Mulla Hadi Sabziwari

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Mulla Hadi Sabziwari
Personal Information
Studied inMashhad and Isfahan
DeathDhu l-Hijja 28, 1289/February 26, 1873
Burial PlaceSabzevar
Scholarly Information
ProfessorsMuhammad 'Ibrahim Karbasi, Mulla 'Isma'il Darbkushki Isfahani etc.

Mullā Hādī Sabziwārī (Arabic: ملاهادی سبزواری) (b. 1212/1797-8 - d. 1289/1873)—with the pen name "Asrar" (Mysteries or Secrets)—was a Shi'a philosopher, poet, and mystic in the Qajar era. In fact, he was the greatest Muslim philosopher of the 13th/19th century; he was born and passed away in Sabziwar. Mullla Hadi Sabziwari belongs to the fifth generation of philosophers after Mulla Sadra.

He started learning religious disciplines when he was eight years old. After studying in Mashhad and Isfahan, he returned to Mashhad and started teaching philosophy, fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), and the exegesis of the Qur'an. He sojourned in Kerman for a while, and then returned to his birthplace, Sabziwar, and taught in the Seminary School of Fasihiyya. Sabziwari was one of the greatest commentators of the Mulla Sadra's Philosophy. His best-known work is Manzuma which is a collection of verses regarding Islamic philosophy and logic.

Sabziwari never made a living from the exchequer; he made his living from his own farm and two cows.


Birth and Family

Sabziwari was born in 1212/1797-8 in Sabziwar—a city in the Khurasan province of Iran, near Mashhad. His birth date (1212/1797-8) in the alphabet of "Abjad" equals to the word "gharib" (غریب; meaning: stranger) and his death date in "Abjad" equals to "hakim" (حکیم; meaning: sage or philosopher).[1] His father, Mirza Mahdi who was known as "Tajir" (merchant)—due to his job—was a philanthropist—he built a mosque and a cistern in the "Hammam Hakim" alley in Sabziwar. Mirza Mahdi Tajir endowed a portion of his property to feed the poor Muslims. Sabziwari's mother, Zinat al-Hajiya, was a woman from a religious family in Sabziwar. Her brother built the Mosque of Hajj Muhammad Beyk in Sabziwar.[2]

Upon his return from the pilgrimage of Hajj (in Mecca), Mirza Mahdi—Sabziwari's father—died from a disease..[3] Sabziwari was then supervised and raised by his elder cousin, Hajj Mulla Husayn Sabziwari, who took him to Mashhad.

Sabziwari married three times. When his first wife died, he married another woman who (during their sojourn in Kerman) died after their return from the pilgrimage of Hajj. His third wife was the daughter of the servant of Ma'sumiyya School.[4]


Mulla Muhammad Haydaji, a pupil of Sabziwari, says that Sabziwari made a living by a pair of cows and a small farm.[5] He made his livelihood on his own—he even baked bread from the crops of his farm and made many of his foods from his pair of cows.[6]

Daily Routine in Sabziwar

As his son says, Sabziwari used to have two cups of concentrated tea from early in the morning till the sunrise, and after the breakfast, two hours after the sunrise, he used to go the Seminary School of Fasihiyya to teach. He used to teach there for about four hours a day, and then he went back home, and after saying his noon prayers, he used to have his lunch which was usually a loaf of bread with thin doogh (an Iranian yoghourt-based beverage). After the lunch and a short break, he used to take care of his livestock and farms. He used to take a walk for about half an hour before and after the dinner. Late at night, he went to his private room in the basement of his house.[7]

Nasir al-Din Shah's Visit to Sabziwari

Nasir al-Din Shah (one of the best-known kings of Qajar) once went to Sabziwari's house in Sabziwar; he sat on a mat that was used as the carpet of Sabziwari's teaching room, and asked him to write a book about the principles of religion in Farsi. After the Shah left, he sent 500 tomans to Sabziwari. Sabziwari dispensed part of the money among the students of religious disciplines and part of it to the poor.[8]

In the book, Rayhana al-'adab, Mudarris Tabrizi quotes Nasir al-Din Shah himself (indirectly with just one person mediating the quote) that when he was traveling to the Europe, he had a short stay in Tabriz. When he visited a propertied scholar of Tabriz, he told the scholar (in Turkish) that "in this travel, when I entered any city, I was welcomed by its people, but Mulla Hadi [Sabziwari] who does not know any kings or ministers did not come to visit me". Shah goes on to say that "I liked this, and I said if he does not know the Shah, the Shah knows him very well".

