‘Abd Allah Yazdī (d. 1573)

Risālah Mīr Zāhid [8] by Mīr Muḥammad Zāhid Hirawī (d. 1689)

Sullam al-‘Ulūm by Muḥibbullah Bihārī (d. 1707)

Sharḥ Sullam al-‘Ulūm by Ḥamd Allah Sandīlawī (d. 1747)

Sharḥ Sullam al-‘Ulūm by Qāḍi Mubārak (d. 1749)

Sharḥ Sullam al-‘Ulūm by Mulla Ḥasan Lakhnawī (d. 1784)

Mirqāt by Faḍl i Imām Khayr Ābādī (d. 1829)

Falsafah wa Ḥikmat

Sharḥ Hidāyah al-Ḥikmah (popularly known as Ṣadrā )[9] by Mulla Ṣadrā (d. 1640)

Sharḥ Hidāyah al-Ḥikmah by Mīr Ḥusain Mībudhī Yazdī (d. 1684)

Shams al-Bāzigha by Mulla Maḥmūd Jūnpūrī (d. 1652)

Ḥadya i Sa‘īdiyyah by Faḍl i Ḥaq Khayr Ābādī (d. 1861)

‘Ilm al-Kalām wa al-‘Aqā’id

Sharḥ ‘Aqā’id al-‘Nasafiyyah by Sa‘d al-Dīn Taftazānī (d. 1389)

Sharḥ al-Mawāqif by Mīr Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī (d. 1413)

Khayālī by Aḥmad bin Mūsa Khayālī (d. 1465)

Sharḥ ‘Aqā’id al-‘Aḍudiyyah by Jalāl al-Dīn Dawwānī (d. 1502)

Two points need to be registered here. The relationship and influence of the Shīrāz Scholars with India is not confined to the Shīrāz School of transcendent theosophy (ḥikmah al-mut‘āliyyah) i. e. the Shīrāz School in a particular sense (maktab i Shīraz ba ma‘na i khāṣ) though it was the predominant influence as shall be clear from our further elucidation. Secondly it should be noticed that the relationship predates the Shīrāz School of transcendent theosophy by many centuries.

Some of the names that appear in the list of twenty works given above are very well known to the present audience and their works are included among the classics of the respective fields of study. They, therefore, need no introduction though a few remarks on their relevance to the theme of our investigation would be in place here. The others less known figures shall be introduced shortly. But let us first point out an interesting fact here that immediately transpires from the list that is under consideration. All the authors of this list could be divided into two groups. What may come as a surprise to the uninitiated reader here is the fact that the first group directly belongs to the Shīrāz School or even if they are not Shīrāzīs they belong to it in a way that for all practical purposes they should be included in the same school either in its period prior to the rise of transcendent theosophy (ḥikmah al-mut‘āliyyah) i. e. the Shīrāz School in a particular sense or after it. The second group consists of eleven Indian scholars and thinkers, out of a total number of seventeen authors, who are, without a single exception, followers of the Shīrāz School (in a particular sense) and their works are immersed in the world view of the Shīrāz School. Let us have a closer look at these authors before we proceed further.

The First Group — Non Indian Scholars

Athīr al-Dīn Abharī (d. 1263) needs no introduction. What needs to be mentioned here is that his works Īsagojī and Hidāyah al-Ḥikmah (Guide to Wisdom) have always been among the books that were taught in Dars i Niẓāmī and the latter has been the subject of hundreds of commentaries and glosses. Two of these commentaries, those of Mulla Ṣadrā and by Mīr Ḥusain Mībudhī Yazdī have been the mainstay of the curriculum of philosophy/theology in India.

‘Aḍud al-Dīn Ījī (d. 1355), himself one of the outstanding scholar of Shīrāz, likewise should be mentioned because two of his classical works Al-Mawāqif and ‘Aqā’id al-‘Aḍudiyyah form the core of the curriculum of ‘Ilm al-Kalām wa al-‘Aqā’id  through the  commentaries of Sharḥ al-Mawāqif of Mīr Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī and Sharḥ ‘Aqā’id al-‘Aḍudiyyah of Jalāl al-Dīn Dawwānī.

