In Persia and certain adjoining areas, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Muslim India, and some of the republics of Central Asia, until a few generations ago there were many madrasahs that taught not only the Quran, Hadith, law, and theology, but also the other disciplines included in the traditional curriculum, ranging from medicine to astronomy. It is only during the last hundred years that, even in this area, some of the subjects have been discontinued, while others have been changed or modified and new books of instruction introduced for their teaching.
Nearly seventy years ago the Persian scholar and statesman Seyyed Hasan Taqizadeh, who had himself received his early education in one of the madrasahs and who was much interested in the Islamic sciences, asked one of the leading Islamic scholars of the day, Muammad Tāhir Tabarsī, known as Mīrzā Tāhir Tunikābunī, to write a treatise in which the works studied in the madrasahs would be described for posterity before this knowledge became forgotten. Mīrzā Tāhir, who was one of the leading traditional philosophers of Persia during the past century, set about this task and composed a treatise, which was finally published after a long period of neglect. It remains one of the most authoritative and complete works on the subject, reflecting the educational curriculum in Persian madrasahs for the several centuries that preceded the composition of the treatise in 1938.
According to Mīrzā Tāhir, the texts used for teaching the various sciences in the madrasahs of Persia and adjacent regions were as follows:
The Transmitted (naqliyyah) Sciences
I. The Science of Morphology (sarf)
1. Sarf-i mir: A short treatise in Persian on the subject of the morphology of the Arabic language by Mīr Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī, who lived in the eighth/fourteenth century.
Tasrif-i zanjani with commentary: A text written by ‘Izz al-Dīn Ibrāhīm Zanjānī, who lived in the seventh/thirteenth century, and commented on by Sa‘d al-Dīn Mas‘ūd ibn ‘Umar Taftāzānī (eighth/fourteenth century).
2. Sharh-i nizam: The text of this work is the Shafiyah of Jamāl al-Dīn Abū ‘Umar, known as Ibn Hājib al-Mālikī (seventh/thirteenth century), while the commentary is by Niām al-Dīn asan Nayshābūrī, whose commentary is favored over numerous others written on this celebrated work.
In older days, students also made use of Marah al-arwah by Ahmad ibn ‘Alī ibn Mas‘ūd, but this work lost its popularity and gradually was dropped from the list of the main texts studied.
II. The Science of Syntax (Grammar; nahw)
1. al-‘Awamil of Jurjānī: The work of the fifth/eleventh-century scholar ‘Abd al-Qāhir Jurjānī, on which many commentaries have been written, but it is the text itself that has remained popular throughout the centuries.
2. al-‘Awamil of Mullā Muhsin: Although some consider this work to be by Mullā Muhsin Fayd Kāshānī, the celebrated student of Mullā adrā, most likely it is by Mullā Muhsin Muhammad ibn Tāhir Qazwīnī, who lived in the late Safavid period and who also wrote a commentary on the Alfiyyah of Ibn Mālik.
3. al-Samadiyyah: A celebrated treatise by Shaykh Bahā’ al-Dīn ‘Amilī written for his nephew ‘Abd al-Samad. Numerous commentaries have been written on it, of which the most famous are the major and minor commentaries by Sayyid ‘Alī Khān, who was his contemporary.
4. al-Unmudhaj: A summary by the famous sixth/twelfth-century grammarian Jār Allāh Abū’l-Qāsim al-Zamakhsharī of his own extensive grammar, which is one of the best grammatical studies of Arabic.
5. al-Kafiyah: Another of the important grammatical works of Ibn Hājib, on which numerous commentaries have been composed in Arabic and Persian, including those of Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī and Sayyid Rukn al-Dīn Astrābādī, who was a student of Nasīr al-Dīn Tūsī.
6. al-Alfiyyah: A popular work by the seventh/thirteenth-century Andalusian grammarian Ibn Mālik containing a thousand verses in which the principles of nahw are outlined. Of the numerous commentaries written on it, that of Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūī is the most popular in Persia.
7. Mughni al-labib: A work by Jamāl al-Dīn ibn Yūsuf, known as Ibn Hishām, who lived in the eighth/fourteenth century. There are several well-known commentaries on this work, including those of Muhammad ibn Abī Bakr al-Damāmīnī and Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūtī.
