Sayyid Aḥmad ibn Zayn al-Ābidīn al-Alawī (d. c. 1050/1650).

 

 أحمد بن زين العابدين علوي  

. الحكيم الالهي المير سيد احمد العلوي العاملي

.ميرزا إبراهيم سید احمد علوی

‎سید احمد علوی

Sayyid Aḥmad ibn Zayn al-Ābidīn al-Alawī (d. c. 1050/1650).

Aḥmad ibn Zayn al-ʻĀbidīn ʻAlawī.

Ahmad b. Zayn al-'Abidin al-'Abidin al-'Alawi al-'Amili

Stephen Lambden UC Merced.

IN PROGRESS - LAST UPDATED 16-12-2017. 

al-Ḥakīm al-Ilāhī al-Mīr Sayyid Aḥmad al-ʻAlawī al-ʻĀmilī

The centrally important twelver Shi`i, Safavid era Sayyid Ahmad Alwai was a pupil of Mir Damad and Shaykh Baha'i. He made important Arabic and Persian contributions to Islamic theology, philosophy and inter-religious dialogue. His works have been "considered to be one of the outstanding gnostic, theosophical commentaries in the Shī`īte world" (Abdurrahman Habil, IS 1:37+fn.59, 46; Corbin EIIr., 3:228 n. 58 cf. 1:644-646).

Select Introductory Materials

Corbin, Henri (1902-1978).

  • 1970 `L'Idée du Paraclet en philsophie iranienne', (Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei Atti del Convegno "La Persia nel Mediovo", 1970), Rome, 37-68.
  • 1971-2 En Islam iranien: Aspects spirituels et philosophiques. 4 vols. Paris: Gallimard.
  •  1976 `Theologumena Iranica.' Studia Iranica 5: 225-235.
  •  `Aḥmad b. Zayn al-`Abedīn `Alawī'. EIr. 1:644
  •  Temple and Contemplation. Trans. P.& L. Sherrard. London, Boston, and Henley: Kegan Paul International.
  • 1993 History of Islamic Philosophy. London, New York: Kegan Paul International.
  • History Of Islamic Philosophy,

Select Writings of al-`Alawī, Mīr Sayyid Aḥmad ibn Zayn al-Ābidīn `Alawī `Āmilī [Isfahānī]  (d. c. 1050 /1650).

Sayyid Aḥmad b. Zayn al-Ābidīn al- Alawī (d. c. 1050/1650).

Laṭā’if- i ghaybī (Subtleties of the Unseen realm),

Some hermeneutical preliminaries to dialogue and exegesis.

  • Laṭā’if- i ghaybī 
  • Laṭā’if-i ghaybiyya 
  • Laṭā’if- i ghaybī
  • Laṭā’if-i ghaybiyya. [Maktab Sayyid Dāmād 1] ed. Sayyid Jamāl al-Dīn Mīr Dāmādī, Chap-khānā-yi Ḥaydarī, 1396/1976.

Ṣawā`iq- i raḥman (The Thunderbolts of the All-Merciful)

  • Ṣawā`iq- i raḥman (The Thunderbolts of the All-Merciful). A disputation with Judaism and the Torah (HB).

Lavāmi`-i rabbānī fī radd al-shubba al-naṣrāniyya

(The Lordly Brilliancies in refutation of Christian misconceptions) 1061/1622. A confrontation with Christianity, an affirmation of biblical taḥrīf and an attempt to prove the superiority of Islam.

  • Lavami’ = Lavāmi-i rabbānī. Edin. Univ. Lib. Orien. Mss. Spec. Coll. No. 372.
  • K. Lavāmi`-i rabbānī fī radd al-shubba al-naṣrāniyya (The Lordly Brilliancies in refutation of Christian misconceptions; 1031/1622).
  •  

