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Nasir al-Din al-Tusi

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Personal Information
Full Name Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Hasan al-Tusi
Well-Known As Khwajih Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
Birth 597/1201
Residence Tus
Studied in Tus, Nishapur
Death 672/1274
Burial Place Shrine of Kazimayn, Kadhimiyya
Scholarly Information
Works Asas al-iqtibas, Tajrid al-i'tiqad, Sharh al-Isharat, Akhlaq-i Nasiri, Awsaf al-ashraf, ...
Scholarly
Activities
Establishment of the library and observatory of Maragheh

Muḥammad b. Ḥasan al-Jahrūdī al-Tūsī (Arabic: محمد بن حسن الجهرودي الطوسي) (b. 597/1201 – d. 672/1274), known famously as Nasir al-Din al-Tusi or Khwaja Nasir (Farsi: خواجه نصیر), is one of the most influential figures in the history of Islamic thought and one of the most important Twelver Shi'a philosophers, scientists, and theologians. He was the founder of Maragheh observatory and a library with over 400,000 books.

Some of his important works are Akhlaq-i Nasiri, Awsaf al-ashraf, Asas al-iqtibas, Sharh al-isharat, Tajrid al-i'tiqad, Jami' al-hisab, Zij-i Ilkhani, Tadhkirat fi ilm al-hay'a.

Nasir al-Din al-Tusi is considered as the renovator of philosophy in Shia theology. Some of great Shia scholars who were his students are al-Allama al-Hilli, Ibn Maytham al-Bahrani, and Qutb al-Din al-Razi.

Birth and Education

Nasir al-Din was born on Jumada I 11, 597/February 17, 1201 in Tus and grew there. Thus, he came to be known as "al-Tusi".[1] He was originally from Jahrud near Qom in a district called "Veshareh".[citation needed]

Nasir al-Din studied the Qur'an, sarf (conjugation of words), nahw (Arabic syntax), and literature when he was a child. Under his father's instructions, he studied mathematics with Kamal al-Din Muhammad. He learned fiqh, hadith, and usul al-fiqh under his father and grandfather who were among the scholars of their time.[2] His other teacher was his uncle Nur al-Din 'Ali b. Muhammad al-Shi'i in logic and philosophy.[3]

After his father's death, he went to every place where there was a competent teacher. Thus, he went to Nishapur which was a center of scholars.[4] and studied Isharat of Avicenna with Farid al-Din Damad and Avicenna's the Cannon with Qutb al-Din al-Misri;[5] and attended classes of Siraj al-Din al-Qamari, Abu l-Sa'adat al-Isfahani, and others.[citation needed] He also met Farid al-Din al-'Attar in the city.[6]

Presence in Isma'ili Forts

After the Mongols launched their first attacks to Khorasan under the leadership of Genghis Khan. Nasir al-Din al-Tusi wandered between differrent cities before going to Qohestan by the invitation of Muhtasham Nasir al-Din 'Abd al-Rahim b. Abi Mansur, the commander of the Isma'ili forts. In this period, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi translated a book by Abu 'Ali Miskawayh al-Razi into Farsi, he added comments on the book and called it Akhlaq-i Nasiri (Nasiri ethics) after the name of Nasir al-Din. The writing the book was between 630/1232-33 to 632/1234-35.[7] He also wrote a book concerning astronomy and called it al-Risala al-Mu'iniyya after Mu'in al-Din b. Muhtasham Nasir al-Din.[8]

The only resistance force against the Mongol conquest were Isma'ili forts. While cities of Khorasan and Nishapur were fully destroyed by the Mongols, the Isma'ili forts resisted for many years and did not surrender.[9]

The leader of Isma'ilis, 'Ala' al-Din Muhammad, heard about Nasir al-Din al-Tusi's great scholarly service for Muhtasham Nasir al-Din, and thus, he asked Nasir al-Din al-Tusi to join him. He had to accept the request and, thus, he and Muhtasham Nasir al-Din went to him in the Maymun Duz Fort. He was warmly welcomed by the leader of Isma'ilis. After a while, the leader was killed by one of his guards, and his son, Rukn al-Din Khwarezm Shah succeeded him. Nasir al-Din al-Tusi stayed in the Alamut Fort until Rukn al-Din surrendered to the Moguls in their second conquest.[10]