After making an appointment, the Shah went to visit Sabziwari with just one servant, and the visit was around noon in order for the Shah to have lunch with Sabziwari. "After some conversations," the Shah goes on to say, "I told him that God has granted me all the blessings, and I have to thank Him for each of them; to thank God for one's having knowledge is by teaching others and helping them know, and to thank Him for having money is by helping the poor. Now to thank God for having the sultanate is to meet people's needs. I ask you to request something from me in order for me to thank God for my sultanate. In spite of my insistence, Hajji [Sabziwari] told me that he does not need anything. I told him that you have a farm. Please let me exempt you from its tax, which is just a minor service to you. He rejected even this proposal with a good justification; he said that the tax book of each province is calculated with a great precision both quantitatively and qualitatively. He said if he does not give a tax for his farm, the tax calculations will fall into troubles; then the taxes have to be prorated over other people such as needy widows or orphans. He said: your majesty do not like to put some widows or orphans under pressure by exempting me from my tax. Moreover, the government has a lot of expenses that should partly be provided by people. It is an obligation for people to pay their taxes, and we people give our taxes wholeheartedly."

The Shah says: I asked for a lunch to have it together with Sabziwari. Sabziwari asked his servant to bring the lunch, and he came back with a wooden tray containing some salt, doogh, some spoons, and some loafs of bread. Hajji Sabziwari first kissed the loafs of bread (as a sign of thanking God), and then crushed some bread and poured it into the doogh. He offered the Shah a spoon, and asked him to have the food. He emphasized that the bread is halal (legitimate in terms of shari'a), because he made it from his own farms by his own work. The Shah says "I had a spoon of the food, and I found it difficult to eat. I asked Hajji to let me take some of that bread; I put it in my handkerchief and gave it to my servant as a healing for patients of the royal family".[9]

Scholarly Development

Sabziwari started learning religious disciplines when he was eight years old. He went to Mashhad when he was ten, and after 13 years of studying Islamic philosophy there, in 1236/1820-1 he went to Isfahan to learn philosophy. In Isfahan, he was a pupil of Aqa Muhammad Najafi (for two years in fiqh), Mulla Isma'il Darb Kushki Isfahani (for five years in philosophy), and Mulla 'Ali Nuri (for three years in philosophy). After eight years of studying in Isfahan, he returned to Mashhad and started teaching in Hajj Hasan Seminary School. Five years later he went to Hajj with his wife. Upon his return, his wife died. After that, he anonymously worked as the servant of Ma'sumiyya School in Kerman for about three years as a sort of austerity. Finally he returned to Mashhad and Sabziwar, and started teaching and writing philosophy for the second 40 years of his life.[10]

Though Sabziwari had no independent school of thought in Islamic philosophy and mostly commented on the philosophical theories of Mulla 'Abd al-Razzaq Lahiji and Mulla Sadra, his Manzuma—one of his greatest works—is the most comprehensive work in Islamic philosophy and logic.

Muhammad Iqbal Lahuri writes about him that "Sabziwari" is the greatest Iranian contemporary thinker. Sabziwari's philosophy is, like that of his predecessors', strongly intertwined with his religion".[11] Professor Toshihiko Izutsu writes that "Hajji Mulla Hadi Sabziwari is a thinker with the well-known book of Manzuma and its exposition. Everyone agrees that he was the greatest Iranian philosopher of the 19th century. Notwithstanding, he was also the greatest mystic in his time".[12]

Some Disagreements with Sadra and Ibn Sina

With regard to some problems, Sabziwari opposed to Sadra's view and adopted a different theory; for example, in God's knowledge of his own essence, the incidence (huduth) of the world of 'amr (the spiritual world), the distinction of motion with setting into motion, taking some sorts of knowledge to be substances and event necessary beings, and the belief in both physical and spiritual resurrection. He also disagrees with Ibn Sina with respect to the perception of the universals.[13]


