Shaykh Muhyi al-Din Ibn ‘Arabi

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Shaykh Muhyi al-Din Ibn ‘Arabi Contents

 

 

 

Shaykh Muhyi al-Din Ibn ‘Arabi  3

 

His Teachers  3

Concerning al-Khidr 3-5

His Doctrine (‘Aqîda)  6

His Rank of Mujtahid Mutlaq  6

The Controversy Surrounding Him  7

Al-Suyuti’s Response to al-Biqa‘i  7

Ibn ‘Arabi’s Admirers  9

Wahda al-Wujûd or Oneness of Being  14

Ibn Taymiyya’s Unreliability  18

Other Critics of Ibn ‘Arabi  19

Al-Haytami’s Response  21

     The Ethics of the Mufti in Casting Judgment  22

Al-Dhahabi’s Warning to Critics of Sufis  26

     Hadith “Whoso shows enmity to one of My Friends”  27

Some of Ibn ‘Arabi’s Sayings  28

 

 

 

Ibn ‘Arabi’s Islamic Doctrine  33

 

The First Testimony of Faith  34

The Second Testimony of Faith  47

Final Supplication  49

 

 

 

Bibliography  51



Shaykh Muhyi al-Din Ibn ‘Arabi (d. 638)

 

Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn al-‘Arabi, Abu Bakr Muhyi al-Din al-Hatimi al-Ta’i al-Andalusi al-Mursi al-Dimashqi, known as Ibn ‘Arabi to differentiate him from Abu Bakr Ibn al-‘Arabi the Maliki jurist. A scholar of Arabic let­ters at first, then tafsîr and tasawwuf, nicknamed al-Qushayri and Sultan al-‘Arifin in his time for his pre-eminence in tasawwuf, known in his lifetime for his de­voutness to worship, asceticism, and generosity, Ibn ‘Arabi was praised by al-Munawi as “a righteous friend of Allah and a faithful scholar of knowledge” (waliyyun sâlihun wa ‘âli­mun nâsih), by Ibn ‘Imad al-Hanbali as “the absolute mujta­hid without doubt,” and by al-Fayruzabadi as “the Imam of the People of Shari‘a both in knowledge and in legacy, the educator of the People of the Way in practice and in knowl­edge, and the shaykh of the shaykhs of the People of Truth through spiritual experience (dhawq) and understand­ing.”[1]

 

 

His Teachers

 

He travelled East and West in the study of hadith, taking knowledge from over a thousand shaykhs, among them Abu al-Hasan ibn Hudhayl, Muhammad ibn Khalaf al-Lakhmi, Ibn Zarqun, Abu al-Walid al-Hadrami, al-Silafi, ‘Abd al-Haqq al-Ishbili, Ibn ‘Asakir, Ibn al-Jawzi, and Ibn Bushku­wal. His principal shaykhs in tasawwuf were Abu Madyan al-Maghribi, Jamal al-Din Yunus ibn Yahya al-Qassar, Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Tamimi al-Fasi, Abu al-Hasan ibn Jami‘, and al-Khidr u.[2] He became known first as al-Shaykh al-Kabir (“The Great Shaykh”) then al-Shaykh al-Akbar (“The Great­est Shaykh”) with specific reference to the sciences of tasaw­wuf in which he authored hun­dreds of books.[3]

 

 

His Doctrine (‘Aqîda)

 

His greatest and best-known work is his last, al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya (“The Meccan Conquests”) which begins with a statement of doctrine – translated in the present volume – about which al-Safadi said: “I saw that from beginning to end it consists in the doctrine of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash‘ari without any difference whatso­ever.”[4]

 

 

His Rank of Mujtahid Mutlaq

 

            In jurisprudence Ibn ‘Arabi is often said to follow the Zahiri school, but this is incorrect since he himself denies it, as quoted by Ibn ‘Imad from Ibn ‘Arabi’s two poems al-Ra’iyya and al-Nuniyya, which state respectively:

 

       Laqad harrama al-Rahmânu taqlîda Mâlikin

            wa Ahmada wa al-Nu‘mani wa al-kulli fa‘dhurû

 

     The Merciful forbade me to imitate Malik, Ahmad,

Al-Nu‘man [Abu Hanifa] and others, therefore pardon me.

 

Lastu mimman yaqûlu qâla Ibnu Hazmin

lâ wa lâ Ahmadu wa la al-Nu‘mânu

 

I am not of those who say: “Ibn Hazm said”—

Certainly not! Nor “Ahmad said” nor “al-Nu‘man said.”[5]

 

 

The Controversy Surrounding Him

 

The name of Ibn ‘Arabi remains associated with contro­versy because of those who criticized him severely for the work attributed to him under the title Fusûs al-Hikam (“The Pre­cious Stones of the Wisdoms”). The attribution of this work in its present form to Ibn ‘Arabi is undoubtedly incor­rect as the Fusûs contradicts some of the most basic tenets of Islam expounded by Ibn ‘Arabi himself in his authen­tic works, such as the finality of Prophethood, the primacy of Prophets over non-Prophets, the abrogation of all religious creeds other than Islam, the everlastingness of the punish­ment of Hellfire and its dwellers, the abiding therein of anyone that does not accept the Prophet r after his coming, Pharaoh’s damna­tion, etc. Nevertheless the Fusûs have re­ceived commen­taries by the following scholars among others: Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi (d. 671), ‘Afif al-Din al-Tilim­sani (d. 690), Mu’ayyid al-Din al-Jundi (d. 700), Sa‘d al-Din al-Farghani (d. 700), Kamal al-Din al-Zamalkani (d. 727), Dawud al-Qaysari (d. 751), Kamal al-Din al-Qashani (d. 751), Sayyid ‘Ali al-Hamadani (d. 766), Khwaja Muham­mad Parsa (d. 822) the intimate friend of Shah Naqshband t, Mawlana Jami (d. 898), Isma‘il al-Anqa­rawi (d. 1042), ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi (d. 1144), and others.

 

 

Al-Suyuti’s Response to al-Biqa‘i

 

In response to an attack by Burhan al-Din al-Biqa‘i (d. 885) entitled Tanbih al-Ghabi ila Takfir Ibn ‘Arabi wa Tahdhir al-‘Ibad min Ahl al-‘Inad (“Warning to the Ignoramus Concerning the Declaration of Ibn ‘Arabi’s Disbelief, and Cautioning the Servants of Allah Against Stub­born People”) Sayyid ‘Ali ibn Maymun al-Maghribi (d. 917) wrote a fatwa entitled Tanbih al-Ghabi fi Tanzih Ibn ‘Arabi (“Warning to the Ignoramus Concerning Ibn ‘Arabi’s Vindication”). Al-Suyuti wrote a fatwa with the same title, in which he stated:

 

The scholars past and present have differed concerning Ibn ‘Arabi, one group considering him a friend of Allah (walî) – and they are correct – such as Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah al-Sakandari and ‘Afif al-Din al-Yafi‘i, another considering him a heretic – such as a large number of the jurists – while others expressed doubts concerning him, among them al-Dhahabi in al-Mizan. Two opposed verdicts are reported from Shaykh ‘Izz al-Din ibn ‘Abd al-Salam, one attacking him, and one describing him as the Spiritual Pole (al-qutb). What reconciles them is indicated by Shaykh Taj al-Din ibn ‘Ata’ Allah in Lata’if al-Minan [fi Manaqib Abi al-‘Abbas al-Mursi wa Shaykhihi Abi al-Hasan al-Shadhili], namely, that Shaykh ‘Izz al-Din at the beginning acted in the fashion of jurists in passing quick judgment on the Sufis. When Shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili went to pilgrimage and returned, he came to Shaykh ‘Izz al-Din before entering his own house and con­veyed to him the Prophet’s r greeting. After that, Shaykh ‘Izz al-Din humbled himself and began to sit in al-Shadhili’s gatherings….[6] Our shaykh, Shaykh al-Islam, the last remnant of the mujtahids, Sharaf al-Din al-Munawi replied, concerning Ibn ‘Arabi, that silence was safest. And this is the stance that befits every truly God­wary person who fears for himself. For me, the last word concerning Ibn ‘Arabi – and this is accepted neither by his contemporary admirers nor by his detractors – is that he be considered a walî, but reading his books is forbidden.[7]

 

Whatever is transmitted and attributed to the [Sufi] Shaykhs – may Allah be well pleased with them – if it contradicts external knowl­edge, bears various possibili­ties:

 

First, we do not concede its attribu­tion to them until it is estab­lished as authentic.

 

Second, after authentic­ity is established, it may have a figurative meaning; if not, then one should say: “Perhaps it has a figurative meaning for the people of internal knowledge and the knowers of Allah Almighty.”