Some historians believe that Nasir al-Din did not stay in Isma'ili forts at his own will; rather he was forced to do so.[11] Some people, such as Aqsara'i in Musamara al-akhbar maintain that Nasir al-Din was a prime minister for the Isma'ili government. He was so admired there that he was called the "Master of the Universe".[12] Thus, the story of force and prison is ruled out by this account. People who claim that Nasir al-Din was forced to join the Isma'ilis and was imprisoned in their forts appeal to his complaints at the end of his Sharh al-isharat about his life and time.[13]

Service for Hulagu Khan

After the surrender of Isma'ili forts in the second Mogul conquest, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi joined Hulagu Khan, as Hulagu Khan was aware of his scholarly and intellectual significance.[14]

Nasir al-Din al-Tusi had to join Hulagu Khan. Thus, he decided to benefit from his place to protect the Islamic heritage which was on the verge of destruction. His plans were so effective that a government which had launched attacks to eradicate Islam converted to Islam at the end, and the successors of Genghis Khan and Hulagu Khan turned into Muslim kings.[15]

Scholarly Position

Nasir al-Din al-Tusi's character is distinguished by his ability to control Mongol warriors, protect the work of Muslim scholars, and advance the cause of an Islamic civilization. He is said to be Ibn Sina's peer in scholarship, except that Ibn Sina mastered medicine the most, and al-Tusi mastered mathematics the most. His scholarly contributions include his defense of the Islamic Peripatetic philosophy and the transformation of the Shiite kalam into a philosophical kalam. All subsequent works of kalam were influenced by his Tajrid al-i'tiqad.

Just like Ibn Sina, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi was involved in politics, but against his own will. Hulagu Khan's awareness of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi's scholarly position led to the Khan's decision not to kill him in the Isma'ili fort and to keep him as his companion. The conversion of Mongol kings to Islam was inspired by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi's presence at their palace, and a special event in his life was his accompaniment of Hulagu Khan in the Conquest of Baghdad. Today, some Sunni scholars condemn the fall of the Sunni government in Baghdad and blame Nasir al-Din al-Tusi for his accompaniment of the Khan in the conquest.

Accomplishments

Maragheh Observatory

Nasir al-Din al-Tusi is pictured at his writing desk at the Observatory of Maragheh.

Nasir al-Din al-Tusi suggested the construction of Maragheh Observatory to Hulagu Khan.

It seems that for Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, it was a priority to save lives of scholars and protect manuscripts of libraries. Nasir al-Din al-Tusi founded Maragheh Observatory where many scholars of the time could reside and be immune from murder. He also made a great deal of effort to collect and protect a lot of manuscripts.[16]

Construction of the observatory started in 657/1258[17] and Nasir al-Din al-Tusi was engaged in it for the rest of his life. The zij obtained from this observatory came to be called "Zij-i Ilkhani".[18]

Maragheh Library

One of Nasir al-Din Tusi's significant activities was the establishment of a great library in the city of Maragheh in addition to the Observatory. Upon the command of Hulagu, many valuable and scientific books which had been plundered from Baghdad, Damascus, Mosul, and Khurasan were brought to the library.[19]

Also, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi himself tried to collect valuable and useful books for the library,[20] some historians believe there had gathered some 400,000 books in Maragheh Library.[21]

Belief

Certainly Nasir al-Din al-Tusi was a Shi'a, and in many of his apologetic books (like Tajrid al-i'tiqad) he explicitly mentions the necessity of belief in twelve Imams (a) and their infallibility.[22] Al-Firqat al-najiya (the survived sect), Risalat fi hasr al-haq bi-maqalat al-Imamaiyya (treatise on right being exclusively in accordance with Imamiyya belief), al-Ithna 'ashariya (the Twelvers) and Risalat fi l-Imama(treatise on Imamate) are writings dedicated specifically to Shi'a-Imamiyya beliefs.[23]

Commemorative stamp of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi.

