Re: On Sufism and Gnosticism
- Hey Morph.
>But perhaps this is a discussion best suited to another list.<I think this topic is in fact relevent to this list. While this club
is dedicated to "Gnosticism" as it is historically defined, the
Platonic framework within, and historical connections to, other forms
of esoteric thought can certainly add to the overall discussion here
(as long as we don't go TOO far from the subject)
>A prevailing idea is that Muslim Spain was an ecumenicalexchange of theology and philosophy in an atmosphere of
religious tolerance, which it really was not.
Andalus was characterized by brief periods of tolerance
interspersed with longer periods of conflict of religious and
Undoubtedly true. In fact, this is true of almost any era, or social
order, we can name. I tend to take a middle ground when it comes to
the critical examination of such things, which is to say that I would
caution against romanticism, but would also avoid dimminishing the
accomplishments of such groups at the other extreme. These are people
after all, they had thier good times and bad.
Even esoteric groups fall victim to the failing of conservatism in a
political and religious venue. Y.V. Andrea decried his own role as
one of the inventers of the Rocicrucians in his later life. Many of
the most illustrious members of the Florintine Camerata, including M.
Ficino, Pico della Merindola, and Botticelli, bacame followers of the
fanatic Dominican, Savoranola, and spoke out against thier own
>In particular, much of the diffusion of Aristotelian and Platonicphilosophy back into the West was due to the efforts of Raymond
Lully to evangelize the Saracens<
I have doubts about this one. Raymond was active in the late 1200s,
and the Platonic diffusion in the west can be shown very actively in
the 1100s. The Spanish Kabbalah school comes later than the Provencal
school (the Bahir was published in 1178 in Provance, which is
obviously before Lully), and several courts in Languadoc (William vi
for instance) made overtures to Platonic studies even before that.
I am convinced that too much emphasis is sometimes placed on the
influence Islam had on the disimination of some of these
philosophies. The influence is clearly there, but, in my view, it is
only an influence not a source. What's more is it went both ways. For
instance, much has been made of the Adelusian influence on the
Troubadours, but there was also a Troubadour influence on the Moorish
love poets in Spain (BTW, I noticed you also joined my troubadour
club Morph)... it wasn't a one way street.
However, there does seem to be an ideological connection between
certain Sufic, early Kabbalistic, and Gnostic systems of thought
(which is of course largely the Platonic element) as you very nicely
point out next.......
>Clearly Ibn Sina and later al Kirmani developed an Islamicmysticism which was platonic and valentinian in nature with
ranks of hypostases originating from an ineffable Truth.
Similarly, the fallof Sohia, the descent of the Tenth Intellect and
the kabbalistic "breaking of the vessels" all share a common
theme in all three traditions and point to a common source.<
- There's much to say about this, but perhaps on another list. Perhaps
not. Do you have your own theory about the origins of Kabballah and
Sufism? Do you see a common Gnostic source? Hermetic? Neoplatonic?
--- In gnosticism2@y..., "morphodyte" <morphodyte@y...> wrote:
> --- In gnosticism2@y..., pmcvflag <no_reply@y...> wrote:
> > Dr Sayyed Hossein Nasr wrote an interesting comparative
> analysis of
> > Sufism and Gnosticism. Specifically he demonstrates Platonic
> > in medieval Andelusian Sufism. It is interesting that the
> > comes into existance in the era,
> while this may be an old thread, it does IMO merit some further
> A prevailing idea is that Muslim Spain was an ecumenical
> exchange of theology and philosophy in an atmosphere of
> religious tolerance, which it really was not.
> Andalus was characterized by brief periods of tolerance
> interspersed with longer periods of conflict of religious and
> political nature.
> In particular, much of the diffusion of Aristotelian and Platonic
> philosophy back into the West was due to the efforts of Raymond
> Lully to evangelize the Saracens, a move which later got hime
> stoned to death by his saracen audience.
> Part of this effort based itself on the requirement of missionaries
> to study the peripatetic philosophers of Islam like Ibn Rushd
> (Averroes) of refuting the aristotelian premises in favor of
> Catholic sacramentalism.
> While the study of Aristotle and Plato in the works of the Islamic
> peripatetic philosophers with the aim of refuting their
> foundations had the reverse effect of introducing the methods of
> hellenistic philosophy to feudal Europe, it cannot be said that
> this was done in the spirit of ecumenism.
> I wonder if kabbalah was developed in Toledo with a similar aim
> of defending jewish mysticism in the face of the onslaught of the
> sophisticated mysticism of Ibn Sina and Ibn Arabi?
> Clearly Ibn Sina and later al Kirmani developed an Islamic
> mysticism which was platonic and valentinian in nature with
> ranks of hypostases originating from an ineffable Truth.
> Similarly, the fallof Sohia, the descent of the Tenth Intellect and
> the kabbalistic "breaking of the vessels" all share a common
> theme in all three traditions and point to a common source.
> However, the undermining of Islamic idealism was not to come
> from without but from within in the formalization of the ashari
> aqeeda and shariah under Abu Hamid Al Ghazzali, a step which
> fossilized Islamic thought and led to the wholesale rejection of
> Platonic idealism and speculative philosophy.
> But perhaps this is a discussion best suited to another list.