In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section ʿAbdul Razzāq Kāshānī

  • Introduction
  • Locating Kāshānī in Ibn ʿArabī’s Tradition among His Expositors
  • Contextualizing Kāshānī in the Intellectual life of Ilkhanid Persia
  • Kāshānī’s Contribution to Akbarīan Mysticism
  • Kāshānī among His Students and Peers

Islamic Studies ʿAbdul Razzāq Kāshānī
Leila Chamankhah
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 July 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0303


ʿAbdul Razzāq Kāshānī (also Qāshānī, d. AH 735/1335? CE), the Iranian Sufi, exegete, commentator, and one of the most significant expositors of Ibn ʿArabī’s (d. AH 638/1240 CE) theoretical mysticism (ʿirfān-i naẓarī), is a stimulating figure for both Western and Iranian scholars. Kāshānī was also a pioneer figure for using Shiʿa sources, including Hadith, to read and interpret Akbarīan mysticism, an initiative that influenced mystics such as Sayyid Ḥaydar Āmulī (d. AH 787/1385 CE) to maintain that Shiʿism and Sufism have inherent unification and should be regarded as identical. Kāshānī’s correspondences with his peer ʿAlāʾ u-Dawlah Simnānī (d. AH 736/1336 CE), a critic of ʿirfān-i naẓarī and the doctrine of waḥdat al-wujūd, indicate his deep and first-hand familiarity with his master’s philosophical mysticism. As a prolific writer of some forty-five books and treatises, and a teacher whose circle initiated and trained Sufis such as Sharaf al-Dīn Dāwūd Qayṣarī (d. AH 751/1350 CE), he left an undeniable mark on later mystics and philosophers who all shared the robust legacy of Ibn ʿArabī. Kāshānī died sometime in or around AH 735/1335 CE, in Naṭanz and is buried there.

Locating Kāshānī in Ibn ʿArabī’s Tradition among His Expositors

The most influential Sufi of Islam, Abū ʿAbdullāh Muḥy al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī ibn Muḥammad Ibn ʿArabī al-Ḥātamī, has positively shaped the entire course of Islamic mysticism. Khurāsānī 1436 H/2015 discusses his life, journeys, and training in Sufism at length. He was born in Murcia in Andalusia (Arabic al-Andalus) in today’s Spain. When he was eight years old, his family moved to Seville (Arabic Ishbiliyyah), because his father wanted to start an official career there. It was in Seville that Ibn ʿArabī began his primary education with famous teachers on the Qurʾan, Hadith, and literature, as well as other related subjects. He also received ījāza (authorization) of teaching and khirqa (lit. cloak) in Seville. Ibn ʿArabī is characterized by his several adventurous journeys to different Muslim societies, as well as having dreams and visions. His journeys, which were both geographical and spiritual, shaped his personality and philosophy. Finally, he settled down in Damascus, died in AH 638/1240 CE at the age of seventy-eight, and was buried in the family cemetery of qāḍī (also qāzī, lit. the judge) Muḥy al-Dīn ibn Zakī there. In the brand-new upshot of post-13th-century mysticism, mystical ideas were wrapped up in philosophical terminology. Due to the significant influence of Ibn ʿArabī on later Sufis, as fresh and energetic in our time as it was in his lifetime, his sophisticated language, and his comprehensive Weltanschauung, Akbarīan mysticism has garnered significant attention from modern scholars. Kāshānī carries on such a tradition in the direct line of a legacy which was originally inaugurated by Ibn ʿArabī’s stepson and first disciple, Ṣadr al-Dīn al-Qūnawī (d. AH 673/1274 CE), and centered on the doctrines of waḥdat al-wujūd, wilāya, and khatm al-wilāya, permanent archetypes (aʿyān-i thābita), and the Perfect Man (Chittick 1982, Hādīzādih 1380 Shamsī/2001, Lory 2009). Zarrīnkūb 1380 Shamsī/2001 investigates different aspects of Kāshānī’s life and work, including his correspondence with his peer Simnānī and debates around his birthplace, which according to him was Kashan of Persian Iraq, as well as his mystical affiliation in Suhrawardīya and his writings. Macdonald 1960 touches upon Kāshānī’s life, work, and legacy in Ibn ʿArabī’s tradition. The philosophical school of Qūnawī, with figures such as Kāshānī, the aforementioned Ḥaydar Āmulī, and ʿAbd al-Karīm al-Jīlī (d. AH 826/1424? CE) as its members, was one of the trios, which alongside the mystical poetry of Nūr al-Dīn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Jāmī (d. AH 871/1492 CE), Fakhr al-Dīn Īrāqī (d. AH 688/1289 CE), and the philosophy of Mullā Ṣadrā (d. AH 1045/1635–1636? CE) and his successors (known as ḥikma/ḥikmat discourse), inherited Ibn ʿArabī’s mysticism (Morris 1987). Morris 1986 ascertains that the intellectual configuration of the first school should be understood in its close interaction with the Avicennan falsafa and kalām tradition. Kāshānī’s writings, particularly his Taʾwīlāt Qurʾān al-Ḥakīm, testify to the fact that he was well-trained in the former, i.e., the Avicennan school of philosophy, which was prevalent in his time. Pertinent to Morris’ analysis is the observation in Sands 2006 of the predominant status of the philosophical outlook in Kāshānī’s Sufism, compared to the more imaginative approach of his master, which is visible even in his esoteric interpretation of the Qurʾan.

