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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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B



[1] The geocentric view considers the earth to be in the centre of the universe, while the heliocentric view considers the sun to be in the centre. Modern cosmology, however, asserts that the universe, being a closed spacetime arena, doesn't have a centre; any point may be considered a centre, just as any point on the surface of the earth may be considered a centre (with regard to the surface, not to the volume). So whether the earth or the sun is in the centre of the universe is a valid question only with regard to the solar system which was the known universe in early cosmology, but it is no longer valid after discovering the galaxies and the huge distances between stars outside the solar system. It is worth mentioning here that Ibn Arab clearly asserted that the universe doesn't have a centre [II.677.19].

[2] For more information about this subject see: Bieńkowski, B. (1972), 'From Negation to Acceptance (The Reception of the Heliocentric Theory in Polish Schools in the seventeenth and eighteenth Centuries)', in The Perception of Copernicus' Heliocentric Theory: Proceedings of a Symposium Organized by the Nicolas Copernicus Committee of the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science, ed. Jerzy Dobrzycki, Boston: D. Reidel Pub.: 79-116.

[3] The redshift is the displacement (towards the red side) of the spectral lines of the light emitted by stars when it is received on the earth, and this is due to the high speed of the motion of stars away from us. The amount of the shift towards the red is directly proportional to the distance of the star away from us, and this is how distances to far-away stars and galaxies are calculated with a high degree of accuracy.

[4] For more information about the principles of quantum cosmology, see: Linde, A. D. (1990), Inflation and Quantum Cosmology, San Diego: Academic Press: chapter 3 [Quantum Cosmology and the Stochastic Approach to Inflation].

[5] For more information about Ibn Arab 's life and intellectual background, see: Addas, C. (1993) Quest for Red Sulphur: The Life of Ibn Arab , Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society. See also: The Unlimited Mercifier - The spiritual life and thought of Ibn Arab , by Hirtenstein, S. (1999) Oxford: Anqa Publishing/Oregon: White Cloud Press.

[6] For a full list of books and manuscripts attributed to Ibn Arab ', see: O. Yahya, Histoire et Classification de l'oeuvre d'Ibn Arabi (Damascus, 1964). In this book Othman Yahya mentions over 900 books (with about 1395 titles) attributed to Ibn Arab . Most of them however, as Yahya shows, are not really by him, and also many of his genuine books are lost or not available. For a list of Ibn Arab 's printed works, see appendix 1 in: The Unlimited Mercifier, by Stephen Hirtenstein, (Oxford: Anqa Publishing/Oregon: White Cloud Press, 1999). See also the list of his Arabic and translated works in the Bibliography at the end of this book.

[7] In this hadith Allah says: 'I was a hidden Treasure, so I loved to be known; so I created the creatures/creation so that I might be known.' This famous hadith quds ('divine saying') is not found in standard hadith collections, but is widely quoted by Sufis and especially Ibn Arab [II.112.20, II.232.11, II.310.20, II.322.29, II.330.21, II.339.30, III.267.10, IV.428.7]. Some scholars of hadith therefore consider it a fabrication, but as William Chittick pointed out, Ibn Arab believes that this hadith 'is sound on the basis of unveiling, but not established by way of transmission (naql)' [II.399.28]. See also: SPK: 391: 250-2, and SDG: 21, 22, 70, 211, 329.

[8] In this hadith Prophet Muhammad was asked: 'Where was our Lord before He created the creatures?' He answered: 'He was in a Cloud ( am )' [Kanz: 1185, 29851]. See also: SPK: 125, and SDG: 118, 153, 360. Ibn Arab discusses this hadith very often in the Fut h t: [I.148.17, I.215.33, II.62.36, II.150.21, II.310.3, II.391.28, III.304.5, III.506.5].

[9] See: 'The Language of the angels', by Pierre Lory, from 'The Breath of the All-Merciful' symposium held at Berkeley, 1998 (available as audio tape from the Muhyiddin Ibn Arab Society, Oxford).

[10] Nature here actually means 'the level of Nature' (martabat al-tab a) (i.e., the four foundational elements) and not nature in the physical sense, which is the material world. Ibn Arab explains that the level of Nature does not have a separate physical existence:

So (God) the Exalted estimated the level of nature that if it has (real) existence it would be below the Soul, so even though it does not really exist, it is witnessed by the Real there. That is why He distinguished it and determined its level. It is with regard to natural beings just like in regard to the divine Names: they can be known and imagined, and their effects can appear and cannot be ignored, while in general they don't have any (separate) essence. Likewise, (the level of) Nature gives what is in its potential of sensible forms that are assigned to it and that have real existence, while it doesn't have real separate existence. So how strange is its state and how high its effect!

[II.430.8]

[11] From the Qur anic verse the All-Merciful mounted (established His authority) on the Throne (20:5) and other similar verses such as He created the Heavens and the earth in six days and then He mounted on the Throne (7:54, and the same meaning in other verses: 2:29, 10:3, 25:59, 32:4, 57:4). We shall see in Chapter III that, according to Ibn Arab the six directions of space were created by the process of God's 'mounting' (istiw ) on the Throne in six days from Sunday to Friday.

[12] Al-Ghaz l , Ab H mid Muhammad B. Muhammad al-T s (450AH/1058AD-505AH/1111AD), outstanding Muslim theologian, jurist, thinker, mystic and religious reformer who later pursued and systematically defended the path of Sufism. See also: EI2, 'Al-Ghaz l ', II: 1038.

[13] Ibn Rushd, Tah fut al-fal sifa (The Incoherence of the Philosophers) (1927), ed. M. Bouyges with a summary in Latin, Beirut: n.p.. This is a controversial work of theological refutation where al-Ghaz li enumerated twenty maxims of the philosophers that he found that they could not incontrovertibly demonstrate, as they had claimed.

