Sheikh Muhyiddin Ibn Al-Arabi (RA) – URS is 22nd Rabi al-Thani
The Urs of Sheikh Muhyiddin Ibn Al-Arabi (RA) is on 22nd Rabi al-Thani (Sun 31 Jan or Monday 1 Feb 2016) inshallah. Sheikh Muhyiddin Ibn Al-Arabi (RA) was also one of the great grandfather’s of our Murshid, Sultan Sheikh Nazim Al-Haqqani (KS) May Allah Almighty continuously raise their maqam and honour in Divine Presence.
BRIEF BIOGRAPHY SHEIKH MUHYIDDIN IBN AL-ARABI
Born in the Spanish township of Murcia on 17th of Ramadan 561 AH (27th or 28th of July 1165 AD) with respectable family roots of Banu Tayy, this unique mystic of Islam, Muhammad Muhyiddin ibn ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn al-‘Arabi al-Ta’i al Hatmi is universally known as al-Shaykh al-Akbar (The Greatest Master). His father, ‘Ali ibn Muhammad served in the Army of Ibn Mardanish, and later when Ibn Mardanish died in 1172 AD, he swiftly shifted his allegiance to the Almohad Sultan, Abu Ya’qub Yusuf I , and became one of his military advisers. While still a boy of eight years old the family of Ibn ‘Arabi left Murcia and took Seville for their home. In Stephen Hartenstein’s words: “Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) spent his youth age in the most advanced city of that time, an atmosphere steeped in the most important ideas – philosophical, scientific and religious – of his day. For the young Ibn ‘Arabi, twelfth century Seville was no doubt the equivalent of today’s London, Paris and New York” (Hirtenstein 36).
Sheikh Ibn ‘Arabi’s (RA) dogmatic and intellectual training began in the cultural and civilized centre of Muslim Spain as Seville was known in 578 AH. Most of his teachers mentioned in the ijaza wrote to King al-Muzaffar were the ‘ulama’ of the Almohad era and some of them also held the official posts of Qadi or Khatib (Addas 97). He was just a young boy when his father sent him to the renowned jurist Abu Bakr ibn Khalaf to study Qur’an. Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) learnt the recitation of the Qur’an from the book of Al-Kafi in the seven different readings (qira’at). The same work was also transmitted to him by another muqri, ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Ghalib ibn al-Sharrat (Addas 44). At the age of ten, he was well-versed in the Qira’at; afterwards he learned the sciences of Hadith and Fiqh from the famous scholars of the time.He studied Hadith and Sira with the muhaddith ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Suhayli, who taught him all of his works. He also attended lectures of Qadi Ibn Zarkun, who transmitted to him Kitab al-Taqassi of Al-Shatibi and issued him an Ijaza (permission of transmission to others.)
Later he studied under ‘Abdal-haqq al-Azd al-Ishbili his works on Hadith; these are Ahkam al-Kubra, al-Wusta and al-Sughra. In addition to his own works, he also transmitted to Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) the writings of the famous Zahiri scholar, Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi (Addas 45). The complete list of his teachers and masters can be found in a scholarly certificate Ijaza given to Sultan al-Ashraf al-Muzaffar, in this document Ibn Arabi (RA) mentioned 70 of his teachers and masters (Ibn ‘Arabi, “Ijaza li Malik al-Muzaffar”).
THE SUFI PATH
Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) was about sixteen when he went into seclusion. He himself never explicitly mentioned the reasons behind it. Yet the following factors are worth considering: A story heard after 150 years of his death, Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) was at a dinner party which rounded off with wine. As he took the wine cup to his lips, he heard a voice: “ O Muhammad , it was not for this that you were created! ” (Addas 36). This gave him an urge to quit worldly pursuits and to embark upon the search of God. Another important cause of this retreat was a vision of the three great Prophets, Jesus, Moses and Muhammad (SWS). Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) says: “When I turned to this path, it was accomplished through a dream-vision (mubashshira) under the guidance of Jesus, Moses and Muhammad (SWS).
In it, Jesus urged him to take to asceticism (Zuhd), Moses divulged to him that he would get to the infused knowledge called “al-‘ilm al-ludunni ” and the Prophet Muhammad (SWS) advised him to follow him step by step; “Hold fast to me and you will be safe!” (Addas 41). As a consequence of this retreat and the spiritual insights granted to him, two things seem to have happened: firstly, he began to study Qur’an and Hadith and secondly, Ibn‘Arabi (RA) was sent by his father to meet the great philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes, 1126-98).
