Mohammed Rustom on Philosophical Sufism

Peace, one and all…


A fascinating discussion on philosophical Sufism.




12 thoughts on “Mohammed Rustom on Philosophical Sufism

  1. bismillah, problem with the source is that they label everything philosophy even when the islamic scholars were vehemently against it. Islam banned philosophy as a method for proving science from day one and the majority of sufi scholars did not practice it, even if their words sound like philosophy it isnt. What that leaves us with today is the mislabeling of medieval science as philosophy so they can claim it came from the greeks, I’ve seen the Stanford encyclopaedia of philosophy do this a number of times even praising the scholar for coming up with something entirely original based of greek philosophy when all he was doing was quoting the prophet (saws) almost word for word. Imam Suhrawardi, according to western academics who could not trace his sources, “developed a truly original light ontology” he based his work of the famous hadith of Jabir in which the prophet (saws) said Allah created everything from light, a simile for subatomic particles.

    Thats what happens when you don’t bother to look at the sources the scholars were using. I wanna listen to these lectures, they had a series on Imam Ghazali once but i couldn’t stomach the mistakes they were making, once you look at the fine print you don’t want them to colour your view of history because it’s to difficult to clean up all the little mistakes, and everything they say goes back to Aqeedah in Islam, a dangerous ground to risk.

  2. Case in point, Ibn Arabi was not a philosopher, he spoke against it in his works very clearly, including the short coming of averroes method and philosophy.

    “Sound knowledge is not given by reflection, nor by what the rational thinkers establish by means of their reflective powers (meaning philosophy). Sound knowledge is only that which Allah throws into the heart of the knower. It is a divine light for which Allah singles out any of His servants whom He will, whether Angel, Messenger, Prophet, friend, or person of faith. He who has no unveiling has no knowledge (man la kashf lahu la’ilm lahu). (This was the way of al Khidr guided Musa (as) in the Qur’an) (Futuhat al-Makkiyya by Imam Ibn `Arabi)

    “Qunawî himself differentiates Ibn ‘Arabî’s position from that of falsafa (philosophy) and scholastic theology (Kalam) by calling it mashrab al-tahqîq, “the school of realisation” (ibn arabi was describing reality, in modern terms physics).”(Stanford encyclopaedia of philosophy)

  3. Imam Suhrawardi in his work criticises philosophers like Aristotle and says regarding his own work Hikmat al Anwar (The Wisdom of Lights) ‘only direct experience guarantees acquisition of true knowledge’, not philosophy.

  4. Salamun alaikum Ibn Masud,

    Welcome to my online home. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

    I agree. Philosophy is an ill-fitting term for the insights of Ibn Arabi, etc, for all the reasons you cite. Having listened to the recording, I was glad to hear Mohammed Rustom explore some of these limitations in an eloquent manner. You are right, there is a real and important difference between these different forms of knowing, between rational, philosophical thought and kashf.

    Thanks again for stopping by.

    Abdur Rahman

  5. Wa alaikum assalam, unfortunately i don’t share your outlook on muhammad rustum he didn’t succeed at all in differentiating this and all but bolstered the opinion, when the interviewer accused Ibn Arabi of pantheism he all but agreed. The universe is a manifestation of Allah’s will, it isn’t a manifestation of Him, just as a piece of art testifies to the skills of it’s author.

    If you would like to see the sources for the scholars of Tassawwuf, like Imam Ibn Arabi and Imam Suhrawardi, i am currently finishing a book entitled “Ibn Arabi On The World Of Imagination” where the imam talks about the nature of subatomic space, the first half is currently available on my site and covers the prophet’s knowledge of space which Ibn Arabi based His cosmological views on. You will see just how off the mark these people are when you see what the prophet (saws) said, the last chapter covers the Hadith of Jabir.

    Ibn Arabi is more accurately the ancient worlds version of a quantum physicist, he didn’t deal with philosophy he dealt with science and this is what the ancient worlds scientific views looked like.

    If you can understand that imagination is the act of creating and this is how Ibn Arabi uses it to refer to Allah creating the universe, contrary to the accusation of pantheism the Imam said…

    “As for that which is other than Allah, that is imaginal existence (temporary). So when Allah manifests Himself within this imaginal existence (this universe). He only appears in keeping with its reality, not in His Essence (dhat), which possesses true Being (Allah is more than what He has shown to this universe). This is what is meant by Allah’s words, “Everything is perishing except His Face” (28:88), i.e., except His Essence, since no state in the cosmos continues to endure (the universe will come to an end). whether it be engendered (created and given form) or divine. . . . Hence (eventually), everything but Allah’s Essence undergoes transformation (istihala), rapid or slow; everything but Allah’s Essence is intervening imagination (limited and has temporary form) and vanishing shadow (by comparison). Therefore no engendered existent in this world, (or) in the next, and in whatsoever is between them, neither spirit (Jinn, Angel), nor soul, nor anything other than Allah’s Essence, remains in a single state; on the contrary, it is transmuted from one form to another constantly and forever: imagination (creation) is nothing but this, (and this universe is nothing but Allah’s imagination) (Futuhat al Makiyah).

