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Mulla Sadra (C. 1572–1640)

MULLA SADRA (C. 1572–1640)

Sadr al-Din Muhammad b. Ibrahim Shirazi, commonly known as Mulla Sadra and also given the honorific title Sadr almuta˒allihin, was born around 1572 in Shiraz, Persia, to a politically powerful and wealthy family, and he died in Basra in 1640. The most famous of the later Islamic philosophers of Persia, he carried out his early studies in Shiraz and then went to Esfahān for more advanced studies especially in the field of philosophy. There he became a student of Baha˒ al-Din al-Amili and Mir Muhammad Baqir Damad, the founder of the School of Esfahan. Mulla Sadra soon became a celebrated philosopher himself but because of the opposition of some religious scholars decided to leave Esfahān. He spent many years in Kahak, a village near Qom, in meditation and spiritual seclusion but finally returned to public life when the Khan School was built in Shiraz for him. He spent some three decades of the last part of his life in that city where he trained many students and wrote most of his works.

Mulla Sadra composed more than forty books, all but one in Arabic, concerning both the religious sciences and philosophy, his most famous work being al-Asfar al-arba˓a (The four journeys). He was deeply rooted in the teachings of Ibn Sina, Suhrawardi, and Ibn al-˓Arabi as well as being well-versed in the study of Qur˒anic commentaries, the hadith and traditions of Shi'ite imams and Islamic theology. He created a synthesis between the purely religious thought of Islam in general, Islamic peripatetic (mashsha'i) philosophy, the School of Illumination (ishraq), and doctrinal Sufism of the School of Ibn 'Arabi. He believed that authentic hikma or philosophy/theosophy could only be attained by combing revealed knowledge, inner illumination, and ratiocination and he called this integral hikma "The transcendent philosophy/theosophy" (al-hikma al-muta˓aliyya). His teachings soon spread throughout Persia and Muslim India and he has been without doubt the most influential Islamic philosopher of the past few centuries. He is the figure around whom the revival of Islamic philosophy has taken place during the second half of the twentieth century, especially in Persia itself.

See alsoFalsafa ; Ibn ˓Arabi ; Ibn Sina ; Ishraqi School .


Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. Sadr al-Dīn Shīrazī and his Transcendent Theosophy. Tehran: Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies 1997.

Rahman, Fazhur. The Philosophy of Mulla Sadra. Albany: State University Press of New York, 1976.

Seyyed Hossein Nasr

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