ĀMOLĪ, SAYYED BAHĀʾ-AL-DĪN ḤAYDAR B. ʿALĪ B. ḤAYDAR AL- ʿOBAYDĪ AL-ḤOSAYNĪ, early representative of Imamite theosophy (b. 720/1320, or perhaps 719/1319). He studied first in his home town of Āmol, then in Astarābād and Isfahan. Returning to Āmol in his late twenties, he was made a confidant, then a minister, of Faḵr-al-dawla Ḥasan b. Keyḵosrow b. Yazdegerd (734-50/1333-34 to 1349), the last ruler of the Kīnḵᵛārīya branch of the Bavandid dynasty. The year of Faḵr-al-dawla’s assassination coincided with Āmolī’s conversion to the Sufi way in the wake of a religious crisis. He abandoned his brilliant career, wore a ḵerqa, and set out on a journey to the Shiʿite shrines, then to Jerusalem, Mecca, and Medina. He was forced to leave Medina due to ill health, and appears to have spent the rest of his life in Iraq. In Baghdad he studied with Naṣīr-al-dīn Kāšānī Ḥellī (d. 755/1354) and with Faḵr-al-moḥaqqeqīn Moḥammad b. Ḥasan b. Moṭahhar Ḥellī (d. 771/1370), son of the famous ʿAllāma, from whom he obtained an eǰāza. He then settled in Naǰaf, where he lived for over thirty years. The last notice of him dates from 787/1385, when he completed his Resālat al-ʿolūm al-ʿālīya.
Āmolī was a prolific writer. Of some forty works whose titles are known (see the Arabic [pp. 19-35] and French [pp. 37-57] introductions by O. Yahya and H. Corbin respectively, in Sayyed Haydar Amoli, La philosophie shi’ite, Tehran and Paris, 1969), only seven are at present known to have survived. These are (in chronological order): (1) Asrār al-šarīʿa wa aṭwār al-ṭarīqa wa anwār al-ḥaqīqa (ed. M. Ḵᵛāǰavī, Tehran, 1362 Š./1983). Mentioned twice in Jāmeʿ al-asrār, this work discusses each of the five principles of religion (divine unity, prophecy, eschatology, imamate, and justice) and the five pillars (prayer, fasting, zakāt, ḥaǰǰ, and ǰehād) from the points of view of people of the šarīʿa, the ṭarīqa, and the ḥaqīqa. (2) Jāmeʿ al-asrār wa manbaʿ al-anwār (ed. O. Yahya and H. Corbin, in La philosophie shi’ite, pp. 2-617). This work, completed about 752/1351, is divided into three books (each called aṣl), every book consisting of four large chapters (qāʿeda). It has become the best-known of Āmolī’s writings, thanks to studies by Corbin (in Eranos-Jahrbuch 30, 1961, pp. 90ff.; 32, 1963, pp. 80ff.; La philosophie shi’ite, pp. 58ff., and elsewhere) and P. Antes (Zur Theologie der Schiʿa. Eine Untersuchung des Ğamiʿ al-asrār . . . , Freiburg, 1971). (3) al-Masāʾel al-āmolīya (or al-ḥaydarīya), consisting of questions on theological and juridical matters addressed by Āmolī in 759/1358 to his teacher Faḵr-al-moḥaqqeqīn; an autograph is preserved (Tehran, University Central Library, 1022). (4) Resālat naqd al-noqūd fī maʿrefat al-woǰūd (ed. O. Yahya and H. Corbin, in La philosophie shi’ite, pp. 620-710). This work, completed in Naǰaf in 768/1367, is a summary of Āmolī’s Resālat al-woǰūd fī maʿrefat al-maʿbūd (written after 760/1359), which is not known to have survived. (5) al-Moḥīṭ al-aʿẓam, a seven-volume Koran commentary, completed in 777/1375-76. (6) Naṣṣ al-noṣūṣ, a commentary on Ebn al-ʿArabī’s Foṣūṣ al-ḥekam, completed in Naǰaf in 782/1380-81. The lengthy introductory sections of this work have been published (Sayyed Ḥaydar Āmolī, Le Texte des textes (Naṣṣ al-noṣūṣ . . .). Les prolégomènes, ed. H. Corbin and O. Yahya, Tehran and Paris, 1974). The introductions of this and the previously mentioned work include autobiographical passages which provide much of the available information on Āmolī’s life. (7) Resālat al- ʿolūm al-ʿālīya, of which an autograph is preserved in Naǰaf. The attribution to Āmolī of a collection of Imamite traditions entitled al-Kaškūl fī mā ǰarā ʿalā āl al-rasūl (Naǰaf, 1372/1953) has long been in dispute; Corbin has adduced convincing evidence (La philosophie shi’ite, p. 46) that it is by a different author.
