This panel is being presented in memory of the late Prof. Hossein Ziai and reflects his interests.
It is now generally understood that Shihāb al-Dīn Yaḥyā Suhrawardī, “the Master of Illumination,” represents a key turning point in Islamic philosophy. The nature of that transition—the Illuminationist philosophy, ḥikmat al-ishrāq—is poorly understood in a number of respects: what was distinctive about his philosophy, how it was transmitted to his successors, and how they understood the nature of his contribution. There is, moreover, a major debate within the historiography of Islamic philosophy about the nature of Suhrawardī’s thought. This panel will address a range of these issues.
The first paper will draw on the evidence of manuscripts to address the transmission of the works of Suhrawardī to the philosophers who popularized them a century or so after his death. It will then address the question of how the pattern of manuscript production documents the reception of his works of him and those of his early followers, particularly in Safavid Iran and Ottoman Turkey. It will also deal with the differing patterns of transmission of Suhrawardī’s Arabic, Persian, and occult works.
The second paper will deal with the critical question of the relationship between the “Peripatetic” and “Illuminationist” in Suhrawardī’s works through an analysis of Ziai’s understanding of the role of definition and knowledge by presence and how these provide a clear philosophical distinction between the two philosophical school.
The third paper will deal with the reception of Suhrawardī’s thought by the most important of his successors, Mullā Ṣadrā. While Ṣadrā disagreed with Suhrawardī on basic issues, his method, objectives, critique of Avicenna, and approach to writing all go back to Suhrawardī.
The final paper, “Dealing with Mystical Philosophy,” addresses the pedagogical question of introducing Suhrawardī in modern classes on Islamic philosophy and how his works can be placed in dialogue with such key figures as Ghazālī and how the debates about the interpretation of Suhrawardī’s thought illustrate tensions within the Orientalist tradition.