 

Third, this may have come from them in a state of intoxication and distraction, and the lawfully intoxicated person is not taken to task as he is not held responsible in such a state.

 

Holding a bad opinion about them after all these resolutions is a sign of deprivement of success. We seek refuge in Allah from failure and a terrible verdict, and from all evils![8]

 

 

Ibn ‘Arabi’s Admirers

 

Al-Suyuti’s attitude and what he reports from al-Munawi is echoed by Imam al-Safadi who said of Ibn ‘Arabi: “He was a very great man, and whatever can be under­stood from his words is excellent and upright; as for what we find difficult, we leave its matter to Allah, for we were not tasked with following him nor with doing all that he said.”[9] Similarly al-Qari admitted in one of his fatwas against Ibn ‘Arabi and his works: “The safest course in Religion concerning the person of Ibn ‘Arabi is silence, as the scholars differed about him.”[10]

 

The hadith master Ibn al-Najjar (d. 643) wrote a long notice on him in his biographical history in which he said: “I met him in Damascus and copied some of his poetry. What a wonderful shaykh he was!”[11] Among the famous authorities who held a good opinion of Ibn ‘Arabi are the following:

 

                  ·           The Qur’anic commentator and jurist Imam al-Baydawi who called him “the Imam of Verification in reality and outwardly”;

                  ·           The Qur’anic commentator Abu al-Su‘ud;

                  ·           Imam al-Safadi, the author of al-Wafi bi al-Wafayat;[12]

                  ·           Zayn al-Din al-Khafi al-Akbar Abadi;[13]

                  ·           The hadith master al-Sakhawi who chronicled al-Biqa‘i’s fitna in his Ahsan al-Masa‘i fi Idah Hawadith al-Biqa‘i and went on to write al-Qawl al-Munabbi ‘an Tarjima Ibn ‘Arabi which he summarized in al-Kifaya fi Tariq al-Hidaya. He also authored another book titled Tajrid Asma’ al-Akhidhin ‘an Ibn ‘Arabi in which he listed all the scholars who borrowed material from the Shaykh.[14]

                  ·           Al-Adnahwi (11th c.) who called him in his Tabaqat al-Mufassirin “the Peerless Shaykh in his Time.”a

 

                  ·           Ibn ‘Imad al-Hanbali who called him “the Great Knower of Allah” (al-‘ârif al-kabîr);[15]

                  ·           Kamal al-Din ‘Abd al-Wahid ibn ‘Abd al-Karim Ibn al-Zamalkani al-Dimashqi (d. 651) who called him “the Ocean re­plete with all kinds of divine knowledges”;

                  ·           Safi al-Din al-Azdi al-Ansari in his epistle on the scholars of his time;

                  ·           Shaykh Jalal al-Din al-Dawani (d. 907);[16]

                  ·           Majd al-Din al-Shirazi al-Siddiqi in his fatwa entitled al-Ightibat bi Mu‘alaja Ibn al-Khayyat;[17]

                  ·           Al-Sayyid al-Jurjani whose Ta‘rifat in­cludes Ibn ‘Arabi’s termino­logies;

                  ·           The renowned lexicographer, hadith scholar and jurist al-Fayruzabadi who in his commentary on al-Bukhari’s Sahih often quotes Ibn ‘Arabi’s ex­planations;

                  ·           Imam al-Yafi‘i who called him in his Tarikh “the Paragon of the Friends of Allah in knowledge and fiqh out­wardly and inwardly”;

                  ·           The lexicographer and hadith master Murtada al-Zabidi who often cites Ibn ‘Arabi in his commentary on al-Ghazzali’s Ihya’ entitled Ithaf al-Sada al-Muttaqin.

 

                  ·           Qadi al-Qudat Shams al-Din al-Bisati al-Maliki who opposed before the Sultan – in Ibn Hajar’s presence – ‘Ala’ al-Din al-Bukhari’s verdict of takfîr of Ibn ‘Arabi and whoever accepted him;[18]

                  ·           Shaykh al-Islam Siraj al-Din al-Makhzumi who said: “Our shaykh, Shaykh al-Islam Siraj al-Din al-Bulqini and likewise Shaykh Taqi al-Din al-Subki used to criti­cize the Shaykh in the beginning, then they changed their position after they realized what he was saying and the explanation of his intent.”[19]

                  ·           Al-Bulqini who was reported by his student al-Makhzumi as saying: “We seek refuge in Allah from say­ing that he [Ibn ‘Arabi] asserts indwelling (hulûl) or communion-with-the-divine (ittihâd)! He is far above that. Rather, he is one of the greatest imams and among those who have probed the oceans of the sciences of the Book and the Sunna.”[20]

                  ·           Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya al-Ansari in the chapter on apostasy in his book Sharh Kitab al-Rawd fi al-Fiqh wa al-Fatwa;[21]

                  ·           Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami in his Fatawa Hadithiyya;

                  ·           Imam Shams al-Din Muhammad al-Bakri;

                  ·           The hadith master and Qur’anic commentator Shaykh Isma‘il Haqqi in his book al-Khitab;

                  ·           Imam Muhammad Ibn ‘Abidin, the foremost authority in the late Hanafi school;[22]

 

                  ·           The Ottoman writer Katib Çelebi who devoted a chapter on Ibn ‘Arabi in his book Mizan al-Haqq fi Ikhtyar al-Ahaqq;

                  ·           Shaykh Mulla al-Jami in Nafahat al-Uns;

                  ·           The hadith master of Damascus and Renewer of the Fourteenth Islamic century, Shaykh Badr al-Din al-Hasani;[23]

                  ·           The Wahhabi supporter, student of al-Shawkani, scho­larly nawab of Bhopal and author of Abjad al-‘Ulum Siddiq Hasan Khan al-Qinnawji in the third chapter of his Takhrij al-Wasaya which he titled: “Concerning the Instructions of One of the Pure People of Excel­lence Com­monly Named ‘Sufis’ – Allah Grant Us and All of Them Mercy Through the Immense Honor of the Master of Messengers e (bijâh sayyid al-mursalîn)” The chapter then begins: “The most sublime shaykh and knower of Allah (al-shaykh al-ajall al-‘ârif billâhi ta‘âlâ) said in al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya…” Al-Qinnawji then goes on to cite Ibn ‘Arabi for over forty pages.[24]

 

                  ·           Sayyid Jamal al-Din al-Qasimi in his Qawa‘id al-Tahdith;[25]

 

                  ·           Imam Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari in his Maqalat.[26]

                  ·           Muhammad ‘Abduh calls him al-Shaykh al-Akbar;b

 

                  ·           Shaykh al-Islam al-Munawi who cited him over two hundred times in Fayd al-Qadir and elsewhere declared:

A group of scholars professed suspension of judgment and benefit of good opinion (al-taslîm)… their Imam being Shaykh al-Islam al-Nawawi who replied, when asked about Ibn ‘Arabi: (Those are a people who have passed away. Theirs is that which they earned, and yours is that which you earn. And you will not be asked of what they used to do) (2:134). [Ahmad] Zarruq reported from his shaykh al-Nuri the words: “They differed about him from the verdict of disbelief to that of spiritual primacy (qutbâniyya); giving the benefit of good opin­ion is therefore an obligation.”[27]

 

 

Wahda al-Wujûd or Oneness of Being

 

Perhaps the most famous misrepresentation of the Shaykh that resulted from the Fusûs is the attribution to him of the doctrine of “one­ness of being” (wahda al-wujûd) in the pan­the­istic sense of the im­manence of the Deity in everything that exists. Al-Qari cites, for example, a verse of poetry which he references to the Fusûs, stating:

 

Subhâna man azhara al-ashyâ’a wa huwa ‘aynuhâ

Glory to Him Who caused things to appear

and is those very things![28]

 

This attribution and others of its type are evidently spurious and Ibn ‘Arabi’s ‘Aqida flatly contradicts them. Fur­thermore, verifying scholars such as Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi in his epistles, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi in al-Radd al-Matin ‘ala Muntaqid al-‘Arif Billah Muhyi al-Din and Idah al-Maqsud min Wahda al-Wujud, and al-Sha‘rani in al-Yawaqit wa al-Jawahir and Tanbih al-Aghbiya’ ‘ala Qatratin min Bahri ‘Ulum al-Awliya have re­phrased Ibn ‘Arabi’s ex­pression of “one­ness of being” (wahda al-wujûd) as “one­ness of per­ception” (wahda al-shuhûd) in the sense in which the Prophet r defined excel­lence (ihsân) as “worshipping Allah as if you see Him.”[29] And to see Him is to see nothing else. This is what is meant in such ex­pressions as the question uttered again and again by the late Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hamid Kishk: “Allah is my Lord! Is there in all existence any but He?” (Allâhu rabbî! Hal fi al-wujûdi siwâh?) or apho­rism 133 of Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah: “The universes are affirmed by His affirmation of them and they are erased by the unicity of His Essence” (al-akwânu thâbitatun bi ithbâtihi wa mamhuw­watun bi ahadiyyati dhâtihi). Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hadi Kharsa explained:

