Theologian and philosopher (and poet under the pen name FAYYĀŻ, 11th/17th century).


ʿABD-AL-RAZZĀQ B. ʿALĪ B. AL-ḤOSAYN LĀHĪJĪ, 11th/17th-century theologian and philosopher (and poet under the pen name FAYYĀŻ). Little is known about his life; he came from Lāhīǰān but lived most of his later life in Qom. His teacher in philosophy was Mollā Ṣadrā Šīrāzī (d. 1050/1641). In his works Lāhīǰī frequently refers to him in laudatory terms as our teacher (ostāḏonā), and his dīvān contains several eulogies of him. He does not mention any other teacher. In one poem he praises Mīr Dāmād (d. 1040/1630), stating that his thought had been an inspiration, but it seems unlikely that Lāhīǰī studied with him, at least for any prolonged period.

Lāhīǰī was intimately associated with Mollā Ṣadrā for many years. In a poem composed in Kāšān, he mentions having been Mollā Ṣadrā’s student in this town before the latter departed for Isfahan and expresses his wish to join him there. He evidently did study with him in Isfahan for some time. It seems likely that he was also associated with Mollā Ṣadrā during the latter’s seclusion near Qom (said to have lasted fifteen years). For, already prior to his teacher’s death, he mentions in a poem having lived in Qom for over twenty years. On the other hand, there is no evidence that he was with Mollā Ṣadrā during the latter’s stay in Shiraz, where he taught for some years before his death. Lāhīǰī married one of the daughters of his teacher. There seems to have been some rivalry between him and the other son-in-law student of Ṣadrā, Mollā Moḥsen Fayż, whose philosophical outlook greatly differed from his own. Both are said to have been given their pen names, Fayyāż and Fayż, by their father-in-law. In Qom Lāhīǰī taught at the Madrasa-ye Maʿṣūma. Among his students were Qāżī Saʿīd Qomī and his own son Mīrzā Ḥasan (d. 1121/1709), author of several religious books. A second son, Ebrāhīm, is known to have written a work al-Qawāʿed al-ḥekmīya wa’l-kalāmīya. Other data about Lāhīǰī’s life can be gleaned from his dīvān. He had friendly relations with the learned Sayyed Mīrzā Ḥabīballāh b. al-Ḥosayn al-Mūsavī al-Karakī, ṣadr under Shah Ṣafī I (1038-52/1629-42) and Shah ʿAbbās II (1052-77/1642-66) until his death ca. 1060/1650. Lāhīǰī congratulated him on his appointment as ṣadr and later addressed several panegyrics to him. He was also acquainted with Mīrzā Ṭāleb Khan Nāṣerī Ordūbādī (d. 1044/1634-35), whom he congratulated in a poem on his appointment as vizier by Shah Ṣafī. Several panegyrics in his dīvān are addressed to Shah Ṣafī. In one of them he mentions that he had dedicated books, treatises, and poems to him. He composed some eulogies for Shah ʿAbbās II, to whom he also dedicated his Gawhar-e morād. It seems, however, that he soon fell out of favor under the reign of the latter shah, while Mollā Moḥsen and Qāżī Saʿīd Qomī gained public prominence. Some poems in which he reproaches a former student for his ingratitude after rising to high position may well be addressed to Qāżī Saʿīd. The poet Ṣāʾeb Tabrīzī during his visit to Qom established ties of friendship with Lāhīǰī (see Dīvān-e Ṣāʾeb, ed. Amīrī Fīrūzkūhī, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966, p. 40). It is uncertain when Lāhīǰī died. The date given by Ḵᵛānsārī, 1051/1641-42, is too early, since he was still alive after the accession of Shah ʿAbbās II. The date given by Šams-al-dīn Sāmī (Qāmūs al-aʿlām, Istanbul, 1314/1896, V, p. 3458), namely 1072/1661-62, may be accurate; but its source is unknown.

