Mystical Contemplation or Rational Reflection? The Double Meaning of Tafakkur in Shabistarī’s Rose Garden of Mystery

Document Type : Original Research Article

Authors

1 Ph. D. Candidate, Department of Philosophy of Religion, Istanbul University, Faculty of Theology, Istanbul, Turkey

2 Professor, Department of Philosophy of Religion, Istanbul University, Faculty of Theology, Istanbul, Turkey

Abstract

This paper examines the following three questions: (1) In The Rose Garden of Mystery (Golshan-e Rāz), how does the prominent 7-8th-century Iranian Sufi, Maḥmūd Shabistarī, distinguish the mystical “contemplation” and “rational reflection” in pursuing divine knowledge? (2) Was Shabistarī an anti-rationalist (strict fideist)? (3) How does Shabistarī’s position fit into the ancient Greek, Neoplatonist, and medieval Islamic and Christian metaphysics? This paper examines Golshan-e Rāz in the context of Shabistarī’s other works, commentaries, secondary sources, and Islamic thought—Sufism and philosophy. Existing literature on Golshan-e Rāz primarily focuses on its literary aspects, neglecting its philosophical and mystical concepts. However, a thorough understanding requires examining these concepts in a broad context, which will inspire further research. The rationale behind this research is rooted in the religious obligation for believers to know God, with “thinking” as the means to acquire such knowledge. This is why the first question Herawī poses to Shabistarī pertains to the nature of thought—justifying this paper’s focus. Contemporary opposition to religion often stems from its perceived incongruity with the rational frameworks offered by positivism, materialism, or scientific inquiry. By differentiating between mystical and rational modes of thought that Shabistarī presents, this study shows the contemporary person that intellectual inquiry extends beyond rationalism and encompasses mysticism. Consequently, rational and mystical perspectives should be pursued in the quest for the divine. Furthermore, this study contends that Shabistarī should not be regarded as a strict fideist; instead, his criticism is directed toward the constraints inherent in rational thinking.

Keywords

Main Subjects


Abrahamov, Binyamin. 2015. Ibn al-ʿArabī’s Fuṣūṣ al-Ḥikam: An Annotated Translation of “The Bezels of Wisdom”. Kindle ed., London, England, New York, USA: Taylor and Francis.
Alim. 2023. “Hadith 974.” In Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, Book 4, Hadith 974. The Alim. https://www.alim.org/hadith/sahih-muslim/4/974/ (accessed April 13, 2023).
Aristotle. 2009. Nicomachean Ethics. Translated by David Ross. Edited by Lesley Brown. New York: USA: Oxford University Press.
Arslan, Mehmet. 2017. “Sühreverdî’nin Heyâkilu’n-Nur’u Nasıl Anlaşılmalı?: Devvânî ve Deştekî Şerhleri Bağlamında Bir İçerik Analizi,” İslami İlimler Dergisi 12(1): 239-258. (In Turkish)
Augustine, Saint. 2006. Confessions. Translated by Garry Wills. New York: USA: Penguin Group.
Dāʿī Shīrāzī, Mawlānā Shāh Maḥmūd. 1998. Nasāyim-i Golshan (Sharḥ-i Golshan-e Rāz-i Shabistarī) (Breezes of the Rose Garden: The Commentary of Shabistarī’s Rose Garden of Mystery). edited by Parwīz Abbāsī Dākānī, Tehran, Iran: Iham Publications. (In Persian)
Eckhart, Meister. 2009. The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart. Translated by Maurice O’C. Walshe. edited by Maurice O’C. Walshe, Pennsylvania: USA: The Crossroad Publishing Company.
Ibn Rushd, Abū al-Walīd Muḥammad Ibn Aḥmad Ibn Muḥammad. 2008. Taḥāfut al-Taḥāfut (The Incoherence of the Incoherence). Translated by Simon Van Den Bergh. Vol. I and II. Cambridge: England: Gibb Memorial Trust.
Ibn Turka Iṣfahānī, S. D. 1996. Sharḥ-i Golshan-e Rāz (The Rose Garden of Mystery’s Commentary). edited by K. Dezfoulian, Tehran, Iran: Afarinesh Publications. (In Persian)
Kulaynī, Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad ibn Yaʿqūb ibn Isḥāq, ed. 2018. Uṣūl al-Kāfī. 14 ed. 6 vols. Vol. 1. Tehran, Iran: Osveh Publications. (In Arabic)
Lāhījī, S. D. M. 2016. Mafātīḥ al-Iʿjāz fī Sharḥ-i Golshan-e Rāz (The Keys of Miracles in The Rose Garden of Mystery). edited by Barzegar Khaleqi Mohammad Reza and Effat Karbasi, Tehran, Iran: Zawwar Publications. (In Persian)
McGinn, Bernard. 2001. The Mystical Thought of Meister Eckhart: The Man from Whom God Hid Nothing. New York: USA: The Crossroad Publishing Company.
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, Dagli, Caner K., Dakake, Maria Massi , Lumbard, Joseph EB, and Rustom, Mohammed. 2015. The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
Plato. 1997. “Phaedo”. In Plato: Complete Works, edited by J. M. Cooper and D. S. Hutchinson, 49-100. Indianapolis, IN: USA: Hackett Publishing.
Plotinus. 2018. Plotinus: the Enneads. edited by Lloyd P. Gerson, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Rūmī, Mawlānā Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Balkī. 2020. Kulliyyāt-e Shams Tabrīzī. 7th ed. Tehran, Iran: Doostaan Publications. (In Persian)
Sabziwārī Khorāsānī, Mullā Muḥammad Ibrāhīm. 2008. Sharḥ-i Golshan-e Rāz (Commentary of the Rose Garden of Mystery). edited by Parviz Abbasi-Dakani, Tehran, Iran: Ilm Publications. (In Persian)
Shabistarī, Shaykh Maḥmūd. 1993. Majmūʿe Āthār-i Shaykh Maḥmūd Shabistarī: Golshan-e Rāz, Saʿādat Nāme, Ḥaqq al-Yaqīn, Merʾāt al-Muḥaqqiqīn, Marātib al-ʿĀrifīn (Complete Works of Shaykh Maḥmūd Shabistarī). 2nd ed., edited by Ṣamad Muwaḥḥid, Tehran, Iran: Tahouri. First published 1407/1987. (In Persian)
Topaloğlu, Aydın. 2020. Filozofların Tanrısı. İstanbul, Türkiye: İz Yayıncılık.