|Born||28 July 1165|
|Died||16 November 1240 (aged 75)|
|Region||Middle Eastern philosophy|
|School||Founder of Akbariyya|
|Patronymic (Nasab)||ibn ?Al? ibn Mu?ammad ibn ?Arab?|
|Teknonymic (Kunya)||Ab? ?Abd All?h|
|Epithet (Laqab)||Ibn ?Arab?|
|Toponymic (Nisba)||al-tim? a?-?|
Ibn ?Arab? (Arabic: ?, ALA-LC: Ibn ʻArab?; full name: ? ? ?, Ab? ʻAbd All?h Mu?ammad ibn ʻAl? ibn Mu?ammad ibn al-ʻArab? al-tim? al-ʼ? al-Andalus? al-Murs? al-Dimashq?; 1165-1240), nicknamed al-Qushayr? (?, al-Qushayr?) and Suln al-rif?n ( , Suln al-ʻ?rif?n, 'Sultan of the Knowers'), was an Arab Andalusian Muslim scholar, mystic, poet, and philosopher, extremely influential within Islamic thought. Out of the 850 works attributed to him, some 700 are authentic while over 400 are still extant. His cosmological teachings became the dominant worldview in many parts of the Muslim world.
He is renowned among practitioners of Sufism by the honorific titles ash-Shaykh al-Akbar ( al-Shaykh al-Akbar, 'the Greatest Shaykh'; from here the Akbariyya or "Akbarian" school derives its name) and Mu?y? ad-D?n (? Mu?y? al-D?n, 'Renewer of the Faith') Ibn ?Arab?,[a] and was considered a saint. In medieval Europe, he was known as Doctor Maximus ('Greatest Teacher').
'Ab? 'Abdull?h Mu?ammad ibn 'Al? ibn Mu?ammad ibn `Arab? al-tim? a?-? ( ? ? ? ? ) was a Sufi mystic, poet, and Arab philosopher from the Tayy tribe born in Murcia, Al-Andalus on the 17th of Raman 560 AH (28 July 1165 AD).
Ibn Arabi was Sunni, although his writings on the Twelve Imams were also popularly received among Shia. It is debated whether or not he ascribed to the Zahiri madhab which was later merged with the Hanbali school.
After his death, Ibn Arabi's teachings quickly spread throughout the Islamic world. His writings were not limited to the Muslim elites, but made their way into other ranks of society through the widespread reach of the Sufi orders. Arabi's work also popularly spread through works in Persian, Turkish, and Urdu. Many popular poets were trained in the Sufi orders and were inspired by Arabi's concepts.
Others scholars in his time like al-Munawi, Ibn 'Imad al-Hanbali and al-Fayruzabadi all praised Ibn Arabi as ''A righteous friend of Allah and faithful scholar of knowledge'', ''the absolute mujtahid without doubt'' and ''the imam of the people of shari'a both in knowledge and in legacy, the educator of the people of the way in practice and in knowledge, and the shaykh of the shaykhs of the people of truth though spiritual experience (dhawq) and understanding''.
Ibn Arabi's paternal ancestry was from the South Arabian tribe of Tayy, and his maternal ancestry was North African Berber. Al-Arabi writes of a deceased maternal uncle, Yahya ibn Yughan al-Sanhaji, a prince of Tlemcen, who abandoned wealth for an ascetic life after encountering a Sufi mystic. His father, 'Ali ibn Mu?ammad, served in the Army of Ab? ?Abd All?h Mu?ammad ibn Sa?d ibn Mardan?sh, the ruler of Murcia. When Ibn Mardan died in 1172 AD, his father shifted allegiance to the Almohad Sultan, Ab? Ya'q?b Y?suf I, and returned to government service. His family then relocated from Murcia to Seville. Ibn Arabi grew up at the ruling court and received military training.
Ibn Arabi writes that as a child he preferred playing with his friends to spending time on religious education. He had his first vision of God in his teens and later wrote of the experience as "the differentiation of the universal reality comprised by that look". Later he had several more visions of Jesus and called him his "first guide to the path of God". His father, on noticing a change in him, had mentioned this to philosopher and judge, Ibn Rushd (Averroes), who asked to meet Ibn Arabi. Ibn Arabi said that from this first meeting, he had learned to perceive a distinction between formal knowledge of rational thought and the unveiling insights into the nature of things. He then adopted Sufism and dedicated his life to the spiritual path. When he later moved to Fez, in Morocco, where Mohammed ibn Qasim al-Tamimi became his spiritual mentor. In 1200 he took leave from one of his most important teachers, Shaykh Abu Ya'qub Yusuf ibn Yakhlaf al-Kumi, then living in the town of Salé.