Works. The following of his books have been published: 1. Gawhar-e morād (Tehran, 1271/1885) in Persian, a detailed exposition of his theology, dedicated to Shah ʿAbbās II. It deals with all major subjects usually treated in Shiʿite kalām works: ontology, theology, prophecy, imamate and the hereafter. 2. Sarmāya-ye īmān (publ. by Mīrzā Moḥammad Šīrāzī, Bombay, n.d.), also in Persian, a shorter and more elementary exposition, mostly of the same subjects as in Gawhar-e morād. It was written at the request of a friend who had seen the author’s copy of the latter work before its publication, and was intended for the use of beginning students. 3. Šawāreq al-elhām, in Arabic, a detailed commentary upon Taǰrīd al-ʿaqāʾed, a kalām work by Naṣīr-al-dīn Ṭūsī widely used as the most advanced compendium on scholastic theology. Lāhīǰī quotes and discusses the previous commentaries on this work by Ebn Moṭahhar Ḥellī, Šams-al-dīn Eṣfahānī, and Qūšǰī, as well as the glosses (ḥavāšī) on the latter commentary by Davānī and Ṣadr-al-dīn Daštakī, the Šarḥ al-mawāqef of Šarīf Jorǰānī, and the Šarḥ al-maqāṣed of Taftāzānī. The work was composed before Gawhar-e morād (where he refers to it) and was presumably used in his teaching. In final form it contains references to Gawhar-e morād. As published, the text breaks off abruptly in the discussion of the divine speech (kalām) after covering about two-thirds of the text of Ṭūsī in two large volumes. It is uncertain if the remainder of the commentary was left incomplete by the author or was later lost. Various lithographed editions have been published in Tehran (e.g., 1311/1893-94).

The following works are known to be extant in manuscript: 4. Ḥawāšī ʿalā mabāḥeṯ ǰawāher al-šarḥ al-ǰadīd li’l-tarǰīd, glosses on the chapters on substances in the commentary of Qūšǰī on Ṭūsī’s Tarǰīd al-ʿaqāʾed. In the introduction Lāhīǰī states that he is abridging a larger commentary he had written previously. 5. Taʿlīqāt ʿalā al-ḥawāšī al-ḵafarīya ʿalā šarḥ elāhīyāt al-tarǰīd, comments on the glosses of Šams-al-dīn Ḵafarī on Qūšǰī’s commentary on the theology section of the Tarǰīd al-ʿaqāʾed. 6. Ḥāšīa ʿalā šarḥ al-ešārāt, a commentary on Ṭūsī’s commentary on the Ketāb al-ešārāt of Ebn Sīnā. Lāhīǰī takes a critical position toward the Ketāb al-moḥākamāt of Qoṭb-al-dīn Rāzī (d. 766/1365), who offered to arbitrate between the critical commentary of Faḵr-al-dīn Rāzī on Ketāb al-ešārāt and its refutation by Ṭūsī in his own commentary. 7. Ḥāšīa ʿalā ḥašīyat ʿAbdallāh al-Yazdī ʿalā tahḏīb al-manṭeq, a commentary on the commentary of ʿAbdallāh Yazdī on the tahḏīb al-manṭeq of Taftāzānī. 8. Tašrīqāt, containing three treatises in Persian on divine unity, justice and love. 9. Dīvān of his Persian poetry.

Also ascribed to him are the following works, of which no manuscripts have been found: 10. Šarḥ al-hayākel fī ḥekmat al-ešrāq, a commentary on Sohravardī’s Ḥekmat al-ešrāq. 11. Resāla fī ḥodūṯ al-ʿālam, on the origination of the world. 12. Al-Kalemat al-ṭayyeba, mentioned by himself, in which he arbitrated between the doctrines of Mīr Dāmād and Mollā Ṣadrā concerning the primacy of essence or existence and other matters. 13. Mašāreq al-elhām fī šarḥ tarǰīd al-kalām. According to the author of Rīāż al-ʿolamāʾ this commentary on Ṭūsī’s Tarǰīd is not identical with the Šawāreq al-elhām and also remained incomplete. 14. A commentary (šarḥ) on the Foṣūṣ al-ḥekam of Ebn al-ʿArabī (Reżā-qolī Hedāyat, Taḏkera-ye Rīāż al-ʿārefīn, ed. Mehr-ʿAlī Gorgānī, Tehran, 1344 Š./1965, pp. 382f.).

