‘Concept of Light in Ismaili Philosophy’
Light as an archetype, is used in most traditions and faiths as it is in Islam, where the most prevailing representations are in relation to Muḥammad’s prophetic appearance. Within classical Shī‘ī texts, this is linked to the light of leadership—nūr al – Imāma.
The paper draws on the teachings of the early imams on intellect, light, love and ru’yat Allāh in select Shī‘ī texts, including the Ikhwān al-Ṣafā’ and Fāṭimid scholars. The experience of hearts perceiving the vision of light is unique to each individual, being a journey that needs a guide. Ibn Sīnā concedes to this in his later life, referring to it as the hikmat al-mashriqiyya which becomes fully developed under Suhrawardī, the founder of the school of illumination— al-Ishrāq. In this school, the guide is the angel of humanity, known to the philosophers as the active intelligence and recognised by al-Naysābūrī as the universal intellect.
Arzina R. Lalani (Institute of Ismaili Studies, UK)
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