Jalāl al-Dīn Dawwānī (d. 1502) must also be included in this category of thinkers who are well known in their own right but need mentioning here with reference to our investigation of the influence of the Shīrāz School. He, like ‘Aḍud al-Dīn Ījī, belonged to the Shīrāz School and his Sharḥ ‘Aqā’id al-‘Aḍudiyyah is one of the basic works for the study of Kalām in Dars i Niẓāmī.

Mīr Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī (1340-1413) who, though born in the small town of ñāghū, Jurjān (in present day Iran) spent almost all his life (except when he accompanied Tīmūr to Samarqand) in Shīrāz. He was perhaps the most prolific of all these authors of the Shīrāz School who influenced India and his Ṣarf Mīr, Naḥw Mīr, Ṣughrā Kubrā, Mīr Quṭbī (a commentary on the Quṭb al-Dīn Rāzī’s Sharḥ Risālah al-Shamsiyyah on the Risālah al-Shamsiyyah of Najm al-Dīn Kātibī Qazwīnī [d. 1275/76]) and Sharḥ al-Mawāqif have been the most widely used and formative texts in Dars i Niẓāmī in India for the last six hundred years, in the fields of grammar, morphology,  logic and kalām respectively.

Sa‘d al-Dīn Taftazānī (d. 1389) was equally prolific like his contemporary Jurjānī and though he did not belong to the Shīrāz School, five of his works were included in Dars i Niẓāmī in India and the scholars of the Shīrāz School often wrote commentaries on his works.

‘Abd Allah Yazdī (d. 1573) also belonged to the Shīrāz School because though coming from Yazd he was trained and educated by the scholars of the Shīrāz School in Shīrāz and through his class fellow Mirza Jān Shīrāzī, he is connected to Mīr Zāhid Hirawī who exerted a great influence on the Indian scholars especially the family of Shāh Walī Ullah of Delhi. Yazdī’s Sharḥ al- Tehdhīb al-Manṭiq is an important work in Dars i Niẓāmī in India for the study of logic.

Mulla Ṣadrā (d. 1640)

Mīr Ḥusain Mībudhī Yazdī (d. 1684) was the student of Jalāl al-Dīn Dawwānī and trained by the teachers famous for their erudition in the intellectual sciences and their knowledge of the Shīrāz School. His Sharḥ Hidāyah al-Ḥikmah is the second commentary, along with that of Mulla Ṣadrā, that is used in Dars i Niẓāmī in India.

The Second Group — Indian Followers of the Shīrāz School

Mīr Muḥammad Zāhid Hirawī (d. 1689) was called Hirawī after his father who had migrated from Hirat during Jahāngīrs reign and died in Lahore where Mīr Zāhid was born. Trained by Mirza Jān Shīrāzī Mīr Zāhid belonged to the Shīrāz School and was extremely influential in the field of the intellectual sciences.  Risālah Mīr Zāhid [10] is one of the basic works for the study of logic in Dars i Niẓāmī.

Muḥibbullah Bihārī (d. 1707) was perhaps the most outstanding logician and scholar of philosophy of his times with a literary bent of mind and a very powerful pen. He was not only deeply influenced by the Shīrāz School, in the particular sense (maktab i Shīraz ba ma‘na i khāṣ), in philosophy and logic but his works show a conscious mirroring of their style of writing as well.[11] His Sullam al-‘Ulūm has been the basic book taught in Dars i Niẓāmī for logic and has been the subject of many commentaries and glosses. Three of these commentaries, those of Ḥamd Allah Sandīlawī, Mulla Ḥasan Lakhnawī and Qāḍi Mubārak have been extensively used in the curriculum for logic in Dars i Niẓāmī in India.

