ḤAKAMI, Mirzā ʿALI-AKBAR (b. Yazd, ca.1264/1848, d. Qom, 1344/1925-6), philosopher and theosopher, known in his lifetime as Ḥakim but later referred to as Ḥakami. He received his primary education in Yazd, then migrated to Isfahan, where he lived for the next forty years. It was here that he carried out his later studies and research. He studied philosophy and theosophy (ʿerfān) under Jahāngir Khan Qašqāʾi and Āqā Moḥammad-Reżā Qomešaʾi (Kamaraʾi in Ḥakami, Rasāʾel, p. 13). He then left for Tehran, where he began teaching texts in philosophy and theosophy at the madrasaof Shaikh ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn. Ḥakami moved to Qom at around the same time as Shaikh ʿAbd-al-Karim Hāʾeri (q.v.), the founder of the theological seminary (ḥawza-ye ʿelmiya) there. Ḥakami married, and settled in Qom for the rest of his life. He taught philosophy, theosophy, ethics, mathematics, cosmology, and Persian literature, and also donated much wealth to the seminary, making him a major contributor to its establishment alongside Hāʾeri. Ḥakami is buried in the Šayḵān cemetery at Qom (Kamaraʾi in Ḥakami, Rasāʾel, pp. 15-16). Many of Ḥakami’s students ranked among the greatest scholars of their time. They included Moḥammad-Taqi Ḵᵛānsāri, Aḥmad Ḵᵛānsāri, Moḥammad-Taqi Ešrāqi, Sayyed ʿAli Yaṯrebi, Ḥāj Āqā Ḥosayn Qomi, Mirzā Aḥmad Āštiāni, Mirzā Ḵalil Kamaraʾi, Šehāb-al-Din Marʿaši, Sayyed Kāẓem ʿAṣṣār, Sayyed Abu’l-Ḥasan Qazvini, Moḥammad Šāhābādi, Farid Gol-pāyegāni, Abu’l-Ḥasan Šaʿrāni, Mir Sayyed ʿAli Borqaʿi, Sayyed ʿAli-Akbar Borqaʿi, and Badiʿ-al-Molk Mirzā Dawlatšāh.
He taught the following philosophical and theosophical texts: Mollā Ṣadrā’s al-Ḥekma al-motaʿāliya fi’l-asfār al-arbaʿ al-ʿaqliya, and his al-Mašāʿer, Ḥāji Mollā Hādi Sabzavāri’s (q.v.) Šarḥ-e manẓuma, and the Šarḥ-e foṣuṣ al-ḥekam by Dāwud Qayṣari. In the fields of mathematics and cosmology he taught al-Šefā of Ebn Sinā (Avicenna) and in medicine, Nafisi’s commentary on Avicenna’s Ketāb al-qānun fi’l-ṭebb. Ḥakami may also have taught jurisprudence (oṣul al-feqh), for he wrote commentaries not only on Sabzavāri’s Šarḥ-e manẓuma and Ebn ʿArabi’s Foṣuṣ al-ḥekam, but also on the Qawā-nin al-oṣul by Mirzā-ye Qomi. Unfortunately, these have all been lost. He also reportedly taught ʿAllāma Ḥelli’s al-Qawāʿed, a work of jurisprudence (feqh, q.v.; Kamaraʾi in Ḥakami, Rasāʾel, p. 16). Ḥakami was also one of the few scholars to have taught Persian literature in the traditional seminary during the past hundred years, and he wrote poetry under the pen name (taḵalloṣ) of Tajalli (Ḥakami, p. 24). Nevertheless, he is best known as a philosopher and a teacher of theosophy.
Philosophical views. Some of his students regarded his ideas as novel (Kamaraʾi in Ḥakami, Rasāʾel, p. 17). However, his four published books contain no new philosophical theories or doctrines. Philosophically, he followed Mollā Ṣadrā’s doctrine of Supernal Wisdom (ḥekmat al-motaʿāliya) and, through him, came under the influence of Ebn ʿArabi. Although he does not mention Mollā Ṣadrā’s theory of being, he does follow the latter’s ideas concerning the principality of being (eṣālat al-wojud) and the notion of a being who possesses grades and stages (taškik). In traditional ontology, he rejected the views of the exponents of Illuminative Wisdom (Ešrāqiyun) and the speculative theologians (motakallemun) concerning the principality of quiddity (eṣālat al-māhiyya) in favor of the Peripatetic and Sufi doctrine of the principality of being and the idea that God is an Existence free of all attributes (Kamaraʾi in Ḥakami, Rasāʾel, p. 30).