The meeting was very significant in the sense that Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) answered his questions in‘Yes’ and ‘No;’ and Ibn Rushd declared: “I myself was of the opinion that such a thing (i.e.spiritual knowledge without learning) is possible, but never met anyone who had experienced it” (OY: II, 372).
THE SPIRITUAL MASTERS
Ibn ‘Arabi’s (RA) contact with spiritual masters began in Seville. At that time the pursuit of the spiritual life normally involved keeping company with many different masters instead of only one master. Ibn ‘Arab┘ has described brief biographies of his masters in his book Ruh al-Quds. Al-‘Uryabi of ‘Ulya was one of those masters who visited Seville nearly in 1184, and Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) met him at that stage of his life when he had already embarked on the Path. One can call al-‘Uryabi as his first teacher ( al-murshad al-awwal ), a relationshipwhich is always of significance in Sufism. Shaykh al ‘Uryabi had reached the high spiritual state of total servitude ( ‘ubudiyya), which in Ibn ‘Arabi’s (RA) eyes surpass all others. Later on meetings with his Shaykh transformed Ibn ‘Arabi’s (RA) life so quickly that he wrote in Futuhat : “While our Shaykh al-‘Uryabi was ‘Isawi at the end of his life. I was Isawi at the beginning of my life on this path. I was then taken to the states of Musawi sun illumination. Then I was taken to Hud (AS), and after that to all the Prophets, there after I was taken to Muhammad (SWS). That was the order for me in this path” (OY: III, 361-2). Some of his masters are:
1. Abu al-Abbas al-‘Uryabi
2. Abu al-Hajjaj al-Shubarbuli
3. Abu Ya’qub Yusuf al-Kumi
4. Abu Yahyh al-Sanhaji
5. Abu ‘Abd Allah Ibn Qassum
6. Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Sharafi
7. Abu ‘Abbas al-Kashshab
8. Abu ‘Imran al-Murtuli
9. Salih al-‘Adawi
10. Abd al-‘Aziz al-Mahdawi
11. ‘Abd Allah al-Mawruri
12. Abu Madyan al-Ghawth
Detail about his masters and their relationship with Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) can be found in Ruh al-Quds, Durrat al-Fakhira and Futuhat al-Makkiyya.
MEETING WITH KHIDR (AS)
Factually speaking, Shaykh al-‘Uryabi (RA) initiated Ibn ‘Arabi’s (RA) contact with Khidr in Seville, when he was only a youth. Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) says: “I met Khidr (AS) in Qus al-haniyya in Seville, and he said to me: “Accept what the Shaykh says!” I immediately turned to the Shaykh [‘Uryabi (RA)] and before I spoke he said: “O Muhammad, does that mean that every time you contradict me, I will have to ask Khidr (AS) to instruct you in submission to the masters?” I replied: “Master, was that person Khidr?(AS) ” He answered: “Yes!” (I, 331; Addas 63). That was his first meeting with Khidr (AS). Later Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) met Khidr (RA) several times. In 1193 at the age of 28 Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) visited Tunis and the main intention behind this visit was to meet with the great disciples of Abu Madyan, notably ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Mahdawi and Ab┴ Muhammad ‘Abdallah al-Kinani. He stayed there for less than a year during which he realized the station of pure servant-hood and the Muhammadian inheritance.
On return from Tunis, he met Khidr (AS) for the second time; it happened when he was returning from Tunis by boat, on a lunar night he saw a man walking on the water towards him. On reaching the boat, Khidr (AS) stood on the sea and showed him that his feet were still dry. After that Khidr (AS) conversed with Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) in a language which is peculiar to him (OY: III, 182).
On reaching Andalusia in late 590 AH, Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) had his third meeting with Khidr (AS), this time Khidr (AS) performed a miracle to provide evidence to a companion of Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) who denies the existence of miracles. A common feature of all these meetings with Khidr (AS) was that they took place in the presence of a high rank spiritual master initiating Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) into the knowledge of Divine mysteries.
GREAT VISION IN CORDOBA
In the year 586, Ibn ‘Arai (RA) had a rare vision in Cordoba, in which he met all the Prophets from the time of Adam to Muhammad (SWS) in their spiritual reality. Prophet Hud (AS) spoke to him and explained him the reason for their gathering. We can trace what Hud (AS) told him in Ruh al-Quds when Abu Muhammad Makhluf al-Qaba’ili – a saint of Cordoba – died, the Prophet Hud (AS) said: “We came to visit Abu Muhammad Makhluf al-Qaba’ili” (Ibn ‘Arabi (RA), “Ruh al-Quds” 116). According to a tradition among the direct disciples of Ibn ‘Arabi (RA), Hud (AS) explained that the real reason for their gathering was to welcome him (Ibn ‘Arabi (RA)) as the Seal of Muhammadan Sainthood (khatm al-wilaya al- muhammadiyya), the supreme heir (Addas 76).