 

Those who have come to know Allah I through His own self-disclosure to them (ta‘rîf Allâhi lahum) – they did not come to know Him via their minds – have known him with the light which Allah I imparted to their hearts and minds. This light then reflected itself upon all things. Then they saw that all things subsist in Allah, and they wit­nessed the Onenesse of Allah I in all those created aspects despite their multiplicity. For these aspects have no autonomy of existence. Their subsistence is only through the divine Sustainment (qayyûmiyya) and their affirmation is through the Support (imdâd) of Allah. [Allah chooses for Himself whom He will, and guides unto Himself him who turns (toward Him)] (42:13). The people of turning to Allah (ahl al-inâba) Allah guides unto Himself. The people of His choice (ahl al-ijtibâ’) are those whom He especially purifies (istafâhum). [And peace be on His slaves whom He has chosen] (27:59). O Allah, let us be of them and with them! Amin.[30]

 

Al-Nabulusi said in his Diwan:

 

Beware of witnessing any other [Causator] than Him!

[Of this] cease your concern.

There is neither “you” nor “I” in this existence.

Verily, Existence is the True through Whom we appear

And through Whom we return to extinction.

When we return through Him, it is as if we never were

And when we appear through Him, yet He appears without our help.

O child of contingencies! Do not think yourself

—for you certainly are not—the One without beginning

Even if He caused you to appear and took care of you!

Truly, indwelling is the delusion of the ignoramus

Whose favorite occupation is finding fault

With the discourse of the people of Allah.

I never heard nor shall I ever hear a sane and reasonable person

Declare that the Real inhabits a contingent being!

Now, if some texts actually said this, they said it

Only on the firmly-established basis of the Prophet’spact.[31]

 

Dr. Sa‘id al-Buti said:

 

What is the meaning of the expression “one­ness of perception”? When I interact with causes with full respect to the ways of Allah, His orders, and His Law, knowing that the sustenance that comes to me is from Allah; the felicity that enters my home is from Allah Almighty; my food is readied for me by Allah – I mean even the smallest details; the wealth with which I have been graced, comes from Allah; the ill­ness that has been put in my being or that of a relative of mine comes from Allah Almighty; the cure that followed it is from Allah Almighty; my success in my studies is by Allah Almighty’s grant; the results which I have attained after obtaining my degrees and so forth, are from Allah Almighty’s grant – when the effi­cacy of causes melts away in my sight and I no longer see, behind them, other than the Causator Who is Allah Almighty: at that time, when you look right, you do not see except the Attributes of Allah, and when you look left, you do not see other than the Attributes of Allah. As much as you evolve in the world of causes, you do not see, through them, other than the Causator, Who is Allah. At that time you have become raised to what the spiritual masters have called oneness of perception. And this oneness of percep­tion is what the Messenger of Allah r expressed by the word ihsân [which he defined to mean]: “That you worship Allah as if you see him.” You do not see the causes as a bar­rier between you and Allah. Rather, you see causes, in the context of this doctrine, very much like pure, trans­parent glass: the glass pane is present – no one denies it – but as much as you stare at it, you do not see anything except what is behind it. Is it not so? You only see what is behind it. The world is entirely made of glass panes in this fashion. You see in them the efficacy of Allah in perma­nence, so you are always with Allah Al­mighty. None has tasted the sweetness of belief unless he has reached that level of perception.[32]

 

 

Ibn Taymiyya’s Unreliability

 

Ibn Taymiyya is quoted in his Fatawa as being asked re­peatedly about “the verdict of Islam concerning Ibn ‘Arabi who asserted Oneness of Being,” and other similar questions. However, it seems that Ibn Taymiyya did not review the Shaykh’s huge Futuhat in its totality when he answered these questions. At times, his discussions about Ibn ‘Arabi depend, as he puts it, on “whether these are his actual words” while at other times he attacks him outright on the basis of these unverified assumptions, or himself levels specific accusations against the Shaykh. Muhammad Ghurab – a contemporary autho­rity on Ibn ‘Arabi’s works – in a book pub­lished in the 1980s by Dar al-Fikr in Damascus, states having read the Futuhat several times from cover to cover without finding the expressions for which Ibn Taymiyya took the Shaykh to task while citing this work. The late scholar of Damascus Shaykh Mahmud al-Rankusi similarly affirmed that Ibn Taymiyya an­swered questions about Ibn ‘Arabi without con­firming them against his actual writings, and that the sharp temper of the former further complicated his attitude towards the Shaykh. On the basis of these opinions and in the light of Ibn Taymiyya’s occasional reservations and his otherwise apparently correct approach to ambiguous expres­sions, it seems that the misquotations of Ibn ‘Arabi became so numerous in Ibn Taymiyya’s time that it became incon­ceivable to him that they were all incorrect, whereupon he treated them as facts. The errors causing these misquota­tions can also be inferred from the fact that since the misquota­tions revolved around issues of doctrine – in which misunderstand­ings are fraught with grave dangers – and in light of the Shaykh’s complex style and obscure expressions, queries would be commonly sent to muftis con­cer­ning what some people thought they had read, without actually citing nor understanding the expressions in ques­tion. All this could have been avoided by the due observance of faithfulness (amâna) in textual citation, as the early scholars insisted with reference to hadith transmission. Yet many later scholars, be­ginning with Ibn Taymiyya and after him, relied on second and third-hand paraphrases and attributions, endorsing the accusa­tions against Ibn ‘Arabi and even generalizing them so as to target all tasawwuf. Finally, Ibn Taymiyya in his letter to al-Munayji actually states his admiration for the Futuhat and reserves his criticism only for the Fusûs![33]

 

 

Other Critics of Ibn ‘Arabi

 

Among the scholars claimed by al-Qari as condemning Ibn ‘Arabi as an innovator or even an outright heretic (zindîq) and disbeliever because of Fusûs al-Hikam: Ibn ‘Abd al-Salam, al-Jazari, Sharaf al-Din ibn al-Muqri, Abu Hayyan al-Andalusi, Sa‘d al-Din al-Taftazani,[34] Jamal al-Din Muham­mad ibn Nur al-Din,[35] Siraj al-Din al-Bulqini who suppos­edly ordered his books burnt,[36] Burhan al-Din al-Biqa‘i, Ibn Taymiyya,[37] and his student al-Dhahabi who said:

 

He may well have been one of the Friends of Allah Whom He strongly attracted to Himself upon death and for whom He sealed a good ending. As for his words, who­ever understands them, recognizes them to be based on communion-with-the-divine (ittihâdiyya), knowing the deviation of those people and comprehending theirs ex­pressions: the truth will be apparent to him as against what they say.[38]

 

            The Hanafi shaykh ‘Ala’ al-Din al-Bukhari, like Ibn al-Muqri, went so far as to declare anyone who did not declare Ibn ‘Arabi a disbeliever to be himself a disbeliever. This is the same ‘Ala’ al-Din al-Bukhari who said that anyone that gives Ibn Taymiyya the title Shaykh al-Islam is a disbe­liever.

 

 

Al-Haytami’s Response

 

            Al-Haytami said in his Fatawa Hadithiyya:

 

Our shaykh [Zakariyya al-Ansari] said in Sharh al-Rawd… in response to Ibn al-Muqri’s statement: “Whoever doubts in the disbelief (kufr) of Ibn ‘Arabi’s group, he himself is a disbeliever”:

 

The truth is that Ibn ‘Arabi and his group are the elite of the Umma. Al-Yafi‘i, Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah and others have declared that they considered Ibn ‘Arabi a walî, noting that the language which Sufis use is appropri­ate among the experts in its usage and that the knower of Allah (‘ârif), when he becomes completely ab­sorbed in the oceans of Unity, might make some statements that are liable to be misconstrued as indwelling (hulûl) and union (ittihâd), while in reality there is neither indwelling nor union.

