Shabistarī, Al-

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SHABISTARĪ, AL- (d. ah 720/1320 ce), more fully Saʿd al-Dīn Mamūd ibn ʿAbd al-Karīm ibn Yayā al-Shabistarī; celebrated ūfī author and Persian poet. He was born in the second half of the thirteenth century at Shabistar (Cabistar), a village near Tabriz in Azerbaijan, but spent the greater part of his life at Tabriz, then capital of the newly established Mongol (Il-khanid) empire. Little is known about him, except that he was married, probably at Kirman, and devotedly attached to one of his disciples named Shaykh Ibrāhīm.

In both the Islamic world and the West, his fame rests on the Gulshan-i rāz (Rose Garden of Mystery), a versified compendium of ūfī teachings discovered by European travelers about 1700. In 1838, J. F. von Hammer-Purgstall published a Persian text along with a German verse translation. In 1880, E. H. Whinfield critically edited what has become the standard Persian text with an annotated English translation and an abstract of its contents.

The Gulshan-i rāz (in the meter hazaj ) was al-Shabistarī's reply to fifteen questions posed by Mīr Fakhr al-Sādāt usayn ibn ʿAlī al-usaynī (12731323), a ūfī friend from Herat. Its 1,008 rhyming couplets, cast in the form of questions and lengthy answers on a variety of mystical topics, focus on the unity of being and the perfect human being, the central concepts of ūfī theory after the time of Ibn al-ʿArabī (d. 1240).

Many of the same topics are treated in al-Shabistarī's Persian prose works: aqq al-yaqin (Certain Truth), published in little-known miscellanies (see Maʿārif al-ʿawārif, Shiraz, 1283/1867, pp. 144, and ʿAwārif al-maʿārif, Shiraz, 1317/1938, pp. 454); Mirʾāt al-muaqqiqīn (The Mirror of the Mystics), published in the same miscellanies (pp. 4481 and section 2, pp. 146 respectively); Kanz al-aqāʾiq (The Treasure of Realities), edited by Sayyid Muammad ʿAlī-i afīr (Tehran, 1344/1965); and possibly Risālah-i shāhid (Epistle of the Witness), apparently no longer extant. Al-Shabistarī is also said to be the author of the Saʿādat-nāmah, a collection of three thousand couplets, and a Persian translation of the Minhāj al-ʿābidīn by Abū āmid al-Ghazālī (d. 1111).

Al-Shabistarī's Gulshan-i rāz became a traditional handbook of instruction in the Niʿmatullāhī ūfī affiliation, and its influence was further enhanced because of the numerous commentaries written on it in Shīʿī Iran for four centuries. One outstanding commentary, Mafātī al-iʿjāz fī shar-i Gulshan-i rāz (ed. Kaywān-i Samīʿī, Tehran, 1337/1958), was compiled in 1473 by Shams al-Dīn Muammad ibn Yayā al-Lāhījī (d. 1506), a follower of Nūrbakhsh (d. 1465). The best-known nineteenth-century commentaries are the lithograph of Mirzā Ibrāhīm al-Sabzawārī (Tehran 1314/1898 and 1330/1912) and Shar-i Gulshan-i rāz (Tabriz 1334/1955) by Mirzā ʿAbd al-Karīm Rāyi al-Dīn al-Zinjānī (d. 1882), a Dhahabī shaykh of Azerbaijan known as ʿĀrif ʿAlī Shāh Uʿjūbah. The anonymous extract of an Ismaʿīlī commentary (Taʾwīlat ) discovered by W. Ivanow and edited by Henry Corbin (Trilogie ismaelienne, 1961, pp. 131161, with an introduction, section 3, pp. 1196), documents a survival of Ismaʿīlī ideas under the mantle of Sufism long after the destruction of Alamut in 1256.


Corbin, Henry, ed. Trilogie ismaelienne. Tehran, 1961.

Corbin, Henry. The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism. Translated by Nancy Pearson. Boulder, 1978. See pages 110120.

Hammer-Purgstall, J. F. von. Mamud Schebisteri's Rosenflor des Geheimnisses. Leipzig, 1838.

Lahījī, Muammad ibn Yahyā. Miftā al-iʿjāz fī shar Gul-shan-i rāz. Edited by Kaywān-i Samīʿī. Tehran, 1337/1958.

Whinfield, E. H., trans. Gulshan i Raz: The Mystic Rose Garden. London, 1880.

Gerhard BÖwering (1987)