Stephen Hartenstein writes in Unlimited Mercifier: “It is from his return from Tunis, we find the first evidence of Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) beginning to write; later in 1194, he wrote one of his first major works, Mashahid al-Asrar al-Qudusiyya (Contemplation of the Holy Mysteries) for the companions of al-Mahdawi and perhaps around the same time, in a space of four days, also composed the voluminous Tadbirat al-Ilahiyya (Divine Governance) in Mawrur (Moron) for Shaykh Abu MuHammad al-Mawruri” (Hirtenstein 91).
IBN AL-ARABI (RA) IN FEZ
The next five years were a time when Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) entered into a different world. Having been brought up under the instruction and guidance of various spiritual masters of the West, he now came into his own as a Muhammadan heir. As from this point the real genius of Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) began to emerge and he became universal. Shortly after his return to Andalusia from North Africa in 1194 AD, Ibn ‘Arabi’s (RA) father died and within a few months his mother also died. Now the responsibility of the upbringing of his two young sisters fell upon his shoulders. His cousin came to him with the request that he should take up his wordly duties, and give up the spiritual life (Hirtenstein 110). It was a time of great uncertainty for Seville because of War. The third Sultan, Abu Yusuf Ya’qub al Mansur offered him a job but Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) refused both the job and an offer to marry off his sisters and within days he left Seville heading toward Fez, where they settled.
In Fez Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) met two men of remarkable spirituality, one of them was a sufi Pillar (awtad), his name was Ibn Ja’din and the second one known as al-Ashall (literally, “the withered” for the reason that he had a withered hand) who was the Pole (qutub) of his time. It was a happy period of his life, where he could utterly dedicate himself to spiritual work. In Fez in 593 AH, he entered a new degree of vision in the form of light. In that vision, when he was leading a Prayer in the al-Azhar Mosque, he saw a light which was more visible than what was in front of him, he says:
“I lost the sense of behind [or front]. I no longer had a back or the nape of a neck. While the vision lasted, I had no sense of direction, as if I had been completely spherical (dimensionless).” (II, 486)
This light vision is a kind of foretaste of his great journey of light; in 594 AH at the age of ,33 Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) was taken on one of the most extraordinary journeys of all: the ascension (al-mi’raj). Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) wrote a book named Kitab al-Isra (Book of the Night Journey) immediately after this spiritual experience. Some sections of Futuhat and Risalat al-Anwar (Epistle of Light) also elaborate the hidden meaning of these ascensions. It is quite interesting that Ibn ‘Arab┘’s (the Muhammadan heir) ascension is an exact and faithful replication of the Prophet Muhammad’s ascension; while the Prophet’s ascension took place bodily, his ascension was a dream, vision of a heart or the vision of forms. These divine events are determining the way forward for his ultimate role as the Seal of Muhmmadian Sainthood. Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) tells us that in 594AH, in Fez Allah laid bare to him its true import and showed him the signs of his function. In al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya Chapter 43 starts with an open claim to the Seal of Muhammadian Sainthood, he says:
” I am the Seal of Sainthood without any doubt, by virtue of the inheritance of the Hashimite, along with the Messiah “
(OY: IV, ;71 Elmore, “Islamic Sainthood” 56.)
These lines have no possible room for doubt: Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) is identifying himself categorically and explicitly with the Muhammadan Seal like Jesus (AS).
A LIFETIME FRIEND
In Fez 594 AH, ‘Abdallah Badr al-Habshi first met Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) and for the rest of his life became a soul mate and a faithful friend, accepting Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) as his master and guide. Al-Shaykh al-Akbar said about him in Futuhat:
“[He is a man] of unadulterated clarity, a pure light, he is a Habashi named ‘Abdallah, and like a full moon (badr) without eclipse. He acknowledges each person’s right and renders it to him; he assigns to each his right, without going further. He has attained the degree of true discrimination. He was purified at the time of fusion like pure gold. His word is true, his promise sincere.”
(OY: I, ;72 Hirtenstein 123.)
