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0.3.3 - The Correct Way to Write His Name

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.footnote(For more information on Judge Abi Bakr Ibn al-Arabi and his biography, see the book of Nafh al-Teeb by al-Tlemisani: vol. 2: p. 25, 43, 60, 85, 158, 175, 576, 599, 600, 617, 626, 642, 644, vol. 3: p. 180, 401, vol. 4: p. 461, 476, vol. 5: p. 338, 350, vol. 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 Shaykh 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 Shaykh, 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 Shaykh, 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.footnote(See: 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 Shaykh 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 Shaykh 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.”

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)footnote(Elixir 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 Shaykh Muhyiddin and building his mausoleum at its side, Ibn al-Arabi had become known as al-Shaykh al-Akbar: the Greatest Shaykh, or Doctor Maximus.