Book Review: An introduction to Illuminationist Philosophy (Hikmat al Ishraq)

Author: H.I. Seyed Yadullah Yazdanpanah
Reviewed by: Dr. Muhammad Hussain Muzaffari

An introduction to Illuminationist Philosophy (Hikmat al Ishraq)

Seyed Yadullah Yazdanpanah

Sheikh Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi (549-587 AH) is one of the shining stars of Islamic philosophy of Iran, a brilliant philosopher whose efforts have made path-breaking innovation of the wisdom of Illumination. There are three great schools of philosophical thought in Islamic philosophy, which were developed from the 9th century onward in the Muslim world. Illuminationism or ḥikmat al-ishrāq is a school of thought originating in the work of Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi in his book “Hikmat al-Ishraq” which was completed in 1186 as a competing doctrine to the traditional “Mashsha'” philosophy.

While the Peripatetic or “Mashsha'” philosophy combined Aristotelianism and Neoplatonism with other ideas introduced through conventional Islamic philosophy, the Illuminationist or “Ishraq” philosophy established a mystical school of thought in the 12th century. Although “Ishraq” philosophy is a distinct addition to the history of Islamic philosophy, the influence of Aristotelianism and Neoplatonism is conspicuous in its theories and considered to be the intermediate link between the Avicennian philosophy and transcendent wisdom of Sadr al-Mutallehin.

The Wisdom of Illumination, in addition to promoting the philosophical method and criticizing many of the criticisms of traditional Peripatetic philosophy, has succeeded in raising very new interesting topics that has taken into consideration a variety of subjects, from ancient philosophies of pre-Islamic Persia to Islamic mysticism and theology, and has paved the way for the formation of transcendent wisdom of Sadr al-Mutallehin in 17th century. In spite of considerable advances in studies on “Ishraq” philosophy, there are still potential for new approaches to search through in this wisdom that deserve attention and many gaps to fill in and many open methodological questions in this philosophical method to be investigated.

This book has tried to present a revised, updated and concise edition to provide strong evidence of specific accomplishments of the wisdom of Illumination. The author also regarded “Ishraq” philosophy as a necessary connecting bridge to convey all the important achievements of traditional schools of philosophy that led to the rise of transcendent wisdom of Sadr al-Mutallehin.