Al- Talwihat and Mughawamat -Intimations and opposites-
A. Al- Talwihat (Intimations)
Suhrawardi wrote this book in the tradition of the Peripatetics as a first step in establishing the cornerstone of his philosophy of illumination. As he states:
….and I, before, writing this book (Hikmat al-ishraq) and while doing this, when obstacles prevented me from proceeding with this, wrote books for you in the tradition of Peripatetics, and their philosophical principles have been summarized in those books. Among them there is a short work known as al- Talwihat al- lawhiyyah al-arshiyyah, which consists of many principles, and despite its small volume, all the philosophical principles of the Peripatetics have been summarized, and in the order of ranks it comes after the book al- Lamahat.
In this work, Suhrawardi reinterprets the categories of Aristotelian logic by reducing them from ten to four and introduces motion as a new category while arguing that it was not Aristotle who discovered them but a Pythagorean named Akhutas (Archytas). Arguing that quantity can be reduced to quality, (i.e. a short line is “weaker” than a long one ), Suhrawardi reduces quantitative differences into qualitative ones.
Among other topics of discussion in the al- Talwihat are universals particulars, the real and the conceptual, and “being” (wujud) and “essence” (mahiyyah). Instead of supporting the principality of existence as Ibn Sina did, Suhrawardi supports the principality of “ essence”. Also, the existence of necessary beings and Ibn Sina’s proofs for the existence of the Necessary Being (wajid al- wujud) as well as offering as ishraqi of Aristotle are among the topics discussed.
In the al- Talwihat, Suhrawardi offers an account of his vision of whom he perceived to be the first teacher, Aristotle, and his conversations with him. This encounter of Suhrawardi, which took place in a state between dreaming and being awake, had great influence on the development of his theory of the history of philosophy and the distinction that he makes between hikmat and philosophy in his discursive from.
The Aristotle, to whom Suhrawardi alludes to is the Aristotle of the Theologia, who is actually Plotinus. Suhrawardi asked Aristotle if the Peripatetics like Farbi and Ibn Sina were the true philosophers. Aristotle replied: Not a degree in a thousand. Rather, Sufis Bastami and Tustari are real philosophers.
Suhrawardi then discusses how hikmat and the “Science of Light” (ilm al-ishraq)originated with Hermes and passed on to such figures in the West as Pythagoras, Empedocles, Plato, Agatha daimons, Asclepius and so on until it reached him. In the East this science was transmitted through two main channels, namely the ancient Persian priest kings such kayumarth, Faridun, kay Khusraw, and such Sufis as Abu Yazid al- Bastami, Abu Hassan al- Kharraqani and finally Mansur al- Hallaj, who deeply influenced Suhrawardi.
A person who needs it may find it necessary to know prior to The Philosophy of Illumination in the Intimations where I have stated the points on which differ from the Master of discursive philosophy, Aristotle.
B. Al- Muqawamat (opposites)
Al- Muqawamat, which is written in the tradition of the Peripatetics and in the style the al-Talwihat, provides a much more specific explanation of ishraqi ideas. In the introduction to the al- Muqawamat Suhrawardi states:
This is the summary of a book known as al- Talwihat and in this, necessary corrections have been made in regard to what the ancients have said. The exposition of these materials, due to the necessity to be brief, was not done in this book and we have decided on the minimum among of discourse…and for this reason we have called it al- Muqawamat, and on God I rely and seek help.
al- Muqawamat should be regarded as an addendum to the al- Talwihat although it is less expository in nature and more argumentative. Suhrawardi alludes to the fact the al- Muqawamat is a guide to a better understanding of al- Talwihat, and the Peripatetic doctrines are analyzed more fully therein.
suhrawardi and illumination school