|Biographical detail : ||A mystic theologian and a leading figure of the illuminationist school (ishraq) of Islamic philosophy – so called because according to its theory God should be interpreted as light.
Yahya founded a school of illumination (al-ishraq) based on the ancient pre-Islamic Iranian mysticism. He saw true philosophy as the result of a marriage between the disciplined training of the intellect through Falsafah, and the interior transformation of the heart effected by Sufism. Reason and mysticism, according to Yahya, must go hand in hand and both were needed in the pursuit of truth. Outside this mystical dimension, the myths of religion made no sense to Yahya because they were not ‘real’ in the same way as earthy phenomena, which we experience with our normal waking consciousness.
Yahya was also the founder of mystical order called Ishraqiyah. His teachings particularly the pantheistic overtones aroused the opposition of the orthodox ulamas who persuaded Malik az-Zahir to put him to death. Yahya was executed for his allegedly heterodox belief by the Ayyubid regime in Aleppo.
Yahya who travelled much through Iran, Syria and Anatolia greatly influenced Malik al-Zahir, son of Sultan Salahuddin (Saladin). He had written more than 50 works, mostly in Persian. Yahya was influenced by Aristotelian philosophy in his writings. Yahya’s best-known work was Hikmat-Alishraq (‘The Wisdom of Illumination’).
Yahya Suhrawardi was born Shihahabuddin Yahya Ibn Habash at Suhraward near Zanjan, Iran, and he was also known as Shaikh al-ishraq.