[14] Ab al-Wal d Ibn Rushd (520AH/1126AD-595AH/1198AD) was the chief judge of Seville and a great philosopher known in the West as Averroes. There was no one higher than him in the matter of legal ruling (fatwa) for crucial issues. He was a top figure in the history of both Islamic and Western philosophy and theology. He defended philosophy against the Ash arite theologians (Mutakallim n) led by al-Ghaz l , against whom he wrote his Tah fut al-Tah fut ('The Incoherence of the Incoherence'), translated from the Arabic with introduction and notes by Simon van den Bergh (Gibb Memorial Trust, 1978). See also: EI2, 'Ibn Rushd', III: 909.

[15] Ab Al al-Husayn ibn Abdull h Ibn S n (369AH/980AD-428AH/1037AD), known in the West as Avicenna, was an important Muslim physician, scientist, mathematician and philosopher. See also: EI2, 'Ibn S n ', III: 941.

[16] Ibn S n (1983), al-Shif [al-Tab iyy t, 1- al-Sam al-Tab i], ed. Said Zayed, Cairo: L Organisation Egyptienne G n rale du Livre: Cairo: 68. See also Al al-D n Abdul-Muta l (2003) Tasawwur Ibn S n li l-Zam n wa Us luhu al-Yun niyya ('Ibn S n 's Concept of Time and Its Greek Origins') Alexandria: Dar al-Waf : 131.

[17] Ibn S n , al-Shif [al-Tab iyy t, 1- al-Sam al-Tab i]: 72. See also: Al- At , I. (1993) al-Zam n fi al-Fikr al-Isl m : Ibn S n , al-R zi and al-Ma' rr ('Time in Islamic Thought'), Beirut: D r al-Muntakhab al-'Arab : 110.

[18] Ibn S n , al-Shif [al-Tab iyy t, 1- al-Sam al-Tab i]: 74.

[19] Ibn S n (1938) al-Naj t, ed. Muhy al-Din S. al-Kurd , 2nd edn., Cairo: n.p.: 117.

[20] Named after their founding figure Ab al-Hasan al-Ash ar , this Sunni theological school had its origin in the reaction against what they viewed as the excessive rationalism of the Mu tazila (a movement founded by W sil Ibn At in the secind century AH/eighth century AD. The Ash arites insisted that reason must be subordinate to the literal data of revelation. They accepted some of the cosmology of the Mu tazilites, but put forward a nuanced rejection of their theological principles. See also: EI2, 'Al-Ash ar , Ab al-Hasan', I: 694; 'Ash ariyya', I: 696; 'Mu tazila', VII: 783.

[21] Ab Y suf Ya q b Ibn Ish q al-Kind (185AH/805AD-256AH/873AD) is considered the historical 'father' of Islamic Philosophy. He was also a scientist of high calibre, a gifted mathematician, astronomer, physician and a geographer, as well as a talented musician. See also: EI2, 'Al-Kind ', V: 122.

[22] Al-Kind (1950) Ras il al-Kind al-Falsafiyya, Ris la fi al-Falsafat al- l ('Al-Kind 's Philosophical Letters, Letter on the First Philosophy (= metaphysics)', ed. Muhammad A. Ab Rid , Cairo: n.p.: 117.

[23] Mohammed Ibn Zakariyya al-R z (251AH/865AD-313AH/925AD). See also: EI2, 'Al-R z ', VIII: 474.

[24] Ab Nasr al-F r b (259AH/870AD-339AH/950AD) was one of the foremost Islamic philosophers and logicians. See also: EI2, 'Al-F r b ', II: 778.

[25] Euclidean geometry is based on the ideas of Euclid (ca. 300BC), who stated in his book The Elements five postulates on which he based all his theorems. According to these postulates, space is homogeneous like that which we feel on the earth. In modern cosmology and with the highly intensity gravity found near giant stars and galaxies, space can no longer be treated as homogeneous, and therefore a new branch of geometry (non-Euclidean geometry) has been introduced to take into account the curvature of space-time. For information about Euclidean geometry, see: Patrick J. R. (1986) Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometry, Cambridge: Cambridge University.

[26] This is because of the 'uncertainty (Heisenberg) principle' which states that not all of the physical parameters (e.g. position [x] and momentum [p]) of a system can be fully determined at the same time. It is mathematically expressed as: Dx.Dp>h where h is Planck's constant, which is in the order of 6 10-34 erg-seconds.

[27] Before the advent of Quantum Mechanics there was a long debate about the nature of light, whether it is particles or waves. Some experiments (and theories) confirmed that it is particles, while others confirmed that it is waves. Quantum Mechanics solved this contradiction by suggesting that particles have wave properties and waves have particle properties. See: Baierlein, R. (1992) Newton to Einstein: The Trail of Light: An Excursion to the Wave-Particle Duality and the Special Theory of Relativity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[28] See note 10 in chapter I.

[29] In the language of kalam theology, a 'negative attribute' (sifa salbiyya) is an attribute that is not a real description, but simply a negation of a purported description. See also 'The Book of Eternity' (Kit b al-Azal) for Ibn Arab .

[30] For more details about the 'line-point' and 'time-now' analogy, see Hasnaoui, A. (1977) 'Certain Notions of Time in Arab-Muslim Philosophy', in Time and the Philosophies, ed. Paul Ricoeur, London: UNESCO, Benham Press: 50. See also Ibn Arab 's treatise of: 'Ris la fi Asr r al-Dh t al-Il hiyya' in Ras il Ibn Arab (Beirut: Mu assasat al-Intish r al-Arabi, 2002-4), ed. Sa id Abd al-Fattah. Volume I: 193-206 [201].

[31] There are two closely related words in Arabic commonly used for the everyday senses of 'time': zam n and zaman. They are basically used in the same contexts, and usually Arabic dictionaries [such as Lis n al- Arab (Beirut: D r S dir, n.d.), XIII: 200] do not distinguish between them. Ibn Arab also seems to use these two words interchangeably in many places, although we can detect a unique pattern of use in the Fut h t: in many places he uses zam n for the general meaning of time that has a span or duration, while he uses zaman to mean the current time or a specific time that is usually short and defined, such as in the technical expression 'the single time' (al-zaman al-fard) [I.318.22, II.82.22, IV.267], which is explained later in this chapter.