Ḥamd Allah Sandīlawī (d. 1747) was also directly influenced by the Shīrāz School in the particular sense (maktab i Shīraz ba ma‘na i khāṣ). His Sharḥ Taṣdīqāt Sullam al-‘Ulūm is among the three commentaries that are used in Dars i Niẓāmī to study Sullam al-‘Ulūm. Ḥamd Allah also wrote glosses on Sharḥ Hidāyah al-Ḥikmah (popularly known as Ṣadrā) by Mulla Ṣadrā and Shams Bāzigah where references to Mulla Ṣadrā and Mīr Bāqir Dāmād could be frequently seen.[12]      

Qāḍi Mubārak (d. 1749) was also directly influenced by the Shīrāz School in the particular sense (maktab i Shīraz ba ma‘na i khāṣ).[13] His Sharḥ Sullam al-‘Ulūm is among the three commentaries that are used in Dars i Niẓāmī to study Sullam al-‘Ulūm. It is often said that his glosses on Sullam al-‘Ulūm were composed under a direct influence of Mīr Bāqir Dāmād’s Al-Ufuq al-Mubīn.

Mulla Ḥasan Lakhnawī (d. 1784) was also directly influenced by the Shīrāz School and trained by the teachers famous for their erudition in the intellectual sciences and their knowledge of the Shīrāz School in the particular sense (maktab i Shīraz ba ma‘na i khāṣ). His Sharḥ Sullam al-‘Ulūm is among the three commentaries that are used in Dars i Niẓāmī to study Sullam al-‘Ulūm. Mulla Ḥasan also wrote glosses on Sharḥ Hidāyah al-Ḥikmah by Mulla Ṣadrā, on Shams Bāzigah and on Risālah Mīr Zāhid. In his glosses he not only frequently refers to Mulla Ṣadrā and Mīr Bāqir Dāmād but often engages in a creative interaction with them on certain issues.[14]

Faḍl i Imām Khayr Ābādī (d. 1829) was known as Imām i Ma‘qūlāt (the leader in intellectual sciences) in India. Well versed in the teachings of the Shīrāz School, in the particular sense (maktab i Shīraz ba ma‘na i khāṣ), he wrote many works which exist in manuscripts (e.g. his commentary on Bāqir Dāmād’s Al-Ufuq al-Mubīn). His Mirqāt is used in the curriculum for logic in Dars i Niẓāmī in India.

Mulla Maḥmūd Jūnpūrī (d. 1652) belonged to Jūnpūr, the city founded in the mid eighth century of Hijrah and famous for its excellence in many sciences along with the intellectual sciences. The Mughal emperor Shāh Jahān used to say that “Pūrab Shīraz i mā hast[15] and it was said about Mulla Maḥmūd Jūnpūrī that it would be admissible if the land of Jūnpūr would claim the pride of place vis a vis Shīrāz because of Mulla Maḥmūd Jūnpūrī. He was directly influenced by the Shīrāz School and trained by the teachers famous for their erudition in the intellectual sciences and their knowledge of the Shīrāz School in the particular sense (maktab i Shīraz ba ma‘na i khāṣ). His work Shams al-Bāzigha is the summit of the intellectual sciences in India and perhaps the nearest to the works of the masters of transcendent theosophy as well as the mainstay of the curriculum of philosophy/theology in India.

Faḍl i Ḥaq Khayr Ābādī (d. 1861) was, like his father Faḍl i Imām Khayr Ābādī, known for his high standing in the intellectual sciences in India. Well versed in the teachings of the Shīrāz School, in the particular sense (maktab i Shīraz ba ma‘na i khāṣ), he wrote many works in the line of the Shīrāz School (e.g. his commentary on Bāqir Dāmād’s Al-Ufuq al-Mubīn), Risālah Tashkīk, RisālahIlm o Ma‘lūm etc. His Ḥadya i Sa‘īdiyyah is used in the curriculum for philosophy/theology in Dars i Niẓāmī in India.

There are many other Indian scholars who were well versed in the teachings of the Shīrāz School, in the particular sense (maktab i Shīraz ba ma‘na i khāṣ) but our present scope of investigation would not allow to go into details here.[16] However it may be added about Niẓām al-Dīn Sihāliyawī (d. 1748), the founder of Dars i Niẓāmī in India, that he himself was also directly influenced by the Shīrāz School and trained by the teachers famous for their erudition in the intellectual sciences and their knowledge of the Shīrāz School in the particular sense (maktab i Shīraz ba ma‘na i khāṣ). He wrote glosses on Sharḥ Hidāyah al-Ḥikmah by Mulla Ṣadrā, on Shams Bāzigah, on ‘Aqā’id al-‘Aḍudiyyah and Hāshiyah ‘alā ‘Sharḥ al-‘Tajrīd of Jalāl al-Dīn Dawwānī. In his glosses he frequently refers to Mulla Ṣadrā and Mīr Bāqir Dāmād and pays them very high tribute.[17]

What does all this tell us about the question that we are presently investigating? The curriculum, text books, secondary texts, debates, trends in ma‘qūlāt, in short the entire gamut of the intellectual sciences was permeated by the influence of the Shīrāz School!

