Arabic: إبن عربـي
|Born||26 July 1165|
|Died||16 November 1240 (aged 75)|
|Era||Islamic golden age|
|Mysticism, Sufi metaphysics, Poetry|
|Patronymic (Nasab)||ibn ʿAlī ibn Muḥammad ibnʿArabī|
|Teknonymic (Kunya)||Abu Abdullah|
|Epithet (Laqab)||Ibn ʿArabi|
|Toponymic (Nisba)||al-Ḥātimī aṭ-Ṭāʾī|
|Part of a series on Islam|
Ibn ʿArabi (Arabic: إبن عربـي) (26 July 1165 – 16 November 1240), full name Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī ibn Muḥammad ibnʿArabī al-Ḥātimī aṭ-Ṭāʾī (Arabic: أبو عبد الله محـمـد بن علي بن محمـد إبن عربـي الحاتمي الطائي), was an Arab Andalusian Muslim scholar, mystic, poet, and philosopher, whose works have grown to be very influential beyond the Muslim world. Of the over 800 works which are attributed to him, 100 survive in the original manuscript. His cosmological teachings became the dominant worldview in many parts of the Islamic world.
'Abū 'Abdullāh Muḥammad ibn 'Alī ibn Muḥammad ibn `Arabī al-Ḥātimī aṭ-Ṭāʾī (أبو عبد الله محمد ابن علي ابن محمد ابن عربي الحاتمي الطائي) was a Sufi mystic, poet, and philosopher born in Murcia, Spain on the 17th of Ramaḍān (26 July 1165 AD). He is renowned among practitioners of Sufism by the names al-Shaykh al-Akbar ("the Great Shaykh"), Muḥyiddin ibn Arabi, and was considered a saint. He was also known as Shaikh-e-Akbar Mohi-ud-Din Ibn-e-Arabi throughout the Middle East.
After his death, Ibn Arabi's teachings quickly spread throughout the Islamic world. His writings were not limited to the Muslim elites, but made their way into other ranks of society through the widespread reach of the Sufi orders. Arabi's work also popularly spread through works in Persian, Turkish, and Urdu. Many popular poets were trained in the Sufi orders and were inspired by Arabi's concepts.
In his writings, Al-Arabi mentions a deceased maternal uncle, Yahya ibn Yughan al-Sanhaji, who was a wealthy prince of the city of Tlemcen, but had left that position to lead a life of spirituality after encountering a Sufi mystic.
His father, ‘Ali ibn Muḥammad, served in the Army of Muhammad ibn Sa'id ibn Mardanish, the ruler of Murcia. When Ibn Mardanīš died in 1172 AD, his father shifted his allegiance to the Almohad Sultan, Abū Ya’qūb Yūsuf I, and again went into government service. His family then relocated from Murcia to Seville. Ibn Arabi grew up among the ruling court and received military training.
Ibn Arabi states in his writings he received no unusual religious education as a child, but rather spent much time with friends enjoying childhood. It was in his teens when he had a vision of God, later writing that initial experience as "the differentiation of the universal reality comprised by that look". He describes having had several visions of Jesus, calling him his first guide to the path of God. His father noticed this change in him and mentioned it to philosopher and judge, Ibn Rushd (Averroes). Averroes asked to meet with Ibn Arabi, and it was this initial meeting when Ibn Arabi perceived a difference between the formal knowledge of rational thinkers and the unveiling of insights into the nature of things. He adopted Sufism and dedicated his life to the spiritual path.
Ibn Arabi left Spain for the first time at age 36 and arrived at Tunis in 1193. While there, he received a vision in year 1200 instructing him to journey east. After a year in Tunisia, he moved back to Andalusia in 1194. His father died soon after Ibn Arabi arrived at Seville, followed by his mother some months later. He then left Spain for the second time with his two sisters and arrived at Fez, Morocco in 1195. After returning to Córdoba, Spain in 1198, Ibn Arabi crossed Gibraltar for the third time in 1200 and left Spain forever. After visiting some places in Maghreb, he left Tunisia in 1201 and arrived for the Hajj in 1202. He lived in Mecca for three years. It was in Mecca that he started writing his work Al-Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya (الفتوحات المكية, "The Meccan Illuminations").
In 1204, Ibn Arabi met Shaykh Majduddīn Isḥāq ibn Yūsuf (شيخ مجد الدين إسحاق بن يوسف), a native of Malatya and a man of great standing at the Seljuk court. This time Ibn Arabi was travelling north; first they visited Medina and in 1205 they entered Baghdad. This visit 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 (قضيب البان). There he spent the month of Ramaḍan and composed Tanazzulāt al-Mawṣiliyya (تنزلات الموصلية), Kitāb al-Jalāl wa’l-Jamāl (كتاب الجلال والجمال, "The Book of Majesty and Beauty") and Kunh mā lā Budda lil-MurīdMinhu:176
Later in 1207 he returned to Mecca where he continued to study and write, spending his time with his friend Abū Shujā bin Rustem and family, including Niẓām.:181
The next four to five years of Ibn Arabi's life were spent in these lands and he also kept travelling and holding the reading sessions of his works in his own presence.
On 22 Rabī‘ al-Thānī 638 AH (8 November 1240) at the age of seventy-five, Ibn Arabi died in Damascus.
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. 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 revelation directly.
