Al-Suhrawardi's Library

A Biographical Reconstruction

Jeremy Farrell Dr. Nile Green HIST 201P

The event of Sihad ad-Din Al-Suhrawardi death (1191 C.E.) brought the end of a by all accounts brilliant philosophical career, but certainly not its influence. As the founder of the Ishraqi school of thought - known in English as the "Philosophy of Illumination" - Al-Suhrawardi inspired generations of philosophers who crossed religious, geographical, and dogmatic lines, reaching as far as the Zoroastrian revivalist figure Azar Kayvan in 17th century Persia.1 Much of the present day ink spilled concerning al-Suhrawardi centers around the principal construction of his philosophical system: was it essentially based on Islamic mystic theosophy as Amin Razavi claims, or primarily grounded in the author's Peripatetic background while exploring mystic channels of knowledge as Ziai holds true? 2 Hopes for a resolution of this dispute - which now spans decades and now more resembles a quandary along the lines of "the-chickenor-the-egg"- in favor of one side or the other are distant. New avenues of scholarly pursuit regarding the life and works of al-Suhrawardi should now be opened. Between Ziai and Amin Razavi, utmost importance has been given to attempts of systematizing the manner in which al-Suhrawardi systematized his own treatises on Ishraq. While indeed question of methodology for a systematizer of such import as alSuhrawardi is deserving of such efforts, little attention has been given to enumerating the source materials which al-Suhrawardi used in delineating said system. At its core alSuhrawardi's Hikmat al-Ishraq is the unification of various contemporary methods of

For influence on the 13th century Jewish logician Sa'd b Mansur Ibn Kammuna see: Moshe Perlman, Sa'd b Mansur Ibn Kammuna's Examination of the Inquiries into the Three Faiths: A Thirteenth Century Essay in Comparative Religion. (UC Press) Berkeley, 1977; for the Zoroastrian Azar Kayvan: Corbin, Henry, "Azar Kayvan" in Encyclopedia Iranica vol. III:183-187. 2 See: Amin Razavi, Mehdi, Al-Suhrawardi and the School of Illumination. (Curzon) Richmond, 1997, henceforth cited as School of Illumination; and Ziai, Hossein, Knowledge and Illumination: Brown Judaic Studies vol. 97. (Scholar's University Press) Atlanta, 1990, henceforth cited as School of Illumination. Amin Razavi is keen to split the prevailing intellectual attitude between himself, Ziai and Islamic philosophers such as Mehdi Ha'iri and Sayyid Halal ad-Din Ashtiyani concerning the nature of Suhrwardi's philosophy. See in School of Illumination Intro. xvi-xix.

organizing knowledge - Islamic, Peripatetic and mystic - into a single method: affirming its three constituent parts and placing mystic revelation in the form of Light, or ishraq, as the highest and most reliable means of attaining knowledge. He held his mastery of revelatory, as opposed to discursive, means to be a high achievement in his philosophical milieu:
I have heard the master (Al-Suhrawardi) was asked, "Which of you is more excellent [in philosophy], you or Avicenna?" He replied, "We may be on par, or I may be a little better than he is, in the discursive, but I certainly exceed him in the revelatory and intuitive!3

The fact that Al-Suhrawardi left little in the way of bibliographical information when writing the works that were to become central to Hikmat al-Ishraq and that divine revelation is a system of knowledge that is decidedly unciteable has doubtlessly deterred previous efforts at reconstructing the works at al-Suhrawardi's disposal. Special recent focus on attempts to recreate the libraries of Neoplatonists 4 from various traditions has breathed life into efforts at succeeding at such a goal. In efforts to continue this trend of modern scholarship into the systems of influence that exerted themselves in al-Suhrawardi's time, this paper aims to give a general reconstruction of prevailing attitudes and works available to al-Suhrawardi during his scholastic career through a biographical analysis. Through the examination of those systems of influence which al-Suhrawardi himself professed - Islamic, Peripatetic, and Mystic in - their textual and societal forms we may be able to ascertain which

Taken from Nazhat al-arwah wa-rawdat al afrah by Shamsuddin Muhammed ibn Mahmud al-Shahruzuri (fl. 680/1282); extract ed. Spies, Otto, Three Treatises on Mysticism by Shihabuddin Suhrawerdi Maqtul (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1935), pp. 90-121, henceforth cited as Shahrazurdi. English trans. Thackston, W.M. in The Visionary Treatises: Al-Suhrawardi. (Octagon) London, 1984, p. 4. Henceforth cited as Visionary Treatises. 4 Cristina d'Ancona Costa has been at the forefront of this scholarly endeavor, particularly: D'Ancona Costa, Cristina. The libraries of the Neoplatonists: Proceedings of the Meeting of the European Science Foundation Network "Late antiquity and Arabic thought : Patterns in the Constitution of European Culture", Strasbourg, March 12-14, 2004. (Brill) Boston, Leiden, 2007.

foundational works al-Suhrawardi used to build his own system of philosophy

II: Life and Composition Concrete details are few concerning Al-Suhrawardi's life from its beginning to its end. As the nisba on his name indicates, his family hailed from the village of Suhraward, near Zanjan in northeastern Iran. Though early accounts of his life put his age at the time of his death as high as 505 and the exact date of his demise is unknown6, the most common dates given for his life are 549-587/1155-1191. We are told by Ibn Abi 'Usaybi'a of his entrance to Aleppo in 579/11837, and Al-Suhrawardi himself testifies to the date he completed his treatise The Philosophy of Illumination as 582/1186.8 In his early years, he was a student in both Maraghah and Isfahan: two great centers of Islamic learning at the time, especially the latter.9 We know a few of his teachers: from Maraghah, Majd al-Din Jili, with whom he studied hikmat, philosophy and theology; and from Isfahan, Zahir al-Din al-Qari, a noted commentator on Ibn Sina, with whom he studied philosophy and the Basa'ir of 'Umar ibn Salan al-Sawi.10 He received formal instruction in the Peripatetic style of philosophy. After completion of his studies in Isfahan, he entered an extensive period of asceticism wandering through Anatolia and

5 6

Shahruzuri, op. cit. p. 97. A promising date of "a Friday in the month of Dhu 'l-Hijja 587/1191" has been given us by Ibn Taqhribirdi, al-Nujum al-Zahira fi muluk misr wa 'lqahirah, vol. 6 (Cairo: al-Mu'assah al-Misriyah Press, 1963), p. 114. 7 Ibn Abi Usaybi'a Tabaqat al-'Atibba', ed. A. Mueller (Köningsberg; Pr. 1884) I, 168. 8 Al-Suhrawardi, Opera Metaphysica et Mystica II, ed. Henry Corbin (Tehran: Institut Franco-Iranien, 1952). Hereafter cited as Opera II. 9 The eminence of Isfahan as a learning center is well attested and a good general treatment can be found in Fisher, W.B.; Jackson, P.; Lockhart, L.; Boyle, J.A. The Cambridge History of Iran. (Cambridge University Press) Cambridge, 1968., see also: Endress, Gerhard, "Philosophische ein-Band-Bibliotheken aus Isfahan", Oriens, Vol. 36, (Brill) 2001, pp. 10-58, c.f. Ziai Knowledge and Illumination, p. 13. 10 Nasr, S.H. Three Muslim Sages (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1964), p. 60.

