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Encyclopedia > Shaykhism

Shaykhis, religious movement in Iran. Founded by Shaykh Ahmad as a Sufi influenced religious movement within Shia Islam. Bahá'ís see Shaykhis as part of their religious ancestors. Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsai (1753 - 1826), better known as Shaykh Ahmad, was the founder of a 19th century Shia religious movement in the Persian and Ottoman empires, whose followers were known as Shaykhis. ... Sufism (Arabic تصوف taṣawwuf) is a system of esoteric philosophy commonly associated with Islam. ... Shiʻa Islam (Arabic شيعى follower; English has traditionally used Shiite) makes up the second largest sect of believers in Islam, constituting about 30%–35% of all Muslim. ... For other uses, including people named Islam, see Islam (disambiguation). ... Seat of the Universal House of Justice in Haifa, Israel, governing body of the Baháís The Baháí Faith is a religion founded by Baháulláh in 19th century Persia. ...

Contents


Shaykhí teachings

Eschatology

The primary force behind Shaykh Ahmad's teachings is the Twelver Shi'a belief in the occultation of the Twelfth Imam. Twelver Shi'ah believe there were twelve Imams starting with Ali and ending with Muhammad al-Mahdi. Whilst the first eleven Imams died, the twelfth is said to have disappeared to return "before the day of judgment" and "fill the Earth with justice and make the truth triumphant". This messianic figure is called the Mahdi. // For the book by Pope Benedict XVI, see Eschatology (book). ... Twelvers or the Ithna Asharia are members of the group of Shias who believe in twelve Imams. ... ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (Arabic: ‎ Persian: ‎ )‎ (599 – 661) was an early Islamic leader. ... Muḥammad al-Mahdī (born 868) (Arabic: ‎ ) is the twelfth and final Shia Imam. ... In Judaism, the Messiah (מָשִׁיחַ anointed one, Standard Hebrew , Tiberian Hebrew Arabic ) initially meant any person who was anointed by God. ... The Mahdi (Arabic: ‎ translit: , also Mehdi; Guided One), in Islamic eschatology, is the prophesied redeemer of Islam, who will change the world into a perfect Islamic society before Yaum al-Qiyamah (literally Day of the Resurrection). The exact nature of the Mahdi differs according to Sunni and Shia Muslims. ...


The Shaykhís believed that since Muslims required the guidance of the Mahdi, there must be an individual on Earth who is capable of communicating with him. This personage would be described as the "perfect Shi'a", and Shaykh Ahmad was the first to adopt that position. Due to his unique capability the leader of the sect attained a quasi-divinity in the eyes of his followers.


It is not clear whether it was Shaykh Ahmad or his successor, Siyyid Kázim, who predicted that the coming of the Mahdi was nearing.


The Source of Knowledge and Certainty

Shaykhí teachings on knowledge are similar in appearance to that of the Sufis, save that where the Sufi "wayfarer" arrogates to himself the role of interpreting and adjudicating truth, Shaykh Ahmad was clear that the final arbiter for interpretation and clarity was the 12th Imam. Sufism (Arabic تصوف taṣawwuf) is a system of esoteric philosophy commonly associated with Islam. ...

"For Shaykh Ahmad, then, the Shi`ite learned man is not simply a mundane thinker dependent on nothing more than the divine text and his intellectual tools for its interpretation. The Learned must have a spiritual pole (qutb), a source of grace (ghawth), who will serve as the locus of God's own gaze in this world. Both pole and ghawth are frequently-used Sufi terms for great masters who can by their grace help their followers pursue the spiritual path. For Shaykh Ahmad, the pole is the Twelfth Imam himself, the light of whose being is in the heart of the Learned. The oral reports, he notes, say that believers benefit from the Imam in his Occultation just as the earth benefits from the sun even when it goes behind a cloud. Were the light of the Imam, as guardian (mustahfiz), to be altogether extinguished, then the Learned would not be able to see in the darkness."[1]

Mystical symbology and the origin of the Prophet

Shaykh Ahmad's perspectives on accepted Islamic doctrines diverged in several areas, most notably on his mystical interpretation of prophesy. The "Sun" and "Moon" and "Stars" of the Qur'an's eschatological surahs are seen as allusory, where common Muslim interpretation is that events involving celestial bodies will happen literally at the Day of Judgement. In other writings, Shaykh Ahmad synthesizes rather dramatic descriptions of the origin of the prophets, the primal word, and other religious themes through allusions and mystical language. Much of this language is oriented around trees, specifically the primal universal tree of Eden, described in Jewish scripture as being two trees. This primal tree is, in some ways, the universal spirit of the prophets themselves: The Qurān [1] (Arabic: , literally the recitation; also called The Noble Quran; also transliterated as Quran, Koran (the traditional term in English), and Al-Quran), is the central religious text of Islam. ... See also: Sura (disambiguation). ...