III. The Literary Sciences (Rhetoric; ma‘ani and bayan) and (the Art of Metaphor; badi‘)
1. Talkhis-i miftah: The most popular work in this field has been this summary made by Jalāl al-Dīn ‘Abd al-Rahmān Qazwīnī (eighth/fourteenth century) of Miftah al-‘ulum of Sirāj al-Dīn Yūsuf al-Sakkākī (seventh/thirteenth century), a work whose third section is devoted to the literary sciences. This summary is usually studied along with the two commentaries of Sa‘d al-Dīn Taftāzānī, the long (Mutawwal) and the short (Mukhtasar).
2. Dala’il al-i‘jaz: This work by the fifth/eleventh-century scholar ‘Abd al-Qāhir Jurjānī has become popular only during the past century or two.
3. Asrar al-balaghah: Another fairly short work by Jurjānī.
IV. The Principles of Jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh)
1. al-Dhari‘ah: A famous work by ‘Alī ibn Abī Ahmad Husayn, known as Sayyid Murtadā as well as ‘Ālam al-Hudā (fifth/eleventh century).
2. ‘Iddat al-usul: One of the most respected works on usul by the famous fifth/eleventh-century Shī‘ite scholar Shaykh al-ā’ifah Muammad ibn ‘Alī al-Tūsī, usually studied with the commentary of Mullā Khalīl ibn Ghāzī Qazwīnī.
3. Minhaj al-wusul ila ‘ilm al-usul: A work by the seventh/thirteenth-century scholar Najm al-Dīn Abū’l-Qāsim, known as Muaqqiq-i Hillī.
4. Mabadi’ al-wusul ila ‘ilm al-usul: A work by the well-known ‘Allāmah Hillī (seventh/thirteenth century), on which Miqdād ibn ‘Abd Allāh al-Suyūrī al-Hillī has written a commentary.
5. Tahdhib al-usul: Another well-known work on the subject by ‘Allāmah Hillī.
6. Ma‘alim al-din: This work by Hasan ibn Shaykh Zayn al-Dīn, known as Shahīd-i Thānī (tenth/sixteenth century), is very popular and has been commented on by numerous authors.
Zubdat al-usul: This is one of the best-known religious works of Shaykh Bahā’ al-Dīn ‘Āmilī, on which his own student, Jawād ibn Sa‘d Allāh al-Baghdādī, as well as Mawlā Sālih ibn Ahmad Sarawī have written widely studied commentaries.
7. Kitab al-wafiyah: A short but masterly treatise by Mullā ‘Abd Allāh ibn Hajj Muhammad Tūnī Bushrawī Khurāsānī (eleventh/seventeenth century). Several of the outstanding scholars of the past three centuries, including Sayyid al-Sanad Bhar al-‘Ulūm, have written commentaries on it.
8. al-Qawanin: A work by the thirteenth/nineteenth-century jurisprudent Mīrzā Abū’l-Qāsim ibn Muhammad Gīlānī.
9. al-Fusul fi ‘ilm al-usul: This very popular work of Muhammad Husayn ibn ‘Abd al-RaHīm Tihrānī Rāzī (thirteenth/nineteenth century) gained almost immediate acceptance after its composition.
10. Fara’id al-usul: Also known as Rasa’il, a work composed a little over a century ago by the great master of usul, Shaykh Murtadā ibn Ahmad Amīn Ansārī.
Most of these works belong to the later centuries of Islamic history. Several other works in usul, written earlier (many by Sunni rather than Shī‘ite scholars) and popular before the composition of these later works, continue to be studied, but not to the same extent as before. Some of these works are the al-Mustasfa of Ghazzālī; the Ahkam fi usul al-ahkam of Sayf al-Dīn al-Amīnī (seventh/ thirteenth century); the Mukhtasar al-usul of his student, Ibn Hājib, on which many commentaries have been written; the Minhaj al-wusul ila ‘ilm al-usul by Qādī Nāsir al-Dīn Baydāwī (seventh/ thirteenth century); the Mahsul of Fakhr al-Dīn Rāzī (sixth/ twelfth century) and its summary by Sirāj al-Dīn Urmawī (seventh/ thirteenth century); and the Jam‘ al-jawami‘ of Tāj al-Dīn al-Subkī al-Shafti‘ī (eighth/ fourteenth century).
