Akhlaq-i Nasiri (book)

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Akhlaq-i Nasiri
AuthorNasir al-Din al-Tusi
Original titleاخلاق ناصری
Published1332 Sh
PublisherTehran, 'Ilmi Islami
English translation
En. titleThe Nasirean Ethics
En. publisherLondon: Allen & Unwin, 1964

Akhlāq-i Nāsirī (Persian: اخلاق ناصری) is a book on practical wisdom written by Khwajih Nasir al-Din al-Tusi. This book is known as the most important treatise on practical wisdom in Islamic history. The book is divided into three parts of ethics, domestic wisdom, and politics which are discussed according to practical wisdom in Islamic philosophy. Nasir al-Din al-Tusi wrote the book for Nasir al-Din 'Abd al-Rahim al-Isma'ili but after the fall of Isma'ilis, he wrote a new introduction to the book and explained that he had written the book despite his will in order to be safe against Isma'ilis.


Khwaja Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (b. 597/1200-1 – d. 672/1273-4) was a Shiite philosopher, theologian, and mathematician of the seventh/thirteenth century. He wrote over 180 scholarly books and essays concerning a variety of issues, including Tajrid al-i'tiqad, Sharh al-isharat, Akhlaq-i muhtashami. He wrote particular essays concerning Shiism, including Risalat al-firqat al-najiya, Risala fi hasr al-haqq bi-maqalat al-imamiyya, al-Ithna 'ashariyya, and Risala fi l-imama.

Story of Writing

Nasir al-Din al-Tusi wrote this book when he was at the service of the Isma'ili ruler of Quhistan, Nasir al-Din 'Abd al-Rahim al-Isma'ili who had invited Nasir al-Din al-Tusi to join his companions and asked him to translate Abu 'Ali Miskawayh's Tahdhib al-Akhlaq to Farsi.[1]

The date for the end of writing mentioned at the end of one of the copies of Akhlaq-i Nasiri (633/1236) shows that it is the earliest of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi's works.[2]

Just before the fall of Alamut due to the Mongols' raid, when Hulagu Khan's army was around Isma'ilis' forts, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi went to him and offered him the new introduction he had written for his book.


Akhlaq-i Nasiri's structure is in agreement with the practical wisdom in the ancient philosophy in the way Islamic philosophers have considered it following the Aristotelian tradition of classification of knowledge.

In his introduction to Akhlaq-i Nasiri, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi has mentioned that Nasir al-Din 'Abd al-Rahim al-Isma'ili, the ruler of Quhistan had first asked him to translate Abu 'Ali Miskawayh's Tahdhib al-akhlaq which sufficed to Greek rational ethics to Farsi; however, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi believed that the other two fields of practical wisdom, i.e. domestic wisdom and politics were less discussed in the past and that Abu 'Ali Miskawayh had not discussed them either in his Tahdhib al-akhlaq, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi added them from philosophers of the past, especially from Abu Nasr al-Farabi to the behavioral wisdom and perfected practical theosophy.


Most of Akhlaq-i Nasiri with regards to behavioral wisdom is taken from Abu 'Ali Miskawayh's Tahdhib al-akhlaq which is the most important work in rational ethics in Islamic history. Abu 'Ali Miskawayh himself wrote his book based on the Arabic translation of Ishaq b. Hunayn from Aristotle's Nicomachean ethics and Porphyry of Tyre's commentary on it.[3] Therefore, most of the behavioral wisdom of Akhlaq-i Nasiri is based on Aristotelian and Neoplatonic ideas.

Akhlaq-i Nasiri's second part on Domestic Wisdom is adopted from the treatise Domestic Wisdom written by a new-Pythagorean author called Abruson which was translated to Arabic.[4]

The third part of Akhlaq-i Nasiri is mostly adopted from treatises Fusul al-Madani and Ara' ahl al-madinat al-fadila by al-Farabi and Avicenna's al-Siyasa.[5] This part ends with a chapter on Pluto's wills.