[32] Al-jawhar literally means 'the jewel' but technically it means 'the essence.' Ibn Arab took this technical usage from kalam theology. We will translate it as 'the monad', which is the indivisible substance that is thought to constitute matter. We will devote a full section to the monad in section VI.2.

[33] Al- arad in this technical sense drawn from the usage of the kalam theologians is the actual appearance or the form of al-jawhar, or the form each monad wears in order to appear in existence. The atomists, especially the Ash arite theologians, asserted that the world is composed of substances and accidents (jaw hir and a r d) and that substances remain while accidents always change. Ibn Arab , however, employs the term more strictly than the Ash arites, since he says that everything that we see always and constantly changes, though it may change into 'similars' or 'likenesses' (sing.: mithl), which is why we think that certain things are not changing [III.452.24]. He also asserts that this monad (al-jawhar) is not visible by itself, but only appears wearing this form or the other. See also SPK: 97.

[34] There are two different words in Arabic habitually used for the meaning of space: al-mak n and al-hayyiz. Al-hayyiz is more accurately used to refer to the abstraction of three-dimensional space, while al-mak n in fact refers to 'the place' rather than space. Ibn Arab himself sometimes uses both of these two words to mean space, but in one passage he clearly defines them: 'al-mak n is what the objects rest on, and not in, it; for if they were in it, these would be al-ahy z (s. hayyiz, space), not al-mak n (place)' [II.458.3].

[35] Al-Afr d min al-rij l: al-afr d ( the Solitary Ones ) are group of the highest spiritual Sages who are outside the circle of the spiritual Pole (al-Qutb); al-Khadir (lit. 'the green man') is one of them, [II.19.9]; and 'they are not governed by the circle of the Pole and he has no rule over them, but rather they are as complete as himself' [III.137.12]. In Ibn Arab 's technical usage, al-rij l ( the True Men ) refers not at all to a gender, but to the fully accomplished spiritual sages or 'true Knowers' ( uraf ). See also: Al-Mu jam Al-S fi: 515-21.

[36] See chapter 371 of the Fut h t [III.416] for a detailed account of the creation scenario of both the physical and intelligible worlds as seen by Ibn Arab . Also in chapter 7 of the Fut h t [I.121] Ibn Arab gives many details about the different stages of creating the natural or physical world in time; however the numbers that he gives there fall far short of the modern well-established scientific results.

[37] Ibn Arab explains this in detail at the beginning of the Fut h t, as he was discussing the 'special people of Allah'. He discusses this doctrine there under many issues (mas il) in which he summarizes the relations between the Real, the world and non-existence. See his introduction in the Fut h t [I.41-7]. Ibn Arab also wrote these issues and much more in kit b al-mas il which is also known as Aq dat ahl al-ikhtis s, 'the doctrine of the special people (of Allah)', see the Bibliography.

[38] When Ibn Arab uses this term 'in charge of moving' to describe the active force here, he has in mind his famous concept that the world (where bodies and objects move) is like a super-human (ins n kab r) [III.11.19], where all physical motions are due to this active force of the Universal Soul, and all noetic changes are due to Its intellective force.

[39] Based on the hadith 'the Pedestal (al-kurs ) is the place of the two feet' [Kanz: 1683], Ibn Arab asserts that the 'foot' in question is the divine 'constancy' (thub t) and the 'two feet' that are ascribed to the All-Merciful, the most Glorious, refer to 'the foot of compulsion' (qadam al-jabr) and 'the foot of choice' (qadam al-ikhtiy r) [III.432.23]. Ibn Arab showed that Allah's, the All-Merciful's, Word (in the Throne) is One (all mercy), but by the swaging (tadall ) of these two feet of compulsion and choice on the Pedestal, the Word divided into two, [II.438.27], and this distinction between compulsion and choice caused the emergence of the world of command ( alam al-amr) and the world of creation ( alam al-khalq), of the (divine) ban and the order, obedience and the disobedience, and the Garden and the Fire (Gehenna), but all this is from the same single divine root of Mercy that is the attribute of the All-Merciful Who 'mounted on the Throne' (al-rahm n al al- arsh istaw , 20:5) [IV 274.25]. Then Ibn Arab also relates this same distinction to the symbolism of the daytime and night, where he says that because the Word above the Pedestal is one, it is all daytime (light) there, but below the Pedestal it is daytime and night [III.202.31]. See also section II.13.

[40] For more detail about this subject, see Minkowski (1923) and ; and: Hinton (1980).

[41] See: Muhy ad-D n al-Tu aym (ed.) (1994) Maws at al-Isr wa l-Mi r j, Beirut: D r al-Hil l. This book contains six important treatises written by prominent early and classical Muslim scholars, such as Ibn Abb s, al-Qushayr and al-Suy ti, about the occasion of the Prophet's Isr and Mi r j.

[42] For a full translation and study of related passages, see: 'Ibn Arab 's Spiritual Ascension' by James W. Morris (2002) in The Meccan Revelations, Volume I, M. Chodkiewicz (ed.), W. Chittick (trans.), W. Morris (trans.) New York: Pir Press: 201-30.

[43] This book was published many times but the most remarkable critical edition is published by Su d al-Hak m in 1988 (Beirut: Dandarah).

[44] Ab Ish q al-Nu m n al-Sh fi , al-Sir j al-Wahh j f Haq iq al-Isr wa l-Mi r j', in Maws at al-Isr wa l-Mi r j, op.cit.: 53-114 [p. 58].

[45] See the short chapters 244 and 245 of the Fut h t [II.543-4], where Ibn Arab explains these notions of spiritual 'absence' (ghayba) and 'presence' (hud r).