Students

Prominent students of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi include:

  • Ibn Maytham al-Bahrani, the author of a well-known commentary on Nahj al-balagha. He was a philosopher, a theologian, and a faqih. He was Nasir al-Din al-Tusi's student in philosophy, and his teacher in fiqh.[25]
  • Kamal al-Din 'Abd al-Razzaq al-Shaybani al-Baghdadi (642/1244-45 - 723/1323): he was Hanbali and known as Ibn al-Fuwati.[27]

Works

Among his many -more than 184- writings in ethics, logic, philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy are:[28]

  • Akhlaq-i Nasiri (Nasiri ethics)
  • Awsaf al-ashraf (the traits of the nobles)
  • Asas al-iqtibas (the foundation for derivation)
  • Sharh al-isharat (the commentary on al-Isharat)
  • Tajrid al-i'tiqad (abstraction of the belief)
  • Jami' al-hisab (the summa of mathematics)
  • Zij-i ilkhani (the Ilkhanid table)
  • Tadhkira fi l-'ilm al-hay'a (reminder in astronomy)

Death

Accompanied by his students, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi traveled to Baghdad in 672/1274 to collect the remaining of plundered books, but he could not complete this mission and passed away on Dhu l-Hijja 18, 672/June 25, 1274 in Baghdad, and according to his will he was buried in the Shrine of Kazimayn, Kadhimiya.[29] According to his will, his political and scholarly position was not mentioned on his grave stone, rather, a part of the 18th verse of Qur'an 18 was written on his grave stone, "and their dog [lies] stretching its forelegs at the threshold".[30]

Notes

  1. Niʿma, ʿAbd Allāh, Falāsifat al-Shīʿa, 1987, p. 535
  2. Amin, al-Ismāʿīlīyyun wa l-Mughul wa Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsī, 2005, p. 16-20
  3. Amin, al-Ismāʿīlīyyun wa l-Mughul wa Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsī, 2005, p. 20
  4. Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, 1986, vol. 9, p. 415
  5. Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī, Tansūkhnama-yi Īlkhānī, 1363 Sh, p. 15
  6. Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, 1986, vol. 9, p. 415
  7. Mudarrisī Raḍawī, Aḥwāl wa āthār-i Khwāja Naṣīr al-Dīn, 1354 Sh, p. 9
  8. Mudarrisī Raḍawī, Aḥwāl wa āthār-i Khwāja Naṣīr al-Dīn, 1354 Sh, p. 9
  9. Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, 1986, vol. 9, p. 415
  10. Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, 1986, vol. 9, p. 415
  11. See: "Khwāja Naṣīr al-Dīn-i Ṭūsī wa naqsh-i ū dar gustarish-i Tashayyuʿ wa ḥifẓ-i āthār-i Islāmī", p. 71
  12. Aqsarāʾī, Musāmarat al-akhbār, 1362 Sh, p. 47
  13. Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, 1986, vol. 9, p. 415-416
  14. Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, 1986, vol. 9, p. 416
  15. Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, 1986, vol. 9, p. 416-417
  16. Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, 1986, vol. 9, p. 416-417
  17. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, 1997, vol. 17, p. 384
  18. Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, 1986, vol. 9, p. 417
  19. Mudarrisī Raḍawī, Aḥwāl wa āthār-i Khwāja Naṣīr al-Dīn, 1354 Sh, p. 50
  20. Mudarrisī Raḍawī, Aḥwāl wa āthār-i Khwāja Naṣīr al-Dīn, 1354 Sh, p. 50
  21. Kutubī, Fawāt al-wafayāt, 1974, vol. 3, p. 264-252; Zaydān, Tārīkh al-tamaddun al-Islāmī, 1914, vol. 3, p. 214
  22. Tūsī, Tajrīd al-iʿtiqād, 1407 AH, p. 293
  23. Niʿma, ʿAbd Allāh, Falāsifat al-Shīʿa, 1987, p. 534
  24. Mudarrisī Raḍawī, Aḥwāl wa āthār-i Khwāja Naṣīr al-Dīn, 1354 Sh, p. 238
  25. Khwānsārī, Rawḍāt al-jannāt, 1390 AH, vol. 6, p. 302
  26. Mudarrisī Raḍawī, Aḥwāl wa āthār-i Khwāja Naṣīr al-Dīn, 1354 Sh, p. 241-242
  27. Mudarrisī Raḍawī, Aḥwāl wa āthār-i Khwāja Naṣīr al-Dīn, 1354 Sh, p. 252-257
  28. Farhāt, Andīshahā-yi falsafī wa kalāmī-yi Khwāja Naṣīr al-Dīn-i Ṭūsī, 1389 Sh, p. 71
  29. Niʿma, ʿAbd Allāh, Falāsifat al-Shīʿa, 1987, p. 531; Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, 1986, vol. 9, p. 418; Ibn Kathir has mentioned the date as Dhu l-Hijja 12 (Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, 1997, vol. 17, p. 514)
  30. ʿAzīzī, Faḍāʾil wa sīra-yi chāhārdah maʿsūm dar athār-i ustād ʿAllāma Ḥasanzāda-yi Āmulī, 1381Sh, p. 402

