Al-Sheikh al-Akbar Muyiddin ibn al-‘Arabi (d. 638 in Damasc)

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Al-Sheikh al-Akbar Muyiddin ibn al-‘Arabi (d. 638 in Damasc)

Postby » 02 Sep 2012, 05:59

Al-Sheikh al-Akbar Muyiddin ibn al-‘Arabi
d. 638 in Damascus

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Posts: 782
Joined: 19 Mar 2011, 11:53

Re: Al-Sheikh al-Akbar Muyiddin ibn al-‘Arabi | Nuh Keller

Postby » 02 Sep 2012, 06:00

Biografisk not om Sh. Muyiddin ibn al-‘Arabi
av Sheikh Nuh Keller

”The Sheikh al-Akbar (A: Muhyiddin ibn al-’Arabi), Allah most high sanctify his inmost being, writes in his letter about spiritual station of annihilation in gnostic vision: ”When a book falls into a person’s hands concerning a subject he knows nothing about (knows meaning through having studied it with sheikhs who are masters of it) and has not learned by engaging in it at first hand, he should do absolutely nothing with the book, but rather return it to those whom it concerns. He should not believe, disbelieve, or discuss it at all.”
(Reliance of the traveller 1994: 757) .

Om Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn al-‘Arabi, Abu Bakr Muhyi al-Din al-Hatimi al-Ta’i.

Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller, ger i sin översättning av Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri s "Umdat al-Salik" (Reliance of the Traveller 1994), Ibn al-'Arabis levnadsteckning och gärning. Utifrån dennes bakgrund ges också en förklaring till varför vissa människor har missförstått och misstolkat hans verkliga position:

“Muyiddin ibn al-‘Arabi is Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn al-‘Arabi, Abu Bakr Muhyi al-Din al-Hatimi al-Ta’i, The Greatest Sheikh (al-Shaykh al-Akbar), born in Murcia (in present-day Spain) in 560/1165. A “mujtahid” Imam in Sacred Law, Sufism, Qur’anic exegesis, hadith, and other Islamic sciences, and widely regarded as a friend (wali) of Allah Most High, he was the foremost representative of the Sufi school of the “oneness of being” (wahdat al-wujud), as well as a Muslim of strict literal observance of the prescriptions of the Qur’an and sunna. He first took they way of Sufism in A.H. 580, and in the years that followed authored some 600 books and treatises in the course of travels and residences in Fez, Tunis, Alexandria, Cairo, Mecca, Baghdad, Mosul, Konya, Aleppo, and finally Damascus, where he lived till the end of his life and completed his “al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya” [The Meccan Revelations] and “Fusus al-Hikam” [The Precious Stones of the ring-settings of the Wisdoms]. Since interest in his work continues among even non-Muslim scholars, a number of hermeneutical obstacles are worth mentioning here that have in some measure so far hindered serious efforts to understand the Sheikh’s works, by friend and foe alike.

The first lack of common ground with the author, who has written,

“We are a group whose works are unlawful to peruse, since the Sufis, one and all, use terms in technical senses by which they intend other than what is customarily meant by their usage among scholars, and those who interpret them according to their usual significance commit unbelief.”

While this may not be particularly intimidating to someone who is already an unbeliever, it does at least implicitly deny the validity of a do-it- yourself approach to the Sheikh’s thought and point up the relevance of the traditional maxim,

'Knowledge is to be taken from those who possess it.'

A related difficulty is that the context of much of Ibn al-‘Arabi’s “Futuhat” and other works is not only the outward Islamic sciences, but also their inner significance, not by any means an “esoteric symbolism” that nullifies the outward content of the Sheikh’s inquiries, but a dimension of depth, a reflective counterpart to their this-worldly significance whose place and existential context is the world of the spirit, to which the physical universe—in which many of his would-be interpreters are firmly enmeshed and know nothing besides, especially those who are atheists—is like a speck of dust in the sea. While the present discussion cannot adequately do justice to the topic, one may yet observe that the heart of someone familiar only with the “What will I eat,” “What will I say,” “Will it prove feasible,” and other physical and intellectual relations of instrumentality that make up this world is no more capable of real insight into the world of someone like the Sheikh than a person inches away from a giant picture is capable of “seeing” the picture he believes is “before his very eyes.” The way of Ibn al-‘Arabi is precisely a “way,” and if one has not traveled it or been trained to see as Ibn al-‘Arabi sees, one may well produce intelligent remarks about one’s perceptions of the matter, as attested to by a whole literature of “historical studies” of Sufism, but the fact remains that one does not see.