[46] Nath (or al-shartayn: the two signs of Aries), Butayn (the belly of Aries) and Thurayya (Pleiades) are houses of the moon.

[47] San bil, sunbul t (s. sunbula), the term used in the Qur anic account of Pharaoh's dream interpreted by Joseph (12:43), and also in the promised reward of charity (zak t) (1:261).

[48] This is one of the twelve zodiacal signs, also called al- Azr (the Virgin).

[49] He asserts later in this same chapter that 'when the orbs rotated and when the (celestial) rule went back to Virgo, the human composition appeared by the specific determination of the All-Mighty, the All-Knower (taqd r al- Az z al- Al m 41:12 [also: 6:96, 36:38])' [chapter 60, I.294.8]. Ibn Arab then explains [chapter 60, I.294.10] that the time of the ruling of Virgo is seven thousand years, after which the ruling task is handed over to Libra ('the Balance', representing the eschatological time of divine justice at the final Rising). In this chapter, however, he first takes pains to explain that those ruling spirits are only angelic servants (of God) doing their jobs, and not separate deities as the pagans had believed; so the command is all to Allah and there is no 'sharing' with Him.

[50] This is because Virgo, as Ibn Arab goes on to explain, has the number 'seven', but also has its multiples: seven, seventy, seven hundred: 'That is why Allah since He created us in Virgo multiplied our reward as He said: The likeness of those who spend their wealth in Allah's way is as the likeness of a grain which growth seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains. Allah gives increase manifold to whom He will (2:261) but always multiples of seven.' [I.294.15]

[51] To remove any confusion, 'Day(s)' and 'Week' (with capitals) are used to refer to the actual 'cosmic' or 'divine' Days and Week (of Creation) not to the many relative, astronomical days and weeks defined by the different relative motions of different heavenly bodies. We have already mentioned the meaning of these divine 'Days' in section II.15, but the different types of cosmic Days shall be discussed in more detail in the following chapter.

[52] See: Herodotus: The Histories, ed. Walter Blanco, Jennifer T. Roperts, trans. Walter Blanco (New York, London: W.W.Norton & Company, 1992), 2.82 [fifth century B.C.].

[53] Sunday is the first day of the week according to the Jewish method of reckoning, but for Christians it began to take the place of the Jewish Sabbath in Apostolic times.

[54] In one hadith [Kanz: 15120] that we shall translate below, Prophet Muhammed clearly specified that Allah started the Creation on Sunday.

[55] See also Ibn Arab 's book al-Asf r ('the Journeys') in Ras il Ibn Arab (Beirut: Dar Ihy al-Turath al- Arabi, n.d.) pp. 12-15. This book was edited and translated into French by Denis Gril in 1994 under the title Le d voilement des effets du voyage Ibn Arab , France: Combas.

[56] See also the long passage translated in section II.12 where Ibn Arab defines the different timing periods including the solar month and year.

[57] The Babylonians originally used a combination solar-lunar calendar like the one Muslims use nowadays (i.e., the Hijr Calendar with varying 29/30-day months), though they made adjustments from time to time to make it fit with motion of the sun. Later (during the reign of the Chaldean king Nabonassar; 747-734 BC), the Babylonian astronomers switched to the 30-day, twelve-month calendar, again making adjustments for the actual 365-day year (Parise 1982: 5).

[58] For details about the concepts of sainthood (wal ya) and prophethood (nubuwwa) and the hierarchy of awliy , see: Chodkiewicz, M. (1993) The Seal of the Saints: Prophethood and Sainthood in the Doctrine of Ibn Arabi, Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society.

[59] Mud wi Al-Kul m is the name of the Single Pole that is the spirit of Prophet Muhammad even before creating mankind when Adam was still 'between water and soil', and to this spirit different manifestations in the world where the 'Pole of Time' is his perfect manifestation, but he is also manifested in the 'Solitary Ones (al-Afr d)' and in the 'Seal of Sainthood', both the Muhammadean Sainthood (who is Ibn Arab himself) and General Sainthood (who is Jesus) [I.151.26]. And he was called Mud wi Al-Kul m because he is so kind and polite with his friends; when he wants to draw the attention of one of them to a specific issue, he kindly hides that from others in guard for him just as Jacob asked Joseph to keep his vision secret and not to tell it to his brothers [I.153.19].

[60] The ambiguities in the translation here are quite intentional: God sees Himself reflected in (both mirrors of) creation and Adam; Adam sees himself/God in the mirror(s) of himself and creation; and finally God (as Spirit) sees what Adam sees. See chapter 1 of the Fus s al-Hikam for the full elaboration of the teaching summarized here in a single short Arabic phrase.

[61] See A. K sh n 's well-known 'Tafs r Ibn Arab ', published by many publishers, for example: (Beirut: Dar S dir, 2002), vol. I: 245, vol. II: 571.

[62] This English word here fits very well in this meaning for the Arabic word 'yusabbihu' (n. tasb h: magnification) and probably conveys the meaning here more clearly than the more abstract Arabic word; because at the end the process of creation, according to Ibn Arab 's view, is a 'multiplication' of the Oneness of Allah, and a 'magnification' (manifestation) of His 'absolute Unseen' dimension (al-ghayb al-mutlaq). This magnification started with the creation of Angels, and then proceeded with the creation of the jinn who were given extra privilege and duties, because they are commissioned servants, while the perfection (of the theomorphic Image) was only given fully to the (perfect) Human Being (ins n) who is the Khal fa (the 'vice-gerent' of Allah).

[63] This was mentioned in one long hadith which describes the sequence of creation according to week days [see: al-Mustadrak ala al-Sah hayn by Mohamed al-Nisab ri (Dar Al-Kutub Al- Ilmiyya: Beir t, n.d), vol. II: 593, #3996/7]. See also section VII.10.