The doctrine of perfect man (Al-Insān al-Kāmil) is popularly considered an honorific title attributed to Muhammad having its origins in Islamic mysticism, although the concept's origin is controversial and disputed. Arabi may have first coined this term in referring to Adam as found in his work Fusus al-hikam, explained as an individual who binds himself with the Divine and creation.
Taking an idea already common within Sufi culture, Ibn Arabi applied deep analysis and reflection on the concept of a perfect human and one's pursuit in fulfilling this goal. In developing his explanation of the perfect being, Ibn Arabi first discusses the issue of oneness through the metaphor of the mirror.
In this philosophical metaphor, Ibn Arabi compares an object being reflected in countless mirrors to the relationship between God and his creatures. God's essence is seen in the existent human being, as God is the object and human beings the mirrors. Meaning two things; that since humans are mere reflections of God there can be no distinction or separation between the two and, without God the creatures would be non-existent. When an individual understands that there is no separation between human and God they begin on the path of ultimate oneness. The one who decides to walk in this oneness pursues the true reality and responds to God's longing to be known. The search within for this reality of oneness causes one to be reunited with God, as well as, improve self-consciousness.
The perfect human, through this developed self-consciousness and self-realization, prompts divine self-manifestation. This causes the perfect human to be of both divine and earthly origin. Ibn Arabi metaphorically calls him an Isthmus. Being an Isthmus between heaven and Earth, the perfect human fulfills God's desire to be known. God's presence can be realized through him by others. Ibn Arabi expressed that through self manifestation one acquires divine knowledge, which he called the primordial spirit of Muhammad and all its perfection. Ibn Arabi details that the perfect human is of the cosmos to the divine and conveys the divine spirit to the cosmos.
Ibn Arabi further explained the perfect man concept using at least twenty-two different descriptions and various aspects when considering the Logos. He contemplated the Logos, or "Universal Man", as a mediation between the individual human and the divine essence.
Ibn Arabi believed Muhammad to be the primary perfect man who exemplifies the morality of God. Ibn Arabi regarded the first entity brought into existence was the reality or essence of Muhammad (al-ḥaqīqa al-Muhammadiyya), master of all creatures, and a primary role-model for human beings to emulate. Ibn Arabi believed that God's attributes and names are manifested in this world, with the most complete and perfect display of these divine attributes and names seen in Muhammad. Ibn Arabi believed that one may see God in the mirror of Muhammad. He maintained that Muhammad was the best proof of God and, by knowing Muhammad, one knows God.
Ibn Arabi also described Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and all other prophets and various Awliya Allah (Muslim saints) as perfect men, but never tires of attributing lordship, inspirational source, and highest rank to Muhammad. Ibn Arabi compares his own status as a perfect man as being but a single dimension to the comprehensive nature of Muhammad. Ibn 'Arabi makes extraordinary assertions regarding his own spiritual rank, but qualifying this rather audacious correlation by asserting his "inherited" perfection is only a single dimension of the comprehensive perfection of Muhammad.
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.
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. A specialist of Ibn 'Arabi, William Chittick, referring to Osman Yahya's definitive bibliography of the Andalusian's works, says that, out of the 850 works attributed to him, some 700 are authentic while over 400 are still extant.
According to Claude Addas, Ibn Arabi began writing Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya after he arrived in Mecca in 1202. After almost thirty years, the first draft of Futūḥāt was completed in December 1231 (629 AH), and Ibn Arabi bequeathed it to his son. Two years before his death, Ibn ‘Arabī embarked on a second draft of the Futūḥāt in 1238 (636 AH), of which included a number of additions and deletions as compared with the previous draft, that contains 560 chapters. The second draft, which the most widely circulated and used, was bequeathed to his disciple, Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi. There are many scholars attempt to translate this book from Arabic into other languages, but there is no complete translation of Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya until today.
There have been many commentaries on Ibn 'Arabī's Fuṣūṣ al-Ḥikam. The first one was Kitab al-Fukūk written by Ṣadr al-Dīn al-Qunawī who had studied the book with Ibn 'Arabī; the second by Qunawī's student, Mu'ayyad al-Dīn al-Jandi, 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. 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).
The Fuṣūṣ was first critically edited in Arabic by 'Afīfī (1946) that become the standard in scholarly works. Later in 2015, Ibn al-Arabi Foundation in Pakistan published the Urdu translation, including the new critical of Arabic edition.
The first English translation was done in partial form by Angela Culme-Seymour from the French translation of Titus Burckhardt as Wisdom of the Prophets (1975), and the first full translation was by Ralph Austin as Bezels of Wisdom (1980). 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 Shams Ul Mufasireen 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. A new edition of the translation was published in 2014 with brief annotations throughout the book for the benefit of contemporary Urdu reader.
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.
Ibn ‘Arabî referred to himself with fuller versions of his name, such as Abû ‘Abdallâh Muhammad ibn ‘Alî ibn al-‘Arabî al-Tâ’î al-Hâtimî (the last three names indicating his noble Arab lineage)
It is well known that Ibn 'Arabi, from the point of view of his madhhab was a Sunni...but it is also known that he wrote a treatise on the twelve Shiite imams which has always been popular among Shiites.
Like many Andalusians, he came of mixed parentage: his father's name indicates an Arab family, which had probably emigrated to Andalusia in the early years of the Arab conquest, while his mother seems to have come from a Berber family...
For Ibn Arabi, the Logos or "Universal Man" was a mediating link between individual human beings and the divine essence.
This is a small selection of his many books.
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