V. Hadith and Jurisprudence (fiqh)
Among the Shī‘ites, the main source of Hadith, which includes the sayings of both the Prophet and the Imams (although the clear distinction between them is preserved), and which serves, after the Noble Quran, as the fountainhead for the injunctions of the Shari‘ah, consists of four books, which are as follows:
1. al-Kafi: The Kitab al-kafi, comprised of both usul (principles) and furu‘ (branches), by Muhammad ibn Ya‘qūb al-Kulaynī (fourth/tenth century), is the most authoritative of all these sources. Numerous commentaries have been written on this work, especially on the usul, including those of Mīr Dāmād (tenth/sixteenth century), Mullā Sadrā—his being one of the most important works of Islamic philosophy—Rafī‘ al-Dīn Muhammad Tabāabā’ī (eleventh/seventeenth century), and Mullā Muhammad Bāqir Majlisī (eleventh/seventeenth century).
2. Man la yahduruhu’l-faqih: A work by Ibn Bābūyah, known as Shaykh-i adūq, on which Mullā Muammad Taqī Majlisī (eleventh/seventeenth century) wrote two commentaries, one in Persian and the other in Arabic.
3. al-Tahdhib: A major authoritative source by Shaykh at-Tā’ifah Muammad al-Tūsī (fifth/eleventh century).
4. al-Istibsar: A second work of authority by Muhammad al-Tūsī.
As for books on the science of jurisprudence itself and its basis in the Quran and Hadith, numerous works have been written on it by both Sunni and Shī‘ite authorities, of which the following became particularly popular during the past few centuries when Persia became predominately Shī‘ite:
1. Wasa’il al-shi‘ah ila ahkam al-shari‘ah, by Muhammad ibn Hasan, known as Shaykh Hurr-i ‘Āmilī (eleventh/seventeenth century).
2. Kitab al-wafi, by Mullā Muhsin Fayd Kāshānī (eleventh/seventeenth century), concerned mostly with both the traditions upon which fiqh is based and the injunctions themselves.
3. Bihar al-anwar, a voluminous religious encyclopedia by Muhammad Bāqir Majlisī that includes nearly every branch of the religious sciences, from sacred history to jurisprudence. All parts of this work have been and still are popular in madrasahs throughout Persia.
4. al-Nihayah, by Muhammad al-Tūsī, with numerous commentaries by mujtahids of nearly every generation.
5. al-Mabsut, also by Muhammad al-Tūsī and commented on by numerous mujtahids over the ages.
6. Shara’i‘ al-islām, by Muaqqiq-i illī and usually studied along with its summary called the Mukhtasar-i nafi‘.
7. Masalik al-afham ila fahm shara’i‘ al-islām, by Shaykh Zayn al-Dīn, known as Shahīd-i Thānī.
8. Madarik al-ahkam, by Shams al-Dīn Muhammad ibn ‘Alī ‘Āmilī (tenth/sixteenth century) on which many commentaries have been written, the most famous being Jawahir al-kalam of Muhammad Hasan Najafī (thirteenth/nineteenth century).
9. Irshad al-adhhan fi ahkam al-iman, by Hasan ibn Yūsuf ibn Muahhar al-Hillī. Several well-known commentaries have been written on it, such as the Ghayat al-murad of Jamāl al-Dīn Makkī, known as Shahīd-i Awwal (eighth/fourteenth century), and Majma‘ al-fa’idah wa’l-burhan of Ahmad ibn Muhammad Muqaddas-i Ardibīlī (tenth/sixteenth century).
10. Qawa‘id al-ahkam, also by Muhaqqiq-i Hillī. Several important commentaries have been written on it, such as Idah al-qawa‘id by the author’s son, Kanz al-fawa’id by his nephew Sayyid ‘Amīd al-Dīn, Jami‘ al-maqasid fi sharh al-qawa‘id by Muhaqqiq-i Thānī Nūr al-Dīn ‘Alī ibn ‘Abd al-‘Alī Karakī (tenth/sixteenth century), Kashf al-litham ‘an mu‘dalat qawa‘id al-ahkam by Bahā’ al-Dīn Muhammad Isfahānī, known as Fādil-i Hindī (twelfth/eighteenth century), and Miftah al-karamah fi sharh qawa‘id al-‘Allamah by Sayyid Jawād ‘Āmilī (twelfth/eighteenth century).
