Aḥmad Ḥusaynī Ardakānī’s (d. 1242/1826–7) Mirʾāt al-akwān is a Persian adaptation of Ṣadr al-Dīn Shīrāzī’s (d. 1050/1640) Sharḥ al-Hidāya, a commentary on Athīr al-Dīn al-Abharī’s (d. ca 663/1264) seminal philosophical summa the Hidāyat al-ḥikma. The Hidāya has been of tremendous influence in the Islamic world, producing a huge commentary tradition. Ṣadr al-Dīn Shīrāzī’s commentary yielded its own series of glosses and commentaries, and in India it even became a foundational text in the madrasas. Ardakānī is mostly known as a translator of religious and philosophical works. He wrote the present adaptation at the request of Muḥammad Walī Mīrzā (d. 1285/1869), a son of Fatḥ ʿAlī Shāh Qājār (d. 1249/1834). The Mirʾāt al-akwān covers just the physics and the metaphysics, leaving out the logic after the example of Shīrāzī. The metaphysics part being lost, the editor added the section on metaphysics of Ardakānī’s translation of Shīrāzī’s al-Mabdaʾ wal-maʿād, published earlier by him.
Aḥmad Ḥusaynī Ardakānī’
Together with Shaykh-i Ṭūsī’s (d. 460/1067) Miṣbāḥ al-mutahajjid and ʿAlī al-Tamīmī’s (early 6th/12th cent.) Dhakhīrat al-ākhira, the anonymous Nuzhat al-zāhid (ca. 600/1200) is among the oldest surviving testimomies of Duʿāʾ literature among the Shīʿa. As such, it can be regarded as a connecting link between Ṭūsī and the later tradition of Shīʿī Duʿāʾ literature, after Ibn Ṭāwūs (d. 664/1266). The Nuzhat al-zāhid is important because besides Ṭūsī’s Miṣbāḥ it also uses other older sources, which often allows the author to provide much more detail than him, adding new material as well. In this sense, the Nuzhat al-zāhid can truly be regarded as a major reference in its field. It is a complete work, covering all the aspects of petitionary prayer in the life of the believer. Written in the sweet kind of language of its times, its explanations constitute a fine example of medieval Persian spiritual prose.
Abu ʼl-Faḍl Muḥammad Muḥammad
Muḥammad Abu ʼl-Faḍl Muḥammad’s (fl. ca. 800/1400) Persian Qāmūs al-baḥrayn was written in 814/1411. About the author’s life and times nothing is known other than that his nickname ‘Ḥamīd Muftī’ points at a certain level of expertise in the legal profession. Being a theological summa, the Qāmūs al-baḥrayn stands in a long tradition. The author used numerous theological and philosophical sources, referring explicitly to such authorities as Avicenna (d. 427/1036), Suhrawardī (d. 587/1191), Fakhr al-Dīn Rāzī (d. 606/1210), and Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī (d. 672/1274). The work contains so many obvious borrowings from Rāzī that the Qāmūs al-baḥrayn is factually an exposition of his thought. In the edition, a special effort was made to point this out in each case where a concrete reference could be given. There are few theological summae in Persian; readers of Persian will therefore be delighted to discover this comprehensive work and its mellifluous style of composition.
Sayyid Aḥmad ʿAlawī al-ʿĀmilī
The Sharḥ al-Qabasāt is a commentary on Mīr Dāmād’s (d. 1040/1630–31) last and famous philosophical work al-Qabasāt, short for Qabasāt ḥaqq al-yaqīn fī ḥudūth al-ʿālam. Founder of the so-called Ḥikmat-i Yamānī approach in philosophy, Mīr Dāmād is one of the prominent representatives of a group of thinkers that is usually referred to as the ‘School of Isfahan’. The author of the commentary, Sayyid Aḥmad ʿAlawī al-ʿĀmilī (d. 1054–60/1644–1650), was a son-in-law and former student of Mīr Dāmād, as well as of Shaykh Bahāʾ al-Dīn ʿĀmilī (d. 1030/1621). With around fifty titles to his name in various disciplines, rational and traditional sciences alike, Sayyid Aḥmad wrote the commentary at the request of Mīr Dāmād himself, but only completed it when the latter had passed away. A collection of glosses rather than a running commentary, this Arabic work bears testimony to the commentator’s extensive knowledge of the entire Islamic philosophical tradition.