The purpose of this volume is to examine the roots of the artistic, literary, and cultural renaissance in the three centuries immediately preceding the Safavid period (1500-1720), which was accompanied by the great expansion of various Persian-speaking sufi orders, and caused the blossoming of an entire literature of Sufism. In many respects, this focus on the religious topography of the Persian society of the mediaeval period which was predominantly ‘sufi’ in orientation, is unique. The spiritual and cultural renaissance in these three centuries (1200-1500) has never before been the subject of such a volume.
Foreward: Two Approaches to the Principle of the Unity of Being by Javad Nurbakhsh
1. The Unity of Being: Some Analogies
The reader is no doubt aware that Sufism is principally a school of the Unity of Being (wahdat-i wujud). The basic tent of this school can be summarized in the following way: There is only One Being and whatever exists is a manifestation or realization of that Being. In the words of Hatif Isfahani:
There is only One and nothing but Him,
He is the only One and there is no one but Him.
From the sufi's point of view, God is Absolute Being, and whatever exists is a determination or manifestation of Him. The sufis maintain that all existence exists through God's being and is a manifestation of that being, without which there would be nothing. In Rumi's words:
We are non-existence, displaying the illusion of existence;
You are Absolute Being and our only existence.
Here one may recall the words of the Koran, "All things perish but His face, " (XXVIII: 88) – with the understanding that there is nothing but Him in the abode of existence.
The sufis do not separate the realm of Existence from that of God's Existence. Thus, while the Koranic verse, "God is the light of the heavens and the earth" (XXIV: 35), has been interpreted by the exoteric Islamic clergy to mean that God is the source of all illumination for the heaves and the earth, the sufis, on the other hand, take this verse to mean that God is the very Being, the Reality of the heavens and the earth.