11. Lum‘a-yi dimashqiyyah, by Shahīd-i Awwal with commentaries by Shahīd-i Thānī.
During the thirteenth/nineteenth century the Makasib and Taharah of Shaykh Murtadā Ansārī, dealing with specific aspects of fiqh, have also become very popular and have been commented on by some of the most celebrated mujtahids of that era, such as Mullā Muhammad Kāzim Khurāsānī and Sayyid Muhammad Kāzim Yazdī.
VI. The Sciences Pertaining to Hadīth and Its History (‘ilm al-dirayah)
1. Risalat al-bidayah fi ‘ilm al-dirayah, by Shahīd-i Thānī.
2. The Wajizah, by Shaykh Bahā’ al-Dīn ‘Āmilī.
3. Rawashih al-samawiyyah, by the great philosopher and founder of the School of Isfahan,Mīr Dāmād, who before composing his commentary on the Kafi, wrote the Rawashih on the science of Hadith.
4. Nuzhat al-nazar fi sharh nukhbat al-fikar, both text and commentary by Hāfiz Shihāb al-Dīn ‘Asqalānī (ninth/fifteenth century). The work has many other commentaries, which, however, have not become popular in Persia.
5. The Alfiyyah, by Jalāl al-Dīn Abū Bakr al-Suyūtī (ninth/fifteenth century).
VII. The Quranic Sciences (tafsir)
Tafsir is the crown of all the Islamic sciences and possesses many branches. As far as the science of the recitation of the Quran (qira’ah wa tajwid) is concerned, the popular treatise in Persia has been the long poem in rhyming couplets (qasidah) Hirz al-amani wa wajh al-tahani, of Abū Muhammad Qāsim al-Shātibī (sixth/twelfth century), among the many commentaries on which are Siraj al-qari’ of Ibn Qāsih (eighth/fourteenth century), which is the best known, and the Muqaddimah of Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Jazarī (ninth/fifteenth century).
Among the Quranic commentaries, composed by both Sunni and Shī‘ite scholars, the most popular are the following:
1. The Tafsir of ‘Alī ibn Ibrāhīm al-Qummī (fourth/tenth century).
2. Majma‘ al-bayan of Abū ‘Alī Fal ibn Hasan Tabarsī (sixth/twelfth century), summarized by the author himself as Majma‘ al-jawami‘.
3. Rawh al-jinan wa ruh al-janan of Abū’l-Futūh Rāzī (sixth/ twelfth century), a vast Persian commentary that is also a masterpiece of Persian literature.
4. Tafsir-i safi of Mullā Muhsin Fayd Kāshānī, a commentary that is at once gnostic and theological.
5. The Tafsir of al-Tabarī, the celebrated commentary by the fourth/tenth-century author Muhammad ibn Jarīr al-Tabarī.
6. al-Tafsir al-kabir, one of the most extensive of all Quranic commentaries, by the sixth/twelfth-century theologian Fakhr al-Dīn Rāzī.
7. al-Kashshaf of Jār Allāh al-Zamakhsharī (sixth/twelfth century). Numerous commentaries have been written on it.
8. Tafsir anwar al-tanzil wa asrar al-ta’wil of Qādī Nāsir al-Dīn al-Baydāwī. Many commentaries have been written on this work.
9. Kanz al-‘irfan of Miqdād ibn ‘Abd Allāh al-Hillī (eighth/fourteenth century), dealing mostly with the Quranic basis of Shari‘ite injunctions (ahkam).
10. Zubdat al-bayan of Ahmad ibn Muhammad (Muqaddas-i Ardibīlī), also dealing with the Quranic foundation of Shari‘ite injunctions.
The Intellectual (‘aqliyyah) Sciences
I. Logic (mantiq)
1. Risala-yi kubra: A short treatise in Persian by Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī.
2. al-Hashiyah of Mullā ‘Abd Allāh: One of the most popular works on logic, consisting of glosses on Tahdhib al-mantiq of Taftāzānī by Mullā ‘Abd Allāh Yazdī (ninth/fifteenth century). The work has two parts, the first on logic and the second on theology (kalam). The first part alone became widely popular, while the second part is studied only among the religious students of Kurdistan.
3. Sharh-i shamsiyyah: The text is by Najm al-Dīn Dabīrān Kātibī Qazwīnī (seventh/thirteenth century),while the commentary is by Qutb al-Dīn Rāzī (eighth/fourteenth century) and is one of the most popular works on logic.
