Who was Ostad Elahi?

An influential thinker, jurist, and musician, Ostad Elahi (1895-1974) remained largely unknown to the general public during his lifetime, notwithstanding the publication of several philosophical and metaphysical treatises in his later years. Following the introduction of his life and works on the occasion of his centenary in 1995, however, the simplicity and universality of his philosophy have inspired and resonated within individuals from all backgrounds in search of a greater meaning and purpose to life.

Born at the turn of the 20th century in northwestern Iran, Ostad Elahi devoted the whole of his youth to classical mysticism and ascetic practices under the supervision of his father, a well-known figure in the region with a considerable following. At the end of this period, he surmised that the process of spiritual maturation is best developed not in ascetic seclusion, but rather in the midst of society where the challenges and trials of daily life provide a more fertile environment to test the strength of one’s moral character and convictions.

Leaving behind an age-old heritage and his prominent status within it, Ostad Elahi thus chose a life of anonymity, cutting his long hair and beard and eliminating all of the outward manifestations of a mystical lifestyle before settling in the capital city and assuming a governmental post. After working as an entry-level clerk for several years, he enrolled in the newly formed National School of Jurisprudence and became a judge, embarking on a lengthy judicial career that culminated as Chief Justice of the National Court of Appeals.

Having devoted the better part of his life to reconciling and adapting the inner longing and quest for transcendence with a natural and productive life in society, Ostad Elahi synthesized the results of his contrasting lifestyles into several books after his retirement on the basis of his personal observation, experience, and research. His work extracts and summarizes the quintessence of all faiths in a few basic principles adapted to our modern age, which constitute the basis of his more comprehensive philosophy of perfection. To learn more about his life and works, visit www.ostadelahi.com.

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An Exhibition on the Life and Work of Ostad Elahi