 

It has been clearly stated by our Imams, such as al-Rafi‘i in his book al-‘Aziz, al-Nawawi in al-Rawda and al-Majmu‘, and others:

 

When a mufti is asked about a certain phrase that could be construed as disbelief, he should not immediately say that the speaker should be put to death nor immediately make permissible the shed­ding of his blood. Rather, let him say: The speaker must be asked about what he meant by his statement, and he should hear his explanation, then act accordingly.[39]

 

Look at these guidelines – may Allah guide you! – and you will find that the deniers who assault this great man (Ibn ‘Arabi) and posi­tively assert his disbelief, are riding upon blind mounts, and stumbling about like a camel affected with troubled vision. Verily Allah has blocked their sight and hearing from perceiving this, until they fell into whatever they fell into, which caused them to be despised, and made their knowledge of no benefit. The great knowledge of the Sufis and their utter renunciation of this world and of everything other than Allah testify to their inno­cence from these terrible accusations, therefore we prefer to dismiss such accusa­tions and consider that their statements are true realities in the way they expressed them. Their way cannot be denied without knowing the meaning of their statements and the expressions they use, and then turning to apply the expression to the meaning and see if they match or not. We thank Allah that all of their deniers are ignorant in that kind of knowledge, as not one of them has mastered the sciences of unveilings (mukâshafât), nor even smelled them from a distance! Nor has anyone of them sincerely fol­lowed any of the awliyâ’ so as to master their terminol­ogy.

 

You may object: “I disagree that their expressions refer to a reality rather than being metaphorical phrases, therefore show me something clearer than the explana­tions that have been given.” I say: Rejection is stubbor­ness. Let us assume that you disagree with what I have mentioned, but the correct way of stating the objection is to say: “This statement could be interpreted in several ways,” and proceed to explain them. You should not say: “If it meant this, then… and if it meant that, then…” while stating from the start “This is kufr”! That is ignorance and goes beyond the scope of sincere faithfulness (nasîha) claimed by the critic.

 

Do you not see that if Ibn al-Muqri’s real motivation were good advice, he would not have exagger­ated by saying: “Whoever has a doubt in the disbelief of the group of Ibn ‘Arabi, he himself is a disbeliever”? So he extended his judgment that Ibn ‘Arabi’s followers were disbelievers,  to everyone who had a doubt as to their dis­belief. Look at this fanaticism that exceeds all bounds and departs from the consensus of the Imams, and goes so far as to accuse anyone who doubts their disbelief. (Glori­fied are You, this is awful calumny!) (24:16) (When you welcomed it with your tongues, and uttered with your mouths that whereof you had no knowledge, you counted it a trifle. In the sight of Allah, it is very great) (24:15).

 

Notice also that his statement suggests that it is an obligation on the whole Community to believe that Ibn ‘Arabi and his followers are disbelievers, otherwise they will all be declared disbelievers – and no one thinks likes this. As a matter of fact, it might well lead into something forbidden which he himself has stated clearly in his book al-Rawd when he said: “Whoever accuses a Muslim of being a disbeliever based on a sin committed by him, and without an attempt to interpret it favorably, he himself commits disbelief.” Yet here he is accusing an entire group of Muslims of disbelief.[40] Moreover, no con­si­deration should be paid to his interpretation, because he only gives the kind of interpretation that is detrimental to those he is criti­cizing, for that is all that their words have impressed upon him.

 

As for those who do not think of Ibn ‘Arabi and the Sufis except as a pure light in front of them, and believe in their sainthood – how can a Muslim attack them by accus­ing them of disbe­lief? No one would dare do so un­less he is accepting the possibility to be himself called a disbe­liever. This judgment reflects a great deal of fanati­cism, and an assault on most of the Muslims. We ask Allah, through His Mercy, to forgive the one who uttered it.

 

It has been narrated through more than one source and has be­come well-known to everyone that whoever opposes the Sufis, Allah will not make His Knowledge be­ne­ficial, and he will be inflicted with the worst and ugliest diseases. We have witnessed this taking place with many naysayers. For example, al-Biqa‘i – may Allah for­give him! – used to be one of the most distinguished scholars, blessed with many meritorious acts of worship, an excep­tional intelligence, and an excel­lent memory in all kinds of knowledge, especially in the sciences of tafsîr and hadith, and he wrote numerous books, but Allah did not allow them to be of any kind of benefit to anyone. He also authored a book called Munasabat al-Qur’an in about ten volumes, about which no-one knows except the elite, and as for the rest, they never heard about it. If this book had been written by our Shaykh Zakariyya [al-Ansari], or by anyone who believes [in awliyâ’], it would have been copied with gold because, as a matter of fact, it has no equal: for (Of the bounties of thy Lord We bestow freely on all, these as well as those: the bounties of thy Lord are not closed to anyone) (17:20).

 

Al-Biqa‘i went to extremes in his denial and wrote books about the subject, all of them clearly and excessively fanatical and deviating from the straight path. But then he paid for it fully and even more than that, for he was caught in the act on several occasions and was judged a disbeliever. It was ruled that his blood be shed and he was about to get killed, but he asked the help and protection of some influential people who rescued him, and he was made to repent in Salihiyya, Egypt, and renew his Islam.[41]

 

 

Al-Dhahabi’s Warning to Critics of Sufis

 

Al-Dhahabi voiced something similar to al-Haytami’s warnings against those inclined to attack Sufis:

 

Our Shaykh Ibn Wahb [= Ibn Daqiq al-‘Id] said – may Allah have mercy on him: ‘Among the predica­ments that mar the discipline of narrator-discreditation are the divergences that take place between the follow­ers of tasawwuf (al-mutasawwifa) and the people of ex­ternal knowledge (ahl al-‘ilm al-zâhir); animosity there­fore arose between these two groups and necessi­tated mutual criticism.’

 

Now this [animosity against Sufis] is a plunge from which none escapes unscathed except one thor­oughly knowledgeable with all the evidentiary proofs of the Law. Note that I do not limit such knowledge to the branches [of the Law]. For, concerning many of the states de­scribed by the people of truth (al-muhiqqîn) among the Sufis, right can­not be told from wrong on the mere basis of knowledge of the bran­ches. One must also possess firm knowledge of the principles of the Law and be able to tell apart the obligatory from the possible, as well as the rationally impossible from the customarily impossible.

 

It is, indeed, a position fraught with danger! For the critic of a true Sufi (muhiqq al-sûfiyya) enters into the hadith: “Whosoever shows enmity to one of My Friends, I shall declare war upon him.”[42] While one that abandons all condemnation for what is clearly wrong in what he hears from some of them, abandons the commanding of good and the forbidding of evil.[43]

 

 

Some of Ibn ‘Arabi’s Sayings

 

It is remarkable that there were very few contemporaries of Ibn ‘Arabi among his accusers, although he travelled and taught all over the Islamic world and, as Ibn Hajar stated, “he made his mark in every country that he entered”[44] while his admirers among the authorities of Islam lived both in his own lifetime and later.

 

Among the Shaykh’s sayings:

 

                  ·           “Whoever is truthful in something and pursues it diligently will obtain it sooner or later; if he does not obtain it in this world, he will obtain it in the next; and whoever dies before victory shall be elevated to the level of his diligence.”

                  ·           “The knower of Allah knows through eyesight (basar) what others know through insight (basîra), and he knows through insight what virtually no-one knows. De­spite this, he does not feel secure from the harm of his ego towards himself; how then could he ever feel secure from what His Lord has foreordained for him?”

                  ·           “The knower’s declaration to his student: ‘Take from me this science which you can find nowhere else,’ does not detract from the knower’s level, nor do other similar declarations that appear to be self-eulogy, because his intention is only to encourage the student to receive it.”

                  ·           “The discourse of the knower is in the image of the lis­tener accor­ding to the latter’s powers, readiness, weak­ness, and inner reserva­tions.”

                  ·           “If you find it complicated to answer someone’s question, do not answer it, for his container is already full and does not have room for the answer.”

                  ·           “The ignorant one does not see his ignorance as he basks in its dark­ness; nor does the knowledgeable one see his own knowledge, for he basks in its light.”

                  ·           “Whoever asks for a proof for the oneness of Allah, a donkey knows more than him.”

 

Ibn ‘Arabi’s short book of poetry Tarjuman al-Ashwaq (“The Inter­preter of Desires”) is considered one of the mas­terpieces of classical Arabic poetry and has been translated in several languages. The Futuhat al-Makkiyya also contains some outstanding samples of the Shaykh’s poetry. Following is a poem he addresses to the Ka‘ba:

 

1. In the Place of refuge my heart sought refuge,

      shot with enmity’s arrows.

2. O Mercy of Allah for His slaves, Allah placed His trust

 in you among all inanimate forms.

3. O House of my Lord, O light of my heart,

      O coolness of my eyes,[45] O my heart within,

4. O true secret of the heart of existence,

      my sacred trust, my purest love!

5. O direction from which I turn from every quarter and

 valley,

6. From subsistence in the Real, then from the height,

      from self-extinction, then from the depths!

7. O Ka‘ba of Allah, O my life,

      O path of good fortune, O my guidance,

8. In you has Allah placed every safety

      from the fear of disaster upon the Return.

9. In you does the noble Station flourish,

      in you are found the fortunes of the slaves of Allah.

