Mulla Sadra’s Teachers, Children, and Students


1. Teachers

Mulla Sadra was a master of all the sciences of his time; however, in his eyes, none of them were as important as philosophy. As mentioned previously, due to the outstanding spiritual and economic facilities provided by his family, particularly by his father, he enjoyed the benefits of studying under the most knowledgeable teachers of that period.

In Qazwin, Mulla Sadra studied under two prominent masters, Shaykh Baha al-Din and Mir Damad, and, when the capital changed to Isfahan in 1006 A.H/1596 A.D, he moved there in their company, and in addition to completing his higher education, particularly in philosophy, started a profound line of research on contemporary philosophical issues. Due to his great talent, depth of thought, and vast knowledge of rational sciences, logic, and gnosis, Mulla Sadra succeeded in developing a series of unprecedented principles and basic rules. In this way, the young tree of Transcendental Philosophy, which is the name of his unique school of thought, gradually grew until it raised its head high in the sky.

Mulla Sadra acquired most of his scholarly knowledge from the two above-mentioned masters. Thus it is worth knowing a little more about these unparalleled thinkers.

1-1.  Shaykh Baha al-Din ‘Amili

Shaykh Baha (953-1030 A.H) was not Mulla Sadra’s first teacher; however, it seems that among all his teachers, he played the most significant role in developing Mulla Sadra’s personality, and exercised the greatest influence upon the formation of his spiritual, moral, and scientific character.

He was the son of a Lebanese jurisprudent called Shaykh Hussayn, the son of Shaykh Abdul Samad Amili. Jabal Amil is one of the northern cities of Syria, and is populated by Shi‘ite Muslims. At that time, it was ruled by the cruel and tyrannical Ottoman government. A lot of Shi‘ite jurisprudents and scholars living in this city fled the cruelties of the Ottoman rulers and sought refuge in Safavid Iran. Shaykh Baha al-Din was seven (or possibly 13) years old when he came to Iran with his father, who was later appointed the religious leader of Muslims, which was a sublime and spiritual position, in Harat in Khorasan. Baha al-Din began to acquire the sciences of his time in Iran and soon became a very well-known scientist.

Shaykh Baha’s vast knowledge of different fields, from jurisprudence, interpretation, hadith and literature to mathematics, engineering, astronomy, and the like, as well as the stories narrated about the wonders of his life, have turned him into a fabulous and legendary character, unparalleled by any other scientist in the one thousand-year-old history of science after Islam. In fact, in terms of knowledge, he can be considered an equal to Pythagoras or Hermes in the history of Greek science.

1-2. Mir Damad

Mir Muhammad Baqir Hussayni, known as Mir Damad, was one of the most prominent scholars of his time and a great master of the Peripatetic and Illuminationist schools of philosophy, gnosis, jurisprudence, and Islamic law. His father, too, was a jurisprudent and was originally from Astarabad (todays Gorgan). He spent his youth studying in Khorasan and was later honored by becoming the son-in-law of a famous Lebanese scientist called Shaykh Ali Karaki, who was known as the second researcher, the high counselor of the Safavid king. Because of this honor, he  became known as ‘Damad’ (the Persian word for son-in-law).

Some people believe that Mir Damad was born in 969 A.H (1562 A.D), but there is no certain evidence for this. He was born in Khorasan and passed his adolescence in Mashad (the center of Khorasan province)[1], and because of his genius, he reached high scientific levels in a very short time. When he arrived in Qazwin (the Safavid capital at that time) to complete his education, he soon became famous and achieved the station of mastership.

Mulla Sadra, who had most probably gone to Isfahan with his father in childhood, went to Mir Damad’s classes and passed the higher courses of philosophy, hadith, and other sciences once more under his supervision.

When the Safavids moved their capital from Qazwin to Isfahan, Mir Damad moved his teaching center there, too. During his years of residence in Isfahan Mulla Sadra took the greatest advantage of his classes, and his scientific relation with this knowledgeable teacher was never disrupted. Mir Damad fell ill in 1041 A.H (1631 A.D) on his way to Iraq and passed away there.

Mir Fendereski has also been cited as one of Mulla Sadra’s teachers. His complete name is Mir Abulqasim Astarabadi, and he is famous as Fendereski. He lived for a while in Isfahan at the same time as Mir Damad, spent a great part of his life in India among yogis and Zoroastrians, and learnt certain things from them.

