the influence of illumination school on the Qajar period and contemporary periods

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The Qajar period in Iran also witnessed a prolific period of philosophical activity. These activities can be divided into two major trends, the majority who carried out the tradition of Suhrawardi and Sadrian teachings and those who opposed them, such as Shaykhiyyah.

Perhaps foe political reasons, the teachings of Mulla sadra and the Shi’a gnostic views did not receive the attention they deserved until Mulla Ali Nuri, who devoted himself to the teaching and advocating of Mulla sadra’s philosophy. Nuri’s commentary on the Asfar and Mashai’r and his training of so many scholars made him one of the most prominent figures of the Qajar period.

B. Mulla Hadi Sabzwari, as the main expositor of philosophy of illumination and Muta’ aliyah
Hajj Mulla Hadi Sabzwari ,(13/19) is the main expositor of the ishraqi doctrine the Qajar period and the revival of Suhrawardi’s teachings is mainly due to his efforts. Sabzwari, who adhered to Mulla sadra’s teachings, studied with Mulla Isma’il Kushki and Mulla Ali Nuri in Isfahan. His ascetic practices one of the reasons that have made a legendary figure of Sabzwari. His emphasis on asceticism as a necessary element in philosophical training is most evident in his poems and also important in the revival of the practical aspect of ishraq. Although belittled by some of the post –Sadrian philosophers, his emphasis on asceticism was important in the revival of the practical aspects of ishraq.

The works of Sabzwari, in particular Sharh al- manzumah, have become standard texts for the students of Islamic philosophy in Iran. They present a complete discussion of philosophy and logic and raise objections against Mulla sadra’s Asfar, especially his doctrine of the unity of the knower and known (ittihad al- aqil wa’l-ma’qul) and the composition of from and matter. Although Sabzwari primarily concentrated on Mulla sadra’s philosophy, his works are also regarded as expositions of ishraqi doctrine, especially his commentary upon Mulla sadra’s al- Shawahid al-rububiyyah and his work in Persian, Asrar al-hikam. Sabzwari’s commentary upon the Asfar of Mulla sadra, one of the most comprehensive commentaries written on this work, and his commentary upon Mulla sadra’s Mafatih al- ghayb, provide a valuable set of work for the students of Mulla sadra as well as the school of ishraq. Sabzwari’s interest in Sufism is most apparent in his Sufi poems and in his commentary on Rumi’s Mathnawi ,a classical work of Persian Sufi poetry. It is also said that Sabzwari wrote a commentary on the Ilahiyyat of Ibn Sina, which has been lost.

B. Muhammad Reza Qumshe’ies attempt
Another figure of great significance in propagating Suhrawardi’s teaching is Muhammad Rida Qumsha’i. In the tradition of Sabzwari and other great masters of this period, he taught Suhrawardi, Mulla sadra and Ibn Arabi. In fact, it was his attempt to integrate ishraqi tradition with Ibn Arabi’s gnosis and Mulla sadra’a metaphysics that made him one of the foremost authorities of Islamic philosophy in this period.

C. Attempt of philosophers of the end of the Qajar in propagation the Divine wisdom
Towards the end of the Qajar period, Mulla Abdallah Zunuzi and his son, Mulla Ali Zunuzi, wrote commentaries on Sabzwari. They and Mirza Mahdi Ashtiyani came to be known as the most important proponents of ishraq and Mulla sadra. Ali Zunuzi is particularly important, not only because of his important commentary upon Mulla sadra’s works, in particular the Asfar, but also because he represents the first encounter of traditional Islamic philosophy with European philosophy in Persia. Ali Zunuzi was asked by a Qajar prince to provide a reply to modern European philosophy, in particular lmmanuel kant. His response, the book Baddayi al-hikam, earned him a special place within the Qajar period.

There are many followers of Suhrawardi and Mulla sadra and their philosophical orientation who transmitted the wisdom of transcendental theosophy to the modern and contemporary hakims during the Qajar period. Among the outstanding figures of this period we can name Muhammad Ismai’l Isfahani, Mulla Muhammad Ja’far Langarudi, Mulla Ismai’l Khaju’I, Mirza Mahdi Ashtiyani and Mirza Tahir Tunkabuni. They constitute one intellectual trend among other movements which also reacted to Sadrian and ishraqi schools, among which the Shaykhiyyah movement is most conspicuous.

