Shihab al-Din Yahya Sohravardi, known as Shaykh al-Ishraq (the Master of Illumination), was born in Sohravard, a village close to the city of Zanjan in northwestern Persia, in the year 549/1154. After his preliminary education he went to Maragheh and studied Islamic sciences under Majd al-Din Jili. He then went to Isfahan, where he benefited from the teachings of Zahir al-Din Farisi. Sohravardi spent a major part of his life traveling, meeting many sages and Sufis from whom he acquired a high degree of knowledge and spirituality. Continue reading “Sohrawardi and the Question of Knowledge”
There is a close connection between mysticism and religion. However, the nature of their relation is debatable. Is mysticism a religious phenomenon? What is the relation between them? Can mysticism be found outside of religion? Is mysticism compatible with any worldview? The answer to these questions depends on our definition of mysticism. In my view, mysticism is a religious phenomenon. The heart of mysticism is experiential knowledge of God and love of Him, and its three essential elements are belief in God, life after death and a life according to the will of God.
Is it possible for us to know God immediately or directly? Our ordinary knowledge of God is knowledge by representation/correspondence (al ‘ilm al husuli). We have a concept of God; we don’t feel the real God. We know God through some concepts. These concepts provide us with abstract knowledge, mental knowledge. This is not immediate feeling of God. The mystic is looking to know God, not through these abstract concepts. In other words, a mystic is looking for knowing God directly or immediately. Continue reading “Islamic Mysticism”
There is no one single agreed-upon definition of mysticism. Each tradition and school of thought defines mysticism in a specific way. However, we can find important common elements in the thought of all those who speak of mysticism. Sometimes mysticism in its wider sense is used as a synonym for spirituality. Mysticism in its all forms goes beyond the ordinary sensory appearance of the world. It assumes an inner and hidden realm of reality that is larger, wider and more real than the apparent world. The same thing is true for human beings. Mystics try to surpass human appearances, going beyond them to the depth of human reality and seeing dimensions, needs, activities and ideals beyond their counterparts in material everyday life.
Continue reading “Mysticism and Dialogue among Cultures”