The Greatest Sheikh Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi, whose biography will be the subject of this book, is Muhammad bin Ali bin Muhammad bin Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Hâtimi al-Tâ’iy, descendant of Abdullah Ibn Hâtim, brother of ‘Udei bin Hâtim, the famous companion of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Ibn al-Arabi himself is known as Abu Abdullah, al-Hâtimiy, al-Tâ’iy, and he is often designated as the Greatest Sheikh (al-Sheikh al-Akbar: Doctor Maximus), Muhyiddin (Reviver of Religion), Sultân al-‘?rifîn (King of the Knowing), Imam of the pious, and other titles and descriptions of veneration and honors that he undoubtedly deserves.
Ibn al-Arabi was born on Monday night, the 17 extsuperscriptth of Ramadan 560 AH, corresponding to the 26 extsuperscriptth of July 1165 AD, in the city of Murcia in eastern Andalusia. He moved with his family to Seville in the year 568/1172, where he lived for the next twenty years, during which he traveled to Maghrib and Tunisia several times, and stayed there for intermittent periods. After that he traveled to the East for the Hajj in the year 598/1201, never to return to Andalusia again.
In the East, he lived in Egypt briefly and then went to Palestine, heading to Mecca, where he devoted himself to worship and teaching at the Grand Mosque, the place where he received the secrets and wisdom he deposited in his most famous book of the Meccan Revelations.
After that he went to Iraq and entered Baghdad and Mosul and met their scholars, and then traveled north to Anatolia and Turkey where he dwelt for many years and had a high status with king Kaykaus.
After that, the Sheikh took numerous trips between Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Palestine, until he settled in Damascus in the year 620/1223, where he stayed there until he passed away in the night of the 22 extsuperscriptnd of the month of Rabii II of the year 638 AH, corresponding to the 9 extsuperscriptth of November 1240 AD. He was buried at the foothill of Mount Kassioun, now the region where his mausoleum lies is called after his name (Sheikh Muhyiddin) where his grave is located beside the mosque, which was built by the order of Sultan Selim I when he visited Damascus after his Egyptian campaign in 923/1517.
Ibn al-Arabi, may Allah have mercy on him, had two sons: Saad Eddin Muhammad and Imad al-Din Muhammad.
He studied Quran in Seville on Sheikh Abu Bakr bin Khalaf al-Kawmi, according to the seven readings, using the book of al-Kaafi, and he studied interpretation, and heard from a number of authors or those who narrate them, including Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Abi Jamra, after his father who narrates directly from al-Dani, the author of al-Taysiir. Also he studied under Ibn Zarkon and Abu Muhammad Abd-ul-Haq al-Ishbili al-Azdi and many others. He also heard the hadith from Abulqasim Al-Khozstani and others, and he heard Sahih Muslim from Sheikh Abu al-Hasan Ibn Abi Nasr.
The Greatest Sheikh Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi excelled in mysticism and Sufi science, in which he wrote hundreds of books and treatises, in excess of five hundred books according to Abdul Rahman Jami author of the book “Nafahat al-Uns”. One of these books is “the Meccan Revelations”, considered by many to be the most important book in Islamic history, and one of the most important books in the history of mankind. He also wrote a book on “the interpretation of the Quran” on which the author of Fawaat al-Wafiyyaat says that it spans ninety five volumes, and yet he worked only on the first half of Quran, up to al-Kahf Chapter, right up to the verse speaking about the divine knowledge of Khidr: “And we have taught him the science of Ours”, but then he died before he could complete it.
He also wrote: “the Bezels of Wisdom” that he says in his introduction that he saw the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, in a dream, and he gave him a book and asked him to bring out this book to public, so he wrote it as it is without any addition nor dropping. Among his other famous books also: “Entertaining the Righteous (Muhadarat-al-Abraar)”, “Originating the Circles (Inshaa al-Dawaair)”, “the Bolt of the Excited (Uqlat al-Mustawfiz)”, “the Fabulous Gryphon (Anqaa Mughrib)”, “the Discloser of Desires (Turjuman al-Ashwaaq)”, “the Divine Policies in Reforming the Human Kingdom (al-Tadbiraat al-Ilahiyya)”, “the Positions of Stars (Mawaqi al-Nujum)”, and many other smaller treatises. Osman Yahya published a comprehensive study on the history and classification of Ibn al-Arabi's books, the original book is in French and then it was translated into Arabic by Ahmed al-Tibiy. At the end of this book there will an extensive appendix on the books of the Grand Sheikh, may Allah be pleased with him.