Greater Syria, seeking a "spiritual equal"11 in the Sufis he met along the way. It was, perhaps, in this search for "spiritual equals" that he abandoned his commitment to the itinerant lifestyle and moved to Damascus. He seems to have found suitable company as he eventually settled there, gained employment in the court of Malik Zahir Shah, son of the famed Ayyubid Salah ad-Din, and attracted a circle (halqa) of his own.12 Ziai has attempted an outline of the time frame in which Al-Suhrawardi's major Ishraqi cycle of doctrine (The Intimations, The Apposites, The Paths and Illuminations, and The Philosophy of Illumination)13, written in Arabic, would have been completed in Syria, but has argued that no definitive version of these existed even upon his death as they were revised up until such point.14 In addition to these four great works, Al-Suhrawardi authored numerous other titles, in Arabic and Persian. Many of these were mystical in nature and drew on past "mystical philosophers"; the great majority dealt with his personal theory of Ishraq - or the gaining of knowledge through revelatory means. He was twice order to be executed by Salah al-Din (532-588/1138 - 1193), and this sentence was carried out by Malik Zahir Shah. The conditions on the ground surrounding his death may have prevented Al-Suhrawardi's circle from writing a biography, and the first biographical source we have is someone who had likely never met the philosopher in earthly form.15

Shahruzuri, op. cit. p. 120. It was apparently at this group's urging that Al-Suhrawardi released his cycle of Illuminationst works. See Al-Suhrawardi, Opera Metaphysica et Mystica I, ed. Henry Corbin (Tehran: Institut Franco-Iranien, 1952), p. 334. Henceforth cited as Opera I. 13 Ziai argues convincingly that this series of four books served as Al-Suhrawardi's "elliptical" opus (Knowledge and Illumination, p. 10). He quotes Al-Suhrawardi himself from Paths and Heavens: "This book (Paths and Heavens) should be read before the Philosophy of Illumination and after the short examination called the Intimations." (Opera I, p. 194.). Elsewhere, Al-Suhrawardi describes his work Apposites as an addendum to Intimations. (Opera I, p. 214). 14 Knowledge and Illumination, op. cit. pp . 16-19. 15 Amin Razvi, School of Illumination. p. 14.

Even with this bare outline of Al-Suhrawardi's life, several important concerns present themselves: (1) he was educated in Islamic institutions in 12th century Nishapur; (2) he was educated in the Peripatetic style and had at least some access to contemporary Peripatetic thought and texts; (3) he was familiar with mystical works, particularly those from non-Islamic traditions. Analysis of these considerations will provide insight as to the nature of the works dealt with by Al-Suhrawardi in his lifetime.

III: Life & Education in Early Medieval Khurasan While tempting to imagine that we can pinpoint the exact nature of AlSuhrawardi's educational experience by conceiving his role within the vast and complex social and educational bodies which comprised medieval Khurasan, reducing such a field to manageable system is unfortunately not entirely feasible for the task at hand, given the lack of certain key information regarding Suhrawardi. Michael Chamberlain, in his works on high medieval Damascus16 and its elite classes, reminds us of the fallacy of attributing undue social utility to the "institutions" of the Islamic world. In his own words:
There was no "system" of education, patronage, appointment, or of government. Damascus did not have agencies, autonomous social bodies, or institutions with the power to organize such systems. Rather, Damascus and its revenue sources are better viewed as arenas for competitive practices of political and social struggle... distinctions between the realms of the "political" and the "social": or the "public" and the "private" reads modern relations between state and society into a medieval past that cannot sustain such a clear-cut division17

Especially constructive is the idea of abandoning anachronistic and modes of

Chamberlain, Michael. Knowledge and Social Practice in Medieval Damascus, 1190-1350. Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization Series. (Cambridge University Press) Cambridge, 1994, p. 34; henceforth cited as Knowledge and Social Practice. A shorter version of this work can be found in with the title "The Production of Knowledge and the Reproduction of the A'yan in Medieval Damascus", Madrasa: La transmission du savoir dans le monde muslaman sous la direction de Nicole Grandin et Marc Gaborieau (editions ARGUMENTS) Paris, 1997; henceforth cited as Production of Knowledge. 17 Ibid, p. 12.

approach in Western scholarship when assessing the nature of a particular phenomenon in this case the rise of social and educational facilities in the Islamic world. He argues instead for a more refined understanding of the contemporary social institutions; one based more upon competing stakes in society. In the case of social facilities this would mean abandoning ideas of the absolute agency of the state to introduce widespread norms; for educational facilities these particular elements would mean re-imagining education not as monolithic and static but competitive and dynamic. Those with the money to establish waqfs for a madrasah, be they imperial or local agents, and those vying for a mansab (paid position) within it were the principal actors. Chamberlain contrasts this view with earlier scholarship emphasizing the model of an overarching, centralized hierarchy with purposes of its own.18 Is Chamberlain's approach useful for an area such as Khurasan? We must consider the social roles and criteria that shaped imperial-local interaction in Khurasan as well as the effect of these conditions on the local populations in Khurasan to make full use of such an approach. Chamberlain's initial portrait of Damascus begins under the rule of the famed Salah al-Din during the time of the Crusades. Social upheaval was common and tension between local elites and the Ayubbid ruling party often ran at feverish temperatures.19 Similarly throughout Khurasan the Hanafi and Shafi'i madhhabs were frequently up in arms against each other; when this was not the case, they were most often found up in arms against Shi'i populations. Relations between the local Khurasani elite and the various empires that ruled over them - notably the Ghaznavid and Seljuq states (36418

Symptomatic of this line of thinking is Waardenburg, Jacques. "Some Institutional Aspects of Muslim Higher Education and Their Relation to Islam," Numen, Vol. 12, Fasc. 2 (Apr., 1965), pp. 96-138. His note on p. 40 - a quotation from the writer al-Maqdisi describing riots and doctrinal disputes bordering on violence throughout the whole of Khurasan during his travels. 19 Chamberlain, Knowledge and Social Practice, pp. 11-21.

