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MULL ADR AS A SOURCE FOR THE HISTORY OF MUSLIM PHILOSOPHY Author(s): SEYYED HOSSEIN NASR Reviewed work(s): Source:

Islamic Studies, Vol. 3, No. 3 (SEPTEMBER 1964), pp. 309-314 Published by: Islamic Research Institute, International Islamic University, Islamabad Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20832756 . Accessed: 14/01/2013 22:36
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MULLA SADR? AS A SOURCE FOR THE HISTORY


OF MUSLIM
SEYYED

PHILOSOPHY*
NASR

HOSSEIN

?adr al-Din Shirlzi, usually known as Mull?


much neglected as a philosopher and theosopher

?adr?, has been


(hahtm) consider

ing the fact that he is one of the outstanding figures in the intellectual life of Islam. With his life and doctrines we are
here.1 seriously Rather, we wish and to draw attention to an as a

concerned ever been

but has hardly aspect ofMulla ?adr? which is ofmuch significance


considered, for the earlier that is his importance source of knowledge schools of Muslim philosophy

and the historyofMuslim philosophy in general. The very existence of a figureof the dimension ofMulla
in the llth/17th activity after century the period testifies to several that is usually centuries of considered

?adra

intellectual

as the termina

tion of Muslim philosophy, namely, the 7th/13th century. To study thewritingsof ?adr al-Din is to gain a knowledge of that
process, gnosis whose Cirf?n) details are still undiscovered, Philosophy, the Illuminationist of the school by which Peripatetic doctrines of Suhrawardi, (Ishr?qO of Ibn 'Arabi, and certain elements of

Muslim theology (kal?m) gradually became unified in the back ground of Shfism leadingfinallyto the grand synthesis of Mulla
His ?adra. intellectual

to the presence of a are a testimony writings living tradition before him, and through them one reading comes to realize that he did not suddenly mushroom out of a vacuum of a tendency which was for achievement but was the crowning several centuries between of Mulla stage in the making. philosophy of a process which For example, and religion, goes back in the on his the question is of the The solution himself.

harmony final

to al-Kindl ideas

writings they express ?adra are, therefore, as well as in the references they make to the authorities immediate a major source of knowledge for the most him, ly preceding

obscure period of the history of Muslim philosophy, namely the period extending fromKhw?jah Nasir al-Din al-Tusi to Mir to D?mSd?from the 7th/13th the llth/17thcentury.
This paper was read to the XXVIth International Congress of Orientalists

held atNew Delhi, India, in February, 1961?(Ed.)

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310 Mull?

SEYYED

HOSSEIN

NASR

and ?adr? was net only an outstanding metaphysician a great scholar with a remarkable knowledge sage (hakim), but also of earlier works on all the religious and intellectual It sciences. rich library, unusually for his writings often make reference to earlier works which are either lost or now lie in the corner of some library out of access as to present-day as well scholars. to early These histories %alal-Abad include references to earlier texts of and of Muslim philosophy some seems that be must have had access to an

which Nuzhat extant, today.

like al-Amad al-arw?h There

of Abu'l-Hasan

al-'Amiri

wa Rawdat are also

al-afr?h

have not as yet been

of Shahraz?ri, still although and are not well known published, references as intellectual to Shl'ite sciences. sources of Finally,

numerous as well

hadith and theologywhich bear witness to Mulla


of religious knowledge there are at times references which to Greek

?adr?'s intimate
philosophers that Mull?

and Alexandrian

are often quite accurate. It is, in fact, possible on the pre-Islamic in Arabic philosophers ?adra knew certain works which have now been lost. His writings should, in any case, be sources which to those Muslim aid in clarifying certain added aspects of the history of Greek and Hellenistic philosophy. of other philosophers references to the views Although in most and

such as his com of ?adr al-DIn's works, sages abound of Kulaynl and glosses upon the mentary upen the Usui al-K?fi of Suhrawardi, it is especially in his monumental Hikmat al-Ishr?q al-Hikmat al-Mutd?liyah VU Asf?r al-Arba'ah f masterpiece (High the Four Journeys of the Soul), usually referred Wisdom Concerning that one must seek doctrines and ideas of other to simply as Asf?r and sages.2 The Asf?r the is, in fact, not only philosophers in Islam, but is also and thorough work on Hikmah on the history of Muslim a veritable philosophy. compendium is treated before being analyzed and solved Nearly every question from the point of view of the leading authorities of the various most advanced schools, and Ibn certain and often the views 'Arabi question as well are Mull? as of al-Flr?bi, of with through lucidity Ibn Sina, or Suhrawardi some the Greek

expressed ?adr?,

on a philosophers a clarity which does not come intellectual at penetration, was of certain the meaning For example,

