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Dawānī’s Sharḥ Hayākil al-Nūr and the Spread of Suhrawardī’s Thought in Mughal India

This is just a quick reminder that MEHAT will continue this Thursday (10/19) at 4PM in SSRB 302 when we are very pleased to welcome Dr. Nariman Aavani, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago Divinity School, who will present his paper titled, "Dawānī’s Sharḥ Hayākil al-Nūr and the Spread of Suhrawardī’s Thought in Mughal India."

Dr. Nariman Aavani

Postdoctoral Fellow, The University of Chicago Divinity School

"Dawānī’s Sharḥ Hayākil al-Nūr and

the Spread of Suhrawardī’s Thought in Mughal India"

Thursday, October 19th


SSRB 302

Recent scholarship on Islamic intellectual history during the Mughal period has significantly enhanced our understanding of the prominent intellectual networks and the landscape of intellectual pursuits in South Asia, particularly in the areas of logic, kalām (theology), and theoretical Sufism. However, the dissemination of the works of Shihāb al-Dīn Suhrawardī (d. 1191) and the influence of “Ishrāqī” thought during this period have received comparatively limited attention. This paper aims to address this gap by examining how the Mughal intellectual, Mīr Zāhid Harawī (d. 1689), engaged with Suhrawardī’s Hayākil al-nūr.

First, this paper will delve into the transmission of Suhrawardī's philosophical ideas to Mughal India, focusing on the students of Jalāl al-Dīn Dawānī and their engagement with his commentary on Hayākil al-nūr. Dawānī composed his commentary on Hayākil al-nūr at the request of the Bahmanī vizier Maḥmūd Gāvān (d. 1481), who himself is said to have penned a ḥāshiyah on Dawānī’s commentary. Furthermore, Jamāl al-Dīn Maḥmūd Shīrāzī (d. 1555), a direct disciple of Dawānī, played a significant role in the transmission of Suhrawardī’s thought by training two notable students who were actively engaged in philosophical pursuits in India. These students are Fatḥ Allāh Shīrāzī (d.1589) and Mīrzā Jān Bāghnawī (d. 1587). Notably, Yūsuf Qarabāghī (d. 1625), a student of Bāghnawī, composed a ḥāshiyah on Dawānī's Sharḥ hayākil al-nūr. Additionally, Mullā Muḥammad Afżal Badakhshī (d. 1640), a disciple of Yūsuf Qarabāghī, served as one of Mīr Zāhid Harawī's instructors in intellectual sciences.

It is within this context that Dr. Aavani will turn to key passages from Mīr Zāhid's ḥāshiyah on Dawānī's Sharḥ hayākil al-nūr, which deal with human voluntary actions. Situating this debate in relation to commentarial traditions on seminal texts such as Ishārāt and Tajrīd al-i‘tiqād, I finally investigate what Mīr Zāhid’s treatment of this topic reveals about the presence or an absence of an identifiable “Ishrāqī” tradition in Mughal India.

Dr. Nariman Aavani received his PhD in the Comparative Study of Religion at Harvard University. He is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar in Islamic Studies at the University of Chicago Divinity School where his research focuses on Islamic philosophy and Sufism in Iran and the Indian subcontinent from the 13th century to the early 1800s.

Best wishes,
Theo Knights & Darragh Winkelman