Shihab al-Din Yahya Suhrawardi

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Azerbaijani representation of Suhrawardi

Schihab ad-Din Yahya Suhrawardi ( Persian شهاب الدين يحيى سهروردی, DMG Šihāb ad-Dīn Yaḥyā Suhravardī ; * 1154 in Suhraward in the Persian province of Zanjan ; † 1191 in Aleppo ), (Arabic) also as-Suhrawardī , or Suhrawardi or Sohravardi for short , was a Persian philosopher and mystic . He is often "the killed" (al-maqtul) or by his followers Sheikh al-Israq ( Arabic شيخ الاشراق, DMG Šaiḫ al-išrāq  'Master of Enlightenment') so as not to confuse him with the other two Suhrawardis who played a decisive role in the formation of the Sufi orders and the systematization of Sufi teachings.


After initial studies, Suhrawardi moved through the central areas of the Islamic world. Attracted by the Ayyubid ruler az-Zahir Ghazi , who promoted Sufis and scholars, he eventually settled in Aleppo . There he achieved a high degree of fame at a young age through his thoughts, which he wrote down in Arabic and Persian in uninterrupted succession. He mostly used a scientific style in his mostly philosophical textbooks and treatises, but also wrote a large number of allegorical-symbolic narratives in literary style as well as some prayers and litanies.

The numerous reports of his death, sometimes decorated with hagiography, are contradictory, so that the exact circumstances of his death cannot be clearly reconstructed. In any case, Suhrawardi was viewed with suspicion by the legal scholars in Aleppo, whereby his close relationship with the heir to the throne Az-Zahir Ghazi played a role. Eventually his opponents were able to convince the Sultan Saladin that Suhrawardi was a harmful influence and also a threat to the stability and orthodoxy of the court and empire. In concluding that new prophetic revelations would descend through mystical contact with an "active intellect", he violated the Islamic dogma of the final mission of the Prophet Muhammad. After he was subsequently arrested and his death warrant signed, he was executed at the age of 37.


Suhrawardi is considered the "master of the philosophy of enlightenment". He discusses his teachings on light theology in almost fifty different works; He describes the nature of God as the light scattered throughout his creation . In terms of its color symbolism, red is a phenomenon made up of material darkness (black) and spiritual light (white). In this teaching, influences from and at the same time criticism of the peripatetic philosophy and of Avicenna , whom Suhrawardi accused of lacking consistency in his explanations on Islamic theology and mysticism, can be seen. Elements of ancient philosophy , hermetic philosophy , the wisdom of ancient Egypt and Iran can also be identified. The mystical celestial spheres, which are important for the concept of music of the spheres, are also mentioned in his work.


The philosophy of Suhrawardi was later adopted mainly by Shia philosophers. In this way, it represents an important element in the Persian philosophical tradition in the late Middle Ages. Mullah Sadra of Shiraz , for example, is deeply influenced by Suhrawardi's ideas.

Persians who later emigrated to India took the philosophy of enlightenment with them and taught it there in mystical, especially Zoroastrian, circles. Large proportions of this influence can also be seen, for example, in Mir Damad in the 17th century , one of the most important thinkers and mystics of the Safavid period, who equated God with light.


Suhrawardi's oeuvre comprises a total of over 50 writings, most of which have survived. A selection of his popular fonts:

Persian scripts (selection)

  • Book of Light Shine , Persian پرتونامه, DMG Partau-nāma
  • Doctrine of God , Persian يزدانشناخت, DMG Yazdān-šināḫt
  • Imad ad-Din's writing board , Persian الواح عمادى, DMG Alwāḥ-i 'imādī
  • Light figures , Arabic هياكل النور, DMG Hayākil an-nūr
  • The language of the ants , Persian لغت موران, DMG Luġat-i mūrān
  • The whistle of the Simurgh , Persian صفیر سیمرغ, DMG Ṣafīr-i sī-murġ
  • A day in the company of the Sufis , Persian روزى با جماعت صوفيان, DMG Rūz-ī bā ǧamā'at-i ṣūfīyān
  • About the feeling of childhood , Arabic فى حالة الطفولية, DMG Fī ḥālat aṭ-ṭufūlīya
  • The sound of Gabriel's wings flapping , Persian آواز پر جبرئيل, DMG Āwāz-i par-i Ǧibra'īl
  • The red intellect , Persian عقل سرخ, DMG 'Aql-i surḫ
  • About the reality of love , Arabic فى حقيقة العشق, DMG Fī ḥaqīqat al-'išq , or The Companion of Lovers , Arabic مونس العشاق, DMG Mūnis al-'uššāq
  • The [fragrance] garden of hearts , Arabic بستان القلوب, DMG Bustān al-qulūb
  • The Mission of the Birds (Suhrawardi's translation of the Arabic script of the same name by Avicenna ), Arabic رسالة الطير, DMG Risālat aṭ-ṭayr

