BALYĀNI, AMIN-AL-DIN, famous mystic of Kazerun (d. 11 Ḏo’l-Qaʿda 745/16 March 1345).
Amin-al-Din Moḥammad b. ʿAli b. Masʿud was a famous Sufi who lived at the time of the Inju dynasty in Fars. The principle source for his life is Meftāḥ al-hedāyat va meṣbāḥ al-ʿenāyat, written in 1346 by his disciple Maḥmud b. ʿOṯmān. It is a summary of another text by the same author titled Javāher al-aminiyya, which has not survived (Šeyḵ-al-Ḥokamāʾi, “Moqaddameh,” p. 51).
Balyāni came from a family of scholars and Sufis who traced their descent back to Abu ʿAli Daqqāq (d. 1014), a famous mystic of Nishapur (Maḥmud b. ʿOṯmān, pp. 5-6, 17-18; Širāzi, pp. 61-64, 190-95, 198-202; Ebn Zarkub, pp. 186, 195; Šeyḵ-al-Ḥokamāʾi, “Moqaddameh,” pp. 35-42; Šams, pp. 542-43). His hagiographer portrays him as the restorer of the Kāzaruni order of dervishes founded by Moršed-al-Din Abu Esḥāq (d. 1033), but his spiritual lineage can also be traced back to Abu Najib ʿAbd-al-Qāhir Sohravardi (d. 1168) (Maḥmud b. ʿOṯmān, p. 18; Ebn-e Zarkub, p. 186).
Amin-al-Din was born in Balyān, a village near the city of Kazerun (Maḥmud b. ʿOṭmān, pp. 5-6, 164), where he died in 1345. He was buried in the Ḵānaqāh-e ʿolyā that he had built in the mountains north of the city (Maḥmud b. ʿOṯmān, pp. 175-79; Ebn Zarkub, p. 195; Faṣiḥi, p. 69). Maḥmud b. ʿOṯmān (pp. 27, 173-75, 184) does not mention whether he had any wives or children, but the author does refer to a person called Moḥebb-al-din Moḥammad whose title was Šeyḵ Zādeh or son of a sheikh (Meftāḥ, pp. 27, 173-175, 184). This was probably his son (Šeyḵ-al-Ḥokamāʾi, “Moqaddemeh,” p. 39).
Amin-al-Din’s earliest religious studies were in Balyān, under the local masters. He began by learning the Qurʾan. He later received a solid religious education from his father, and studied feqh and the hadith under Kāzaruni masters. According to Maḥmud b. ʿOṯmān (pp. 7-8, 17, 40), he travelled to Širāz to complete his religious knowledge. From a very early age he frequented Sufi circles. While he was still a child, his father took him to the ḵānaqāh every evening. His uncle, Awḥad-al-din ʿAbdollāh, initiated him into the mystical way (Maḥmud b. ʿOṯmān, p. 7; Ebn Zarkub, pp. 186-87; Jāmi, pp. 258-61). At the age of fourteen, he received spiritual instruction in the practice of the invocation of God’s name as well as public lecturing on the chain of initiation from his uncle, and not long after that, he invested Amin-al-din with the Sufi cloak, which allowed him to preach to his disciples the spiritual teachings of the Kazaruni confraternity (ṭariqeh).
Amin-al-din believed that mortification and supererogatory exercises are practices through which the carnal soul (nafs), the seat of the passions, can be purified. Accordingly, he practiced an extreme bodily asceticism and abstained from everything illegal or doubtful. He eschewed the pleasures of the table and refused to wear sumptuous clothing, which for him represented a life of luxury (Meftāḥ, pp. 9, 10-11). He continuously engaged in ḏekr, which he considered the best way of approaching God.