Scholars and specialists agreed that Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi was not an ordinary author like others, but he was distinct both in quantity and quality. He himself confirms that he does not follow the course of authors who write according to their own ideology and thought, but all what he writes is inspiration from Allah, as we shall see later with more detail. Brockelmann described him as one of the most fertile minds who has the best imagination amongst authors.citepbibid
%In addition to his own books, some information about the biography of the Greatest Sheikh Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi can be found in several books of Islamic history, including: “The shortcut needed”: C 15, 58, No. 197, “The continuation of the death of the move”: C 3 555 p. No. 2972, “Sir flags of the nobles”: C 23 p. 48 No. 34, “History of Islam “The end of the dead”: C 3 p. 435, no. 484, “Mirror of the Jinan”: C 4 p. 100, “The beginning and the end”: C 13 p. 167, “The end of the end” “Nujat al-Tayeb”: C2, 161, No. 113, “Nuggets of Gold”: C 5 p. 190, “Gardens of the Gardens” : C 8, 51, number 685, “the nickname and titles” : C 3 p. 164, “The flags”: C 6 p. 281, “Dictionary of authors”: C 11 p.
It must be noted here that Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi is different from the great judge Abu Bakr Muhammad bin Abdullah Ibn al-Arabi al-Maafri al-Ishbili al-Maliki, born in Seville in the year 468 AH, who is well known in jurisprudence, doctrine and hadith sciences, and who has published several books, including “Law of Interpretation” and “the Rules of Quran” and “the Lights of Dawn” and other.footnoteFor more information on Judge Abi Bakr Ibn al-Arabi and his biography, see the book of Nafh al-Teeb by al-Tlemisani: C 2, 25, 43, 60, 85, 158, 175, 576, 599, 600, 617, 626, 642, 644, , 476, p. 5 p. 338, 350, p. 6, p. 277. Sometimes people confuse between these two scholars and quote words or books for one as belonging to the other. For this reason, the people of the East began differentiating between them by calling the Greatest Sheikh by Ibn Arabi (without definitive article “al”), and the Judge Abu Bakr by Ibn al-Arabi (with the definitive article “al”). This, however, is a mistake and it did not persist, especially since the Grand Sheikh, since his birth, as well as some of his uncles and grandfathers, are called by Ibn al-Arabi, and so he signs his books, as also his early disciples used to call him. Generally now, however, we find his name either as Ibn al-Arabi or as Ibn Arabi, with and without the definitive article, but it is very easy to differentiate between these two world scholars since the first is normally known as the Grand Sheikh, Muhyiddin or Abu Abdullah, and the second is the Judge Abu Bakr al-Maliki, and if none of these titles is mentioned then one can distinguish between them from the context because of specialization since the former is a Sufi and the latter is a jurist.
In Islamic history, however, many lesser known scholars had the title Ibn al-Arabi or Ibn al-Arabi, as Ibn al-Makola mentioned in “Ikmal”. For example: Zubair Ibn al-Arabi Abu Salamah al-Nimeiri al-Basri, al-Naddr Ibn al-Arabi, Ibrahim Ibn Arab al-Kufi, Jacob Ibn al-Arabi al-Kufi, Yahya Ibn Habib Ibn al-Arabi al-Busri, Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Said bin Arabi al-Taifi, Hussein Ibn al-Arabi al-Busri, and Muhammad bin Yousef bin Arabi al-Busri.footnoteSee: al-Ikmaal, by Ali Ibn Makula, Hyderabad Deccan - 1962, v. 6 pp. 176-8.
It seems that Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Hatimiy, who is the grandfather of the father of Sheikh Muhyiddin, was called the “al-Arabi”, so his son, Muhammad was called “Ibn al-Arabi”, and amongst the sons of Muhammad is Ali, the father of Sheikh Muhyiddin, who is also named Muhammad, on the name of his grandfather, so he is: Muhammad bin Ali bin Muhammad bin Ahmed bin Abdullah Hatamiy, and he often signs his name in his books as: “Muhammad bin Ali bin Muhammad Ibn al-Arabi al-Taiy al-Hatamiy.”
caption[Ibn al-Arabi's Signature]This is how Ibn al-Arabi signs his name in some of his books.
In addition to this title: Muhyiddin (the Reviver of Religion), by which he was known since his early life, his admirers often call him with venerated and revered titles such as Sultan al-Arifin (King of knowings or Saints), Imam al-Muttaqin (the Leader of the Pious), al-Kibrit al-Ahmar (the Red Sulfur, or Elixir)footnoteElixir is a unique hypothetical substance with countless extraordinary properties and capabilities, such as transmuting base metals into Gold, curing all diseases, prolonging life and youth, and realizing celestial knowledge and divine wisdom. For this reason it is also called the philosopher's stone., and other titles of reverence that he deserves. Starting from the tenth century AH, after Sultan Selim I entered Damascus in 922, and he ordered the construction of the mosque of Sheikh Muhyiddin and building his mausoleum at its side, Ibn al-Arabi had become known as al-Sheikh al-Akbar: the Greatest Sheikh, or Doctor Maximus.