BADĪLĪ, SHAIKH AḤMAD, a Sufi shaikh in 6th/12th-century Sabzavār, renowned for his mastery of the exoteric as well as the esoteric science. The designation Badīlī—which was also his taḵalloṣ—appears to have arisen from the belief that he was a badīl (substitute), one of a seven or, more commonly, forty-member class of awlīāʾ. In 582/1186-87, Sultan Shah b. Īl Arslān besieged Sabzavār in the course of his battles against ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn Tekeš Ḵᵛārazmšāh, and when the siege became protracted, the people of the city begged Shaikh Aḥmad Badīlī to intercede on their behalf. Accordingly he went out to the camp of Sultan Shah who received him with great respect and promised not to harm the Sabzavāris if they opened their gates to his army. The gates of the city were then opened, and Sultan Shah kept his promise.

Badīlī is said to have written poems, both ḡazals and quatrains, on mystical themes, as well as treatises; none of his writings are known to have survived except for a quatrain preserved by Jovaynī.



Jovaynī, II, pp. 24-25.

Ḥabīb al-sīar (Tehran) II, p. 636.

Search terms:

 بدیلی،احمد  badili ahmad badily ahmed badele ahmed

(H. Algar)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: August 22, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 4, p. 380

Cite this entry:

H. Algar, “BADĪLĪ, AḤMAD,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, III/4, p. 380, available online at (accessed on 30 December 2012).