مصقل صفا در نقد كلام مسيحيت

Miṣqāl-i ṣafā dār tajliyya-yi ā’īnih-yi ḥaqq-namā

  • Miṣqal-I ṣafā dar tajliya va taṣfiya-yi ā’īna-yi ḥaqq-namā dar radd-I madhab-I naṣārā (The Polisher of purity to burnish and make clear the mirror showing the truth in refutation of the Christian faction’; 1032/1622).
  • Misqal = Miṣqāl-i ṣafā dār tajliyya-yi ā’īnih-yi ḥaqq-namā.
  • Misqal = Miṣqāl-i ṣafā dār tajliyya-yi ā’īnih-yi ḥaqq-namā ed. Naji Iṣfāhānī, Qum : XXXX., 1415/ 1373 Sh. 1995 CE.
  • مصقل صفا در نقد كلام مسيحيت  Miṣqal-i ṣafā dar naqd-i kalām-i Masīḥiyat. ed. and introd,  Ḥāmid Nājī Iṣfahānī  and Jamāl al-Dīn Mīr Dāmādī  [In Persian; summary in French Henry Corbin]. Qum: XXXX.,  1415/ 1373 Sh. 1994 CE.  374, 5 pp.
  • مصقل صفا در نقد كلام مسيحيت 

البسلوقيتي، يوسف. علوي، أحمد بن زين العابدين. 

CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM DIALOGUE

Filippo Guadagnoli; Yūsuf al-Baslūqītī; Aḥmad ibn Zayn al-ʻĀbidīn ʻAlawī

  • إجابة القسيس الحقير فيليبس كوادانولوس إلى أحمد الشريف بن زين العابدين الفارسي الإسبهاني  = Ijābat al-Qissīs al-ḥaqīr Fīlībus Kwādānūlūs ilá Aḥmad al-Sharīf ibn Zayn al-'Ābidīn al-Fārisī al-Isbahānī. Rome: XXXX., 1637, Arabic Trans. from the Latin.

Philippus Guadagnolus; Aḥmad ibn Zayn al-ʻĀbidīn ʻAlawī; Catholic Church. Congregatio de Propaganda Fide, / Filippo Guadagnoli; Aḥmad ibn Zayn al-ʻĀbidīn ʻAlawī.

  • R.P. Philippi Guadagnoli Clericorum Reg. Minorum Pro christiana religione responsio ad obiectiones Ahmed filii Zin Alabedin, Persae Asphahanensis : Ijābat al-qissīs al-ḥaqīr Fīlībus Kuwādānūlūs al-rāhib ... ilá Aḥmad al-Sharīf ibn Zayn al-ʻĀbidīn al-Fārisī al-Isbahānī. Romae : typis Sac. Congreg. de Prop. Fide, /Tipografia della Congregazione di Propaganda Fide. 1637.  [6] bl., 1160 s., [86] bl ; 4:o pp.

Henry Martyn; Aḥmad ibn Zayn al-ʻĀbidīn ʻAlawī; Mīrzā Ibrāhīm; Mohammed Ruza Ibn Mohammad Amín; Samuel Lee,

Lee, Samuel (1783-1852).

  • 1824 Controversial Tracts on Christianity and Mohammedanism by the late Rev. Henry Martyn, B.D... and some of the most eminent writers of Persiatranslated and explained. Cambridge: 1824..
  • Controversial tracts on Christianity and Mohammedanism. Cambridge : J. Smith, 1824. 723 pp.

"By Henry Martyn and some of the most eminent writers of Persia Mirza Ibrahim, Mohammed Ruza [Rida;]  of Hamadan translated and explained: to which is appended an additional tract on the same question, and, in a preface, some account given of a former controversy on this subject, with extracts from it Dedicated to the right Hon. the Earl of Liverpool by the Rev. S. Lee. With the Portriat of Mr. Martyn."  (Extract cited W-Cat.)

SAYYID AHMAD AND JEWISH/CHRISTIAN DIALOGUE WITH TWELVER SHI'ISM.

Extract from the Lambden [1980s] 2002 Phd (pp. 193-197) with Suppletary Bibliography.

