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Abu l-Qasim Findiriski

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Mir-findiriski.jpg
Statute of Mir Findiriski in Azadshahr, Iran.
Personal Information
Full Name Abu l-Qasim Findiriski
Well-Known As Mir Findiriski
Birth circa 970/1562
Residence Findirisk, Iran
Death circa 1050/1640
Burial Place Takht-i Fulad Cemetery, Isfahan
Scholarly Information
Professors 'Allama Chalabi Bayk Tabrizi
Students Mulla Sadiq Ardistani, Muhammad Baqir Sabziwari, Aqa Husayn Khwansari, Mirza Rafi'a Na'ini, and Mulla Rajab Ali Tabrizi
Works Sana'iyya, Risala fi l-haraka, Commentaries on Jug Basisht (a book on Hindu mysticism and philosophy) etc.

Abū l-Qāsim Findiriskī (Persian: ابوالقاسم فندرسکي), known as Mīr Findiriskī (Persian: میر فندرسکی ) (b.~970/1562- d. ~1050/1640), was a philosopher and a scholar of the Safavid period; he was a well-known philosopher of Isfahan School and was contemporary with Mir Damad and Shaykh Baha'i. He mastered the disciplines of his time, in particular geometry, mathematics and alchemy.

Parentage

Mir Findiriski's father was a prominent sayyid (progeny of the Prophet (s)) in Astarabad, and his grandfather Mir Sadr al-Din was a landowner in Findirisk, a city near Astarabad; he joined the court of Shah 'Abbas I upon his accession of the throne in 995/1587. His father, Mirza Bayk, also worked in Shah 'Abbas's regime and was highly respected.

Birth and Education

Abu l-Qassim was born in the small city of Findirisk. It seems that he learned the preliminary materials there, but he then went to Isfahan to study under 'Allama Chalabi Bayk Tabrizi (d. 1041/1631) who was a student of Afzal al-Din Muhammad Turka Isfahani. Later, he started teaching in Isfahan.

In India

It seems that the intellectual atmosphere of Iran in those days did not fit his liberal spirit. This is why, like his master Chalabi Bayk Tabrizi and many other scholars and artists, he migrated to India.

India was an attractive place for people from other areas at the time because of Akbar Shah and his policy of "peace with all" and because of its economic prosperity and social security; India was a pleasant place for liberal people because it enjoyed a great diversity of religions and sects and was void of any religious bias.

It seems that Mir Findiriski first traveled to India in 1015/1606 together with Awhadi Baliyani (the author of Tazkira 'araft al-'ashiqin ).

Return to Iran

According to Awhadi, when Mir Findiriski arrived in India he became close to Mirza Ja'far Asif Khan (b. 958/1551 - d. 1021/1612) who was an Iranian poet who had migrated to India and became a chancellor or a minister there. Asif Khan facilitated Mir Findiriski's return to Iran.

The Second Travel to India

Mir Findiriski soon decided to travel to India again; he first went to Gujarat and then to Deccan. At the time of writing his 'Arafat al-'ashiqin (from 1021/1612 to 1024/1615), Awhadi writes that Mir Findiriski frequently traveled to India throughout his life. It seems that once Abu l-Hasan Isfahani helped Mir Findiriski to meet Shah Jahan once in 1037/1627 and once again in 1046/1636.

In Iran

Mir Findiriski was also respected by the Iranian monarchy. According to Nasrabadi, once when he returned from India to Isfahan, Shah Safi visited him.

Death

The entrance of a takya in Isfahan named after Mir Findiriski.

He died in 1050/1640 in Isfahan. He was buried there in the mausoleum of Baba Rukn al-Din where is now known as Takht-i Fulad Cemetery and Takya Mir.

Mir's tomb has always been respected and frequently visited by people in Isfahan.

Tomb of Mir Findiriski in Takht-i Fulad Cemetery in Isfahan.

It has been said that his stock of books has been dedicated to the Royal Library of Shah Safi, in accordance with his will.

Descendants

There is not much information about his personal life, and it is not known who his descendants are. His only descendant that we know is Mir Abu Talib b. Mirza Bayk who was a pupil of al-Allama al-Majlisi—he was a poet and has left many works. His progeny has lived in Astarabad until recently.

Contemporaries and Pupils

Mir Findiriski was contemporary with Mir Damad and Shaykh Baha'i, and some great philosophers of that time have been his students, such as Mulla Sadiq Ardistani, Muhammad Baqir Sabziwari, Aqa Husayn Khwansari, Mirza Rafi'a Na'ini, and Mulla Rajab Ali Tabrizi.

Some people have named Sadr al-Din Shirazi—the well-known philosopher of the Safavid era—among Mir Findiriski's students. But Sadra has never mentioned him in his works, though he did mention the other two of his teachers, Mir Damad and Shaykh Baha'i.

The Influence of the Indian Culture

Some people maintain that Mir Findiriski's thoughts are influenced by the intellectual and cultural atmosphere of India. It seems that his philosophical thoughts are shaped by the scholarly debates of India at that time.