Turning now to the Shīrāz School in the particular sense (maktab i Shīraz ba ma‘na i khāṣ), two more questions need to be addressed. The first is specifically related to the reception of the transcendent theosophy (al-ḥikmat al-muta‘āliyah) itself in India. Apart from the curricula and academia mentioned earlier do we find transcendent theosophy (al-ḥikmat al-muta‘āliyah) influencing the Indian Scholars beyond the pale of madrasah texts and their commentaries and glosses in the field of logic and philosophy?

Secondly the transcendent theosophy (al-ḥikmat al-muta‘āliyah) is distinguished for its unique synthesis of al-Qur’ān, al-burhān and al-‘irfān.[18] Do we find a continuation of this synthetic approach[19] among the Indian scholars? Or else instead of synthesis there was still emphasis on a certain aspect and subsequently  a strand/aspect dominated?

For the purposes of this investigation I have not distinguished between the various philosophers and sages of the Shīrāz School though it is obvious that the most influential figure of the School is Ṣadr al-Dīn Shiārzī, known as Mulla Ṣadrā, who is not only one of the greatest intellectual figures of Islamic history, but his thought is very mush a part of the contemporary Islamic world and continues to exercise great influence upon many aspects of current Islamic thought, especially the philosophical, theological and the theosophical.

Let me begin by noting that every author of fame who has written, both in English and Persian, on the Shīrāz School has noticed the extent of its influence on the Indian subcontinent. Let us look at a few representative statements to form an idea of the issue at stake.

S. Hossein Nasr visited India in 1961 for the celebrations of the 400th year of the birth of Mulla Ṣadrā (Calcutta 14th November). While reporting on his visit,[20] he made a very pertinent remark which raised exactly the same question that we are trying to explore. After giving a brief survey of the curricula of various schools of the old madrasah system he turned his attention to the presence of Mulla Ṣadrā in the present day academia in India:

“Most of the Indian scholars and historians recognize the importance of Mulla Ṣadrā only in the science of logic and often mention that he has exerted a profound influence on th earlier generation in the field of logic. A lot of research needs to be done in earnest to reveal the real contours of reception and influence of the teachings of Mulla Ṣadrā and his followers in India in order to clarify the issue as to why did Mulla Ṣadrā is known as a logician in this land whereas his influence and significance is related to the transcendent theosophy.”[21]

Dr. Fazlur Rehman, in his philosophic study of Mulla Ṣadrā made in 1975, observed:[22]

“A somewhat older Indian contemporary of Ṣadrā– a sworn critic of Ibn e ‘Arabī– Aḥmad Sirhindī, when faced with the same problem of contingency had refused to accept Ibn e ‘Arabī’s doctrine that God’s attributes were the materials from which the contingent world was created and endowed with existence. Sirhindī held that while God’s attributes are real and are identical with His Existence, the essences of the contingents are the very opposites or negations of these attributes: God has being, life, knowledge, power; the essence of contingent is characterized by non-being, non-life, ignorance, and impotence. But God then redeems the contingent through His positive attributes by casting their shadows upon the former. It is obvious, however, that Ṣadrā would never accept the principal of moral dualism introduced by Sirhindī……….. “According to Ṣadrā, the higher does not “abstract from” or negate the lower forms of existence but absorbs, includes, and transcends them: They exist in it in a simple manner. That is why, while characterizing God he annunciates the principles, “a simple being is (i.e. includes) all things (basiīṭ-ul-ḥaqīqah kull al-ashyā)”. There is, therefore no question but that God includes and transcends all things– mundane and supra-mundane. The tension that arises here is between his pronouncements on the utter inanity of essences and his investing God’s mind with them. It is not without interest to note that in this respect, Ṣadrā’s doctrine, in effect, amounts to the same as Sirhindī’s.”

