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Sayyid Haydar Amuli

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Sayyid Haydar Amuli

Sayyid Haydar Amuli
Born 1319 CE
Amol, Iran
Died 1385 CE
Najaf, Iraq
Era 14th century
Main interests
Sufism, Shi'ism, Mysiticism

Sayyid Baha al-Din Haydar, Haydar al-'Obaidi al-Hossayni Amuli, or Seyyed Haydar Amoli or Mir Haydar Amoli a Shi'ite mystic and Sufi, philosophers, was an early representative of Persian theosophy and one of the most distinguished commentators of the mystic philosopher Ibn Arabi, during the 14th century.


Early life

Haydar Amuli belongs to the family of Hussayni Sayyids from the town of Amol, in Mazandaran, located in the northern portion of present day Iran close to the Caspian Sea. The town of Amul at the time was known to be heavily populated by Shi'ite Muslims. At a very young age started studying Imam Shi'ism and the attended juridical school madhhab where he also devoted his attention to Sufism as well, until around the age of thirty years old.[1] Haydar Amuli first began his studies in his home town of Amul. He eventually moved on to the town of Astarabad, located in near Mazandaran, and then Isfahan, located in the central portion of Iran.[2] In his early twenties, Sayyid Haydar Amuli returned to Amul and became a close trusted confidant and eventually a special deputy and chamberlain to the Bavandid Hasan II, who was the ruler of Tabaristan.[3] Even though Amuli had a close relationship with Hasan II, he soon after experienced a religious crisis. Amuli quotes in his work Inner Secrets of the Path that he started to feel corrupt and that he needed to move on to a place where he could fully devote himself to God. So Sayyid Haydar Amuli gave up his position in the court to further pursue Sufism. His abandonment of the courtly life occurred, only a couple of years, before Hasan II was assassinated by his own family members.[4]

Return to Sufism

After Haydar Amuli's departure from the court, he began practicing Sufism.In the village of Tihran he began to follow a shaykh by the name of Nur al-Din Tihrani, a gnositc of Allah and ascetic. Amuli spent a little less than a month in his company before wearing the symbolic Sufi cloak or khirqa.[5] Eventually, Sayyid Haydar Amuli went on to embark on his pilgrimage or Hajj, going on to visit various Shi'ite shrines and also traveling to Jerusalem as well as the holy cities Mecca and Medina. Unfortunately, due to ill health, Amuli had to leave Medina .[6] It is documented that he spent the rest of his life in Iraq. For years he studied in Baghdad among important Shi'ite scholars including, Fakhr al-Din Muhammad al-Hasan and Nasir al-Din al-Kashani al-Hilli. These two scholars were prominent figures in Shi'ism at the time. Haydar al-Amuli then settled in the Shi'ite shrine city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, for over thirty years until around 1385 CE when he was last documented to be living. This is also around the same time that he completed his last work, known as his, Resalat al-olum al-aliya .[7]

Amuli's Main Ideas

Synthesis of Shi'ism and Sufism

Early on Amuli was a supporter of Imamite Shi’ism. Similar to Sufism, Shi’ism involves the ideas of šarīʿa, ṭarīqa, and ḥaqīqa. Amuli believed that every Shi’ite was “a believer put to the test” or moʾmen momtaḥan. This is also a Sufi belief. One of Amuli’s main ideas was that the Imams who were endowed with knowledge mystical were not just guides to the Shi’ite community but also the Sufi community. Amuli was both a critic of Shi’ites who limited their religion to a legalistic system and equally critical of Sufis who denied certain principles that originated with the Imams.[8]

Pure Monotheism

Amuli also implemented and further explained the differences between pure monotheism, also known as, tawḥīd olūhī and the inner tawḥīd woǰūdī. Pure monotheism is constituted by the profession of faith lā elāha ellaʾllāh and the idea of the outward aspect of God’s unity. The inner tawḥīd woǰūdī involves the idea that nothing else exists except for God also known as laysa fi’l-woǰūd sewaʾllāh.[9] Amuli metaphorically explains the idea of tawḥīd woǰūdī as ink and the letters that are produced by that ink. The letters by themselves do not exist without the ink. Amuli means that the physical world is only a manifestation of God’s divine names. Amuli takes to two ideas of tawḥīd and compares them to two types of šerk (association, polytheism).One type of šerk is when one associates God with other Gods. The other type is ḵafī.This is when one does not realize that there is no God but God.[10]

