Ibn ‘Arabi’s work speaks urgently today in a world ravaged by ignorance and fanaticism
Michael Wood, The Guardian, December 2015
Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi was born in Murcia in southern Spain in 1165 AD (560AH) as the son of a prominent member the Arab ruling class. He was born into a culturally rich and vibrant world, one which gave rise to some of the most stunning architecture ever produced, in particular the Alhambra and the Great Mosque of Cordoba. It was a time and place of great learning. This is where the classics of the ancient world, such as the writings of Plato and Aristotle, were translated, first into Arabic and then into Latin, and so brought to the west. The wisdoms and sciences of the Greeks were then studied and advanced. Here the three Abrahamic religions co-existed to each other’s benefit. The great Jewish philosopher and scientist Maimonides was influenced by his contemporary Averroes, for example, and in turn Maimonides inspired Islamic thinkers. Averroes' commentaries on Aristotle were seminal in the development of Catholic theology.
Ibn 'Arabi emerged out of this extraordinary intellectual and cultural milieu to become unquestionably one of the most profound and remarkable figures in the history of world spirituality. He is often referred to simply as 'the Greatest Master' (al-Shaykh al-Akbar). His extensive travels took him from his native Spain to North Africa, the Hijaz, Turkey and Syria, where he lived the final years of his life. He died in 1240 in Damascus.
Ibn 'Arabi's teachings are based on a harmonious vision of the unity of existence, in which all apparent differences are integrated without destroying their truths. His teachings are particularly appropriate and much needed in the world of today.
His extraordinary inner and outer life is remarkably well documented in his own voluminous writings. More than 100 authentic works have survived in manuscript form, and several provide ample details of the people and places he knew, and his own experiences. One of the largest digital collections today is held by the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society. Many of these works have now been translated into English and other languages. In total, he wrote 300 works ranging from short treatises and mystical odes to the 37-volume Meccan Revelations (al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya) and his spiritual masterpiece The Wisdom of the Prophets (Fusus al Hikam).
Extracts from his own writing:
Theophany of Perfection:
Ibn 'Arabi and the Circle of Inclusion, from the Huffington Post:
Ibn ‘Arabi’s teachings open a door to an inclusive spiritual perspective. This necessarily includes all perspectives, not by focusing on the detail of each, but by concentrating on the point from which all perspectives arise and consequently encompasses them all. This is the still point at the centre of the circle, the point about which the universes turn. Read more...
For more information:
The Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society
Anqa Publishing – a UK publishing company dedicated to the works of Ibn 'Arabi.
Image: The Great Mosque at Cordoba © Berthold Werner
O Marvel !
A garden amidst flames.
My Heart has become capable of every form.
It is a pasture for gazelles,
a cloister for Christian monks,
a temple for idols,
the pilgrim's Ka'aba,
the tables of the Torah,
the book of the Koran.
Whatever way Love's camels take,
that is my religion and my faith.
Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi from The Interpreter of Ardent Desires