581/975-1186) - in the run-up to al-Suhrawardi's time were oftentimes precarious. Pre-Islamic Khurasan had been a highly fragmented locality, with various regional power centers; after the spread of Islam throughout Khurasan and with a population under more centralized rule, these roots exposed themselves. Bouillet relates late 10th century numismatic evidence from Nishapur and Balkh from the reigns of Mahmud of Ghazna and Arslan Arghun. 20 Their imperially minted coinage with Qur'anic verses affirm the local Mu'atizili authority in order to gain the support of nobles in war time. Further numismatic evidence shows a local elite Abu al Rida al-Athir Hussein alBaghdadi rising in Samarqand to assert himself as preeminent over the imperial establishment, going so far as to print his own coins to strengthen his claims of authority.21 Even the Shi'i possessed some power: Rumi (603-671/1207-1273) relates the story of Fadhl al-Tabsari (d. 1155) who upon entering the city of Sabavan promised the inhabitants that they would be spared if they could produce a single man by the name of Abu Bakr.22 Not content to court only the power of elites, competition was further spread out during the 11th century. Again Mahmud of Ghazna, ever the enterprising spirit, appointed the leader of Nishapur's Karamiya sect to the position of ra'is, a very powerful seat of authority within the city, ostensibly in an effort to circumvent the channels of elite authority. This, however, backfired upon the imposition of a Shi'i "witch hunt"23 by the new ra'is who was removed almost immediately. An anecdote from the time of Sanjar (d. 1186/7), a local governor besieging Nishapur, relates the tenor of imperial/local relations

Bulliet, Richard W. "Local Politics in Eastern Iran under the Ghaznavids and Seljuks," Iranian Studies, Vol. 11, No. 1/4, State and Society in Iran (1978), pp. 35-56, henceforth cited as Local Politics in Eastern Iran; pp. 43, 44. The coin issued in Nishapur contained verse III.17 and the coin issued in Balkh was inscribed with the "Throne Verse", both at that time recognized as having mu'atizilah import. 21 'Abd al-Ghafir al-Farisi, "As-Siyaq li ta'rikh Naisa-buir," The Histories of Nishapur, ed. R. N. Frye (The Hague, 1965), second MS, fol. 14b-15a; c.f. Bulliet, Local Politics in Eastern Iran, p. 46.
22 23

Bulliet, Local Politics in Eastern Iran, p. 50.

[In Nishapur] a riot broke out between the Hanafis and the Shafi'is. After seventy deaths had been counted on the Hanafi side, he [Sanjur] became incensed and decided that things had gone far enough. Accordingly, he [Sanjur] ordered his chamberlain to ride into town and say to the Shafi'i leader Abu Said Muhammad b. Yahya, the director of the Ni'miyya: "Is this city yours or mine? If it's mine, get out! If it's yours, get ready to fight me for it!

The atmosphere of wariness between imperial and local elites prevailed into the Nizam al Mulk's prefecture and governed his concerns over the founding of the Nizamiyah madrasahs.24 His predecessor, al-Kinduri, had tried his hand at quelling dissent by essentially inciting pogroms against Ash'aris and jailing them. Bulliet's characterization of the concessions to which Nizam al Mulk agreed in the hopes of reconciliation in and creating a welcoming atmosphere Ashari'i and Shafi'i influence in mosques and madrasahs is emblematic of the weakness of central power over the region. Nizam al-Mulk despaired of repairing the breach between the Shafi'i and Hanafi communities, stating:
In all the world there are only two schools that are good and on the right path. One is that of Abu Hanifah and the other is that of al-Shafi'i (may God have Mercy on them both). All the rest is vanity and heresy.25

This effort, though, seems to have shored up support for the state's educational program. No other entity in post-Nizam al-Mulk Khurasan challenged orthodox sectarian education, but this did not indicate the end of competition in the educational sphere. Aspects of the sectarian, Peripatetic and mystic formed an integral part of education on the whole in early medieval Khurasan. While the state successfully established precedence in areas of sectarian education, other agents still funded schools with waqfs and shiyukh still competed for spots within them, oftentimes holding a position which allowed them to teach in more than a single tradition.26 The evidence attests to the
24 25

Ibid, p. 49. Siyar al Muluk. (Tehran) ca. 1340. Trans. Hubert Darke (London) 1960. 26 See below, p. 24.

importance placed on having local support, often manifested in socio-religious sectarianism, for important state functions. While elites and imperial personages can be demonstrated to have played an important role in education, what of those doing the teaching themselves? Practices common to learning in the medieval Islamic world, especially the memorization of texts, helped ensure the role of the shaykh in the competitive process. Without the temporal power of a noble or a central administrator at their disposal, the shiyukh used their privilege to knowledge as a means of assuring their own place in society. The written transmission of texts would have seriously undermined their authority and place within the educational sphere. By advocating a mode of learning which was centered on themselves, they ensured their place within the educational facilities. Given this climate in late 11th century Nishapur, attempts at characterizing a centralized establishment as able to impose its will in socio-religious affairs - affairs which were bound up in modes of governance in 11th and 12th century Khurasan - would be highly suspect. Innovation and adaption happened not from solely from an imperial "above", but came to pass through contention with and strong input from elites and, at times, commoners" below"; indeed, many important aspects of socio-religious interaction were marked by competition. This division of participation in the social and theological spheres allowed medieval Khurasan to cultivate a variety of traditions, both state sanctioned and uniquely rooted in a Khurasani identity. Al-Suhrawardi, growing up and receiving his education in 12th century Khurasan, lived this plurality of traditions and would become heavily influenced by them throughout his educational career.

The Sectarian Tradition A brief history of Islamic educational bodies in Khurasan will be instructive in forming a view of Al-Suhrawardi's place within them. The gold standard of scholarship on Islamic establishments of higher education remains George Makdisi's oeuvre spanning 30 years27, though significant contributions have been made in the meantime. Elementary education is well attested even in pre-Islamic times, in the form of the kuttab. By the early Umayyad period, it had become the most widespread form of Islamic education and was primarily concerned with the transmission of hadith and Qur'anic studies. The presence of numerous kuttabs is attested in Nishapur in the 9th century28 There was, as a rule, a single teacher charged with instruction and a basic curriculum of the Qur'an, hadith and practical sciences such as grammar and arithmetic was shared throughout. There was no set time for metriculation or graduation from the kuttab though Bulliet has established a probably estimate at 7.5 years of age in Nishapur29; some boys as old as their teens were only starting and some students such as Ibn Sina are related to have graduated at a highly accelerated pace.30 The range of time spent in elementary education would have been short, and continued studies would have lasted, on average, perhaps 20 years.31 One may assume, then, that the completion of the cycle of studies in a kuttab could have been completed early in a boy's teen years, from where he would have gone