" The symbol of the preexistent tree appears elsewhere in Shaykh Ahmad's writings. He says, for instance, that the Prophet and the Imams exist both on the level of unconstrained being or preexistence, wherein they are the Complete Word and the Most Perfect Man, and on the level of constrained being. On this second, limited plane, the cloud of the divine Will subsists and from it emanates the Primal Water that irrigates the barren earth of matter and of elements. Although the divine Will remains unconstrained in essential being, its manifest aspect has now entered into limited being. When God poured down from the clouds of Will on the barren earth, he thereby sent down this water and it mixed with the fallow soil. In the garden of the heaven known as as-Saqurah, the Tree of Eternity arose, and the Holy Spirit or Universal Intellect, the first branch that grew upon it, is the first creation among the worlds."[2]

This notion of beings with both divine and ephemeral natures presages a similar doctrine of the Manifestation in the Babi and Bahá'í Faiths, religions whose origins are rooted in the Shaykhi spiritual tradition. The Baháí Faith refers to what are commonly called Prophets as Manifestations of God, or simply Manifestations (mazhar) who are directly linked with the concept of Progressive revelation. ... There are several meanings of the term Babi Babi is the name of a baboon god in Egyptian mythology. ... Seat of the Universal House of Justice in Haifa, Israel, governing body of the Baháís The Baháí Faith is a religion founded by Baháulláh in 19th century Persia. ...


Leadership of the movement

Shaykh Ahmad

Main article: Shaykh Ahmad

Shaykh Ahmad, at about age forty, began to study in earnest in the Shi'a centres of religious scholarship such as Karbala and Najaf. He attained sufficent recognition in such circles to be declared a mujtahid, an interpreter of Islamic Law. He contended with Sufi and Neo-Platonist scholars, and attained a positive reputation among their detractors. Most interestingly, he declared that all knowledge and sciences were contained (in essential form) within the Qur'an, and that to excell in the sciences, all knowledge must be gleaned from the Qur'an. To this end he developed systems of interpretation of the Qur'an and sought to inform himself of all the sciences current in the Muslim world. His views resulted in his denunciation by several learned clerics, and he engaged in many debates before moving on to Persia where he settled for a time in the province of Yazd. It was in Yazd that much of his books and letters were written. Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsai (1753 - 1826), better known as Shaykh Ahmad, was the founder of a 19th century Shia religious movement in the Persian and Ottoman empires, whose followers were known as Shaykhis. ... Shrine of Karbala Karbalā’ (Arabic: ‎ also transliterated as Kerbala, Kerbela, or Karbila) is a city in Iraq, located about 100 km southwest of Baghdad at 32. ... Najaf (Arabic: ) is a city in Iraq, about 160 km south of Baghdad, located at 31. ... ijtihad is a technical term of the Islamic law and means the process of making a legal decision by independent interpretation of the sources of the law, the Quran and the Sunna. ... For other uses of this term see: Persia (disambiguation) The Persian Empire is the name used to refer to a number of historic dynasties that have ruled the country of Persia (Iran). ... The city of Yazd, as seen from the tall minarets of its 12th century mosque. ...


Siyyid Kázim

Shaykh Ahmad led the sect for only two years before his death. His undisputed[3] successor, Siyyid Kázim, also led the Shaykhís until his own death (1843). Siyyid Kázim said that he would not live to see the Promised One, but, according to the Bábís, his appearance was so imminent that Siyyid Kázim appointed no successor, instead instructing his followers to spread across the land and search him out. Siyyid Kázim (1793-1843) was the son of Siyyid Qasim of Rasht, a town in northern Iran. ... The room where The Báb declared His mission on May 23, 1844 in His house in Shiraz. ...


Siyyid Kázim did not explicitly appoint a successor. Rather, convinced that the Mahdi was in the world, he encouraged his followers to seek him out.[4] Many of the Shaykhis expected Mullá Husayn, one of his favorite pupils, to take on the mantle. Mullá Husayn, however, declined the honor, insisting on obedience to Siyyid Kazim's final commands to go out in search of the Mahdi. Many of the followers of Shaykh Ahmad spread out as did Mullah Husayn. By 1844, two perspectives had emerged and camps arose based on the differing claims of two individuals. The Mahdi (Arabic: ‎ translit: , also Mehdi; Guided One), in Islamic eschatology, is the prophesied redeemer of Islam, who will change the world into a perfect Islamic society before Yaum al-Qiyamah (literally Day of the Resurrection). The exact nature of the Mahdi differs according to Sunni and Shia Muslims. ... Mullá Husayn was the first Letter of the Living in the Bábí movement or the Bábul-Báb meaning the Gate of the Gate, a title given him by the Báb. ...


