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Level 2: Philosophy of Mysticism: Ibn Sīnā’s al-Ishārāt wa-l-tanbīhāt

Time limit: 365 days
10 credits

£400 Enroll

Full course description

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Students in need of further financial assistance should contact the education team at to enquire about the possibility of further fee waivers. 


This module will introduce students to discussions from the eighth, ninth, and tenth chapters of Ibn Sīnā’s al-Ishārāt wa-l-tanbīhāt (Pointers and Reminders) that are pertinent to mysticism and metaphysics. It will include analysis of the original Arabic text as well as the English translation by Shams Inati to consolidate understanding and improve students’ translation skills. Through their reading, students will be able to distinguish between the various types of pleasure as they are conceived of amongst the mystics, delineate the states and stations of the mystics, with the significance of each and, finally, discuss the intention of the secrets of signs, both as spiritual method and spiritual disclosure.


Lesson 1      What is ʿirfān?

Mysticism and its relation to philosophy, theology, fiqh, ethics and psychology

Introduction to al-Ishārāt wa-l-tanbīhāt
Book Eight (al-namaṭ al-thāmin): On Pleasure and Happiness.

Chapter One (al-faṣl al-awwal): Delusion and admonition concerning the inferiority of sense pleasures

Chapter Two (al-faṣl al-thānī): A follow-up concerning the superiority of the pleasures of divine states in comparison with the pleasures of bestial states

Lesson 2      Chapter Three (al-faṣl al-thālith): Admonition concerning the nature of pleasure and that of pain

Chapter Four (al-faṣl al-rābiʿ): Delusion and admonition concerning why certain good sensible states are attained yet not found pleasurable

Chapter Five (al-faṣl al-khāmis): Admonition concerning why certain pleasurable things are attained yet disliked

Chapter Six (al-faṣl al-sādis): Admonition concerning the obstacles to pleasure

Chapter Seven (al-faṣl al-sābiʿ): Admonition concerning the obstacles to pain

Chapter Eight (al-faṣl al-thāmin): Admonition concerning the insufficiency of rational certitude for producing either desire for pleasure or avoidance of pain and the need of experience for producing either

Lesson 3      Chapter Nine (al-faṣl al-tāsiʿ): Admonition concerning the determination of pleasure by the degree of the object’s perfection and the degree of the subject’s apprehension

Chapter Ten (al-faṣl al-ʿāshir): Admonition concerning bodily preoccupation

Chapter Eleven (al-faṣl al-ḥādī ʿashar): Admonition concerning the nature of bodily preoccupations and their effects in the life to come

Lesson 4      Chapter Twelve (al-faṣl al-thānī ʿashar):  Admonition concerning the two main types of vices of the soul

Chapter Thirteen (al-faṣl al-thālith ʿashar): Admonition concerning the various effects of the vice of deficiency

Chapter Fourteen (al-faṣl al-rābiʿ ʿashar):  Admonition concerning the manner in which knowers attain happiness

Chapter Fifteen (al-faṣl al-khāmis ʿashar):  Admonition concerning the attainment of this happiness while in the body

Chapter Sixteen (al-faṣl al-sādis ʿashar):  Admonition concerning the state of the souls that are prepared for perfection

Lesson 5      Chapter Seventeen (al-faṣl al-sābiʿ ʿashar):  Admonition concerning the second life of those that are intellectually incompetent

Chapter Eighteen (al-faṣl al-thāmin ʿashar):  Remark concerning the hierarchy of the happiness of rational beings)

Lesson 6      Chapter Nineteen (al-faṣl al-tāsiʿ ʿashar):  Admonition concerning the love and yearning that natural beings have for their perfections

Book Nine (al-namaṭ al-tāsiʿ):  On the Stations of the Knowers

Chapter One (al-faṣl al-awwal): Admonition concerning the stations of the knowers

Chapter Two (al-faṣl al-thānī): Admonition concerning the difference among the ascetic, the worshipper, and the knower

Chapter Three (al-faṣl al-thālith): Admonition concerning the difference between the asceticism and worship of the knower and those of the non-knower

Lesson 7      Chapter Four (al-faṣl al-rābiʿ): Remark concerning the social need for a religious law and for a prophet

Chapter Five (al-faṣl al-khāmis): Remark concerning the proper objective of the knower

Chapter Six (al-faṣl al-sādis): Remark concerning the difference between one who seeks the truth as an intermediary and one who seeks it for its own sake

Lesson 8      Chapter Seven (al-faṣl al-sābiʿ): Remark concerning the first preparatory stage, willingness, in the knower’s movement toward the truth

Chapter Eight (al-faṣl al-thāmin): Remark concerning the second preparatory stage, spiritual exercise

Chapter Nine (al-faṣl al-tāsiʿ): Remark concerning the first step in conjunction, moments

Chapter Ten (al-faṣl al-ʿāshir): Remark concerning the second step, seeing the truth in everything once conjunction with the truth becomes a fixed habit

Lesson 9      Chapter Eleven (al-faṣl al-ḥādī ʿashar): Remark concerning the third step, reaction to the experience of conjunction before and after familiarity with the truth

Chapter Twelve (al-faṣl al-thānī ʿashar):  Remark concerning the fourth step, effects on the soul of familiarity with the truth

Chapter Thirteen (al-faṣl al-thālith ʿashar): Remark concerning the fifth step, manifestations contrary to inner experience due to further delving into knowledge

Chapter Fourteen (al-faṣl al-rābiʿ ʿashar):  Remark concerning the sixth step, accessibility of the truth at a wish

Chapter Fifteen (al-faṣl al-khāmis ʿashar):  Remark concerning the seventh step, conjunction with the truth without even a wish

