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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 'Taken-out' Days:


Allah said in the Holy Qur an: A token unto them is the night-time: We take the daytime out of it, and lo, they are in darkness (36:37). Ibn Arabi points out that this seems to indicate that night is the origin, and that daytime was somehow 'hidden' in it and then was taken out of it [Ayyam Al-Sha n: 9, II.647.20]. In other words, as Ibn Arabi explains [I.716.15], the night is like a dress or a skin over the daytime, and then Allah takes the daytime out of the night so that the world which was in the absolute darkness of the divine 'Unseen' (al-ghayb) is created (i.e., so that it appears in the light of actual existence).

Ibn Arabi, however, argues that Allah did not specify in this verse which daytime was taken out of which night, and so this has to be clarified. For it is not, as we might think, that each daytime (that we witness) was taken out of its own night. We have to seek the true relation between each daytime and its night, and this relation, Ibn Arabi says [II.445.32, III.203.30], is based on the first hour of the daytime and the night-time, because each hour of the daytime and the night-time has a ruler; one of the five planets, the sun, or the moon (corresponding to one of the seven principial divine Attributes: see section III.4); so each day is named after the planet that rules the first hour of it. For example: the first hour of Sunday is ruled by the sun, and that is why it is so named (in English and many other languages); likewise Monday is the day of the moon, and so on. In Arabic, however, the names of the days of the week do not have direct relations with the names of the planets that rule these days, but this connection still forms a basic principle in Ibn Arabi's view of time.

But before we discuss this further and assign each night to its actual daytime, we should understand the exact meaning of 'taking out' the daytime from the night, or the night from the daytime. Ibn Arabi regards the different daytimes and night-times as 'parents' to what Allah creates in them: so everything that happens in the daytime is like a 'son' whose father is the night and whose mother is the daytime; and everything that happens in the night is like a son whose father is the daytime and whose mother is the night [Ayyam Al-Sha n: 7; II.445.18]. As Allah said in Holy Qur an: He merges (yuliju) the night into the daytime, and He merges the daytime into the night (57:6). So there is a kind of abstract, generative 'marriage' between daytimes and nights, but where nights and daytimes exchange their parental roles from being fathers to being mothers, and vice versa. That is why they are 'intertwined', as we shall see further below. Now Ibn Arabi explains that when the daytime turns from being father into being mother or vice versa, this is what is meant by the Qur anic reference to its respective 'stripping-out' or 'taking-out' (salkh). So when we say that this daytime (nahar) is taken out of that night-time (layl), it means that this daytime and night exchange their generative 'parental' roles, although together they are always like a couple, i.e. a single 'day' (yawm).

Ibn Arabi adds that Allah did not explicitly mention that night is also taken out of the daytime, since it is readily understood from the same Qur anic verse [Ayyam Al-Sha n: 8; I.141.6, I.716.11]. On the other hand, Ibn Arabi indicates that the first hour of the daytime and that of its own night (that was taken out of it) should be ruled by the same planet [Ayyam Al-Sha n: 10]. For in order to consider the daytime and the night-time as one unitary day, they have to be ruled by the same (cosmological, planetary) 'ruler'. This applies only to the first hour of the daytime and the night, because each of the other hours (of the observable, earthly days) are coming from other cosmic 'Days' as a result of their overall 'intertwining':

Now when these planets moved in their orbs, Allah made for each planet a (specific) Day among the Days of the zodiac-orb motion. So He defined for each Day (yawm) a daytime (nahar) and a night-time (layl), and He distinguished between each night and its daytime by the rule of the (particular) planet for that Day in which the daytime and night appeared. So when you look to which planet the first hour of the daytime belongs, then this planet is the ruler of that daytime. And when you look in the nights for the night whose first hour belongs to this same planet which ruled the first hour of the daytime, then this night belongs to this daytime.

[III.203.26]

Now that we've understood the meaning of the 'taken-out' days, let us see which daytime was taken out of which night. As we pointed out above, Ibn Arabi argues that there are three other daytimes and three other nights between the daytime and the night from which it was taken out. That is because as he explains the structure of the world is six-directional: three nights corresponding to the directions down, left and back; and three daytimes corresponding to up, right and front [Ayyam Al-Sha n: 7]. Table IV.1 shows the resulting daytimes of the week and the nights from which those respective daytimes were taken out.



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The time of anything is its presence; but I am not in time, and You are not in time; so I am Your time, and You are my time!
Ibn al-Arabi [The Meccan Revelations: III.546.16 - tans. Mohamed Haj Yousef]
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