4. Sharh-i matali‘ al-anwar: The text is by Sirāj al-Dīn Urmawī (seventh/thirteenth century),while the best-known commentary is by Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī.
5. Sharh-i manzumah: Both the text and commentary are by the great Qajar philosopher and sage Hājjī Mullā Hādī Sabziwārī (thirteenth/nineteenth century). The work includes a complete cycle of traditional philosophy starting with logic and ending with eschatology, prophetology, and ethics.
6. Sharh-i isharat: The celebrated al-Isharat wa’l-tanbihat of Ibn Sīnā (fourth–fifth/tenth–eleventh century), with the commentaries of Fakhr al-Dīn Rāzī, Tūsī, and Qutb al-Dīn Rāzī, has been over the centuries one of the mainstays of the programs of study in various branches of philosophy, including logic.
7. Jawhar al-nadid fi sharh mantiq al-tajrid: The Tajrid is Nasīr al-Dīn Tūsī’s main theological work, but the first part is devoted to logic. With the commentary of his student, ‘Allāmah Hasan ibn Yūsuf ibn al-Mutahhar al-Hillī, this section on logic became known as a separate work and gained popularity during the thirteenth/nineteenth century.
8. al-Basa’ir al-nasiriyyah: The work, by the seventh/twelfth-century philosopher Zayn al-Dīn ‘Umar ibn Sahlān Sāwajī, was neglected until Muhammad ‘Abduh wrote a commentary on it and began to teach it at al-Azhar University in Cairo in the thirteenth/nineteenth century. It then gained popularity not only among Egyptian students, but among Persian ones as well.
9. The logic of the Hikmat al-ishraq: The whole of this masterpiece of ishraqi theosophy by the founder of this school, Shaykh al-Ishrāq Shihāb al-Dīn Suhrawardī (sixth/twelfth century),is extremely popular in Persia and is usually studied with the commentary of Qub al-Dīn Shīrāzī and the glosses of Mullā adrā. The logic, which is a departure from Peripatetic logic, is usually studied by students after they have completed the usual works on formal logic based on the Organon of Aristotle and the modifications made on it by Islamic logicians.
10. The logic of the Shifa’: Because of its inaccessibility and difficult style, the logic of the Shifa’ of Ibn Sīnā has never become a popular work. But being the most thorough and extensive treatment of formal logic in Islamic philosophy, it could not escape the attention of the most advanced students of the subject, who usually studied it with the glosses of Mullā Sadrā, Sayyid Ahmad ‘Alawī, and several other later hakims of Persia.
II. The Philosophical and Theological Sciences (falsafah and kalam)
1. Sharh-i hidayah: The text of this celebrated work is by the seventh/thirteenth-century philosopher Athīr al-Dīn Abharī and consists of three parts: logic, natural philosophy, and metaphysics. The section on logic was commented on by the ninth/fifteenth-century philosopher, Sufi, and jurisprudent Shams al-Dīn Fanārī, but, although this commentary has always been popular in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, it has never become widely accepted in Persia. There are, however, numerous famous commentaries on the last two sections, of which those of Husayn ibn Mu‘īn al-Dīn Mībudī Yazdī and Mullā Sadrā are extremely well known in Persia and Afghanistan and in the Indian subcontinent.
2. al-Tajrid: This work of Naīr al-Dīn ūsī is the main text for Shī‘ite kalam and is usually studied with the following commentaries:
a) The commentary by ‘Allāmah Hasan ibn Yūsuf al-Hillī.
Tasdid al-qawa‘id fi sharh tajrid al-‘aqa’id, by the eighth/fourteenth-century theologian Shams al-Dīn Ahmad Isfahānī, to which Mīr Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī has written important glosses.
b) The very popular commentary of the ninth/fifteenth-century scientist, philosopher, and theologian ‘Alā’ al-Dīn Qūshchī, which is famous throughout the Islamic world and on which over four hundred scholars have written glosses, including Dawānī and Khafrī.
c) Shawariq al-ilham fi sharh tajrid al-kalam, by ‘Abd al-Razzāq Lāhījī (eleventh/seventeenth century), which, although incomplete, is widely read and considered one of the most important commentaries on the Tajrid.
