“It is He who is revealed in every face, sought in every sign, gazed upon by every eye, worshipped in every object of worship, and pursued in the unseen and the visible. Not a single one of His creatures can fail to find Him in its primordial and original nature”.
Ibn 'Arabi, Futûhât al-Makkiyya
“The movement which is the existence of the universe is the movement of love”.
Mystic, philosopher, poet, sage, Muhammad Ibn 'Arabi is one of the world's great spiritual teachers. Ibn 'Arabi was born in
Mystic, philosopher, poet, sage, Muhammad b. 'Ali Ibn 'Arabi is one of the world's great spiritual teachers. Known as Muhyiddin (the Revivifier of Religion) and the Shaykh al-Akbar (the Greatest Master), he was born in 1165 AD into the Moorish culture of Andalusian Spain, the centre of an extraordinary flourishing and cross-fertilization of Jewish, Christian and Islamic thought, through which the major scientific and philosophical works of antiquity were transmitted to Northern Europe. Ibn 'Arabi's spiritual attainments were evident from an early age, and he was renowned for his great visionary capacity as well as being a superlative teacher. He travelled extensively in the Islamic world and died in
He wrote over 350 works including the Fusûs al-Hikam, an exposition of the inner meaning of the wisdom of the prophets in the Judaic/ Christian/ Islamic line, and the Futûhât al-Makkiyya, a vast encyclopaedia of spiritual knowledge which unites and distinguishes the three strands of tradition, reason and mystical insight. In his Diwân and Tarjumân al-Ashwâq he also wrote some of the finest poetry in the Arabic language. These extensive writings provide a beautiful exposition of the Unity of Being, the single and indivisible reality which simultaneously transcends and is manifested in all the images of the world. Ibn 'Arabi shows how Man, in perfection, is the complete image of this reality and how those who truly know their essential self, know God.
Firmly rooted in the Quran, his work is universal, accepting that each person has a unique path to the truth, which unites all paths in itself. He has profoundly influenced the development of Islam since his time, as well as significant aspects of the philosophy and literature of the West. His wisdom has much to offer us in the modern world in terms of understanding what it means to be human.
If the believer understood the meaning of the saying 'the colour of the water is the colour of the receptacle', he would admit the validity of all beliefs and he would recognise God in every form and every object of faith.
Ibn 'Arabi, Fusûs al-Hikam
Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi is unquestionably one of the most profound and remarkable figures in the history of world spirituality.
Known as "the Greatest Master" (al-Shaykh al-Akbar), he led an extraordinary inner and outer life. He travelled huge distances, from his native
Ibn 'Arabi's writings are founded on a totally harmonious vision of Reality, integrating all apparent differences without destroying their truths. They are singularly appropriate and needed in the world of today.
He lived at a time of great cultural and spiritual flowering in the West, in the Jewish and Christian traditions as much as in the Muslim world.
It is reported that the Messenger of God said: "God is beautiful and He loves beauty".It is God who made the world and brought it into existence. The entire universe is therefore supremely beautiful. There is nothing ugly in it. On the contrary, in it God has brought together all perfection and all beauty.
The Writings of Ibn 'Arabi
Ibn 'Arabi began to write books at about the age of 27, and continued to do this for the rest of his life. Based on the titles in two lists that he left, it can be said that Ibn 'Arabi wrote about 300 works. However, the works by Ibn 'Arabi which are extant today number between 75 and 100. Some of these are very long, and some are short.
His best known works are:
Fusûs al-hikam ("The Ringstones of Wisdom")
Considered to be the quintessence of Ibn 'Arabi's spiritual teaching, it comprises twenty-seven chapters, each dedicated to the spiritual meaning and wisdom of a particular prophet. Over the centuries Ibn 'Arabi's students held this book in the highest esteem and wrote over one hundred commentaries on it.