Sayyid Aḥmad al- Alawī (d. c. 1050/1650) was an Isfāhānī first cousin, son-in-law and student of Mīr Dāmād.  He was a major philosopher, theologian and apologist. Equally an Avicennan peripatetic (mashshā’ūn) and an Ishrāqī Platonist (Ishrāqīyān), thinker, theologian and philosopher,  Sayyid Aḥmad was also especially expert in the Abrahamic religions having made a detailed study of the scriptures of the pre-Islamic ahl al-kitāb. According to Corbin, Sayyid Aḥmad had a "perfect knowledge of Hebrew", frequently cited the Hebrew Bible in Arabic characters and was able to translate the text word for word into Persian (Corbin, 1985/ E.Ir.1:645). Giving precedence to qur’ānic scripture in the light of Shī`ī hermeneutical and doctrinal norms, Sayyid Aḥmad wrote four Persian volumes in dialogue with Jews, Christians and their sacred scriptures:

Select Writings of Sayyid Aḥmad b. Zayn al-Ābidīn al- Alawī (d. c. 1050/1650).

  • Laṭā’if- i ghaybī (Subtleties of the Unseen realm), some hermeneutical preliminaries to dialogue and exegesis.
  • Ṣawā`iq- i raḥman (The Thunderbolts of the All-Merciful). A disputation with Judaism and the Torah (HB).
  • K. Lavāmi`-i rabbānī fī radd al-shubba al-naṣrāniyya (The Lordly Brilliancies in refutation of Christian misconceptions; 1031/1622). A confrontation with Christianity, an affirmation of biblical taḥrīf and an attempt to prove the superiority of Islam.
  • Miṣqal-I ṣafā dar tajliya va taṣfiya-yi ā’īna-yi ḥaqq-namā dar radd-I madhab-I naṣārā (The Polisher of purity to burnish and make clear the mirror showing the truth in refutation of the Christian faction’; 1032/1622).

This above named fourth work was a response to the Āyīna-yi ḥaqq namā ("The Mirror showing the Truth", 1609) by the Portugese Jesuit missionary Girolamo (Jerome) Xavier (d. 1617).1 =  Xavier was also the author of a Persian life of Christ based on the Gospels
entitled Mir’āt al-qūds (The Mirror of Sanctity) and also referred to as Dāstā–I Masīḥ as well as a life of the Apostles, Dāstā–I Aḥwāl-I Hawāriyyān

Not the only Safavid `Ālim to respond to Xavier (Lee, 1824:cxiiiff; Hairi, 1993:155), Sayyid Aḥmad apparently wrote this work after a "dream-vision" of the twelfth Imam as a supplement to his Lavāmi`. Therein he referred to Xavier’s volume as kalām bī farjam (useless discourse") (Hairi, 1993:156). Responses to Sayyid Aḥmad’s polemic were written by Phillipus Guadagnolus and the Italian Pietro Della Valle (d.1652) who had met Mīr Dāmād in Iṣfahān and presented him with his own Persian Risāla (Ellis, BMCat. 1:col. 592; Rossi, 1948:32ff; Gurney, 1986).
Within the works listed above `Alawī makes considerable us of the messianic, Islamo-biblical Paraclete (fāraqlit) motif as found in various Johannine texts. Like others before him he related this figure to the messianic twelfth Imam and knew a "twofold manifestation of the Paraclete" in the persons of Muhammad and the eschatological Twelfth Imá m (Corbin, 1976:232f; 1985 [EIr.] 1:644f). 2

2 Quṭb al-Dīn Ashkivarī (d. c. 1075/1664-5) not only identified the Paraclete with the twelfth Imám but also with Astvat Ereta (Av. "He who embodies righteousness", see Yasna 43:3) who is the Saoshyant ("Future Benefactor"), the ultimate eschatological saviour of Zoroastrianism (Corbin, 1971:56f; 1976:232). 195 ("Holy Spirit") who will come bi-nām- i man" ("in My name") and teach jami` chiz-hā ("all things" Jn. 14:26a) (Lawāmi`, 3-4; 15a-b,102; cf. Lee, 1824:xliff).

