Expert Talks on the Status of the Quran in Suhrawardi’s Philosophy

Tehran (IQNA) – Suhrawardi was a Muslim philosopher who had a divine view of philosophy as rational study of Quranic matters can be seen in his works.

Born in 1154, Shahab al-Din Yahya ibn Habash Suhrawardi was one of the most prominent Iranian philosophers. He is also known as Shaikh al-ʿIshraq or “Master of Enlightenment”.

A seminar entitled “Why Suhrawardi? was held on March 11 in Tehran to discuss different aspects of Surawardi’s works.

Gholamreza Aavani, a retired philosophy professor, was one of the speakers at the event who provided explanations on Illuminationist philosophy (Hikmat al-‘Ishraq) as one of the philosophical schools of the Muslim world. The following is a summary of Aavani’s remarks during the session:

There are three or four schools of philosophy in the Muslim world, such as Transcendent Theosophy, the Peripatetic School, and the Enlightenment Philosophy, although most schools in Greece date back to Socrates.

To understand the significance of Suhrawardi, we must consider the era in which he lived. Living in the 12th century AD, he was a competitor of Averroes. Some 45 years earlier, Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali had refuted the philosophy, introducing mysticism as the correct path. Averroes revived Aristotle’s thoughts and opposed Ibn Sina. Thus, the Western world was an heir to Averroes, and the spread of his thoughts led to the separation of religion from philosophy.

Therefore, Suhrawardi was the one who rescued philosophy from the domination of the thoughts of Al-Ghazali and Averroes. He revived the Hikmat (philosophy). Aristotle believed that philosophy belonged to Greece and even today all philosophy books say the same thing. Meanwhile, Suhrawardi proposed a theory that is important in the history of philosophy. In the introduction to Hikmat al-Ishraq, he notes that whoever seeks truth benefits from divine enlightenment. He rejects Aristotle’s theory and asserts that science was not endowed or given to a single tribe. He believes that God is most merciful and does not withhold knowledge from other nations.

Suhrawardi had a deeper view of philosophy. Followers of Aristotle supported a discursive philosophy, but Suhrawardi believed that an intuitive philosophy has a higher value as it is acquired by Zuhd. This philosophy, like mysticism, speaks of intuitive gnosis.

Suhrawardi’s links to the Quran

In Suhrawardi’s view, man will fail in achieving hikmat if he does not obtain tazkiyat al-nafs or “self-purification” in the process. Popular schools of thought today try to understand the world based on physical characteristics, however, Suhrawardi believes that physical characteristics are not enough to determine the nature of things. It describes how man is trapped in the world and how he can be saved through divine wisdom and knowledge. Philosophy, he believes, is the force that can save us and bring us back to our original homeland. As the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: Love of one’s country is part of faith.

Another Suhrawardi masterpiece is the combination of Quranic and discursive philosophies. He explains everything from the point of view of philosophy and then cites Quranic verses as proof. He believes that Koranic and discursive philosophies are not opposed, but that they are both degrees of the same philosophy.


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