Oriental Mysticism, by E.H. Palmer, , at sacred-texts.com
"Know thyself."LIKE the ancient sages the Oriental Philosophers hold the maxim " Know thyself," to be one of vital importance to the Traveller on the Road of Life. A considerable portion therefore of their speculative treatises is invariably devoted to the study of mankind.
ReligiousMuch difference of opinion exists as to the point of view from which man is to be discussed; the religious teachers asserting that since God created him from nothing he may be considered as an actual being whose characteristics are capable of diagnosis and definition.
and Metaphysical view of the question. The metaphysicians, on the other hand, say that it is impossible for that which is not, to be, or for that which is, not to be; they allow, however, that that which is may assume various forms and manifest itself in different ways, and prefer considering man as a particular manifestation of the one Universal
existence of God. Both however agree in the propriety of the discussion, though upon different grounds.
Man constitutes the Lesser World, and everything Man, a world in himself. that is not man is included in the Greater World; and since every thing in the Greater World has its counterpart in the Lesser, the study of this is a duty incumbent upon all who aspire to spiritual knowledge. To know oneself is the "right way" ( ), for guidance in which Mohammed besought God in his prayer, "Guide us into the right way 1." Self-knowledge is the shortest road to the knowledge of God. When Ali asked Mohammed "What am I to do that I may not waste my time?" the Prophet answered, "Learn to know thyself."
51:1 Corán, opening chapter, v. 5.