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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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3. The Week as the Primary Time Cycle:


While Ibn Arabi considers the Week (of Creation) to be the primary time cycle, only the week among these four cycles does not seem to have any apparent astronomical significance. We can only say that the week is one quarter of the divine lunar month (28 = 4 7). From the observed astronomical point of view, the day should be the primary time cycle, because it is the smallest standard period of time as far as the solar system and the earth are concerned, and all other three cycles (as defined by Ibn Arabi) are integer multiples of the day, while the year is not an integer multiple of the week. However, we shall see that Ibn Arabi does not consider the day to be the primary cycle because the Days of the divine Week are not similar to each other, as they might appear to us. Since each Day of the Week is based on one of the seven fundamental divine Attributes of Allah, so these Days are not identical because those seven divine Attributes are not identical. Therefore the Week, rather than the day, is the primary cycle of divine time, and each day of the seven Days of that Week is ruled by one of the seven fundamental divine Attributes.

However, in keeping with Ibn Arabi's essential understanding of the 'ever-new creation', this does not mean that any particular day of this week is identical to that of another week. They are only 'similar' to each other because they are originated from the same divine Attribute. Ibn Arabi says:

Nothing is actually repeated, because of divine vastness (ittisa ); so (everything) is in ever-new, not renewed, existence. Thus if we call the new (thing) 'renewed', that is because it is extremely similar (but not identical) to its counterpart, so that they can not be distinguished from each other. and the daytime and night are called 'the two-new' (al-jadidan), and not 'the two-renewed' (al-mutajaddidan), because Saturday is not Sunday and it is not Saturday from the other week, or from another month or from another year.

[III.127.23]

This is clearly evident in modern astronomy, because whatever periodical motions we see locally in our solar system are actually part of a more global motion that, in the end, never repeats itself in the same way, because everything is moving (see sections I.1 and I.4). In fact, Ibn Arabi always stresses that there can not be any two identical forms in the world, and that this is because: 'Allah never manifests in the same form twice, nor in the same form to any two persons' [III.127.33].

Therefore Ibn Arabi maintains that 'although there are many days, the real order of events reduces them into seven days' [Ayyam Al-Sha n: 6], which are the seven days of the week; and then these days iterate in months and years. And as we showed, this is due to the fact that '(the main) divine Attributes are seven, not more, which made the Age not more than seven (distinctive) Days' [II.437.30].

However, the observed, earthly week and its days that we witness and live through does not seem to be distinctive in any natural way; as noted earlier, it appears to be purely conventional. The reason for that is the 'intertwining' between the underlying divine seven 'Days' of creation and the days that we live. This intertwining of the two kinds of days is a complicated concept that Ibn Arabi explained partially in his short book Ayyam Al-Sha n, and in a few passages in the Futuhat. We shall devote Chapter IV to explaining the real flow of time as viewed by Ibn Arabi, by defining three different types of days: the normal days, and the 'taken-out' days and the 'intertwined' days.



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