Shah Maghsoud Sadiq Angha (1916-1980)
Shah Maghsoud was born in Tehran on February 4, 1916 (Bahman 15, 1294 of the Persian calendar). His father, Mir Ghotbeddin Mohammad, was a Sufi master; his mother was a descendant of an old Persian family. The Angha family represented the culmination of centuries of cultivation and intellectual attainment.
Shah Maghsoud studied law and political science; and worked at the Iranian Parliament and later at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance. It was during that time, in 1939–40 that his path intersected with Mah Talaat Etemad Moghadam, who was a descendent of a prominent aristocratic family of the Qajar dynasty. Shah Maghsoud and Talaat married and had three children: Nahid, Nader and Tannaz, and lived with Mah Talaat’s mother (Inbisat Duleh) for over thirty years. A large section of Inbisat Duleh’s mansion was dedicated to Shah Maghsoud’s gatherings and that became Shah Maghsoud’s first khaniqa. It is during this time that he assigned several of his students to lead gatherings, including his daughter Nahid.
Shah Maghsoud and his family gradually moved to the village and estate of Sufi Abad in the mid- to late 1970s; and over time they migrated to the United States in 1978 during which time his health began to decline and he passed away passed away on Monday, November 17, 1980 (Aban 26, 1359 Jalali solar calendar, Muharram 9, 1401 Islamic lunar calendar). He had built his own mausoleum in 1976, in Sufi Abad and wished to be buried there.
Shah Maghsoud was among the last of a long line of Persian Sufis of the Uwaiysi tariqa. His school of the Uwaiysi tariqah is the result of forty years of Shah Maghsoud’s teachings, of daily and nightly endeavor by this great teacher. His khaniqah in Sufi Abad, located near Kraj, north of Tehran, remained a gathering place of Sufis, philosophers, and students for years until his death in 1980.
The construction of the buildings and residencies at Sufi Abad estate was gradual, extending from 1964 to 1976.The foundation of the khaniqah was laid in the summer of 1966; and over that time the observatory, laboratory, museum, library, and houses were built on the estate. Shah Maghsoud assigned three sections for each of his children to live close to him and his khaniqah; they lived in Sufi Abad until the family’s migration in the United States in 1978.
The khaniqah was built with extreme care, many of Shah Maghsoud’s students participated and took part in the construction of this building. The foundation of the Shah Maghsoudi museum was laid on May 10, 1975; the sculptures of a stone kashkul and a stone cup with hand-carved inscriptions of the names of Uwaiysi masters are among the most beautiful works of art preserved in the museum. Shah Maghsoud designed and supervised everything from the museum, khaniqah, laboratory, observatory, library, and the whole small village of Sufi Abad, including the house where he and his wife lived.
Sufi Abad remained a gathering place till the Iranian Revolution of 1978–79. Even though there was no threat to his khaniqah,Shah Maghsoud restricted the numbers of gatherings and people coming to his khaniqah. Those magnificent gatherings came to an end after the passing of Shah Maghsoud.
Shah Maghsoud’s intellectual and literary efforts were broad, and ranged from poetry to physics; his works provide a bridge between science and spirituality; his books were written in Persian, with the exception of one or two in Arabic. Over time Nahid Angha, his daughter, have translated many of his books, his treatises, great number of his poems, and written commentaries on his more complicated works.
Shah Maghsoud wrote his first book: Kukab-i adab (Star of Literature, Tehran: 1932) when he was sixteen and last book: Diwan-i Ghazal, dedicated to his daughter Nahid, when he was sixty-four. He wrote many books during his life time including: Padidihay-i fikr (Manifestations of Thought, written in 1954, published in Tehran in 1966, 1972, 1979); Nirvan̛ (Tehran, 1960); Mathnawi mazamir-i haqq va Golzar-i omid (Mathnawi of Psalms of Truth and the Garden of Hope; Tehran 1963); Avaz-i khudayan (Psalms of Gods, Tehran 1975); Chante: Jahan-i ‘Arif (Chante: The Universe of the Knower, Tehran 1965); Payam-i dil(Message of the Heart, Tehran 1968, 1975); Zavaya-i makhfi-i hayati (Hidden Angles of Life, Tehran1975; Pomona, California: Multidisciplinary Publications, 1975); Ozan va-mizan (Weights and Balances, Tehran 1975); Hamaseh-i hayat (The Epic of Life,Abadan1970; Tehran1974.); Sahar (Dawn, Tehran1977); Tib-i sunnati (Traditional Medicine, Tehran1978); Al-Rasa’il (Treatises, Tehran 1978); one of the sections is dedicated to Salat (Prayers; or Namaz in Persian) where Shah Maghsoud writes about the significance of each element of every prescribed movement in Islamic salat and so opened a new door to the understanding of Islam. Diwan-i ghazal (The Book of Sonnets, California 1984) is Shah Maghsoud’s last work.
Several of Shah Masghsoud’s works remain unpublished, including Danishmandan-i zar-i bini (Microscopic Scientists) is a short manuscript written around 1960, on the life and functions of physical cells, including the functions of brain cells, nerve cells, neural circuits, etc. He included a few portions of this manuscript in his Payam-i dil and Hamaseh-i hayat. Ahan (Iron) is a short manuscript written around 1960 that concerns iron and its use in alchemy. He included portions of this book in his Ozan va-mizanas well as in Nirvan. ‘Ishq va-sarnevisht (Love and Destiny), written in 1962, is an analytical study on the subjects of life, death, love, and destiny. According to Shah Maghsoud, love is an infusing gravitational energy that connects the elements and the infinite universe together; an energy opposite of hatred. This suggests that we live in a forum of many possibilities, of multifaceted motions in the world of matter.
Shah Maghsoud created the most beautiful calligraphy in the style of nast’liq, and he dedicated many pieces for his wife; and she compiled a collection of his handwritings; copies of some works of his calligraphy are included in his biography: Shah Maghsoud: Life and Legacy (California 2021) based on his autobiography he wrote for his daughter Nahid Angha.