A third difficulty is the problem of spurious interpolations by copyists, as once happened to ‘Abd al-Wahhab Sha‘rani, who had to bring his own handwritten manuscript to court to prove he was innocent of the unbelief that enemies had inserted into his work and published in his name. The “Hashiya” of Ibn ‘Abidin notes that this has also happened to the “Fusus al- Hikam” of Ibn al-‘Arabi, the details being given in a promulgation by the Supreme Ottoman Sultanate exonerating the author of the statements of unbelief (kufr) it said that it was interpolated into the work. This is supported by the opinion of Mahmud Mahmud Ghurab, an Ibn al-‘Arabi specialist of Damascus who has published more than twelve books on the Sheikh’s thought, among them “al-Fiqh ‘ind al-Shaykh al-Akbar Muhyiddin ibn al-‘Arabi” [Sacred Law According to the Greatest Sheikh, Muhyiddin ibn al-‘Arabi], which clarifies Ibn al-‘Arabi’s position as a Zahiri Imam and mujtahid in Sacred Law; and “Sharh Fusus al-Hikam” [Exegesis of “The Precious Stones of the ring-settings of the Wisdoms], in which Ghurab indicates eighty-six passages of the “Fusus” that he believes are spurious, adducing that they contradict the letter and spirit of “al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya,” which must be given precedence because we possess a manuscript copy in the author’s own handwriting, while there are no such copies of the “Fusus.”

One may summarize the above-mentioned difficulties and others by the general observation that without a master with whom to read these texts, someone who has himself read them with a teacher aware of their place in the whole of the Sheikh’s work, one is in danger of projecting one’s own limitations onto the author. This happens in our times to various groups of interpreters, among them non-Muslim “sufis” who have posthumously made Ibn al-‘Arabi an "honorary syncretist", saying that he believed all religions to be equally valid and acceptable—which Ghurab says is an ignorant misreading, and to which the Sheikh himself furnishes a sufficient reply in his account of his convictions (‘aqida) at the first of the “Futuhat” where he says,

“Just as I charge Allah, His angels, His entire creation, and all of you to bear witness upon me that I affirm His Unity, so too I charge Him Most Glorious, His angels, His entire creation, and all of you to bear witness upon me that I believe in the one He has elected, chosen, and selected from all His existence, Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace, who He hassent to all mankind entirely (ila jami’ al-nas kaffatan) to bring good tidings and to warn and to call to Allah by His leave” (“al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya”).

Other interpreters who commit errors are well-meaning Muslims who do not and cannot understand the Sheikh’s words, which they read in their native Arabic as if it were a newspaper and then level accusations of unbelief against the author on the basis of what comes to their minds while doing so. For all groups of interpreters, there is a pressing need for scholarly modesty and candor about our exegetical limitations, and to draw attention to the fact that without a guide in reading the Sheikh’s thought, one is adrift in a sea of one’s own guesswork.

Aside from these basic hermeneutic requirements for reading the work of Ibn al-‘Arabi, other, existential qualifications are needed, for as mentioned above, the Sheikh’s method is a way, and as such entails not only curiosity, but commitment and most of all submission to Allah Most High as the Sheikh had submission to Him, namely through Islam—as well as other conditions mentioned by Ibn Hajar Haytami in a legal opinion in which, after noting that it is permissible or even meritorious (mustahabb) to read the Sheikh’s works, but only for the qualified, he writes:

“Imam Ibn al-‘Arabi has explicitly stated:

‘It is unlawful to read [the Sufis’] books unless one attains to their level of character and learns the meaning of their words in conformity with their technical usages, neither of which is found except in someone who has worked assiduously, rolled up his sleeves, abandoned the wrong, tightened his belt, filled himself replete with the outward Islamic sciences, and purified himself from every low trait connected with this world and the next. It is just such a person who comprehends what is being said and is allowed to enter when he stands at the door’.”