More than two decades after making his initial observations, S. Hossein Nasr, again remarked:

“In India his writings, especially the Sharḥ Hidāyah al-Ḥikmah, have been studied and taught in Muslim schools up to the present day, and many glosses have been written by well known Indian Muslim thinkers of the past few centuries.”……….  “Among Mullah Ṣadra’s spiritual and intellectual offspring in India, one must include all those like Niẓāmuddīn Sihāliyawī, Ḥassan ibn Qāzī Al-Lakhnawī, Muḥammad Amjad Al-Ṣiddiqui and others who have written glosses and commentaries upon his works and specially on the Sharḥ Hidāyah al-Ḥikmah. Numerous copies of these glosses are to be found in the various libraries of India…. They merit close study as a means of determining the extent of penetration and influence of Mullah Ṣadra’s teachings in India. His influence on Shiekh Aḥmad Sirhindī is also quite obvious.”[23]

The same views surfaced in his History of Islamic Philosophy:[24]

“The vast synthesis created by Mullā Ṣadrā was to have a profound influence upon later Persian thought as well as in India and Iraq…. In India the influence of Mullā Ṣadrā began to manifest itself from the middle of the eleventh/seventeenth century almost from the time of his death…..[25] This tradition affected many later figures and has survived to this day.”[26]

In one of his more recent works S. Hossein Nasr remarked: [27]

“As for India and Turkey, it is nearly impossible to study the development of Islamic philosophy in those lands in recent centuries without taking into account the role of the School of Iṣfahān, although its role is much more manifest in the Indian world than in the Ottoman Empire.”

But how to take into account the role of transcendent theosophy? One way of doing it that which Akbar Subūt has adopted in his recent work Fīlsūf i Shīrāzī dar Hind.[28] He has given us an inventory of 90 scholars, mostly by the help of secondary sources, who refer to Mulla Sadrā or Mīr Dāmād in their works. But this approach only skims the surface and stops short at deriving unwarranted superficial conclusions. When we go through all the 90 entries the result that emerges is that, barring a few outstanding exceptions, most of these scholars were concentrating on one aspect of Mulla Ṣadrā which, consequently, spawned into that vast literature of commentaries and glosses that is documented and detailed in Akbar Subūt’s work. In none of these 90 entries do we ever find any reference to his Qur’an commentary, his Al- Ḥikmah al-‘Arshiyyah or Shawāhid al-Rabūbiyyah. That is revealing of the manner Mulla Ṣadrā was received in the Indian subcontinent. It is evident from the survey of this record that the influence of Mulla Ṣadrā was most pervasive in his capacity of a ma‘qūlī, commentator of Hidāyah, a kalām scholar. This is how he was transmitted through the curriculum and this is how he was studied. Synthesis was lost in most of the cases. Most of our authors merely paraphrase and repeat the issues discussed by the Shīrāz School though some assimilated the doctrines propounded by the Shīrāz School and offered fresh insights on these topics. Shah Waliullah of Delhi is an outstanding example of this process in that he carried forward the synthetic approach.

That was precisely the reason that unlike the Ishrāqī school, the influence of the Shīrāz School on India was limited to specific domains. While the Ishrāqī school became the quasi thinking self of the Indian milieu, the influence of the Shīrāz School manifested itself in the intellectual sciences where ever these were cultivated in India. The Ishrāqī school provided the shared civilizational ground while the Shīrāz School was more secluded.

However, even in that sphere the influence of the Shīrāz School on the Indian Scholars, both in the specific field of the curricula and teaching of the intellectual sciences, especially of falsfah and kalām in the traditional madrasas as well as in the Islamic philosophic-mystic thought of the Subcontinent, is much more pervasive than what it is imagined in the current scholarship. The spheres of influence of the doctrines of the Shīrāz School and their far-reaching effects have as yet not received sufficient attention. A correct assessment of the pervasiveness and extant of this influence can only be made if a wide and varied range of religious, philosophic literature is taken into consideration ¾ from highly sophisticated philosophic works down to common theological and mystical treatises. One has to take into account a vast body of literature, a large part of which is still in the form of manuscript, before one can form a more or less accurate idea of the breadth and expanse of this influence. Much research would be required in philosophic and kalām texts and in that category of Sufi treatises which is rightly termed as theoretic Sufism, to bring to light the connections and moulding influences that existed between the Shīrāz School and the Indian Scholars.

