About this site | Join our Book Club | About the Author  
Culture of IRAN
LeftMenu
RightMenu
Enter Your Email Address: 
Culture of Iran
 
Culture of IRAN   Culture of IRAN
 
 
 
Home » Religion » Islam in Iran, Early Periods
 
Culture of Iran Culture of Iran
 
R E L I G I O N
Islam in Iran, Early Periods
by:
Encyclopedia Iranica
Partition

The hostility thus antedated the rise of the Saljuqids, but it was substantially increased by the policies of the dynasty, beginning with the appointment by Ṭōgrel Beg (r. 1038-63) of Hanafite qāżis, often brought from Transoxania, to cities with largely or exclusively Shafeʿite populations and his awarding the control of congregational mosques to Hanafites. This promotion of the Hanafite school declined somewhat under Ṭōgrel Beg’s successor, Alp Arslān (r. 1063-72), in part because of the influence of his Shafeʿite vizier, Neẓām-al-Molk, who records that his master nonetheless frequently expressed displeasure at the schoolhe followed. Somewhat plaintively, he attempted to establish equality between the two schools by proclaiming: “There are only two good schools in the whole world, one that of Abu Ḥanifa and the other, that of al-Šāfeʿi” (Siāsat-nāma, p. 102). No permanent reconciliation was, however, to be had, and as the ability of the Saljuq sultans to control the rivalries they had fostered declined, matters deteriorated to the point that the two factions would assault each other’s mosques, madrasas, and residential areas. Such was the case in Nishapur in 553/1158; Isfahan in 552/1157 and 560/1165; and Marv in 596/1200 (Madelung, pp. 35­37; Halm, p. 134). It was however Rayy that was more thoroughly devastated by sectarian rivalries than any other Persian city. Yāqut Ḥamawi, who visited Rayy in 617/1220, describes the ruin to which it had been reduced, even before the Mongol invasion that came soon after, by two sets of hostilities: Sunnite vs. Shiʿite and Hanafite vs. Shafeʿite. Once the Sunnites had, at least within the city itself, trounced the Shiʿites, the Hanafites and Shafeʿites fell on each other (Yāqut,III, p. 117)

While the Shafeʿites were unable to dislodge the Hanafites from Persia, they did succeed in absorbing minor schools of law, now everywhere extinct, that also gave primary importance to tradition in their legal methodology. These included the Żāheriya, also known as the Dāʾudiya, established by Dāʾud b. Ḵalaf Eṣfahāni (d. 270/883), present in Shiraz, and the Ṯawriya, named after Abu Ṯawr Ebrāhim b. Ḵāled Kalbi (d. 240/854), which had gained a foothold in Isfahan, Dinavar, Hamadān, and Herat, and survived in Azerbaijan until the second half of the 4th/10th century. Also close to the Šāfeʿiya was the Jaririya, a short-lived schoolestablished by Moḥammad b. Jarir Ṭabari (d. 309/921), better known as a historian and exegete; his point of reference was, indeed, the Shafeʿite school, although he chose to distance himself from it on certain issues (Halm, p. 130).

The Hanbalite school was third in importance among the schools of Sunnite jurisprudence represented in Persia. From the abaqāt al-anābela of Abu Yaʿlā, a work listing Hanbalite scholars down to 513/1119, it is apparent that there was a scattered presence of Hanbalites in Nishapur and other Khorasanian cities. Later in the same century, Hanbalites could also be found in Gorgan, Rayy, Qazvin, Hamadan, Isfahan, Shiraz, and Samarqand. In all of these locations, the Hanbalites were ultimately displaced by the Shafeʿites, and in none of them had the Hanbalite school predominated; it seems mostly to have been a question of individual scholars and their immediate followers, not whole communities. This is well illustrated by the case of Ḵʷāja ʿAbd-Allāh Ansāri (d. 481/1089) whose passionate adherence to the Hanbalite school (“I will be a Hanbalite as long as I live; this is the testament I leave to my brethren;” cited in Serge Laugier de Beaurecueil, p. 305), imbibed from his teacher Tāqi Sejestāni, put him severely at odds in Herat with both Hanafites and Shafeʿites. The only area where Hanbalism seems to have enjoyed more or less complete sway was western Gilan, where the people owed their embrace of Islam to Abu Jaʿfar al-Ṯumi, a Hanbalite from Āmol in Ṭabarestān. The principal center of Hanbalism in Gilan was the city of Šaft, the birthplace of ʿAbd-al-Qāder Gilāni, eponym of the Qāderi Sufi order. But even in Gilan, the Hanbalite school was supplanted not later than the 8th/14th century by its Shafeʿite rival, presumably as a result of influences emanating from Azerbaijan (Rabino, p. 35; Madelung, p. 27).

