Sayyid Jalal al-Din Ashtiyani

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Sayyid Jalal al-Din Ashtiyani
Personal Information
Religious AffiliationTwelver Shia
Place of BirthAshtian
ResidenceAshtian, Qom, Najaf, Mashhad
Studied inQom, Najaf
Burial PlaceHoly Shrine of Imam al-Rida (a), Mashhad
Scholarly Information
ProfessorsSayyid Husayn Burujirdi
Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i
al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Hakim
al-Sayyid 'Abd al-Hadi al-Shirazi
Sayyid Hasan Musawi Bujnirdi
Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Rafi'i Qazwini

Sayyid Jalāl al-Dīn Mīrī Āshtīyānī (Persian: سید جلال‌الدین میری آشتیانی) (b.1925-6 - d. 2005) was a professor and scholar of Islamic philosophy and mysticism who wrote and edited many books and essays in these fields. He studied philosophy and mysticism under 'Allama Tabataba'i, Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Rafi'i Qazwini and Mahdi Mazandarani Amirkulahi.After finishing study he moved to Mashhad and started teaching philosophy and mysticism in the University of Mashhad and seminaries in Mashhad for many years.

Ashtiyani wrote his works, prefaces and commentaries in Persian.


Sayyid Jalal al-Din Miri Ashtiyani was born in 1925-6 in Ashtian near Arak. He was the first child in his family. His father was a tradesman and his maternal grandfather was a Shiite clergyman in Ashtian.

When he was 5 years old, Sayyid Jalal started learning the Qur'an in Maktab (traditional elementary school). He then went to the primary school and received his certificate. He then returned to the Maktab and started learning traditional courses, such as Gulistan by Sa'di, Kalila wa Dimna, Nisab al-Sibyan, Jami' al-Muqaddamat and parts of Sharh al-Suyuti 'ala Alfiyya ibn Malikin Ashtian. He also practiced calligraphy there, using the official documents of people there as his examples. Sayyid Husayn Nasr admired Ashtiyani's handwriting. When he received his certificate in the primary school, he was offered the position of administering the Tax Office of Ashtian, but he refused the offer. With the help of his mother and the supports of Mirza Abu l-Qasim Danish Ashtiyani, he moved to Qom in 1323/1944.

Migration to Qom

In Qom, Sayyid Jalal learned the rest of Sharh al-Suyuti and Sharh al-Jami. He studied Mughni l-labib, al-Mutawwal and most parts of Sharh al-lum'a under Muhammad Saduqi Yazdi. In Baqiriyya Seminary School, he met Sayyid Mustafa Khumayni. He studied Sharh al-shamsiyya and the first volume of Kifayat al-usul under Mirza 'Abd al-Jawad Jabal 'Amili.

Mirza Mahdi Ashtiyani introduced Sayyid Jalal to Shaykh Mahdi Mazandarani Amirkulahi. Mazandarani was a student of Mirza Hasan Kirmanshahi and Mir Shahab al-Din Nayrizi in philosophy and Sayyid Muhammad Kazim Yazdi and Shaykh al-Shari'a Isfahani in fiqh. He studied Sharh al-manzuma, written by Mulla Hadi Sabziwari, al-Makasib al-muharrama, written by al-Shaykh al-Ansari, most parts of Shawariq al-ilham and some parts of al-Asfar al-arba'a under Mazandarani. In his autobiography, Sayyid Jalal Ashtiyani said that he never attended Mirza Mahdi Ashtiyani's lectures, although he discussed some philosophical and mystical problems with him.

Sayyid Jalal attended the lectures of Sayyid Husayn Tabataba'i Burujirdi in fiqh for 8 years. He also attended lectures of Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Khwansari in fiqh for one year. According to Ashtiyani, Ayatollah Burujirdi provided his expenses for 9 years, and because of his supports, he could conveniently engage in his studies.

In Najaf

Ashtiyani moved to Najaf in 1957. He stayed in Najaf for two years and studied under Sayyid Muhsin Hakim and Sayyid 'Abd al-Hadi Shirazi. He mostly attended the lectures of Mirza Hasan Bujnurdi Khurasani in Najaf. Because of illness, he left Najaf and returned to Iran.

Return to Qom

After two years of stay in Najaf, Ashtiyani went back to Qom. He attended the lectures of Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i for 8 years. He studied al-Ilahiyyat min kitab al-Shifa', property and general theologies of al-Asfar al-arba'a, usul al-fiqh and exegesis of the Qur'an under 'Allama Tabataba'i. Tabataba'i taught Kifayat al-usul with the commentaries of Muhammad Husayn Gharawi Isfahani. Ashtiyani was morally influenced by 'Allama Tabataba'i. He wrote to Sayyid Husayn Nasr as follows:

Before 'Allama Tabata'i came to Qom, we only studied fiqh and philosophy, and rarely did we care for the moral aspects of Islamic educations. He directed our attentions to the fact that, in addition to learning the books, we had to concern ourselves with purifying our souls and acquiring moral virtues.

