Nasir-al-Din al-Tusi (1201-1274) one of the major intellectual figures of the thirteenth century, was born in Tus in Khurasan (north-eastern Iran and parts of Central Asia and Afghanistan) into a Twelver Shi’i family. Encouraged by his father to learn all disciplines of knowledge, al-Tusi went to Nishapur to study mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy. He was particularly attracted to the work of Ibn Sina as well as Ismaili thought. During his travels, he came across a compilation titled Fusul-i muqaddas (Sacred Chapters), comprising sermons and sayings of Imam Hasan ala dhikrihi al-salam (d. 1166) which seemed to have impacted him profoundly.
Al-Tusi joined the service of Nasir al-Din Muhtashim (d. 1257), the Ismaili governor of the province, developing a close relationship with him. Al-Tusi wrote a number of works during this period, completing his most famous wok on ethics, Akhlaq-i Nasiri (The Nasirean Ethics) in 1235, while in the service of the Ismaili governor, a learned patron who had commissioned him to write it. In this work, al-Tusi invoked the blessings of the Imam of the time, Ala al-Din Muhammad (r. 1221-1255).
Shortly thereafter, al-Tusi accompanied the governor to Alamut, the administrative centre of the Ismaili state, on one of his regular trips to report on the affairs of his province. Badakhchani notes that “Tusi would have regarded the journey as a matter of great honour and opportunity, especially as Alamut was the seat of the Ismaili Imams, it housed the most important library in the Ismaili state, and if offered refuge to many scholars, Sunni and Shi’i alike, fleeing from the Mongol invasions…” (Contemplation and Action, p 5).
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