The Seal of Walāya

Another belief of Amuli is that the tawḥīd woǰūdī will be proved with the arrival of the twelfth Imam, Mahdī. Amuli’s idea of the twelfth Imam follows the ideas of previous scholars. Amuli specifically believes that ‘Ali was the seal of the universal walāya and Mohammadan walāya is, for Amuli, the Mahdī. These ideas differ from that of Ibn ‘Arabi in that al’Arabi believes that Jesus Christ was the seal of the universal walāya.[11]


It is documented that Sayyid Haydar Amuli wrote over forty different works, but of those only seven remain.[12] Asrār al-šarīʿa wa aṭwār al-ṭarīqa wa anwār al-ḥaqīqa is one of Amuli's work that is mentioned twice in the Jāmeʿ al-asrār, Amuli individually discusses his five basic principles of religion,that include: divine unity, prophecy, eschatology, Imamate, and justice. He also mentions the five pillars of Islam prayer, fasting, zakāt, haǰǰ, and ǰehād. He discusses all of these topics from three different points of view, the šarīʿa, the ṭarīqa, and the ḥaqīqa. Jāmeʿ al-asrār wa manbaʿ al-anwār is the most famous of Amuli’s writings. It is divided into three books and each book is separated into four chapters or (qāʿeda). al-Masāʾel al-āmolīya (or al-ḥaydarīya) is a work that consists of theological and juridical ideas that are addressed by Amuli written to his teacher Faḵr-al-moḥaqqeqīn. From this work an autograph is preserved. Amuli wrote, Resālat al-woǰūd fī maʿrefat al-maʿbūd, in 1359 CE. It was completed while Amuli was residing in Naǰaf around 1367 CE. al-Moḥīṭ al-aʿẓam is a seven volume commentary that was completed around 1375 or 1376 CE. This work titled, Naṣṣ al-noṣūṣ is a commentary on another piece written by Ibn Arabi, titled Foṣūṣ al-ḥekam. This piece includes some autobiographical passages that provide information about Amuli’s life. Amuli's last work was titled, Resālat al- ʿolūm al-ʿālīya is a collection of Imamite traditions credited to Amuli. It is often debated that it was actually written by a different author.[13]

Tomb Sayyid Haydar Amuli (Seyyed se Tan)

Notable Quote

"The ocean is the same ocean as it has been of old; The events of today are its waves and its rivers."

"Indeed I swear by Allah that if the seven heavens were made of paper and the trees of the earth were pens, if the seas of the world were ink and the spirits, mankind and the angels were scribes, then they would be unable to write even a jot of what I had witnessed of the divine gnoses and realities"


In Sayyid Haydar Amuli's commentary Al‑Muhit al‑A`zam (The Mighty Ocean, Amuli gives a brief family genealogy. "I am Rukn al‑Din Haydar, the son of Sayyid Taj al‑Din 'Ali Padashah, the son of Sayyid Rukn al‑Din Haydar, the son of Sayyid Taj al‑Din 'Ali Padashah, the son of Sayyid Muhammad Amir, the son of 'Ali Padashah, the son of Abu Ja`far Muhammad, the son of Zayd, the son of Abu Ja`far Muhammad, the son of Ibrahim, the son of Muhammad, the son of Husayn Kusaj, the son of Ibrahim, the son of Sana'illah, the son of Muhammad Harun, the son of Hamzah, the son of `Ubayd ullah al‑`Araj, the son of Husayn Asghar, the son of Imam 'Ali ibn al‑Husayn Zayn al‑`Abidin, the son of Husayn the Shahid ‑ the martyr, the son of the Commander of the Faithful 'Ali ibn Abi Talib".[14]