Although extremely shortlived in Persia, the fourth of the canonical schools of Sunnite Islam, the Malekite, had some presence in Ahvāz, Qazvin, Abhar, and Nishapur, where its last representative was a certain Abu Esḥāq b. al-Kattān. It is said to have had but one representative in Rayy; he professed the schoolout of embarrassment that a scholar of Imam Mālek’s eminence should be so entirely disregarded in his city (Nasr and Mutahhari, p. 476).

Kalām, speculative or rational theology, was too technical a discipline to arouse widespread interest beyond the ranks of the ulema (ʿolamāʾ), and unlike feqh (q.v.) it had no practical implications for everyday life; one explanation for its designation is indeed that its concerns are purely verbal. Nonetheless, it was in its very nature a disputatious and polemical discipline, and once adherence to a certain school of kalām became conjoined with loyalty to a given school, the effect was to intensify religious strife. Such conjunction was often the result of shared methodological emphases. Thus many Shafeʿites, emphasizing the centrality of tradition as a source of law, tended to adopt the Ashʿarite school of kalām, devoted as it was to the vindication of traditionalist doctrines such as the non-createdness of the Qurʾan and the unqualified omnipotence of God, albeit by rational methods. Ashʿarite kalām, first introduced to Nishapur by Abu Bakr b. Furak (d. 406/1015) and Abu Esḥāq Esfarāʾeni (d. 418/1027), was quickly adopted by the Shafeʿite scholars of the city, who then assured its diffusion elsewhere in Khorasan. The competing Hanafite schoolhad itself a theological dimension, in that Abu Ḥanifa had authored a creed, but many Hanafites, espousing the principle of raʾy (personal opinion) in jurisprudence, were attracted to the Moʿtazelite school of kalām, a markedly rationalist current. Originating in Iraq, it was soon adopted by the Hanafite communities of Ḵuzestān, Fārs, and Rayy; in the last-named, it came under severe attack by Sultan Maḥmud of Ghazna in 420/1029. A signal clash between the two tendencies came in Nishapur in 446/1054. ʿAmid-al-Molk Kondori, vizier to Ṭōgrel Beg the Saljuq, was Hanafite and probably Moʿtazelite by persuasion, and he gained permission from his master to launch a campaign against a variety of groups he perceived as deviant. One result was that the Hanafites were able to seize control of the main mosque in Nishapur and there denounce as an unbeliever Abu’l-Ḥasan Ašʿari (d. 324/935), founder of the school named after him. The great theologian Emām-al-Ḥaramayn Jowayni (d. 478/1085) fled the city for Mecca, and Abu’l-Qāsem Qošayri (d. 465/1072), best known as a Sufi but also a proponent of the Shafeʿite-Ashʿarite synthesis, left for a period of exile in Baghdad. This discomfiting of the Shafeʿite-Ashʿarites of Nishapur was shortlived, but the Moʿtazelite presence elsewhere in Khorasan continued for at least another century (Madelung, p. 38). Its last great exponent was the exegete Zamaḵšari (d. 538/1143), thanks to whose influence his native city of Ḵᵛārazm for long remained a stronghold of Moʿtazelite kalām.

