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Hawza Subjects - 'Irfan

'Irfan (Islamic Mysticism)

'Irfan is generally divided into theoretical (nadhari) 'irfan and practical ('amali) 'irfan. Theoretical 'Irfan is the study of Islamic metaphysics and 'Transcendent Philosophy'. The latter is usually a discussion around the teachings of philosopher-mystics like Ibn Sina, Suhrawardi, Ibn 'Arabi and Mulla Sadra. 'Irfan however distinguishes its goal from that of religious philosophy by being more theosophical. In other words: Whereas falsafa seeks to know God with the mind and through rationalization, 'irfan seeks to know God through direct, personal experience.

Practical 'Irfan is sometimes called sayr wa suluk (Spiritual wayfaring) and is in many ways synonymous to Sufism.

At Hawzas, one of the most advanced texts studied in theoretical 'irfan is the 9 volume magnum opus of Mulla Sadra called al-Hikmah al-Muta'aliya or simply the Asfar of Mulla Sadra.

For English readers, the two-volume Islamic Spirituality vol. 1 (Foundations) and vol. 2 (Manifestations) edited by S H Nasr is highly recommended.

Supplications are also a very important part of practical 'irfan. In addition to the Sahifa al-Sajjadiya and the popular Mafatih al-Jinan of Shaykh 'Abbas Qummi, Hawza students also like to refer to the works of Ibn Tawus such as his 3 volume Iqbal al-'Amal.

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