3. Sharh-i isharat: As already mentioned in the section on logic, the whole of the Isharat of Ibn Sīnā, concerned not only with logic, but also with natural philosophy, metaphysics, and gnosis, as commented on by Fakhr al-Dīn Razī, Tūsī, and Qutb al-Dīn Rāzī, has been over the centuries and continues to be one of the basic texts of Islamic philosophy in Persia.
4. Hikmat al-ishraq: This work of Suhrawardī, along with the commentaries of Shams al-Dīn Shahrazūrī and Qutb al-Dīn Shīrāzī and the glosses of Mullā Sadrā, constitutes the central work of the ishraqi school and is studied by everyone who wishes to master the doctrines of this school.
5. Sharh-i manzumah: The already mentioned work of Sabziwārī is as popular in the general field of philosophy as it is in logic, and since the thirteenth/nineteenth century it has come to be taught in nearly all the madrasahs in Persia where philosophy forms part of the curriculum.
6. al-Asfar al-arba‘ah: The major opus of Mullā Sadrā consists of four “journeys” (safar) and deals, respectively, with metaphysics, theology (in its general sense, not as kalam), natural philosophy, psychology, and eschatology. This vast work is considered the most advanced treatise on philosophy in Persia and is studied only after students have mastered all the other branches and schools of the “intellectual” and even “transmitted” sciences. Many commentaries have been written on it, including those of the thirteenth/nineteenth-century students of Mullā Sadrā’s school, Mullā ‘Alī Nūrī, Hājjī Mullā Hādī Sabziwārī, and Āqā ‘Alī Mudarris (Zunūzī). (Commentaries on this work have continued into the contemporary period by such notable authorities as ‘Allāmah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabāabā’ī.)
Several other works of Mullā Sadrā, such as al-Mabda’ wa’l-ma‘ad, al-Shawahid al-rububiyyah, al-Masha‘ir, al-‘Arshiyyah, Mafatih al-ghayb, and Asrar al-ayat, have also been popular among students of madrasahs since the beginning of the thirteenth/nineteenth century, when the teachings of Mullā Sadrā were revived throughout Persia, especially in the School of Tehran.
III. Sufism and Gnosis (tasawwuf and ‘irfan)
1. Kitab al-tamhid fi sharh qawa‘id al-tawhid: Also called Tawhid al-qawa‘id, this important treatise on the Sufism of the school of Ibn ‘Arabī by Sā’in al-Dīn ibn Turkah (ninth/fifteenth century) deals with the two poles of all Sufi doctrine: the transcendent unity of being (wahdat al-wujud) and the universal man (al-insan al-kamil). It has always been very popular as a treatise on gnosis (‘irfan) and has been commented on by several masters, including Āqā Muammad Ridā Qumsha’ī.
2. Sharh-i fusus al-hikam: The text of this most celebrated of all works on doctrinal Sufism is by Muhyī al-Dīn ibn ‘Arabī, and numerous commentaries have been written on it. As far as Persia is concerned, the most popular commentaries over the centuries have been those of Dā’ūd Qayarī (eighth/fourteenth century), on which Āqā Muhammad Ridā Qumsha’ī has written extensive glosses; ‘Abd al-Razzāq Kāshānī (eighth/fourteenth century); ‘Abd al-Rahmān Jāmī (ninth/fifteenth century); and Bālī Afandī (tenth/sixteenth century). [There are also more recent commentaries and glosses, such as those of Ayatollah RūhAllāh Khomeini, Sayyid Hasan Jawādī Āmulī, and Hasan Hasanzādah Āmulī.] These commentaries all draw heavily from the commentary of Mu’ayyid al-Dīn Jandī, which, however, has itself never become popular.
3. Sharh-i miftah al-ghayb: The text of this advanced work on Sufi doctrine is by Sadr al-Dīn al-Qunyawī (seventh/thirteenth century), the foremost expositor of Ibn ‘Arabī in the East, and the commentary by Shams al-Dīn Hamzah Fanārī.
IV. Medicine (tibb)
1. Sharh-i nafisi: The text of this popular medical treatise is the Mujaz by ‘Alā‘ al-Dīn ‘Alī ibn Abi’l-Hazm Qarashī (seventh/thirteenth century), which is itself an epitome of the Canon of Ibn Sīnā. The most famous commentary, which has been printed with the Mujaz, is by Nafīs ibn ‘Iwaj Kimānī (ninth/fifteenth century). There are other commentaries on the Mujaz, such as those of Jamāl al-Dīn Aqsarā’ī and Sadīd al-Dīn Kāzirūnī, which, however, have never reached the fame of Sharh-i nafisi.