Most notable amongst these, and inevitably found in every work on the subject since, are: [Muslim Institutions of Learning in 11th century Bagghdad. Bulletein of the School of Oriental and African Studies v. 24; London, 1961. Pp. 1-56]; [Rise of Colleges: Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West. (Edinburgh University Press) Edinburgh, 1981 pp. xiv.& 379]; [Religion, Law and Learning in Classical Islam. (Varorium Reprints) London, 1991.] 28 Nashabe, Hisham. Muslim Educational Institutions: A General Survey Followed by a Monographic Study of Al-Madrasah al-Mustansiriyah in Baghdad. (Libraire du Liban) Beirut, 1989, pp. 18-19; henceforth cited as Muslim Educational Institutions. 29 Bulliet, Richard W. "The Age Structure of Medieval Islamic Education," Studia Islamica, No. 57 (Maisonneuve & Larose) 1983, pp. 105-117, p. 110; henceforth cited as Age of Islamic Education. 30 Ibn Sina is related to have said that he had he learned nothing new after reaching 18 years of age. 31 Bulliet, Age of Islamic Education, p. 112.

on to higher studies. Competition between shiyukh was high for students; they typically had very new students per year32and their was a great deal of mobility between them. In the early late 11th century, Omar al-Suhrawardi, whose tradition would be linked to the Sufi brotherhood of this appellation, was known to have had at least 15 hadith teachers in his boyhood.33 The tradition of ritualized higher learning in Islam goes back to the Prophet Mohammed and his teaching at the mosque. This type of formalized education dominated the early phase of Islamic educational bodies, wherein certain mosques developed a reputation for excellence in educational tradition and became to resemble a university in terms of organized curriculum and awarding of degrees of completion (i'jaza'). These "university-mosques" produced all four of the most prominent jurists: Malik b. Annas, Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal, Imam Abu Hanifa, and Imam al Shafi'i. Concurrent with the rise of the "university-mosque", teaching activity moved outside this space into various other domains:
…the madrasah was the gradual outcome of Muslim educational activity outside the mosque. This type of activity was undertaken first by individual 'ulama' who, for some reason or other, chose to teach in their own houses, shops, etc.34

In Khurasan the development of this independent network of learned men with their own facilities eventually gave way to a system of patronage, complete with regularly scheduled scholarly debates in the palaces of viziers beginning in the 10th and 11th centuries.35 Indeed, the term madrasa, as used to describe an educational facility,

Ibid, p. 114 Arberry, A.J. "The Teachers of Shihāb al-Dīn 'Umar al-Suhrawardī," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Cambridge University Press on behalf of the School of Oriental and African Studies), 1950, pp. 339-356. 34 Ibid, p. 7. 35 Arjomand, Said Amir. The Law, Agency and Policy in Medieval Islamic Society: Development of the Institutions of Learning from the Tenth to the Fifteenth Century, Comparative Studies in Society and History, v. 41, No. 2 (Apr., 1999) pp. 260-92, p. 266; henceforth cited as Law, Agency and Policy.

appears far more frequently in Khurasan than any other area under Islamic influence at that time.36 The use of waqf grants by patrician families of northeastern Iran to attract and retain various shiyukh al-islam to their houses - a development that can be seen in the early 10th century37 - would eventually become a sponsored on the state level. Both Nasir al-Dawlah Abu al-Hasan Muhammad and A.H. Nasr b. Sabuktagin, who served in the Simjurid state, founded madrasahs within their territories in the late 10th century. By the time of Badr b. Hasanwayh (d. 405/1014), a Baghdadi vizier of west-central Iran who constructed over 3000 mosque-khan complexes, the interest of the state in providing religious facilities - if not teaching institutions38 - and being a competitor in the field of Islamic education was clear. Upon his accession to power, the second Seljuq ruler Arp Alan (454-464/1063– 1072) created the waqf for a state-sponsored madrasah in Nishapur, the first supreme Seljuq ruler to establish a waqf for a madrasah directly. This precedent grew sizably under his vizier Nizam al-Mulk (408-485/1018-1092, in function 1063-1092), who arranged a program to build a madrasah in major urban centers under Seljuq control, the most famous being the Nizamiyah in Baghdad; the rest, however, within Khurasan at Balkh, Herat, Isfahan in addition to Nishaspur. . The pro-Shafi'i and Hanafi stance supported by Nizam al-Mulk not only produced strongly backed expressions of Seljuq orthodoxy such as the hadith collection of the Shafi'i Imam Bukhari's, which was used throughout Shafi'i madrasahs, but patronage to

Bulliet, Richard. The Patricians of Nishapur: A Study in Medieval Islamic Social History. (Cambridge University Press) Cambridge, 1972, pp. 249-52. 37 Arjomand, Law, Agency and Policy, p. 268. 38 Mottahedeh argues that Makdisi was wrong in attributing the role of teaching colleges to the 3000 institutions built by Badr b. Hasanways, arguing instead that the text reads "He created/built in his territories three thousand mosques and caravansarays for strangers." Mottahedeh, p. 65. In Law, Agency and Policy Arjomand , writing later that Mottahedeh, affirms Makdisi's stance (p. 268).

Shafi'i and Hanbali scholars from Khurasan. The faculty of Baghdad's Nizamiyah madrasah was staffed by Khurasanians and 35% of the Baghdadi 'ulama' undertook some learning in Khurasan during their careers.39 The propagation of Ash'ari theology, which was predicated upon the rejection of Mu'atizili reason and stressed the incapacity of such logic to uncover the attributes of God, found purchase under Nizam al-Mulk. Such a conceptual system produced the great al-Ghazali (449-504/1058-1111), who taught at the Nizamiyah in Baghdad and was influential throughout Khurasan. In summation, Khurasani educational facilities were provided both by elites and governmental agents, overwhelmingly reflecting the prevailing sectarian preferences of the population: Ash'ari principles espoused by either the Hanafi or Shafi'i madhab. With some proper background on Khurasani educational establishments, we may now ask the question: What happened in these institutions? While so far the development of the exterior form and function of the madrasah has been discussed, the interior processes have been neglected. The ideal form of Muslim education was the one-to-one relationship with a shaykh.40 This relationship was not to remain exclusive throughout one's life - the period of study might be termed sahaba or "companionship" - and many students sought out multiple shiyukh to expand their learning. The student sought out a shaykh with a particular 'ijaza' - a license to teach a certain work - and would hope to gain an 'ijaza in turn through his affiliation. They terminology used to define the relationship between a student and his master was murid and murshid, respectively. The