An exposition of the well-known dua of al-jawshan al-kabir
  • Manzuma and Sharh al-manzuma (the exposition of Manzuma) in philosophy.
  • Asrar al-hikam
  • Asrar al-'ibada
  • Usul al-din
  • Al-Jabr wa al-'ikhtiyar
  • A commentary on Mulla Sadra's al-Asfar
  • A commentary on Shaykh Baha'i's Zubdat al-'usul
  • A commentary on Sadra's al-shawahid al-rububiyya
  • A commentary on Sadra's Al-mabda' wa al-ma'ad
  • A commentary on Sadra's Mafatih al-ghayb
  • A commentary on Suyuti's exposition of 'Ibn Malik
  • A commentary on Shawariq al-ilham by Mulla 'Abd al-Razzaq, in philosophy
  • Hidayat al-talibin in kalam (Islamic theology)
  • Al-nibras fi 'asrar al-'asas, in fiqh.
  • Sharh-i du'a-i al-sabah (an exposition of al-sabah prayer)
  • Al-miqyas in fiqh
  • An exposition of Rumi's Mathnawi
  • Sharh al-'asma (an exposition of the well-known prayer of al-jawshan al-kabir)
  • A collection of Persian and Arabic essays
  • Diwan of his poems in Farsi
  • Rahiq, on the discipline of oratory (badi')
  • Rah 'afrah, on the discipline of oratory
  • Muhakimat, a rejection of the views of Shaykhiyya [14]



Sabziwari's courses in philosophy took seven years; Sabziwari regarded his students as graduates in philosophy when they attended his classes for seven years, and then he would start another course for new students.[16] The students were admitted into his philosophy courses if they had first learned some prerequisites such as Arabic grammar, logic, mathematics, fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and kalam (Islamic theology). The students had to first be examined in these disciplines in order to be admitted to Sabziwari's courses.[17]

Here are some of his students:


Tomb of Mulla Hadi Sabziwari in Sabziwar, Iran.

Sabziwari passed away three hours before the sunset on Dhu l-Hijja 28, 1289/February 26, 1873 at the age of 77. After his funeral, he was buried outside the gate of Sabziwar (today known as Zand Square).[19]

The building of Asrar's tomb is now located in the southern part of the Karigar Square of Sabziwar. The inside of the tomb contains a cruciform schema with some chambers. The ornaments and the restorations of the tomb were carried out in 1380/1960 by the Society for the National Works (today known as the Society for the Appreciation of Cultural works and Dignitaries). The building is very brilliant by its colorful tiles on its azure background with its turquoise dome. The first building of Sabziwari's tomb was constructed by Mirza Yusuf Mustawfi l-Malik.


People of Sabziwar have built Sabziwari's sculpture in Bagh Milli Square of the city. They have also held two conferences about him in 1993 and 2007.

The Tribute to Sabziwari

The Conference for the Tribute to Sabziwari was held on Thursday, April 22, 1993 in Sabziwar for three days. One hundred thirty papers were submitted to this conference, twenty-seven of which were selected. The conference began with a message from Ayatollah Khamenei read by Muhammad Muhammadi Gulpayigani. Sayyid Hasan 'Alam al-Huda'i was the chair of the conference, Ahmad Vahid was the secretary of the conference, and Ghulam Rida A'wani was the head of the scientific committee of the conference. The speakers of the first day of the conference were Muhammad Taqi Ja'fari,Musawi Ardabili, Sayyid Ja'far Sajjadi and Sayyid Mustafa Muhaqqiq Damad; the speakers of the second day were Muhammad Legenhausen, Ghulam Husayn Ibrahimi Dinani, Ahmad Ahmadi, and Ghulam Rida A'wani. In the third day, the message of Sabziwari's family was read by Mahmud Asrari (Sabziwari's grandson), and then there was a discussion panel by A'wani, Dinani, Vahid Akhtar, Dihbashi, Sa'ini, and Rahmani.[20]