Sufi Orders in Iran

Another mode of differentiation among the Sunnites of Persia was provided by the Sufi communities and orders that began to appear in the 4th/10th century in Fārs and Khorasan; earlier it had been a question only of groups gathered informally around an individual Sufi, liable in most cases to disperse after his death (this applies, for example, to the twelve sects listed by Hojviri, pp. 218-341). The first order to emerge was the Kāzaruniya, so named after its place of origin in Fārs, but alternatively known as the Esḥāqiya, in allusion to the konya of its founder, or as the Moršediya, because of his title, Šayḵ-e Moršed (the guiding shaikh). Born in 352/963 to parents who had converted from Zoroastrianism to Islam some time before his birth, Abu Esḥāq Kāzaruni was initiated into Sufism by Ḥosayn ʿAkkār, a pupil of Ebn Ḵafif, while studying in Shiraz. On returning to Kāzarun, he established not only his own mosque, but also a ḵānaqāh, a place of gathering and residence for his followers, one of the earliest examples in Persia of this quintessential insititution of organized Sufism. The emphasis of his teaching was on strict observance of the šariʿa,asceticism, concern for the poor, and energetic proselytizing among the Zoroastrians and Jews of Fārs. He established sixty-five ḵānaqāhs outside Kāzarun, principally in other parts of Fārs, and the order he founded was never disseminated beyond this area, with two long-distance exceptions: the seaports of India and southern China that were frequented by merchants from Kāzarun, and Anatolia, whither the order was conveyed by followers who volunteered for seasonal warfare on the Byzantine frontier as a matter of religious duty. Like many early Sufis, Abu Esḥāq was profoundly misogynistic, but unlike them, he took the logical step of refraining from marriage, so that after his death in 426/1035, it was in a close associate and his progeny that the leadership of the order came to be vested until its destruction by the Safavids in 909/1503 (Meier, 1948, pp. 17­55, 65­71).

Another organized group of Sufis that had the potential of becoming a long-lasting order was that centered first on the person and then on the memory and teachings of Abu Saʿid b. Abu’l-Ḵayr (q.v., 357/967-440/1049), a contemporary of Abu Esḥāq. The ḵānaqāh he founded at Mayhana in Transoxania and for which he drew up formal rules of conduct, together with the shrine housing his tomb, was destroyed by the GĪozz Turks in 549/1154, who also massacred surviving members of his family. This marked the end of Abu Saʿid’s spiritual lineage, and it was only in the dual realms of poetry and hagiography that his name was preserved (Šafiʿi-Kad Kani, pp. 8­20. Šehāb-al-Din Abu Ḥafṣ ʿOmar Sohravardi (539/1145-632/1234) counts as the eponym of the Sohravardiya, but the order as such never took root in Persia, although his posthumous influence was marked in Shiraz. Various branches of his spiritual line did, however, crystallize as orders in the Mongol and post-Mongol periods, including the Kobrawiya, Ḵalwatiya (qq.v.), and Ṣafawiya.

Having certain emphases in common with the Sufis were two other movements, both centered on Nishapur: the Karrāmiya and the Malāmatiya. The eponym of the former, Ebn Karrām (d. 255/869 in Jerusalem), adumbrated a number of controversial theological teachings: the permissibility of understanding literally divine attributes in the Qurʾan (such as “hand” and “face”) that are susceptible, if taken in isolation, to anthropomorphic interpretation; and the subsisting of incidents (ḥawādeṯ) in the divine essence. He was primarily esteemed, however, for what has been described as “an activist and ostensive asceticism” (Madelung, p. 44) that involved a hyperbolic interpretation of trusting in God to provide sustenance (tawakkol). Despite the otherworldly implications of this attitude, the Karrāmis maintained a remarkable number of madrasas and ḵānaqāhs, in Nishapur, Marv, Herat, Gorgān, Bayhaq, and as far east as Farḡāna, and throughout this broad area, somewhat like Abu Esḥāq Kāzaruni in Fārs, they had much success in bringing Zoroastrians into the fold of Islam. The Karrāmiya was favored in the late 4th/10th century by the early Ghaznavids, but not long after, Ṭ˜ōgrel Beg, single-mindedly devoted to the Hanafites, ordained that the movement be officially execrated, together with the Shiʿites and the Ashʿarites. It fell into irreversible decline in the 6th/12th century and became conventionally classified as a heresy (Madelung, pp. 39­46).

Partition
next page » « previous page
 
Culture of Iran Culture of Iran
 
 
   
 
Culture of IRAN   Culture of IRAN
 
Culture of IRAN   Culture of IRAN
 
Copyrights 2006 Cultureofiran.com Site By:
 
Culture of IRAN   Culture of IRAN