In the year 595AH Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) returned to the Iberian Peninsula for the last time and it seems he had two intentions: to introduce al-Habashi to his friends and masters and to depart finally from the land of his birth. In December 595AH, Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) was in Cordoba, at the funeral of Ibn Rushd, whom once he met some 18 years earlier. When the coffin was loaded upon a beast of burden, his works were placed upon the other side to counterbalance it. Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) said the following verse on that day:
” Here the master, there his works – Would that I know if his hopes have been fulfilled! “
From Cordoba they travelled to Granada and met with ‘Abdallah al-Mawruri and Abu Muhammad al-Shakkaz. From Granada to Murcia, the town of his birth and stayed with an old friend Abu Ahmed Ibn Saydabun, a famous disciple of Abu Madyan who at the time of their meeting was evidently going through a period of fatra or suspension. They travelled again to Almeria, where they spent the month of Ramadan in 595AH and Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) wrote Mawaqi‘ al-Nujum over a period of eleven nights. Perhaps in Almeria also, he started writing ‘Anqa’ Mughrib where full explanation about the Seal of Saints can be found.
These were his last days in the West, where he started visiting his masters for the last time, and he collected his writings and ensured that he must at least have a single copy of all of his works as now he was departing toward the East forever. When he left Andalusia for the last time he appeared to have a vision of his future destiny at the shores of the Mediterranean as he later told his stepson Sadr al-din al-Qanawi:
“I turned towards God with total concentration and in a state of contemplation and vigilance that was perfect: God then showed me all of my future states, both internal and external, right through to the end of my days. I saw that your father, Ishaq ibn Muhammad, would be my companion and you as well.”
In the year 597 AH/1200 AD, he was in Morocco and took his final leave from his master Yusuf al-Kumi, who was living in the village of Salé at that time. This shows that he had finally completed his training under the teachers of his early years and was now ready to go to a new world. On his way to Marrakesh of that year he entered the Station of Proximity (maqam al-qurba).
“I entered this station in the month of Muharram in 597 AH… In joy I began to explore it, but on finding absolutely no one else in it, I felt anxiety at the solitude. Although I was realized in [this station], but I still did not know its name.”
Later Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) finds Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami in it and he told Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) that this station is called, the station of proximity (maqam al-qurba) (Hirtenstein 128).
VOYAGE TO CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Having left behind all the traces of his past, Ibn ‘Arab┘ began his long journey to the East from Marrakesh where he had a marvellous vision of the Divine Throne. In that vision, he saw the treasures beneath the Throne and the beautiful birds flying about within them. One bird greeted Ibn ‘Arabi (RA), saying that he should take him as his companion to the East. This companion was Muhammad al-Hassar of Fez. He started travelling with his friends towards the East. After visiting the tombs of his uncle Yahya and Abu Madyan in ‘Ubbad near Tlemcen, he stopped at Bijaya (Bougie) during Ramadan and saw a remarkable dream about the secrets of letters and stars. He saw himself united like the union in marriage with all the stars of heavens, after the stars the letters were given his union, and he united with all of them (Ibn ‘Arabi (RA), “Kitab al-Ba’” 10-11). This dream was later interpreted as the great Divine knowledge which was bestowed upon Ibn ‘Arabi (RA).
His next stop was Tunis 598 AH where he happened to see Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Mahdawi whom he had met about six year ago. At the same time he continued writing works like Insha’ al-Dawa’ir for his friend al-Habashi. Resuming his travels, he arrived in Cairo in 598 AH/1202 AD where he met his childhood friends, the two brothers, ‘Abdallah Muhammad al-Khayyat and Abu al-Abbas Ahmad al-Harrari and stayed at their house in the month of Ramadan. That was a period of great devastation, terrible famine and plague for Egypt. Perhaps the death of his companion Muhammad al-Hassar was due to this plague. Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) saw this devastation with his own eyes and a passage of Ruh al-Quds tells us that when people made light of Allah’s statutes He imposes the strictures of His Law upon them (Yusuf 240).
Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) resumed travelling toward Palestine, and his route took him to all the major burial places of the great Prophets: Hebron, where Abraham (AS) and other Prophets are buried; Jerusalem, the city of David (AS) and the later Prophets; and then Medina, the final resting place of the Prophet Muhammad (SWS).