by easily. Sometimes

able to arrive with arrive at through

to ideas held byMuslim or Greek philosophers which is difficult


sheer historical analysis. in the

astonishing

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MULLA

SADR??SOURCE

FOR HISTORY

OF MUSLIM

PHILOSOPHY

311

first journey of the Asfcfr% he discusses the view of the pre-Socratics of things. Regarding the belief the ultimate substance concerning are made ultimately of water, he writes that all things of Tha?es mistaken sionate" which, for physical water. Rather, it is that ultimately divine

that thewater of Tha?es is symbolic (ramz) and should not be substancewhich in Islam is called the "breath of the Compas
(nafas although One is astounded by this conclusion al-Rahm?ri). to the nationalistic interpretations of 19th opposed affirms the view philosophy known the Islamic surely have such as seen of the profoundest Francis Com term "breath of its affinity and, is another into and

century historians

contemporary In fact, had ford. the Compassionate" meaning aspect

of philosophy, students of Greek Comford he would in the

with what he himselfhad understood by the in fact, near identity


of matter of Mulla doctrine of Tha?es.3 This ?adr?'s of some of genius which enables one to penetrate of the ancient the doctrines sages specifically how the Asf?r On the question serves

the meaning

philosophers. To illustrate more

as a source is the

for the history of philosophy?especially Muslim philosophy?we reality of being,4Mulla ?adr? first discusses in detail the view of the S?fts, especially of Ibn 'Arabi and his school, clarifying what they mean by the transcendent unity of being (wahdat al* wuj?d), andwhy they believe that being belongs to God alone.
He in Muslim is called which, philosophy, and was entertained mostly by Jal?l al-DIn al aUtdalluK)% (dhawq he considers the views of the Ishr?qts and Dawwani. Afterwards, Peripatetics clarifying with remarkable of *"being** in the writings of Ibn Sina he was so intimately acquainted. On each the meaning thoroughness and Suhraward? with which then turns to a view turn to a few specific examples. of what

and essence are united with the question of how existence from D?w?d he first quotes extensively al-Qaysarfs other, of Ibn 'Arabi and states that al-Hikam commentary upon the Fus?s have differed on this question,5 the view and then goes on to discuss figures

authorities what him

five different points of view before statinghis own. These include


he called which ;Ab?'1-Hasan of some of "the well-known the majority among nobles" refers to some of the thinkers al-Ash'ari, the Peripatetics immediately preceding

later period),

to instances, it would be difficult find the views of these different

of the theologians (of the as in other and the Ishr?qts. Here,

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312 schools for on this question time

SEYYED

HOSSEIN

NASR as here. existence" of

One of the questions which Mulla


the first is what he calls of the al-dhihntyah), mental i.e., the question

so clearly

summarized "mental

?adr? discussed in detail


existence (al-wuj?d things on the of epistemology and many

the problem plane with which are connected. Mulla other basic first quotes questions ?adra in order to prove the from the Fus?s of Ibn 'Arabi extensively of such a state.6 Then answering regarding all the difficulties he theologians and philosophers this question,

existence of the

discusses it fromthe point of view of theologians like Qoshji as well as theSufis, especially Ibn 'Arabi, and finallyproposes his own
solution to this basic problem whose separate discussion masterly is essentially absent from early Muslim philosophy. As a final example, we cite Mull? ?adr?'s discussion of Platonic such a long history in both East ideas7 which and possesses West. ?adr al-Din begins with Plato's own view and then proceeds to whom the "Platonic to that of Ibn Sina according ideas" are all dependencies have been abstract simply the qualities from which to the opinion of al ed. This view he criticizes before passing according forms in the knowledge of God transformed.8 comings. Then This view, he discusses as expressed wa Arist? in his al-Jam* bayn Ray al-Hakimayn Afl?tun to which the "ideas" are permanent which do not change or become criticizes and shows its short own criticizes the views of his

F?r?b? al-ilahi

too, he and

teacher, Mir D?m?d, of things considered which stands

according to whom the "ideas" of "boundless in the world the world

are the essence time", or dahr

between

this discussion, he proceeds and their belief in archetypes and the Illuminationists and mentions to many illustrate Mazdaean this view.9 angels and (sanam) Finally, he

of time and eternity. Following to analyze the views of Suhrawardi (jabb al-nawk)% their terrestrial icons outlines the view

of Plotinus in the Kit?b al-May?mir (Enneads) and tries to interpret


the words harmonize of Aristotle it with in his Metaphysics whose in such the view of Plotinus as to a way was con Enneads

