Ibn Arabi

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For the Maliki scholar, see Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi.
Born Sunday, 25 July 1165
Murcia, Taifa of Murcia
Died Thursday, 8 November 1240
District of Ṣāliḥiyya at Jabal Qāsiyūn, Damascus-Ayyubid dynasty
Era Islamic golden age
School Sufism
Main interests Mysticism, Sufi metaphysics, Poetry
Influences
Influenced
Ibn 'Arabī
Ibn Arabi.jpg
Greatest Master, Seal of Mohammedan Sainthood
Born c. 1165 BC
Murcia, Taifa of Murcia
Died c. 1240 BC
District of Ṣāliḥiyya at Jabal Qāsiyūn, Damascus-Ayyubid dynasty
Honored in
Islam

Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī ibn Muḥammad ibn al-ʿArabī al-Ḥātimī aṭ-Ṭāʾī (Arabic: أبو عبد الله محمد بن علي بن محمد بن العربي الحاتمي الطائي‎) ‎(25 July 1165 – 8 November 1240) was an Arab Andalusian Sufi mystic and philosopher.[1][original research?]

He is renowned by some practitioners of Sufism as "the greatest master"[2] and also as a genuine saint.[3]

Biography[edit]

'Abū 'Abdillāh Muḥammad ibn 'Alī ibn Muḥammad ibn `Arabī (أبو عبد الله محمد ابن علي ابن محمد ابن عربي ) was born in Murcia, Taifa of Murcia on Sunday, 17th of Ramaḍān 560 AH (25 July 1165 AD) at night. He went by the names al-Shaykh al-Akbar, Muḥyiddin ibn Arabi, and was also later nicknamed the Great Shaykh.[4]

Youth[edit]

His father, ‘Ali ibn Muḥammad, served in the Army of ibn Mardanīsh. When ibn Mardanīsh died in 1172 AD, ‘Ali ibn Muḥammad swiftly shifted his allegiance to the Almohad Sultan, Abū Ya’qūb Yūsuf I, and became one of his military advisers.[citation needed] His family then relocated from Murcia to Seville.[4] His mother came from a wealthy Berber family with strong ties to northern Africa.[5]

Education[edit]

Ibn ‘Arabī’s intellectual training began in Seville in 578 AH. Most of his teachers were the clergy of the Almohad era and some of them held the official posts of Qadi or Khatib.

His spiritual mentor in Fes was Mohammed ibn Qasim al-Tamimi.[6]

In the year 597 AH/1200 AD, he was in Morocco and took his final leave from his master Yūsuf al-Kūmī, who was living in the village of Salé at that time.

Mediaeval list of Ibn Arabi's books

Pilgrim at Mecca[edit]

Ibn Arabi undertook Hajj in 598 AH. He lived in Mecca for three years.[4] It was in Mecca that he started writing the very best of his works Al-Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya.

Journeys to the North[edit]

After spending time in Mecca, he traveled throughout Syria, Palestine, Iraq and Turkey.[4]

The year 600 AH witnessed a meeting between Ibn Arabi and Shaykh Majduddīn Isḥāq ibn Yūsuf, a native of Malatya and a man of great standing at the Seljuk court. This time Ibn ‘Arabī was travelling north; first they visited Medina and in 601 AH they entered Baghdad. This visit besides other benefits offered him a chance to meet the direct disciples of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir Jīlānī. Ibn Arabi stayed there only for 12 days because he wanted to visit Mosul to see his friend ‘Alī ibn ‘Abdallāh ibn Jāmi’, a disciple of Qaḍīb al-Bān. There he spent the month of Ramaḍan and composed Tanazzulāt al-Mawṣiliyya, Kitāb al-Jalāl wa’l-Jamāl and Kunh mā lā Budda lil-MurīdMinhu (Hirtenstein 176).[clarification needed]

Return to South[edit]

In the year 602 AH he visited Jerusalem, Mecca and Egypt. It was his first time that he passed through Syria, visiting Aleppo and Damascus.

Later in 604 AH he returned to Mecca where he continued to study and write, spending his time with his friend Abū Shujā bin Rustem and family, including the beautiful Niẓām (II, 376; Hirtenstein 181).[clarification needed] The next 4 to 5 years of Ibn ‘Arabī’s life were spent in these lands and he also kept travelling and holding the reading sessions of his works in his own presence.

The Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya[edit]

Diagram of "Plain of Assembly"(Ard al-Hashr) on the Day of Judgment, from autograph manuscript of Futuhat al-Makkiyya, ca. 1238 (photo: after Futuhat al-Makkiyya, Cairo edition, 1911).

In 629 AH the first draft of al-Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya was completed. Hundreds of manuscripts of this work exist in various libraries of the world, the most important of them being the manuscript of Konya, written by its author.

Three years later in 632 AH, on the first of Muḥarram, Ibn ‘Arabī embarked on a second draft of the Futūḥāt; this he explained, included a number of additions and a number of deletions as compared with the previous draft. This revision completed in the year 636 (Addas 286). After completion of this 2nd draft, he started teaching it to his disciples. Dr. Osman Yahia has mentioned hundreds of these hearings or public readings that occur between the year 633 AH and 638 AH.

Death[edit]

On 22 Rabī‘ al-Thānī 638 AH at the age of seventy-five, Ibn ‘Arabī died in Damascus.[4]

Islamic law[edit]

Although Ibn Arabi stated on more than one occasion that he did not prefer any one of the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, he was responsible for copying and preserving books of the Zahirite or literalist school, to which he has been ironically and erroneously ascribed.[7] Ibn Arabi shared Ghazali's views that Islamic law was only a temporary means to a higher goal, eschewing the heavy focus on worldly matters such as financial transactions and regulations regarding clothing.

Ibn Arabi did delve into specific details at times, and was known for his view that religiously binding consensus could only serve as a source of sacred law if it was the consensus of the first generation of Muslims who had witnessed generation directly.[8]

Reaction[edit]

Muslim scholars have often held strong, polarized views regarding the viewpoints and character of Ibn Arabi. Many have declared Ibn Arabi to be the foremost spiritual leader and Sufi master in Muslim history.[2][3] Others regarded him as a heretic or even an apostate.[9] Very few have had neutral or lukewarm reactions.

The reaction of Ibn 'Abd as-Salam, a Muslim scholar respected by both Ibn Arabi's supporters and detractors, has been of note due to disputes over whether he himself was a supporter or detractor. All parties have claimed to have transmitted Ibn 'Abd as-Salam's comments from his student Ibn Sayyid al-Nas, yet the two sides have transmitted very different accounts. Ibn Taymiyyah, Al-Dhahabi and Ibn Kathir all transmitted Ibn 'Abd as-Salam's comments as a criticism, while Fairuzabadi, Al-Suyuti, Ahmed Mohammed al-Maqqari and Yusuf an-Nabhani have all transmitted the comments as praise.[10]

Works[edit]

Some 800 works are attributed to Ibn Arabi, although only some have been authenticated. Recent research suggests that over 100 of his works have survived in manuscript form, although most printed versions have not yet been critically edited and include many errors.[11]