Balyāni’s teachings were firmly rooted in respect for the Šariʿa. He set out rules that his disciples had to abide by during their retreat. In ḵalvat, in a state of permanent ritual purity, any true follower of his teachings should keep eating, sleeping and speech to a minimum. His disciples were encouraged to continually engage in ḏekr, as recalling the name of God, like assiduous reading of the Qurʾan, was believed to purify the human soul (Meftāḥ, pp. 27-28). Balyāni forbade samaʿ or ritual Sufi dance in solitude (ḵalvat), but it was permitted while the kānaqāh was being built (Meftāḥ, pp. 34, 52-53, 157). He warned his disciples that if they were to progress on the mystical path, they should not let themselves be carried away by ecstatic claims (šaṭḥ) or uncontrollable ecstasy (ṭāmāt), as these practices were contrary to the Shariʿa (Meftāḥ, p. 35; Šayḵ-al-Ḥokamāʾi, “Moqaddameh,” pp. 11-12).
Balyāni had many disciples, listed by name in Meftāḥ. The most famous was Maḥmud b. ʿOṯmān himself, who says that he spent forty years in his service (Meftāḥ, p. 9). Some of them gained fame for their copious literary output. Ḵᵛāju Kermāni wrote many poems in which he mentions Amin-al-din (Soheyli Ḵᵛānsāri, “Moqqadameh,” pp. 68-71; Divān, pp. 74-76; Aḏekkāʾi, pp. 126-29). Ebn Zarkub, the author of the Širāz-nāmeh, was another disciple, who claims to have compiled a book of Balyāni’s sayings and poetry (Ebn Zarkub, pp. 194-195). Members of the Inju dynasty such as Šaraf-al-din Maḥmud Šāh held Amin-al-din in high esteem. Maḥmud Šāh’s son Jalāl-al-Din Masʿud Šāh, who wrote a letter to Balyāni, considered himself a disciple of Balyāni (Meftāḥ, pp. 55-57, 65-66; Ḡani, pp. 10-13; Šayḵ-al-Ḥokamāʾi, “Moqaddameh,” pp. 31-33).
Balyāni was the founder of a Sufi covenant dedicated to Moršed-al-Din Abu Esḥāq Kāzaruni (Meftāḥ, pp. 164-178; Aḏekkāʾi, pp. 126-29; Šayḵ-al-ḥokamāʾi, “Moqaddameh,” pp. 13-17). Maḥmud b. ʿOṯmān depicts his building project as a continuation of Kāzaruni’s efforts to establish a covenant for the Kazeruni order of dervishes (Aigle, 1995; idem, 1997; idem, 2013). He began by having a public fountain (seqāya-ye moršedi) built to the east of the mosque. It was completed in 1310. He then enlarged the Moršedi congregational mosque. He also had a hospital (dār al-šefā) built in 1323, and in 1326 a school for teaching the hadith (dār al-ḥadiṯ). His last building, dated 1332, was a shelter (dār al-ʿābedin) where strangers and travelers could retire to carry out their devotions. With the exception of the dār al-ḥadiṯ, whose costs were covered by Sayyed Šams-al-din Yazdi, who had founded a similar institution in Yazd (Aubin, 1975), Balyāni funded all these construction projects single-handedly.
Balyāni’s spiritual influence along with his dedication to serving the people of Kazerun established him as the city’s great spiritual figure (Aigle, 1997). In a celebrated ḡazal, Ḥāfeẓ lists Amin-al-Din, whom he describes as “the last of those saints who are in charge of the affairs of men” (bāqi-e abdāl), as one of the figures who had a benign influence on the people of the “kingdom of Fārs” during the reign of the Inju ruler Šayḵ Abu Esḥāq (Aḏekkāʾi, p. 127; text in Ḡani, p. 75).
Works by Balyāni.
Bedāyat al-ḏākerin, on rules and virtues of ḏekr, written for his son Moḥebb-al-din Moḥammad (Šayḵ-al-ḥokamāʾi, “Moqaddameh,” pp. 17-19).
Tarbiyat-nāmeh, a collection of Balyāni’s letters of rules of conduct and conditions of spiritual retreat in the ḵalvat (Šayḵ-al-ḥokamāʾi, “Moqaddameh,” pp. 19-21; text, pp. 27-36).
