BADAḴŠĪ, MOLLĀ SHAH (also known as Shah Moḥammad), a mystic and writer of the Qāderī order, given both to the rigorous practice of asceticism and to the ecstatic proclamation of theopathic sentiment. Born in 990/1582 to a qāżī in the village of Araksā in the Rostāq area of Badaḵšān, Mollā Shah received his initial religious training in Balḵ. After a residence of three years in Kashmir followed by wanderings that took him as far as Agra, he came to Lahore to join the following of Shaikh Mīānmīr (or Mīānjīv), a Qāderī saint of Egyptian origin. Initially rebuffed by Mīānmīr, Mollā Shah won his respect and acceptance by feats of great self-denial. Thereafter Mollā Shah’s spiritual progress was swift; reportedly he soon became able totally to dispense with sleep and to spend every night in communion with the prophets and saints. When Mīānmīr pronounced his training complete, Mollā Shah returned to Kashmir to escape the heat of Lahore and spent there most of the rest of his life. Although he generally shunned all company, living enclosed in a narrow cell, he attracted a large following and sporadically turned his attention to the training of disciples. Among his adepts were two members of the Mughal family, Dārā Šekōh and Jahānārā, who left accounts of their relations with Mollā Shah in Sakīnat al-awlīā and Resāla-ye ṣāḥebīya respectively. Despite these ties with the ruling dynasty, he was repeatedly threatened with persecution because of his proclamation of the doctrine of waḥdat al-wojūd in Ḥallājian terms that aroused the hostility of certain exoterists. (For example, he said in one of his verses: “When the intelligent one comes to know himself, he becomes God, O friend!”). It is said that only Dārā Šekōh’s intervention with his father, Šāhjahān, saved Mollā Shah from execution by the governor of Kashmir. Likewise, when Awrangzēb came to the throne in 1068/1658, Mollā Shah’s other royal disciple, Jahānārā, found it necessary to intercede on behalf of her master. Three years later, Mollā Shah died in Lahore, where he was buried next to Mīānmīr in a shrine constructed by Jahānārā.

The chief successor of Mollā Shah was a certain Walī Rām. From him descended an initiatic line, characterized by an extreme emphasis on waḥdat al-wojūd, that persisted in the Punjab until the thirteenth/nineteenth century. The last heir of Mollā Shah appears to have been Qayṣar Shah (d. 1281/1864).

Mollā Shah’s literary fame is based chiefly on his Persian poetry, which includes quatrains as well as a number of maṯnawīs. He also composed some technical treatises on Sufism, including Resāla-ye šāhīya, an exposition of waḥdat al-wojūd written for Dārā Šekōh and Jahānārā, and a commentary (known as Tafsīr-e Šāh or Šāh-e tafāsīr) on the first, second, third, and twelfth suras of the Koran.



(1) Accounts by Mollā Shah’s disciples: Dārā Šekōh, Sakīnat al-awlīāʾ, ed. T. Čand and M.-R. Jalālī-Nāʾīnī, Tehran, 1344 Š./1965, pp. 152-204.

Jahānārā Bēgom, Resāla-ye ṣāḥebīya (Pers. original unpublished; Urdu tr., Lucknow, 1316/1898).

Tawakkol Beg, Nosḵa-ye aḥwāl-e Šāhī, ms. BM Rieu supp. 130.

(2) Secondary accounts: Alfred de Kremer, “Mollâ Shâh et le spiritualisme oriental,” JA 13, 1869, pp. 105-69 (based largely on Nosḵa-ye aḥwāl-e Šāhī).

F. Meier, Abū Saʿīd-i Abu’l-Ḫayr, Acta Iranica 11, Tehran and Liège, 1976, pp. 492-94.

Ḡolām Sarvar Lāhūrī, Ḵazīnat al-awlīāʾ, Lucknow, 1320/1902, I, pp. 173-74.

Idem, Ḥadīqat al-awlīāʾ, ed. M. E. Mojadeddi, Lahore, 1396/1976, pp. 56-57.

S. A. A. Rizvi, A History of Sufism in India II, Delhi, 1983, pp. 115-26.

M. Usman, The Life and Teachings of Mulla Shah, unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of the Punjab, Lahore, 1953.

Amirbek Habibov, Ganj-i Badaḵšon, Dushanbe, 1972, pp. 98-102.

Annemarie Schimmel, Islamic Literatures of India, Wiesbaden, 1973, p. 41.

(3) Discussion of Mollā Shah’s writings: Ẓohūr-al-Dīn, Pākistān mēn fārsī adab kī tārīḵ, Lahore, 1974, pp. 124-63 (with full synopses of all his works).

Storey-Bregel, I, pp. 146-47 (mentions only the tafsīr).

M. Ṭofayl, “ʿOlamā-ye Panjāb kī tafsīrī ḵadamāt (ʿarabī zabān mēn),” Fekr o naẓar 22/2, 1984, pp. 87-100.

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 بدخشی،ملا شاه badakhshi molashah badakhshy moullashah badakhshi mollashah

badakhshi mollasha


(H. Algar)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: August 19, 2011

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Vol. III, Fasc. 4, pp. 361-362