According to the author of Dabistan-i mazahib, Mir Findiriski had a companionship with the pupils of Azar Kaywan (b. 942/1535- d. 1027/1618 in India) and learned from them not to hurt any living being. In this book, some proponents of Azar Kaywan have been mentioned as friends of Mir Findiriski. But such a claim is dubious for two reasons: (1) in those works of Mir Findiriski that are available to us today we do not find the influence of the thoughts of Azar Kaywan and his terminologies on Mir Findiriski, (2) in the works of the proponents of Azar Kaywan, we find no mention of Mir Findiriski.

Character

Though Mir Findiriski has not left many works, the epigraphs on his tombstone are evidence that he was highly respected by the scholars and the laymen in his time—people regarded highly of him not only in philosophy, but also in mysticism.

Another piece of evidence for his fame and high status are the folklores and stories regarding him—ones that express his virtues.

There are stories of his keenness, cleverness, self-esteem, and courage—his keen responses to the cavils of governors and kings—showing his keen mind, astuteness, moral courage, and liberality. It has been said that once in a meeting, he was asked about a geometrical problem according to the theory of Khwajih Nasir al-Din Tusi. Mir Findiriski raised an argument regarding the problem, and asked whether Khwajih has mentioned the argument. People said that the argument was not mentioned in Khwajih's work. He then raised several other arguments and asked the same question, and the answer was negative. Mir was briefly mentioned in some biographical works showing that he had a very simple life. He avoided fame and official positions, overlooked this-worldly affairs, and did not avoid the companion of laymen and even hoodlums.

An Expert in Various Disciplines

Mir Findiriski was an expert in various disciplines of his time, especially in geometry, mathematics and alchemy—there are works purportedly written by him concerning these issues. The works of Mir available to us today and the views and works of his pupils show that he was a great teacher of the Islamic Peripatetic philosophy and taught Ibn Sina's books. However, he occasionally objected to the views of Ibn Sina and Khwajaih Nasir al-Din Tusi—two prominent Peripatetic philosophers.

Works

Risala of Sana'iyya by Mir Findiriski

Mir Findiriski has left some short essays in philosophy, some commentaries on the Hindu Jug Basisht, and some peoms:

  1. The most important work of Mir Findiriski is his Persian essay known as Sana'iyya that is also known as Haqa'iq al-sana'i'. Sana'a in Arabic means manufacturing or making. Mir Findiriski uses the word in broad meaning as anything produced by humans' rational and practical faculties. The essay has 24 sections and a conclusion—it deals with the definition of sana'a, its types, the relation of various types of sana'a with one another, the utilities and purposes of each, the degrees of their utility, and the contribution of each sana'a in the human community. He has organized the types of sana'a in terms of their purposes, the highest being the one that is not a purpose for anything.
  2. Risala fi l-haraka (an essay on motion). It is a brief essay in Arabic organized in five chapters dealing with the definition of motion and its types, the issue that each motion requires a mover, that all motions need to start from a single mover that is called the primary mover—a mover that has no mover. The essay is written in a Peripatetic style, rejecting the theory of Platonic forms. Selections of this essay with helpful footnotes by Jalal al-Din Ashtiyani in Muntakhabati az athar-i hukamay-i 'ilahi-i Iran (A selection of the works by Iranian Philosophers).
  3. Risala fi l-tashkik (an essay on gradation). It is an essay in response to a question by Aqa Muzaffar Kashani about the problem of the gradation in essential properties. The essay has a Peripatetic style and opposes the Illuminationist view that there is gradation in essential properties. The essay is published with footnotes by Jalal al-Din Ashtiyani in Muntakhabat.
  4. An essay in alchemy in Farsi. There are essays in some Iranian libraries under mercury (zibaq), sulfur (kibrit), and bab al-'asghar (the minor section) that seem to be versions or editions of this essay. A collection of Arabic poems regarding alchemy is also attributed to him.
  5. Commentaries on Jug Basisht—a book on Hindu mysticism and philosophy that was translated during Akbar Shah's era. The book is originally called in Indian Laghu-Yoga Vasishta. It is a summary of a bigger poetry called Yoga Vaisishta that is also known as Maha Ramayana and Vasishta Ramayana. The lengthy poetry is in fact a dialogue between Vasishta—the Indian ancient mythical philosopher—and the well-known prince Rama or Ramachandra—the great religious Indian epic, Ramayana, being a story of his fights and works. Throughout the work, the sage teaches his moral and philosophical doctrines through thought-provoking stories. The philosophy underlying this work is the absolute existential monism which is an important Indian philosophical and mystical school whose prominent representative is Shankara. Mir Findiriski has also provided a dictionary for Jug Basisht under Kashf al-lughat copies of which are available both as attachments to the book and independently.

Other Works

In some biographies, other essays are attributed to Mir Findiriski, such as The history of Safavid Monarchy, Tahqiq al-mazilla and some other essays, none of which are available to us today.

Poems

In most biographies, some poems of Mir Findiriski are quoted. What is left to us today are two qasidas, some ruba'is and some verses. Here are the beginning verses of his best-known qasida with an English translation:


References