On the basis of his direct reading of John 14:26 towards the beginning of the Lawāmi`-yi rabbānī he identified the Fāraqlīṭ (Paraclete) with the rūḥ al-quds1 Xavier was also the author of a Persian life of Christ based on the Gospels entitled Mir’āt al-qūds (The Mirror of Sanctity) and also referred to as Dāstā–I Masīḥ as wellas a life of the Apostles, Dāstā–I Aḥwāl-I Hawāriyyān.
The Lavāmi` includes some details regarding biblical predictions of the  name Muhammad. Sayyid Aḥmad cites an Arabic phrase from one of the Psalms (mazmūr az mazāmīr) which is actually a loose, rewritten Arabic version of Psalm 50:1b (Heb.) 
   which ( in the literalistic RSV translation reads) "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth". The Arabic version cited by `Alawī (identical with that cited in the K. Dīn wa’l-dawla, of al-Ṭabarī) reads (translated in the light of the intended meaning),

God manifested from Zion (min ṣihyūn) a praiseworthy (maḥmūd an)
crown (iklīl an (cf. the root of the Heb. ).1

1.The quotation is translated in the light of the sense given the phrase by Sayyid Aḥmad who is very likely directly or indirectly drawing on the Kitab al-dīn wa’l-dawla (Book of Religion and Empire) of `Alī ibn Rabbān al-Ṭabarī (d.c.251/865). The latter quotes this phrase from the beginning of Psalm 50 as a prophecy of Muhammad. His Arabic translation is identical (DDawla, 140; tr. Mingana 89).

The interpretation of Sayyid Aḥmad reads, "It is evident that Zion indicates the name Mecca and maḥmūd ("praiseworthy") the patronymic (kunyā) of Muhammad as `one crowned' (iklīl). Here is struck a similitude of rulership and imamate" (Lawami`,14b). Other titles of Muhammad in biblical prophecy are elsewhere set down by Sayyid Aḥmad including his Tawrāt (Toraic) "name" Meod
Meod (actually the adverbial phrase "exceedingly" in Gen. 17:20b AV & RSV). 1 interpreted in Persian as meaning "Great, Great" (Per. buzurg, buzurg). 1. Despite, or in view of his linguistic awareness, Sayyid Aḥmad upheld a form of biblical taḥrīf ("corruption") (Lavami` / Lee 1824:lXvff).

1. Cf. Bihar2 15:208ff. The Hebrew meod basically means "power", "strength", "force". Many Islamic writers register this as a "name" of Muhammad in the Torah. It probably became a "prophecy" in connection with an Ishmael-Muhammad typology. The numerical (abjad) value of "exceedingly" (2+40+1+4+40+1+4 = 92), it was observed, is the equivalent of Muhammad (40+8+40+4 = 92). Such use of numerological (abjad) equivalents is common in both Shī`ī and Bābī religious literatures.

OTHER WORKS OF SAYYID AHMAD ALAWI

Qur'an Commentary

The Persian and Arabic `irfānī commentaries on select sūrahs of the Q. of this philosopher and polymathic pioneer of Shī`ī Jewish-Christian dialogue, Sayyid Aḥmad al-Alawī,  are likewise worthy of serious attention.

Miftah al Shifa' (The Keys to the Healing).

His Miftah al Shifa' (The Keys to the Healing) is a weighty commentary opon  Avicenna's important Kitab al-Shifa' (The Book of Healing).  

خطفات القدس

Khaṭafāt al-Quds

  • :Khaṭafāt al-Quds. ed. Majīd Hādīʹzādah., Tenran : Muʼassasah-i Pizhūhishī-i Ḥikmat va Falsafah-i Īrān, 1391/2012. 241 pp.
  •  

شرح القبسات

Sharḥ kitāb al-Qabasāt, Mīr Dāmād

  • Sharḥ kitāb al-Qabasāt, Mīr Dāmād. Tehran : Muassasahʼ-i Muṭālaʻāt-i Islāmī, Danishgāh-i Tihrān, Irān, 1997

  •  شرح القبسات = Sharḥ kitāb al-Qabasāt. ed. Ḥāmid Nājī Iṣfahānī; Introduction in Persian and English Mahdī Muḥaqqiq. Tehran : Dānishgāh-i Tihrān, Muʼassasah-ʼi Muṭālaʻāt-i Islāmī : Daftar-i Nashr-i Mīrās̲-i Maktūb, 1997. 747, 19 pp,

Dāmād, Mīr Muhammad Astarabādī (d. 1041/1641)

  • Jadhawat = Jadhawāt. Repr. Bombay lith. 1302/1884. Tehran: Intishārāt-i Bihnām. n.d.
  • Qabasat = K. al-Qabasāt. Ed. Mahdī Muḥaqqiq. Tehran: Intishārāt-i Dānishgāh-i Tihrān. 1362/1983

Glosses/ Marginal Notes on the al-Uṣūl min al-Kāfī of Abū Ja`far Muḥammad ibn Yaʻqūb aL-Kulaynī  Muhammad (d. 329/941). 