PILGRIM AT MAKKAH
At the end of his long journey he finally arrived at Makkah, the mother of all cities, in 598 AH (July 1202 AD). The Makkan period of Ibn ‘Arabi’s (RA) life can be viewed as the fulcrum of his earthly existence; he spent 36 years of his life in the West and the upcoming 36 years in the East, with about 3 years in Makkah in between. This three year period both connects and differentiates the two halves of his life. It was in Makkah that he started writing the very best of his works Al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya,
It was in Makkah that his status as Seal of Muhammadian sainthood was confirmed in the glorious vision of the Prophet; it was in Makkah that he had the dream of the two bricks and his encounter with the Ka‘ba; (Hirtenstein 148) it was in Makkah that the love of women was first evoked in his heart by the beautiful Nizam, (Hirtenstein, 149) who became the personification of wisdom and beauty. It was in Makkah that he first savoured the pleasures of married life, marrying and becoming a father. His first wife was Fatima bint Yunus and their first son Muhammad ‘Imaduddin was probably born in Makkah (Hirtenstein 150).
Again it was in Makkah that he produced the very best of his works, like the first chapters of Futuhat, the Ruh al-Quds, the Taj al-Rasa’il, the Hilyat al-Abdal and a collections of hadith qudsi named “Mishkat al-Anwar”. It is also worth mentioning that in Makkah he met some of the eminent scholars of Hadith of his time. Amongst them was Abu Shuja’ Zahir bin Rustam, father of the beautiful Nizam and Yunus ibn Yahya al-Hashimi (RA), who had been a pupil of the great ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (RA) in Baghdad. He not only introduced Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) to the Prophetic tradition but also transmitted to him the teachings of the most famous saint in Egypt in the ninth century, Dhu’l-Nun al-Misri. Yunus ibn Yahya also invested him in front of the Ka‘ba with the Khirqa (Mantle) of ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (RA) .8 (Ibn ‘Arabi (RA), “Nasab al-Khirqa”; Elmore “Mantle of Initiation” 1-33). It is believed that after wearing this Khirqa Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) formally joined the Qadriyya Tariqah.
Sheikh Muhyiddin Ibn Al-Arabi (RA) – Brief Biography – URS 22nd Rabi al-Thani – (Part 2)
Sheikh Muhyiddin Ibn Al-Arabi RA – URS 22nd Rabi al-Thani
Sheikh Muhyiddin Ibn Al-Arabi RA, the Urs is on 22nd Rabi al-Thani (Sun 31 Jan or Monday 1 Feb 2016) inshallah. Sheikh Muhyiddin Ibn Al-Arabi RA was also one of the great grandfather’s of our Murshid, Sultan Sheikh Nazim Al-Haqqani (KS) May Allah Almighty continuously raise their maqam and honour them in Divine Presence.
PART TWO CONTINUED …
VISIONS AT THE KAABA
Apart from all this, several visions were granted to him in Makkah. The first took place at night during his circumambulations of the Ka‘ba when he met a young beautiful girl Qurrat al-‘Ayn (Hirtenstein 148). In the second vision, during his circumambulations of the Ka‘ba, he met the mysterious figure who had appeared at the beginning of his ascension and here at Makkah. He said to Ibn ‘ArabI (RA), you should circumambulate in my footstep and observe me in the light of my moon, so that you may take from my constitution that which you write in your book and transmit to your readers (OY: I, 218).
The third vision also occurs at Ka‘ba in a spiritual conversation with the Haram and the Zamzam stream; Ka‘ba ordered him to circumambulate it and the Zamzam told him to drink this pure water but a soft refusal made Ka‘ba angry and he took revenge on a cold and rainy night in the year 600 AH. Shaykh heard the voice of Ka‘ba loud and clear; later in a meditation God taught him the lesson and to express this gratitude Ibn ‘Arab┘ composed a collection of letters in rhymed prose, entitled the Taj al-Rasa’il, in homage to the Ka‘ba.
The next vision is also related to Ka‘ba, in the year 599 AH in Makkah Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) saw a dream which confirms once again his accession to the office of the Seal of the Muhammadian Sainthood. He saw two bricks – one of Gold and the other of Silver – were missing from two rows of the wall of Ka‘ba. He says: “In the mean time I was observing that, standing there, I feel without doubt that I was these two bricks and these two bricks were me …. And perhaps it is through me that God has sealed sainthood” (Addas 213).