39 40

Mottahedeh, p. 71. See especially n. 41. Important works on the subject include Meier, F. “Khurasan and the End of Classical Sufism”, Essays on Islamic Mysticism and Piety (Brill) Leiden, 1999)., henceforth cited as End of the Classical Sufi Period.; Wach, J. "Master and Disciple: Two Religio-Sociological Studies" in Journal of Religion vol 42. 1962, pp. 1-21 and Silvers-Alario, A.J. “The Teaching Relationship in Early Sufism: A Reassessment of Fritz Meier’s Definition of the Shaykh al-Tarbiya and the Shaykh al-Ta‘līm”, Muslim World vol. 93, 2003.

obedience41 in with which the shaykh was held can be seen in the staggering number of tabaqat (biographical dictionaries) which were commonplace across the Islamic world one such example of featuring Khurasani teachers is that of Ibn al-Salah al-Shahrazuri (d. 642/1244). Recording not only the historical background of each shaykh, biographical dictionaries typically recounted the physical traits and customs of each one - even down to minute details such as mannerisms while reciting the texts or extemporaneous speech (al-khatib).42 Devotion to the shaykh took many forms, including an oath to only practice recitation of texts in his presence.43 Teaching methods varied little from shaykh to shaykh. The most prized form of learning was that of hafiz or memorization. Memorization of a certain text showed great ability and was highly prized, while failing to learn a text by heart was seen as a deficiency. Numerous pneumonic devices were taught to aid in memorization.44 Texts would have shown a high degree of replication from place to place within Khurasan: Shahab Ahmed's bibliographical study of the 12th century Balkhi scholar al-Faryabi's work45 shows that more than 80% of the sources he used came from other Khurasani scholars. He further states that this interiorizing focus of scholarship is evident from at least the 3rd century hijri (early 9th century). The curriculum of higher education varied throughout the Muslim world based on

Ibn Jama'a relates this piece of wisdom: "The shaykh is like a date palm, and one should wait until something falls from it"; c.f. Chamberlain Production of Knowledge, p. 45. See also Ohlander E. "Sufism in the Age of Transition: 'Umar al Suhrawardi and the Rise of the Islamic Mystical Brotherhoods," Islamic History of Civilization Vol. 70 (Brill) Leiden, 2008, pp. 187-219; especially the section on pp. 214-15 on 'Umar al-Suhrawardi's admonitions for behavior vis-á-vis the shaykh. 42 Chamberlain, Production of Knowledge, pp. 42-45. 43 Ibid. p. 41. 44 See: Yates, F.A. The Art of Memory. Chicago, 1966.; Chamberlain's n. 61 in Production of Knowledge p. 38 gives a glimpse as to the feats of memory performed by some Damascene shiyukh. 45 Ahmed, Shahab. "Mapping the World of a Scholar in Sixth/twelfth Century Bukhāra: Regional Tradition in Medieval Islamic Scholarship as Reflected in a Bibliography," Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 120, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 2000), pp. 24- 43, henceforth cited as Mapping the World; p. 40

which side of the Shi'i/Sunni divide the learner fell on. Majid Fakhri provides sample mid 4th-early 5th/late 10th-early 11th century curricula from the Shi'i al-Azhar and the Shafi'i Nizamiyah of Baghdad in "The Liberal Arts in Mediaeval Arabic Tradition".46 Noticeably absent from the Nizamiyah list is any philosophical concentration, while forAl-Azahar, study of philosophy was regarded as second only to that of grammar. One can reasonably assume that if the Nazimiyah, the crown jewel of Nizam al-Mulk's series of madrasahs, did not include philosophy on the curriculum then other Shafi'i madrasahs followed the same path. Without this option available in the Nizamite family of madrasahs - of which the Nizamiya madrasa at Isfahan, a city in which Suhrawardi went to study, was a member - a student interested in philosophy would have to seek out separate educational opportunities in pursuit of philosophical studies. Based on an early Islamic education in Khurasan, Al-Suhrawardi would have been familiar with concepts overwhelmingly particular to Khurasan. As a result of the peculiarities of the Nizamiyah madrasah system, he would have been well-versed in Ash'ari, Hanafi and Shafi'i modes of thought and read widely in Khurasani works in those fields. This would include hadith transmission and works of kalam, particularly the specialties of his teacher in Maragha, Majid al-Din Jili. A great number of these works would have been memorized.

The Peripatetic Tradition Peripatetic philosophy as it existed in al-Suhrawardi's time was essentially an


Fakhri, M. "The Liberal Arts in the Mediaeval Tradition" XVIII Philosophy, Dogma and the Impact of Greek Thought in Islam, Variorum Collected Studies Series. (Variorum) Hampshire, 1994, p. 93. For further reading on the curriculum of al-Azhar, see Dodge, B. Al-Azhar, a Millenium of Muslim Education. Washington D.C., 1961.

affirmation of the Aristotelian system of philosophy and those systems which were based off of it, namely the Neoplatonic movement. Aristotle's comprehensive systemization of knowledge, logic and rhetoric exerted primary influence on world philosophical systems for well over a millennium, and Arabic thought was impacted profoundly by its introduction. What then, was the nature of Peripatetic thought in Khurasan by the middle of the 6th/12th century? The answer to this question takes us back to the initial transmission of Greek works into Arabic. Monumental works by O'Leary47 and more recently Gutas48 have ably captured the movement and serve as thorough introductions to the subject. Gutas relates that the transmission of Greek concepts of philosophical, medicinal, and astronomical sciences were cast into Arabic by a diverse cast of "international scholars"49 hailing from Iraqi Nestorian communities, the Syriac monastic tradition and Persian scholars familiar with Indian sources. The translation of many of the principal documents used in the Abbasid era happened in two steps: first from the Greek to the "host" vernacular, and from there to the Arabic. We have the names of several of these translators and their biographies do indeed reflect this international character of this group of scholars: Severus of Nisbis (d. 45/666) spoke Persian, Greek and Syriac; Theophilus of Edessa (d. 168/785) and Stephanus the Philosopher (d. ca. 800), both of whom worked in the fledgling Abbasid court and were well versed in Greek, Syriac and Pahlavi and Indian sources.50 One of the greatest Arabic luminaries of the translation movement was
47 48

O'Leary, L. How Greek Science Passed to the Arabs (2nd edition). (Routledge & Paul) London, 1957. Gutas, Dmitri. Greek Thought, Arabic Culture: The Graceo-Arabic Translation Movement in Baghdad and Early 'Abbasid Society (2nd-4th/8th-10th centuries). London/New York 1998. Henceforth cited as Greek Thought. 49 Ibid., p. 15. 50 Bergsträsser, G. Neu Materialien zu Hunain ibn Ishaq's Galen-Bibliographie [abhandlungen fuur die Kunde des Morgenlandes XIX, 2]. Leiden, 1932, pp. 17-19, c.f Gutas, Greek Thought, Arabic Culture. p.38.

