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HomeBooksSpiritual Insights into God, Religion and the Islamic LifestyleThe Philosophy of Illumination : English translation of Hikmat al-ishraq : Islamic Translation Series (Shihab al-Din Suhrawardi)
The Philosophy of Illumination : English translation of Hikmat al-ishraq : Islamic Translation Series (Shihab al-Din Suhrawardi)

The Philosophy of Illumination : English translation of Hikmat al-ishraq : Islamic Translation Series (Shihab al-Din Suhrawardi)

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ISBN: 0842524576
Author: Shihab al-Din Abu al-Futuh Yahya ibn Habah ibn Amirak al-Suhrawardi ; John Walbridge, Hossein Ziai (translators)
Publisher: Brigham Young University Press (January 2000)
Pages: 427 Binding: Hardcover

Description from the publisher:

About This Volume

Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawardi was born around 1154, probably in northwestern Iran. Spurred by a dream in which Aristotle appeared to him, he rejected the Avicennan Peripatetic philosophy of his youth and undertook the task of reviving the earlier philosophical tradition of the "Ancients."

Suhrawardi's philosophy grants a fundamental epistemological role to immediate and atemporal intuition. It is explicitly—often stridently—anti-Peripatetic and is identified with the pre-Aristotelian sages, particularly Plato. He was convinced that the same wisdom was also to be found among other nations, including the Egyptians (as represented by Hermes Trismegistus) and the pre-Islamic sages and righteous kings of Persia.

The subject of his Hikmat al-Ishraq is the "science of lights"—a science that Suhrawardi first learned through mystical exercises reinforced later by logical proofs and finally confirmed by what he saw as the parallel experiences of the Ancients. It was completed on September 15, 1186; and at sunset that evening, in the western sky, the sun, the moon, and the five visible planets came together in a magnificent conjunction in the constellation of Libra. But the stars soon turned against Suhrawardi.

By the time of the Third Crusade, Saladin, the great sultan of Egypt, had grown alarmed at Suhrawardi's influence over his son, who was serving as governor of Aleppo—a concern fanned by that city's more orthodox clergy. A Platonist with an implicit political program, Suhrawardi evidently sought to train the young prince to be a philosopher-king. But Saladin had met philosopher-kings before—both the earlier Fatimid caliphs in Egypt and the leader of the famous "Assassins"—and he did not like them. Nor could he risk a revolt in strategically important Aleppo, or its possible defection to the Crusader cause. He ordered Suhrawardi's execution, and his son reluctantly complied in 1191.

Biographies of Translators

John Walbridge, originally from the upper peninsula of Michigan, has a Ph.D. from Harvard University in Near Eastern languages and is presently associate professor of Near Eastern languages and of philosophy at Indiana University. He is the author of The Science of Mystic Lights: Qutb al-Din Shirazi and the Illuminationist Tradition in Islamic Philosophy (1992) and The Leaven of the Ancients: Suhrawardi and the Heritage of the Greeks (2000), as well as two works on the Baha'i religion and two volumes of translations of the Arabic short stories and poems of Kahlil Gibran.

Hossein Ziai is currently director of Iranian studies at UCLA, where he has taught Iranian and Islamic studies since 1988. He received his B.S. from Yale in 1967 and his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1976. Dr. Ziai has published several books on Islamic philosophy, especially the Iranian Illuminationist tradition. These include Knowledge and Illumination: A Study of Suhrawardi's Hikmat al-Ishraq (1990); The Book of Radiance (1998; translation of Suhrawardi's Partow nameh); and The Ball and Polo Stick, or the Book of Ecstasy, with W. M. Thackston (1999; translation of 'Arifi's Halnamah). He has also authored numerous articles and contributed many chapters to edited volumes.

The Islamic Translation Series is designed not only to further scholarship in the study of Islamic philosophy, theology, and mysticism, but, by encouraging the translation of Islamic texts into the technical language of contemporary Western scholarship, to assist in the integration of Islamic studies into Western academia and to promote global perspectives in the disciplines to which it is devoted. Islamic civilization represents nearly fourteen centuries of intense intellectual activity, and believers in Islam number in the hundreds of millions. The texts that will appear in ITS are among the treasures of this great culture. But they are more than that. They are properly the inheritance of all the peoples of the world. Brigham Young University and its Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts are pleased to sponsor the Islamic Translation Series. In doing so, we hope to serve our fellow human beings, of all creeds and cultures.

The texts that appear in this series are among the cultural treasures of the world, representing as they do the medieval efflorescence of Arabic-Islamic civilization-a civilization in which works of impressive intellectual stature were composed not only by Muslims but also by Christians, Jews, and others in a quest for knowledge that transcended religious and ethnic boundaries. Together they not only preserved the best of Greek thought but enhanced it, added to it, and built upon it a corpus of scientific and philosophical understanding that is properly the inheritance of all the peoples of the world.

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