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Al-Suhrawardi and the Philosophy of Light

Written by eastern writer on Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Our previous studies of Shihab al-Din Yahya al-Suhrawardi, commonly known as the Shaykh al-Ishraq, have put us in a position to appreciate the full importance of his work. In an imaginary topography, this work is situated at a crossroads. Al-Suhrawardi died just seven years before Averroes. At that moment, therefore, in western Islam, 'Arab Peripateticism' was finding its ultimate expression in the work of Averroes, so much so that western historians, mistakenly confusing Averroes' Peripateticism with philosophy pure and simple, have overlong persisted in maintaining that philosophy in Islam culminated in Averroes. Yet at the same time in the East, and particularly in Iran, the work of al-Suhrawardi was opening up the road which so many thinkers and spiritual seekers were to follow down to our own
days. It has already been suggested that the reasons for the failure and disappearance of 'Latin Avicennism' were in fact the same as those which lay behind the persistence of Avicennism in Iran; but from the background of this Avicennism the work of al-Suhrawardi, in one way or another, was never absent.

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