Al-Futûhât al-makkiyya ("The Meccan Openings")
"This is a vast compendium of metaphysics, cosmology, spiritual anthropology, psychology, and jurisprudence. Topics include the inner meanings of the Islamic rituals, the stations of travellers on the journey to God and in God, the nature of cosmic hierarchy, the spiritual and ontological meaning of the letters of the Arabic alphabet, the sciences embraced by each of the ninety-nine names of God, and the significance of the differing messages of various prophets." This work was written over a twenty-year period as Ibn 'Arabi travelled in the
Tarjuman al-ashwaq ("The Interpreter of Yearnings")
This short collection of love poetry was inspired by his meeting during his first pilgrimage to
Selected major works of Ibn 'Arabi. Ibn 'Arabi's output was prodigious, ranging from the enormous Futuhat al-Makkiyya, which fills thousands of pages of Arabic, to treatises no more than a few pages long. The selection provides a brief overview of the best-known titles. This article is reproduced from The Unlimited Mercifier - The spiritual life and thought of Ibn 'Arabi, by Stephen Hirtenstein.
Seleção das maiores obras de Ibn 'Arabi, (the same article, translated into Portuguese)
Ibn 'Arabi's own Summary of the Fusûs, introduced and translated by William Chittick. The importance of Ibn 'Arabi's Fusûs al-hikam as the quintessence of his writings and thought and a major source of his influence is well-known, and is attested to by the more than one hundred commentaries written upon it. Ibn 'Arabi also wrote a work called Naqsh al-fusûs (the "Imprint" or "Pattern of the Fusûs"), in which he summarized briefly the main discussions of the Fusûs itself. Abd al-Rahman Jamî's work, Naqd al-nusûs fi sharh naqsh al-fusûs, written in the year 863/1459 incorporated the text of Ibn 'Arabi's summary, and had his own commentary in a mix of Arabic and Persian. William Chittick's translation of about one-sixth of Jamî's work was first published in Sophia Perennis (1975), then in the Journal of the Ibn 'Arabi Society (1982). (pdf 156KB)
The Chapter Headings of The Fusûs by William Chittick. This is a study of the significance of the chapter headings of the Fusûs as understood by four major commentators on the work. The first was Sadr al-Dîn al-Qûnawî (d. 673/1274), Ibn al-'Arabi's son-in-law, chief disciple, foremost interpreter, and the author of al-Fukûk, a commentary on the central themes of each chapter of the Fusûs. At his behest his disciple Mu'ayyid al-Din al-Jandi composed one of the earliest and most extensive commentaries on the Fusûs itself. Two other commentaries were written by 'Abd al-Razzâq al-Kâshâni (d. 730/1329 or 736/1335-6), who studied the Fusûs with al-Jandi, and Dâwûd al-Qaysari (d. 751/1350), who studied it with al-Kâshâni. From the Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society, Vol. II, 1984. (pdf 188KB)
Extract from the Fusûs al-Hikam "The calling by revelation of the Brides of Absoluteness in the places of absoluteness of the Wisdoms of the bezels" and "Of the Divine Wisdom (al hikmat al ilâhiyyah) in the Word of Adam". Extract from Fusûs al-Hikam, Volume 1, translation from the Arabic into Ottoman Turkish with commentary, rendered into English by Bulent Rauf with the help of Rosemary Brass and Hugh Tollemache. Published by the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society.
Introduction to The Meccan Revelations, written by James Morris. This is the Introduction to The Meccan Revelations, by Michel Chodkiewicz, William Chittick and James Morris (Pir Publications Inc, 2002). This volume consists of the English portions of a bi-lingual book originally published in
How to Study the Futûhât: Ibn 'Arabi's Own Advice by James Morris. This includes a translation of key sections of the complex Introduction (muqaddima) to the Futûhât al-Makkiya. This article is also available in Swedish (Hur Man Studerar Futûhât : Ibn 'Arabis Egna Råd).
