The Quest for Self-Knowledge in the Teachings of Afdal al-Dīn Kāshāni

THE HEART OF ISLAMIC PHILOSOPHY The Quest for Self-Knowledge in the Teachings of Afdal Kashani William C. Chittick The Heart of Islamic philosophy is an introduction to the work of an important medieval Islamic Philosopher who is little known outside the Persian world. Afdal al- Din Kashani was a contemporary of a number of important Muslim thinkers, including Averroes and Ibn ‘Arabi. Among philosophers who wrote in Persian, he is set apart by the remarkable beauty and clarity of his prose. Avoiding Arabic technical terms, he did not, in fact, write for advanced students of philosophy but rather for beginners. Kashani’s writings offer especially clear and insightful expositions of various philosophical positions. This makes him an invaluable resource for those who would like to learn the basic principle and arguments of this philosophical tradition but do not have a strong background in philosophy and Islamic studies. As Chittick notes, Kashani held the position that philosophy awakens people from forgetfulness and incites them to reach for the perfection of existence. Because ignorance of self is the cause of the soul’s misery in the next life, he sought to make philosophy as accessible as possible to everyone. This is the first book in English to present the main themes of the Islamic philosophical tradition in the words of a Muslim philosopher. Written in an accessible style, this volume will interest students and scholars of Islamic philosophy at all levels.


William C. Chittick

William C. Chittick received his education in the US. He holds a PhD in Persian language and literature from the University of Tehran. He taught comparative religion in the humanities department at Aryamehr Technical University in Tehran and, for a short period before the revolution, was assistant professor at the Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy. He has served as Assistant Editor of the Encyclopaedia Iranica at the Columbia University for three years. He has been Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the State University of New York, Stony Brook from 1983 to 1991 where he presently holds the post of the Professor of Comparative Studies. A greatly respected scholar, he has studied Sufism in theory and practice, and has written and translated widely about its various manifestations. He has published numerous articles and books, among them, A Shi`ite Anthology; Imaginal Worlds; Faith and Practice of Islam; The Sufi Path of Knowledge: Ibn al-Arabi 's Metaphysics of Imagination; The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi; The Vision of Islam, The Heart of Islamic Philosophy and Me and Rumi—The Autobiography of Shams i Tabtki; Ibn Arabi— Heir to the Prophets; The Self Disclosures of God.


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