10. In you is the Right Hand that my sin has draped

      in the robe of blackness.[46]

11. Multazam is in you – he who clings to love for it,

      will be saved on the Day of Mutual Cries.[47]

12. Souls passed away longing for Her,

      in the pain of longing and distant separation.

13. In sorrow at their news she has put on

      the garment of mourning.[48]

14. Allah sheds His light on her court,

      and something of His light appears in the heart.

15. None sees it but the sorrowful

      whose eyes are dark from lack of sleep.

16. He circumambulates seven times after seven,

      from the beginning of night until the call to prayer.

17. Hostage to endless sadness, he is never seen

      but bound to effort.

18. I heard him call upon Allah and say, beside the Black

   Stone: “O my heart!

19. Our night has quickly passed,

      but the goal of my love has not passed!”[49]

 

Ibn ‘Imad said: “He died – may Allah have mercy on him! – in the house of the Qadi Muhyi al-Din ibn al-Zaki and was taken to Qasyûn [Damascus] and buried in the noble mound, one of the groves of Paradise, and Allah knows best.”[50]


Shaykh Muhyi al-Din Ibn ‘Arabi Islamic Doctrine (‘Aqîda Ahl al-Islâm)[51]

P

The Blessings and Peace of Allah Upon the Messenger of Allah and Upon his Family and All his Companions

 

 

 

[Al-Futuhat §130] My faithful brethren – may Allah seal your lives and mine with goodness! – when I heard the saying of Allah I about His Prophet Hûd u, as the latter told his folk who had belied him and his apostleship: (I call Allah to wit­ness, and do you (too) bear witness, that I am inno­cent of (all) that you ascribe as partners (to Allah)) (11:54), [I saw that] he called his folk to witness in his regard – although they belied him – that he was innocent of associating any partners to Allah, and that he positively con­firmed His Oneness; and since he knew that Allah I will sum­mon human beings before Him and ask them about what he himself knew, either to exon­er­ate or convict them, until every single witness bears witness;

 

[131]    And since it was related that the caller to prayer (mu’adhdhin) is wit­nessed to by every living and non-living thing as far as his voice can reach, and by everything and every­one that hears him; hence “The devil flees at the call to prayer, pas­sing wind”[52] so that he will not hear the caller’s call to prayer and then have to witness on the latter’s behalf, thereby becoming one of those who contribute to the felicity of the one being wit­nessed to, whereas he is the absolute enemy and does not bear for us an iota of good – may Allah curse him!

 

[132]    Now, if the enemy himself is obliged to testify on your behalf to what­ever you call him to witness regarding your own person, it is even more cer­tain that your friend and beloved should testify on your behalf – for the latter shares your religion and belongs to your religious community – and it is more certain that you yourself should testify, in this world, for yourself, to Oneness (al-wahdâniyya) and Belief (al-îmân).

 

 

The First Testimony of Faith

 

[133]            Therefore, O my brethren, O my beloved – may Allah be well pleased with you! – a weak slave calls upon you to wit­ness, a poor one utterly depen­dent on His Lord in every glimpse of the eye, the author and maker of this book [al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya (“The Meccan Conquests”)]; he calls you to testify in his regard, after calling Allah I to witness, His angels, and who­ever is present with him and hears him among the believers, that he bears wit­ness in word and in full conviction (qawlan wa ‘aqdan) that:

 

[134]    Allah the Exalted is One God, without second in His divinity;

 

[135]            Transcendent above possessing a mate or a son;

 

[136]            Absolute owner [of all] (mâlik) without partner; absolute king (malik) without minister;

 

[137]    Creator (sâni‘) without any disposer of affairs (mudab­bir) with Him;

 

[138]    Existing in Himself (mawjûdun bî dhâtihi), without any dependence on, or need for an originator (mûjid) to originate Him. Rather, every existing thing other than Him, depends on Him and needs Him to exist. The whole universe exists through Him, and He alone can be said to exist in Himself.

 

[139]    There is no outset (iftitâh) to His existence nor end to His permanence. His existence is absolute and unconditioned.

 

[140]    He is subsistent in Himself (qâ’imun binafsih): not as a spatially boun­ded substance (jawhar mutahayyiz) – for then place would be assigned to Him; nor as an accident (‘arad) – for then permanence would be impossi­ble for Him; nor as a body (jism) – for then He would have a direction (jiha) and a front (tilqâ’).

 

[141]    He is transcendent (muqaddasun) above possessing directions (jihât) and regions (aqtâr).

 

[142]    He can be seen with the hearts and the eyes, if He so wills.

 

[143]    He established Himself over His Throne just as He said and in the mean­ing that He intended; also, the Throne and every­thing else was estab­lished by Him (bihi istawâ),[53] and (unto Him belong the after (life), and the former) (53:25).

 

[144]    He has no conceivable equivalent whatsoever (laysa lahu mithlun ma‘qûl), nor can minds represent Him. Time does not confine Him, nor place lift nor transport Him. Rather, He was when there was no place, and He is now as He ever was.[54]

 

[145]    He created fixity (al-mutamakkin) and place (al-makân),[55] brought time into existence, and said: “I am the One, the Ever-Living” (anâ al-Wâhid al-Hayy).[56] Preserving His creations in no way tires Him. Attributes which do not describe Him and are devised by creatures do not apply to Him.[57]

 

[146]    Exalted is He far above being in­dwelt by originated matters, or indwel­ling them, or that they be “after Him” or that He be “before them”! Rather, we say: “He was and there was nothing with him.” For the words ‘before’ and ‘after’ are among the locutions of Time, which He invented.[58]

 

[147]    He is the Self-Sustaining Sustainer of All (al-Qayyûm) Who sleeps not, the All-Compelling Subduer (al-Qahhâr) Whom one resists not. (There is noth­ing whatsoever like unto Him) (42:11).

 

[148]    He created the Throne (al-‘arsh) and made it the boundary (hadd) of istiwâ’, and He created the Footstool (al-kursî) and made it encompass the earth and the heavens.

 

[149]    The Sublimely Exalted (al-‘Alî) contrived the Tablet and the Sublime Pen, making them bring about the inscription of His Knowledge concerning His creation until the Day of Determina­tion and Verdict.

 

[150]    He contrived the entire universe without precedent. He created crea­tion then caused what He created to wither.

 

[151]    He sent down the souls (al-arwâh) into the specters (al-ashbâh) as cus­to­dians, and made those soul-endowed specters deputies on earth.

 

[152]    He made subservient to us all that is in the heavens and the earth from Him, whereof not one atom moves except back to Him and because of Him.

 

[153]    He created everything without need for it, and no neces­sity drove Him to do so, but with His foreknowledge that He would create whatever He created.

 

[154]    (He is the First and the Last and the Manifest and the Hidden) (57:3), (and He is able to do all things) (5:120, 11:4, 30:50, 42:9, 57:2, 64:1, 67:1).

 

[155]      (He surrounds all things in knowledge) (65:12) (and He keeps count of all things) (72:28), (He knows the traitor of the eyes and that which the bosoms hide) (40:19). (Should He not know what He created? And He is the Subtle, the Aware) (67:14).

 

[156]    He knew all things before they came into existence, then He brought them into existence exactly as He knew them. He has known them without beginning to His knowledge, and such knowledge in no way becomes newer upon the renewal of origination (tajaddud al-inshâ’). He brought all things to perfec­tion in His knowledge, then He established them firmly (bi ‘ilmihi atqana al-ashyâ’a fa ahkamahâ). Likewise, He has full knowledge of their smallest details (juz’iyyât) according to the consensus and complete agree­ment of the people of sound scru­tiny.[59] (Knower of the invisible and the visible! and exalted be He over all that they ascribe as partners (unto Him)) (23:92).

 

[156—A]  (Doer of what He will) (85:16), He is therefore willing (murîd) for existent entities in the earthly and heavenly worlds. However, His power is without link to anything (lam tata‘allaq bi shay’) until He wills it.[60] Like­wise, He does not will anything until He knows it. For it is impossible in the mind that He wills something of which He knows not, or that one who is endowed with the choice of not doing, should do what He does not want to do. Likewise, it is impossible that all these realities be attributed to one who is not living, and it is impossible that the Attributes subsist in other than an Entity described by them.

 

[157]    There is not in all existence any observance nor sin, any gain nor loss, any slave nor free man, any cold nor hot, any life nor death, any happening nor elapsing, any day nor night, any moderation nor inclination, any land nor sea, any even nor odd, any substance nor accident, any health nor sickness, any joy nor sadness, any soul nor specter, any darkness nor light, any earth nor heaven, any assembling nor disjoining, any plenty nor scarcity, any morn­ing nor evening, any white nor black, any sleep nor wakefulness, any visible nor hidden, any moving nor still, any dry nor moist, any shell nor core, or any of all such mutually contrasting, variegated, or similar entities, except it is so willed by the Real – Exalted is He!