  • The Ringstones of Wisdom (also translated as The Bezels of Wisdom), or Fusus al-Hikam. Composed during the later period of Ibn 'Arabi's life, the work is sometimes considered his most important and can be characterized as a summary of his teachings and mystical beliefs. It deals with the role played by various prophets in divine revelation.[12][13][14]
  • The Meccan Illuminations (Al-Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya), his largest work in 37 volumes originally and published in 4 or 8 volumes in modern times, discussing a wide range of topics from mystical philosophy to Sufi practices and records of his dreams/visions. It totals 560 chapters.[4] The attribution of this work (Fusus al-Hikam) to Ibn Arabi is debated and in at least one source [15] is described as a forgery and false attribution to him reasoning that there are 74 books in total attributed to Sheikh Ibn Arabi of which 56 have been mentioned in "Al Futuhat al-Makkiyya" and the rest mentioned in the other books cited therein. However many other scholars accept the work as genuine.[16]
  • The Dīwān, his collection of poetry spanning five volumes, mostly unedited. The printed versions available are based on only one volume of the original work.
  • The Holy Spirit in the Counselling of the Soul (Rūḥ al-quds), a treatise on the soul which includes a summary of his experience from different spiritual masters in the Maghrib. Part of this has been translated as Sufis of Andalusia, reminiscences and spiritual anecdotes about many interesting people whom he met in al-Andalus.
  • Contemplation of the Holy Mysteries Mashāhid al-Asrār probably his first major work, consisting of fourteen visions and dialogues with God.
  • Divine Sayings Mishkāt al-Anwār, an important collection made by Ibn 'Arabī of 101 hadīth qudsī
  • The Book of Annihilation in Contemplation (K. al-Fanā' fi'l-Mushāhada), a short treatise on the meaning of mystical annihilation (fana).
  • Devotional Prayers Awrād, a widely read collection of fourteen prayers for each day and night of the week.
  • Journey to the Lord of Power (Risālat al-Anwār), a detailed technical manual and roadmap for the "journey without distance".
  • The Book of God's Days (Ayyām al-Sha'n), a work on the nature of time and the different kinds of days experienced by gnostics
  • The Fabulous Gryphon of the West ('Unqā' Mughrib), a book on the meaning of sainthood and its culmination in Jesus and the Mahdī
  • The Universal Tree and the Four Birds al-Ittihād al-Kawnī, a poetic book on the Complete Human and the four principles of existence
  • Prayer for Spiritual Elevation and Protection ('al-Dawr al-A'lā), a short prayer which is still widely used in the Muslim world
  • The Interpreter of Desires (Tarjumān al-Ashwāq) love poetry (ghazals) which, in response to critics, Ibn Arabi republished with a commentary explaining the meaning of the poetic symbols.
  • Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom (At-Tadbidrat al-ilahiyyah fi islah al-mamlakat al-insaniyyah).
  • The Four Pillars of Spiritual Transformation Hilyat al-abdāl a short work on the essentials of the spiritual Path

Urdu Translation of al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya[edit]

The first successful attempt at translating al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya was made by Muhammad Fazal Khan Changwi (1868–1938), who started publishing his translation in 1913 in installments of 100 pages each, which had to be stopped in 1927 due to lack of funds. By then, 18 Parts which comprise 30 Chapters (694 pages) had been published.

Commentaries and translations of Fuṣūṣ al-Ḥikam[edit]

There have been many commentaries on Ibn 'Arabī's Fuṣūṣ al-Ḥikam: the first, al-Fukūk, was written by his stepson and heir, Ṣadr al-Dīn al-Qunawī, who had studied the book with Ibn 'Arabī; the second by Qunawī's student, Mu'ayyad al-Dīn al-Jandī, which was the first line-by-line commentary; the third by Jandī's student, Dawūd al-Qaysarī, which became very influential in the Persian-speaking world. There were many others, in the Ottoman world (e.g. 'Abdullah al-Bosnawī), the Arab world (e.g. 'Abd al-Ghanī al-Nabulusī) and the Persian world (e.g. Haydar Āmolī). It is estimated that there are over fifty commentaries on the Fuṣūṣ, most of which only exist in manuscript form. The more famous (such as Qunawī's Fukūk) have been printed in recent years in Iran. A recent English translation of Ibn 'Arabī's own summary of the Fuṣūṣ, Naqsh al-Fuṣūṣ (The Imprint or Pattern of the Fusus) as well a commentary on this work by 'Abd al-Raḥmān Jāmī, Naqd al-Nuṣūṣ fī Sharḥ Naqsh al-Fuṣūṣ (1459), by William Chittick was published in Volume 1 of the Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society (1982).[17]

The Fuṣūṣ was first critically edited in Arabic by 'Afīfī (1946). The first English translation was done in partial form by Angela Culme-Seymour[18] from the French translation of Titus Burckhardt as Wisdom of the Prophets (1975),[19] and the first full translation was by Ralph Austin as Bezels of Wisdom (1980).[20] There is also a complete French translation by Charles-Andre Gilis, entitled Le livre des chatons des sagesses (1997). The only major commentary to have been translated into English so far is entitled Ismail Hakki Bursevi's translation and commentary on Fusus al-hikam by Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi, translated from Ottoman Turkish by Bulent Rauf in 4 volumes (1985–1991).