The significance of Āmol’s thought lies in two major areas: First, he was an early proponent of the thesis that Imamite Shiʿism, which combines the šarīʿa, ṭarīqa, and ḥaqīqa, is identical with Sufism. Every true Shiʿite (referred to by Āmolī as moʾmen momtaḥan “a believer put to the test”) is also a Sufi, and vice versa. The Imams, who are invested with mystical knowledge, are the guides not only of the Shiʿite community, but also of all those who seek the mystical path. Āmolī is equally critical of Shiʿites who reduce their religion to a legalistic system and of Sufis who deny that their origins and doctrines go back to the Imams.
Second, Āmolī was an early example of a long line of Imamite thinkers (stretching to our own day) who incorporated the thought of Ebn al-ʿArabī and his followers into their writings. In particular, Āmolī adopted and elaborated upon the distinction between pure monotheism (tawḥīd olūhī), which is exemplified by the profession of faith (lā elāha ellaʾllāh) and constitutes the outward (ẓāher) aspect of God’s unity, and the inner (bāṭen), ontological (woǰūdī or ḥaqīqī) tawḥīd, according to which nothing exists except God (laysa fi’l-woǰūd sewaʾllāh). The former was taught by the prophets, and the secrets of the latter by the awlīāʾ. Āmolī illustrates the meaning of tawḥīd woǰūdī by the example of ink and the letters produced by it: Just as the letters have no independent existence and are merely loci of manifestation (maẓāher) for the ink, so also the physical world is but a locus of manifestation for the divine names, attributes, and acts (Jāmeʿ al-asrār, pp. 107-08, 312). Āmolī juxtaposes the two forms of tawḥīd with two kinds of šerk (association, polytheism): one explicit (ǰalī), involving the association of others with God, another hidden (ḵafī, resulting from the failure to perceive that “everything is God, is through Him, from Him, and to Him.” The tawḥīdwoǰūdī will finally be vindicated with the advent of the Mahdī. In accordance with Āmolī’s system, the Mahdī must be a walī, not a prophet; indeed, Āmolī follows Saʿd-al-dīn Ḥammūya (d. 650/1252) (in his al-Maḥbūb) and ʿAbd-al-Razzāq Kāšānī (d. 730/1330) in maintaining that the seal of the universal (moṭlaq) walāya is ʿAlī and the seal of the particular (moqayyad, Mohammadan walāya is the Mahdī (who for Āmolī is identical with the Twelfth Imam). On this issue Āmolī differs from Ebn al-ʿArabī, who identified the ḵātam al-walāyat al-moṭlaqa with Jesus and who was himself regarded by some of his disciples as the ḵātam al-walāyat al-moqayyada (Jāmeʿ al-asrār, pp. 385, 395-448).
See also Šūštarī, Maǰāles al-moʾmenīn, Tehran, 1375/1955, II, pp. 51-52.
M. ʿA. Modarres, Rayḥānat al-adab, Tehran, 1364-73/1944-54, I, p. 30 (no. 54), II, p. 498 (no. 892).
Ḵᵛānsārī, Rawżat al-ǰannāt, ed. A. Esmāʿīlīān, Qom, 1390-92/1970-72, II, pp. 377-80. Maʿṣūm-ʿAlīšāh, Ṭarāʾeq al-ḥaqāʾeq, ed.
M. J. Maḥǰūb, Tehran, 1369/1950, I, II, index.
ʿAbbās Qomī, Fawāʾed al-razawīya, Tehran, 1367/1948, pp. 165-66.
ʿĀmelī, Aʿyān al-šīʿa XXIX, Damascus, 1368/1948, pp. 23-33.
H. Corbin, in Mélanges d’orientalisme offerts à Henri Massé, Tehran, 1963, pp. 73-101.
Idem, En Islam iranien: aspects spirituels et philosophiques, Paris, 1971-72, III, pp. 149-213, IV, index.
Idem, “La science de la Balance et les correspondances entre les mondes en gnose islamique (d’après 1’oeuvre de Ḥaydar Āmolī),” Temple et contemplation, Paris, 1981.
Šaybī, al-Fekr al-šīʿī . . . , Baghdad, 1386/1966, pp. 120-33.
R. Gramlich, Die schiitischen Derwischorden Persiens, II, Wiesbaden, 1976, index.
J. van Ess, “Ḥaydar-i Āmolī,” EI2 (suppl.), pp. 363-65.
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: August 3, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 9, pp. 983-985
E. Kohlberg, “ĀMOLĪ, SAYYED BAHĀʾ-AL-DĪN,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/9, pp. 983-985, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/amoli-sayyed-baha-al-din-haydar-b (accessed on 30 December 2012).