[64] Ibn Arab indicates in many places that both the world and the Perfect Human Being work in the same way, which is why he calls the world the 'Great Human Being' (al-ins n al-kab r) and the Human Being the 'microcosm' (al- lam al-sagh r) [III.11.18]. See also: Al-Mu jam Al-S fi: 168-70, and SPK: pp. 4, 16, 30, 107, 136, 276, 282, 297, and also SDG: 6, 8, 28, 35, 37, 175, 189, 259, 264, 274, 288, 332, 339, 348, 360-3. See also section III.2 above for more analogies between the creation of the world and embryology.

[65] Mathematically we can divide the circle into 360 degrees, 400 grads, 2p radians or indeed to any number of units. Ibn Arab , however, affirms that the 360-degree system has a divine origin, which is the total number of prime divine forms of knowing ( ilm) that the Universal Intellect (the 'Higher Pen') was taught by the 'Greatest Element' (N n) [I.295.8, alluding to the standard cosmological interpretation of the Qur anic symbols at 68:1]. Also in Al-Tanazzul t Al-Layliyya f Al-Ahk m Al-Il hiyya, he mentioned on page 35 that the Intellect has 360 faces towards the divine Presence (Al-Hadra Al-Il hiyya).

[66] For the Arabs, whom Ibn Arab follows on this point, the nighttime of a particular day is that which precedes the daytime of that day, and not the night that follows that daytime. See Ayy m Al-Sha n: 4. See also section II.14.

[67] In Appendix A in their study of Ibn Arab 's book: Ayy m Al-Sha n, 'The Seven Days of the Heart' (p. 149), Pablo Beneito and Steven Hirtenstein translated ayy m al-takw r' as 'the cyclical days' and translated the Qur anic verb yukawwiru as '(He) wraps'. However, I prefer to use the term 'circulate' to emphasize the meaning that the daytimes and the night-times go around each other in a circle, and that they both (together) encircle the earth. This type of days (the circulated days) is also the normal, observable type of days that are 'circulated' amongst us, to differentiate them from the other two types that we shall see below.

[68] This is mentioned in: Tafs r Ibn Arab , vol. I: 245, and vol. II: 571. This book is attributed to Ibn Arab by its modern publisher, but most scholars agree that it was written by the later Iranian philosopher Al-Q sh n .

[69] The galactic equator is the intersection of the plane of the Milky Way with the celestial sphere.

[70] It is not very clear here what does he mean by 'the middle', and he also used the same expression in the same context right in his introduction to the Fut h t.

[71] See also 'The Seven Days of the Heart': 157-9, where Pablo Beneito and Steven Hirtenstein gave in the Appendix A and B a good study of Kitab Ayy m Al-Sha n. They found that the number of contribution for all of the seven Days from all the seven heavens should sum up to 24 which they interpreted as the 24 hours of the day. Therefore, because not all the data is found in the source, they had to deduce the missing slots based on this assumption.

[72] As of 1956, the length of a second has been freed from the vagaries of the earth's motion, and is now defined by the System International d'Unit s as equal to 'the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium-133 atom in zero magnetic field.' This means that the values for these conventional units of time are no longer tied to the motion of the earth, and instead are tied to innate measurable properties of matter. Thus the minute, hour, day, and even the average 'tropical' year are defined as exactly 60; 3600; 86,400; and 31,556,925.9747 seconds respectively.

[73] In mathematics: 10-x denotes 1/10x. For example10-3 is 1/103 or 1/1000, or one thousandth. As we have seen in section I.9, there are some speculations that the shortest possible time is in fact 10-43 seconds, which is called the Planck's time. The quarrel is still going on, and the issue of the quantisation of time is not yet finally settled.

[74] It is believed that Ibn Arab entered the spiritual path well before the age of 20. He mentioned in the Fut h t [II.425.13] that he entered 'this path' in the year 580AH (1184AD), and he was born in 560AH (1165AD) (Austin 1971: 23). Other scholars argue that this was in 1182AD or even earlier (Hirtenstein 1999: 51-60).

[75] It can be argued that the words "No" or "not Yes" do not have a stand-alone significance, especially when we talk about existence. They only indicate the complementary of "Yes", because "No" in this sense means "non-existence" which is nothing; it is only the absence or negation of existence. This also has its pararells in digital electronics where the signal has two states; either there is a signal or not, which is translated as Yes and No or 1 and 0 respectively. But because the "0" is 'nothing', we are left with only the "1"; this "1" either exists or not.

[76] In his short book Ma la Yu awwal Alayhi ('What can not be relied upon') (in Ras il Ibn Arab ; vol. I, Treatise 16: 2) and in his famous chapter 63 of the Fut h t, Ibn Arab repeatedly affirms that true visions ('visionary unveiling', kashf suwar ) are always correct, while mistakes actually may come from the individual's false interpretation, not from the vision itself. There are, however three kinds of spiritual visions: the 'good vision' is from Allah; 'psychological reflections' from the soul; and 'nightmares' from Shaytan. See also chapter 188 of the Fut h t, as well as our study of the Sura of Joseph: Yousef, Sul k Al-Qalb: 227-32.

[77] Right at the first page of the Introduction to the Fut h t, Ibn Arab divides knowledge into three categories: 1- Logical (ratiocinative) knowledge ( ilm al- aql); 2- the knowledge of inner experiential states ( ilm al-ahw l); and 3- the '(inspired) knowledge of (spiritual) secrets' ( ilm al- asr r). The knowledge of states is only obtained through direct experiential 'taste' (dhawq), while the knowledge of secrets is generally beyond the grasp of the intellect, though some of it becomes logical after being explained, but the intellect alone could not attain it [I.31.9].