Mulla

?adr? outlines the views of a particular school or philosopher in clear terms, and then starts to explain or criticize them, he sets these various views into a unified himself the task of synthesizing vision of things. He presents a doctrine which preserves

sideredby theMuslims as the Theology of Aristotle. After this long historical discussion in each part of which

the

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MULLA

SADR??SOURCE

FOR HISTORY

OF MUSLIM

PHILOSOPHY

archetypal reality of thingswithout falling into the trap which


permitted ideas". discussing doctrines intellectual the Muslim $?ft texts. to criticize the very notion of "Platonic the Peripatetics The chapter on "Platonic in fact, demonstrates ideas," the views of various into a unity which figures sages. schools and then synthesizing them. also one of the most first-rate

clearlyMulla ?adr?*smethod in the Asf?r which is one of first


various seeks to encompass

Altogether Mulla

in Islam, was We know

?adr?, besides being one of the leading


learned among metaphysician of no other

in Islamwith so much knowledge of philosophical, religious and


the writings with of such ?adr al-Din's acquaintance as Ibn S?n?, Suhraward?, and Ibn 'Arabi, along al-Ghazzal? figures is really amazing, and he is for with his important commentators, that reason deserve an excellent studied

The writings of Mulla ?adr? and especially his Asf?r, therefore,


to be not only for their own also many sake as one of the valuable source

guide

for an understanding

of these figures.

of knowledge for the history of Muslim philosophy,one whose


examination intellectual has yet ?adr?, can serve as a means for gaining an insight realized, into that long and continuous intellectual activity in Islam of which he himself was one of the major products. been NOTES 1. As a result of the celebrations of the 400th anniversaryof the birth of Mull?
Sadr? him in have Iran and India over in 1961 the past and 1962, works a number include by Tehran devoted of studies concerning and Com Sadr? appeared a few in French and Volume, few years, mostly in Persian the Mulld University Sadr? "Sadr 6-16; and Arabic

summits of Islamic

intellectual

life, but

as a a

to elucidate promises history of Islam. Mulla

dark

much

in the page more than as

English. of December,

These

memoration issue his

Tehran,

1961, published 1961, Persian

; the special consisting al-D?n several of Sh?r?z?, works

of Indo-Iranica articles doctrines

to Mull? including Nasr, pp.

several life,

in Arabic, and

and English by S. H.

by S. J. SshtiySn? in Persian concerning his life and doctrines sponsored by Meshed University; several critical editions of his works including his Sih Asl, edited by S. H. Nasr, Tehran, 1961? inwhose introduction the lifeand
sources of Mull? Sadr? are discussed, in and several translations of his Arabic are

significance,"

works into Persian byGh. Shan? of Ispahan University.


The most those important of H. studies European his La languages Terrec?leste on Mulla Sadrp Corbin including

et le corps de r?surrection, his edition of

Paris, 1960, pp. 252-65 ; "La place de Moll? Sadr? Sh?r?z?dans la philosophie
iranienne." Studia Islamica, fase. XVIII, Paris, 1963; and

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314 Mulla
the most See S. H. Sadr?

SEYYED

HOSSEIN

NASR

Sadr?'s Le Livre des P?n?trationsm?taphysiques,T?h?ran, 1964, which is


extensive study on Mulls with pp. Sadr? Mull? 51-62. for both the doctrines of Mulls Sadt? an and states in European Sadr? in the languages. Occident," in Mul?? Nasr, "Acquaintance Volume, its importance that as Browne this

Commemoration

2. Considering

as a source

and the history of Muslim philosophy and other intellectual sciences, it is


work should should call is so unknown the work outside as Iran the "Four the that such authority translate it a Books" author

unfortunate

Comte soul

de Gobineau toward

clearly in the Introduction that by Asf?r he means the four journeys of the The Asf?r was once lithographed in Tehran in 1282/1865 in four volumes which
are now rather rare. under Four It is now being of republished 'All?mah nine with Sayyid some of the traditional Husayn appeared. commentaries Taba'tab?'?. the editorship of the projected Muhammad already its spiritual perfection.

travelogue

whereas

volumes

have

There is still scope fora critical edition which could have amore international
nature. 3. See 4. Asfar, especially vol. Comford's Princ?pium pp. 70 Sapientiae, ff. New York, 1957, and From

Religion toPhilosophy.

5."Iii: 6.

4~

I, Qum,

1378 A. H.,

?l
247 ff.

J ) j^j

vk>l a^uikll" V U J?U iy j ?UI

op. cit., pp.

fUVVl

.. 4*^1

lJUb jy

VI

)1*Cx4
V J J-US V "a
T/ir*e iHwj?tm Sage*,

?j&L?

61^1 jl* JjUJIj <

Jf 0&

ftjik"

op. cit., pp. 266-7.

7.Asf?r,vol. II, pp. 46 ff. "VjWftfl J*ll J JJ^Id"


8. Ibid.
9. See

jJ?>
S. H.

Nasr,

Cambridge

(U.S.

A),

1964,

pp. 70-4.

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