Arabic scripts (selection)

  • The Wisdom (Philosophy) of Enlightenment (his Magnum Opus), Arabic حكمة الاشراق, DMG Ḥikmat al-išrāq
  • Inspirations and sanctifications (prayer texts and litanies), Arabic الواردات و التقديسات, DMG Al-wāridāt wa-'t-taqdīsāt
  • The Book of Hints , Arabic كتاب التلويحات, DMG Kitāb at-talwīḥāt
  • The Book of Resistance , Arabic كتاب المقاومات, DMG Kitāb al-muqāwimāt
  • The Book of Paths and Conversations (his most extensive work), Arabic كتاب المشارع و المطاحرات, DMG Kitāb al-mašāri 'wa'l-muṭāraḥāt
  • To the faith of the wise , Arabic فى الاعتقاد الحكماء, DMG Fī'li'tiqād al-ḥukamā '
  • Flashes of light , Arabic اللمحات, DMG Al-lamaḥāt
  • The story of the western exile (may also be available in its own Persian translation), Arabic قصة الغربة الغربية, DMG Qiṣṣat al-ġurbat al-ġarbiyya

See also


  • Tosun Bayrak: The Shape of Light, Hayakal al-Nur , (interpretive translation from the Turkish translation, enriched with a letter from al-Jilani and a Sufi story by Erzinjani) , Edition Shershir 2013, ISBN 978-3906005119
  • Bettina Löber: The rustling of Gabriel's wings - three stories by the "Master of Enlightenment" Suhrawardi. DRP Rosenkreuz Verlag , Birnbach 2006
  • Henry Corbin : The Emerald Vision. The light person in Persian Sufism. Diederichs Verlag 1989, Chapter III (sun at midnight and celestial pole)
  • Henry Corbin: En Islam iranien. Sohrawardi et les Platoniciens de Perse. Editions Gallimard 1971
  • Henry Corbin: Sohravardi. Le Livre de la Sagesse Orientale. Éditions Verdier, Collection "Islam spiritual" 1986.
  • Annemarie Schimmel: Mystical Dimensions of Islam. The history of Sufism. Diederichs Verlag 1992, chapter Theosophical Sufism
  • Mehdi Amin Razavi: Suhrawardi and the School of Illumination. Curzon Press 1997.
  • Henry Corbin: Mundus Imaginalis; or the imaginary and the imaginal
  • Mehdi Amin Razavi: Suhrawardi and the School of Illumination . Richmond, Surrey (England) 1997.
  • Nicolai Sinai: Shihāb ad-Dīn as-Suhrawardī: Ḥikmat al-ishrāq, Berlin 2011.
  • Şihābaddīn Yahỵā as-Suhrawardī: Opera metaphysica et mystica. OEuvres philosophiques et mystiques . Edited by Henry Corbin, Istanbul 1945 (Volume 2 was published in Tehran in 1954, Volume 3 in Tehran in 1970).
  • Otto Spies: Three Treatises on Mysticism by Shihabuddin Suhrawardi Maqtul . Stuttgart 1935.
  • Wheeler M. Thackston: The Mystical & Visionary Treatises of Shihabuddin Yahya Suhrawardi . Costa Mess, California, 1999.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gotthard Strohmaier : Avicenna. Beck, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-406-41946-1 , p. 130 f.
  2. Karl Schlamminger: Introduction. In: Karl Schlamminger, Peter Lamborn Wilson : Weaver of Tales. Persian Picture Rugs / Persian tapestries. Linked myths. Callwey, Munich 1980, ISBN 3-7667-0532-6 , pp. 9-13, here: p. 11.
  3. ^ Gotthard Strohmaier: Avicenna. 1999, p. 130.
  4. Jean During, Zia Mirabdolbaghi, Dariush Safvat: The Art of Persian Music . Mage Publishers, Washington DC 1991, ISBN 0-934211-22-1 , pp. 179-181.