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Mohammed Sa'id Sarmad
(ca 1590 - 1661) Persia

Sufi school

Scholar, prophet, teacher, and Sufi mystic poet


Muhammad Sa'id, mostly known as Sarmad Kashani or simply as Sarmad was born at Kashan, Armenia, in a Jewish rabbinical family, Persian-speaking Armenian merchants,.but later embraced Islam, and went to India as a merchant.

In 1647 Sarmad was in Haidarabad, not far from Tatta, and there meeting Moshan Fani, the author of the Dabistan-i Madhahib (School of Sects), he gave him the material for a meager chapter on the Jews. In the city of Tatta, Karachi, became infatuated with a young Hindu man named Abhay Chand from a Hindu family, whom he converted to a mixture of Judaism and Islamism.

Sarmad abandoned his trade and started living with his beloved at Thatta, taking him on as a student. During this time he abandoned his wealth, let his hair grow, stopped clipping his nails and began to wander the city streets and emperor's courts a naked faqir.

The love between Sarmad Kashani and Abhay Chand, an Hindu boy who he had met in Thatta, has been the subject of many legends. The two are said to have been inseparable and all efforts to keep the two apart by Abhay's wealthy Hindu parents were doomed. Eventually the couple left Thatta and lived first in Lahore and then in Delhi.

According to Moshan Fani, Sarmad held that man's life and death are a day and a night succeeding each other indefinitely at regular intervals of one hundred and twenty years each, and that at death the body passes partly into minerals and partly into vegetables, animals, and the like.

Sarmad Kashani(Picture: ca. 1775-1799

An Album Page:

Sarmad Kashani and his followers in the wilderness

Medium: pigments and gold on paper

Size: 42 x 24,8 cm)

Sarmad, in his poetry, states that he is neither Jewish, nor Muslim, nor Hindu. His doctrine shows Hindu influence, while his view that allusions to Mohammed exist in the Old Testament bears the impress of Islamitic teaching. During the rule of Shah Jehan, Sarmad was unmolested. Eventually the couple moved to Delhi as then Mughal crown prince Dara Shikoh invited Sarmad at his father's court.

After the War of Succession with his brother Dara Shikoh, Aurangzeb emerged victorious, killed his former adversary and ascended the imperial throne. He had Sarmad accused and convicted of atheism and unorthodox religious practice and tried for heresy and public nakedness.

Aurangzeb ordered his Ulema to ask Sarmad why he repeated only "There is no God", and ordered him to recite the second part,"but God". To that he replied that "I am still absorbed with the negative part. Why should I tell a lie?" Thus he sealed his death sentence. Sarmad was put to death by beheading, at the age 70. His grave is located near the Jama Masjid in Delhi, India.

Ali Khan-Razi, Aurangzeb's court chronicler, was present at the execution. He relates some of the mystic's verses uttered at the execution stand:

"The Mullahs say Ahmed went to heaven, Sarmad says that heaven came down to Ahmed."

"There was an uproar and we opened our eyes from the eternal sleep. Saw that the night of wickedness endured, so we slept again."

Sarmad was a poet of considerable ability; and several of his quatrains are still preserved. He is chiefly noteworthy, however, for having edited, together with Moshan Fani, a portion of Abhichand's Persian translation of the Pentateuch.


Sources: an article by Isidore Singer & Louis H. Gray
and: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/ - https://www.revolvy.com/ - et alii

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