[78] Ibn Arab quotes this expression and comments on it very often in his books, and he ascribes it to al-hak m ('the philosopher-sage') [II.458.20]. Though it is not very clear who he exactly means by al-hak m, it is possible that he refers to Plotinus, who was known in several Arabic translations of his writings as 'the Greek sage' (al-hak m al-yun n ). Based on Davidson (H.A. Davidson, Alfarabi, Avicenna and Averroes: Their Cosmology, Theories of the Active Intellect, and Theories of the Human Intellect. New York, Oxford University Press, 1992.), William Chittick asserts that this maxim was apparently first used by Avicenna (SDG: 17). This maxim is certainly the basis of Avicenna's cosmological schema of emanationism (fayd) [see: EP, 'Emanationism', I: 473-4, and also The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 1995, ed. Robert Audi,): 258, 604-6, 714.], and it was possibly used by early Christians as the basis of the concept of the holy Trinity. Ibn Arab generally disagrees with this proposition especially when speaking about Allah as the One Who created the manyness of the world.

[79] Ibn Arab uses two distinct term with regards to the existence of creatures with relation to God; 'withness' (ma aiyya) and 'at-ness' ( idiyya). The first refers to the presence of God with all things after they are created (57:4, 58:7), while the first indicates all things were ('determined') with God even before they come into real existence. See also: SDG: 35, 37, 45, 88, 137, 170, 171, 179, 180, 297, SPK: 72, 76, 125, 181, 183, 216, 249, 302, 313, 327, 364-6, 380.

[80] Ibn Arab often elaborates on the lofty rank of the 'people of God' (ahl All h) who are the 'true knowers' (al-muhaqqiq n), also sometimes referred to as the 'the people of Qur an' alluding to a famous hadith [Kanz: 2277, 2278, 2279, 2342, 4038, etc] which Ibn Arab often quotes paraphrases: [II.299.18, I.352.27, I.372.14, I.510.12, III.103.34, III.121.35].

[81] In the original printed text (followed in the standard later Cairo and Beirut reprintings used here), this rare long comment is described as 'a note by S d Abd al-Q dir [al-Jaz ir ], transcribed from his own handwriting'.

[82] For details about the differences between the divine Names al-W hid and al-Ahad, see al-Mas il: 139. And also see Ibn Arab 's descriptions of these Attributes and all other divine Attributes in the long chapter 558 [IV 196-326; see in particular: IV 293-4]. Ibn Arab also wrote a dedicated book called: Kit b al-Ahadiyya, see the Bibliography at the end of this book. See also: SDK: 25, 36, 58, 90, 235, 237, 244-5, 278, 349, 364.

[83] See also: Tawajjuh t al-Hur f (Cairo: Maktabat al-Q hira, n.d.): 17. This small book includes also the prayer al-Dawr al- Al or Hizb al-Wiq yah li man Arada al-Wal ya and a few other short treatises, including al-Salaw t al-Faydiyya.

[84] See also the Fut h t: [I.109.3, I.125.28, I.216.13, I.228.13, I.263.19, I.313.29, I.643.33, III.74.2, III.398.15, etc].

[85] This famous saying (al- ajz an dark al-idr ki idr k) is often quoted by Sufi authors in support of what we have just explained, especially by Ibn Arab : [I.51.7, I.92.1, I.95.2, I.126.14, I.271.6, I.290.2, II.170.8, II.619.35, II.641.12, III.132.35, III.371.21, III.555.17, IV.43.5, IV.283.16], and it is usually attributed to Ab Bakr al-Sidd q.

[86] In his book Al-Mas il ('The Issues'), which contains over 230 philosophical issues, Ibn Arab showed that the divine Names and Attributes are the first multiplicity that occurred in the Existence. See issue (Mas ala): #94 in this book.

[87] Ibn Arab 's profound view of creation is essentially based on the concept of 'the Breath of the All-Merciful'; he explains the world and everything in it through this concept. He mentioned and explained it in the Fut h t and other books more often than anything else: See in the Fut h t: [I.97.22, I.152.13, I.168.15, I.185.16, I.263-270, I.272-274, II.172.5, II.181.12, II.293.30, II.310.21, II.390.18] and throughout the long Chapter 198 [II.390-478], as well as [III.269.22, III.279.18, III.429.34, III.443.12, III.459.21, III.465.27, III.505.9, III.524.25, IV.65.32, IV.200.11, IV.211.27, IV.256.24, IV.330.22], to mention some examples. We shall see below (section VII.8) that this concept of the Breath of the All-Merciful is indeed the theological and cosmological equivalent of the modern physics theory of Superstrings introduced in the 1980's.

[88] This book (OY# 515; listed in Ibn Arab 's own lists of his writings) is called al-Muthallath t al-W rida f al-Qur n al-Kar m.

[89] See for example: Lyman Abbott, A Dictionary of Religious Knowledge, 1875: 944. See also: Hopkins, E. Washburn, Origin and Evolution of Religions (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1930), [chapter XX: The Christian Trinity, chapter XVII: The Triad, chapter XVIII: The Hindu Trinity, chapter XIX: The Buddhistic Trinity].

[90] In Arabic grammatical language, any group of two is called muthanna (dual), while the term 'plural' is reserved for groups of at least three members.

[91] Ibn Arab often makes such symbolic analogies (mudah t) between the internal (psychological) and external (cosmological) realities. Thus he calls the cosmos as the 'Great Human Being' (al-Ins n al-Kab r) and the human being the 'micro-cosmos (al- lam al-Sagh r) [II.150.26, III.11.17]. He also says that this knowledge that the world is a Great Human Being and that the human being is its 'Summary' form was given by Idr s (Mud wi al-Kul m) [I.153.21]. See also Ibn Arab 's al-Tadb r t al-Il hiyya, where he explains these symbolic analogies at length. In another highly symbolic early book, the Anq Mughrib, he makes similar analogies between Human Being and the divine Names. For a full translation and critical study, see Elmore, G. (2000) Islamic Sainthood in the Fulness of Time: Ibn al-Ibn Arab 's "Book of the Fabulous Gryphon", Leiden: Brill.