Sayyid Jalal also attended lectures of Mirza Ahmad Ashtiyani on al-Asfar. He also stayed in Qazvin for one year, studying the psychology part of al-Asfar with Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Rafi'i Qazwini. At the request of Sayyid Jalal, Rafi'i Qazwini moved to Qom in the new year. Sayyid Mustafa Khumayni and others attended his lectures on the psychology part of al-Asfar there. He also started to teach usul al-fiqh. However, after one month, he changed his mind and returned to Qazvin. Sayyid Jalal also returned to Qazvin. Imam Khomeini had told them that it would be great if they could make Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Rafi'i Qazwini stay in Qom for at least two years. After one year of stay in Qazvin, Sayyid Jalal returned to Qom and only went to Qazvin in the summers in order to learn the rest of al-Asfar from Rafi'i Qazwini.

Teaching at the University

In 1959, Ashtiyani submitted his book, Hasti az nazar-i falsafi wa 'irfan (Existence from the viewpoint of philosophy and mysticism) to the University of Mashhad and he was admitted as a faculty member of the university. He started teaching in the department of theology and Islamic teachings of the University of Mashhad. Two years before this, he had applied to teach at the University of Tehran, but his application was rejected due to the oppositions by some professors there. In January 1960, Hasti az nazar-i falsafi wa 'irfan was published as his first book. It was welcomed by readers. Ashtiyani was unsatisfied with the circumstances of the university. In addition to teaching, he revived many unknown or unpublished philosophical and mystical books and essays. He edited tens of philosophical and mystical works by scholars in the last 4 centuries. After two years, he was promoted to associate professorship, and in November 1966, he became a full professor. He mandatorily retired in November 1996, and two years later he restarted teaching at the university as a visitor.

Teaching at the Seminary School

Sayyid Jalal Ashtiyani taught philosophy and mysticism in the seminary school from 1984 through 1997. His lectures were held first in a small mosque and then in Imam Sadiq Seminary School. He taught Ashi'at al-lumu'at written by Jami, Sharh al-manzuma, Qaysari's introduction to Fusus al-hikam, Imam Khomeini's Misbah al-hidaya, Imam Khomeini's Sharh-i du'a-yi sahar (Exposition of the Sahar Supplication), Mulla Sadra's al-Asfar, Qaysari's Sharh fusus al-hikam, Misbah al-uns and al-Shawahid al-rububiyya.


Sayyid Jalal al-Din Ashtiyani died March 23, 2005, after a period of illness. Three days later he was buried in Imam al-Rida's (a) shrine. Sayyid 'Izz al-Din Zanjani said Funeral Prayer on his corpse.


Ashtiyani spent almost 50 years of his life writing and editing Islamic philosophical and mystical works. He and Henry Corbin collected an anthology of recent philosophical works in Iran as Muntakhabati az athar-i hukama-yi Iran (Selections of work by Iranian philosophers).

Opposition to the Tafkik School

After Mirza Mahdi Isfahani's migration to Mashhad, Mashhad seminary school was dominated by an anti-philosophical and anti-mystical approach, called Tafkik School. Ashtiyani criticized Mirza Mahdi Isfahani's views and the Tafkik School. His oppositions led to his mandatory retirement. Ashtiyani's critique of al-Ghazali's Tahafut al-falasifa was a tacit criticism of the Tafkik School in Mashhad. Ashtiyani believed that Mirza Mahdi Isfahani was not able to learn philosophy and too much efforts in Sufism and mysticism had frustrated him, which was why he turned into a foe of philosophy. Ashtiyani quoted Sayyid Hadi Milani as saying that "Isfahani was disappointed by mysticism, so he exhibited hostility to philosophy."


  • In March 1998, Sayyid Jalal al-Din Ashtiyani was selected by the Iranian Academy of Sciences as the Prominent Scholar of the country.
  • One year later, his book, Sharh-i Qaysari bar Fusus al-hikam (Qaysari's exposition of Fusus al-hikam), was selected as the yearbook of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  • In 2002, he was selected as the Memorable Academic Figure of the country in the second Conference of Memorable Figures (Unforgettable Faces), and he was given the First Class Medal of the Islamic Republic of Iran by the president.