The study of erfan
- was adopted too by some of the leading clerics of the 1-st half of the ХХth century,
- thus Shariat Sangalaji was taught erfan in Tehran by Mirza Hashem Eshkevari,
- Ruhollah Khomeini (1902–89) took classes in the same subject offered by Mirza Mohammad Ali Shahabadi (1875–1950) & Mirza Ali Akbar Hakim Yazdi (d. 1925).
Khomeini mentions the suspicion, that some clerics held for mysticism
- to the extent that it was necessary to find a preacher to testify from the minbar
- that Mirza Ali Akbar Hakim Yazdi actually read the Quran.
- Sympathetic to the tradition of erfan, Khomeini was later to observe:
--- “Those, who wear cloaks and turbans and denounce the mystics as unbelievers,
--- do not understand what they are saying; if they did, they would not denounce them”.
Another example of the suspicion surrounding erfan
- concerns the difficulty in obtaining mystical texts;
- as a young scholar in Mashhad (the holiest city in Shiite Iran because of the existence of Imam Reza’s tomb) in the 1920s,
- Badi al-Zaman Foruzanfar could not find a copy of Rumi’s "Divan-e Shams"
- perhaps due to the Sufi nature of the contents, or, as Franklin Lewis suggests, because Rumi was a Sunni.
Such caution about erfan resulted in some holding secret classes
- as in Khomeini’s case &
- even if the classes were public then, the prerequisites for entry into the class
- prevented access to those, who were not serious or academically minded.
E.G. Browne has recorded the difficulty in attending
- Hajji Molla Hadi Sabzevari’s classes on metaphysics and Molla Sadra
- His students would have had to have shown proficiency in preliminary studies of:
- Arabic grammar, logic, mathematics, jurisprudence & scholastic theology