[92] It is most likely that this term was first used by Ibn Taymiyya himself, although he criticized Ibn Arab for that. See: Madhk r, I. B. (1969) 'Wahdat al-Wuj d bayna Ibn Arab wa Spinoza', in: Al-Kit b al-Tadhk r , Muhyi ed-D n Ibn Arab ('The Commemorative Book of Muhyi ed-D n Ibn Arab '), Ed. Ibrahim Bayy m Madhk r, The General Egyptian Book Organization: Cairo: 365-80 [370]. See also: Al-Mu jam Al-S fi: 1145-55, and: SDK: 79.

[93] Ibn Arab alludes here, among other things, to the Qur anic accounts of the inbreathing of the Spirit into Adam: 'So, when I have made him and breathed into him of My Spirit ' (15:29, 38:72).

[94] This is also evident in physics, where it is known that the difference between colours is due to the shorter or longer wavelength of the electromagnetic waves that constitute light. The red colour has a specific wavelength, and the blue colour for example has another distinctive (range of) wavelength(s). Although we call it a colour, there is no wavelength for a colour that is called 'black' or 'dark': it is simply the absence of any light-waves.

[95] For more details about this subject, see: Ormsby, E. (1984) Theodicy in Islamic Thought: The Dispute over al‑Ghaz l 's "Best of All Possible Worlds", Princeton: Princeton University Press.

[96] See Ibn Arab 's discussions of this conception in the Fut h t: [II.168.23, II.343.28, II.379.9, II.444.16, II.501.4, III.343.23, III.471.13].

[97] See Ibn Arab 's discussions in the Fut h t: [I.42.21, I.204.12, I.284.32, I.680.7, III.275.32, IV.46.6, IV.129.31, IV.228.12, IV.236.15].

[98] See: The Wisdom of the Prophets (Fus s al-Hikam), translated from Arabic into French with notes by Titus Burckhardt; translated from French into English by Angela Culme-Seymour (TAJ company: New Delhi, revised edition 1984): 32.

[99] See for example in the Fut h t: [I.79.5, I.461.25, I.735.17, II.356.26, II.372.23, II.451.33, II.471.32, II.554.18, III.105.27, III.199.11, III.288.16, III.362.16, IV.9.9, IV.320.5, IV.343.16, IV.367.18, IV.379.1, IV.397.22, IV.418.20].

[100] The 'one' at the end of the sentence refers to the Single Monad (al-jawhar al-fard), and not likely to the divine Name al-Ahad ('The One/Unique'), because this Name is never manifested on the level of multiplicity where knowledge normally is actualized. Ibn Arab always shows that multiplicity is ultimately related to the Name al-W hid (the Alone, the Only One) and not to al-Ahad, because with al-Ahad no other entity may exist in order to know Him.

[101] See EP, 'Monad and Monadology', vol.5: 361-3.

[102] See: Shajarat al-Kawn (Dar al-Mahabba: Damascus, 2003), ed. Abd al-Rah m Mardin : 39.

[103] This important note can be used to give more details and extensions about the 'the Single Monad Model of the Cosmos' that we discuss in this Chapter. Ibn Arab is describing the three main jobs or motions of the Intellect in creating the world including himself and also his acceptance of knowledge from his Lord.

[104] In Arabic grammar when two consonant characters meet, one of them is omitted, usually the vowel. In this case the imperative of (yar hu) is (r h) so because both the w w and the h are consonants, the w w that is a vowel is omitted and the result is: (ruh).

[105] Ibn Arab quotes this name after Abu al-Hak m Bin Barraj n (d. AH 536 / AD 1141) in Al-Tadb r t Al-Il hiyya: 90.

[106] See: Hawking, S. (1994) Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, UK, USA, Canada: Bantam Publishing: Bantam.

[107] Here Ibn Arab is using the term al-jawhar al-fard in its original sense in the physics of kalam, to refer to the 'atom' or the simplest physical substance, whose compounds form natural bodies (jism). This is the opposite extreme from the all-encompassing creative Single Monad.

[108] It has to be noticed, however, that for Ibn Arab , this 'al-haqq al-makhl q bihi' is not other than the Real, Allah, but he is also not Allah; he is the most perfect manifestation of Allah. See also Chapter V above (especially section V.3). See: Uqlat al-Mustawfiz: 59. See also: Al-Mu jam Al-S fi: 828.

[109] See also Chittick, SDK: 134 [The Universal Reality]. In other related hadith some other realities are said to be the 'first-created' such as the Intellect [Kanz: 7057], the Pen [Kanz: 597, 15116], or 'the Muhammadan Light', etc. There is no contradiction in these hadith because those are just different names of the same reality as we shall discussed in section 3 above.

[110] See chapter 73 of the Fut h t [II.2-39] where Ibn Arab explains and lists the different groups of saints, and especially the extensive summary and analysis of that long chapter and related materials found in 'The Seal of the Saints: Prophethood and Sainthood in the Doctrine of Ibn Arabi' by M. Chodkiewicz (Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society, 1993).

[111] As we have seen in section V.3, Ibn Arab argues that number one is the primordial basis of all other numbers, just as alif is the foundation of all the letters. See also [II.122.19, and al-Mas il: 109].

[112] This divine Name is usually taken in the meaning of 'the Most-Kind', which is a possible meaning in relation to His Creation: 'He is the Most-Kind with His servants' (42:19). Ibn Arab here, however, emphasizes the general meaning of lat fa which means fineness.

[113] Ins n: i.e., here and throughout this book, the immortal spiritual reality and dimension of people which is the reflection of the cosmic First Intellect, or 'Perfect Human Being'; and not their passing material, mortal-animal 'nature' (bashar).

[114] Ibn Arab spends a good deal of the first chapter of the Fut h t trying to explain this mysterious point regarding the subjective experience and the actual reality of fan . He explains that, in making the circle, the compass returns to the starting point [I.48.33], until he concludes: 'if they (the seekers of the Real) knew (the goal of their search) they would not have moved from their place' [I.49.1], and 'so he (the seeker) would be sad on arriving at what he has (earlier) left behind but he would be happy for the secrets that he gained on the way!' [I.49.14]

[115] See also Yousef, M. H. (2006) Shams Al-Magrib ('Biography of Ibn 'Arab ') Aleppo: Fussilat: 422.

