It is impossible to overemphasize the significance of mysticism in Islamic philosophy. Most of the classical thinkers regarded themselves as mystics, and some strains of Islamic philosophy were entirely mystical. Isma‘ili thought, for example, is based on the idea that the meaning of scripture can only be derived from the teachings of the imam, someone who can expand the horizons of the intellect and come into contact with higher levels of reality. Within the Sunni world mysticism tended to take a Sufi direction, and two of the most radical thinkers were Ibn Sab‘in and Ibn al-‘Arabi in the Maghrib. Both put enormous emphasis on the oneness of existence as a result of the unity of the Deity, and called for a revaluation of metaphysics as a result to take account of this very basic fact. In the Persian world mysticism really took off and became a standard part of the philosophical curriculum, from the School of Isfahan of Mir Damad and Mulla Sadra right up to today. Illuminationist thought also uses mystical features in its structure, although in some ways it is also committed to aspects of Peripateticism. Persian thought became adept at combining the ideas of Persian thinkers with earlier philosophers linked with Sufism such as Ibn al-‘Arabi and al-Ghazali.
   See Eastern philosophy; al-Ghazali; Ibn al-‘Arabi; Ibn Masarra; Ibn Sab‘in; Illuminationism; Mir Damad; Mulla Sadra; Sufism; al-Suhrawardi
   Further reading: Arberry 1950/90; Nasr 1981, 2006; Schimmel 1975; Sells 1994, 1996

Islamic Philosophy. . 2007.


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