Shaykh Shahabuddin Suhrawardi on Ilm-Knowledge and Aql-Intellect

He knows not that outside their ‘aql is another ‘aql…

Excerpt Awarif ul Ma’arif, Shahabuddin Suhrawardi (Baghdad 1144-1234), Translated Arabic to Persian by Mahmud B. Ali Al-Kashani. Translated from Persian to English by H. Wilberforce Clarke (Calcutta, 1891), Sh.Muhammad Ashraf, 1991, Lahore, p.93-95

Ilm is a light from the candle of the special description of man; from it is excluded the understanding of his sense, and ‘aql (reason)…’Aql is a natural light, whereby becometh distinguished good from evil…

Ilm is special to the faithful; ‘ilm and ‘aql are necessary for each other.

The eye of ‘aql (of the next world) is luminous with the light of guidance, and anointed with the kuhl of the Shariat. In its essence, it is one, but it has two forms:

(a) One in respect of the Creator. Its meaning is the ‘aql of guidance, special to the faithful.

(b) One in respect of the created. Its meaning is the ‘aql of livelihood.

For people of faith and for seekers of God and of the next world, “the ‘aql of livelihood” is obedient to “the ‘aql of guidance”.

Whenever these two ‘aqls agree, they credit “the ‘aql of livelihood,” and according to exigency act: whenever they disagree, they discredit it, and to it pay no attention.

Thus, to the seekers of God, the man of this world ascribe weak ‘aql.  He knows not that outside their ‘aql is another ‘aql.

Ilm is of three kinds:

(1) Ilm-i-Tauhid, Knowledge of the Unity of God

(2) Ilm-i-Ma’rifat, Knowledge of the Work of God

(3) Ilm of the orders of the Shariat of orders and prohibitions.

Each one of these three paths has a separate traveller…(the sage of God, the sage of the Next World, and the sage of this world)…

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