Doctrine. Lāhīǰī stands at the end of a development in Islamic scholastic theology in which the thought system of kalām was gradually replaced by that of falsafa, especially that of the school of Ebn Sīnā. Although Lāhīǰī deals in his theological works with the subjects traditionally discussed in kalām, he invariably supports the doctrine of the philosophers against that of the kalām theologians, except in the samʿīyāt matters which are based on tradition rather than reason and thus are excluded from philosophical investigation. He maintains that kalām is essentially based on the Koran and the Sunna, while falsafa or ḥekma is based on pure reason. Kalām therefore does not transcend the level of dialectics (ǰadal), while only falsafa can offer true proofs (borhān). Among the kalām theologians, the Moʿtazela were closer to the truth than the Ašʿarīya, because the former sought to learn from the philosophers, while the latter stubbornly opposed them. The teaching of the Emāmīya, based upon the statements of the Imams, agrees mostly with the views of the philosophers. Its agreement with the doctrine of the Moʿtazela is due to the fact that the latter borrowed from falsafa, not that the Emāmīya took their doctrine from the Moʿtazela. Lāhīǰī’s adoption of philosophical doctrine thus goes far beyond that of Naṣīr-al-dīn Ṭūsī and includes theses considered particularly heretical by the kalām theologians, e.g., the existence of separate intelligences and celestial souls, the denial of the temporal creation of the world, the constitution of bodies out of matter and form, God’s being the necessitating cause (ʿella mūǰeba) of the world rather than its arbitrary creator, and His being the immediate source of only a single being, the Universal Intellect. He affirms that there can not be any conflict between religious truth and reason. Any thesis derived from religious texts which apparently contradicts a truth established by rational proof must be interpreted so as to remove the disagreement. If this is not possible, it indicates a defect in the rational argument. If the point at issue is one upon which the rational proof of the validity of the revealed religion (šaṛʿ) rests, the argument must definitely be faulty, but in this case there never could be a consensus among the scholars concerning it. This is the case with the thesis of some philosophers denying God’s knowledge of particulars. If the point does not affect the proof of the validity of revealed religion, it may merely indicate that reason is intrinsically unable to resolve the question. This is the case in the question of the eternity of the world. Reason is unable to proof either the finitude or the infinitude of the temporal existence of the world. The temporal finitude of the world is known merely by the consensus of the prophets and men of religion. The finitude does not imply, however, the temporal priority of God, as the kalām theologians teach; for there was no time before the existence of the world. The world’s time, just like its space, is limited by absolute nothingness. God’s priority in respect to the world is not temporal but essential (ḏātī), that of the cause in respect to its effect, as the philosophers maintain.

On the question of predetermination versus human free will, Lāhīǰī, quoting a well-known statement of Imam Jaʿfar, espouses a position between coercion (ǰabr) and empowerment (tafvīż). The doctrine of coercion he identifies with the Asḥʿarite doctrine denying any choice (eḵtīār) to man in his acts. The thesis of empowerment is asserted by the Moʿtazela, who hold that man is the sole cause of his acts, independently of the will of God. The intermediate position is upheld by the philosophers and the Emāmīya, who affirm that man has a free choice, which is, however, embedded in the chain of cause and effect originating in God. Everything that occurs in the world is thus determined by God’s will and providence (ʿenāya), which unconditionally agrees with man’s best interest. Evil occurs by necessity, but merely accidentally (be’l-ʿaraż), in the chain of causation and is not willed as such by God.

The philosophical positions espoused by Lāhīǰī are almost exclusively those of Ebn Sīnā. Despite his expressions of admiration for Ṭūsī, he consistently criticizes him for any departure from the doctrine of Ebn Sīnā. He generally also rejects the doctrine of his own revered teacher, Mollā Ṣadrā, wherever it appeared incompatible with the system of Ebn Sīnā. Yet he is clearly influenced by Mollā Ṣadrā’s interpretation of Ebn Sīnā and, in points where he is unable to accept Mollā Ṣadrā’s views, attempts to point out their positive aspects. As incompatible with Ebn Sīnā’s teaching, he repeatedly rejects Mollā Ṣadrā’s central thesis of substantial motion (ḥaraka fi’l-ǰawhar), as well as some doctrines he had adopted from Sohravardī and Ebn al-ʿArabī, such as the identification of the separate intelligences with attributes of God and the reality of the realm of images (ʿālam al-meṯāl). His polite admission that, “on the assumption of the reality of the ʿālam al-meṯāl,” Mollā Ṣadrā’s views about it are the most sound should not be viewed as abrogating his positive assertion that the impossibility of its existence is conclusively demonstrable. In his discussion of the relationship of existence and essence in the Šawāreq, he agrees with Mollā Ṣadrā on the reality of existence, its having unique individuals (afrād) rather than mere portions (ḥeṣaṣ), and its applying ambiguously (be’l-taškīk) to the essences, against Sohravardī’s view reducing existence to a mere abstraction. Like Mollā Ṣadrā he holds this view to be in accord with Ebn Sīnā’s teaching. He admits Mollā Ṣadrā’s further thesis that existence, rather than essence, is the object of production (ǰaʿl) insofar as, in the latter’s system, no ambiguity could arise as to any subsistence (ṯobūt) of essences before their existence. In Gawhar-e morād (where his approach differs somewhat) he affirms that the object of production is essence. This agrees with the common formulation of the school of Ebn Sīnā. It should not be seen as contradicting the previous admission; for, contrary to Mollā Ṣadrā, he did not basically deny the reality of essences. Concerning God’s knowledge of the world, he adopts Ebn Sīnā’s doctrine of its “active representative” (ḥoṣūlī feʿlī) nature against Sohravardī’s thesis, accepted by most later philosophers, of its presential (ḥożūrī) character. Though his explanation of Ebn Sīnā’s view appears partially influenced by Mollā Ṣadrā’s, he refutes the latter’s objections to Ebn Sīnā’s thesis, terming them weak.