It may also be remembered that before the influence of the Shīrāz School, formulations of waḥdat al-wujūd were sufficient for the intellectual and literary ethos of the Indian mind while the Shīrāz School tried to find a philosophic foundation for it that was characteristic of the universe of discourse that developed under the influence of the Shīrāz School and should be considered as an addition to the intellectual life of India. An other characteristic feature of the Shīrāz School is that which pertains to the attempt of finding a basis and justification of philosophy that was extra philosophical.

 It is as if Mulla Ṣadrā had a face turned toward the world of the Spirit, to theosophy and the other turned toward the intellectual sciences. The Indian subcontinent, by and large, recognized and was, in turn, influenced, by the latter face of the Shīrāz School. The perception and subsequent reception, of the ideas of the Shīrāz School in India therefore was shaped by this particular aspect of the School and it was largely responsible for the fact that the Shīrāz School became predominantly identified with discursive thought, logic and dry ratiocination. According to this perspective, philosophy/theosophy was then the expression of the subjective intellectual operations/experiences of the separated ego of the thinker/philosopher/sage, and not a fruit of a vision of a reality, which transcends the being of the sage, and for which the sage must have become the expositor and guide.[29]  This implied that within the perspective through which the transcendent theosophy was studied in India a very essential and cardinal element of whole episteme of the Shīrāz School was lost sight of or, atleast, relegated to the background. The Shīrāz School, like the School of Illumination, strongly adhered to the view that consciousness should not be reduced to rationality alone i.e. discursive thought[30] or reason severed from its transcendent noetic roots.[31] The Indian perspective suffered from it through and through, redeemed in the teachings of a small number of thinkers.

The poet had complained, according to the famous anecdote, “shi‘r i mara ba madrasah keh burd”? (who is responsible for it that my poetry falls into the hands of the scholastics?) Mulla Ṣadrā would also be justified if he complained “ḥikmat i mara ba madrasah keh burd”? (who is responsible for it that my wisdom falls into the hands of the scholastics?)

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Notes and References

[1] I have adopted the term that S. H. Nasr uses to designate those areas of the eastern lands of Islam that used to be a part of the cultural and intellectual worldview of the Persian language. See S. H. Nasr, A Journey through Persian History and Culture, Iqbal Academy Pakistan, 2000, pp. 10-13.

[2] A salient example was Mīr Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī (1340-1413) who, though born in the small town of ñāghū, Jurjān (in present day Iran) spent almost all his life (except when he accompanied Tīmūr to Samarqand) in Shīrāz. His Ṣarf Mīr, Naḥw Mīr, Ṣughrā Kubrā, Mīr Quṭbī (a commentary on the Quṭb al-Dīn Rāzī’s Sharḥ Risālah al-Shamsiyyah on the Risālah al-Shamsiyyah of Najm al-Dīn Kātibī Qazwīnī [d. 1275/76]) and Sharḥ al-Mawāqif  have been the most widely used and formative texts in India for the last six hundred years, in the fields of grammar, morphology,  logic and kalām respectively. Another example is of ‘Abd Allah bin ‘Umar Bayḍāwī (d.1285-6) who hailed from Bayḍā’ a small country town of Shīrāz and whose commentary on the Qur’ān, Anwār al-Tanzīl wa Asrār al-Ta’wīl has always been the standard text of Qur’ān studies in the Indian subcontinent and generations of scholars have devoted their attention to writing super-commentaries, glosses and super-glosses and explanatory notes on it down to the twentieth century. Scores of these secondary works have been recorded in the books documenting the biographical and bibliographical details of these scholars. See Akhtar Rahī, Tazkarah i Muṣānnifīn i Dars i Niẓāmī, Lahore 1978, pp. 161; M Ḥanīf Gangohi, Ḥālāt i Muṣānnifīn i Dars i Niẓāmī, Karachi, 2000, pp. 27-31.

