Najm al-Din Razi

For other uses, see Razi (disambiguation).
Abū Bakr 'Abdollāh b. Moḥammad b. Šahāvar b. Anūšervān al-Rāzī
Title Najm Al-Din Razi
Born 573/1177
Died 654/1256
Ethnicity Persian
Era Islamic golden age
Religion Islam
Jurisprudence Sufi
Main interest(s) Sufism
Notable work(s) Mirsad Al-Ibad Men Mabda' Ela Al-Ma'ad

Abū Bakr 'Abdollāh b. Moḥammad b. Šahāvar b. Anūšervān al-Rāzī (Persian: نجم‌الدین رازی) commonly know by the laqab, or sobriquet, of Najm al-Dīn Dāya, meaning "wetnurse". Hamid Algar, translator of the Persian Merṣād to English, states the application of "wetnurse" to the author of the Merṣād derives from the idea of the initiate on the Path being a newborn infant who needs suckling to survive[1] (573 AH/1177 - 654 AH/1256) was a 13th-century Sufi Persian from Khwarezmia. Dāya followed the Sufi order, Kubrawiyya, established by one of his greatest influences, Najm al-Dīn Kubrā. Dāya traveled to Kārazm and soon became a morīd (pupil, one who follows the shaykh master and learns from him, undergoing spiritual training[2]) of Najm al-Dīn Kubrā. Kubrā then appointed Shaikh Majd al-Dīn Bagdādī as the spiritual trainer who also became Dāya's biggest influence. Dāya constantly refers to al-Dīn Bagdādī as "our shaikh."[3]

When his master, Najm al-Dīn Kubrā, was murdered in 618/1221, Dāya fled to Hamadan, then to Ardabil, and then to Anatolia where he finally settled with a fellow contemporary master Rumi.

There he put the teachings of his master Najmeddin Kubra into a writing in Persian called by the Arabic title Mirṣād al-ʻibād min al-mabdaʼ ilāʼl-maʻād (ِِArabic: مرصاد العباد من المبدأ الی المعاد) which is shortly known as Merṣād al-ʻebād, and has gained prominence as a major reference text on Sufism and Islamic theology. The critical edition of Merṣād al-ʻebād by Mohammad-Amin Riahi was published in 1973 in Tehran and since then has been continued to be in print. This is a closely annotated scholarly edition, along with a comprehensive introduction on the life and works of Najmeddin Razi, which has been the major reference for later studies on Najmeddin Razi and Sufism. Merṣād al-ʻebād was translated by Hamid Algar into English as The Path of God's Bondsmen: From Origin to Return.


Dāya was born in Rey, then one of the major centers of urban life and culture in pre-Mongol Iran, in 1117. At the age of 26, Rāzī travelled through Syria, Egypt, Ḥejāz, Iraq, and Azerbaijan. He finally settled in Kārazm and soon become a morīd to Najm al-Dīn Kubrā, a mystical Sufi and founder of the Kubrawiyya Order. Rāzī was then tutored by Shaikh Majd al-Dīn Baḡdādī, who Rāzī often refers to as "our shaikh." Rāzī then flees Kārazm due to Kubrā’s prophecy of a Mongol invasion. Finally, Rāzī fled Rey as well, willingly abandoning his family to the Mongol invasion. Traveling via Hamadān, Erbīl, and Diyarbekir, he reached Kayseri in central Anatolia in Ramadān 618/October 1221. Thanks to Seljuq patronage, Anatolia was a center for the cultivation of Persian literature.

At Malatya, Razi met Shaikh Sehab al-Din Abu Hafs ‘Omar al-Sohravardi, nephew of the founder of the Sohravardi order. In October 1221 he reached Kayseri. He completed the Merad at Sivas in August 1223.

The Path of God's Bondsmen: From Origin to Return

The term Merṣād refers to the path from Qur'anic verse 89:14; "Verily thy Lord watches over the path". The divine vigilance implied here is generally taken as referring to God's omniscience of men's deeds, but it is plain that Dāya takes it in a slightly different sense, that of a protective and guarding vigilance. The second part of the title, men al-mabda' elā' l-ma'ād ("from origin to return") is to be found in the titles of many works that purport to treat in comprehensive fashion both cosmogony and eschatology and all that lies between.[4]

The comprehensiveness promised in this title of the work is amply fulfilled in its text. It deals, in a systematic manner, with the origins of the various realms and orders of creation, prophethood and the different dimensions of religion, the ritual practices, mores, and institutions of Sufism, the destinations that await different classes of men in the hereafter, and the fashion in which different professions and trades may come to yield spiritual benefit and heavenly reward.[5]

A particular virtue of the book is its clear demonstration of the Qur'anic origins of Sufism. The numerous quotations from the Qur'an are not to be regarded as mere ornament, nor even as scriptural proofs adduced in support of various statements. Rather, they bear witness to the fact that for Dāya, as for other Sufis, the Qur'an constitutes a well-structured, seamless, and coherent universe. The Qur'anic verses encountered throughout the book are the loom on which it is woven, a particular sense for each verse being implied by the context in which it occurs.[6]

Another prominent feature of the book is the frequency with which it draws parallels between the inner and the outer worlds, particularly with references to processes of growth and development i.e. seed, tree, branch, fruit; the emergence of the hen from the egg. Dāya says in his commentary of the Qur'an, "Verily all that God created in the world of form has its like in the world of meaning; all that He created in the world of meaning- this being the hereafter- has its true essence in the world of reality, which is the uttermost unseen. Know too that of all that God created in all the worlds, a specimen and sample is present in man.[7]" It follows, then, that inner and unseen processes may be accurately described in terms of their outer counterparts.[8]
The literary importance of the Merṣād is considerable: it ranks among the masterpieces of Persian literature, and certain sections - particularly the narrative of the creation and appointment of Adam - bear comparison with the best prose written in Persian. Dāya's choice of illustrative verses- both those of his own composition and those of his predecessors -is judicious, and makes of his work an incidental anthology of Sufi poetry, particularly quatrains.[9]


Other works


  1. The Path of God's Bondsmen: From Origin to Return. Islamic Publications International. North Haledon, New Jersey (1980), Page 8, Footnote 21.
  2. Dr. Cyrus Ali Zargar. Augustana College. (2009)
  3. "The Path of God's Bondsmen: From Origin to Return.", Page 9
  4. "The Path of God's Bondsmen: From Origin to Return."page 16-17
  5. "The Path of God's Bondsmen: From Origin to Return." Islamic Publications International. North Haledon, New Jersey (1980). Quoted from page 17
  6. "The Path of God's Bondsmen: From Origin to Return." Quoted from page 17-18
  7. Quoted in Esmā'īl Ḥaqqī, Rūḥ al-bayān, Istanbul, 1389/1970, I, 404.
  8. "The Path of God's Bondsmen: From Origin to Return." Islamic Publications International. North Haledon, New Jersey (1980). Quoted from page 18
  9. "The Path of God's Bondsmen: From Origin to Return." Quoted from page 19.


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