Ibn Arabi left Andalusia for the first time at age 36 and arrived at Tunis in 1193. After a year in Tunisia, he returned to Andalusia in 1194. His father died soon after Ibn Arabi arrived at Seville. When his mother died some months later he left Andalusia for the second time and travelled with his two sisters to Fez, Morocco in 1195. He returned to Córdoba, Andalusia in 1198, and left Andalusia crossing from Gibraltar for the last time in 1200. While there, he received a vision instructing him to journey east. After visiting some places in the Maghreb, he left Tunisia in 1201 and arrived for the Hajj in 1202. He lived in Mecca for three years, and there began writing his work Al-Futt al-Makkiyya ( ) – 'The Meccan Illuminations'. Al-Futt al-Makkiyya has been translated by Dr. Eric Winkel 
In 1204, Ibn Arabi met Shaykh Majdudd?n Isq ibn Y?suf ( ?), a native of Malatya and a man of great standing at the Seljuk court. This time Ibn Arabi was travelling north; first they visited Medina and in 1205 they entered Baghdad. This visit offered him a chance to meet the direct disciples of Shaykh 'Abd al-Q?dir J?l?n?. Ibn Arabi stayed there only for 12 days because he wanted to visit Mosul to see his friend 'Al? ibn 'Abdall?h ibn J?mi', a disciple of the mystic Qab al-B?n (471-573 AH/1079-1177 AD; ? ). There he spent the month of Rama?an and composed Tanazzul?t al-Maw?iliyya ( ), Kit?b al-Jal?l wa'l-Jam?l (? ?, "The Book of Majesty and Beauty") and Kunh m? l? Budda lil-Mur?dMinhu.
Later in 1207 he returned to Mecca where he continued to study and write, spending his time with his friend Ab? Shuj? bin Rustem and family, including Nim.
The next four to five years of Ibn Arabi's life were spent in these lands and he also kept travelling and holding the reading sessions of his works in his own presence.
On 22 Rab?' al-Th?n? 638 AH (8 November 1240) at the age of seventy-five, Ibn Arabi died in Damascus.
Although Ibn Arabi stated on more than one occasion that he did not blindly follow any one of the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, he was responsible for copying and preserving books of the Zahirite or literalist school, to which there is fierce debate whether or not Ibn Arabi followed that school. Ignaz Goldziher held that Ibn Arabi did in fact belong to the Zahirite or Hanbali school of Islamic jurisprudence. Hamza Dudgeon claims that Addas, Chodkiewizc, Gril, Winkel and Al-Gorab mistakenly attribute to Ibn ?Arab? non-madhhabism.
On an extant manuscript of Ibn ?azm, as transmitted by Ibn ?Arab?, Ibn ?Arab? gives an introduction to the work where he describes a vision he had:
"I saw myself in the village of Sharaf near Siville; there I saw a plain on which rose an elevation. On this elevation the Prophet stood, and a man whom I did not know, approached him; they embraced each other so violently that they seemed to interpenetrate and become one person. Great brightness concealed them from the eyes of the people. 'I would like to know,' I thought, 'who is this strange man.' Then I heard some one say: 'This is the traditionalist ?Al? Ibn ?azm.' I had never heard Ibn ?azm's name before. One of my shaykhs, whom I questioned, informed me that this man is an authority in the field of science of Hadeeth."-- Goldziher, The hir?s: Their Doctrine and Their History (1971)
Goldziher says, "The period between the sixth (hijri) and the seventh century seems also to have been the prime of the hirite school in Andalusia."
Ibn Arabi did delve into specific details at times, and was known for his view that religiously binding consensus could only serve as a source of sacred law if it was the consensus of the first generation of Muslims who had witnessed revelation directly.
The doctrine of perfect man (Al-Ins?n al-K?mil) is popularly considered an honorific title attributed to Muhammad having its origins in Islamic mysticism, although the concept's origin is controversial and disputed. Arabi may have first coined this term in referring to Adam as found in his work Fusus al-hikam, explained as an individual who binds himself with the Divine and creation.
Taking an idea already common within Sufi culture, Ibn Arabi applied deep analysis and reflection on the concept of a perfect human and one's pursuit in fulfilling this goal. In developing his explanation of the perfect being, Ibn Arabi first discusses the issue of oneness through the metaphor of the mirror.