Divān-e ašʿār, also known as Divān-e Amini. It contains mystical odes with maṯnavis and ḡazals in which the poet adopts penname Amin. A unicum manuscript is copied on the margins of a manuscript of Saʿdi’s Divān (MS Suppl. persan 816, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, folios 452v-504v; see Blochet, III, pp. 129–130; Ṣafā, III/2, p. 878; Šeyḵ-al-ḥokamāʾi, “Moqaddameh,” p. 17).
Waqf-nāmeh (Šayḵ-al-Ḥokamāʾi, “Bāzḵᵛāni-ye yek waqf-nāma,” pp. 68-71; “Moqaddameh,” pp. 21-25).
Ebn Zarkub, Širāz-nāmeh, ed. I. V. Javādi, Tehran, 1971-72.
Faṣiḥi Ḵᵛāfi, Mojmal-e Faṣiḥi, ed. M. Farroḵ, vol. 3, Mašhad, 1961.
ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Jāmi, Nafaḥāt-al-ons, ed. M. Tawḥidipur, Tehran, 1957.
Ḵᵛāju Kermāni, Divān-e ašʿār, ed. A. Soheyli-e Ḵᵛānsāri, Tehran, 1957.
Maḥmud b. ʿOṯmān, Meftāḥ al-hedāyat va meṣbāḥ al-ʿenāyat, ed. ʿE. Šayḵ-al-ḥokamāʾi, Tehran, 1997.
Moʿin-al-Din Abo’l-Qāsim Jonayd Širazi, Šadd al-ezār, ed. M. Qazvini, Tehran, 1949.
P. Aḏekkāʾi, “Balyāni, Pir-e Ḵᵛāju,” Waqf Mirāṯ-e Javidān, 3, 1993, pp. 126-29.
D. Aigle, “Un fondateur d’ordre en milieu rural: Le cheikh Abû Ishâq de Kâzarûn,” in idem, ed., Saints orientaux, Paris, 1995, pp. 181-209.
Idem, “Le soufisme sunnite en Fars: Šayḫ Amin-al-din Balyāni,” in idem, ed., L’Iran face à la domination mongole, Tehran, 1997, pp. 233-61.
Idem, “Sainteté et miracles: Deux saints fondateurs en Iran méridional (xiᵉ et xivᵉ s.),” Oriente moderno, 93, 2013, pp. 79-100.
J. Aubin, “Le patronage culturel en Iran sous les Ilkhans: Une grande famille de Yazd,” Le monde iranien et l’islam, 3, 1975, pp. 107-18.
E. Blochet, Catalogue des manuscrits persans de la Bibliothèque nationale, 4 vols., Paris, 1905-34.
Q. Ḡani, Baḥṯ dar āṯār va afkār va aḥvāl-e Ḥāfeẓ, Tehran, 1942.
D. Ṣafā, Tāriḵ-e adabiyāt dar Iran, 5 vols., Tehran, 1987.
J. Šams, “Balyāni,” in Dāʾerat-al-maʿāref-e bozorg-e eslāmi, ed. K. M. Bojnurdi, Tehran, 2004, vol. 12, pp. 542-43.
Idem, “Ḵāndān-e Balyāni,” Maʿāref 2, 1997, pp. 218-49.
ʿE. Šayḵ-al-Ḥokamāʾi, “Bāzḵᵛāni-e yek waqf-nāmeh,” Waqf Mirāṯ-e Javidān, 1, 1993, pp. 46-53.
Idem, “Moqqademeh,” in Meftāḥ al-hedāyyat va meṣbāḥ al-ʿenāyyat, ed. ʿE. Šayḵ-al-Ḥokamāʾi, Tehran, 1997, pp. 7-56.
Idem, “Amin al-Dīn Balyāni,” Kāzeruniyeh 1, 2002, pp. 167-69.
A. Soheyli-e Ḵᵛānsāri, “Moqqadameh-ye Divān-e ašʿār-e Ḵᵛāju Kermāni,” in idem, ed., Divān, Tehran, 1957, pp. 68-71.
Originally Published: February 20, 2015
Last Updated: February 20, 2015Cite this entry:
Denise Aigle, "BALYĀNI, AMIN-AL-DIN," Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2015, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/balyani-amin-aldin (accessed on 20 February 2015).