Hunayn ibn Ishaq (193-259/809?-873), who began his own school for promoting translation and was a key biographer of other translation figures.51 The "Plato" or "Aristotle" encountered by Arabic teachers and philosophers may not have been so authentic as they had imagined - there is even a source that is known to modern scholars as "The So-Called Theology of Aristotle" - actually a commentary written by Plotinus dealing with various Aristotelian texts. With the introduction of Neoplatonism by Plotinus five centuries previous to the height of the Arab translation movement, many Aristotelian and Platonic concepts had taken on very new forms, borrowing heavily from traditions further to the east in Iran and India.52 Few original works in their totality made their way into Arabic, with the possible exceptions of Palto's Republic and Aristotle's Organon.53 Compendiums with later commentators such as Porphyry, Galen, and Alexander of Aphrodisius were instead the widely available sources. Given this, several confusing factors beset Arab commentators as they worked with the translated material. Most common among the mistakes committed was confusing true works and pseudo-sources, such as the "So Called Theology of Aristotle" as well as with al-Farabi's use of a redacted Republic to write his al-Medina al-Fadhila .54 Additionally, philosophical principals often

Few worthy English accounts are available on Hunayn Ibn Ishaq. Two good accounts are found in: [Mijallī, Nasīm. Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq wa-ʻaṣr al-tarjamah al-ʻArabīyah. (al-Majlis al'Alaa lil-Thiqafa) Cairo, 2006.] and [Salama-Carr, Mariam. Traduction a l'époque abasside: la ecole de Hunayn Ibn Ishaq et son importance pour la traduction. (Didier, Sinclair, JM) Paris,1994. 52 Walbridge, John. The Wisdom of the Mystic East: Al-Suhrawardi and Platonic Orientalism. (SUNY Press) New York, 2001, ix-x. His bizarre insistence on the use of terms such as "Oriental" is often offputting and unfortunate in such a carefully measured work. Alon, Ilai. Socrates in Medieval Arabic Literature, Islamic Philosophy, Theology and Science Series vol. X, eds. H Daiber and D. Pingree (Magnes Press) Jerusalem, 1991 (henceforth cited as Socrates in Medieval Arabic Literature) provides a good discussion of the difficulties modern scholars encounter with the accuracy of the translated texts, pp. 36-40. 53 A fuller discussion of these texts may be found in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy under the articles "Ancient logic", "Aristotle", "Plato", "Republic". The Organon consisted of Aristotle's Categoriae, De Interpretatione, Analytica Priora, Analytica Posteriora, Topica and De Sophisticis Elenchis, encompassing a program of logic, rhetoric, ontology and epistemology. 54 Fakhry, Majid. Al-Fārābi : founder of Islamic Neoplatonism : his life, works and influence. (Oxford

"migrated" between works by the same author.55 Whole philosophic legacies at times became confused with for one another: the appearance of pithy sayings (hikmat) attributed to Aristotle that had no relationship - either direct or indirect - with his works is one such example.56 Fehmi Jadaane was influential in sorting out the hiccups in the transmission of the Stoic legacy, which had become confused with the Peripatetic.57 These lacunae in the transmission process have proven more vexing for the modern scholar than their medieval Islamic counterparts, and during this latter period Greek knowledge moved forward in civil society in numerous fields. Scribes, astronomers (working in texts from the Egyptian Ptolemy58), mathematicians (working with texts from Euclid59) and especially doctors (working with texts from Dioscurides60) benefited from access to Greek teachings. Nor was the learning done strictly in an Islamic milieu: as with the translators at the beginning of the Abassid period, numerous Christian, pagan and Zoroastrian communities were centered around their Greek schools well into the 11th century: at Dayr Qunna south of Baghdad, Harran (ancient Carrhae),

University Press) Oxford, 2002. 55 This was especially the case in works by Aristotle. For a most helpful chart on Abbasid period translation listing the original Greek author, work, date of earliest testified Arabic translation and extant manuscript, see Greek Thought, Arabic Culture; pp. 182-83. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has an excellent entry regarding Greek translation into Arabic under "Greek Sources in Arabic and Islamic Philosophy". For a fuller discussion of the texts themselves, see [Burnett, Charles. Glosses and Commentaries on Aristotelian Logical Texts: The Syriac, Arabic and Medieval Latin Traditions. (Warburg Institute) London, 1993]. 56 See: Zakeri, Mohsen. "Before Aristotle Became Aristotle: Pseudo-Aristotelian Aphorisms in adab alfalsafa", Islamic Thought in the Middle Ages: Studies in Text, Transmission and Translation in Honour of Hans Daiber, Islamic Philosophy, Theology and Science Series Vol. LXXV. eds. Anna Akasoy and Wim Raven. (Brill) Leiden, 2008, pp. 649-696. 57 Jadaane, Fehmi. L'Influence Du Stoïcisme Sur la Pensée Muslamane. (Dar el-Machreq Éditeurs, Imprimerie Catholique) Beyrouth, 1968; henceforth cited as L'Influence du Stoïcisme. 58 Almagest from: Vat. Urbinas 82; Vaticanus gr. 1291, 1594; Parisinus gr. 2389; Leidensus B.P.G. 78. Also through Theon from: Comm. On Canons: Vatincanus gr. 190 and Laurentianus 28, 18; and Pappus from Comm. On Almagest Laurentanius 28, 18. 59 Data from Vaticanus gr. 190 and 204. Elements from Vaticanus 190; also Marinus Comm. On Data from Vatincanus gr. 204. 60 Materia Medica from Parsinius gr. 2179.

and Marw (northeast Persia), respectively. Peripatetic thought came to be regarded as supreme during this period due to the influence of Aristotle. The depth to which Aristotle permeated the consciousness of Arabo-Islamic philosophers is impressive, as is itsbreadth: no fewer than ten of his "original" works, along with several commentaries, are found covered in some major Islamic philosophers, making Aristotle by far the most influential figure featured in Arabic works concerning Greek knowledge in all parts of the Dar al-Islam. However, it would be a fallacy to characterize it as fully dominant in the Arabic philosophical milieu. Omar Amine61 in his work dealing with Stoic thought within Arabic philosophy says:
L'influence des stoïciens (sur les penseurs muslamans), notamment en ce qui concerne les questions morales et théologiques, est égale sinon supérieure a celle exercée par le Péripatétisme et le Platonisme.62

Particularly in regards to ideas of the "virtuous man" (insan kamil), a popular literary device of medieval Islamic works on morals (akhlaq), Stoic philosophy was considered superior.63 Within other areas of inquiry, however, the Peripatetics were dominant. Peripatetic formulations of logic, epistemology, ontology and metaphysics are more prevalent than any Stoic counterpart, and as mentioned before, many writers in the Arabic tradition confused the two and introduced mistakenly reduced Stoic principles as Peripatetic.64 The true measure of Peripateticism's influence can be seen in its association with the giants of Arabo-Islamic philosophy. Meditations on Aristotelian or pseudoAristotelian works became a prerequisite for aspiring philosophical adepts. The following attempts only to show, in the briefest possible terms, the impact Aristotelian
61 62

