Ibn Arabi

Peace, one and all…

I came across this rather profund and somewhat enigmatic poem of ibn Arabi (hat tip to Wahiduddin’s Web).  This is a very interesting poem, in that it seems to suggest that we have to assign meaning ourselves.  Or, at any rate, we have to find the connections for ourselves.

‘All that is left
to us by tradition
is mere words.

It is up to us
to find out what they mean’.
(ibn al-`Arabi, Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, in The Mystics of Islam, translated by Reynold A Nicholson)

Ma’as salama,
Abdur Rahman

2 thoughts on “Ibn Arabi

  1. We do have to find meaning for ourselves, or we really only possess what we have found for ourselves. I think a word Ibn ‘Arabi uses is verify (tahaqquq).

    In The Sufis of Andalusia (trans. R. Austin, 1971, Beshara Publications) he mentions something very striking:

    “This master [Abu Ja’far al-‘Uryani] came to Seville when I was just beginning to acquire knowledge of the Way. I was one of those who visited him. When I met him for the first time I found him to be one devoted to the practice of Invocation. He knew, immediately he met me, the spiritual need that had brought me to see him.
    He asked me, ‘Are you firmly resolved to follow God’s Way?’ I replied, ‘The servant may resolve, but it is God Who decides the issue.’ Then he said to me, ‘If you will shut out the world from you, sever all ties and take the Bounteous alone as your companion, He will speak with you without the need for any intermediary.’ I then pursued this course until I had succeeded.
    Although he was an illiterate countryman, unable to write or use figures, one had only to hear his expositions on the doctrine of Unity to appreciate his spiritual standing.”

    When he says, “I then pursued this course until I had succeeded”, this must be one of the biggest understatements in literature. But what Abu Ja’far said definitely stayed with him, and is repeated in a different form more than once in Ibn ‘Arabi’s writings. I am afraid I don’t know the source for this one:

    “We empty our hearts of reflective thinking, and we sit together with God on the carpet of adab and spirtiual attentiveness and presence and readiness to receive whatever comes to us from Him – so that it is God who takes care of teaching us by means of unveiling and spiritual realisation. So when they have focused their hearts and their spiritual aspirations on God and have truly taken refuge with Him – giving up any reliance on the claims of reflection and investigation and intellectual results – then their hearts are purified and open. Once they they have the inner receptivity, God manifests Himself to them, teaching them and informing them through the direct vision of the inner meaning of those words and reports, in a single instant.”

  2. Dear Martin,

    Thank you for your comments. I will admit to not knowing very much about Ibn Arabi, though the few comments of his I’ve read show a deep, subtle and deeply spiritual person.

    Ma’as salama,
    Abdur Rahman

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