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The Shirāz School

Interestingly, the Fārs region had managed to remain safe from the impact the destructive approach of the Mongols as a result of which a number of scholars, poets and literary personalities migrated to it. Shams Qeis Rāzi’s account of his migration to Fārs proves that Fārs had become a haven for a number of scholarly personalities. It was following these migrations that the philosophical-theological school of Fārs (Shirāz) had come to be established in the 8th Century AH/14th Century AD. Some researchers have named up to nineteen theologians and philosophers who were associated with the Shirāz school, the most outstanding of whom were Qāzi Azad al-Din Iji (d. 756 AH/1355 AD), Sa’d al-Din Taftāzāni (d. 792 AH/1390 AD), Mir Seyyed Sharif Jorjāni (d. 816 AH/1413 AD), Jalāl al-Din Davāni (d. 908 AH/1502 AD), the members of the Dashtaki family - who have been referred to by Henri Corbin as a dynasty of philosophers - viz. Amir Sadr al-Din Dashtaki (d. 948 AH/1541 AD), his son Ghiyāth al-Din Mansur Dashtaki (d. 948 AH/1541 AD), and his grandson popularly known as Mir Sadr al-Din II (d. 961 AH/1554 AD). A study of the works of the scholars associated with the Shirāz school reveals that these scholars were basically theologians in principles, even though the influence of the Shiite Illuminationist philosophical elements is clearly evident and is indicative of the fact that most of the fundamental principles of Mollā Sadrā’s school of philosophy were derived from this school. The history of theological thought in Iran indicates that the Shiraz school was initially under the influence of the Ash’ari thought and then the Shiite theological thought. The Ash’ari theological thought spread in the Shiraz school as a result of the efforts of Qāzi Azad al-Din Iji, who was a great and deep-sighted research scholar, with the writing of the book “Al-Mawāqef”, which was, in fact, an encyclopedia of theology and even philosophy. A number of commentaries have been written on this book, the most important of which is the one written by Mir Seyyed Sharif Jorjāni that has made the book more valuable. Some other personalities of the Shiraz school who were initially of Sunni faith and who supported and even spread the Ash’ari theology were Allāmeh Davāni and members of the Dashtaki family.

The Shiite theology emerged in the Shirāz school following the inclination of some of the great scholars of this school like Davāni and Ghiyāth al-Din Mansur Dashtaki and his descendents towards the Shiite theology, making the prediction the “the Shiraz school will start with the Ash’ari theology and will continue and come to an end with the Shiite theology” come true. In his treatise, the “Nur al-Hedāyah”, while expressing his tribute to the twelve Infallible Imams (‘a), Davāni has given an account of his inclination towards the Shiite theology and faith that was the outcome of his examination of both Sunni and Shiite beliefs with the help of intellectual reasoning. With the inclination of Ghiyāth al-Din Mansur towards Shiism, the Dashtaki family, too, collectively accepted the Shiite faith, and in this way, the Shiite theology that had become popular as a result of the inclination of Soltān Mohammad Khodābandeh towards the Shiite faith, under the influence Allāmeh Helli, came to replace the Ash’ari theology in the Shiraz school. Moreover, owing to its position as the “Borj al-Awliyā” (lit.: “the tower of the friends of Allah”), and despite being under the domination of the Sunnis, Shirāz had always been a region in which the Shiite faith was of great importance. The Shirāz school also played a special role in the preservation of culture, literature, philosophy, and theology and in passing them on to the Esfahān school. Some scholars are, in fact, of the clear opinion that had the Shiraz school not declined – a deterioration that came about as a result of it being transferred to Esfahān during the Safavid rule – and had it been allowed to go through the natural course of its evolution, it would have produced outstanding results. However, the most important outcome of the Shirāz school was the emergence of Mollā Sadrā or “Sadr al-Mota’allahin” (d. 1050 AH/1640 AD) and his Transcendental Philosophy (Hekmat-e Mota’āliyah). However, following Mollā Sadrā’s return to Shirāz some time between the years 1020 and 1022 AH/1611 and 1613 AD, a second school came to be established in Shirāz that came to be popularly known as the “Sadrā’i School of Philosophy”.


* source: Dadbeh , Asghar " Iran Entry " The Great Islamic Encyclopedia . Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.10 , pp.617- 618


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