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al-Suhrawardi, Shihab al-Din Yahya (1154–91)

DOI
10.4324/9780415249126-H031-1
DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-H031-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved December 11, 2019, from https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/biographical/al-suhrawardi-shihab-al-din-yahya-1154-91/v-1

Article Summary

Al-Suhrawardi, whose life spanned a period of less than forty years in the middle of the twelfth century ad, produced a series of highly assured works which established him as the founder of a new school of philosophy in the Muslim world, the school of Illuminationist philosophy (hikmat al-ishraq). Although arising out of the peripatetic philosophy developed by Ibn Sina, al-Suhrawardi’s Illuminationist philosophy is critical of several of the positions taken by Ibn Sina, and radically departs from the latter through the creation of a symbolic language to give expression to his metaphysics and cosmology, his ‘science of lights’. The fundamental constituent of reality for al-Suhrawardi is pure, immaterial light, than which nothing is more manifest, and which unfolds from the Light of Lights in emanationist fashion through a descending order of lights of ever diminishing intensity; through complex interactions, these in turn give rise to horizontal arrays of lights, similar in concept to the Platonic Forms, which govern the species of mundane reality. Al-Suhrawardi also elaborated the idea of an independent, intermediary world, the imaginal world (alam al-mithal). His views have exerted a powerful influence down to this day, particularly through Mulla Sadra’s adaptation of his concept of intensity and gradation to existence, wherein he combined Peripatetic and Illuminationist descriptions of reality.

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Citing this article:
Cooper, John. al-Suhrawardi, Shihab al-Din Yahya (1154–91), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-H031-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis, https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/biographical/al-suhrawardi-shihab-al-din-yahya-1154-91/v-1.
Copyright © 1998-2019 Routledge.

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