Therefore, Akhlaq-i Nasiri is a combination of some treatises which have been collected by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi and translated to Farsi.


By writing Akhlaq-i Nasiri, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi founded a tradition which neither had a background in Greek period nor in the Islamic period. His previous philosophers had written some general works in theoretical wisdom such as Danishnama-yi 'Ala'i in Farsi and al-Shifa' in Arabic, but Akhlaq-i Nasiri was the first work in practical wisdom and therefore, later philosophers took it as a model for practical wisdom.


In his comprehensive encyclopedia called Durrat al-taj, Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi's student, wrote a complete chapter on practical wisdom which was mostly based on Akhlaq-i Nasiri without mentioning Nasir al-Din al-Tusi's name due to a feeling of rancor for Nasir al-Din al-Tusi.[6]

Jalal al-Din Dawani, the illuminationist philosopher made a new edition on Akhlaq-i Nasiri and brought beneficial examples on simpler discussions of Akhlaq-i Nasiri from the Qur'an, hadith and previous works of Abu l-Hasan Mawardi, Muhammad al-Ghazzali and Fakhr al-Din al-Razi and omitted the chapter on "Manners of Drinking Wine".[7]

Commentaries and Summaries

Different commentaries and summaries have been written for Akhlaq-i Nasiri such as,

  • Awsaf al-ashraf, which is a summary of Akhlaq-i Nasiri and is written by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi himself.
  • Miftah al-akhlaq, which is a commentary on Akhlaq-i Nasiri and is written by 'Abd al-Rahman b. 'Abd al-Karim Burhan Puri for Aurangzeb, king of India.
  • In 1051/1642, Amir 'Ala' al-Din Husayn Amuli paraphrased and simplified Akhlaq-i Nasiri by the order of Shah Safi. A similar work was done by Abu l-Ma'ali 'Amili for Sultan 'Abd Allah Qutb Shah and the book was titled as Tawzih al-Akhlaq 'Abd Allah Shahi.[8]
  • Muhammad Sa'd Allah's Hadiqat al-lugha
  • Sayyid 'Alim Allah Jalandhari's commentary of Akhlaq-i Nasiri
  • Sayyid 'Ali Muhammad Laknui's commentary of Akhlaq-i Nasiri

English Translation

Akhlaq-i Nasiri was translated to English as The Nasirean Ethics by George Michael Wickens in London in 1964 as a part of the Persian Heritage Series. This translation was used by Buzurg Alawi in publishing the book and doing so, he added Persian to English and English to Persian glossaries to the book.


  1. Al-Tusi, Nasir al-Din, Akhlaq-i Nasiri, p.34-36
  2. Al-Tusi, Nasir al-Din, Akhlaq-i Nasiri, preface p.15-16
  3. Badawi, Muqaddama bar akhlaq Aristotle, p.27-31
  4. Al-Tusi, Nasir al-Din, Akhlaq-i Nasiri, p.82; Minawi, Muqaddama wa ta'liqat, p.384-385
  5. Minawi, Muqaddama wa ta'liqat, p.388-389
  6. Mishkat, Muqaddama bar durrat al-taj, p.43-44, 71
  7. Dawani, Akhlaq jalali
  8. Danishpazhuh, Fihrist, p.20


  • Tusi, Nasir al-Din al-. Akhlaq-i Nasiri. Tehran: 1363
  • Minawi, Mujtaba. Muqaddama wa ta'liqat bar Akhlaq-i Nasiri'.
  • Badawi, 'Abd al-Rahman, Muqaddama bar akhlaq Aristotle. Kuwait: 1979
  • Mishkat, Muhammad. Muqaddama bar durrat al-taj. Tehran: 1365
  • Dawani, Muhammad. Akhlaq jalali. Lucknow: 1318
  • Danishpazhuh, Muhammad Taqi. Fihrist Nuskhihayi khatti kitabkhani danishkadiyi adabiyyat. Tehran: 1339