R. Shaykhiyyah School
Initiated by Shaykh Ahmad Ahsai (1153/1753), the Shaykhis are another continuation of the ideas of Suhrawardi and Mulla sadra during the Qajar period in Iran. The Shaykhis who seem more influenced by Mulla sadra’s doctrine than they admit, reject many of Suhrawardi’s ideas as presented by Mulla sadra.

While the Shaykhis adhere to Suhrawardi’s view of the hierarchical structure of the universe, they reject his ontology based on light. Despite this, they accept the existence of an intermediary realm between the angels and human souls, which they describe as the domain of pure light. The Shaykhi’s attempt to reconcile their ishraqi views with the more traditional theological themes is perhaps the root of their conflict with Suhrawardi’s ishraqi school. Whereas Suhrawardi envisaged the grades of the existent entities as different intensities of light, the Shaykhis argued that both the corporeal and the incorporeal world, the hurqalya, are real. Deapite their disagreements, almost all the prominent figures in this movement, such as Shaykh Kazim Rashti and Kirmani, were influenced by the teachings of Suhrawardi and their reformulation by Mulla sadra.

The golden age of philosophical activity during the Safavid period and its continuation during the Qajar period did not abruptly cease, as might be concluded from certain circles of Western scholars of Islamic thought. This tradition is still very much alive and active to this day. The philosophy of Suhrawardi and his chief expositor Mulla sadra become so fully integrated into the fabric of Persian intellectual thought that they remain to this day the cornerstone of traditional philosophical teaching in Iran.

A. Traditional masters of Divine wisdom
In contemporary Iran, the teaching of hikmt has continued and flourished. Among the greatest masters of tradition teaching and ishraqi doctrine is Allamah Sayyid Husayn Tabatabi’ the author of al- Mizan and Ali wa’l-hikmat al-ilahiyyah, Nihayat al-himat and Bidayat al- hikmat. He has written numerous commentaries on Mulla sadra and the ishraqi doctrine, including a new edition of the Asfar. Other disciples of ishraqi tradition are Sayyid Muhammad Kazim Assar, who has written a magor work on transcendental theosophy entitled Thalath rasai’l fi’l-hikmat al-islamiyyah, and Abu’l Hasan Raf’I Qazwini, who has been the main defender on Mulla sadra’s school during the past half century. Qazwini, has trained number of fine scholars, such as Sayyid Jalal al- DinAshtiyani, perhaps the most prolific writer in the field of traditional philosophy in Iran today. He has written extensively on a number of the commentators and authors of the ishraqi tradition. The list of contemporary scholars who have kept the fire of hikmat alive is along one.

B. Ishraqi teachings in universities
Since the establishment of universities in Iran in recent years, Islamic philosophy and hikmat began to be taught outside of the traditional madrasaha for the first time. This was further facilitated by the appearance of scholars who have not only mastered the traditional teaching but also have become well acquainted with Western modes of thought. Among these scholars are Mirza Mehdi Ha’iri Yazdi and Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

Ha’iri is a traditional master of Islamic philosophy whose extensive experience with the West marks one of the few examples of a serious encounter between traditional Islamic philosophy and Western philosophical paradigms. Such an encounter is best represented in his work entitled The Principles of Epistemology in Islamic Philosophy: Knowledge by Presence.

Seyyed Hossein Nasr is another exponent of Suhrawardi’s philosophy who first edited the texts and introduced the Persian writing of Suhrawardi to both the Persian world and the West. His thorough familiarity with Western modes of thought as well as traditional Islamic philosophy has enabled him to present the ishraqi doctrine to the Western audience. Through his numerous writings and lectures, he has established himself as the chief proponent of the ishraqi doctrine in the West. Among his major works in the English language are An Introduction To Islamic Cosmological Doctrines and Sufi Essays. His most important philosophical works include Knowledge and the Sacred, There Muslim sages, Sadra al- Din Shirazi and His Transcendental Theosophy and Religion and the Order of Nature.

Besides Nasr ‘s major contributions spreading the traditional teachings of Suhrawardi, Mulla Sadra and other Shi’ite gnostics, he has tranined a number of fine scholars, such as W. Chittick, the author and translator of many works on hikmah.


suhrawardi and illumination school


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