Amine, O. al-Falsafa ar-riwaqiyya, 2eme éd., Le Caire, 1959. Ibid, p. 295. 63 Jadaane, L'Influence du Stoïcisme, p. 63, 69. 64 Ibid, pp. 51-76.

themes had on major writings of eminent early Islamic philosophers.65 Al-Kindi (183256/800-870) based one of his most important works, al-Rasa'il, around what he thought to be Aristotelian system and represents the first genuine attempt to synthesize Greek thinking with Islamic principles.66 Al-Farabi (258-338/872-950) devoted two entire works to the Aristotelian system: the Risa'il fil 'aql and Risala al-Mutafarriqa. His use of the Organon, specifically Categorie, and Alexander of Aphrodisius' commentaries in Risala al-Mutafarriqa undertook questions of essence and existence. Ibn Sina (369428/980-1037) was an unabashed Peripatetic, though his later works show disapproval of some shortcomings in relation to questions of being and essence. His Kitab al Shifa' has inspired a massive work by Amos Bertolacci67, which traces the use of Aristotle's Metaphysics throughout. Bertolacci's analysis weighs in at 613 pages of text, making the extent to which Aristotle had been absorbed into Arabo-Islamic thought after roughly two centuries of exposure readily appreciable. The final great philosopher before alSuhrawardi, al-Ghazali (449-504/1058-1111), was specifically concerned with questions of epistemology, finding its strongest voice in Tahafut al-Falsafa.68 In that his lifelong crusade against man's rational ability to comprehend the Necessary Being was a primarily epistemological question, we see him use Aristotle's De Interpretatione frequently in his attacks against the Mu'atizilite community. These were undeniable "superstars" of the learned Arab world, and their works would have found quick and widespread acceptance


Full fine introductory treatment of this theme can be found in Kassim, Hussain. Aristotle and Aristotelianism in Medieval Muslim, Jewish and Christian Philosophy. (Austin & Winfield) New York, 2000. Henceforth cited as Aristotle and Aristotelianism. 66 The main treatment of Aristotelian ideas in the text deals with principles and universals. It is generally agreed upon that he was using Porphyry's Isagoge when writing. See Aristotle and Aristotelianism., p. 98. 67 Bertolacci, Amos. The Reception of Aristotle's Metaphysics in Avicenna's Kitab al Sifa Islamic Philosophy, Theology and Science Series Vol. LXIII. (Brill) Leiden, 2006. 68 Aristotle and Aristotelianism, p. 101.

in Peripatetic circles.69 Regrettably, little information has passed down to us concerning the methods utilized by institutions where Greek philosophy was taught. Hunayn Ibn Ishaq had a multi-religious community of scholars working on translations with him in the early 9th century, certainly with Nestorian Christians involved. Hunayn compares the methodology of teaching Greek philosophy - in this case medicine - in his own time with that of a late-Antique Alexandria:
The members of the medical school in Alexandria would gather every day to read and study one leading text among those [books by Galen], just as our contemporary Christian colleagues gather every day in places of teaching known as skhola for [the study of] a leading text by the ancients. As for the rest of the books, they used to read them individually - each one on his own, after having first practiced with those books which I mentioned - just as our colleagues today read the commentaries of the books by the ancients.70

We can see that this practice deviates from the previously described murid/murshid relationship that existed in more Islamicized spheres. As this was a particularly early example, perhaps this style of learning was phased out. Unfortunately, we have no later attestations to guide our suppositions. The institution at Marw, similar to the one described by Hunayn in that it was also not centered on an Islamic student base, may also have deviated from the murid/murshid style, but most probably did not utilize the Alexandrian model used in Hunayn's account. Suitable demography for the school at Isfahan is lacking, though as it existed in a more fully Islamicized area with numerous teachers attested71, it may be generally assumed that Islamic teaching forms as seen throughout Khurasan were followed.
69 70

Alon. Socrates in Medieval Arabic Literature, p. 12. Bersträsser, G. Hunain ibn Ishaq über die syrischen und arabischen Galen-Übersetzungen [Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes XVII, 2], Leipzig, 1925, pp. 18.19-19.1. c.f. Gutas, Greek Thought, Arabic Culture, p. 15, (trans. Gutas.) 71 Schimmel, Annemarie. "The Ornament of the Saints: The Religious Situation in Iran in Pre-Safavid Times," Iranian Studies, Vol. 7, No. 1/2, Studies on Isfahan: Proceedings of the Isfahan Colloquium, Part I (Winter - Spring, 1974), Taylor & Francis Ltd., pp. 88-111.

One other possible resource for analyzing the way in which Greek works were taught in the Arab world exists in Chryssipus' treatise on logic. It was translated into Arabic72 but as Chryssipus was a commentator on Xenon - making him a Stoic - it is difficult to tell whether or not his work would have been utilized by the Peripatetics. An educated opinion would reason that the difficulties which arose from the frequent reductions of Stoic logic into a Peripatetic form, already seen to have caused confusion amongst Arabic commentators, may also apply to this Chryssipus' text. Such a situation would have made it widely accepted and relatively standardized amongst self-described Arab Stoics and Peripatetics. The method outlined in Chryssipus' treatise is covered by I.M. Bochenski.73 Presumably then, there was at least one Peripatetic school in either Maraghah or Isfahan which was not allied with the Nizamiya madrasah system in which al-Suhrawardi studied and in which either Majd al-Din Jili or Zahir al-Din al-Qari taught. As Majd alDin Jili is reported to have taught him philosophy and Zahir al-Din al-Qari is reported to have taught him the works of Ibn Sina, we can say that al-Suhrawardi would have become familiar with Peripatetic thought over a period of roughly ten years or more. It is probable that a relationship similar to the Islamic system's murshid/murid model existed. If indeed there existed a central text in structured learning, it surely included the Organon, or at least the first four books. While impossible to determine based solely on biographical evidence, it is likely further Greek resources would have been the pseudoAristotelian "Theology" by Plotinus and Chryssipus' treatise on logic. These would have
72 73

Found in Ibn Fatik, al-Mukhtar and Shahrastani, al-Milal wa n-nihal. Bochinski, I.M. Ancient Formal Logic, Studies in Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics Series, eds. L.E.J. Brouwer, E.W. Beth and A. Heything (North Holland Publishing Company) Amsterdam, 1951. Ziai seems to consider this work indicative of the way logic would have been taught in Suhrawardi's day: see Ziai, Knowledge and Illumination, p. 41 notes.

coupled with the writings of the earlier sages al-Kindi, al-Farabi, Ibn Sina and al-Ghazali. Of these, we may assume that Ibn Sina was the most thoroughly studied, as Zahir al-Din al-Qari was a specialist in his works. As they all died at least 40 years in advance of the birth of Suhrawardi, commentaries on their works would also likely have been available and used in al-Suhrawardi's time.

