HAMADĀNI,SAYYED ʿALI b. Sayyed Šehāb-al-Din (b. Hamadān, 12 Rajab 714/1314; d. Ḏu’l-ḥejja 786/1384), Sufi author and preacher who undertook a celebrated mission to convert the people of Kashmir to Islam. He is referred to usually as “Mir Sayyed ʿAli,” but was also known by such honorifics as “Amir Kabir,” “ʿAli-e Ṯāni” and “Šāh-e Hamadāni.” His title “Sayyed” implies that he was a descendent of the Prophet, and this was apparently from both sides of his family. His father was one of the notables of Hamadān, but Mir Sayyed ʿAli himself acknowledges that the greatest influence on his education and early spiritual development was his maternal uncle, Sayyed ʿAlāʾ-al-Din (Karbalāʾi, pp. 274-75). Later, Mir Sayyed ʿAli is known to have been a disciple of Shaikh Maḥmud Mazdaqāni (d. 761/1360), who was based in Hamadān, (Karbalāʾi, p. 275) and to have studied under the Hadith expert Shaikh Najm-al-Din Adkāni (d. 778/1376), from whom he received a license to teach (ejāza; q.v.; op. cit., pp. 253, 586).
As a Sufi, he repeatedly emphasizes the importance of respecting the basic requirements of Islam, so as not to contravene the law or theological dogma in one’s mystical practice and thought. Moḥammad Eqbāl (d. 1938) discusses in detail this aspect of his belief in his Jāvid-nāma (Eqbāl, 1349 Š./1970, p. 419). Although some scholars have classified him as a Sunnite, his own writings express strong ʿAlid sentiments, and later he is often associated with Sayyed Moḥammad Nurbaḵš (d. 869/1464) and Sayyed ʿAbd-Allāh Barzašābādi (d. 872/1467), founders of the Shiʿite Nurbaḵšiya and Ḏahabiya Sufi orders, respectively (Nāyeb-al-Ṣadr, I, pp. 307, 339, 334; III, p. 485). Later Shiʿite authors, including Qāżi Nur-Allāh and Shaikh Āqā Bozorg have counted Mir Sayyed ʿAli as belonging to the Shiʿite tradition on the basis of his own writings, such as the treatise al-Mawadda fi’l-qorbā wa-ahl al-ʿabāʾ, his letters to the various rulers in Kashmir and his poetry (Aḏkāʾi, pp. 26-29). In his testament, he declares his own affiliation to Najm-al-Din Kobrā (d. 618/1221; Hamādani, 1353 Š./1974), the eponymous founder of the influential Central Asian Kobrawiyaorder of Sufis.
From the age of twenty, Mir Sayyed ʿAli traveled widely in the region, including throughout Persia from Azerbaijan to Khorasan, Transoxiana, eastern Iraq and even Europe and Sri Lanka (Karbalāʾi, pp. 254-59, 268). He met many Sufis on his travels, including ʿAlāʾ-al-Din Semnāni (d. 734/1334) and Qoṭb-al-Din Yaḥyā Nišāpuri (d. 738/1338; ibid., pp. 251-52). In 772/1371, he decided to settle in Ḵottalān, present-day Kulāb in Tajikistan, and in 774/1372 and 781/1379 he made successive journeys from there to Kashmir. On his second visit he is said to have been accompanied by 700 fellow sayyeds and followers, on a mission to convert the population to Islam (Aḏkāʾi, pp. 71-73). They were based in Srinagar, at a location which is currently the site of a Sufi hospice (ḵānaqāh) built in honor of Mir Sayyed ʿAli.
He died after having fallen ill while on his way from Srinagar to Mecca to perform the pilgrimage, and was buried in Ḵottalān, where his shrine still stands today. Among his disciples were Nur-al-Din Jaʿfar Badaḵši (d. 797/1395), the author of Ḵolāṣat al-manāqeb, a memorial devoted to Mir Sayyed ʿAli, and Ḵᵛāja Esḥāq ʿAli-Šāhi Ḵottalāni (d. 827/1424; Aḏkāʾi, pp. 60, 62).