Ḥakami considered the truth of existence to be what is experienced as existing (Rasāʾel, p. 37). Similarly, he believed, like Ebn ʿArabi, that entities on the level of God’s knowledge are permanent essences, while on the second level they are external objects (Rasāʾel, pp. 38, 44-46). He adhered to Mollā Ṣadrā’s view that the best proof of the existence of God is the so-called “borhān-e ṣadiqayn” (Dehḵodā, s.v.). On the question of the oneness of God, he followed the arguments of Ebn ʿArabi and Mollā Ṣadrā (Rasāʾel, pp. 39-43). However, he tried to reconcile the differences between philosophical speculation and the principles of Islam, either from personal predilection or or out of fear of possible persecution. In any case, he stated at the end of his work Badiʿat al-elāhiya fi bayān mafhum al-māhiya wa’l-wojud that “All the questions and answers that appear in this book are the views of the philosophers, theologians and Sufis, and are not those of the author” (Rasāʾel, p. 147).
In this work, using a question-and-answer format, he also presented his understanding of the ideas of some Western philosophers concerning the existence of God, followed by his own responses to them. According to Ḥakami, certain Western philosophers believed, like Muslim theologians, in an eternal creator who was All-knowing and whose attributes were one with His essence. Accordingly, man had free will and was responsible for his own actions, and the world is the best of all possible worlds. Ḥakami believed that philosophers such as Descartes, Bacon, Leibnitz, Philo and Bousset belonged to this group, and he counterpoised a second group of philosophers to them, including Kant and Fichte, who did not believe in a creator and argued that faculty and matter are eternal, indestructible and inalienable too, so the world is made up from their harmony. The latter are labeled “materialists” (Rasāʾel, pp. 139-47). Given the fact that the works of the Western philosophers were not available in Persian at this time and that he did not know Latin or any other European languages, it is difficult to imagine how Ḥakami could have acquired a knowledge of the tenets of these philosophers.
However, Ḥakami did have an encyclopedic knowledge of the various philosophical and theosophical schools of thought in the Islamic world, and his writings testify to his mastery of these currents of thought. Most of his works are teaching manuals, like his Badiʿat al-elāhiya. Ḥakami’s ability to write such works clearly and in non-technical language makes them accessible to a wide audience, and his prose is rated among the finest examples from his time.
Works by Ḥakami. It seems that most of Ḥakami’s works have been lost (Behbahāni, introduction to ʿEmād-al-Dawla, Šarḥ al-Dorraal-fāḵera). Badiʿ-al-Molk Mirzā Dawlatšāh ʿEmād-al-Dawla, a Qajar prince and the governor of Yazd, stated that he studied Jāmi’s al-Dorra al-fāḵera and Mollā Ṣadrā’s al-Mašāʿer, which is also known as ʿEmād al-ḥekma, under Ḥakami, and published the lecture notes for these classes. On this basis, it may be argued that the commentaries on these two works in the form of these lecture notes should be considered the work of Ḥakami (ʿEmād-al-Dawla, Šarḥ al-Dorra al-fāḵera, ed. Sayyed ʿAli Behbahāni, Tehran, n.d. Ṣadr-al-Din Širāzi, Ketāb al-Mašāʿer, tr. ʿEmād-al-Dawla, ed. H. Corbin, Paris, 1964; Tehran, 1361 Š./1982). Upon ʿEmād-al-Dawla’s request, Ḥakami wrote a treatise in Persian intended to summarize Illuminationist theosophy, entitled Resāla-ye ʿemādiya (see ʿAli-Reżā Rayḥān, Āyena-ye dānešvarān,Tehran, 1975). Besides these works, he wrote four treatises that were published together as Rasāʾel-e ḥakamiya (Tehran, 3rd ed., 1372 Š./1993), comprising Badiʿat al-elāhiya fi bayān mafhum al-māhiya wa’l-wojud,a commentary in Persian on Jāmi’s Masʾala-ye wojud, Resālat maʿrefat al-nafs wa maʿrefat al-rabb, and a work on geometry.
Studies and other works. Maḥmud Ḥakami-e Yazdi, introduction to and notes on Ḥakami, Rasāʾel-e ḥakamiya. Moḥsen Kadivar and Moḥammad Nuri, Maʾḵaḏ-šenāsi-e ʿolum-e ʿaqli, Tehran, 1379 Š./2000.
Mirzā Ḵalil Kamaraʾi, “Šarḥ ḥāl Ḥakami,” in the introduction to Ḥakami, Rasāʾel-e ḥakamiya. Sayyed ʿAli-Reżā Reyḥān Yazdi, Āyena-ye dānešvarān, Qom, 1353/1934.
Manu-čehr Ṣaduqi-Sohā, Tāriḵ-e ḥokamā wa ʿorafāʾ-e motaʾ-aḵḵer bar ṣadr al-motaʾallehin, Tehran, 1359 Š./1980.
Originally Published: December 15, 2003
Last Updated: March 1, 2012
This article is available in print.
Vol. XI, Fasc. 6, pp. 570-572