the influence of illumination school on West

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For uncertain reason Suhrawardi’s works were not translated into Latin and therefore his philosophy remained unknown to the West. One could postulate three reasons are to why his works were not translated. The first has to do with the existing philosophical paradigm of the period, which was more Ibn Sinian in nature. Therefore, the rationalistic philosophy dominant the Western world created an intellectual ambience that was not receptive to Suhrawardi’s ideas. The second reason could have been that the great age of translation in Spain and the creative momentum that existed in southern Spain had come to an end. Since the translation houses (Dar al-tarjumah) were no longer productive, Suhrawardi did not receive the attention that he deserved. In my opinion, the third reason could have been Suhrawardi’s affiliation with Saladin’s son Malik Zahir. Although Suhrawardi was not favored by the Saladin, he nevertheless may have been viewed by the Christian West as a court philosopher at a time when Muslims and Christian were involved in the Crusades. For this reason his works may have been set aside and gradually forgotten, except by a group of close friends or initiates.

S.H. Nasr attributes the lack of interest by the West in teachings of Suhrawardi to a more fundamental problem, the philosophical and geographical departure of the East and West.

The West, which had been in many ways an orient in the ishraqi sense of the term and had passed a traditional civilization which…. resembled the great oriental civilizations, was now becoming an occident, not only geographically but also in the ishraqi sense of concerning itself with the domain of rationalization.

B. Bay can was affected by Ishraqi teachings
Despite the existing intellectual with continued on their analytical and rationalistic path, Suhrawardi may have influenced certain intellectual strands in the West. S.H. Nasr argues further that one of the intellectual circles that might have been influenced by , Suhrawardi was the thirteenth century Oxford school of Roger Bacon and Roger Grossteste. While both of these figures were proponents of an empirical method of observation, their experiments were such that they were not necessarily inconsistent with a gnostic interpretation of nature. In fact, Nasr draws a parallel between the Oxford school of the thirteenth century and Qutb al- Din Shirazi, the celebrated Muslim scientist and commentator of Suhrawardi, who had also continued an empirical method. Bacon and Grossteste used the kind of experimental method that considers the observation of nature to be necessary part of illumination. “Bacon wore the dress of the ishraqi and lectured upon them.”

C. Suhrawardi’s influence on intellectual circles in Spain
It is, however, even more likely that Suhrawardi had influenced certain intellectual circles in Spain where the intellectual milieu might have been more receptive to his ideas. For example, it is likely that Jewish Kabbalists who came to know of The Philosophy of Illumination may have taken this text to southern Spain where it was discussed among the Jewish mystics. It was this very text, some have argued, that may have played an important role in the further development of Jewish illuminationists, thereby attracting attention to people who wrote extensively on illumination. Another indication that Suhrawardi’s ideas did indeed travel into Spain is that Ibn Sab’in (7/13) of Spain, who lived in Morocco, alludes to the al- Talwihat of Suhrawardi in his book al- Risalat al-faqiriyah. Although it is difficult to establish whether he came to know of Suhrawardi while he was in Spain in Morocco, it does demonstrate the large geographical span reached by Suhrawardi’s ideas.

While illuminationists movements have emerged from time to time, it is difficult to establish definite relationship between them and Suhrawardi’s school. Such movements as the “Illuminated of Bavaria, “founded by Adam Weishaput, which was opposed to a religious hierarchy , or the ideas of Schelling and Franz Van Baader, were no able to revive the illuminationists movements in its authentic and traditional sense.

D. Corbin and revving Ishraqi teachings outside and inside Persia
In the contemporary Western world, the works of Henry Corbin have created a great deal of interest in Suhrawardi’s school of illumination. Corbin’s early training was in Western philosophy with a focus on medieval ontology, and his interest in Islamic philosophy began with Ibn Sina. The focal point of his scholarship, however, was the ishraqi tradition and wisdom of ancient Persia. In the words of S.H. Nasr, “Corbin has without doubt done more than anyone else, outside Persia to revive the teachings of Suhrawardi.

Like many other teacher of traditional wisdom, Corbin has contributed to the body of Islamic sciences not only through his own writings but by training a number of fine scholars. The following figures were either trained by him directly or influenced by his writings: G, Berger and J. Danielou, G Durand and A. Faivre , who belong to the younger generation of the scholars in France. Also, the well known Jewish scholars G. Scholem and biologist A. Portmann are among the important figures who came under his influence.

In particular, Corbin’s exposition of “oriental ontology,” in particular that of Suhrawardi, stimulated much interest among the philosophy movements in France known as the “young philosophers.” The main figure in this movement is Christian Jambet, who took interest in the oriental philosophy of Suhrawardi with emphasis on “oriental logic.”

Finally, Corbin’s influenced in the Arab world, in the particular the former French colonies, is significant. A number of Arab scholars were directly influenced by Corbin’s writings, such as M. Arkhoun, the Algerian Islamicist. The ishraqi school of Suhrawardi, which contained both mystical and rationalistic concepts, was well received by both the Eastern and Western region of Islamic world. The well established mystical traditions of the Indo-Pakistani sub-continent felt at home with Suhrawardi’s esoteric doctrines. Persia and North Africa, centers of rationalistic philosophy, were equally receptive to these elements of Suhrawardi’s philosophy of illumination.


suhrawardi and illumination school


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