Rumi and Sabziwari

On November 19, 2007, a conference was held by the Faculty of Literature and Humanities in Tarbiat-i Mu'allim University of Sabziwar under "Rumi and Sabziwari". The year 2007 was named by UNESCO as the International Year of Rumi (Mawlana ). The conference was held because Sabziwari was a commentator on Rumi's Mathnawi.[21]


  1. Ghadiha, "Haj mulla Hadi Sabziwari az nigah wa ghalam-i Nasir al-din shah",p.35.
  2. Qurayshi Sabziwari, Haj mulla Hadi Sabziwari hakim-i farzani, p.11-12.
  3. Qurayshi Sabziwari, Haj mulla Hadi Sabziwari hakim-i farzani, p.14.
  4. See: Qurayshi Sabziwari, Haj mulla Hadi Sabziwari hakim-i farzani, p.19; Ghadiha, "Haj mulla Hadi Sabziwari az nigah wa ghalam-i Nasir al-din shah", p.35.
  5. Mudarris, Rayhana al-'adab, vol.2, p.423.
  6. Qurayshi Sabziwari, Haj mulla Hadi Sabziwari hakim-i farzani, p.25.
  7. Qurayshi Sabziwari, Haj mulla Hadi Sabziwari hakim-i farzani, p.26-27.
  8. Mudarris, Rayhana al-'adab, vol.2, p.424.
  9. Mudarris, Rayhana al-adab, vol.2, p.424-425.
  10. Amin , "Mulla Hadi Sabziwari", vol.9, p.71.
  11. Qurayshi Sabziwari, Haj mulla Hadi Sabziwari hakim-i farzani, p.46.
  12. Qurayshi Sabziwari, Haj mulla Hadi Sabziwari hakim-i farzani, p.46.
  13. See:Amin , "Mulla Hadi Sabziwari", vol.9, p.72.
  14. See: Qurayshi Sabziwari, Haj mulla Hadi Sabziwari hakim-i farzani, p.48-60.
  15. Qurayshi Sabziwari, Haj mulla Hadi Sabziwari hakim-i farzani, p.48-60.
  16. Ghadiha, "Haj mulla Hadi Sabziwari az nigah wa ghalam-i Nasir al-din shah", p.34.
  17. Ghadiha, "Haj mulla Hadi Sabziwari az nigah wa ghalam-i Nasir al-din shah", p.34
  18. See: Qurayshi Sabziwari, Haj mulla Hadi Sabziwari hakim-i farzani, p.67-75.
  19. Qurayshi Sabziwari, Haj mulla Hadi Sabziwari hakim-i farzani, p.91-92.
  20. Muhammadi, "Riwayati digar", p.201-212.
  21. "Farakhan-i hamayish-i Mawlana wa hakim Sabziwari", p.112.


  • "Farakhan-i hamayish-i Mawlana wa hakim Sabziwari". Kitab-i mah-i adabiyat 2:112.1386Sh.
  • Amin, sayyid Hasan. "Mulla Hadi Sabziwari". Dayira al-ma'arif tashayyu' . Edited by Ahmad Sadr, Kamran Fani, Baha' al-din Khurramshahi.Tehran: Hikmat,1390Sh.
  • Ghadiha, Fatima. "Haj mulla Hadi Sabziwari az nigah wa ghalam-i Nasir al-din shah". Ittila' risani wa kitabdari 44:32-43.1380Sh.
  • Mudarris, Muhammad Ali. Rayhana al-'adab fi tarajim al-ma'rufin bi-lkonya aw al-laqab. Tehran:Kitabfurushi Khayyam,1369Sh.
  • Muhammadi, Javad. "Riwayati digar:gozarishi az kongir-yi buzurgdasht-i hakim Sabziwari". Danishgah-i inqilab 98-99:201-212.1373Sh.
  • Qurayshi Sabziwari, sayyid Husayn. Haj mulla Hadi Sabziwari hakim-i farzani. Tehran:Markaz-i Chap wa Nashr-i Sazman-i Tablighat-i Islami, 1372Sh.