In Urdu, the most widespread and authentic translation was made by Bahr-ul-uloom Hazrat Muhammad Abdul Qadeer Siddiqi Qadri Hasrat, the former Dean and Professor of Theology of the Osmania University, Hyderabad. It is due to this reason that his translation is in the curriculum of Punjab University. Maulvi Abdul Qadeer Siddiqui has made an interpretive translation and explained the terms and grammar while clarifying the Shaikh's opinions.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

As of this edit, this article uses content from "A Concise biography of Ibn 'Arabi", which is licensed in a way that permits reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, but not under the GFDL. All relevant terms must be followed.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Refer to his multivolumed book called Fatuhat al Makkiyyah ("The Meccan revelations").
  2. ^ a b Attested by many legendary scholars of Shariah such as al-Alusi al-Hanafi in his magnificent Tafsir where he addressed the Sheikh as: The Sheikh ul Akbar (greatest sheikh), Muhayuddin Ibn Arabi Qudus Allah Ta’la Sira [Ruh ul Ma’ani Volume # 7, Page # 741, the arabic of which states: الشيخ الأكبر محيـي الدين بن العربـي قدس اللـه تعالى سره ]
  3. ^ a b Al-Suyuti, Tanbih al-Ghabi fi Tanzih Ibn ‘Arabi (p. 17-21)
  4. ^ a b c d e f "The Meccan Revelations". World Digital Library. 1900–1999. Retrieved 2013-07-14. 
  5. ^ [1] Spiritual Life of Ibn Arabi (p. 35)
  6. ^ John Renard (18 May 2009). Tales of God's Friends: Islamic Hagiography in Translation. University of California Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-520-25896-9. Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  7. ^ Mohammed Rustom, Review of Michel Chodkiewicz's An Ocean without Shore
  8. ^ Chiragh Ali, The Proposed Political, Legal and Social Reforms. Taken from Modernist Islam 1840-1940: A Sourcebook, pg. 281. Edited by Charles Kurzman. New York City: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  9. ^ Zubair Ali Zai, The Takfeer of Ibn Arabee. Trns. Abu Khuzaimah Ansaari. Maktabah Ashaabul Hadeeth, 2009.
  10. ^ Alexander D. Knysh, Ibn 'Arabi in the Later Islamic Tradition: The Making of a Polemical Image in Medieval Islam, pg. 64. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999. ISBN 9780791439678
  11. ^ Ibn Arabi (560-638/1165-1240)
  12. ^ Naqvi, S. Ali Raza, THE BEZELS OF WISDOM (Ibn al-'Arabī's Fuṣūṣ al-Ḥikam) by R.W.J. Austin (rev.), Islamic Studies, Vol. 23, No. 2 (Summer 1984), pp. 146-150
  13. ^ Chittick, William C. "The Disclosure of the Intervening Image: Ibn 'Arabî on Death", Discourse 24.1 (2002), pp. 51-62
  14. ^ Almond, Ian. "The Honesty of the Perplexed: Derrida and Ibn 'Arabi on 'Bewilderment'", Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 70, No. 3 (Sep., 2002), pp. 515-537
  15. ^ Al Futuhat Al Makkiyya, Dar Sader, Beirut, Lebanon, Book 1, pg 7
  16. ^ Chittick, William C. "The Disclosure of the Intervening Image: Ibn 'Arabi on Death" Discourse 24.1 (2002) 51-62
  17. ^ Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society
  18. ^ "Angela Culme-Seymour". The Daily Telegraph. February 3, 2012. 
  19. ^ Culme-Seymour, A.(tr.)(1975),"The Wisdom of the Prophets", Gloucestershire, U.K.:Beshara Publications
  20. ^ Austin, R.W.J.(tr.)(1980),"Ibn Al'Arabi: The Bezels of Wisdom",Mahwah, NJ: The Paulist Press, ISBN 0-8091-2331-2

Bibliography[edit]

Books by Ibn Arabi[edit]

This is a small selection of his many books.