In the year 599 AH during circumambulating the Ka‘ba, he encountered the son of Caliph Harun al-Rashid, who had been dead for four centuries and was famous for choosing Saturday for work to gather food for rest of the week. Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) asked him: “Who are you?” He replied: “I am al-Sabti ibn Harun al-Rashid.” Later Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) asked him: “What was the reason of choosing Saturday for work?” He replied: “As God has made this universe in six days from Sunday to Friday, and he rested on Saturday, so I, as His servant worked on Saturday and devoted myself to worshiping Lord for the rest of the week.” In another glorious vision at Ka‘ba Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) saw his forefathers and asked one of them his time, he replied he had been dead around forty thousand years ago. Finally, at Ka‘ba, behind the wall of Hanbalites, Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) was granted the privilege of being able to join a meeting of the seven Abdals (Addas 216).
COUNSEL MY SERVANTS
The message was clear and it was from God; in a passage of Kitab al-Mubashshirat Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) admits that one evening in Makkah he experienced a brief spell of despondency on the face of his disciples, he thought of leaving all counselling, abandon men to their fate and to devote his future efforts to himself alone as those who truly enter the Path are rare. On the same night, he saw himself in dream facing God on the Day of Judgment. In that dream, He said:
“I was standing in front of my Lord, head lowered and fearing that He would punish me for my short comings but he said to me: “Servant of Mine, fear nothing! All I ask of you is that you should counsel My servants” (Addas 218). Faithful to this assurance he would spend the rest of his life giving advice to people from all walks of life, direct disciples, religious authorities and political rulers. This vision probably occurred in the year 600 AH at Makkah, as the very first page of the Ruh al-Quds, written following this revelational order mentions it vividly. According to Osman Yahia; Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) produced 50 of his works after this Divine order, some of which are short epistles of less than 10 pages but all of these are rooted in the Divine order: “Counsel My servants.”
JOURNEY TO THE NORTH
Ibn Arabi’s (RA) life, spanning between 600 to 617 AH is full of journeys, he frequently kept crossing and re-crossing Syria, Palestine, Anatolia, Egypt, Iraq and the Hijaz, yet this physical activity stood in no way in his spiritual pursuits and obligations. The two dimension activity had indeed the same spiritual provenance and was motivated by the sublime purpose of higher life unrelated to egocentricity. The year 600 AH witnessed a meeting between Ibn Arabi (RA) and Shaykh Majduddin Ishaq ibn Yusuf, a native of Malatya and a man of great standing at the Seljuk court. This time Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) was travelling north; first they visited the city of the Prophet Muhammad (SWS) and in 601 AH they entered Baghdad.
This visit besides other benefits offered him a chance to meet the direct disciples of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Jilani (RA). Shaykh al-Akbar stayed there only for 12 days because he wanted to visit Mosul to see his friend ‘Ali ibn ‘Abdallah ibn Jami’, a disciple of Qadib al-Ban. There he spent the month of Ramadan and composed Tanazzulat al-Mawsiliyya, Kitab al-Jalal wa’l-Jamal and Kunh ma la Budda lil-Murid Minhu (Hirtenstein 176). Here he was invested with the Khirqa of Khidr (AS), transmitted to him by ‘Ali ibn ‘Abdallah ibn Jami’. Later the group travelled north and arrived at Malatya, Majduddin’s hometown and then to Konya. In Konya Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) met with Awhaduddin Hamid Kirmani, who became his friend like Majduddin. He transmitted to Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) teachings and stories of the many great spiritual masters of the East. Over the next 20 years Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) and Kirmani remained close friends and companions (Hirtenstein 179).
After spending 9 months in Konya, he returned to Malatya where Kayka’us, one of the Kaykhusraw’s sons, had been made ruler of Malatya. Majduddin was appointed as his tutor and Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) also became involved in the young prince’s education.
RETURN TO THE SOUTH
In the year 602 AH he visited Jerusalem, Makkah and Egypt. It was his first time that he passed through Syria, visiting Aleppo and Damascus. In Jerusalem, he continued writing, and 5 more works were completed. These are: Kitab al-Ba’, Isharat al-Qur’an. In May 602 AH he visited Hebron, where he wrote Kitab al-Yaqin at Masjid al-Yaqin near the tomb of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) (Yusuf 307).
The following year he headed toward Cairo, staying there with his old Andalusian friends , including Abu al-‘Abbas al-Harrar, his brother Muhammad al-Khayyat and ‘Abdallah al-Mawruri. In Cairo Ruh al-Quds and Kitab Ayyam al-Sha’n were read again before Ibn ‘Arab┘, with the reader this time being a young man named Isma’il ibn Sawdakin al-Nuri (Yusuf 309). Like Badr al-Habashi, Ibn Sawdakin attached himself to Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) forever. He left value-oriented commentaries on the works of Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) notably Mashahid al-Asrar, Kitab al-Isra’ and the Kitab al-Tajalliyat. His house in Aleppo was often used for the reading of Ibn ‘Arabi’s (RA) works over the next 40 years (Yusuf 311).