2. Sharh-i asbab: The text of this work is the Asbab wa ‘alamat of Najīb al-Dīn Samarqandī, the well-known seventh/thirteenth-century physician and pharmacologist, and the commentary by the same Nafīs ibn ‘Iwaj Kimānī mentioned above.
3. The Qanun (Canon): This magnum [medical] opus of Ibn Sīnā, consisting of five books, is the most important work in Islamic medicine. It is usually studied in Persia with the commentaries of Fakhr al-Dīn Rāzī, Qutb al-Dīn al-Misrī, ‘Alā’ al-Dīn Qarashī, and Muhammad ibn Mahmūd Āmulī. But the most thorough and respected commentary is that of Qutb al-Dīn Shīrāzī, which stands as a major medical work of its own.
4. Fusul-i Buqrat: Many of the works of Hippocrates have been popular among medical students, perhaps the foremost being the Fusul, which, in Persia, is usually studied with the commentaries of ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Alī (known as Ibn Abī Sādiq), Ibn Quff, and ‘Alā’ al-Dīn Qarashī.
V. The Mathematical Sciences (riyadiyyāt)
1. Geometry (handasah): The students of geometry have relied most of all upon the Elements (Usul) of Euclid in the translations, recensions, and commentaries of Hajjāj ibn Matar, Hunayn ibn Ishāq, Thābit ibn Qurrah, and Abū ‘Uthmān al-Dimashqī composed up to the seventh/thirteenth century. At that time, with the appearance of the Tahrir of Nasīr al-Dīn Tūsī, this latter work became the main text for the study of geometry along with the glosses of Mīr Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī. This in turn was translated into Persian and commented on by Mullā Mahdī Narāqī (twelfth/eighteenth century). Actually the section on geometry in the Durrat al-taj of Qutb al-Dīn Shīrāzī is also a Persian version of Nasīr al-Dīn’s recension.
2. Arithmetic (hisab): In the older days the Shamsiyyat al-hisab of Nizām al-Dīn Hasan ibn Muhammad Nayshābūrī (seventh/thirteenth century) and the Miftah al-hisab of Ghiyāth al-Dīn Jamshīd Kāshānī were the most common works, but in the Safavid period they were replaced to some extent by the Khulasat al-hisab of Shaykh Bahā’ al-Dīn ‘Āmilī (eleventh/seventeenth century) with the commentary of his student, Jawād ibn Sa‘d Allāh Kāzimaynī. In the Qajar period Mu‘tamid al-Dawlah Farhād Mīrzā wrote another important commentary on it, which also became popular.
3. Astronomy (hay’at):
a) Risala-yi farsi dar hay’at: The text is by the already mentioned ‘Alā’ al-Dīn Qūshchī, and it is usually accompanied by the commentary of Muslih al-Dīn Lārī (eleventh/seventeenth century).
b) Sharh-i mulakhkhas: The Mulakhkhas is by Mahmūd Chagmīnī (eighth/fourteenth century) and was commented on by Mūsā ibn Mahmūd, known as Qādīzāda-yi Rūmī (ninth/fifteenth century), who composed it for Ulugh Beg. ‘Abd al-‘Alī Bīrjandī and Mīr Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī have written glosses on the commentary, which are usually studied with the text and the commentary, while many other existing glosses have been forgotten.
c) al-Tadhkirah: This is the celebrated work of Naīr al-Dīn Tūsī on which many commentaries have been written, the most popular being that of Bīrjandī.
d) The “intermediate” works (mutawassitat): These works stand between the Elements and the Almagest and were to be studied before undertaking the Almagest. They include the Spherics of Theodosius, On the Moving Sphere of Autolycus, the Spherics of Menelaus, and the Optics, Data, and Phenomena of Euclid. All of these works came to be studied in the recensions of Nasīr al-Dīn Tūsī.
e) The Almagest: Since the early Islamic period, the Almagest of Ptolemy has been popular in the Arabic translation of Hajjāj ibn Matar, Ishāq ibn Hunayn, and Thābit ibn Qurrah. Later it came to be studied in the recension of Nasīr al-Dīn Tūsī with the commentaries of Nizām al-Dīn Nayshābūrī and ‘Abd al-‘Alī Bīrjandī.
