Between Philosophy and ʿIrfān: Interpreting Mullā Ṣadrā from the Qajars to Post-Revolutionary Iran
Esmail, Zoheir Ali
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis examines the interpretive tradition of Mullā Ṣadrā in the context of the schools of Tehran and Qum. Mullā Ṣadrā’s transcendental philosophy (al-ḥikmah al-mutaʿālīyah or ḥikmat) avails itself to a number of readings; however, this thesis focuses on the philosophical and mystical (ʿirfānī) readings in terms of their development, transmission and their impact on how ḥikmat is understood in the modern Iranian seminary (ḥawza). The way in which a text is read in the ḥawza has great implications for the development of ideas, as the ḥawza uses a text based system to train students in a particular field. While both readings were studied by the majority of transcendental philosophers (ḥukamāʾ) in the school of Tehran, the school of Qum saw a greater separation between the readings and I show that for a number of reasons, including the introduction of seminal texts written by ʿAllāmah Ṭabāṭabāʾī, a preference developed for a more philosophical reading of transcendental philosophy. I examine evidence for the different preferences of the ḥukamāʾ for either a more philosophical or ʿirfānī reading of ḥikmat through an examination of their writings on the subjects of existence (wujūd), guardianship (walāyah) and resurrection (maʿād) which act as case studies. The theoretical implications of both approaches are examined in each chapter as well as their interdependence. The schools of Tehran and Qum built on Mullā Ṣadrā’s framework and provided new interpretations of important issues. Apart from the intricate discussions on the core aspects of ḥikmat, Muḥammad Riżā Qumshihī’s masterful examination of the Seal of the Saints and ʿAlī Mudarris Zunūzī’s philosophy of bodily resurrection are examples of a thriving interpretive tradition in Iran and constitute significant developments of important philosophical and ʿirfānī concepts from the ideas of their predecessors.
PhD in Arab and Islamic Studies