[3] In his later writings S. H. Nasr has also remarked that it may now be called the School of Shīrāz. See Leonard Lewisohn and David Morgan (Editors), The Heritage of Sufism, Vol. III, Oneworld, Oxford, 1999, pp. 15.

[4] Niẓām al-Dīn Sihāliyawī (d. 1748), the founder of Dars i Niẓāmī in India, was directly influenced by the Shīrāz School and trained by the teachers famous for their erudition in the intellectual sciences and their knowledge of the Shīrāz School in the particular sense (maktab i Shīraz ba ma‘na i khāṣ). He wrote glosses on Sharḥ Hidāyah al-Ḥikmah by Mulla Ṣadrā, on Shams Bāzigah, on ‘Aqā’id al-‘Aḍudiyyah and Hāshiyah ‘alā ‘Sharḥ al-‘Tajrīd of Jalāl al-Dīn Dawwānī. In his glosses he frequently refers to Mulla Ṣadrā and Mīr Bāqir Dāmād and pays them very high tribute.

[5] Along with it there always existed centres of excellence that specialised in specific sciences like fiqh or ‘ulūm ‘aqliyyah or literary sciences.

[6] See Akhtar Rahī, Tazkarah i Muṣānnifīn i Dars i Niẓāmī, Lahore 1978, pp. 18-23.

[7] See S. H. Nasr, Traditional Islam in the Modern World, KPI, London, 1987, pp. 165-183.

[8] A collection of three glosses, written on the Sharḥ al-Mawāqif of Taftazāni, on Sharḥ al-Tehdhīb of Dawwāni, on Risālah Taṣawwur wa Taṣdīq of Quṭb al-Dīn al-Rāzī, known as Risālah Mīr Zāhid.

[9] Sharḥ al-hidāyah (“Commentary upon the ‘Guide to Wisdom’” of Athīr al-Dīn Abharī) came to be known as Ṣadrā; people received distinction by saying that they had studied Ṣadrā.

[10] See note 8.

[11] For a brief introduction in Persian see Akbar Subūt, Fīlsūf i Shīrāzī dar Hind, Tehran, Hermes, 1380, p. 10.

[12] For a brief introduction in Persian see Akbar Subūt, Fīlsūf i Shīrāzī dar Hind, Tehran, Hermes, 1380, pp. 57-61.

 

[13] For a brief introduction in Persian see Akbar Subūt, Fīlsūf i Shīrāzī dar Hind, Tehran, Hermes, 1380, pp. 49-56.

 

[14] For a brief introduction in Persian see Akbar Subūt, Fīlsūf i Shīrāzī dar Hind, Tehran, Hermes, 1380, pp. 62-75.

[15] The west (Jūnpūr) is our Shīrāz.

[16] One can for example mention Mulla ‘Abd al-Ḥakīm Siyālkotī, ‘Abd al-Rashīd Dīwan, ‘Abd al-‘Alī Baḥr al-‘Ulūm, ‘Abd al-Azīz Purhārawī and many others. For deatails see Akhtar Rahī, Tazkarah i Muṣānnifīn i Dars i Niẓāmī, op. cit. ; M Ḥanīf Gangohi, Ḥālāt i Muṣānnifīn i Dars i Niẓāmī, Karachi, op. cit.; Akbar Subūt, Fīlsūf i Shīrāzī dar Hind, op. cit..

[17] For a brief introduction in Persian see Akbar Subūt, Fīlsūf i Shīrāzī dar Hind, Tehran, Hermes, 1380, pp. 40-49.

[18] Mullā Ṣadrā synthesized not only various schools of Islamic thought but also the paths of human knowledge. His own life, based upon great piety, deep philosophical introspection and reasoning and purification of his inner being until his “eye of the heart” opened and he was able to have a direct vision of the spiritual world, attests to the unity of the three major paths of knowledge in his own person. These three paths are according to him revelation (al-waḥy), demonstration or intellection (al-‘burhān, al-ta‘aqqul) and spiritual or “mystical” vision (al-mukāshafah, al-mushāhadah). Or, to use another terminology prevalent among his school, he followed a way which synthesized al-Qur’ān, al-burhān and al-‘irfān, which correspond to the terms above.

