Abd al-Samad al-Hamadani
ʿAbd al-Ṣamad al-Hamadānī (Arabic: عبد الصمد الهمداني) (d. 1216/1802) was an expert in mysticism, fiqh, lughat, and kalam (theology) in the 13th/19th century. Al-Wahid al-Bihbahani and al-Sayyid 'Ali al-Tabataba'i were the prominent teachers of 'Abd al-Samad. He lived in Iraq for some years in order to learn and teach fiqh. It is said that sufi orders became widespread among Shi'a faqihs (jurists), especially in Iraq, through 'Abd al-Samad's works which was finally followed by Husayn Quli Hamadani. Bahr al-ma'arif (sea of knowledge) was the most important work of 'Abd al-Samad written on Sufism and practical knowledge. 'Abd al-Samad was martyred in Wahhabis' Attack to Karbala in 1216/1802.
|Religious Affiliation||Twelver Shia|
|Studied in||Karbala, Isfahan|
|Professors||AL-Wahid al-Bihbahani and al-Sayyid 'Ali al-Tabataba'i|
|Students||Mulla Muhammad Kuhbanani and Mulla 'Abbas Irawani|
|Works||Bahr al-haqa'iq, Fi l-Ishq al-ilahi|
Lineage and Birth
No information is available on his family, his birthday and his early years of life. The first biographers who have written obout him are: Zayn al-'Abidin al-Shirwani whose father was a friend of 'Abd al-Samad and also Mirza Muhammad Hasan al-Zanuzi, the author of Riyad al-janna who mentioned the name of 'Abd al-Samad's father in his book as Muhammad.
Regarding the time of his martyrdom and his age on that time, sixty years old, 'Abd al-Samad must have been born before in 1156/1743 or around 1150/1738 to 1155/1743. He was martyred on Dhu l-Hijja 18, 1216/21 April, 1802 in Wahhabis' attack to Karbala.
According to Shirwani, 'Abd al-Samad studied in Iraq for about forty years and issued fatwas as a mujtahid for thirty years in Karbala where he taught many students and wrote books on fiqh, usul and lughat.
Al-Wahid al-Bihbahani (d. 1205/1791) was the first and the most important teacher of 'Abd al-Samad and al-Sayyid 'Ali al-Tabataba'i (d. 1231/1815-1816), the author of Riyad al-masa'il, was his second teacher. Al-Sayyid Mahdi Bahr al-'Ulum is named as a teacher of 'Abd al-Samad; however 'Abd al-Samad himself never mentioned his name in his works.
When 'Abd al-Samad was in Iraq he was encouraged by Majdhub 'Ali Shah to meet Nur 'Ali Shah Isfahani which resulted in his involvement in sufi order. This meeting took place around 1207/1792-1793, when Nur 'Ali Shah was in Karbala, meanwhile he granted Majdhub 'Ali Shah permission for guidance. According to some sources, 'Abd al-Samad met Husayn Nur 'Ali Shah in Isfahan where he was granted permission for hidden dhikr and he learned from him for eight years. However 'Abd al-Samad mentioned in his book that he achieved ijaza (permission) from Rida 'Ali Shah Dakani, Ni'mat Allahi Qutb of the time in Deccan. He drew the tree of ancestry of Sayyid 'Ali Rida which goes back to Shah Ni'mat Allah Wali and further to Imam al-Rida (a) but he has not mentioned Husayn 'Ali Shah.
In his book Tara'iq al-haqayiq, Ma'sum 'Ali Shah mentioned some reasons for lack of presence of the name of Husayn 'Ali Shah, which are: damage of the original script or the possibility that 'Abd al-Samad was directly associated with Rida 'Ali Shah, which is acceptable as Husayn 'Ali Shah was cautious to express his involvement with Sufism. Therefore, as 'Abd al-Samad was bothered and prosecuted due to his involvement with Sufism, he tried to conceal this fact.
Role in Shi'i Mysticism
After eight years in Isfahan, 'Abd al-Samad returned to Karbala to preach his order. According to Ma'sum 'Ali Shah, probably 'Abd Al-Samad introduced al-Sayyid Mahdi Bahr al-'Ulum to Nur 'Ali Shah Isfahani. Therefore, 'Abd al-Samad is regarded hugely important in history of Shi'i mysticism, as sufi orders, especially in Iraq, became prevalent among Shi'i faqihs. It was later transmitted to Husayn Quli Hamadani and continued afterwards.
Mulla Muhammad Kuhbanani (d. 1247/1832), a religious scholar from Kerman, known as Hidayat 'Ali Shah, and Mulla 'Abbas Irawani (d. 1265/1849), known as Mirza Aqasi, who later became chancellor of Muhammad Shah Qajar were the notable students of 'Abd al-Samad. It is said 'Abd al-Samad told Aqasi to take care of his family before the attack of Wahhabis. Then after the martyrdom of 'Abd al-Samad, Aqasi brought 'Abd al-Samad's family back to Hamadan.
'Abd al-Samad al-Hamadani's works are on Sufism, fiqh, usul, lughat and kalam which were mostly left unpublished. Also a number of them are doubtfully attributed to him which are inscribed by 'Abd al-Samad b. Muhammad Husayn al-Hamadani. He was a religious scholar in late 13th/19th and 14th/20th century and a follower of Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa'i.
'Abd al-Samad's works on fiqh are: Bahr al-haqa'iq which is a commentary on al-Mukhtasar al-nafi' by al-Muhaqiq al-Hilli; It has left uncompleted but the original manuscript is available. Risala on ghina, which has discussed the reasons of fiqh on rejecting ghina (singing). Also a commentary on Ma'arij al-usul by al-Muhaqiq al-Hilli is the other work of 'Abd al-Samad on fiqh.
It is said 'Abd al-Samad wrote a lengthy book on Lughat.
In Sufism and Practical Knowledge
Fi l-ishq al-ilahi is a short treatise by Abd al-Samad which is written about love in Farsi and Arabic. Bahr al-ma'arif is the most notable book of 'Abd al-Samad on practical knowledge and Sufism.
This book is written in a bilingual method of Farsi and Arabic, which reflects spiritual experiences of 'Abd al-Samad. He wrote this book in the last years of his lifetime in Karbala. He has used Quranic verses and hadiths as well as books on theoretical and practical mysticism as references. He also brought quotations from Sufi scholars including Ma'ruf Karkhi, Junaydو and Najm al-Din al-Kubra.
Bahr al-ma'arif is similar to Jami' al-asrar, written by al-Sayyid Haydar al-Amuli, to bring Shi'ism and Sufism closer to each other. It was also a references for Bahr al-ma'arif. Some sections of this book including Wilaya and its principles, are drawn according to mysticism. 'Abd al-Samad tried to prove Sufism from the viewpoint of Wilaya and he interpreted its teachings.
Taking its chapters and titles into account, Bahr al-ma'arif is highly similar to Mirsad al-'ibad by Najm al-Din al-Razi. The difference is that commentaries and interpretations are expressed based on Shi'ite beliefs, for example in the first chapter the section on "the conditions of teacher and student" and "comprehensive study on Imamate" included and cited virtues of Imam 'Ali (a) and proved Imamate of him.
'Abd al-Samad composed poems in Farsi and Arabic which are cited in Bahr al-ma'arif. According to Agha Buzurg Tihrani, 'Abd al-Samad had a Diwan (poem collection).
- Written or oral permission which teacher (shaykh) grants to the student to show the student's qualification to be a teacher (shaykh) for others
- The material for this article is mainly taken from in Farsi Wikishia.