BAHĀʾ-AL-DĪN MOḤAMMAD WALAD B. ḤOSAYN B. AḤMAD ḴAṬĪB BALḴĪ (546-628/1151-1231), father of Mawlānā Jalāl-al-Dīn Rūmī (q.v.), the great Sufi poet and eponym of the Mevlevî order, with reference to whom he became posthumously known as Mawlānā-ye bozorg (the elder Mawlānā). In his lifetime he was generally known as Bahāʾ-e Walad, and often referred to in addition by the title solṭān al-ʿolamāʾ (king of the scholars). According to his grandson, Solṭān Walad (d. 632/1235), the title originated with a dream seen on the same night by all the muftis of Balḵ in which the Prophet himself designated Bahāʾ-al-Dīn as solṭān al-ʿolamāʾ ; when they awoke, they hastened to pay homage to him (Walad-nāma, ed. J. Homāʾī, Tehran, 1315 Š./1936, p. 188; see also Ferīdūn Sepahsālār, Resāla-ye Sepahsālār, Kanpur, 1319/1910, p. 7 and Šams-al-Dīn Aḥmad Aflākī, Manāqeb al-ʿārefīn, ed. T. Yazıcı, Ankara, 1959, I, p. 7). Bahāʾ-e Walad himself records that the title solṭān al-ʿolamāʾ was given him in a dream by an old man of luminous visage, and thereafter he insisted on using the title when signing the fatwās he issued (Maʿāref, ed. B. Forūzānfar, Tehran, 1333 Š./1954, I, pp. 188-89).

Bahāʾ-e Walad says that he was approaching the age of 55 on 1 Ramażān 600/3 March 1203 (Maʿāref I, p. 354); he must therefore have been born in 546/1151-52. His father was a scholar and ascetic of great eminence in Balḵ, the offspring of a family that had been settled in Khorasan for many generations. According to many writers, they were descended from the caliph Abū Bakr (Resāla-ye Sepahsālār, p. 6; Manāqeb al-ʿārefīn I, p. 7; Jāmī, Nafaḥāt, p. 457). Sepahsālār does not provide a complete genealogy and the six, seven, or eight generations mentioned by other authors are clearly too few to bridge the six centuries that elapsed between Abū Bakr and Bahāʾ-e Walad (see B. Forūzānfar, Resāla dar taḥqīq-e aḥwāl wa zendagānī-e Mawlānā Jalāl-al-Dīn Moḥammad, Tehran, 1315 Š./1936, p. 4). The two lines found in some copies of the Walad-nāma that attribute Bakri descent to Bahāʾ-e Walad were probably inserted in the text by a copyist (see A. Gölpınarlı’s footnote to his translation of Walad-nāma under the title İbtida-name, Ankara, 1976, p. 237). There is no reference to such descent in the works of Bahāʾ-e Walad and Mawlānā Jalāl-al-Dīn or in the inscriptions on their sarcophagi. The attribution may have arisen from confusion between the caliph and another Abū Bakr, Šams-al-Aʾemma Abū Bakr Saraḵsī (d. 483/1090), the well-known Hanafite jurist, whose daughter, Ferdows Ḵātūn, was the mother of Aḥmad Ḵaṭīb, Bahāʾ-e Walad’s grandfather (see Forūzānfar, Resāla, p. 6).

Tradition also links Bahāʾ-e Walad’s lineage to the Ḵᵛārazmšāh dynasty. His mother is said to have been the daughter of ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn Moḥammad Ḵᵛārazmšāh (d. 596/1200), but this appears to be excluded for chronological reasons (Forūzānfar, Resāla, p. 7).

Bahāʾ-e Walad followed the profession of preacher and mufti in Balḵ, adhering to the example of his ancestors. Throughout his life he gave great importance to his identity as ʿālem, wearing the garb of the ʿolamāʾ and insisting that he be accommodated in madrasas, not ḵānaqāhs, during his travels (Resāla-ye Sepahsālār, pp. 6, 19; Manāqeb al-ʿārefīn I, p. 17). Nonetheless, elements of Sufism are discernible in his recorded discourses, and two Sufi lineages have been attributed to him. The first connects him, by way of his grandfather, with Aḥmad Ḡazālī (d. 520/1126; see Resāla-ye Sepahsālār, p. 6, and Manāqeb al-ʿārefīn II, p. 998), and the second makes him a disciple of Najm-al-Dīn Kobrā (d. 617/1220; see Jāmī, Nafaḥāt, p. 457, and Tārīḵ-egozīda, p. 789). The latter affiliation is dubious and is reported with some reserve by Jāmī. No mention of Kobrā or sign of concern with the distinctive themes of the Kobrawī order is to be found in Bahāʾ-e Walad’s discourses. All sources are agreed that Bahāʾ-e Walad’s principal disciple, in the Sufi sense, was Sayyed Borhān-al-Dīn Moḥaqqeq Termeḏī (d. 638/1240).

Bahāʾ-e Walad had in common with the Kobrawīs marked hostility to ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn Moḥammad Ḵᵛārazmšāh. This hostility was due to the prominence at his court of the philosopher-theologian Faḵr-al-Dīn Rāzī (d. 606/1210). Bahāʾ-e Walad publicly denounced Rāzī, together with his royal patron, as religious “innovator” (ahl-e beḍʿat) who had “taken refuge in two or three dark corners while abandoning the numerous miracles and proofs [of positive religion]” (Maʿāref I, p. 82). Bahāʾ-e Walad also had other enemies in the realm of the Ḵᵛārazmšāh, men such as Qāżī Zayn-al-Dīn Farāzī, ʿAmīd Marvazī and Rašīd-al-Dīn Ḵānī, whose hostility Aflākī attributed, in typical hagiographical fashion, to jealousy and the illusions fostered by excessive formal learning (Manāqeb al-ʿārefīn I, p. 11). A supplementary reason for Bahāʾ-e Walad’s discomfort in Balḵ may have been the Ḵᵛārazmšāh’s conflict with the ʿAbbasids and his proclamation of ʿAlāʾ-al-Molk, a sayyed from Termeḏ, as caliph (Jovaynī, III, pp. 244-45). Finally, fear of the impending Mongol cataclysm may also have persuaded Bahāʾ-e Walad to migrate westwards.

