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THE SINGLE MONAD MODEL OF THE COSMOS:

Ibn al-Arabi's Concept of Time and Creation

by Mohamed Haj Yousef



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Figure VII.1: 0-D, a point. It actually has no length, width, or breadth. This is what is called a geometrical point.


 

 

 

 

 

 


As we have seen in an earlier diagram in Figure V.1, Ibn Arabi symbolically represents the world as a 'circle' whose centre is always the Real/real. The abstract point in the centre is one unit: i.e., it can not be divided or fragmented, nor can it be even described because it has no dimensions. However, this point faces the infinite multiplicity of the points in the circumference of the circle. Moreover, each point of the circle is similar to or an image of the central point. This is identical to the meaning of the hadith that Allah created the Human Being (and the world, according to Ibn Arabi) 'on His own Image' (see section III.1). Also each point in the circumference can be a centre to a new circle [III.275], just as everyone/everything has his own world, in his imagination. Also, any point of the circumference can be considered the beginning of it and also the end [I.259.24], so 'He is the First and the Last and Hidden (centre point) and Manifest (circumference)'. And each line that goes out of the central point reaches a point on the circumference. This means that everything originated from the Real (in the centre) and it returns to Him (on the circumference) [II.538.26], which can be understood as the cosmogonic meaning of the verse: to Him you return (2:28) and to Him everything returns (11:123). Finally, because all the points are in essence a manifestation of the Real, therefore 'the worm and the First Intellect are equal with respect to the essence, but the difference appeared in the form' [III.452.33]. Similarly, as Ibn Arabi points out:

Since the lines (the radii) that go out from the Point in the centre of the circle to the circumference that comes to exist through that Point are equal to all parts of the circumference, so likewise the (creative, existentiating) relation of the Real, the Exalted, to the totality of all existents is the same: there is no change in that relation at all. So all things are looking to Him and accepting from Him that (existence) which He bestows on them, just as the parts of the circumference are facing the Point (in the centre).

[I.125.23]

Moreover, any object is composed of a number of points which are similar but have different attributes; the object is the sum of those points. But we can not say that the object is (nothing but) the (particular) point, nor we can say that it is not the point. Similarly, the world is the sum of the manifestations of all the divine Names of Allah, the Real, but we can not say that the world is the Real, nor we can say that the world is not Him [III.275.32].

For Ibn Arabi, the Real is creating the world by continuously and endlessly manifesting Himself in different forms and forming the cosmos point by point (in series as we explained above), including the perceived, perception and the perceiver [II.484.22]. Therefore at any single instant of time (the 'now', or the real existence, hal) there exists only Him. This is not like saying that the things are Allah, 'because He is He, and the things are the things' [II.484.28], but they are the manifestations of the Names of Allah. In this sense, as we have just seen, 'every name in the world is His Name, not a name of other than Him; for it is the Name of the Manifest in the locus of manifestation' [II.122.14].

The identity or essence of each one of us (i.e., the individual soul) is a point in the circle of Creation, and so is the identity of everything in the world. So we can here clearly see the meaning of the verse: We shall show them Our signs on the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it/He is the Real (41:53),[131] which can be then considered the most obvious Qur anic basis of Ibn Arabi's understanding of the 'oneness of being'. Also, since each point of the circle is similar to the central point, 'whoever knows himself knows his Lord' [I.328.31, II.298.30].



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As a result of the original divine manifestation, all kinds of motions are driven by Love and Passion. Who could possibly not instantly fall in love with this perfect and most beautiful harmony! Beauty is desirable for its own essence, and if the Exalted (Real) did not manifest in the form of beauty, the World would not have appeared out into existence.
paraphrased from: Ibn al-Arabi [The Meccan Revelations: II.677.12 - trsn. Mohamed Haj Yousef]
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