The Sheikh outlines what is entailed by “working assiduously” in a series of injunctions (wasaya) at the end of his “Futuhat” that virtually anyone can benefit from, and by which one may infer some of the outward details of the Sheikh’s way. By all accounts, he lived what he wrote in this respect, and his legacy bears eloquent testimony to it. He died in his home in Damascus, a copy of Ghazali’s “Ihya’ ‘ulum al-din” on his lap, in 638/1240.”
(Reliance of the traveller 1994: 1080ff)

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Re: Al-Sheikh al-Akbar Muyiddin ibn al-‘Arabi | Nuh Keller

Postby » 07 Oct 2012, 17:20

Muhyi al-Din Ibn 'Arabi
(d. 638 in Damascus)
by Sh. G. F. Haddad

Muhammad ibn 'Ali ibn Muhammad ibn al-'Arabi, Abu Bakr Muhyi al-Din al-Hatimi al-Ta'i al-Andalusi al-Mursi al-Dimashqi, known as Ibn 'Arabi to differentiate him from Abu Bakr Ibn al-'Arabi the Maliki jurist.

A scholar of Arabic letters at first, then tafsir and tasawwuf, nicknamed al-Qushayri and Sultan al-'Arifin in his time for his pre-eminence in tasawwuf, known in his lifetime for his devoutness to worship, asceticism, and generosity, Ibn 'Arabi was praised by al-Munawi as "a righteous friend of Allah and a faithful scholar of knowledge" (waliyyun salihun wa 'alimun nasih), by Ibn 'Imad al-Hanbali as "the absolute mujtahid without doubt," and by al-Fayruzabadi as "the Imam of the People of Shari'a both in knowledge and in legacy, the educator of the People of the Way in practice and in knowledge, and the shaykh of the shaykhs of the People of Truth through spiritual experience (dhawq) and understanding."

His Teachers

He travelled East and West in the study of hadith, taking knowledge from over a thousand shaykhs, among them Abu al-Hasan ibn Hudhayl, Muhammad ibn Khalaf al-Lakhmi, Ibn Zarqun, Abu al-Walid al-Hadrami, al-Silafi, 'Abd al-Haqq al-Ishbili, Ibn 'Asakir, Ibn al-Jawzi, and Ibn Bushkuwal.
His principal shaykhs in tasawwuf were Abu Madyan al-Maghribi, Jamal al-Din Yunus ibn Yahya al-Qassar, Abu 'Abd Allah al-Tamimi al-Fasi, Abu al-Hasan ibn Jami', and al-Khidr (AS).

He became known first as al-Shaykh al-Kabir ("The Great Shaykh") then al-Shaykh al-Akbar ("The Greatest Shaykh") with specific reference to the sciences of tasawwuf in which he authored hundreds of books.3

His Doctrine ('Aqida)

His greatest and best-known is his last work, al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya ("The Meccan Conquests") which begins with a statement of doctrine - translated in forthcoming posts - about which al-Safadi said:
"I saw that from beginning to end it consists in the doctrine of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari without any difference whatsoever."

His Rank of Mujtahid Mutlaq

In jurisprudence Ibn 'Arabi is often said to follow the Zahiri school, but this is incorrect since he himself denies it, as quoted by Ibn 'Imad from Ibn 'Arabi's two poems al-Ra'iyya and al-Nuniyya, which state respectively:

Laqad harrama al-Rahmanu taqlida Malikin
wa Ahmada wa al-Nu'mani wa al-kulli fa'dhuru

The Merciful forbade me to imitate Malik, Ahmad,
Al-Nu'man [Abu Hanifa] and others, therefore pardon me.

Lastu mimman yaqulu qala Ibnu Hazmin
la wa la Ahmadu wa la al-Nu'manu

I am not of those who say: "Ibn Hazm said"-
Certainly not! Nor "Ahmad said" nor "al-Nu'man said.


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