[116] See: Al-Salaw t Al-Faydiyya, published together with some other short treatises and prayers, for example in: Tawajjuh t Al-Hur f (Maktabat al-Q hira: Cairo, n.d.).

[117] I.e., as my ultimate identity which is as the Perfect Human Being, not as You (the transcendent Real), because this is impossible as we said above. This is the state of spiritual 'abolishment' (mahw) of the ego, like the momentary disappearance of the shadow at noontime, as we have seen above.

[118] The pronoun here (translated as 'its') is usually interpreted by many scholars so that it refers to Allah. Ibn Arab , however, affirms that it indeed refers to the thing in 'everything' [II.110.25, II.313.16, III.255.22]. However, both cases are plausible [IV 417.18], if we take into account what we have mentioned in Chapter V that the things are not other than Him, and that the 'face' of a thing is its essential reality [as Ibn Arab argues at I.181.19, I.306.12, I.433.36, II.182.17, II.632.34, IV.417.18]. So the things are in reality are not other than Allah, but the forms that we see are all perishable, and at the end there remains only His Face in everything. So this verse is indeed another clear expression of the oneness of being.

[119] See: Tawajjuh t al-Hur f, ob. cit.: 26.

[120] Like the English pun, Ibn Arab frequently plays with the fact that the same Arabic word ( ayn) refers at once to the observing 'eye', the concrete individual entity (of the observer), and to their ultimate Source. See also: Kitab al-Azal: 9.

[121] Al-sirr literally means 'the secret', but Sufis use it to refer to the innermost spiritual core of the heart (qalb), the 'heart of the heart'. It was said that the sirr also has a sirr, and so on down to seven levels. For Ibn Arab , the Spirit (r h) is the third level after the heart and the sirr, but also the Spirit has its 'secret' dimension, and this sirr also has a sirr which is called sirr al-sirr ('the secret of the secret') [I.117.8]. Ultimately it is this final Sirr that is directly connected with the Real (the wajh al-kh ss discussed in several passages in Chapter V and Chapter VI above).

[122] In 1999 Ahmed Zewail got Nobel Prize 'for showing that it is possible with rapid laser technique to see how atoms in a molecule move during a chemical reaction' (see: Press Release, The 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Kungl. Vetenskapsakademien, The Royal Swdish Academy of Sciences, 12 October 1999). This discovery is known as femtochemistry, where molecules are watched over a very short time scale with Femto-second resolution. The Femto-second resolution (1 fs = 10-15 s) is the ultimate achievement to date for studies of the dynamics of the chemical bond at the atomic level. On this time scale, matter wave packets (particle-type) can be created and their coherent evolution as a single-molecule trajectory can be observed (Zewail 1990: 40-46).

[123] The flickering is the variation (and discontinuity) in light intensity which is normally seen on some computer monitors. As we have all observed in watching monitor screens shown on television emissions, that flickering becomes more apparent when we video-record what appears on the screen. That effect happens because of the difference in the frequency (refresh rate) of the filmed monitor and that of the observing video camera. If the refresh rate of the camera is much higher than that of the monitor, then at some times the camera will record blank screens that we normally do not see with our naked eye. This concept can be used to measure high frequency motions. This is the same phenomena that causes us to see fast-moving wheel spokes or a propeller appear to be moving backward (or forward) in slower motion, or even motionless, when it is in fact moving at a very high speed. The illusion happens because of the human eye's limit for the tracking and retention of images, which is usually about 1/15 of a second.

[124] See for example: Dana's New Mineralogy, by Richard V. Gaines, H. Catherine Skinner, Eugene E. Foord, Brian Mason, and Abraham Rosenzweig, with sections by Vandall T. King (John Wiley & Sons, 1997).

[125] Ibn Arab asserts that this person was Asif bin Barkhya who is known as al-Khadir. Al-Khadir literally means 'The Green One', a legendary figure endowed with immortal life. He represents freshness of spirit and eternal liveliness. The stories surrounding al-Khidr are usually associated with S rat al-Kahf in Qur an [18:60 82], where Allah described the journey of Moses and his servant to the 'meeting of the two seas' to meet al-Khadir and learn from him. Ibn Arab himself mentioned that he had met him several times [I.186], and he considers him a divine Messenger and one of four 'Pillars' in the spiritual hierarchy [II.5.31].

[126] See: Fus s al-Hikam, with commentary by Abd al-Razz q al-Q sh n and B l Effend (Al-Maktaba al-Azhariyya li-l-Tur th: Cairo, 1997): 321-324.

[127] The black body problem was raised by the observation that certain materials (especially black bodies) can absorb all frequencies or wavelengths of light. So when heated it should then radiate all frequencies of light equally at least theoretically. But the distribution of energy radiated in real life experiments never matched up with the predictions of classical physics.

[128] The spin is the motion of the particle around its axis just like the daily motion of the earth.

[129] For more details about the hierarchy of letters according to Ibn Arab , see the related English translations by Denis Gril (2004) in The Meccan Revelations, vol. II, NY: Pir Press: 107-220.

[130] Wim van den Dungen, 'On Being and the Majesty of the Worlds', Reg. N 51, in SofiaTopiaNet; Sophia Society for philosophy, [www.sofiatopia.org/equiaeon/being.htm#dim].

[131] For Ibn Arab 's various comments on this verse in the Fut h t [I.156.15, I.238.13, I.279.16, II.16.32, II.150.34, II.209.9, II.225.6, II.296.6, II.298.33, II.556.32, III.275.33, III.315.6, III.344.30, IV.28.28, IV.93.3].

[132] Ibn Arab explained before this text that angels correspond cosmologically to eighteen characters of the alphabet, which are produced as a result of the meeting between the nine divine donating (ilq ) orbs and the nine human accepting (talaqq ) orbs, [I.54.12].



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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]
quote