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0.3 - Introduction: The Sun Rising from the West

In my innermost, through His Reality, I am like the Sun, as it spreads the glare.

Ibn al-Arabi (Diwan, p. 163) and the rest of the poem will be mentioned below.

”Our knowledge spread in the world, from the far West to the place of sunrise. Obtained by those having immaterial minds, saved from assumption, speculation, illusion and (even) intuition.”

Ibn al-Arabi (Diwan, p. 49).

The words of Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi shone in the pages of books.
Like shooting stars, their lights traveled above, with clear guidance.
Wisdom settled in the hearts, unveiling the dark cloaking.
Like the Sun spreading its light, but it rose up from the West.

Mohamed Haj Yousef (Shams al-Maghrib, p. 9).

In the name of Allah the Merciful and the Compassionate

Allah said in the Holy Quran: (Those who truly fear Allah, amongst His Servants, are those who have knowledge [Quran, 35:28]), and He said: (Are they equal, those who know and those who don’t know? [Quran, 39:9]).

Then Abu Dawuud al-Sijistani (d. 275/889) narrated in the ”book of knowledge” that the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him, said:

”Whoever pursues a path seeking knowledge, Allah puts him on the way to Paradise. Angels put their wings down in gladness for the seeker of knowledge, and all those in the heavens and in the earth, and even the whales in the water; pray in forgiveness for the knowing. The advantage of the knowing over worshipers is like the superiority of (the light of the) full moon over other planets, because the knowing are the heirs of prophets. The prophets legacy is not dinars nor dirhams; it is knowledge. Whoever grasps it, he gets the great share.” footnote(See the translation of the Sunan of Abu Dawud al-Sijistani, one of the canonical Hadith collections, Translated by Ahmad Hasan, Lahore, Pakistan: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1984.

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, also said in the hadith authenticated by Suyuti (c. 1445–1505 AD): ”Five things relate to worship: eating less, sitting in the mosque, looking to the Kaaba, looking at/in the Quran, and looking at the face of the knowing (scholar).” footnote(See Jalaal al-Din al-Suyuti, Jami al-saghir, Dar al-Fikr, Beirut- 1990, p.7.

Therefore, this is a modest attempt to shed some light on the aspects of the life of a great Muslim scholar, who devoted himself to knowledge and wisdom, and Allah has granted him an ample portion, and a prodigious magnitude, and he in turn broadcasted this in his boundless and invaluable numerous books, to enlighten the whole world, east and west.

By studying the biography of this great scholar, we want to explore some of these sciences and knowledge bequeathed to us by Allah on his hands. This unparalleled wisdom made scientists and philosophers sometimes pondering, and sometimes astounded, and often unable to dive into the seas of his words to extract the precious jewels and pearls.

Muhammad Ibn al-Arabi dedicated his entire life to learning and knowledge, but he did not follow the ordinary way of intellectual thinking and consideration, such as other scientists do. Rather, he followed the Way of ”piety” (taqwa: fearing Allah, and taking Him as the Protector) that’s the only obligation required by Allah, the Almighty, to take care of educating His servants. He said in the Holy Quran: (fear Allah and Allah teaches you [Quran, 2:228]), and He said: (O ye who believe! if ye fear Allah, He will grant you a criterion [Quran, 8:28]), to judge between what is right and wrong. Those who accomplished piousness, they obtained the great divine knowledge which is the true guiding light.

This knowledge, obtained though piousness, is the divine unveiling ”knowledge of taste” (ilm al-zawq), attained through the spirits of prophets and angels who irrigate from the sea of eternal knowledge, the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, a knowledge of certainty realized by insight and vitiated by no doubt ever, unlike other theoretical knowledge based on reasoning that can be true but is often erroneous.

The span between these two types of knowledge is like the span between tasting honey and reading about it in books, or hearing its description from someone who has tasted; the latter may probably approach the truth after exerting great effort and facing the troubles of expression and understanding, yet he may never be sure. But that who tastes receives this necessary knowledge with uttering certainty, just by tasting, and without any extra effort or fatigue, but with delight and ecstasy, provided that his perception is safe and unspoiled; for one might take honey in his sick mouth and he would not like its taste.