الحاشية على أصول الكافي

  • الحاشية على أصول الكافي. al-Ḥāshiyah ʻalá Uṣūl al-Kāfīī. ed. Ṣādiq Ḥusaynī al-Ishkavarī. Qum : Dār al-Ḥadīth lil-Ṭibāʻah wa-al-Nashr, 1427/2006/7. [Series = Shurūḥ wa al-ḥawāshi ʻalá al-Kāfī, 5] Markaz Buḥūth Dār al-Ḥadīth (Series), 123.  476 pp.
  • الحاشية على اصول الكافي = al-Ḥāshiyah ʻalá uṣūl al-Kāfī. Qum : Dār al-Ḥadīth, 1385/2006-7. In series  `Shurūḥ wa al-ḥawāshi ʻalá al-Kāfī, 5'.
  •  الحاشية على أصول الكافي = al-Ḥāshiyah ʻalá uṣūl al-Kāfī,  ed. Badr al-Dīn ibn Aḥmad Anṣārī; Muḥammad Taqī Mūsawī; ʻAlī Fāḍilī.     Qum : Dār al-Ḥadīth lil-Ṭibāʻah wa-al-Nashr, 1383 +1385 = 2004+2006.

Glosses/ Marginal Notes on the al-Istibṣār of  Abu Ja`far Muhammad Ibn Hasan al-Tusi (d. Najaf, 460/1067).

مناهج الاخبار في شرح الاستبصار

  • Manāhij al-akhbār fī sharḥ al-istibṣār . Qum : XXX. c. 1970?. 738 pp.  In the series `Maktab al-Sayyid al-Dāmād, 5'.

Al-Istibsar fi ma ukhtulif fihi min al-akhbar

  • اَلاِْسْتِبْصار فیما اختلف من الأخبار

WITHIN COMPILATIONS

مجموعة اثار المؤتمر الدولي لذكرى الشيخ ثقة الاسلام الكليني

  • Majmūʻat athār al-Muʼtamar al-Dawlī li-Dhikrá al-Shaykh Thiqat al-Islām al-Kulaynī.
By Khalīl ibn al-Ghāzī Qazwīnī; Muḥammad Amīn ibn Muḥammad Sharīf Astarābādhī; Aḥmad ibn Zayn al-ʻĀbidīn ʻAlawī; Badr al-Dīn ibn Aḥmad Anṣārī; Muḥammad Hādī ibn Muḥammad Muʻīn al-Dīn Shīrāzī; Muḥammad ibn Ḥaydar Rafīʻā; Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad Riz̤ā Majz̲ūb Tabrīzī; Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad Muʼmin Jīlānī; ʻAlī ibn Muḥammad Ibn Zayn al-Dīn; Muḥammad ʻAlī ibn Muḥammad Ḥasan Ardakānī; Muḥammad Hādī ibn Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ Māzandarānī; Muḥammad Ḥusayn Qārayāghdī; Muḥammad Gulistānah; Mahdī Sulaymānī Āshtiyānī; Muḥammad ibn Yaʻqūb Kulaynī. Qum : Dār al-Ḥadīth, 1429 / 2008-9.

ثلاث رسائل

Thalāth rasāʼil (Three Treatises).

  • Thalāth rasāʼil (Three Treatises). Aḥmad ibn Zayn al-ʻĀbidīn ʻAlawī; Aḥmad ibn ʻAlī Maqrīzī; Muḥammad ibn ʻAbd al-Karīm Shahrastānī. Cambridge, England : Cambridge University Library....

 

SECONDARY SOURCES.

Abisaab, Rula Jurdi

  • Converting Persia: Religion and Power in the Safavid Empire (International Library of Iranian Studies). I.B.Tauris , 2004.

Colin P. Mitchell Ed.

  • New Perspectives on Safavid Iran: Empire and Society (Iranian Studies Book 8). Routledge, 2014. Festschrift  dedicated to Roger M. Savory.