In this philosophical metaphor, Ibn Arabi compares an object being reflected in countless mirrors to the relationship between God and his creatures. God's essence is seen in the existent human being, as God is the object and human beings the mirrors. Meaning two things; that since humans are mere reflections of God there can be no distinction or separation between the two and, without God the creatures would be non-existent. When an individual understands that there is no separation between human and God they begin on the path of ultimate oneness. The one who decides to walk in this oneness pursues the true reality and responds to God's longing to be known. The search within for this reality of oneness causes one to be reunited with God, as well as, improve self-consciousness.
The perfect human, through this developed self-consciousness and self-realization, prompts divine self-manifestation. This causes the perfect human to be of both divine and earthly origin. Ibn Arabi metaphorically calls him an Isthmus. Being an Isthmus between heaven and Earth, the perfect human fulfills God's desire to be known. God's presence can be realized through him by others. Ibn Arabi expressed that through self manifestation one acquires divine knowledge, which he called the primordial spirit of Muhammad and all its perfection. Ibn Arabi details that the perfect human is of the cosmos to the divine and conveys the divine spirit to the cosmos.
Ibn Arabi further explained the perfect man concept using at least twenty-two different descriptions and various aspects when considering the Logos. He contemplated the Logos, or "Universal Man", as a mediation between the individual human and the divine essence.
Ibn Arabi believed Muhammad to be the primary perfect man who exemplifies the morality of God. Ibn Arabi regarded the first entity brought into existence was the reality or essence of Muhammad (al-?aq?qa al-Muhammadiyya), master of all creatures, and a primary role-model for human beings to emulate. Ibn Arabi believed that God's attributes and names are manifested in this world, with the most complete and perfect display of these divine attributes and names seen in Muhammad. Ibn Arabi believed that one may see God in the mirror of Muhammad. He maintained that Muhammad was the best proof of God and, by knowing Muhammad, one knows God.
Ibn Arabi also described Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and all other prophets and various Anbiya' Allah (Muslim messengers) as perfect men, but never tires of attributing lordship, inspirational source, and highest rank to Muhammad. Ibn Arabi compares his own status as a perfect man as being but a single dimension to the comprehensive nature of Muhammad. Ibn 'Arabi makes extraordinary assertions regarding his own spiritual rank, but qualifying this rather audacious correlation by asserting his "inherited" perfection is only a single dimension of the comprehensive perfection of Muhammad.
The reaction of Ibn 'Abd as-Salam, a Muslim scholar respected by both Ibn Arabi's supporters and detractors, has been of note due to disputes over whether he himself was a supporter or detractor. He was known by the title of Sultan al-'Ulama, the Sultan of scholars, was a famous mujtahid, Ash'ari theologian, jurist and the leading Shafi'i authority of his generation. As such, the figure of Ibn 'Abd al-Salam was claimed by each faction of the Ibn-'Arabi controversy due to his impeccable record as a staunch champion of the shari'a.
Ibn Taymiyyah's report was based on the authority of two reliable transmitters, Abu Bakr b. Salar and Ibn Daqiq al-'Id. According to it, Ibn 'Abd al-Salam declared Ibn 'Arabi "a master of evil" and "a disgusting man", who "professed the eternity of the world and did not proscribe fornication." This severe verdict, whose authenticity Ibn Taymiyyah considered to be beyond doubt, was pronounced by Ibn 'Abd al-Salam upon his arrival in Egypt in 639/1241- that is, one year after the death of the Greatest Master. The versions of the story furnished by al-Safadi, a cautious supporter of Ibn 'Arabi, and al-Dhahabi, his bitter critic, and teacher of al-Safadi, are especially helpful in placing Ibn 'Abd al-Salam's censure into a meaningful historical framework. Both al-Safadi and al-Dhahabi insisted that they read the story recorded in Ibn Sayyid al-Nas's own hand. And yet, their versions vary. Both variants describe Ibn Daqiq al-'Id's astonishment at his teacher's sharp critique of the acclaimed wali, which caused him to ask for proof of Ibn 'Arabi's lies. Ibn 'Abd al-Salam obliged by the following reply (in al-Safadi's recension): "He used to deny [the possibility] of marriage between human beings and the jinn, since, according to him, the jinn are subtle spirits, whereas human beings are solid bodies, hence the two cannot unite. Later on, however, he claimed that he had married a woman from the jinnfolk, who stayed with him for a while, then hit him with a camel's bone and injured him. He used to show us the scar on his face which, by that time, had closed." In al-Dhahabi's rendition: "He [Ibn 'Arabi] said: I married a she-jinni, and she blessed me with three children. Then it so happened that I made her angry and she hit me with a bone that caused this scar, whereupon she departed and I have never seen her again since." The authenticity of Ibn 'Abd al-Salam's disparagement of Ibn 'Arabi seems to find support in his "Epistle on the [Saintly] Substitutes and the [Supreme] Succor" (Risala fil-'abdal wal-ghawth)