In Arabic[edit]
  • Ibn ‘Arabī. Al-Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya, Vols. 1–4. Beirut: n.p.; photographic reprint of the old edition of Bulaq 1329/1911 which comprises four volumes each about 700 pages of 35 lines; the page size is 20 by 27cm. Print.
  • Ibn ‘Arabī, Ibrāhīm Madkūr, and ʻUthmān Yaḥyá. Al-Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya, Vols. 1–14,. al-Qāhirah: al-Hayʼah al-Miṣrīyah al-ʻĀmmah lil-Kitāb, 1972. Print. this is the critical edition by Osman Yahya. This version was not completed, and the 14 volumes correspond to only volume I of the standard Bulaq/Beirut edition.
  • Ibn ‘Arabī, Fuṣūṣ al-Ḥikam. Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-'Arabī. Print.
  • Ibn ‘Arabī. Sharḥ Risālat Rūḥ Al-quds fī Muḥāsabat Al-nafs. Comp. Mahmud Ghurab. 2nd ed. Damascus: Naḍar, 1994. Print.
  • Ibn ‘Arabī. Inshā’ al-Dawā’ir, Beirut: Dar al-kutub al-‘Ilmiyya. 2004. Print.
  • Ibn ‘Arabī. Rasā’il Ibn ‘Arabī (Ijāza li Malik al-Muẓaffar). Beirut: Dar al-kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, 2001. Print.
  • Ibn ‘Arabī. Rasā'il Ibn al-'Arabî (Kitāb al-Jalāla). Hyberadad-Deccan: Dā’irat al-Ma‘ārif al-‘Uthmāniyya, 1948. Print.
  • Ibn ‘Arabī. Kitāb al Bā’. Cairo: Maktabat al-Qāhira, 1954. Print.
  • Ibn ‘Arabī, Risālat ila Imām al-Rāzī. Hyberadad-Deccan: Dā’irat al-Ma‘ārif al-‘Uthmāniyya, 1948. Print.
In English[edit]
  • Ibn ‘Arabī. Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom Including What the Seeker Needs and The One Alone. Louisville: Fons Vitae, 1997. Print.
  • Ibn ‘Arabī. Nasab al-Khirqa. Trans. Gerald Elmore. Vol. XXVI. Oxford: Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society, 1999. Print.
  • Ibn ‘Arabī. Divine Sayings The Mishkāt Al-Anwār of Ibn 'Arabi. Oxford: Anqa, 2005. Print.
  • Ibn 'Arabi. The Meccan Revelations. Pir Press, 2010

Books about Ibn Arabi[edit]

  • Hirtenstein, The Unlimited Mercifier, ISBN 0-9534513-2-1
  • Addas, Claude, Quest for the Red Sulphur, Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge, 1993. ISBN 0-946621-45-4
  • Akkach, Samer, Ibn 'Arabî's Cosmogony and the Sufi Concept of Time, in: Constructions of Time in the Late Middle Ages, ed. Carol Poster and Richard Utz. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1997. Pp. 115-42.
  • Titus Burckhardt & Bulent Rauf (translator), Mystical Astrology According to Ibn 'Arabi (The Fons Vitae Titus Burckhardt Series) ISBN 1-887752-43-9
  • Torbjörn Säfve, "Var inte rädd" ('Do not be afraid'), ISBN 91-7221-112-1
  • Elmore, Gerald T. Ibn Al-'Arabī’s Testament on the Mantle of Initiation (al-Khirqah). Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society XXVI (1999): 1-33. Print.
  • Elmore, Gerald T. Islamic Sainthood in the Fullness of Time: Ibn Al-‘Arabī's Book of the Fabulous Gryphon. Leiden: Brill, 1999. Print.
  • Hirtenstein, Stephen, and Jane Clark. Ibn 'Arabi Digital Archive Project Report for 2009. Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi 1165AD - 1240AD and the Ibn 'Arabi Society. Dec. 2009. Web. 20 Aug. 2010. http://www.ibnarabisociety.org/articles/mssarchivereport2009.html
  • Yahia, Osman. Mu'allafāt Ibn ʻarabī: Tārīkhuhā Wa-Taṣnīfuhā. Cairo: Dār al-Ṣābūnī, 1992. Print.
  • Yousef, Mohamed Haj. Ibn 'Arabi - Time and Cosmology (London, Routledge, 2007) (Culture and Civilization in the Middle East).
  • Yūsuf, Muhammad Haj. Shams Al-Maghrib. Allepo: Dār al-Fuṣṣilat, 2006. Print.

External links[edit]