ABŪ YAʿQŪB YŪSOF B. AYYŪB HAMADĀNĪ (440-535/1048-49 to 1140), important figure in the history of Iranian and Central Asian Sufism (largely neglected by both Iranian and Western scholarship). He was the first of the Ḵᵛāǰagān, a line of Transoxanian masters from which evolved the Naqšbandī and Yasavī orders. He was born in Būzanǰerd near Hamadān, and left for Baghdad at the age of eighteen. There he studied feqh and Hadith under a number of teachers, of whom the principal was Abū Esḥāq Šīrāzī, and developed an enthusiastic loyalty to the Hanafite maḏhab which he later transmitted to his spiritual progeny. He also traveled in the course of his studies to places as distant as Isfahan and Samarqand. At about the age of thirty he turned to Sufism and sought out a number of shaikhs, including Ḥasan Semnānī and ʿAbdallāh Jovaynī. His chief preceptor was Abū ʿAlī Fārmadī, who also guided Abū Ḥāmed Ḡazālī on the Sufi path; the concept of Sufism evolved by Hamadānī was indeed essentially similar to that of Ḡazālī, with its emphasis on the Koran and Sunna as the source of Sufi practice, and strict insistence on observance of the šarīʿa.
Hamadānī established a ḵānaqāh at Marv which came to acquire the title of “the Kaʿba of Khorasan;” among those who frequented it were the poet Sanāʾī and his nephew, Shaikh Saʿīd, father of the celebrated Kobrawī saint, Rażī-al-dīn Lālā (Dawlatšāh, ed. Browne, p. 95; ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla Semnānī, Taḏkerat al-mašāyeḵ, quoted in F. Meier, Die Fawāʾiḥ al-Ğamāl wa Fawātiḥ al-Ğalāl des Nağm ad-Dīn al-Kubrā, Wiesbaden, 1957, p. 41, n. 1). He did not remain constantly in the ḵānaqāh; he traveled twice to Herat, is said to have performed the ḥaǰǰ thirty-eight times, and spent some time in Bokhara and Samarqand. It was in these two cities that he acquired his most important followers, whom he later designated to serve in turn as his successors: ʿAbdallāh Baraqī, Ḥasan Andaqī, Aḥmad Yasavī, and ʿAbd-al-Ḵāleq Ḡeǰdovānī.
Ḡeǰdovānī left a detailed description of his master, excelling all other sources in verisimilitude, in his Maqāmāt-e Yūsof Hamadānī. A copy is contained in the 13th/19th century encyclopedic work on Sufism, Kamāl-al-dīn Ḥarīrī’s Tebyān wasāʾel al-ḥaqāʾeq wa salāsel al-ṭarāʾeq (ms. İbrahim Ef., 430, fols. 379a-89b). The text published by Saʿīd Nafīsī under the title Resāla-ye Ṣāḥebīya (FIZ 1/1, 1332 Š./1953, pp. 70-101) is approximately the same as the Maqāmāt. What is most probably another copy of the work is listed in A. A. Semenov, Sobranie vostochnykh rukopiseĭ Akademii Nauk Uzbekskoĭ SSR, Tashkent, 1965, III, p. 172. The contents of the Maqāmāt have been summarized by V. A. Zhukovskiĭ (Razvaliny starogo Merva, St. Petersburg, 1894, pp. l69-72) and by Fuat Köprülü (Türk Edebiyatïnda İlk Mutasavvïflar, 2nd ed., Ankara, 1966, pp. 52-58). From the Maqāmāt emerges the picture of a devout and orthodox ascetic whose spirituality radiated throughout Khorasan and Transoxania.
According to the Maqāmāt, Hamadānī died in the Ḡātfar district of Samarqand and was buried beneath his own house, but this account is at variance with the testimony of almost all other sources. They record him as having died at Bāmyīn on the way from Herat to Marv; after a temporary burial there, his body was transferred to Marv. The discrepancy has not yet been resolved, but it is certain that a tomb identified as that of Hamadānī existed in Marv by the time of ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Jāmī (Nafaḥāt, p. 375); it is still standing at present. The sources also contradict each other with respect to the form of ḏekr practiced by Hamadānī: According to the Rašaḥāt ʿayn al-ḥayāt of Faḵr-al-dīn ʿAlī Ṣafī (Tashkent, 1329/1911), he practiced vocal ḏekr; according to the Maqāmāt, silent ḏekr. He is credited with a number of works, including a commentary on ʿAbdallāh Anṣārī’s Manāzel al-sāʾerīn (see S. de Laugier de Beaurecueil’s introduction to his edition of ʿAbd-al-Moʿṭī Laḵmī Eskandarī, Commentaire du livre des étapes, Cairo, 1954, p. 5); but none of them appears to be extant. Certain of his views, however, all marked by the sobriety that came to distinguish the Naqšbandīya, are discussed at some length by ʿAzīz Nasafī in his Kašf al-ṣerātÂ¡ (ms. Veliyüddin Efendi, 1717, ff. 208a-b, 218a, 221a, 225b-226b, 238a-b, 242b).
See also: H. Algar, The Origins of the Naqshbandī Order (forthcoming).
Anon., Qandīya dar bayān-e mazārāt-e Samarqand, ed. Ī. Afšār, Tehran, 1334 Š./1955, pp. 6-16.
Farīd-al-dīn ʿAṭṭār, Manṭeq al-ṭayr, ed. M. J. Maškūr, Tehran, 1347 Š./1968, pp. 218-19.
Idem, Taḏkeratal-awlīāʾ, ed. M. Qazvīnī, Tehran, 1346 Š./1967, II, p. 114.
V. V. Bartol’d, Istoriya kul’turnoĭ zhizni Turkestana in Sochineniya II/1, Moscow, 1963, pp. 251-52.
Naǰm-al-dīn Rāzī Dāya, Merṣād al-ʿebād, ed. M. A. Rīāḥī, Tehran, 1352 Š./1973, p. 297.
Ebn Ḵallekān, Cairo, n.d., II, p. 523.
Ḡolām Sarvar Lāhūrī, Ḵazīnat al-aṣfīāʾ, Lucknow, 1320/1902, I, pp. 528-31.
Aḥmad b. Maḥmūd Moʿīn-al-foqarāʾ, Tārīḵ-e Mollāzāda dar mazārāt-e Boḵārā, ed. A. Goḷčīn-e Maʿānī, Tehran, 1339 Š./1960, p. 33.
M. Molé, “Auteur du Daré Mansour: l’apprentissage mystique de Baha al-Din Naqshband,” REI 27, 1959, p. 35.
Idem, intro. to ʿAzīz-al-dīn Nasafī, Le livre de l’homme parfait, Tehran and Paris, 1962, pp. 11, 14-15.
Haft eqlīm II, p. 532.
Samʿānī, II, pp. 356-57.
ʿAbd-al-Wahhāb Šaʿrānī, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kobrā, Cairo, n.d., I, pp. 116-17.
ʿAbdallāh Yāfeʿī, Merʾāt al-jenān, Hyderabad, 1339/1921, III, pp. 265-66.
Yāqūt, Cairo, 1323/1906, II, pp. 302-03.
Almost the entirety of Naqšbandī literature contains scattered references to Hamadānī.
Originally Published: December 15, 1983
Last Updated: July 21, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 4, pp. 395-396