Philosophy in Early Safavid Iran

Najm al-Dīn Maḥmūd al-Nayrīzī and His Writings


Muslim philosophical activities on the cusp of the Safavid era (i.e., late 9th/15th and early 10th/16th centuries) have so far escaped the attention of modern scholars. In Iran, the city of Shiraz was the principal center of philosophy at this time, and it was here that Najm al-Dīn Maḥmūd al-Nayrīzī (d. after 933/1526), whose life and works are the subject of this book, spent his formative years. An accomplished Shīʿī scholars, Nayrīzī engaged with Avicennan as well as Suhrawardian philosophy in his works. Beside Nayrīzī, the present study introduces his contemporaries among the philosophers of Shiraz and provides an outline of the main challenges of their thought, particularly of the two leading figures, Jalāl al-Dīn al-Dawānī (d. 908/1502) and Ṣadr al-Dīn al-Dashtakī.


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Biographical Note

Reza Pourjavady, PhD (2008) in Islamic Studies, Free University of Berlin, is currently working as a research assistant at the institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University. Together with Sabine Schmidtke he published A Jewish Philosopher of Baghdad: ʿIzz al-Dawla Ibn Kammūna (d. 683/1284) and His Works (Brill 2006).

Review Quotes

"Copiously annotated, with a number of appendices which include Arabic texts, Philosophy in Early Safavid Iran will be of interest to historians and philosophers concerned with the intellectual development of the early Safavid period."
Journal of Shiʿa Islamic Studies, Summer 2011, Vol. IV. No. 3, p. 362.

"...Pourjavady deserves our thanks for this excellent contribution. Its appearance, one hopes, will constitute the pebble which will, or should, set in motion an avalanche of attention to the careers and contributions of all these figures from the fifteenth and sixteenth-century."
Andrew J. Newman, in Journal of Shiʿa Islamic Studies" Vol. IV, No. 4 (2011)

"...this work can [...] be regarded as a substantial contribution to the necessary groundwork still to be done on the too long neglected intellectual developments especially in the Persianate world."
Jan-Peter Hartung in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 21.4 (2011), 517-518.

"... a highly welcome addition to the gradually increasing number of studies on the nature and extent of the history of post-Avicennan philosophy in Iran."
Hossein Ziai in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 75.1 (2012), 155-156.

"[Pourjavady] dresse un tableau remarquable des débats au cœur des préoccupations des penseurs de ce temps […], et décrit les deux tendances principales présentes alors à Shīrāz, le centre de la culture intellectuelle à l’époque."
Cécile Bonmariage in Revue Philosophique de Louvain 110.2 (2012), 384-386.

" admirable piece of scholarship that will be of help to many scholars and students in late medieval Islamic intellectual history."
L.W.C. van Lit in Ilahiyat Studies 3.2 (2012).

“This rich yet uncluttered presentation of philosophical issues debated in Shiraz in the late ninth/fifteenth and early tenth/sixteenth century by Reza Pourjavady, […], will delight scholars of the Middle East.”
“[…]an admirable work of publishing[…].”
Vika Gardner in Al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean 24.2 (2012)


All those intrested in Islamic intellectual history, the history of post-Avicennan philosophy, the history of Iran, and particularly the Safavid era.


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