 

[158]    How could He not will it when it is He Who brought it into existence? And how could the one endowed with free will, bring into existence what He does not want? None can turn down His command, and none can dispute His decision.

 

[159]    ([He] gives sovereignty unto whom [He] will, and [He] withdraws sovereignty from whom [He] will. [He] exalts whom [He] will and [He] abases whom [He] will) (3:26). ([He] sends whom [He] will astray and guides whom [He] will) (7:155). What­ever Allah wants, comes into exis­tence (mâ shâ’a Allahu kân), and whatever He does not wish to be, does not come into existence (mâ lam yasha’ an yakûna lam yakun).

 

[160]    If all creatures convened to want something which Allah does not want them to want, they cannot want it. Or, if they convened to do something which Allah does not want to bring into existence – although they willed it whenever He wanted them to will it – they cannot do it; nor can they even be capable of doing it; nor does He enable them to.

 

[161]            Therefore, disbelief and belief, observance and sin, are all according to His desire (mashî’a), His wisdom (hikma), and His will (irâda). And He – Glorified is He! – is described as pos­sessing such will without beginning.

 

[162]    The universe is in oblivion and nonexistence, although firmly estab­lished in itself in [the divine] knowledge. Then He brought the universe into existence without reflection (tafakkur) nor deliberation (tadabbur) such as accompany ignorance or un­awareness and would then presumably provide Him the know­ledge of what He knew not – greatly exalted and elevated is He above that! Rather, He brought it into existence on the basis of foreknowl­edge (al-‘ilm al-sâbiq), and the exact specification (ta‘yîn) of transcendent, pre-existent will (al-irâda al-munaz­zaha al-azaliyya) determining just how it brought the universe into being with respect to time, place, forms, masses, and color. None exists exerting will, in reality, other than He. For He says: (And you will not, unless Allah wills) (76:30, 81:29).

 

[163]    Just as He knows, He determines (kamâ ‘alima fa ahkama); just as He wills, He details (arâda fa khassasa); just as He foreordains, He brings into existence (qaddara fa awjada). Likewise, He hears and sees what­ever moves or stands still and whatever utters a sound in all creation, whether in the low­est world or the highest. Distance (al-bu‘d) does not in any way hamper His hearing, for He is the Near (al-Qarîb). Nor does nearness (al-qurb) veil His sight, for He is the Far (al-Ba‘îd).[61] He hears the discourse of the self in itself (kalâm al-nafs fi al-nafs), and the sound of the hidden contact upon its touch. He sees the very blackness in darkness, and water inside water. Neither admixture (imtizâj), nor darkness, nor light veils Him,[62] (and He is the Hearer, the Seer) (42:11).

 

[164]    He I speaks, not after being previously silent nor fol­lowing pre­sumed tacitness, with a speech pre-eternal and begin­ningless like the rest of His attributes, whether His knowledge, will, or power. He spoke to Musa u. He named it [His speech] the divine Bestowal (al-tanzîl), the Book of Psalms (al-zabûr), the Torah, and the Evangel. [All this] without letters (hurûf), sounds (aswât), tones (nagham), nor languages (lughât). Rather, He is the Creator of sounds, letters, and languages.[63]

 

[165]    His speech is [spoken] without [the organs of] uvula and tongue, just as His hearing is without auditory meatus nor ears, His sight is without pupil nor eyelids, His will is without cogitation (qalb) nor inner reflection (janân), His knowledge is without compulsion (idtirâr) nor examination of any proof, His life is without the vapor which is caused in the cavity of the heart by the admixture of the elements. His Entity accepts neither increase nor decrease.

 

[166]            Glorified, most glorified is He Who, from afar, comes near! To Him belongs tremendous majesty, surpassing goodness, magnificent generosity! Everything that is other than Him is but an outpouring of His munificence. His grace unfolds it and His justice folds it up again.

 

[167]    He perfected the making of the universe and made it uniquely excellent (akmala san‘a al-‘âlami wa abda‘ahu) when He brought it into existence and invented it. He has no partner in His domain (milk) nor joint disposer of affairs (mudabbir) in His dominion (mulk).

 

[168]            Whenever He shows favor He sends comfort and ease; and this is His kindness. Whenever He sends adversity He pun­ishes; and this is His justice. In no way does He intrude upon another’s domain so as to be attributed tyranny and injustice. Nor is anyone besides Him entitled to pass judgment on Him so that He could be attributed apprehension or fear from such. Eve­rything other than Him is under the authority of His subjugation (qahr) and subject to the disposal of His will and His command.

 

[169]    It is He that inspires with Godwariness or rebelliousness the souls of those who are legally responsible. It is He that disre­gards the transgressions of whomever He will, and holds to task whomever He will, both here and on the Day of Resurrection. His justice does not hold sway (yahkum) over His kindness nor does His kindness hold sway over His justice.

 

[170]    He brought forth the world as two handfuls (qabdatayn) to which He gave two levels (manzilatayn), saying: “These are for Paradise, and I care not (lâ ubâlî)![64] Those are for Hellfire, and I care not!”[65] No-one raised the least objection at that time. One handful stands under the Names of His adversity (balâ’), and one stands under the Names of His favors (âlâ’).

 

[171]    If He wished that the whole universe be in felicity, it would be so; and [if He wished that it be] in misery, it would not have obtained the slightest degree of felicity. However, He did not wish it so, and it was exactly as He wished. Consequently, people are either miserable or happy, here and on the Day of Return. There is no possibility to change whatever the Pre-eternal One has decided. He has said, concerning prayer: “It is five al­though it counts as fifty.”[66] (The sentence that comes from Me can­not be changed, and I am in no wise a tyrant unto the slaves) (50:29) for My authority over the disposal of affairs in My domain and the accomplishment of My volition in My dominion.

 

[172]    All this is because of a reality that sights and insights (al-absâr wa al-basâ’ir) are utterly unable to see, nor can mental powers and minds stumble upon its knowledge except through a divine bestowal and token of the All-Merciful’s generosity towards him whom He nourishes among His servants, and who was fore-chosen for this at the time he was summoned to witness. He then came to know – when He was given to know – that the Godhead (al-ulûha) devised this allotment and that it is one of the refinements of the One Who is without beginning.

 

[173]    Glory to Him besides Whom there is no effecter (fâ‘il), nor any self-existent being (mawjûd li nafsih)! (And Allah has created you and what you make) (37:95), (He will not be questioned as to what He does, but they will be questioned) (21:23), (Say—For to Allah belongs the final argu­ment—Had He willed He could indeed have guided all of you) (6:149).[67]

 

 

The Second Testimony of Faith

 

[174]    Just as I have called upon Allah and His angels, as well as all His creation and yourselves, to testify in my regard to my declaration of His oneness, likewise, I call upon Him – glorified is He! – and His angels, as well as all His creation and your­selves, to testify in my regard to my firm belief in the one He elected and chose from the very time he existed. That is: our master Muhammad r whom He sent to all people without exception, (a bearer of glad tidings and a warner) (2:119, 34:28, 35:24, 41:4) (And as a summoner unto Allah by His permission, and as a light-giving lamp) (33:46).

 

[175]    The Prophet r thus conveyed fully all that was revealed to him from his Lord, discharged His trust, and acted faithfully (nasaha) toward his Com­mu­nity. He stood, in his farewell Pil­grimage, before all those present among his followers, address­ing and reminding them, deterring and caution­ing them, giving them glad tidings and warning them, promising and threat­ening them. He showered them with rain and made them tremble with thun­der. He did not address anyone specifically at the exclusion of others in his ad­mo­nition. He did all this after permission from the One, the Everlasting I. Then he said: “Lo! Have I conveyed the message?” They replied: “You have conveyed the message, O Messenger of Allah!” So he said: “O Allah! Bear witness.”[68]

 

[176]            Likewise, [I call upon all] to testify that I firmly believe in everything that the Prophet r brought – that which I know and that which I know not. Among the things which he brought is the decree that death comes at a time specified in the presence of Allah I and that, come that time, it is not delayed. I, for my part, firmly believe this, without the slightest reservation nor doubt.

