33rd Qutb

His Holiness Saadat Ali Shah Isfahani


The light of the Saints, the pride and ornament of the pure and guide and master of the united, the esteemed of God, Mr. Saadat Ali Shah. His noble name was Hajj Mohammad Kazem known as Sheikh Zain-e-Din, born in Isfahan. His Holiness is a descendant of Sheikh Zain-e-Din Maruf Isfahani who was endowed with a double aspect, meaning, he was a learned of the external sciences and canon Laws ( shariat ) and was also a devotee of the inner and spiritual path ( tariqat ) , and his children after him, in the inheritance of virtues and perfections from their father were divided into two groups.

The lineage of his first son Sheikh Mohammad Zain-e-din Isfahani, who was a distinguished religious authority in the beginning of the Qajar period and the lineage of his daughter who was the mother of His Holiness Haj Hussain Hussainali Shah Guide and  Master of the Nematullahi Spiritual Order.

His Holiness Saadat Ali Shah in the beginning of his youth was engaged in commerce and as the grace of God was always in favor of His Holiness; he was inclined towards those who were possessed of the knowledge of God and attained the companionship of a group of learned authorities, till at last had the honor of repentance and was initiated into dervishood  by His Holiness Mast Ali Shah and most of the time benefited by being in the company of His Holiness during journeys, till His Holiness Mast Ali Shah in the year 1253 AHL  passed away. He then in the presence of His Holiness Rahmat Ali Shah Shirazi successor of His Holiness Mast Ali Shah, the qutb of that time renewed his covenant and under the grace and traning of His Holiness continued training to attain perfection. Till in the year 1271 AHL on behalf of His Holiness obtained permission to guide the worshippers and instruct the remembrance of God and oral litanies to the seekers and once again His Holiness Rahmat Ali Shah after one year favored him with the permission to instruct the remembrance of God (in the heart) and finally in the year 1276 issued a decree in his name to be his successor and endowed him with the title Saadat Ali Shah and handed over the affairs of the faithful  (Fuqara)  to him.

His Holiness Saadat Ali Shah in the view of pretentious people did not posses knowledge and have extensive information in formal sciences, as he had assigned all his efforts to gain internal perfection and with the excessive yearning and state, did not go after formal studies.

After the death of His Holiness Rahmat Ali Shah, some kinfolks of His Holiness considered themselves more worthy and perfect than His Holiness Saadat Ali Shah to be the successor of His Holiness Rahmat Ali Shah and supposed external merits a priority for themselves, arranged and prepared a Decree with the writing of another in the name of Hajj Agha Mohammad, paternal uncle of His Holiness Rahmat Ali Shah and diverted a great number of fuqara from the truth towards themselves.

It seems there was some talks of disagreement between the fuqara about this situation and the traces of jealousy of some of the rivals of His Holiness Rahmat Ali Shah during the last days of his life was apparent and obvious, as the contents of this letter which His Holiness nearing his death had written to His Holiness Saadat Ali Shah the transcript copy of which is exactly depicted here, shows that this matter was perceived by His Holiness, because in this letter it has explicitly commanded the fuqara to follow and obey His Holiness Saadat Ali Shah and reminded of the forged writings which was sent to Isfahan.

Letter of His Holiness Rahmat Ali Shah to His Holiness Saadat Ali Shah as follows:


In the name of God the beneficent merciful

It has been heard that, some writings on behalf of this faqir have been sent which is against Sufism and contrary to my views. Let it be known concisely, I have not assigned you to bear the difficulties of the affair on my own behalf, and if I were not appointed by the great divine leaders and sheikhs, I would never have had troubled you. And if someone has sent writings in the name of this faqir, it is against God and his Messenger and the guiding Imams ( peace be upon them) you must attend and put in order the affairs of the fuqara and on Friday nights seek for help in the affairs of tariqat and make this faqir happy and cheerful and if you are neglectful and indolent, it will result in sadness and grievance of this faqir. Your intention, God willing, was good and will always be good and if a writing from this fagir is sent, it is contrary and not to this devotee’s consent and I have no information at all about it. The fuqara of that region will be troubled as whatever is to the approval and advise of the honorable brother Mr. Mohammad Kazem should be obeyed and not to exceed the boundaries of his instructions as it would be contrary to the consent of this fagir.

Written in the month of Jamadi-al-Aval 1277 AHL at Shiraz. Hope best provision to be our end and be successful in gaining peace this world and the hereafter.

However, since we are going to have a glance on only the biographies of the Divine leaders of the Order, hence, to mention detailed events will be refrained. Those who are interested can get more information from the written works such as the preface of the collection of Poems of Safi Ali Shah.