In spite of what is commonly believed, there is no valid evidence indicating the existence of any student-teacher relation between Mir Fendereski and Mulla Sadra; moreover, the school of philosophy left by Fendereski and publicized by his students, such as Mulla Rajab Ali Tabrizi, is completely in contrast to that of Mulla Sadra.

2. Children

We do not know precisely when Mulla Sadra got married, but he was most probably 40 when he did so and his first child was born in 1019 A.H (1609 A.D). He had five children, 3 daughters and two sons, as follows:

Um Kulthum, born in 1019 A.H (1609 A.D)

Ibrahim, born in 1021 A.H (1611 A.D)

Zubaydah, born in 1024 A.H (1614 A.D)

Nizam al-Din Ahmad, born in 1031 A.H (1621 A.D)

Masumah, born in 1033 A.H (1623 A.D)

2-1. Sons

Mirza Ibrahim, whose formal name was ‘Sharaf al-Din Abu Ali Ibrahim Ibn Muhammed’, is said to have been born in Shiraz in 1021 A.H (1611 A.D). He was one of the scientists of his time and was considered a philosopher, jurisprudent, theologian, and interpreter. He had also studied other sciences such as mathematics. He wrote a book called Urwat al-wuthqa on the interpretation of the Qur’an and a commentary on Rozah, a book written by the well-known Lebanese jurisprudent, Shahid. Some other books in philosophy have also been attributed to Mirza Ibrahim.

Mulla Sadra’s other son, Ahmad, was born in 1031 A.H (1621 A.D) in Kashan and passed away in Shiraz in 1074 A.H (1664 A.D). He was also a philosopher, literary man and poet and some books have been attributed to him.

2-2. Daughters

Mulla Sadra’s eldest child was his daughter, Um Kulthum, who was a poet and scientist and a woman of prayer and piety. She married Mulla Abdul Razzaq Lahiji, Mulla Sadra’s famous student.

His second daughter was called Zubaydah. She married Faydh Kashani (another of Mulla Sadra’s students) and had some children who were well-known. She too was famous for having a vast knowledge of science and literature, and being a poet.

Masumah, Mulla Sadra’s third daughter, was born in 1033 A.H (1623 A.D) in Shiraz and was famous for being a knowledgeable woman and a master of poetry and literature. She married one of Mulla Sadra’s other students, Qawam al-Din Muhammed Neyrizi, although some people believe that her husband was yet another of her fathers students, a person called Mulla Abdul Muhsin Kashani.

3. Students

In spite of the long time that Mulla Sadra was involved in teaching philosophy, interpretation, and hadith, including the last 5 (or 10) years of his life in Shiraz (1040 till 1045 or 1050), and more than 20 years in middle of his lifetime in Qum (from about 1020 till 1040) or perhaps a few years before that in Shiraz or Isfahan, there are few records of his students names in historical documents and writings.

Undoubtedly some prominent philosophers and scientists were trained in his classes; however, surprisingly enough, none of them became famous, or if they did, we have no knowledge of their names. This, of course, might have been due to the weak relation between their lives and that of their masters.

Nevertheless, we do know of 10 of Mulla Sadra’s well-known students, among whom Faydh Kashani and Fayyadh Lahiji are the most well-known ones.    

3-1. Faydh Kashani

Muhammed Ibn al-Murtada, nicknamed Muhsen, was known as Faydh. He was mainly famous for being a master of jurisprudence, hadith, ethics, and gnosis. His father was one of the scholars of Kashan. Faydh went to Isfahan (the capital of the time) at the age of 20. Later he went to Shiraz and acquired the sciences of that time. Then he went to Qum, where Mulla Sadra had established a vast teaching center. Having become acquainted with this great master, Faydh studied under him for about 10 years (until the former returned to Shiraz) and was honored by being accepted as his son-in-law. He even went to Shiraz in Mulla Sadra’s company and stayed there for another two years; nevertheless, since at that time (about the age of forty) he had become a knowledgeable scholar and a master of all sciences, he returned to his town, Kashan, and established a teaching center there.

During his lifetime, in addition to training a great number of students, he composed several books on jurisprudence, hadith, ethics, and gnosis. His method of treating the science of ethics was such that he was called the Second Ghazzali; however, his gnostic taste and scientific depth of knowledge were much higher than those of Abu Hamid Ghazzali Tusi.

He was also a poet. He has left a book of poems in Persian, mainly consisting of gnostic and moral poems, and mostly in the lyric form.