On the other hand, another narration in praise of Ibn 'Arabi by al-Izz is reported by 'Abd al-Ghaffar al-Qusi, al-Fayruzabadi, al-Qari al-Baghdadi, al-Suyuti, al-Sha'rani, al-Maqqari, Ibn al-'Imad, and some other supporters of the Greatest Master. Despite minor variations in their accounts, all of them cite the same source: lbn 'Abd al-Salam's unnamed servant or student. In al-Qusi's redaction, Ibn 'Abd al Salam and his servant were passing by Ibn 'Arabi, who instructed his disciples in the Great Umayyad Mosque of Damuscus. Suddenly, the servant recalled that Ibn 'Abd al-Salam had promised to reveal to him the identity of the supreme saint of the epoch, the "Pole of the Age". The question caught Ibn 'Abd al-Salam off guard. He paused hesitantly for a moment, then pointed in the direction of Ibn 'Arabi, saying: "He is the Pole!" "And this in spite of what you have said against him?" asked the servant. Ibn 'Abd al-Salam ignored this remark and simply repeated his reply. In al-Fayruzabadi's version of the story, Ibn 'Abd al-Salam is presented as a secret admirer of the Greatest Master who was fully aware of the latter's exalted status in the Sufi hierarchy. However, as a public figure, Ibn 'Abd al-Salam was careful to conceal his genuine opinion of the controversial Sufi in order to "preserve the outward aspect of the religious law". In so doing, he, according to al-Fayruzabadi, shrewdly avoided an inevitable confrontation with the "jurists," who viewed Ibn 'Arabi as a heretic.
The importance of Ibn 'Abd al-Salam's ambiguous evaluation of the Greatest Master for the subsequent polemic is further attested by the detailed treatment of this story in al-Fasi's massive biographical dictionary, "The Precious Necklace" (al-'lqd al-thamin). A bitter critic of Ibn 'Arabi's monistic views, al-Fasi rejected the Sufi version of the story as sheer fabrication. Yet, as a scrupulous muhaddith, he tried to justify his position through the methods current in hadith criticism: "I have a strong suspicion that this story was invented by the extremist Sufis who were infatuated with Ibn 'Arabi. Thereupon the story gained wide diffusion until it reached some trustworthy people, who accepted it in good faith .... My suspicion regarding the authenticity of this story has grown stronger because of the unfounded supposition that Ibn 'Abd al-Salam's praise of Ibn 'Arabi had occurred simultaneously with his censure of him. Ibn 'Abd al-Salam's statement that he censured Ibn 'Arabi out of concern for the shari'a inescapably implies that Ibn 'Arabi enjoyed a high rank in the same moment as Ibn 'Abd al-Salam was censuring him. Such a blunder could not have happened to any reliable religious scholar, let alone to someone as knowledgeable and righteous as Ibn 'Abd al-Salam. Anyone who suspects him of this makes a mistake and commits a sin [by holding him responsible for] mutually contradictory statements .... One may try to explain Ibn 'Abd al-Salam's praise of Ibn 'Arabi, if it indeed took place, by the fact that [Ibn 'Abd al-Salam] was hesitating between praise and censure, because at the time he spoke Ibn 'Arabi's state had changed for the better. If so, there is no contradiction in Ibn 'Abd al-Salam's words. Were we to admit that the praise really occurred, it was nevertheless abrogated by Ibn Daqiq al-'Id's report concerning lbn 'Abd al-Salam's [later] condemnation of lbn 'Arabi. For Ibn Daqiq al-'Id could only hear Ibn 'Abd al-Salam in Egypt, that is, a few years after Ibn 'Arabi's death. This cannot be otherwise because he ... was educated at Qus, where he had studied the Maliki madhhab, until he mastered it completely. Only then he came to Cairo to study the Shafi'i madhhab and other sciences under Ibn 'Abd al-Salam's guidance. ... His departure could only take place after 640, by which time Ibn 'Arabi had already been dead. ... Now, Ibn 'Abd al-Salam's praise, as the story itself testifies, occurred when Ibn 'Arabi was still alive. For did he not point to [Ibn 'Arabi], when that individual [the servant] asked him about the Pole or the [greatest] saint of the age?"
His best-known book, entitled 'al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya' (The Meccan Victories or Illuminations) which begins with a statement of doctrine (belief) about which al-Safadi (d. 764/1363) said: "I saw (read) that (al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya) from beginning to end. It consists of the doctrine of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari without any difference (deviation) whatsoever."