f) Other branches of the mathematical sciences: An important branch of these sciences, which always attracted the interest of students, was the science of the astrolabe, on which many works exist, such as the Kitab al-usturlab of ‘Abd al-Rahmān Sūfī, whose Suwar al-kawakib, dealing with stars and constellations, has also always been popular; the Isti‘ab fi’l-‘amal bi’l-usturlab of Bīrūnī; the Bist bab dar fann-i usturlab of Tūsī, on which ‘Abd al-‘Alī Bīrjandī has written a commentary; and two treatises by Shaykh Bahā’ al-Dīn ‘Āmilī, one in Arabic called Safihah and the other in Persian entitled Tuhfa-yi hatami.
The description of the texts used in the madrasahs of Persia and adjacent areas until a couple of generations ago is an indication of the breadth of Islamic education when it was alive and embraced all the intellectual disciplines. It is true that this madrasah system did not come to terms with the modern scientific disciplines in the same way that Islamic thought confronted the Greco-Hellenistic heritage. The fault lies as much with the educational authorities, who sought to establish separate educational systems, as with the traditional scholars in the madrasahs, who refused to consider the challenge of modern science and learning. Consequently, today there reigns educational havoc nearly everywhere throughout the Islamic world, with contending and often contradictory educational systems vying for the minds, souls, and hearts of new generations of students.
In this critical situation, the madrasah system, as reflected in the breadth of the program outlined above and as seen in the classical period when this system was at the height of its vigor, must be seen not only as the precious repository of the traditional Islamic sciences, but also as the model from which any educational system claiming to be integrated within the various zones of Islamic culture, whether Persian, Arabic, Turkish, or other, can benefit in many basic ways. There is still a great deal that all contemporary Muslim educationalists can learn from the madrasahs, and these venerable institutions are of much greater importance to the future educational life of the various Islamic countries than the modern educationalists, who are enamored of the rapidly changing pedagogical theories of the West, are willing to admit. Not only is the content of the texts studied in madrasahs of significance, but their propaedeutic methods, based on the idea of the ultimate unity of knowledge, are also very pertinent for the creation of an authentic Islamic educational system today. Such a system can come into being only as an organic outgrowth from the tree of the traditional Islamic system, thereby preserving its heritage, and not through the blind imposition of alien educational philosophies and practices upon the Islamic world."
'Islam in the Modern World: Challenged by the West, Threatened by Fundamentalism, Keeping Faith with Tradition'
By Seyyed Hossein Nasr (Author)
The foremost U.S. authority on Islam and, Seyyed Hossein Nasr discusses today’s hot button issues—including holy wars, women’s rights, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, and the future of Moslems in the Middle East—in this groundbreaking discussion of the fastest-growing religion in the world. One of the great scholars in the modern Islamic intellectual tradition, and the acclaimed author of books such as The Garden of Truth and The Heart of Islam, Nasr brings incomparable insight to this exploration of Muslim issues and realities, delivering a landmark publication promoting cross-cultural awareness and world peace.
'Nasr, one of the world's foremost scholars of Islam, here updates one of his classic works in response to the major changes in the Islamic world (and its relationship with the non-Islamic world) that have occurred since the text was last revised in 1990. At its core is the tension between traditional Islam, the worldview defined by the equilibrium promulgated by the Shariah and the serenity of Islamic spirituality and expressed through traditional Islamic philosophy, science, art, and architecture, and the disunities and profanities of secular modernism that are the norm in the Western world and now pervade much of the Islamic world as well. In rejecting and critiquing modernism, Nasr argues, traditional Islam retains its rich spiritual vitality despite the challenges it faces from within and without. Among the greatest of these challenges is that presented by Islamic fundamentalism and violent radicalism, which, says Nasr, claim to reflect traditional Islam but have actually been profoundly corrupted by some of the modern West's ugliest attributes. Though passionately argued, this book is essentially an argument for the primacy of a particularly orthodox approach to Islamic faith and as such may not resonate with those inclined toward other Islamic beliefs. It does, however, provide an erudite and unusually accessible look into the ongoing struggle for the heart of Islam.'
(Brendan Driscoll, Booklist)
“An erudite and unusually accessible look into the ongoing struggle for the heart of Islam.”