 

[177]    Just as I firmly believe and declare that the interrogation of the two examiners in the grave is true; the punishment in the grave and the rais­ing of the bodies from the grave are both true; the review in the presence of Allah I is true; the Basin is true; the Balance is true; the flying (tatâyur) of individual Records in every direction is true;[69] the Bridge is true; Paradise is true; Hell­fire is true; (A host will be in the Garden, and a host of them in the Flame) (42:7) truly; the agony of that day is true for one group; as for an­other group, (the Supreme Horror will not grieve them) (21:103);[70]

 

[178]    The intercession of the angels, the Prophets, and the Believers, followed by the taking out of the Fire, by the most Merciful of those who show mercy, of anyone He wishes, is true; a group of the grave sinners among the Believers shall enter Hellfire and then exit it through intercession and gratification truly; eternal and everlasting world-without-end (al-ta’bîd) in the midst of the pleasures of Paradise is true for the Believers and those who affirm Oneness; eternal and everlasting world-without-end in the Fire for the dwellers of the Fire is true; and all that was announced by the Books and Messengers that came from Allah – whether one came to know it or not – is true.

 

[179]    This is my witness in my own regard, and it is the responsibility of each and every person that it reaches, to bring it forward if asked about it, whenever and wherever he may be.

 

 

Final Supplication

 

[180]    May Allah grant us and grant you the greatest benefit with this faith. May He make us adhere to it firmly at the time of journeying from this abode to the abode of true life. May He replace for us this abode with the abode of munificence and good pleasure. May He intervene between us and a dwelling with (raiments of pitch) (14:50). May He count us in the troop that take their record with the right hand and return from the Pond fully sated, those in whose favor the Balance weighs down and whose feet stand firm on the Bridge. Truly He is the Munifi­cent (al-Mun‘im), the Giver of All Good (al-Mihsân)!

 

[181]      (All praise to Allah, Who has guided us to this. We could not truly have been led aright if Allah had not guided us. Verily the messengers of our Lord did bring the Truth!) (7:43).


Bibliography

 

 

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Al-Sakhawi, Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman. Al-Daw’ al-Lami‘ li Ahl al-Qarn al-Tasi‘. 12 vols. in 6. Ed. Muhammad Jamal al-Qasimi. 1313/1896. Repr. Beirut: Dar al-Jil, 1992.

Shatta, Ibrahim al-Dusuqi. Sira al-Shaykh al-Kabir Abi ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Khafif al-Shirazi. Cairo: al-Hay’a al-‘Amma li Shu’un al-Matabi‘ al-Amiriyya, 1977.

Al-Suyuti, Jalal al-Din.  Al-Durr al-Manthur fi al-Tafsir al-Ma’thur. 8 vols. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1994.

–––––––. Tanbih Al-Ghabi Fi Takhti’a [or Tanzih] Ibn ‘Arabi. Ed. ‘Abd al-Rahman Hasan Mahmud. Cairo: Maktaba al-Adab, 1990.




[1]In al-Qari, Firr al-‘Awn (p. 141-142).

[2]Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah in Lata’if al-Minan (1:84-98) states that there is con­sensus among the Sufis that al-Khidr is alive. Ibn al-Jawzi in his book ‘Ujala al-Muntazir fi Sharh Hal al-Khadir (cf. Hajji Khalifa, Kashf al-Zunun [2:1125] and Abu Ghudda infra) voices the extreme view that to suggest that al-Khidr is alive contradicts the Shari‘a, yet in his Mana­qib al-Imam Ahmad (p. 144) he himself narrates the report of a meeting of Bilal al-Khawass with al-Khidr! Ibn al-Qayyim in al-Manar al-Munif (p. 67-76) and his editor, ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda, also claim that al-Khidr is not alive. Among the strongest transmitted proofs to the contrary are two reports, one narrated by Imam Ahmad in al-Zuhd whereby the Prophet e said that Ilyas and al-Khidr meet every year and spend the month of Ramadan in al-Qudus, and the other narrated by Ya‘qub ibn Sufyan from ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz whereby a man he was seen walking with was actually al-Khidr. Ibn Hajar declared the chain of the first fair and that of the second sound in Fath al-Bari (1959 ed. 6:435). He goes on to cite another sound report narrated by Ibn ‘Asakir from Abu Zur‘a al-Razi where­by the latter met al-Khidr twice, once in his young age, the other in his old age, but al-Khidr him­self had not changed.

Al-Qadi ‘Iyad in his notice on Ibn Abi Zayd in Tartib al-Madarik narrates from al-Ajdabi: “I was sitting with Abu Muhammad [Ibn Abi Zayd] when Abu al-Qasim ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Abd al-Mu’min the mutakallim was with him. A man asked them about al-Khidr and whether it could he said that he was still in this world in spite of all this time and would not die until the Final Hour comes and whether this is refuted by the words of the Almighty,[We did not give any human being before you immortality] (21:34). They both replied to him that that was possible and per­mitted and al-Khidr could live until the Final Trumpet was blown. For immortality is connected to remaining as long as the Next World remains, while remaining until the Trumpet is blown is not immortality. Do you not see that Iblis – may Allah curse him – is not immortal, but he is one of those deferred until the Day of a Known Time?”

The hadith master al-Sakhawi stated: “It is well-known that al-Nawawi used to meet with al-Khidr and converse with him among many other unveilings (mukâ­shafât).” Al-Sakhawi, Tarjima Shaykh al-Islam Qutb al-Awliya’ al-Kiram wa Faqih al-Anam Muhyi al-Sunna wa Mumit al-Bid‘a Abi Zakariyya Muhyi al-Din al-Nawawi (“Biogra­phy of the Shaykh of Islam, the Pole of the Noble Saints and Jurist of Mankind, the Reviver of the Sunna and Slayer of Innovation Abu Zakariyya Muhyiddin al-Nawawi”) (Cairo: Jam‘iyya al-Nashr wa al-Ta’lif al-Azhariyya, 1354/1935 p. 33).

Al-Barzanji in his book al-Isha‘a li Ashrat al-Sa‘a (1997 ed. p. 279-281; 1995 ed. p. 204-205) lists proofs to the effect that al-Khidr u is alive and shall face and belie the Antichrist (al-Dajjâl), as he is the one meant in the hadith whereby a man faces the Antichrist and belies him, whereupon the latter saws him in half then revives him only to be belied again. Narrated from Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri by Abu Ya‘la in his Musnad (2:332) and al-Hakim (1984 ed. 4:581=orig. ed. 4:537), both with a chain containing ‘Atiyya ibn Sa‘d who is weak, and with another chain (by Abu Ya‘la 2:535) containing Sufyan ibn Waki‘ who is weak; also narrated from Abu Umama al-Bahili by Ibn Majah in his Sunan (book of Fitan) with a chain containing Isma‘il ibn Rafi‘, who is weak in his memorization; also narrated by Nu‘aym ibn Hammad (d. 288) in Kitab al-Fitan (2:551) who said: al-Zuhri said: ‘Ubayd Allah ibn ‘Abd Allah [ibn] ‘Utba narrated to us that Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri said… The latter is a sound chain but there are several unnamed links between Nu‘aym and al-Zuhri. Also narrated by al-Dani (d. 444) in his book al-Sunan fi al-Fitan (6:1178) but with a chain that stops at the Tabi‘i Abu Mijlaz. None of the weakness mentioned above in the chains raised to the Prophet e is grave. If the weak links are at the same levels of the narrators’ biographical layers and are judged to strengthen each other, it would raise the grade of the hadith to “fair due to corroborative/witness chains” (hasan li ghayrih). It is confirmed by the hadith related from Abu ‘Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah whereby the Prophet e said: “It may be that one of those who saw me and heard my speech shall meet the Dajjal.” Narrated by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih (15:181) with a weak chain according to Shaykh Shu‘ayb al-Arna’ut, however, Imam al-Tirmidhi in his Sunan said it is also narrated from three other Companions and thus graded the hadith itself “fair and single-chained (hasan gharîb) as narrated from Abu ‘Ubayda,” and Allah knows best.

[3]See Hilmi’s 284-entry bibliography in al-Burhan al-Azhar as well as the books of Prof. Michel Chodkiewicz (The Seal of Saints and An Ocean Without Shore) and his daughter Prof. Claude Addas (Quest for the Red Sulphur).

[4]In al-Suyuti, Tanbih al-Ghabi (p. 71).

[5]In Ibn ‘Imad, Shadharat al-Dhahab (5:200).

[6]Cf. al-Suyuti’s Tanbih al-Ghabi (p. 52-54).

[7]Al-Suyuti, Tanbih al-Ghabi fi Takhti’a Ibn ‘Arabi (p. 17-21). The correct title has tanzih instead of takhti’a as in Hajji Khalifa’s Kashf al-Zunun (1:488) and al-Qari’s works.

[8]Al-Suyuti, Tanbih al-Ghabi (p. 59-60).

[9]In al-Suyuti, Tanbih al-Ghabi (p. 70).

[10]Al-Qari, Risala fi Wahda al-Shuhud (p. 62).