Siyyid Alí-Muhammad (The Báb)

Main article: Báb

Siyyid Alí-Muhammad had visited some of Siyyid Kazim's classes. Later tellings of one of those visits infer from Siyyid Kazim's comments that the he had implied to his students that Ali-Muhammad was connected with Kazim's predictions of the appearance of the Mahdi. Ali-Muhammad later took the title of the Báb and claimed to be the Mahdi outright to Mullá Husayn during a long meeting at Ali-Muhammad's house in Shiraz, May 23, 1844. Mullá Husayn accepted this claim, as did many of the leading Shaykhi students, and these went on to become the earliest Bábís. The Báb was labeled a heretic, thrown into prison and was executed July 9, 1850. Shrine of the Báb at night from above in Haifa, Israel. ... Shrine of the Báb at night from above in Haifa, Israel. ... The Mahdi (Arabic: ‎ translit: , also Mehdi; Guided One), in Islamic eschatology, is the prophesied redeemer of Islam, who will change the world into a perfect Islamic society before Yaum al-Qiyamah (literally Day of the Resurrection). The exact nature of the Mahdi differs according to Sunni and Shia Muslims. ... May 23 is the 143rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (144th in leap years). ... 1844 was a leap year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... Look up Heretic in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... July 9 is the 190th day of the year (191st in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 175 days remaining. ... 1850 was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ...


Most of the Bábís ultimately followed the well known Bábí community leader Bahá'u'lláh, founder of the Bahá'í Faith, when he claimed he was the one prophesized by the Báb. Today the Bahá'í Faith, which traces its religious history from Shaykh Ahmad, through Siyyid Kázim, the Báb, and then to Bahá'u'lláh, has an estimated 6 million followers. The several thousand followers of the Báb who do not accept the claims of Bahá'u'lláh, known as Bayanis, are mostly located in Iran. Shrine of Baháulláh Baháulláh (ba-haa-ol-laa Arabic: ‎ Glory of God) (1817 - 1892), born (Persian: ‎ ), was the founder and prophet of the Baháí Faith. ... Seat of the Universal House of Justice in Haifa, Israel, governing body of the Baháís The Baháí Faith is a religion founded by Baháulláh in 19th century Persia. ... He whom God shall make manifest is a messianic figure predicted by the Báb within his book the Bayan that would come after him and lead the Babis. ... Shrine of Baháulláh Baháulláh (ba-haa-ol-laa Arabic: ‎ Glory of God) (1817 - 1892), born (Persian: ‎ ), was the founder and prophet of the Baháí Faith. ... Statistical estimates of the worldwide Baháí population are difficult to judge. ... Bayani, meaning of the Bayan, also known as Azali are followers of the Báb. ...


Haji Karim Khan of Kirman

Even as the Bábí movement was gaining in numbers and fervor, Haji Karim Khan attempted to resurrect the Shaykhi School by taking a more moderate approach. He attempted to bridge gaps with the mainstream Islamic ulema who called the Báb's movement heretical. It appears he did not manage a significant following and appointed no successor. Ulema (Arabic: ‎ , translit: , singular: ‘AlÄ«m, scholar) refers to the educated class of Muslim scholars engaged in the several fields of Islamic studies. ...


Relationship to Bábism and the Bahá'í Faith

Bábis and then Bahá'ís see Shaykhism as a spiritual ancestor of their movement, preparing the way for the Báb and eventually Bahá'u'lláh. In this view Shaykhism has outlived its eschatological purpose and is no longer anymore relevant. The room where The Báb declared His mission on May 23, 1844 in His house in Shiraz. ... Seat of the Universal House of Justice in Haifa, Israel, governing body of the Baháís The Baháí Faith is a religion founded by Baháulláh in 19th century Persia. ...


Modern Shaykhism

Until today many inhabitants and descendants of Kerman, Iran belong to the movement.[citation needed] Map of Iran and surrounding countries, showing location of Kerman Kerman (in Persian: کرمان ) is a city in Iran. ...


References

  1. ^ Cole, Juan (September 1997). Individualism and the Spiritual Path in Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa'i. H-Net (H-Baha'i), Occasional Papers in Shaykhi, Babi and Baha'i Studies.
  2. ^ Cole, Juan (1994). The World as Text: Cosmologies of Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa'i. University of Michigan - Studia Islamica 80 (1994):1-23..
  3. ^ Nabíl-i-Zarandí (1932). Shoghi Effendi (Translator) The Dawn-Breakers: Nabíl’s Narrative, Hardcover, Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, p. 16. ISBN 0-900125-22-5.
  4. ^ Nabíl-i-Zarandí (1932). Shoghi Effendi (Translator) The Dawn-Breakers: Nabíl’s Narrative, Hardcover, Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, p. 47. ISBN 0-900125-22-5.

 
 

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