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Tags: Philosophy

The Elixir of the Gnostics

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Sadr al-Din Muhammad Shirazi (1572-1640), more commonly called Mulla Sadra, was one of the grand scholars of later-period Islamic philosophy and has grown to become one of the best-known Muslim...

Sadr al-Din Muhammad Shirazi (1572-1640), more commonly called Mulla Sadra, was one of the grand scholars of later-period Islamic philosophy and has grown to become one of the best-known Muslim philosophers. Iksir al-'arifin, or Elixir of the Gnostics, is unique among Sadra's writings in that it reworks and amplifies an earlier Persian work, the Jawidan-nama (Book of the Everlasting) by Afdal al-Din Kashani, or Baba Afdal.

The underlying theme of Sadra's amplification is emblematic of Muslim philosophy: the importance of self-knowledge in an individual's journey of "Origin and Return," the soul's origins with God and its eventual return to Him. Everything, Sadra says, is on such a path, gradually disengaging from the material world and returning to a transcendent essence—all leading to a final fruition in which everything in the universe returns to God and finds permanent happiness. Philosophy, Sadra argues, is the most direct means to self-knowledge—and thus the best tool for navigating this journey.

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