Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Henrik Lagerlund

Afḍal al-Dīn al-Kāshānī (Bābā Afḍal)

  • Mathieu TerrierEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1151-5_582-1


Afḍal al-Dīn al-Kāshānī, known as Bābā Afḍal (d. ca 610/1213), was an Iranian philosopher and poet. Little is known about his life except that he had a lot of students and entertained relationships with princes. Although the term ‘Bābā ’ is often used in the Persian world to refer to a Sufi master, it cannot be affirmed that he was a Sufi in the narrowest sense. Yet, he is to be seen as a philosopher in the ancient sense, as both a professor and a spiritual guide. He wrote most of his works in Persian, probably with the intention of establishing Persian as a philosophical language alongside Arabic. Combining freely Peripatetic and Neoplatonic tendencies, he can hardly be classified as belonging to a specific school of though. All his concerns tend to the knowledge of the human soul or the “self” (khūd), and its progress towards perfection. He regarded self-knowledge as superior to all other sciences, being the unique access to immortality and eternity. In this respect, he set himself apart all other Muslim medieval philosophers and had some influence on the “philosophical renaissance” of the eleventh/seventeenth-century Safavid Iran.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


Primary Sources

  1. Al-Aflāṭūnīya al-muḥdatha ‘inda l-‘arab – Neoplatonici apud Arabes (ed.: ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Badawī.). Cairo, 1955/Kuwayt, 1977.Google Scholar
  2. Al-Ṭūsī, Naṣīr al-Dīn). Sharḥ al-Ishārāt wa l-tanbīhāt (3 vols.; ed.: s.n. Qum.). 1375 Sh./1996–1997,Google Scholar
  3. Ibn Sīnā. (1999). Tis‘a rasā’il fī l-ḥikma wa l-ṭabī‘īyāt li-l-shayḫ al-ra’īs Ibn Sīnā (eds.: Nafaqa, A., & Hindīya, A.). Cairo, 1326/1908–1328/1910, pp. 144–151, reprinted in Idem, Philosophical Treatises, (ed.: Sezgin, F.). Frankfurt am Main.Google Scholar
  4. Mukhtaṣar fī dhikr al-ḥukamā’ al-yunāniyyīn wa l-milliyyī. (ed.: Muḥammad Taqī Dānishpajūh.). In Farhang-i Īrān zamīn, vol. 7. Tehran, 1338 Sh./1959–1960.Google Scholar
  5. Mullā Ṣadrā. (2003). The Elixir of the Gnostics (ed.: and trans: William, C. Chittick.). Provo/Utah.Google Scholar
  6. Muṣannafāt-i Afḍal al-Dīn Muḥammad Maraqī Kāshānī (ed.: Mujtabā Mīnuwī & Yaḥyā Mahdawī.). Tehran, 1331 Sh./1952–1953.Google Scholar

Secondary Sources

  1. Aminrazavi, M. (2012). Afḍal al-Dīn Kāshānī (Introduction). In M. Aminrazavi and S. H. Nasr (eds), An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia, vol. 4: From the School of Illumination to Philosophical Mysticism (pp. 230–233). London / New York: I.B. TaurisGoogle Scholar
  2. Arkoun, M. (2011). The struggle for humanism in Islamic context. Journal of the Levantine Studies, 1(Summer), 155–172.Google Scholar
  3. Chittick, W. (2001). The heart of Islamic philosophy: The quest for self-knowledge in the teachings of Afḍal al-Dīn Kāshānī. Oxford / New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Hadot, P. (1983). Plotinus of the Simplicity of Vision (trans: Chase, M.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  5. Massignon, L. (1969). La philosophie orientale d’Ibn Sina et son alphabet philosophique, 1952, resumed in Idem, Opera minora II (pp. 591–605). Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.Google Scholar
  6. Nasr, S. H. (1983). Afdal al-din Kashani and the philosophical world of Khwaja Nasir al-din Tusi. In M. E. Marmura (Ed.), Islamic theology and philosophy: Studies in honor of George F. Hourani (pp. 249–264). Albany: SUNY.Google Scholar
  7. Qarā’ī Gurgānī (1988), Murtaḍā. Bābā Afḍal. In K. Mūsawī Bujnūrdī (Ed), Dā’irat al-ma‘ārif-i buzurg-i islāmī (Vol. 12, pp. 735–739). Tehran: Markaz-i Dā’irat al-ma‘ārif-i buzurg-i islāmī, 1367 Sh./1988-.Google Scholar
  8. Rypka, Jan (1954). Bābā Afḍal. In Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd ed. Vol. 1, pp. 838–839). Leiden / Paris: Brill / Maisonneuve et Larose.Google Scholar
  9. Zaryāb, ‘Abbās (1990). “Bābā Afḍal” In Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam (Dānishnāma-yi jahān-i islām) (Vol. 1, pp. 31–39). Tehran: Encyclopaedia Islamica Foundation, 1369 Sh./1990.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNRS, PSLLEM (UMR 8584)ParisFrance