Later in 604 AH he returned to Makkah where he continued to study and write, spending his time with his friend Abu Shuja bin Rustem and family, including the beautiful Nizam (II, 376; Hirtenstein 181). The next 4 to 5 years of Ibn ‘Arabi’s (RA) life were spent in these lands and he also kept travelling and holding the reading sessions of his works in his own presence.
BAGHDAD, CITY OF THE SAINTS
In the year 608 we find him in Baghdad with his friend MajduddIn Ishaq and there he met the famous historian Ibn al-Dubaythi and his disciple Ibn al-Najjar. In Baghdad, he had a terrifying vision regarding the Divine deception (makr), In which he saw the gates of heaven open and the treasures of Divine deception fell like rain on everyone. He awoke terrified and looked for a way of being safe from these deceptions. The only safe way he found is by knowing the balance of the Divine law.
According to Osman Yahia in Baghdad Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) met with the famous Sufi Shihabuddin Suharwardi (d. 632), author of the ‘Awarif al-ma’arif who was personal advisor to Caliph al-Nasir. In this meeting, they stayed together for a while, with lowered heads and departed without exchanging a single word. Later Ibn ‘Arab┘ said about Suharwardi: “He is impregnated with the Sunna from tip to toe” and Suharwardi said about Ibn ‘Arabi (RA): “He is an ocean of essential truths (bahr al-Haqaiq).
TARJUMAN AL-ASHWAQIn the year 611 he was again in Makkah, where his friend Abu Shuja had died two years before. Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) performed Hajj and started compilation of his most famous poetic work the Tarjuman al-Ashwaq. After Hajj Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) left Makkah, travelling north towards the Roman lands, probably Konya or Malatya and in the year 610/611 he returned to Aleppo. In Aleppo this work caused uproar and consternation in certain quarters, since he came under the blame of writing erotic verses under the cover of poetic allusions. The jurists from Allepo severely criticized the claim that this poetry was a mystical or expresses Divine realities, which made his disciples very upset. Later on the request of his two disciples, Ibn Sawdakin and Badr al-Habashi he wrote a commentary on these poems by the title of “Dhakha’ir al-A’laq” in a great hurry. It was completed in Anatolia in 612. When the jurists heard this commentary, they felt sorry for unjustly exposing Ibn ‘Arab┘ to scathing criticism (Yusuf 335).
IN SIVAS AND MALATYAThe period of extensive travelling came to an end and for the next few years he seems to have made his home in the Seljuk Kingdom. In the year 612 AH, at Sivas he had a vision anticipating Kayka’us victory at Antioch over the Franks. He wrote a poem in which he enlightened the Sultan of the vision and his future victory. Later Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) returned to Malatya and according to Stephen Hartenstein he met Baha’uddin Walad, father of the famous Persian Poet Jallaluddun Rumi (RA), the famous Persian poet of that time. Little Rumi was with his father and after the meeting when Baha’uddin left with his son tagging along behind him, Shaykh al-Akbar said: “What an extraordinary sight, a sea followed by an ocean!” (Hirtenstein 188).
His reading and writings continued in Malatya, where in 615 AH, we find hearings of Ruh al-Quds, finalization of The Tarjuman al-Ashwaq and compilation of a short epistle on the technical terms of Sufism: the Istilahat al-sufiyya. The year 617 was the year of mourning for him as he lost one of his best friends Majduddin Ishaq, Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) took charge of the upbringing of the young Sadruddin and married the widow as it was necessary according to the customs of the time. (Hirtenstein 189). Lastly his close companion and valet, friend and fellow, traveller on the way of God Badr al-Habashi died.
DAMASCUS THE LAST DAYS
After criss-crossing the east for a period of 20 years Ibn ‘ArabI (RA) now decided to settle in Syria and spent the last 17 years of his life in Damascus, the city was already known quite well to him, he had several contacts with leading notables there. He was greeted in Damascus as a spiritual master and a spacious house was provided to him by the Grand Qadi of the town Ibn Zaki. In Damascus, he devoted himself to writing and teaching to fulfil the commandment of his Lord: “Counsel My servants.” The first thing he did was to collect and disseminate the works which had already been written, copies were made and reading sessions took place in his house. Kitab al-Tajalliyat was one of these first books to record such a certificate (sima‘) in the presence of his disciple Ibn Sawdak┘n. In the year 621 AH eight more works bore these hearing certificates, among these were: Kitab al-Yaqin, Al- Maqsid al-Asmá, Kitab al-Mim wal-Waw wal-Nun, Mafatih al-Ghayub and Kitab al-Haqq. At the same time, Ibn ‘Arab┘ devoted his attention to complete the lengthy Futuhat, many volumes of this book came into being in this period.