Lāhīǰī’s attitude toward Sufism is complex. While suggesting that there are many charlatans among the Sufis, he warns against repudiating all of them. He maintains that the Sufi way to truth, based on manifestation and immediate experience, is superior to that of the philosophers, based on rational demonstration. But he affirms that the former way can not lead to any knowledge contradicting the latter. It is evidently on this basis that he rejects all elements of the gnostic doctrine of Sohravardī and Ebn al-ʿArabī which are claimed to be attainable only through illumination (ešrāq) or mystical intuition. He supports the thesis of the Sufis on the unity of being (waḥdat al-woǰūd) but rejects their explanation of it. Two other explanations, which attempt to formulate it in accord with philosophical doctrine, in his view are also open to objections. The first one regards being as a natural universal (kollī ṭabīʿī), whose reality is shared by all individual beings prior to their individuation. The second one views the Necessary Being, God, as a particular (ǰozʾī) and as the only real being; all other things, having no independent being of their own, exist merely in relation to the Real Being. This view, which, according to Lāhīǰī, was ascribed to “the intuition of the theosophists” (ḏawq al-motaʾallehīn) and was supported by Šarīf Jorǰānī and Davānī, also agrees with some formulations of Mollā Ṣadrā. Lāhīǰī himself supports what he terms the method of the philosophers. It rests, on the one hand, on the thesis that all contingent beings have their source of perfection in the Necessary Being and, on the other, on the thesis that all things in the world occur in accordance with the absolute goodness eternally known, conceived (moṣavvara), and willed by God. Their external existence is thus related to the Necessary Being in the same way as mental existence is to the human mind.

It has been suggested that Lāhīǰī actually inclined to Sufi and illuminationist thought like his teacher Mollā Ṣadrā but concealed his true beliefs out of fear of being accused of heresy. The internal evidence adduced in support of this assumption is not convincing. In spite of some minor inconsistencies, Lāhīǰī’s thought appears, throughout his works, dominated by his conviction of the continued validity of the integral teaching of Ebn Sīnā as against later critics and interpreters. There was, moreover, hardly occasion for him to fear such an accusation; Mollā Moḥsen and Qāżī Saʿīd Qomī, who supported Sufi doctrine much more consistently than Mollā Ṣadrā, in fact gained greater worldly success and prominence under Shah ʿAbbās II than Lāhīǰī.

As a philosopher, Lāhīǰī is more receptive than original. Only rarely does he offer a novel solution to any question. Yet his grasp of philosophical concepts and problems is solid, and his treatment of them combines thoroughness with clarity. It is evidently for these qualities that some of his works have remained popular textbooks until modern times.

Bibliography : Ḥorr ʿĀmelī, Amal al-āmel, ed. Aḥmad al-Ḥosaynī, Baghdad, 1385/1965, II, p. 148. Tonokābonī, Qeṣaṣ al-ʿolamāʾ, Tehran, 1296/1879, p. 257. Ḵᵛānsārī, Rawżat al-ǰannāt, ed. Asadallāh Esmāʿīlīān, Qom, 1390-92, IV, pp. 196f.; VI, pp. 100-02. Moḥammad-ʿAlī Modarres, Rayḥānat al-adab 2, Tehran, 1346-49 Š./1967-70, IV, pp. 361-63. M. Horten, “Die philosophischen und theologischen Ansichten von Lahigi,” Der Islam 3, 1912, pp. 91-131. Jalāl-al-dīn Āštīānī, intro. to Mollā Ṣadrā, al-Šawāhed al-robūbīya, Mašhad, 1346 Š./1967, pp. 99-103. Idem, Montaḵabātī az āṯār-e ḥokamā-ye elāhī-e Īrān, Tehran, 1351 Š./1972, pp. 272-361; French summary by H. Corbin, pp. 117-44.

(W. Madelung)

Originally Published: December 15, 1982

Last Updated: July 14, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, pp. 154-157

W. Madelung, “'Abd-Al-Razzaq Lahiji,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, pp. 154-157; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abd-al-razzaq-lahiji-11th-17th-century-theologian-and-philosopher (accessed on 16 January 2014).