The Sufi Tradition A third division of al-Suhrawardi's educational experience was his encounter with Sufi and extra-Islamic mystical sources. Nishapur had a strong tradition in each of these areas from early transmission of Indian and Zoroastrian materials, to early mystical movements such as the Malamatiya and Karamiya and finally to more highly organized Sufi movements by the outset of the 11th century. Jacqueline Chabbi's74 review of ascetic movements and their political affiliations along with Margaret Malamud's75 treatment of Sufism in 10th and 11th century Nishapur serve as excellent overviews of the early Sufi period, as is Fritz Meier's still seminal work "Khurasan and the End of the Classical Sufi Period".76 In many ways, the rise of Sufi institutions of learning in Khurasan as a means to "define and defend Sufi principles and practice"77 can be seen as concurrent with more traditional modes of Islamic and Peripatetic learning. In terms of relations with political authorities, Chebbi notes the use of waqfs from

Chabbi, Jacqueline. "Remarqes sur le développement historique des mouvements ascétiques et mystiques a Khourosan, IIIe/IX siecle-IV/X siecle," Studia Islamica, no. 46 (1977), pp. 5-72. Henceforth cited as Remarques. 75 Malamud, Margaret. "Sufi Organizations and Structures of Authority in Medieval Nishapur", International Jounral of Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 26, No. 3 (Aug., 1994), pp. 427-442. Henceforth cited as Sufis…Medieval Nishapur. 76 Meier, Fritz. "Khurasan and the End of the Classical Sufi Period" Essays on Islamic Piety and Mysticism. Trans. John O'kane, ed. Bernd Radtke (Brill) Leiden, 1999. A modern partial-refutation of this work has been given by A.J. Silvers-Alario. See n. 29 for reference. 77 Sufis…Medieval Nishapur. P. 428.

the establishment of both the Ghaznavid (383-387/994-998) and Seljuq royal elites in order to court the influence of Sufis78, a development mirrored by similar contemporary waqfs given out to fund madrasah construction. Sufi participation in the 'Ash'ari madhhab assured their paid presence in madrasahs and centers for the study of fiqh.79, much as adherence to the 'Ashari doctrine ensured royal support for the hadith collector al-Bukhari and Khurasani scholars who sought positions in Baghdad. Shaykh relations and the bond of the murid/murshid are also seen to have undergone a transformation during the 10th and 11th centuries in Khurasan. Initial Karamiya emphasis on zuhd (asceticism) and khalwa (spiritual retreat) gave way to oneon-one relationships with shiyukh that affirmed:
…the bond between them as being more hierarchical and formal, but also more intensely personal. Sufi writers describe a more intimate and all-enompassing relationship between master and disciple than had previously existed.80

While Meier and Silvers-Alario may disagree over the exact nature of the murid/murshid relationship, specifically the reality of tighter formal bonds between the murid and murshid during the sahaba (companionship) phase, the ability of the murid to move between from shaykh to shaykh is readily agreed upon. This precise development was seen to have occurred in the more central Islamic modes of education such as hadith and Qur'an stuides, as demonstrated above. The shaykh centered experience of a Sufi education should not come as a surprise, given that these same shaykhs used the same method when teaching fiqh or kalam. The murid/murshid relationship manifested itself in more than just a physical presence. As noted before with the development of tabaqat in more traditional Islamic
78 79

Remarques, pp. 12-15. Sufis…Medieval Nishapur, p. 428. 80 Sufism…Medieval Nishpaur, p. 428.

models of education, Khurasani Sufis81 took on the task of writing the biographies of previous Sufi masters, concentrating on their exact mannerisms during spiritual exercises such as dhikr. Frequent references to the earlier esoteric mystic traditions of Bistami82 (d. 260/874), Hallaj (d. 309/922) and Junayd (d. 297/910) support recognition of varied roots of the early tradition, though the evidence reveals a result similar to that found in Ahmed's analysis of al-Faryabi: the vast majority of Sufis listed in these tabaqat were based and educated in Khurasan. Transmission of information in the Sufi tradition, then, can be seen in many ways to parallel that of sectarian tradition. While broadly familiar with ideas of early subjects of Khurasani tabaqat, al-Suhrawardi still came away with an understanding more colored by Khurasani understanding of Sufism. Works of particularly pertaining to zuhd can be seen as instrumental given his Sufi practice, begun upon the end of his studies in Isfahan, was predicated upon asceticism.

The education of Shahab al-Din al-Suhrawardi cannot be neatly broken down into "Mystic", "Peripatetic" or"Sectarian" because his education comprised all of these. This is the result of an educational system that stood as a whole while comprising three distinct elements, defined by the competing educational factions which administered them. Works by of a sectarian nature including Ash'ari theology as well as Hanafi and Shafi'i taught in the Nizamiyah madrashas were dominant; Peripatetic formulations of

The Khurasani tabaqat of their Sufi masters are indeed expansive and cannot possibly receive a thorough treatment here. Selected tabaqat include: the 10 volume set of Ifsahani, the Hilyat al-'awliya; Hujwiri's Kashf al-mahjub, the first Sufi tabaqat written in Farsi; Qayrashi produced a number of tabaqat during his lifetime including Tartib al-suluk and the technical summit of Khurasani tabaqat literature, Risala fi 'ilm al-tasawwuf. Along with being a biographical dictionary, it serves as a practicum for basic Sufi phrases and practices. 82 Perhaps even though the Tadhakirat al 'awliya' of Attar al Nishapuri, (b. 539/1145)a rough contemporary of al-Suhrawardi.

ancient Greek philosophy, a subject not taught in the Nizamiyah madrasah system, such as Ibn Sina's works and the commentaries of Neoplatonists such as Porphyry and Alexander of Aphrodisius were handled by a competing madrasah system. Sufi shaykhs worked inside of these two facilities during the 10th and 11th centuries developed their own priorities, concerned primarily with tabaqat literature and the production of mystical knowledge not necessarily attached to sectarian or philosophical matters. Increased understanding of the methods of teaching used within each branch of education will no doubt be illuminating and help us understand the interaction these forms of education had amongst one another. For the time being, however, efforts to extend our understanding of al-Suhrawradi's approach to his Ishraqi writings should focus not on argumentative framings of their method but on the concrete establishment of works and conditions of his educational experience which shamed his approach to philosophy.

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