Sayyid Ahmad Bihbahani
|Full Name||Sayyid Ahmad Bihbahani|
|Well-Known As||Aqa Ahmad Kirmanshahi|
|Well-Known Relatives||Wahid Bihbahani|
|Studied in||Kermanshah, Najaf|
|Professors||Muhammad Isma'il 'Aqda'i Yazdi, Bahr al-'Ulum, Ja'far Najafi|
|Works||Mir'at al-Ahwal, Mahmudiyya, ...|
Sayyid Aḥmad Bihbahānī (Persian:سید احمد بهبهانی) (b. 1191/1777 - d. 1235/1820), known as Aqa Ahmad Kirmanshahi, was a Shi'a scholar of 13th/19th century and a member of Wahid Bihbahani family (Al Aqa). In addition to his scholarly status and his works, he had a special prestige because his journeys and travels to Iran, Iraq and India have left very good memories from him.
Birth and Demise
Aqa Ahmad wrote in his autobiography in the book Mir'at al-Ahwal that he was born in 1191/1777 in Kirmanshahan, Iran. He passed away in 1235/1820 at the age of 44 and was buried next to his father's tomb in Kirmanshahan.
He started learning Persian, Arabic and jurisprudential scripts under his father, Aqa Muhammad 'Ali Bihbahani (d. 1216/1801), and his brother, Aqa Muhammad Ja'far (d. 1259/1843), when he was 6. His mother passed away when he was 17. At the age of 20, he moved to Iraq for continuing his studies. On his way, he met scholars of Kazimayn. He settled in Najaf, got married and continued his studies there.
Some of his teachers in fiqh are:
- Mulla Muhammad Isma'il 'Aqda'i Yazdi (d. 1240/1825)
- Al-Sayyid Muhammad Mahdi Bahr al-'Ulum known as Bahr al-'Ulum (d. 1212/1797)
- Shaykh Ja'far Najafi (d. 1227/1812)
In addition to his father, he also received scholarly certificate from some of eminent scholars of his time, whom he mentioned in the book Mir'at al-Ahwal, including:
- Shaykh Ja'far Najafi
- Sayyid 'Ali Tabatab'i
- Sayyid Muhsin A'raji Baghdadi
- Mirza Abu l-Qasim Qummi (Sahib Qawanin)
- Sayyid Muhammad Mujahid
Journeys to Different Cities
In 1215/1800, he returned to Kirmanshahan to visit his father. Some months later, his father passed away, thus he stayed there for a while. After Wahhabis attacked Karbala in 1216/1801, he went to Iraq and took his family back to Kirmanshahan and then to Qom. He stayed in Qom for 6 months studying under Mirza Abu l-Qasim Qummi, teaching and writing books. Afterward he traveled to several cities including: Burujird, Nahavand and again to 'Atabat in Iraq. Then he decided to travel to India so he headed to Bandar 'Abbas, Masqat and finally to Mumbay. He has written about the cities and regions he visited in India and also about their economic, political, social and -sometimes- religious conditions. In Muharram of 1225/February 1810 he was in 'Azim Abad, India and he described "how fatuities of that city mourned". The last thing he reported from his trip to 'Azim Abad is the birth of his son Aqa 'Ali in the city. After that, he returned to Iran. There is no exact information about his life in this period. According to a report he was in Iraq in 1233/1818 and allegedly he returned to Iran after a while.
Mir'at al-Ahwal is his most important book, which its first volume was firstly published in 1412/1991. However, soon after, the complete revised text was published. The book is divided into five sections:
- Section 1: biographies of al-'Allama al-Majlisi and Wahid Bihbahani families. This section is originally considered to be an explanation, expansion and completion of a treatise written by Mirza Haydar Majlisi in 1194/1780 about Majlisi family.
- Section 2: the autobiography of the author (the report of his education and travels to different cities in Iran and Iraq). This section includes events happened before he entered Mumbai.
- Section 3: reports the events from his entrance to Mumbai and his travels to other Indian cities to 1225/1713.
- Section 4: in addition to subjects like history of foreign kings, there are information about European, American and African countries and also how Britain and East India Company ruled India.
- Afterward: contains some advice to leaders and people while mentioning some events from the late Safavid dynasty and Afsharid dynasty.
In summary, Mir'at al-Ahwal contains biographical profiles of many scholarly, political and social personalities of Iran and India in 13th/19th century, in addition to viewpoints of a Shi'a scholar encountering the modern world.
He had mentioned 18 of his works in his book Mir'at al-Ahwal. However in the introduction of the same book and also in Makarim al-Athar written by Habib Abadi other works has been attributed to him (It is probable that some of his works had more than one name). Some of his works are:
- Mahmudiyya: a gloss on Samadiyya -written by Shaykh Baha'i- which he has written at the age of 15.
- Nur al-anwar: commentary on Basmala (Bism Allah al-Rahman al-Rahim).
- Al-Durr al-gharawiyya fi usul al-ahkam al-ilahiyya.
- Risala ghut la yamut and its commentary under the title Makhzan al-ghut
- Rabi' al-azhar.
- Manahij al-ahkam fi l-qada wa l-shahada.
- Tanbih al-ghafilin.
- Tafsir Qur'an majid.
- Manhij al-fiqh.
- Commentaries on al-Mukhtasar al-nafi' written by Muhaqiq al-Hilli.
He has mentioned in Mir'at al-Ahwal that some of these works are not completed yet, and it is not known how much he completed them to the end of his life. Aqa Buzurg Tihrani has listed and described his works.
The material for this article is mainly taken from سید احمد بهبهانی in Farsi Wikishia.