Chapter Sixteen (al-faṣl al-sādis ʿashar):  Remark concerning the eighth step, becoming a replica of the truth while remaining aware of oneself

Chapter Seventeen (al-faṣl al-sābiʿ ʿashar):  Remark concerning the ninth step, awareness of nothing but the truth: real conjunction

Lesson 10    Chapter Eighteen (al-faṣl al-thāmin ʿashar):  Admonition concerning the deficiency of the levels below that of real conjunction

Chapter Nineteen (al-faṣl al-tāsiʿ ʿashar): Remark concerning the two main levels of knowledge: The negative and the positive

Chapter Twenty (al-faṣl al-ʿishrūn): Remark concerning the object of knowledge and the necessity for experiencing it

Chapter Twenty-One (al-faṣl al-ḥādī wa-l-ʿishrūn): Admonition concerning the Knower’s equal treatment of everything

Chapter Twenty-Two (al-faṣl al-thānī wa-l-ʿishrūn): Admonition concerning the Knower’s states before and after the arrival

Chapter Twenty-Three Faṣl (al-faṣl al-thālith wa-l-ʿishrūn): Admonition concerning the Knower’s magnanimity

Lesson 11    Chapter Twenty-Four (al-faṣl al-rābiʿ wa-l-ʿishrūn): Admonition concerning some further character qualities of the knower

Chapter Twenty-Five (al-faṣl al-khāmis wa-l-ʿishrūn): Admonition concerning the difference in the Knowers’ attitudes

Chapter Twenty-Six (al-faṣl al-sādis wa-l-ʿishrūn): Admonition concerning the Knower’s exemption from religious duties while in the state of conjunction

Chapter Twenty-Seven (al-faṣl al-sābiʿ wa-l-ʿishrūn): Remark concerning conjunction as possible only for a small number of people with a certain type of nature

Book Ten (al-namaṭ al-ʿāshir):  On the Secret of Signs

Chapter One (al-faṣl al-awwal): Remark concerning the Knower’s abstinence from food).

Chapter Two (al-faṣl al-thānī): Admonition concerning the Knower’s abstinence from food as compared to the effect of certain illnesses

Lesson 12    Chapter Three (al-faṣl al-thālith): Admonition concerning the effect of the soul on the body, and vice versa

Chapter Four (al-faṣl al-rābiʿ): Remark concerning the Knower’s advantages in regard to abstinence over those who suffer from certain illnesses

Chapter Five (al-faṣl al-khāmis): Remark concerning the Knower’s unusual capacity for action

Chapter Six (al-faṣl al-sādis): Admonition concerning the reason for this unusual capacity

Chapter Seven (al-faṣl al-sābiʿ): Admonition concerning the Knower’s knowledge of invisible

Chapter Eight (al-faṣl al-thāmin): Remark concerning the possibility of this knowledge in wakefulness as this possibility in sleep is asserted by experience and reasoning

Lesson 13    Chapter Nine (al-faṣl al-tāsiʿ): Admonition concerning the manner according to which particular things are imprinted in the celestial intellects and souls

Chapter Ten (al-faṣl al-ʿāshir):  concerning the conditions under which our souls can receive the imprints of invisible things from the celestial intellects and souls

Chapter Eleven (al-faṣl al-ḥādī ʿashar): Admonition concerning the conditions for the soul’s preoccupation with some of its powers to the exclusion of some others

Chapter Twelve (al-faṣl al-thānī ʿashar):  Admonition concerning the stability and observability of certain representations in the common sense

Chapter Thirteen (al-faṣl al-thālith ʿashar): Remark concerning the evidence for the internal source of certain representations



Please note that level two courses are only available to those who have completed all courses in level one. This is because the topics covered in level two require the historical and conceptual foundations which are built in level one.


Hours of Study

16 hours


Assessement Method

Essay (100%)


Course Instructor

Professor Seyed Mohammad Ghari Seyed Fatemi

Professor Seyed Mohammad Seyed Ghari Fatemi spent thirteen years studying in the Ḥawza ʿIlmiyya of Qom between 1981 and 1994, completing his advanced studies (dars al-khārij) in Arabic literature, legal theory, jurisprudence, philosophy, and Islamic theosophy under prominent scholars such as Ayatollah Ḥusayn ʿAlī Muntaẓarī, Ayatollah Sayyid Muḥammad Rūhānī, and Ayatollah ʿAbd Allāh Javādī Āmulī. Alongside his seminary studies, he also completed an LLB (1984) and LLM (1991) in Public Law at the University of Tehran. He received his PhD from the Faculty of Law at the University of Manchester in 1999.

He has been working with AMI since 1995 and currently lectures on Islamic legal theory. He is a Professor of Comparative Human Rights, Islamic Hermeneutics and Legal theory, and Philosophy in the Faculty of Law at Shahid Beheshti University (Tehran) where he supervises masters and doctoral students researching a range of topics. Seyed Fatemi is also a full member of the Academy of Sciences of Iran and a member of the Department of Biomedical Ethics at the Iranian Academy of Medical Sciences. He has previously taught in the Ḥawza ʿIlmiyya of Qom, at Mofid University (Qom), the University of Birmingham, and was a Visiting Associate Professor at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter.

He has numerous publications to his name in Persian and English and has organised and presented at dozens of conferences in the fields of law, Islamic studies, and bioethics. He is the author of Human Rights in the Contemporary World (Ḥuqūq-i bashr dar jahān-i muʿāṣir). The first volume of this work (An Introduction to Theoretical Issues: Concepts, Foundations, Scope and Sources) was first published by the UNESCO Chair for Human Rights and Shahid Beheshti University and is now in its eighth edition. The second volume (Analytical Essays on Right and Liberties) is in its fifth edition, and a third volume (Islam and Human Rights) is forthcoming.