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8.3. Occupation with the Sciences of the Ancients (ul¨m al-awåil) and Other Types of Doctrinal Dissent The most dramatic case of persecution recorded in the annals of the Ayy¨bid period is that of Shihåb al-Dn Yaªyå b. Óabash al-Suhraward, known as al-faylas¨f al-maqt¨l (the slain philosopher). Al-Suhraward was described by some of his contemporaries as a wonder-working saint (wal ‚åªib karåmåt), and presented by others as a heretic or indel of the worst kind (zindq, mulªid, kår).35 He was executed in Aleppo in 587/1191, at the age of 38. In modern scholarship he is regarded as one of the most interesting and original thinkers of his time, a ͨf who interpreted his mystical experiences in philosophical and metaphysical terms, and developed a theosophical system that integrated neo-Platonic concepts.36 He was author of some fty philosophical and mystical works, a contribution to Islamic thought a beyond the scope of this book.37 Al-Suhraward was also a protégé of Aleppos young ruler al-Malik al-åhir. He engaged in many debates with the ulamå of Aleppo, and—being well versed in the traditional sciences—often degraded them in public. Al-Suharawards unusual story, and the polar reactions he provoked among his contemporaries, gave rise to dierent interpretations of his gure and fate. Some modern scholars regard the political threat posed by al-Suhraward—a threat stemming either from his alleged (or real) aliation with the Ismåliyya,38 or from his alleged (or real) pretension to be a prophet, or at least a divinely illuminated philosopher—as the key issue.39 Others stress Saladins need to appease the powerful

35 Zindq originally meant Manichaean, but came to be used as a general term for heretic or indel (Berkey, The Formation, 156). On terms designating heresy, see Kraemer, Heresy,167; Lewis, Some Observations, 52–57; Pouzet, Damas, 256–257. 36 Walbridge disagrees with this denition, claiming that Suhraward, despite his own eorts to mystify his project was a hard-headed philosophical critic and creative thinker who set up the agenda for later Islamic philosophy (Walbridge, Suhraward, 201). 37 His best known book is Kitåb Óikmat al-Ishråq (Philosophy of Illumination). For a short exposition of his main works and thought, see Ziai, al-Suhraward. 38 Berkey, The Formation, 234–35; Corbin, Islam Iranien, 12–17; Walbridge, Suhraward, 203. On the strength of the Ismåls in the region see Marcotte, Suhraward, 403–404. 39 Al-Shahraz¨r, Nuzhat al-Arwåª as translated in Thackston, Three, 2; Ziai, Source and Nature, 336–344; Ahmad, Some Notes, 80. He is said to have called himself the supporter of royalty (al-muayyid bi-l-malak¨t) or perhaps  the one

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