    The Imam likening Allah’s act of creation to our Imagination explains almost everything he ever said, because our imagination is the manipulation of subatomic particles to create the images we see in our mind according to our will and knowledge, it is because of this Allah said we are created on his image, He created the entire universe from these particles as He willed, Imam Ibn Arabi understood this and explained it in detail in his works, this is the missing link between what Ibn Arabi said and what these people are trying to say for him, this is why what he said is grounded in science not philosophy.

  6. Ibn Masud, you are dumb and blinded by your bigotry. Rustom is very clear in the interview that Ibn ‘Arabi is NOT a pantheist– i hear the interview two times and it was clear both of the time. And on his website mentioned on the podcast you will find he also has an article which REFUTES pantheism in Ibn ‘Arabi. Go learn please.

  7. Ive studied engineering, the last thing anyone can accuse me of is being dumb. I heard what he said loud and clear, i also heard him choke during the rebuttal because he couldn’t stand up for himself….some of us listen to more than just words when people are speaking. Your welcome to read my book on Ibn Arabi, some of us understand him better than that sell out because we understand our religion better, that much is clear from his mistakes and convoluted esoteric explanations of Ibn Arabi.

  8. It’s funny you think this guy is meant to be an expert on Ibn Arabi when everything He says about the shaykh is philosophy, Islam banned philosophy from it’s first days so everything he says isn’t accepted by any one. Here is the important bit, why is this guy using philosophy to explain Ibn Arab when Ibn Arabi wasn’t a philosopher, didn’t agree with them and didn’t adopt their ways, this simple point should be clear as day for someone like him, He is misrepresenting Ibn Arabi in the worst possible way.

    Ironically William Chittick, a none muslim, has a better grasp of Ibn Arabi than this supposed muslim, so i think you should educate yourself on the finer realities of this before accusing others of lack of intelligence.

    Here is Ibn Arabi on the philosopher Ibn Rushd who requested to meet Him because Ibn Arabi had direct knowledge and experience with matters Ibn Rushd could only philosophise about;

    After that [first meeting, Ibn Rushd] requested of my father [another] interview with me. . . . And he thanked Allah (Exalted be He!) That he had lived in such a time that he could behold one (Ibn Arabi) who had entered upon Retreat (seclusion) in ignorance (jahilan) and emerged in this Condition (having experienced)—without lesson or examination, with no study or reading (as apposed to Ibn Rushd).

    “We had affirmed the possibility of this Condition (halah),” (the existence of direct experience) Ibn Rushd averred, “but we had never actually seen anyone who had mastered it (before).” Thereafter, on another occasion I formed the desire to meet with [Ibn Rushd], so, by Allah’s Mercy, he was made to appear before me in an ecstasy (fi l-waqi’a) in such a form (surah) that between him and me there was a fine veil (hijab raqiq), so that I could see him but he could not perceive me nor know that I was present—so preoccupied was he with himself! (lost in his philosophy) I said to myself, “Truly, he is not intended for that which we are!” (direct experience with Allah) Imam Ibn Arabi then said, I never met him again until he passed away. . . . When the coffin containing his body was loaded on the back of a beast of burden, his books were placed on the other side to balance it. . . . I uttered [the following verse]:

    “On the one side the Master, on the other side his Works, How I wonder if his hopes (in his books) have found their fulfillment!”

    The subject of Ibn Rushd being lost in his philosophy and books was the greater context of this quote, it is an insult to use philosophy to explain Ibn Arabi and I’m only a hairs length away from accusing that man of being deliberate, i know for certain he is making up explanations for Ibn Arabi from himself that no one has seen before.

  9. Salamun alaikum,

    I want to make it clear that whilst I am happy for discussions on this topic to continue here, this is not a place for fighting and arguing.

    Abdur Rahman

  10. My comments were addressed to you both. But, you are right, the tone of the response was unwarranted and I should have made that clear before approving it. The comments for this post are now closed.

  11. Jane,

    Disagreement is fine, and a natural part of life, but the tone of your response was unwarranted. At any rate, the comments for this post are now closed.

Comments are closed.