ʿABD-AL-ṢAMAD ḤAMADĀNĪ, FAḴR-AL-DĪN, (d. 1216/1801), faqīh, author, and well-known Sufi master of the Neʿmatallāhī order. Sources do not give the date of his birth; they only mention that he was over sixty years of age when he died. In the holy cities of Naǰaf and Karbalā he studied the traditional religious sciences with the leading moǰtaheds of the time, Moḥammad-Bāqer Behbahānī, Sayyed Mahdī Baḥr-al-ʿolūm, and Sayyed ʿAlī Ṣāḥeb, and received the license of eǰtehād. However, dissatisfied with what he and fellow Sufis in general termed exoteric knowledge of the religious law (šarīʿa), as taught and practiced by the moǰtaheds, he sought the spiritual guidance of the Neʿmatallāhī masters Nūr-ʿAlīšāh and Sayyed Maʿṣūm-ʿAlīšāh. Upon the latter’s recommendation he continued his initiation with Ḥosayn-ʿAlīšāh in Isfahan. Having successfully completed all the required stages back in Karbalā, he attained high rank in the order, teaching and guiding his adepts and enjoying a large following. One of his most devote disciples was Mīrzā Āqāsī, who was to become Moḥammad Shah Qajar’s chief minister and who gave his master’s name to one of the king’s sons.
Sufis were periodically exposed to the persecuting policies of the ʿolamāʾ, who considered themselves as the sole exponents and guardians of religion and religious laws. Generally the Sufis argued against the functions of eǰtehād and taqlīd (following the religious directives by a moǰtahed); the latter practice, by the second half of the 18th century was declared incumbent upon all believers regardless of their social standing. The battle between the Sufis and the ʿolamāʾ reached its climax in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when Āqā Moḥammad-Bāqer Behbahānī and his son Āqā Moḥammad-ʿAlī Behbahānī ruthlessly implemented their view of orthodoxy. Prestigious Sufi leaders were constantly harassed; many were killed by mobs, who acted on their religious leaders’ instructions. ʿAbd-al-Ṣamad Hamadānī himself fell victim to persecution. Not only was he a well-established leader of the Neʿmatallāhī order, which figured at the top of the list of the ʿolamāʾ ’s black list, but he also in his writings and teachings continued the struggle against the institutionalized official form of Shiʿism. Ironically, ʿAbd-al-Ṣamad lost his life at the hands of an even more merciless foe, the puritanical anti-Sufi and anti-Shiʿi Sunni Wahhābīs of Arabia. In 1798 they raided the Shiʿite holy shrines in southern Iraq. ʿAbd-al-Ṣamad died in the sack of Karbalā.
ʿAbd-al-Ṣamad is the author of a few works, of which Baḥr al-maʿāref on mysticism is probably the best known.
Moḥammad-Maʿṣūm Šīrāzī, Ṭarāʾeq al-ḥaqāʾeq, ed. M. J. Maḥǰūb, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966, II, p. 332; III, pp. 1 99, 211, 212, 213.
Ḥāǰǰ Zayn-al-ʿābedīn Šīrvānī, Rīāż al-sīāḥa, Tehran, 1339 Š./1960, pp. 721-22.
Reżā-qolī Hedāyat, Rīāż al-ʿārefīn, Tehran, 1316 Š./1937, p. 465.
Moʿallem Ḥabībābādī, Makārem al-āṯār II, Isfahan, 1342 Š./1953, pp. 600-03.
Originally Published: December 15, 1982
Last Updated: July 14, 2011
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Vol. I, Fasc. 2, pp. 161-162