Anyhow, after the demise of His Holiness Rahmat Ali Shah as a result of the development of this discord and the implication of doubts, those who had the honor to renew the covenant with His Holiness Sadaat Ali Shah were an insignificant number. On the other side, the accusers used to speak spitefully and slanderously about his Holiness. The pretentious jurisprudents also in the persecution and annoyance of His Holiness would make every possible endeavor. Therefore, His Holiness, most of the time was in an isolated state in his own home and had assigned Mondays and Fridays to meet the dervishes.

The period of guidance of His Holiness was for approximately 16 years, during this period no Sheikh or authorized person was appointed. His Holiness personally undertook the initiation of the seekers of truth and it was because of this reason the number of fuqara during the guidance of His Holiness were but a very few. Although the number was insignificant, but each of them were a perfect manifestation of eagerness, affection and love.

His Holiness in the year 1280 travelled to Khorasan and on this trip, His Holiness Sultan Ali Shah Gonabadi had the honor to meet Mr. Saadat Ali Shah and was attracted to him spiritually and after the return of His Holiness Saadat Ali Shah to Isfahan.

His Holiness Sultan Ali Shah in the year 1284 (AHL) with the intention to visit the Holy Shrines started from Gonabad and after reaching Isfahan went to meet his honorable Master with eagerness and for sometime under the divine guidance of His Holiness was engaged in the purification and refinement of the heart and reached the summit of perfection and attained the decree for spiritual guidance and to be the successor of His Holiness Saadat Ali Shah.

His Holiness Saadat Ali Shah after a while due to the increase of persecution of the enemy was compelled to leave his own country. From Isfahan in the year 1289 he visited by way of Baku and Tiflis and Istanbul to glorious Mecca and radiant Madina , thereafter by way of Jabel to the Holy Shrines and from there returned to Iran and took up residence in Teheran and due to ill health in the year 1293 his honorable spirit left this world to join his Beloved and in the shrine of Hazrat Abd-ul-Azim, in the courtyard of Imamzadeh Hamzeh, in the cemetery reserved for the fuqara was buried. The poet Roshan Isfahani has chanted the date of his death as “gather Ali, Rahmat and Saadat and the year of his death will be known”.[1]

A part of the sayings of His Holiness:

One of the followers asked a question to His Holiness that what is the difference between the high position we fuqara hold for Ali (AS) and the Ali-Allahis.

His Holiness said: the difference is that we say that Ali (AS) does not but God exists, they say God does not, but Ali (AS) exists. Another seeker asked His Holiness the meaning of this narration: The people of heaven are engaged by the heaven’s blessings and the residents of hell are engaged to me (God). His Holiness said, according to the narration, that the world is the heaven of disbelievers and the prison of the faithful, the meaning of people of the heaven in this narration is the disbelievers who are engaged in this world’s favour; and meaning of the people of hell are  the faithful who are engaged in the memory of God.

One of the friends in jest read the following quatrain for His Holiness:

In the early morning, tea and milk are pleasing,

Approaching noon, bread and cream are pleasing,

In the evening time, Namseh (Russian) tea is pleasing,

In the midnight the groan of a ladle is pleasing.


His Holiness said No, and instantly chanted the following quatrain:

In the early morning, manifestation of the Guide is pleasing,

Approaching noon, half filled stomach with bread is pleasing,

In the evening time meeting the faithful is pleasing,

In the midnight, the lamentation of supplication is pleasing.


Contemporaries of His Holiness from Jurisprudents and Theosophists

1) Sheikh Morteza Ansari

2) Hajj Mirza Hassan Shirazi

3) Sheikh Hamdi Shams-ol-Olama

4) Molla Agha Darbandi

5) Hajj Molla Hadi Sabzewari

6) Mirza Abolhassan Jelveh


Those attributed to mysticism:

1) Hajj Agha Mohammad Monavar Ali Shah

2) Mr. Mohammad Hassan Naqash Zargar Samet Ali

3) Mr. Mirza Hadi Paqalehei

4) Hajj Mirza Hassan Safi Ali Shah

5) Hajj Gholam Reza Sheeshehgar

6) Hajj Mohammad Karim Khan Kermani


From Kings and rulers

Nasser-e-Din Shah Qajar and Hajj Mirza Hussain Khan Sepahsalar


From Poets

1) Mirza Ahmad Vaqar Shirazi

2) Mr. Mohammad Hassan Farabi

3) Reza Gholi Homay Shirazi

4) Hajj Mehdi Hejab Shirazi

5) Mr. Mohammad Taghi Sahab Shirazi

6) Mirza Mohammad Ali Souroush Isfahani


[1] In eastern Farsi / Arabic talking countries, to remember important dates, usually specific numeric values are assigned to alphabet characters and then by finding some words/ poems relates the numeric values of them to that important date.  This expression which has a numeric correspondent is called “date article”



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