The Point of Reality and the Circle of Appearance

The Sufi Philosophy of Maḥmūd Shabistarī’s Gulshan-i rāz through the Lens of Shams al-Dīn Lāhījī’s Mafātīḥ al-iʿjāz

In: Journal of Sufi Studies
Sayeh Meisami University of Dayton Dayton, Ohio USA

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This article explains three major Sufi themes of Maḥmūd Shabistarī’s Gulshan-i rāz as connected by the point-circle metaphor that captures the illusory state of a circle formed by the fast motion of a point. Inspired by Ibn ʿArabī, Shabistarī employs this metaphor in his poetic presentation of the unity of being, the existential state of the human soul, and the bifurcation of religious knowledge and practice into exoteric and esoteric with its implications for the relation between prophethood and sainthood. The article explains these themes mostly in light of Shams al-Dīn Lāhījī’s renowned commentary, Mafātīḥ al-iʿjāz. The analysis of some key verses on the above themes in Shabistarī’s Gulshan-i rāz and the corresponding comments from Lāhījī demonstrates the significance of Akbarian Sufi philosophy in the intellectual and literary life of Persians since late medieval times.

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