Kázem RashtíEncyclopaedia Iranica
New York: Columbia University, 2013
Káẓem Rashti, Sayyed Káẓem B. Qásem b. Ahmad b. Habib Hosayni (b. Rasht, ca. 1784-99; d. Karbaláʾ, 1844; Figure 1), student and successor of Shaikh Ahmad b. Zayn-al-Din Ahsáʾi (q.v.) and head of the Shaykhi movement. The main sources for Rašti’s biography are some of his own works which contain autobiographical information (e.g., Dalil al-motahayyerin), as well as two biographies written by his students. The latter two are said to be lost, but their contents have been summarized by Abu’l-Qasem b. Zayn al-ʿÁbedin Kermáni (I, pp. 143-61). Multiple dates are given for Rašti’s birth (1198/1784, 1205/1791, 1212/1797-98, and 1214/1799-1800), thus leaving a gap of some fifteen years (MacEoin, p. 96). His grandfather was originally from Medina but, due to an outbreak of cholera, had left that town and settled down in Rasht in northern Persia, where Sayyed Kázem was born (Kermáni, I, p. 146). Rashti’s ancestors were chiefly merchants, and there is no mention of any eminent theologians among them.
Accounts concerning his childhood are sparse and contradictory and often mixed with myths and marvels commonly found in saints’ biographies. Already as a child, he showed little interest in playing, but was rather inclined to seclusion and mysticism and studying the Qurʾan. Like his master Shaikh Aḥmad Aḥsāʾi, Rašti is said to have had several significant visions, including a dream in which Fátema, the Prophet’s daughter, instructed him to travel to Yazd, where he was to meet Ahsaʾi (Kermáni, I, p. 147; Rafati, p. 127). Edward G. Browne mentions a different account, according to which, at the age of twelve, Rashti was living in Ardabil, where an ancestor of the Safavids appeared to him in a vision and told him to go to Yazd (Brown, II, p. 238). It seems improbable, though, that he met Aḥsāʾi at such a young age (MacEoin, pp. 96-97). At any rate, visions would play an important role in Rashti’s later life, just as they did for Ahsáʾi, since they provided the basis for claims to otherwise hidden knowledge. The Shaykhiya is thus sometimes also referred to as Kashfiya.
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