Skip to main content

Distributed for Brigham Young University

The Philosophy of Illumination

Shihäb al-Din al-Suhrawardi was born around 1154, probably in northwestern Iran. Spurred by a dream in which Aristotle appeared to him, he rejected the Avicennan Peripatetic philosophy of his youth and undertook the task of reviving the philosophical tradition of the "Ancients."

Suhruwardi’s philosophy grants an epistemological role to immediate and atemporal intuition. It is explicitly anti-Peripatetic and is identified with the pre-Aristotelian sages, particularly Plato. The subject of his hikmat al-Ishraq—now available for the first time in English—is the "science of lights," a science that Suhrawardi first learned through mystical exercises reinforced later by logical proofs and confirmed by what he saw as the parallel experiences of the Ancients. It was completed on 15 September 1186; and at sunset that evening, in the western sky, the sun, the moon, and the five visible planets came together in a magnificent conjunction in the constellation of Libra. The stars soon turned against Suhrawardi, however, who was reluctantly put to death by the son of Saladin, the sultan of Egypt, in 1191.

Brigham Young University image

View all books from Brigham Young University

Table of Contents

Foreword to the Series
Translators’ Introduction
Shahrazuri’s Introduction
Suhrawardi’s Introduction

Part One: The Rules of Thought, in Three Discourses
The First Discourse: Knowledge and definition [comprising seven rules]
The Second Discourse: On proofs and their principles, comprising [seven] rules
The Third Discourse: On sophistical refutations and some judgments between the Illuminationists and the Peripatetic doctrine in [several] sections
Part Two: On the Divine Lights, the Light of Lights, and the Bases and Order of Existence, in Five Discourses
The First Discourse: On light and its reality, the Light of Lights, and that which first was generated from It, in nine sections and rules
The Second Discourse: On the order of existence, in [fourteen] sections
The Third Discourse: Explaining the activity of the Light of Lights and the dominating lights and the rest of the discussion of the celestial movements, in four sections
The Fourth Discourse: On the classification of barriers, their states, their combinations, and some of their powers, in [eight] sections
The Fifth Discourse: On the resurrection, prophecy, and dreams, in [nine] sections

Notes to the English Text
Notes to the Arabic Text

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press