Amuli is not the only Imamite thinker to incorporate the writings of Ibn ‘Arabi and his followers. The joining of both Sufism and Shi'ism was further explored throughout history by more scholars like Amuli. Scholars such as, Mir Damad, Mulia Sandra, Hadi Sabzavari, and Ayatollah Khomayni continued to establish a connection between Sufism and Shi’ism.[15]


  1. ^ Amuli, Sayyid Haydar (1989). Inner Secrets of The Path. Elements Books,Zahra Publications. 
  2. ^ Meri, Josef W., and Jere L. Bacharach (2006). Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia. A-Z ed. Vol. 1. New York: Rouledge. pp. 42–43. 
  3. ^ Amuli, Sayyid Haydar (1989). Inner Secrets of The Path. Elements Books,Zahra Publications. 
  4. ^ Kohlberg, Etan. "Encyclopedia Iranica". "AMOLI,SAYYED BAHA-AL-DIN". 
  5. ^ Amuli, Sayyid Haydar (1989). Inner Secrets of The Path. Elements Books,Zahra Publications. 
  6. ^ Kohlberg, Etan. "Encyclopedia Iranica". "AMOLI,SAYYED BAHA-AL-DIN". 
  7. ^ van Ess, Josef. "Encyclopedia of Islam: Second Edition". "ḤAYDAR-i ĀMULĪ, Bahāʾal-DīnḤaydarb.ʿAlīb.Ḥaydaral-ʿUbaydī (719/1319 or 720/1320—after 787/1385)". 
  8. ^ Kohlberg, Etan. "Encyclopedia Iranica". "AMOLI,SAYYED BAHA-AL-DIN". 
  9. ^ Kohlberg, Etan. "Encyclopedia Iranica". "AMOLI,SAYYED BAHA-AL-DIN". 
  10. ^ Kohlberg, Etan. "Encyclopedia Iranica". "AMOLI,SAYYED BAHA-AL-DIN". 
  11. ^ Kohlberg, Etan. "Encyclopedia Iranica". "AMOLI,SAYYED BAHA-AL-DIN". 
  12. ^ Kohlberg, Etan. "Encyclopedia Iranica". "AMOLI,SAYYED BAHA-AL-DIN". 
  13. ^ Kohlberg, Etan. "Encyclopedia Iranica". "AMOLI,SAYYED BAHA-AL-DIN". 
  14. ^ Amuli, Sayyid Haydar (1989). Inner Secrets of The Path. Elements Books,Zahra Publications. 
  15. ^ Meri, Josef W., and Jere L. Bacharach (2006). Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia. A-Z ed. Vol. 1. New York: Rouledge. pp. 42–43. 


  • Amuli, Sayyid Haydar. Inner Secrets of the Path. Trans. Asadullah Ad-Dhaakir Yate. Babagan. Print.
  • Corbin, Henry. Temple and Contemplation. Trans. Philip Sherrard. London: Kegan Paul International in Association with Islamic Publications Ltd., 1986. Print.
  • Kohlberg, Etan. "AMOLI,SAYYED BAHA-AL-DIN" Encyclopædia Iranica | Home. Center of Iranian Studies, Columbia University, 15 Dec. 1984. Web. 06 Apr. 2011.
  • Kohlberg, Etan. "Some Shī'ī Views of the Antediluvian World." Studia Islamica 52 (1980): 41-66. J Stor. Maisonneuve & Larose. Web. 2011. .
  • Meri, Josef W., and Jere L. Bacharach. Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia. A-Z ed. Vol. 1. New York: Routledge, 2006. Print.
  • Morris, James W. "Ibn 'Arabi and His Interpreters." Journal of the American Oriental Society 107 (1987): 101-19. Print
  • van Ess, J. "ḤAYDAR-i ĀMULĪ, Bahāʾal-DīnḤaydarb.ʿAlīb.Ḥaydaral-ʿUbaydī (719/1319 or 720/1320—after 787/1385)." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman;, Th. Bianquis;, C.E. Bosworth;, E. van Donzel; and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2011. Brill Online. Augustana. 1 April 2011

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