ABU’L-FAŻL MOḤAMMAD B. ḤASAN ḴOTTALĪ (d. 453/1061?), preceptor of Abu’l-Ḥasan ʿAlī Hoǰvīrī (d. 465/1073), the author of the celebrated Persian treatise on Sufism, Kašf al-maḥǰūb. It is from this work that virtually our entire knowledge of Ḵottalī is derived (Samarqand, 1330/1912, pp. 208-09; Eng. tr. R. A. Nicholson, The Kashf al-Maḥǰūb: The Oldest Persian Treatise on Sufism, GMS 17, new ed., London, 1936, pp. 166-67). Ḵottal, his birthplace, is said to have been a village near Dastgerd on the road to Khorasan (Moḥammad Maʿṣūm Šīrāzī, Ṭarāʾeq al-ḥaqāʾeq, ed. M. J. Maḥǰūb, Tehran, n.d., II, p. 584); there is, however, a better known area, bearing the same name, between the Vaḵšāb and the Oxus (Le Strange, Lands, p. 438). Ḵottalī was acquainted with tafsīr and tradition (rewāyāt), had been a disciple of Abu’l-Ḥasan ʿAlī b. Ebrāhīm Ḥoṣrī (d. 371/981-82; concerning him see Kašf al-maḥǰūb, p. 202), and followed the “sober” school in Sufism of Jonayd Baḡdādī (d. 298/910). He was a contemporary of Abu’l-Ḥasan b. Sāleba and Abū ʿAmr (or ʿOmar) Qazvīnī. Although many wondrous deeds gave evidence of his sainthood, he did not wear the garment of the Sufis or conform to their customs and was an enemy of the formalists (ahl-e rasm) among them. He spent some sixty years in seclusion, mostly on mount Lokām near Aleppo, and died at Bayt al-Jenn, a village between Bānīās and Damascus.
Hoǰvīrī gives no date for his death; but the 13th/19th century hagiographer, Ḡolām Sarvar Lāhūrī, says that he found the date 453 in the margin of an old copy of ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Jāmī’s Nafaḥāt al-ons (Ḵazīnat al-aṣfīāʾ, Lucknow, 1320/1920, II, p. 231). The date is unlikely, since it is too close to the probable year of Hoǰvīrī’s death. The account of Ḵottalī in Kašf al-maḥǰūb contains several dicta of Ḵottalī: Jāmī reproduces them and adds several more, also ascribing them to Hoǰvīrī (Nafaḥāt, pp. 315-16). Jāmī’s account is paraphrased by Ḡolām Sarvar (Ḵazīnat al-aṣfīāʾ II, p. 231) and summarized by Mīrzā Moḥammad ʿAlī Modarres (Rayḥānat al-adab, 2nd ed., Tabrīz, n.d., VII, p. 228).
Bibliography: Given in the text.
Originally Published: December 15, 1983
Last Updated: July 21, 2011
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