The grand synthesis of Islamic thought created by Mullā Ṣadrā is based on the synthesis of these three ways of knowing through which he was able to integrate the earlier schools of Islamic thought into a unified world view and create a new intellectual perspective known as al-ḥikmat al-muta‘āliyah which a number of leading scholars of Islamic philosophy who have written on him in European languages, such as Henry Corbin and Toshihiko Izutsu, have translated as the “transcendent theosophy” while a number of scholars have protested against using such a term. In analyzing the various aspects of Mullā Ṣadrā’s thought we are in reality studying the Ḥikmat al-muta‘āliyah which became a distinct school of Islamic thought much like the Peripatetic (mashshā’ī) and Illuminationist (ishrāqī) schools. Mullā Ṣadrā was in fact so devoted to this term that he used it as part of the title of his major opus which is al-Asfār al-arba‘ah fi’l-ḥikmat al-muta‘āliyah (“The Four Journeys Concerning Theosophy)”.

[19] Some termed as “the inter-disciplinary approach of Mulla Ṣadrā” by the preset day Iranian scholars.

[20] His article that he presented at the occasion was printed separately and now forms a part of his Islamic Life and Thought. See note 23 below.

[21] S. H. Nasr, “Mulla Ṣadrā dar Hindūstān”, RahnumāI Kitab, Vol. IV, Dī, 1340; reprinted, Jāvidān i Khirad, Saroosh, Tehran, Iran, 1382, pp. 142.

[22] Dr. Fazlur Rehman, The Philosophy of Mulla Ṣadra, Albany, 1975, pp. 90-91.

[23] S. H. Nasr, Islamic Life and Thought, G. Allen and Unwin, London, 1981, Reprint, Suhail Academy, Lahore, 2000, pp. 164, 167-8.

[24] S. H. Nasr, History of Islamic Philosophy, Routledge, London, 1996, Part I, pp. 657-8.

[25] His writings, especially the Sharḥ al-hidāyah (“Commentary upon the ‘Guide’to Wisdom” of Athīr al-Dīn Abharī) became widespread, and the latter book even came to be known as Ṣadrā; people received distinction by saying that they had studied Ṣadrā.

[26] It is interesting to recall that Mawlānā Mawdūdī, the founder of the Jamā‘at-i islāmī of Pakistan and India, that is, the founder of one of the most important politico-religious movements in the Islamic world in the fourteenth/twentieth century, translated parts of the Asfār into Urdu in his youth. In a private letter addressed to Akhtar Rahi, Mawlānā Mawdūdī wrote, “I translated two middle books of the  Asfār, in about  3500 pages, but it could not be published.” See ‘Āṣim Nu‘mānī, Makātīb I Abul A‘lā, Lahore, 1973, Vol. II, p. 104. Also see Akhtar Rahī, Tazkarah i Muṣānnifīn i Dars i Niẓāmī, Lahore, 1978, pp. 217.

Other translators included Manāẓir Aḥsan Gīlānī and Mīrak Shāh Kāshmīrī. Part of this translation apppeared in print from the Dār al-Tarjumah ‘Uthmānia, Hyderabad Deccan.

[27] Leonard Lewisohn and David Morgan (Editors), The Heritage of Sufism, Vol. III, Oneworld, Oxford, 1999, pp. 15. The fact that is in itself significant here is that this remark comes from an article that S. H. Nasr wrote as an introduction to the volume discussing the influence of the School of Shīrāz on subsequent unfolding of Sufism.

[28] See Akbar Subūt, Fīlsūf i Shīrāzī dar Hind, Tehran, Hermes, 1380.

[29] See S. H. Nasr, Islamic Art and Spirituality, Islamic Text Society, Cambridge, 1987, p. 93.

[30] Which is, as if, a reflection of the Intellect on the mental plane.

[31] In the words of Rūmī, “ ‘aql i juz’ī ‘aql rā badnām kard”, Mathnawī, (ed. Nicholson) Vol. III, p. 31, line, 8. Also see Vol. II, p. 352, line, 11, Vol. I,  p. 130,  line, 4.