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0.2.1 - The Author's Position of the Greatest Shaykh

Some argue that the researcher or writer must be neutral with regard to the topic being discussed, and I have tried to be so as often during all critical discussions. However, I cannot hide my full admiration of Shaykh Muhyiddin, may Allah be pleased with him, and my complete believe in everything he says, that of course does not contradict the explicit Islamic law, based on the Quran and the Sunnah. Also I don’t hide my full inclination towards interpreting, in his favor, all his words and his actions, and all the events that he encountered. This comes in accordance with the standard positive Islamic thinking, and then from the point of view of a trusting believer who has no doubt that Shaykh Muhyiddin is safe from anything that may contradict the general morals or the Islamic faith, although I do agree that no one is infallible, apart from prophets and messengers peace be upon them.

Within this sense, this book combines both the academic study and the critical oppositions on one hand, and defending Ibn al-Arabi against all accusations, even though I tried in the last Chapter to discuss all the different viewpoints neutrally, especially those that criticize him, and I have even found some hidden agreement between him and his opponents who may have condemned him because they did not understand his intention properly.

On the other hand, it is well known that mysticism is based mainly on the science of unveiling (ilm al-kashf), which is a kind of tasting or witnessing, by the heart. This kind of knowledge does not always fall under the umbrella of reason and logic, or evidence. Therefore, one cannot always defend all claims and carry all readers and listeners to approve and believe. For this reason, very often, I have not tried to convince the reader to accept any argument, and everything I say or convey about Shaykh Muhyiddin, of such strange stories, such as his meeting with Khadir, peace be upon him, and his dealing with other spirits. I hope that the readers will have good tolerance before they jump into renunciation; because not everything strange is impossible, unless we can find the antithesis evidence, and not vice versa!

It is regrettable that most people, and many professionals and intellectuals, are accustomed to rejecting everything when they are not given adequate supporting proofs, as if we had mastered all sciences and arts and that everything behind our knowledge is false! This principle is completely wrong and misleading. Instead, we must be equitable to leave all that which is weird in the arena of probability, until we find some solid evidence for or against. When we find any evidence, we can then accept or reject, with extreme caution. In any case, there are still some types of knowledge that may not be proved or disproved by simple logic, especially tasting and unveiling that happens in the heart and one cannot reject because he is certain about it, yet he may not be able to prove it logically.

As the historical sources on the life of Ibn al-Arabi are very scarce and all depend primarily on what the Shaykh himself wrote in his scattered books, we have adopted in this book the policy of translating many stories from his own books, and even we mostly leave Ibn al-Arabi speaks about himself, without interfering with more discussions, unless necessary. Therefore, this book is no more than a collection of texts put together in historical context, with the addition of some simple analysis to fill in the blanks on which we don’t have enough information.