Some 800 works are attributed to Ibn Arabi, although only some have been authenticated. Recent research suggests that over 100 of his works have survived in manuscript form, although most printed versions have not yet been critically edited and include many errors. A specialist of Ibn 'Arabi, William Chittick, referring to Osman Yahya's definitive bibliography of the Andalusian's works, says that, out of the 850 works attributed to him, some 700 are authentic while over 400 are still extant.
According to Claude Addas, Ibn Arabi began writing Futt al-Makkiyya after he arrived in Mecca in 1202. After almost thirty years, the first draft of Futt was completed in December 1231 (629 AH), and Ibn Arabi bequeathed it to his son. Two years before his death, Ibn 'Arab? embarked on a second draft of the Futt in 1238 (636 AH), of which included a number of additions and deletions as compared with the previous draft, that contains 560 chapters. The second draft, the more widely circulated version, was bequeathed to his disciple, Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi. There are many scholars attempt to translate this book from Arabic into other languages, but there is no complete translation of Futt al-Makkiyya to this day.
There have been many commentaries on Ibn 'Arab?'s Fu al-?ikam: Osman Yahya named more than 100 while Michel Chodkiewicz precises that "this list is far from exhaustive." The first one was Kitab al-Fuk?k written by ?adr al-D?n al-Qunaw? who had studied the book with Ibn 'Arab?; the second by Qunaw?'s student, Mu'ayyad al-D?n al-Jandi, which was the first line-by-line commentary; the third by Jand?'s student, Daw?d al-Qaysar?, which became very influential in the Persian-speaking world. A recent English translation of Ibn 'Arab?'s own summary of the Fu, Naqsh al-Fu (The Imprint or Pattern of the Fusus) as well a commentary on this work by 'Abd al-Ra?m?n J?m?, Naqd al-Nu f? Shar? Naqsh al-Fu (1459), by William Chittick was published in Volume 1 of the Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society (1982).
The Fu was first critically edited in Arabic by 'Af?f? (1946) that become the standard in scholarly works. Later in 2015, Ibn al-Arabi Foundation in Pakistan published the Urdu translation, including the new critical of Arabic edition.
The first English translation was done in partial form by Angela Culme-Seymour from the French translation of Titus Burckhardt as Wisdom of the Prophets (1975), and the first full translation was by Ralph Austin as Bezels of Wisdom (1980). There is also a complete French translation by Charles-Andre Gilis, entitled Le livre des chatons des sagesses (1997). The only major commentary to have been translated into English so far is entitled Ismail Hakki Bursevi's translation and commentary on Fusus al-hikam by Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi, translated from Ottoman Turkish by Bulent Rauf in 4 volumes (1985-1991).
In Urdu, the most widespread and authentic translation was made by Shams Ul Mufasireen Bahr-ul-uloom Hazrat (Muhammad Abdul Qadeer Siddiqi Qadri -Hasrat), the former Dean and Professor of Theology of the Osmania University, Hyderabad. It is due to this reason that his translation is in the curriculum of Punjab University. Maulvi Abdul Qadeer Siddiqui has made an interpretive translation and explained the terms and grammar while clarifying the Shaikh's opinions. A new edition of the translation was published in 2014 with brief annotations throughout the book for the benefit of contemporary Urdu reader.
In the Turkish television series Dirili?: Ertu?rul, Ibn Arabi was portrayed by Ozman Sirgood. In 2017, Saudi Arabian novelist Mohammed Hasan Alwan won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction for his novel A Small Death, a fictionalized account of Ibn Arabi's life.
As of this edit, this article uses content from "A Concise biography of Ibn 'Arabi", which is licensed in a way that permits reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, but not under the GFDL. All relevant terms must be followed.
Ibn 'Arabî referred to himself with fuller versions of his name, such as Abû 'Abdallâh Muhammad ibn 'Alî ibn al-'Arabî al-Tâ'î al-Hâtimî (the last three names indicating his noble Arab lineage)
It is well known that Ibn 'Arabi, from the point of view of his madhhab was a Sunni...but it is also known that he wrote a treatise on the twelve Shiite imams which has always been popular among Shiites.
Like many Andalusians, he came of mixed parentage: his father's name indicates an Arab family, which had probably emigrated to Andalusia in the early years of the Arab conquest, while his mother seems to have come from a Berber family...
For Ibn Arabi, the Logos or "Universal Man" was a mediating link between individual human beings and the divine essence.
This is a small selection of his many books.