References

  • Amīn, Ḥasan al-. Al-Ismāʿīlīyyūn wa l-Mughul wa Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsī. Qom, Muʾassisat Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif al-Fiqh al-Islāmī, 2005.
  • Amīn, al-Sayyid Muḥsin al-. Aʿyān al-Shīʿa. Ed. Ḥasan al-Amīn. Beirut, Dār al-Taʿāruf, 1986.
  • Aqsarāʾī, Maḥmūd b. Maḥmūd al-. Musāmarat al-akhbār. Tehran, Asāṭīr, 1362 Sh.
  • ʿAzīzī, Faḍāʾil wa sīra-yi chāhārdah maʿsūm dar athār-i ustād ʿAllāma Ḥasanzāda-yi Āmulī, 1381Sh, p. 402
  • Farhāt, Hānī. Andīshahā-yi falsafī wa kalāmī-yi Khwāja Naṣīr al-Dīn-i Ṭūsī. Translated by Ghulāmriḍā Jamshīdnijhād. Tehran, Markaz-i Pazhūhishī-yi Mīrāth-i Maktūb, 1389 Sh.
  • Ibn Kathīr, Ismāʿīl b. ʿUmar. Al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya. Ed. ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbd al-Muḥsin al-Turkī. Egypt, Hijr li-l-ṭibāʿat wa l-Nashr wa l-Tawzīʿ wa l-Iʿlān, 1997.
  • Khwānsārī, Muḥammad Bāqir. Rawḍāt al-jannāt. Qom, Dihāqānī (Ismāʿīlīyān), 1390 AH.
  • Kutubī, Muḥammad b. Shākir. Fawāt al-wafayāt. Ed. Iḥsān ʿAbbās. Beirut, 1974.
  • Mudarrisī Raḍawī, Muḥamamd Taqī. Aḥwāl wa āthār-i Khwāja Naṣīr al-Dīn. Tehran, Bunyād-i Farhang-i Irān, 1354 Sh.
  • Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī, Muḥammad b. Muḥamamd. Tansūkhnama-yi Īlkhānī. Ed. Muḥammad Taqī Mudarris Raḍawī. Tehran, Iṭṭilāʿāt, 1363 Sh.
  • Niʿma, ʿAbd Allāh. Falāsifat al-Shīʿa ḥayātuhum wa ārāʾuhum. Beirut, Dār al-Fikr al-Lubnānī, 1987.
  • Amīn, Sayyid Ḥasan. "Khwāja Naṣīr al-Dīn-i Ṭūsī wa naqsh-i ū dar gustarish-i Tashayyuʿ wa ḥifẓ-i āthār-i Islāmī". Translated by Mahdī Zandīya. Journal of Shīʿashināsī, no. 5, spring 1383 Sh.
  • Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī, Muḥammad b. Muḥamamd. Tajrīd al-iʿtiqād. Ed. Muḥammad Jawād Ḥusaynī Jalālī. Tehran, Maktab al-Iʿlām al-Islāmī, 1407 AH.
  • Zaydān, Jurjī. Tārīkh al-tamaddun al-Islāmī. Egypt, 1914.