  • Chittick, William C. “The Five Divine Presences: From Al-Qūnawī to Al-Qayṣarī.” The Muslim World 72.2 (April 1982): 107–128.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1478-1913.1982.tb03238.x

    A short, albeit coherent presentation of five modulated presences in Akbarīan mysticism.

  • Hādīzādih, Majīd, ed. Majmūʿa Rasāʾil wa Muṣannafāt: Collected Treatises and Writings. 2d ed. Tehran, Iran: Mīrāth Maktūb, 1380 Shamsī/2001.

    A concise analysis of Kāshānī’s treatises and writings.

  • Khurāsānī, Sharaf al-Dīn. “Ibn ʿArabī, Abū ʿAbdullāh.” Dānishnāma-yi Buzurg-i Islāmī. 4 (1436 H/s2015).

    A comprehensive account of Ibn ʿArabī’s life and works.

  • Lory, Pierre. ʿAbd al-Razzāq al-Kāshānī. In Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Edited by Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, and Everett Rowson. Brill, 2009

    A short analysis of Kāshānī’s life and work.

  • MacDonald, D. B. “ABD al-Razzak Kashani.” In The Encyclopedia of Islam. Vol. 1, AB. New ed. 88–90. Leiden, The Netherlands, and London: Brill, 1960.

    A short analysis of Kāshānī’s life, writings, and contribution to Akbarīan mysticism.

  • Morris, James W. “Ibn Arabî and His Interpreters, Part II-A.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 106 (1986): 733–756.

    DOI: 10.2307/603535

    A very useful investigation of Ibn Arabī’s expositors among later generations.

  • Morris, James W. “Ibn Arabî and His Interpreters, Part II-B.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 107 (1987): 101–119.

    DOI: 10.2307/602957

    The second part of the investigation of Ibn Arabī’s expositors and the way they read and understood him from different traditions and training.

  • Sands, Kristin Zahra. Ṣūfī Commentaries on the Qurʾān in Classical Islam. New York: Routledge, 2006.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203019566

    A decent account of Sufi interpretations of the Book.

  • Zarrīnkūb, ʿAbdul Ḥussein. Dunbāla-yi Justujū dar Taṣawwuf-i Iran. Sequel to Inquiries into Persian Sufism. 5th ed. Tehran, Iran: Amīr Kabīr, 1380 Shamsī/2001.

    Classic in the history of Persian Sufism.

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