Noor Ali Tabandeh

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Noor Ali Tabandeh
Dr Tabandeh.jpg
Tabandeh in October 2015
TitleMajzoub Ali Shah
Born (1927-10-13) 13 October 1927 (age 91)
Bidokht, Iran

Noor Ali Tabandeh (Persian: نورعلی تابنده‎, born 13 October 1927 (Solar Hijri calendar: 21 Mehr 1306)) also known by the title Majzoub Ali Shah, is the spiritual leader or Qutb of the Ni'matullahi (Sultan Ali Shahi) Gonabadi Order in Iran, which is the largest Sufi order in Iran.[1] He was born in Beydokht, Gonabad, Iran.

During his time within the Ministry of Justice and working as an attorney, Tabandeh made considerable efforts to support the human and social rights of Iranians, for which he has been imprisoned and suffered numerous persecutions. To a recent crackdown of the regime on followers of the Gonabadi order, he is currently being held under house arrest by the authorities.[2][3][4]

Education and career[edit]

As a young man he received teachings from his father in Beydukht Gonabad, and learnt the rudiments of Islamic science and traditional and modern astronomy. In 1945 he travelled to Tehran and acquired a first grade Diploma in Literature and in 1946 obtained a Diploma in Natural Science from the Tehran Elmiyeh High School and entered the law faculty of Tehran University. In 1948, he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in judicial law and simultaneously engaged in the study and research of Islamic sciences. He specialised in religious jurisprudence and its principles, taught by his elder brother the master of spiritual sciences, Sultan Hussein Tabandeh (Reza Ali Shah), and used to attend study classes of the late master Shahabi, master Seyed Mohammad Mashkat and the late Sheikh Mohammad Sangalaji, whilst employed in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In 1950 he was transferred to the Ministry of Justice and was assigned as the Head of the Office of Guardianship of the Courts of Tehran and later as the advisor of the courts of the province of Tehran.

In 1952 under the guidance of his father, Mohammad Hassan Bechareh Beydokhti (Saleh Ali Shah), he entered into the path of Sufism and for the completion of this education, he travelled to France. In 1957, after finishing his education in the field of French literature, he obtained his doctorate in the field of law and came back to Iran and continued work in various occupations in the Ministry of Justice.

During a few journeys to Europe, he met often with Henry Corbin a French orientalist who was interested in the teachings and methods of Sultan Ali Shah and started to study under him in the aforementioned subject. Again in the summer of 1968 he went to Paris with a French government scholarship to study judicial law and engaged in research in the International Management Institute (PAII) and obtained a diploma in judicial management.

Upon retirement from the judiciary in 1976, he went on to act as an attorney and in the same year he travelled to Paris for study and research. After the Iranian revolution, for some time he was the assistant director to the Ministry of Guidance and a member of the Management Board of Trustees of the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization (Iran) and was then appointed as the assistant director to the Ministry of Justice and Minister of Justice. In the autumn of 1980 he resigned this position.

Political activities and governmental oppression[edit]

Tabandeh was a protege of Mohammad Mossadegh and active in his National Front.[5] He has a long association with the Freedom Movement of Iran which seeks constitutional reform along the lines of secular freedoms of expression, ideas and belief. It was according to these beliefs that he signed his name on a petition addressed to Akbar Rafsanjani opposing the Iranian totalitarian government. As a result he was imprisoned for around two years charged with being ‘against the theocracy of Velyat-e-Faqih' (Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist).[6] For six months of this sentence he was held in solitary confinement.

Similar persecutions have occurred towards Tabandeh and the Gonabadi Sufi’s over the past decades, such as in 1981, when the spiritual center of the Order in Tehran was set ablaze and completely destroyed. Furthermore, between 2009 - 2013 many worship houses have been destroyed and in recent times the number of persecutions have increased.[7] Following the February 2018 Sufi protests (2018 Dervish protests) in Tehran, which led to the arrest of over 300 Sufis and the torturing of many Sufi men and women, Tabandeh, now 91 years of age, who is seen as the leader of the Sufi community is under complete house arrest, without access to medical assistance and denied contact with the outside world[8][9][10][11]

Leadership authorisation of the Ni’mattolahi Gonabadi Order[edit]

On 9 September 1992, corresponding with the passing away of Sultan Hussein Tabandeh, the leadership of the order was passed down to his son Ali Tabandeh (Hazrat Mahboob Ali Shah). On 20 October 1992, a spiritual authorisation decree was issued to Dr Noor Ali Tabandeh under the title of Majzoub Ali Shah by Ali Tabandeh. After the death of Ali Tabandeh, on 16 January 1997, Noor Ali Tabandeh officially took charge of the guidance of the Ni’mattolahi Gonabadi Sufi order.


  1. ^ "Iran: Information about the Gonabadi dervishes, including their origin, history in Iran, leaders, ideology, practice; and the treatment of dervishes and their family members by society and authorities in Iran, including whether dervishes can practice their faith in Iran (1965-2014)". The UN Refugee Agency, Refworld, 23 September 2014.
  2. ^ "Iran's Gonabadi Dervishes: A 'long history' of persecution". Aljazeera, 27 February 2018.
  3. ^ "Iran: Crackdown on Dervish Minority". Human Rights Watch, 15 March 2018.
  4. ^ "The Gonabadi Dervishes: Gnostics, Royal Advisors, Political and Religious Adversaries". Kayhan Life, 20 March 2018.
  5. ^ Muhammad Sahimi (31 March 2012). "The Nationalist-Religious Movement (Part 2: The Revolutionary Era)". Tehran Bureau. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  6. ^ "Noor Ali Tabandeh, from lawyer and politician to dervish". BBC Persian, 5 February 2018.
  7. ^ "Iranian Authorities Destroy Sufi Holy Site In Isfahan". Radio Free Europe, 18 February 2009.
  8. ^ "URGENT ACTION, Hunger strike to protest torture in detention" (PDF). Amnesty International, 29 March 2018.
  9. ^ "URGENT ACTION, 11 Women ill-treated and arbitrarily detained" (PDF). Amnesty International, 29 March 2018.
  10. ^ "Dr Noorali Tabandeh the head spiritual leader of the Gonabadi Sufi order is under house arrest". Shabtabnews, 7 March 2018.
  11. ^ Hermann, Rainer. "Death to the Sufi", Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Frankfurt, 3 April 2018.
Religious titles
Preceded by
Ali Tabandeh
Qutb of Ni'matullahi Gonabadi Order