During this period of his life, he imparted direct instructions to many of his disciples including Sadruddin al-Qunawi. He brought up alongside Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) own family in Malatya and after the death of his real father Qunawi joined Shaykh al-Akbar in Damascus. He accompanied and served Kirmani on his travels in Egypt, Hijaz and Iran. In his private collection Sadruddin wrote that he had studied 10 works of Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) under him and later Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) gave him a certificate to freely relate them on his authority. He studied and discussed with Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) no less than 40 works, including the whole text of Futuhat in 20 volumes.
VISIONS AT DAMASCUS
Ibn ‘ArabI (RA) had several visions of the Prophet Muhammad (SWS) at Damascus. In 624 AH he had been told by the Messenger of Allah that angles are superior to men. In the same year, he had another discussion with the Prophet, this time Prophet replied to him regarding the resurrection of animals: “Animals will not be resurrected on the Day of Judgement.” (I, 527; Addas 275) In the third vision he was ordered by the Prophet to write a poem in favour of al-Ansar. In this vision Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) was informed that his mother was from al-Ansar’s tribe (I, 267). In the fourth vision, at the end of Muharram 627 AH the Prophet came to him once again and handed him the book Fusus al-Hikam (The Bezels of Wisdoms). Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) started writing this book with all the purity of his intentions and his deepest aspirations. He said: “I state nothing that has not been projected toward me; I write nothing except what has been inspired in me. I am not a Prophet nor a Messenger but simply an inheritor; and I labour for my future life” (Ibn ‘Arabi (RA), “Fusus al-Hikam” 47). In the same year just over two months after receiving the book of the Fusus he had a vision of Divine Ipseity, it’s exterior and interior which he had not seen before in any of his witnessings.
THE FUTUHAT OF MAKKIYYA
In 629 AH the first draft of al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya was completed. The book has hundreds of manuscript in various libraries of the world, the most important of them is the manuscript of Konya, written by its author. This book had taken the best part of his thirty years and Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) dedicated it to his eldest son, ‘Imaduddin Muhammad. It contains 560 chapters of esoteric knowledge and is truly the encyclopaedia of Islamic Sufism. The book is divided into six sections and these are:
1. Spiritual Knowledge (al-ma‘arif)
2. Spiritual Behaviour (al-ma‘lumat)
3. Spiritual States (al-ahwal)
4. Spiritual Abodes (al-manazil)
5. Spiritual Encounters (al-munazalat)
6. Spiritual Stations (al-maqamat)
Chapter 559 contains the mysteries and secrets of all the chapters of the book, so we can say that it is like a summary of the whole Futuhat. In the 48th chapter of the Futuhat, he says that the content of the message and the form of its presentation have been determined by Divine Inspiration.
Three years later in 632 AH, on the first of Muharram, Ibn ‘Arabi (RA) embarked on a second draft of the Futuhat; this he explained, included a number of additions and a number of deletions as compared with the previous draft. This revision completed in the year 636 (Addas 286). After completion of this 2nd draft, he started teaching it to his disciples. Dr. Osman Yahia has mentioned hundreds of these hearings or public readings that occur between the year 633 AH and 638 AH. These hearings show that the Futuhat was a primary document of his concepts and was widespread in his life in comparison with the Fusus al-Hikam, which has only one Sam┐’ given to only Sadruddin al-Qunawi.
Finally on 22 Rabi‘ al-Thani 638 AH at the age of seventy-five, Ibn ‘Arabi’s (RA) worldly life came to an end. He was present at the house of Qadi Ibn Zaki at the time of death, Jamaluddin ibn ‘Abd al-Khaliq, ‘Imad Ibn Nahhas and his son ‘Imaduddin performed his funeral rites. He was buried in the family tomb of the Banu Zaki in the small beautiful district of Salihiyya at Jabal Qasiyun.
(Source: From authenticated sources by Abrar Ahmed Shahi
Ibn Arabi Foundation )
In honour of this great Saint of Allah Almighty we recite 3 Surah Ikhlas and Bir hurmat Habib ir hurmati Al-Fatiha.