Two Chapters from the Futuhat, introduced and translated by William Chittick. This is the full text of Chapter 317 (Concerning The True Knowledge of the Waystation of Trial and its Blessings) and Chapter 339 (Concerning the True Knowledge of a Waystation in which the Shari'a kneels before the Reality, seeking Replenishment). The chapters deal with several themes. Among these, two of the central ideas of Ibn al-'Arabi's spiritual universe stand out: the 'Oneness of Being' (wahdat al-wujud) and 'Perfect Man' (al-insan al-kamil). These translations first appeared in Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi - A Commemorative Volume, ed. S. Hirtenstein and M. Tiernan, Element Books, Shaftesbury, 1993. (pdf 108KB)
Ibn 'Arabi on the Barzakh - Chapter 63 of the Futûhât (pdf 160KB), James Morris. One of Ibn 'Arabis most extensive and widely influential discussions of the Imagination/Barzakh, in all its humanly relevant dimensions, was in the set of five eschatological chapters (61-65) within the long opening section of the Futûhât. Those chapters, whose arrangement follows the traditional ordering of the symbolic "events" and "places" of the Resurrection mentioned in Islamic scriptures, begin with descriptions of Gehenna and the "Fires" and other torments of its residents (chapters 61-62) and conclude with the stages of redemption and eventual bliss of souls who have reached the Gardens of paradise (chapters 64-65).
The Mahdi and His Helpers - Chapter 366 of the Futûhât (pdf 296KB), James Morris. The primary focus of Chapter 366 of the Futûhât is the distinctive set of spiritual qualities and capacities marking this particular spiritual stage (manzil)--characteristics which Ibn 'Arabi finds symbolized in the various hadith concerning the eschatological role of the Mahdi and his "Helpers" or "Ministers," but which he insists are already realized by those saints (awliya') who have attained this degree of spiritual realization, who have already reached the "end of time."
The Spiritual Ascension: Ibn 'Arabî and the Mi'râj - Chapter 367 of the Futûhât (pdf 368KB), James Morris. The initial indications in the Koran and hadith concerning the Prophet's Ascension (mi'raj) or nocturnal voyage (isra', at Kor. 17:1) and the revelatory vision in which it culminated (Kor. 53:1-18) subsequently gave rise to a vast body of interpretations among the many later traditions of Islamic thought and spirituality. Ibn 'Arabi's personal adaptation of that material, in at least four separate longer narratives, reflects both the typical features of his distinctive approach to the Koran and hadith and the full range of his metaphysical-theological teachings and practical spiritual concerns.
The Futuhat Makkiyya: Some Unresolved Enigmas, Michel Chodkiewicz. This seminal paper demonstrated in a new way the intimate connection between the Qur'an and the writings of Ibn 'Arabi, by showing how the 114 chapters of the section of the Futûhât (called the fasl al-manāzil) correspond to Surahs of the Qur'an in sequence on a one-to-one basis. It exposes an underlying structure to the Futûhât never previously described in public commentaries, which makes untennable common scholarly characterisations of it as a disorderly encyclopedia of bookish knowledge or a heterogeneous collection of passages juxtaposed simply as a result of the caprices of inspiration. Themes in this paper were later developed by Michel Chodkiewicz in An Ocean Without Shore – Ibn Arabi, The Book, and the Law,
The Journey through the Circles of Inner Being according to Ibn 'Arabî’s Mawâqi' al-nujûm, by Denis Gril. Every spiritual path, starting from the corporeal and ordinary being and extending to the spiritual and sanctified being is, in fact, a whole life’s journey. In Mawâqi' al-nujûm, “The twilight of the stars”, Ibn 'Arabî tells us about this progressive journey, through lights and shadows, happiness and sadness, success and danger.
On Majesty and Beauty - The Kitâb Al-Jalâl Wa-l Jamâl of Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi, translated by Rabia Terri Harris. "Written in the space of one day in April/May 1205 (601) in
Ibn al-'Arabi's Testament on the Mantle of Initiation (al-Khirqah) translated by Gerald Elmore. Written towards the end of Ibn 'Arabi's life, this short work expands from the Quranic verse: "O Children of Adam, We have sent down upon you a Vestment (libâs) to cover your shameful parts, and beautiful Raiment (rîsh); and the Robe of God-fearing (libâs al-taqwâ) - that is best." (pdf 300KB)
Introducing Ibn 'Arabî's "Book of Spiritual Advice", James Morris. (pdf 156KB) Among the shorter treasures his more famous works have sometimes overshadowed is ibn 'Arabi's remarkable book of spiritual aphorisms, the "Book of Spiritual Advice" (Kitâb al-Nasâ'ih). These short sayings are meant to function as a probing mirror of one’s spiritual conscience, examining the authenticity and proper integration of each reader's states and stations.
