by Imam Shihab al-Din Suhrawardi, trans. Hossein Ziai. Mazda Publishers, California: 1998.


Chapter Ten

On Prophecy, Miracles, Miraculous Powers, Dreams, and Similar Phenomena

[87] There are several conditions for the prophet [Lawgiver]. He must be appointed apostle by the High Heavens, which is a condition specific to prophets. The rest of the conditions, such as extraordinary acts, foretelling visions, or learning truths without a teacher, may be possessed by other great divinely informed souls. Also, it is possible that some saints and lofty humans be divinely informed. It is not necessary that each and every prophet possess truths of the highest nature [to an extent more than anyone else], because many of the learned people and scholars of their [Muslim] nation—such as Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, ‘Ali, Hudhayfa, Hasan al-Basri, Dhu’l-Nun al-Misri, Sahl Tustari, Bayzid, Ibrahim ibn Adham, Junayd, and Shibli (may God’s paradise be bestowed upon them all) and others–are more learned in the sciences than the Israelite prophets. Moses’s need for Khizr (upon whom be peace) is indicative of this situation: perhaps a prophet, as Lawgiver, may be in need of enlightened scholars. Also the story of how David employed Luqman’s aid is famous. While what I have said is not clear proof, demonstration does not bar it.

[93] Dreams [occur] when the animal soul is suppressed away from the outer senses [affecting] the inner ones. And whoever continually meditates upon the heavens and abstains from pleasures, including food—save in amounts that are needed for survival—and prays at night holding vigils and reads much of divine revelation and frees the mind through thinking good thoughts and, at times puts the soul to test and carries inward conversations with God in the High Heavens and praises Him, then “lights” like dazzling flashes of lightning shall be cast upon him. He shall then [experience such things] without interruption so the lights will appear to him even in times other that when meditating. He may also behold pleasant shapes. A tremendous dazzling flash may beckon the soul to the unseen realm. Luminosity more radiant than the light of the sun shall fall upon the sensus communis, thus causing one to experience pleasure. This light becomes internalized by the enlightened sages so that, whenever they will it, they shall see it and thus be guided by it to ascend to the realm of light and so come to reside in pure circumstances. These dazzling lights and thunder are not [the same as] scientific knowledge nor mental images, rather they are rays of divine lights. Incorporeal lights appear from the Heavenly realm. The lights of the Necessary Being and the lights of the Intellects are without limits in their degree of luminosity. The enlightened souls shall behold them in the hereafter even more clearly as what the eye sees, more luminous than any corporeal light. The light of separate entities is not in addition to their quiddities, rather they are themselves abstract, incorporeal lights, just as the luminous sage-philosophers have testified based on their visions.

“The thought of the spiritual worlds sheds light on the soul, but the thought of the terrestrial worlds casts darkness thereon”.

—Hadhrat ‘Uthman