Sheikh Bahai Prominent Scholar of Safavid Era

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Active ImageIranians commemorate the birth anniversary of Sheikh Bahaei on April 23.

Shaykh Baha' ad-Din al-`Amili, Shaykh Bahai (February 1547 - 30 August 1621) was a scholar, philosopher, architect, mathematician, astronomer and poet in 16th-century Iran. He was born in Baalbek, Lebanon but immigrated in his childhood to Safavid Iran with his father. He wrote over 88 books in different topics mostly in Persian but also in Arabic. He is buried in Imam Reza's shrine in Mashad in Iran.

He is considered one of the main co-founders of Isfahan School of Islamic Philosophy. In later years he became one of the teachers of Sadr al-Din al-Shirazi, also known as Mulla Sadra.

His works include Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan, as well as designing the construction of the Manar Jonban, also known as the two shaking minarets, situated on either side of the mausoleum of Amoo Abdollah Garladani in the west of Isfahan.

Shaykh Baha' al-Din contributed numerous works in philosophy, logic, astronomy and mathematics. His works include 88 articles, epistles and books. Shaykh Baha' al-Din also composed poems in Persian. His outstanding works in the Iranian language are Jame’ Abbasi and two masnavis (rhymed couplets) by the names of "Milk and Sugar" and "Bread and Halva". His other work Kashkool includes stories, news, scientific topics, Persian and Arabic proverbs. He wrote Khulasat Al-Hisab and Tashrih Al-Aflak in Arabic.

Active ImageShaykh Baha' al-Din's fame was due to his excellent command of mathematics, architecture and geometry. He was the architect of Isfahan's Imam Square, Imam Mosque and Hessar Najaf. He also made a sun clock to the west of the Imam Mosque. There is also no doubt about his mastery of topography. The best instance of this is the directing of the water of the Zayandeh River to different areas of Isfahan. He designed a canal called Zarrin Kamar in Isfahan which is one of Iran's greatest canals. He also determined the direction of Qiblah (prayer direction) from the Imam mosque.

He also designed and constructed a furnace for a public bathroom, which still exists in Isfahan, known as Sheikh Bahaei's bathroom. The furnace was warmed by a single candle, which was placed in an enclosure. The candle burned for a long time, warming the bath's water. According to his own instructions, the candle's fire would be put out if the enclosure was ever opened. This happened during the restoration and repair of the building and no one has been able to make the system work again. He also designed the Manar Jonban (shaking minaret), which still exists in Isfahan.

Active ImageThe High Council of Cultural Revolution in Iran designated April 23 as the National Architect Day, marking the birth anniversary of Sheikh Bahaei.

His poem, ‘Plead For Unison’, is cited below. (The poem is translated into English by Maryam Dilmaghani)

So long, in plead of unison with thee
My eyelids are drowned in the deluge of tear.
So long, in plead of unison with thee,
Thou, the sole beloved!
The arrow of thy sorrow pierced all lovers’ heart…
For how long, how long shall we be kept apart?
We are countless, all occupied by thy thought
Helas! Thou beest concealed of our sight.
Thou, the sole beloved!
The bird found thy fine face in every turf
The butterfly enlightened in core of the flame
Active ImageThe mystic recognized thy essence
In every scene and each face.
It means that one can see thee at every glance,
In every instance.
It means that I am not mad that I knock every door,
I knock every door.
In every sea I dive, thou beest the sole host.
In every route I walk, thy shine is the lone light,
In the tavern and mosque thou beest the only Lord,
Thou beest the only Lord.
Thou beest the destination, thou beest the pledge.
The reason is thee when I wander drunk,
The reason is thee when I meet with the monk,
The reason is thee when I am praying in the mosque.
They are all pleas and thou beest the pledge
Thou beest the sole pledge.
The reason is thee when I wander drunk,
The reason is thee when I meet with the monk,
The reason is thee when I am praying in the mosque.
They are all pleas and thou beest the pledge.
Thou beest the sole pledge

* Sheikh Bahai’s House

Source: Iran Review & Iran Daily

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