The exact date and circumstances of Bahāʾ-e Walad’s departure from Transoxiana are difficult to establish. Mawlānā Jalāl-al-Dīn relates that he was present with his father at the conquest of Samarkand by the Ḵᵛārazmšāh in 604/1207-08 (Fīhi mā fīh, ed. B. Forūzānfar, Tehran, 5th ed., 1362 Š./1983, p. 173), so their westward journey must have begun some time thereafter. Sepahsālār’s account of Bahāʾ-e Walad’s migration, which ascribes a decisive role to intrigues by Faḵr-al-Dīn Rāzī, is replete with implausible details (Resāla-ye Sepahsālār, p. 8). It is in any event probable that Bahāʾ-e Walad’s departure from the territory of the Ḵᵛārazmšāh came after the death of Rāzī, since he appears to have been in Vaḵš until 607/1211 (see Forūzānfar, introd. to Maʿāref I, p. xxxvii). Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfī gives 618/1221 as the date of his departure (Tārīḵ-egozīda, p. 791), but a review of all the evidence led Forūzānfar to choose 610/1214 as the most likely date (Resāla, p. 14).

According to a tradition found in Dawlatšāh (ed. Browne, p. 193), Bahāʾ-e Walad and his party passed through Nīšāpūr on their journey to the west, where they were deferentially received by the great Sufi poet Farīd-al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār (d. 617/1220). On arriving in Baghdad, Bahāʾ-e Walad heard of the destruction of Balḵ by the Mongols. It is said that they were respectfully greeted in Baghdad by Shaikh Šehāb-al-Dīn Sohravardī (d. 631/1234) and lodged in the Mostanṣerīya madrasa (Resāla-ye Sepahsālār, p. 18). At least the latter detail must be false, since the Mostanṣerīya was not completed until 631/1234, some three years after the death of Bahāʾ-e Walad (Forūzānfar, Resāla, p. 18). The party proceeded from Baghdad by way of Kūfa to the Hejaz, and after performing the hajj traveled through Syria to Anatolia, where their first stopping-place was Malatya. Jāmī’s claim that they next spent four years in Erzincan (Arzenjān) (Nafaḥāt, p. 458) is contradicted by Aflākī’s assertion that Bahāʾ-e Walad refused even to enter the city, because of the evil nature of its people (Manāqeb al-ʿārefīn I, p. 22). Before finally settling in Konya, Bahāʾ-e Walad is said also to have stayed in Akşehir for one year (Resāla-ye Sepahsālār, p. 9) or four years (Manāqeb al-ʿārefīn I, p. 25) and in Larende (present-day Karaman) for at least seven years (Manāqeb al-ʿārefīn I, p. 25). One of Bahāʾ-e Walad’s wives, Amīna Ḵātūn, and a son, ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn, died and were buried in Larende, which points to a fairly protracted residence there.

Bahāʾ-e Walad finally arrived in Konya in about 626/1229. The story found in both Sepahsālār and Aflākī that the Saljuq ruler ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn Kayqobād (d. 634/1237) went out to escort him into the city must be dismissed in view of the more sober account found in the Walad-nāma (p. 191). It remains true that Kayqobād, together with many of the notables of Konya, swiftly became sincere devotees of Bahāʾ-e Walad. Kayqobād wished to lodge him in the precincts of his palace, but he insisted on residing at the Altūnīya madrasa. Only two years after his arrival in Konya, Bahāʾ-e Walad died, after a brief illness on 18 Rabīʿ II 628/23 February 1231. Kayqobād was much grieved by his passing and proclaimed seven days’ public mourning (Walad-nāma, p. 193). He had an enclosure built around his tomb, which was later surmounted with a dome by Amir Badr-al-Dīn Gawhartāš, the lālā of Kayqobād (I. H. Konyalı, Konya tarihi, Konya, 1964, p. 632).

As his sole literary monument, Bahāʾ-e Walad left behind the Maʿāref, a collection of his discourses recorded and gathered by his disciples. They consist chiefly of explanations of Koranic verses and traditions of the Prophet and of answers to theological and legal questions; from them emerges the picture of a powerful, perceptive and often irascible preacher whose chief concern was the supremacy of the šarīʿa or the holy law. The Maʿāref had a considerable influence on Mawlānā Jalāl-al-Dīn Rūmī: he read the book regularly, lectured on it to his own disciples, and may have written glosses on its fourth part. It is not, then, surprising that numerous echoes of the Maʿāref are to be found in the Maṯnawī (see Forūzānfar, introd. to Maʿāref I, pp. xiv-xxix.



The first volume of Bahāʾ-e Walad’s Maʿāref, containing the first three books, was published by B. Forūzānfar in Tehran in 1333 Š./1954.

The second volume, containing the fourth book—which may have been in part a draft for some sections of the first three books—followed in 1338 Š./1959.

Both volumes were reprinted in 1352 Š./1973.

(H. Algar)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: August 23, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 4, pp. 431-433