The Throne Carrier of God

The Life and Thought of ‘Alā’ al-dawla as-Simnānī

By Jamal J. Elias

Subjects: Islam
Paperback : 9780791426128, 255 pages, August 1995
Hardcover : 9780791426111, 255 pages, August 1995

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Table of contents




Notes on Transliteration

1. Introduction

Primary Sources of the Simnani Tradition

The Simnani Tradition m Modem Scholarship

Part I

2. The Life and Times of `Ala' ad-dawla as-Simnani

Early Life and Conversion to Sufism

Conversion Experience

Contact with Nur ad-din al-Isfara'ini

Life in Simnan

3. Simnani's Masters and Disciples

Investiture with Sufi Robes (Khirqas)

Associates and Disciples


Part II

4. The Divine and Its Manifestation

The Structure of God and the World

Divine Manifestation

The Spiritual and Physical Realms

Emanation and the Compound Human Being

5. The Spiritual Body and the Mirror of God

Composition of the Spiritual Body

The Seven Climes of the Spiritual Realm

Interior Ascent of the Subtle Substances

Preeminence of the Subtle Substance of the"Real"

The Subtle Substance of I-ness


6. Traveling the Sufi Path

Islamic Foundations of the Path

Simnani's Understanding of the Qur'an

Simnani's Understanding of Prophecy

Rules for the Novice

Rules for Sufi Practice

7. Seclusion and Recollection

The Rules of Recollection

The Hierarchy of Visions and Colors

Annihilation and Resurrection


8. Conclusion

Divine Emanation and the Islamic Philosophical Tradition

The Four Realms

The Concept of Lata'if

Simnani's Legacy

Appendix A. The Written Works of Simnani

Major Works

Minor Works


Works Attributed to Simnani Not Known to be Extant

Simnani's Titles Mentioned Only in Mataf al-ashraf

Simnani's Commentary on the Qur'an

Appendix B. Chronology of Events

Glossary of Technical Terms




This book constitutes a comprehensive investigation of the life and teachings of one of the most famous Sufis of the Iranian world. Simnānī spent his early life as a courtier at the Ilkhanid Mongol court and was a cherished companion of the emperor Arghun. After a mystical experience on the battlefield, he turned his back on a life of luxury and became a Sufi. He advanced rapidly in his spiritual quest and soon became one of the most influential Sufi masters in Iran.

Working primarily from the most Arabic and Persian manuscripts of Simnānī’s writings, the author has analyzed Simnānī's thinking to show the overall coherence of his world-view and to demonstrate the importance of his ideas to the development of Islamic mysticism. Along with this analysis, the author provides a detailed account of Simnānī's life and times, as well as a systematic description of Simnānī's instructions for Sufi practioners of all levels.

Jamal J. Elias is Assistant Professor of Religion at Amherst College.


"It is an investigation of the life and teachings of one of the most famous and influential Sufis of Iran. The most interesting parts for me are the outlines of Simnani's cosmology and psychology, topics that have been only touched upon by earlier writers. The biographical sections are of great interest given the rare detail that is available in the sources. " — William C. Chittick, State University of New York at Stony Brook