In the last years of his life Shah Safi invited him to Isfahan to serve as the leader of Friday prayers there, but he refused this invitation and returned to his own town. However, the insistence of the another Safavid king (Shah Abbas II) dragged him to Isfahan, most probably in the years after 1052 A.H (1643 A.D).

Faydh wrote more than 100 books, the most famous of which are Mafatih in jurisprudence, al-Wafi in hadith, al-Safi and al-Asfia on the interpretation of the Holy Qur’an, Usul al-maarif in philosophy and gnosis, and al-Muhajj al-bayza’ in ethics. All these books are written in Arabic, and each is considered important in its own right.

Faydh had six children. His son, Muhammed Alam al-Huda, was a well-known scholar who composed many of works. According to the date written on his gravestone, Faydh died in 1091 A.H (1681 A.D) at the age, apparently, of 84.

3-2. Fayyadh Lahiji

Mulla Sadra’s other student was Abd al-Razzaq Lahiji, the son of Ali, known as Fayyadh. He was mainly famous as a philosopher and theologian and was considered one of the distinguished poets of his time.

He spent a part of his life studying in Mashad (the center of Khorasan province) and then, in about 1030 A.H (1621 A.D), or a few years after that, he went to Qum, became acquainted with Mulla Sadra, attended his classes, and, later, became one of his most faithful students. Before Mulla Sadra’s return to Shiraz, Fayyadh was honored by being accepted as his son-in-law (probably in about 1035 A.H).

Unlike his friend Faydh Kashani, Fayyadh did not go to Shiraz with Mulla Sadra. It is likely that Mulla Sadra left him in Qum as his substitute to continue his teaching work as a master.

Fayyadh was a prominent philosopher who sometimes appeared in the role of a theologian following Khwajah Nasir al-Din Tusi (writer of Tajrid al-kalam). He had a profound poetic and literary taste and, as one of the outstanding poets of that time, had a Diwan (collection of poems) consisting of a variety of 12,000 couplets in ballad, lyric and quatrain (rubai) forms.

He was one of the most well-known and distinguished figures of the Safavid period whom the Safavid Shah greatly admired and respected. He was also quite popular among ordinary people. He socialized with them and loved them very much and, in return, received their great respect and devotion. However, in reality, he was a God-fearing, pious, and secluded man who was heedless of worldly attractions (This judgment was made by his contemporaries about him).[2]

Lahiji wrote many works in philosophy and theology, the most famous of which are: Shawariq al-ilham (a commentary on Tajrid al-kalam), Gohar murad (written in a simple language on theology) a commentary on Suhrawardi’s al-Nur, glosses on Sharh isharat, and some other books, treatises, and a collection of poems.

Fayyadh was the father of at least three sons, who were all among the scholars of their time. Mulla Hasan Lahiji, who became a master and succeeded his father in Qum was his eldest son. Fayyadh is said to have lived for 70 years. He passed away in 1072 A.H (1662 A.D) in Qum and was buried in the same place.

3-3. Mulla Hussayn Tunekaboni

Another of Mulla Sadras famous students is Mulla Hussayn Tunekaboni or Gilani. Tunekabon is a town in Mazandaran province in the north of Iran, on the shores of Caspian Sea. A great number of well-known philosophers and scientists have come from this town.

There are many things about his life that we do not know. Nevertheless, what is certain is his expertise in Mulla Sadra’s school of thought, and teaching philosophy and gnosis. His decease or martyrdom was quite sad. On his hajj pilgrimage, when making his visitation to Kaba (in Mecca in Hijaz in Saudi Arabia), he was passionately holding the walls of the House of Kabah in his arms and rubbing his face to them in a mystic manner, but the laymen assumed that he was insulting the court of Kabah and, thus, hit him harshly. After this incident he suffered so much, so that he could not bear the depression anymore and passed away in Mecca in 1105 A.H (1695 A.D). He has also left some books in philosophy to later generations.

3-4. Hakim Aqajani

Hakim Mulla Muhammed Aqajani has been cited as one of Mulla Sadra’s students. Not a great deal is known about his life either. He is mainly famous for the commentary he wrote on Mir Damad’s (Mulla Sadra’s master) important and difficult book, al-Qabassat, in 1071 A.H (1661 A.D).




[1]. Tarikh Alam Array-e Abbasi, vol. 1, p. 146, Tazkarat khulasat al-ashar, Taqi al-Din Hussayni Kashani, Ahvali Mir Damad.

[2]. Tazkarah Nasrabadi, vol.1, p. 226.