ḎU’L-RĪĀSATAYN, ḤĀJJ MĪRZĀ ʿABD-AL-ḤOSAYN MŪNES-ʿALĪŠĀH (b. Shiraz, 1290/1873, d. Tehran, 25 Ḵordād 1332 Š./15 June 1953), for thirty years leader (qoṭb) of a principal branch of the Neʿmatallāhī Sufi order. The title Ḏū’l-Rīāsatayn (“possessor of two kinds of supremacy”) refers to his reportedly exceptional command of both the exoteric and esoteric sciences (Nurbakhsh, p. 117). He is said to have received this title from Aḥmad Shah (1327-44/1909-25), but his father and predecessor, Ḥājj ʿAlī Āqā Wafā-ʿAlīšāh (d. 1336/1918) had also borne it, and it may well have come with the position of qoṭb. Owing to the length of Mūnes-ʿAlīšāh’s tenure, the entire Neʿmatallāhī line descended from his grandfather, Ḥajj Moḥammad Āqā Monawwar-ʿAlīšāh (d. 1301/1884), is often called the “line of Ḏū’l-Rīāsatayn.”

Mūnes-ʿAlīšāh initially studied at home with such tutors as Sayyed Moḥammad-Nabī Karbalāʾī and is said to have mastered Arabic and the fundamentals of jurisprudence by the age of sixteen years. He then began an intensive study of all the traditional sciences, culminating in a reading of Ebn ʿArabī’s Foṣūṣ al-ḥekam under the guidance of Shaikh Ḥosayn Sabzavarī and Shaikh-al-Moḥaqqeqīn Eṣṭahbānātī. Part of his spiritual training was supervised by Ayatollah Jaʿfar Maḥallātī, but it was his father who initiated him into the Neʿmatallāhī order. The two went on a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1306/1889, a journey that resulted in the composition of one of Mūnes-ʿAlīšāh’s earliest treatises, Anīs al-mohājerīn.

Both father and son were convinced adherents of the constitutional cause in Persia (see CONSTITUTIONAL REVOLUTION), and together they established at Shiraz the Anjoman-e anṣār to support it. Ḏū’l-Rīāsatayn’s patriotic fervor manifested itself again during World War I, when he donned military garb with the aim of combating the British troops in Fārs and began drilling his father’s disciples in the courtyard of the Masjed-e Now in Shiraz, where normally he delivered sermons. Also symptomatic of his political interests, which in his later years he totally abandoned, was his publication in Shiraz of the newspaper Eḥyā.

When Wafā-ʿAlīšāh died in 1336/1918 his designated successor was not a member of his family but Sayyed Esmāʿīl Ojāq Ṣādeq-ʿAlīšāh, presumably because Mūnes-ʿAlīšāh was still relatively young. Wafā-ʿAlīšāh is said to have made his choice of Ṣādeq-ʿAlīšāh conditional on his renouncing the right to name his own successor, however (Gramlich, p. 59). In any event, when he died in 1340/1922 the succession passed smoothly to Mūnes-ʿAlīšāh. In the same year Ḏū’l-Rīāsatayn made another pilgrimage to Mecca. Seven years later he moved from Shiraz to Tehran, where he established his headquarters in the Čahār Sūq ḵānaqāh, remaining there until his death; in accordance with his instructions, his body was taken to Kermānšāh for burial in a ḵānaqāh built there by Ṣādeq-ʿAlīšāh.

It is not clear that Ḏū’l-Rīāsatayn ever appointed a successor, which may help to explain the profusion of claimants to his mantle. It was Jawād Nūrbaḵš who took control of the Čahār Sūq ḵānaqāh and was best placed to assert his claims. According to one account, Nūrbaḵš was unable to produce an ejāza-nāma (letter of appointment) and drew up instead a protocol, witnessed by the shaikhs of the order, in which he pledged to act as interim leader until Ḏū’l-Rīāsatayn’s grandson Moḥammad Āqā should come of age; subsequently, however, he broke this pledge (Modarresī Čahārdehī, 1360 Š./1981, pp. 227, 231). Nūrbaḵš himself claims to have been posthumously invested as qoṭb by Ḏu’l-Rīāsatayn on the very night of his death (Nurbakhsh, p. 157). [See Addendum, below.]

Of Ḏū’l-Rīāsatayn’s writings only his Dīvān (Tehran, 1345 Š./1966) and one treatise, Yūnosīya (said to be derived largely from Kebrīt-e aḥmar by Moẓaffar-ʿAlīšāh [d. 1315/1800] and printed by Nūrbaḵš under the title Čerāḡ-e rāh, Tehran, n.d.) have been published for general circulation; the pamphlet Mūnes al-sālekīn was distributed exclusively among neophytes (for unpublished works, see Mūnes al-sālekīn, pp. 8-9; Nurbakhsh, p. 125).


M.-Ḥ. Roknzāda Ādamiyyat, Fārs wa jang-e bayn-al-melal, Tehran, n.d., pp. 127, 153.

R. Gramlich, Die schiitischen Derwischorden Persiens I. Die Affiliationen, Abh. für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 36/1, Wiesbaden, 1965, pp. 59-60.

M. Homāyūnī, Tārīḵ-e selselahā-ye ṭarīqat-e neʿmatallāhīya dar Īrān, 4th ed., London, 1992, pp. 233-34.

N. Modarresī Čahārdehī, Selselahā-ye ṣūfīya-ye Īrān, Tehran, 1360 Š./1981.

Idem, Sayr-ī dar taṣawwof. Dar šarḥ-e ḥāl-e mašāyeḵ wa aqṭāb, Tehran, 1361 Š./1982, pp. 133-35.

J. Nurbakhsh, Masters of the Path. A History of the Masters of the Niʿmatullahi Sufī Order, New York, 1980.

Idem, “The Nimatullāhī,” in S. H. Nasr, Islamic Spirituality. Manifestations, New York, 1991, pp. 144-61.

N. Pourjavady and P. L. Wilson, Kings of Love. The History and Poetry of the Niʿmatullāhī Sufī Order of Iran, Tehran, 1978, pp. 164-66.


Addendum (04 January 2013) 

However, Dr. Jawād Nurbaḵš has supplied the author with photocopies of two documents: The first is a letter, dated 4 Dey 1331 Š./25 December 1952, from Ḏu’l-Riāsatayn to his followers in Kermān, Rafsanjān and Zāhedān to praising Dr. Nurbaḵš for his accomplishments, including the traversal of 1,001 stages of the spiritual path and instructing his devotee to accept whatever measures Dr. Nurbaḵš might recommend for improving the function of the ḵānaqāhs. The other is an undated letter affirming Ḏu’l-Riāsatayn to have appointed Nurbaḵš as his successor. It is signed by, among others, Ḥāj Mirzā ʿAli-Aṣǧar, the son of Du'1-Riāsatayn. 


(Hamid Algar)

Originally Published: December 15, 1996

Last Updated: January 4, 2013

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 6, pp. 575-576