Book of the Quintessence of What is Indispensable for the Spiritual Seeker, James Morris. (pdf 192KB). A partial translation of Adab al-Murîd.
Kitâb al-fâna' fi-l mushâhadah, translated by Stephen Hirtenstein and Layla Shamash. Its central topic is the path of mystical unveiling which leads to the contemplation of God. Although at first sight it may seem like a defense of the spiritual way against the attacks of rationalists and dogmatic theologians, it turns out to be a set of indications and exhortations for those on the path to undergo the spiritual death (fanâ') and be realised in contemplation.
The Kitab al-inbah of 'Abdallah Badr al-Habashi, translated by Denis Gril. In one sense the Kitâb al-inbâh is not by Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi, for it was written by his companion of twenty-three years, beloved friend and student, 'Abdallah Badr al-Habashi. However it records what al-Habashi says he heard Ibn 'Arabi say, and may be trusted as a faithful account.
I entrust to you a bequest Three passages from the Kitab al-Was'il by Isma'il Ibn Sawdakîn, in which he recorded things he asked Ibn 'Arabi about, and answers he received. These concern servanthood, retreat, and what was said to Bayazid al-Bastami - "Leave yourself and come!". Translated by Stephen Hirtenstein.
Some Dreams of Ibn 'Arabî pdf, translated by James Morris. These are four of the eighteen dreams recorded in the Shaykh's short "Epistle of Good Tidings" (Risâlat al-Mubashshirât), whose title alludes to a famous hadith where the Prophet explains that these "'good tidings...are the dream of the muslim, either what that person sees or what is shown to them, which is one of the parts of prophecy.' ...So I decided to mention in this section some of what I have seen in dreams that involves a benefit for others and points out for them the means for reaching the Good, since there is no need to mention what only concerns myself."
Love Letters to the Ka'ba. A presentation of Ibn 'Arabi's Tâj al-Rasâ'il, Denis Gril. In this book, The Crown of Epistles and the Path to Intercessions, Ibn 'Arabi addresses eight love letters to the Ka'ba. This contains all the variations that Arabic literature has to offer on the theme of love. This is an unusual love, for a being made of stone, though oh so sacred, situated in an intermediate world between the human and the divine. Denis Gril introduces a treatise, as rich as it is difficult, which must take its place beside the Tarjumân al-Ashwâq and the chapter on Love in the Futûhât.
Three Dimensions of the Rûh by Huzayfa Mangera. Ibn 'Arabi's Rûh al-Quds is well-known through the Sufis of
"Unveiling from the Effects of the Voyages". Angela Jaffray. An Introduction to the Kitâb al-isfâr 'an natâ'ij al-asfâr. The theme of movement and transformation runs through all of Ibn 'Arabi's works. Part cosmology, part Qur'anic exegesis (tafsîr) and stories of the prophets (qisas al-anbiyâ'), part spiritual vademecum, its seventeen chapters deny categorization. After an initial chapter discussing "the three voyages" – to God, from God, and with God – subsequent chapters are given titles characterizing the specific voyage dealt with, such as The lordly voyage of the All-Merciful from the Cloud to the Throne; the voyage of creation and command, or the voyage of origination; the voyage of the Qur'an; and the voyage of the vision in the signs and the esoteric significations (Muhammad's mir'âj).
An Introduction to Ibn 'Arabi's Mishkat al-Anwar. The Mishkat al-Anwar consists of 101 hadîth qudsi collected by Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi. It has few of Ibn 'Arabi's own words in it. This collection is a selection and an arrangement. In some cases only part of a long hadîth is given, and a long hadîth may be broken up into short sections. There is a broad progression from the first hadîth, which expresses God's complete independence of us, and our complete dependence on Him, to the last hadîth, which reports His welcome to the people of
Ibn 'Arabi's Poem 18 (Qif bi l-Manâzil) From the Translation of Desires, Michael Sells. "...the journey is the constant movement and transformation (taqallub) of the heart, which in each moment must give up a manifestation of ultimate reality (a manifestation symbolized by the beloved) in order to receive a new manifestation."