While Mir Sayyed ʿAli’s shrine is a revered place of pilgrimage and he is also celebrated in his native Hamadān, his status as a saint is even higher in the Indian subcontinent, especially Kashmir, where “Šāh-e Hamdān” is a popular personal name and many religious institutions are also called “Šāh-e Hamdān” after him. Iqbal [Eqbāl] has also written many poems about “Sayyed” devoted to him, and even reports a dream in which he sees the spirit of “Ḥażrat-e Šāh-e Hamadāni” (Eqbāl, pp. 415-20). Dozens of works are attributed to Mir Sayyed ʿAli, of which about ten have been published so far.
Works: Čehel asrāryā ḡazaliyāt-e Mir Sayyed ʿAli Hamadāni, ed. Sayyed Ašraf Boḵāri, Tehran, 1347 Š./1968.
Maktubāt, ed. M. Riāż, in Majalla-ye dāneškada-ye adabiyāt 21/1, 1353 Š./1974.
Taḏkerat al-moluk, ed. Sayyed Maḥmud Anwāri, Tabriz, 1358 Š./1979.
Mašāreb al-aḏwāq: šarḥ-e Qaṣida-ye ḵamriya-ye Ebn-e Fāreż Meṣri dar bayān-e šarāb-e maḥabbat, ed. and tr. Moḥammad Ḵᵛājavi, Tehran, 1362 Š./1983.
Resāla-ye ḏekriya, ed. Fereydun Taqizāda-Ṭusi, Tehran, 1370 Š./1992.
Nasihatnomai Mir Saiid Alii Hamadoni, ed. and tr. Hotam Asozoda and Rajab Asozoda, Dushanbe, 1993.
Āṯār-e montaḵab, intro. M. Solṭānzāda, 2 vols., Dushanbe, 1994-95.
Resā-lat al-sabʿin fi fażāʾel Amir al-Moʾmenin, ed. and tr., M. Yusof Nayyāri, Shiraz, 1375 Š./1996.
Tarjoma wa matn-e Asrār al-noqṭa, yā Tawḥid-e mokāšefān az Amir Sayyed ʿAli Hamadāni, ed. and tr. Moḥammad Ḵᵛājavi, Tehran, 1376 Š./1997.
Studies: Parviz Aḏkāʾi, Morawwej-e eslām dar Irān-e ṣaḡir: aḥwāl wa āṯār-e Mir Sayyed ʿAli Hamadāni, maʿruf be-Šāh-e Hamadān (714-786 H.Q.), Hamadān, 1370 Š./1991.
Moḥammad Eqbāl, Kolliyāt-e āṯār, Tehran, 1342 Š./1963, pp. 415-20.
S. Ḥosayn Hamadāni, Šāh-e Hamadān, tr. M. Riāż, Islamabad, 1374 Š./1995.
Karbalāʾi, Rawżat al-jenān, ed. J. Solṭān-al-Qorrāʾi, Tehran, 1349 Š./1970, II. Nāyeb-al-Ṣadr, Ṭarāʾeq al-ḥaqāʾeq, ed. M-J. Maḥjūb, Tehran, n.d., II. Qāżi Nur-Allāh, Majāles al-moʾmenin, 2 vols., Tehran, 1335 Š./1956.
Moḥammad Riāż, Aḥwāl wa āṯār wa ašʿār-e Mir Sayyed ʿAli Hamadāni, bā šeš resāla az vay, Islamabad, 1985.
Āqā Bozorg Ṭehrāni, al-Ḏariʿa elā taṣānif al-šiʿa, 24 vols. in 27, Najaf and Tehran, 1355-98/1936-78.
A. Ašraf Ẓafar, Sayyed Mir ʿAli Hamdāni, Srinagar, 1991.
Originally Published: December 15, 2003
Last Updated: March 6, 2012
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Vol. XI, Fasc. 6, p. 628