Therefore, since knowledge occurs in the heart, through the spirit, and then is gathered in the soul, it is utterly essential to purify the heart and adjust the mood and discipline the soul to make it a decent place to receive and collect, and then convey, this knowledge.

Hence the correct Islamic spirituality, accurately recognized in the foundations of Islamic law, is the way to cleanse the soul and eradicate its natural earthly desires, and purify the heart of the attachment to worldly belongings and liberating it from the blind obedience to the powerful rebellious soul, and reconciling the spirit with its divine essence, that’s the divine holy spirit, in order to release it from the curbing limitations that resulted from its attachment to this mortal body.

When that happens, it will be ”returning to Allah”, a true ”repentance”, where the heart enters into the divine presence as a wholesome slave, devoid of all attachments, after he perished out of the world, and anything other than Allah, but then he emerges out into the world (again), brightly wreathed with divine light, loaded with grants and gifts, bursting with witnessing faith and certainty. The world then diminishes in his eyes, and he abstains his desires, and whatever he owns, because he knows with certainty, and sees with his own eyes (in his awakened heart), that the pleasure of this world is limited, and (that which is in the Presence of Allah is the best for the righteous [Quran, 3:198]).

This true returning, or repentance, to Allah, is not just a word to say, it is a firm act and permanent straightening, not so easy, not everyone could accomplish. It needs a great and firm determination, and a strong will. For this purpose, Islam have established all the necessary grounds and rules, such as fasting and resisting the desires, praying and other kinds of worshiping.

Nevertheless, in this long and hard Way, people are greatly diverted into many levels, and they divide into many ranks. Some of them don’t pay any attention, as if the matter does not concern them, thus they remain engrossed in the world and its delights and fantasies. On the other side, some people realize the danger and seek salvation, but their determination varies; where the wise is firm and the uncultivated fails, some are saved by success and some are betrayed by luck, some are lofted by care and some are predestined to stay low. All that depends on good faith and sincerity and the well-being of the inner conscience.

The road is long, so one certainly needs a guide, someone who has gone through all this way before, and is authorized to give guidance to the seeker of the Way of Allah, through his own authenticated chain of Shaykhs, connected up to the Messenger, through his close companions, may Allah bless them all. But since the road is so much about the comportment of the heart and soul, there is often some contact with the spirits of angels, saints and prophets, peace be upon them all, either in dream or in waking, in order to guide the seeker to the true Way and help him at hard times.

Although he was attached with many of the mastering counselors in his early life, and he was raised up on their hands, the true repentance of the Greatest Shaykh Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi, may Allah be pleased with him, was on the hands of the Prophet Jesus, son of Mary, peace be upon him, who guided him to the right Way at the beginning of his youth, and he took care of all his affairs. After that, he used to connect with other prophets and messengers, including Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon them all. In fact, he wrote his many books by direct inspiration from Allah, brought down to him by those high spirits, and the last one of his many hundreds of such books is the unique book of the bezels of wisdom (Fusus al-Hikam), that was handed down to him by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, in a vision he saw in Damascus during the end of month of Muharram in the year 627 Hijri, so he conveyed the book out to the world exactly as it was given to him, no more and no less. This book was the primary source for many scholars, with hundreds of annotations now available on it, and it was translated into many languages, despite its highly symbolic language and the many equivocal phrases that can be accessed only by those with enlightened heart and sharp hearing.

Our purpose of this book, therefore, is to expose the life of this universal scholar, renowned in the east and in the west, whose words packed libraries and whose wisdom is lighting up the horizons.

0.3.1- Analogy with the Sun

0.3.2- Biography of the Greatest Master and His Genealogy

0.3.3- The Correct Way to Write His Name

0.3.4- His Doctrine and His Faith

0.3.5- The Different Opinions about Him