[11]Ibn al-Najjar, Dhayl Tarikh Baghdad as quoted in al-Suyuti, Tanbih al-Ghabi (p. 64-66) and in Ibn Hajar, Lisan al-Mizan (5:311 #1038).

[12]As related from al-Biqa‘i by al-Suyuti in Tanbih al-Ghabi (p. 40-41).

[13]As related from al-Biqa‘i by al-Suyuti in Tanbih al-Ghabi (p. 42-43).

[14]See al-Sakhawi, al-Daw’ al-Lami‘ (8:17) and al-Kawthari’s Maqalat (p. 412-413).

aAl-Adnahwi, Tabaqat al-Mufassirin (p. 230 #276).

[15]In Shadharat al-Dhahab (5:190).

[16]Al-Qari wrote Firr al-‘Awn in reply to him.

[17]Al-Qari addresses it towards the end of Firr al-‘Awn (p. 142f.).

[18]See Ibn Hajar, Inba’ al-Ghumr bi A‘mar al-‘Umr (3:403-404), year 831.

[19]In Hilmi, al-Burhan al-Azhar (p. 32-33).

[20]Ibid. (p. 34).

[21]As stated by his student al-Haytami, Fatawa Hadithiyya (p. 331).

[22]See his Majmu‘a Rasa’il Ibn ‘Abidin (2:271).

[23]On the hadith master Imam Badr al-Din al-Hasani see the biography by his student Shaykh Mahmud al-Rankusi entitled al-Durar al-Lu’lu’iyya fi al-Nu‘ut al-Badriyya (Damas­cus, 1951). Dr. Wahbe al-Zuhayli told us that Shaykh Badr al-Din al-Hasani fasted every day of the year except the two days of ‘Id, including on the Day of ‘Arafa during pilgrimage.

[24]Al-Qinnawji, Takhrij al-Wasaya (p. 119).

[25]Al-Qasimi, Qawa‘id al-Tahdith (p. 348-351).

[26]Al-Kawthari, Maqalat (p. 412-413).

bMuhammad ‘Abduh, Tafsir al-Manar (1:18).

[27]In Ibn ‘Imad, Shadharat al-Dhahab (5:192).

[28]In al-Qari, Risala fi Wahda al-Shuhud (p. 55).

[29]Narrated from Abu Hurayra by Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, al-Nasa’i, and Ibn Majah; from ‘Umar by Muslim, al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Ahmad, and al-Nasa’i; and from Abu Dharr by al-Nasa’i, all as part of a longer hadith.

[30]From his Damascus lessons on the Munajat of Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah, 21 September 1997.

[31]I.e. if some texts seem to affirm indwelling, they do so metaphorically, as the literal given of divine Transcendence is not open to question.

[32]From Dr. Sa‘id al-Buti’s unpublished commentary on the Hikam of Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah.

[33]“I was one of those who, previously, used to hold the best opinion of Ibn ‘Arabi and extol his praise, because of the benefits I saw in his books, such as al-Futuhat, al-Kanh, al-Muhkam al-Marbut, al-Durra al-Fakhira, Matali‘ al-Nujum, and other such works.” Ibn Taymiyya, Tawhid al-Rububiyya in Majmu‘a al-Fatawa (2:464-465).

[34]In the epistle attributed to him and entitled Fadiha al-Mulhidin or Risala fi Wahda al-Wujud, a title also used by al-Qari. Al-Kawthari revelad in his Maqalat (p. 413) that the real author of al-Taftazani’s supposed epistle was ‘Ala’ al-Din al-Bukhari. The Hanafi jurist Isma‘il Kalnabawi responded to that epistle in a fatwa cited in full in al-Burhan al-Azhar (p. 18-22).

[35]As named by al-Qari in his Risala fi Wahda al-Wujud (p. 61).

[36]In al-Qari, Firr al-‘Awn (p. 144). Al-Fayruzabadi said: “If the report whereby Ibn ‘Abd al-Salam and our shaykh al-Bulqini ordered Ibn ‘Arabi’s books burnt were true, not one of his books would have re­mained today in Egypt or Sham, and no-one would have dared copy them again after the words of these two shaykhs.” In Hilmi, al-Burhan al-Azhar (p. 32). Al-Hilmi adds (p. 34) that a further proof that al-Subki changed his position concerning Ibn ‘Arabi is that he wrote many refutations against the heresies of his time but never wrote against Ibn ‘Arabi, although his books were widely read in Damascus and elsewhere.

[37]He wrote al-Radd al-Aqwam ‘ala ma fi Fusûs al-Hikam but is on record as not objecting to Ibn ‘Arabi’s other works, as noted.

[38]Mizan al-I‘tidal (3:660). Al-Dhahabi in the same chapter makes derogatory com­ments and reports a strange story which Ibn Hajar cited in Lisan al-Mizan. Al-Qari also attributes negative comments on Ibn ‘Arabi to al-Suyuti in the latter’s al-Tahbir li ‘Ilm al-Tafsir and Itmam al-Diraya Sharh al-Niqaya.

[39]Al-Khadimi wrote in the introduction to his Sharh Ma‘ani al-Basmala: “It was stated in al-Bazaziyya that if a certain question has a hundred aspects, ninety-nine of which entail disbelief and one precludes it, the scholar must lean towards the latter and not give a fatwa to the apostasy of a Muslim as long as he can give his words a good interpretation. Also, in al-Usul: No preference is given in the face of abundant evidence to the contrary.” As cited in al-Burhan al-Azhar (p. 17-18). In Bustan al-‘Arifin al-Nawawi states, after reporting Abu al-Khayr al-Tibyani’s apparent breach of the Shari‘a: “Someone that imitates jurists without understanding may imagine wrong and object to this, out of ignorance and stupidity. To imagine wrong here is plain recklessness in giving vent to suspicions against the Friends of the All-Merciful.  The wise person must beware from such behavior! On the contrary, if one did not understand the wisdoms from which they benefited and their fine subtleties, it is his duty is to understand them from one who does. You may witness such occurrences about which the superficial person gets the illusion of deviation, but which are actually not deviant. On the contrary, it is obligatory to interpret figuratively the actions of the friends of Allah.” As cited in al-Suyuti’s Tanbih al-Ghabi (p. 45-46) and Ibn ‘Imad, Shadharat al-Dhahab (5:194). The rules spelled out by al-Nawawi, al-Haytami, and al-Khadimi refute the presumption that only the statements of the Prophet r may be interpreted figuratively (cf. al-Qunawi in al-Qari’s Risala fi Wahda al-Wujud p. 110 and al-Suyuti’s Tanbih al-Ghabi p. 44-45, as against ‘Ala’ al-Din al-Bukhari in al-Qari’s Firr al-‘Awn p. 153; cf. al-Munawi in Ibn ‘Imad, Shadharat 5:194) or that “every truth that contravenes the outward rule of the Law consists in disguised disbelief (zandaqa)” (al-Qari, Firr al-‘Awn p. 152). The most shining refutation of the latter claim lies in the Prophet’s r hadith of the straying desert traveller who, finding his mount and provisions after having lost them, is so over­whelmed by joy that he exclaims: “O Allah, You are my slave and I am Your master!” Narrated from Anas by Muslim in his Sahih.

[40]Al-Sakhawi in al-Daw’ al-Lami‘ similarly points out this contradic­tion between al-Biqa‘i’s expressed principles and his actual practices.

[41]Al-Haytami, Fatawa Hadithiyya (p. 331). For the account of the condemnation of al-Biqa‘i himself as a kâfir see al-Sakhawi’s al-Daw’ al-Lami‘ and al-Shawkani’s al-Badr al-Tali‘.

[42]The complete hadith states: “Whosoever shows enmity to one of My Friends, I shall declare war upon him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have en­joined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with su­per­erogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask something of Me, I would surely give it to him. Were he to seek refuge in Me, I would surely grant him it. Nor do I hesitate to do any­thing as I hesi­tate to take back the believer’s soul, for he hates death and I hate to hurt him.” Narrated from Abu Hurayra by Bukhari. Ibn ‘Abd al-Salam in al-Ishara ila al-Ijaz (p. 108) said: “The ‘hesi­tancy’ of Allah I in this hadith is a meta­phor of the believer’s superlative rank in the presence of Allah and connotes a lesser hurt to prevent a greater harm, as in the case of a father’s severance of his son’s gangrened hand so as to save his life.”

[43]Al-Dhahabi, al-Muqiza (p. 88-90).

[44]Ibn Hajar, Lisan al-Mizan (5:311 #1038). See also his words in al-Intisar li A’imma al-Amsar and in al-Qari’s Risala fi Wahda al-Wujud (p. 113).

[45]The mere sight of Ka‘ba is considered worship.

[46]The hadith “The Black Stone is the right hand of Allah” is narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas, Jabir, Anas, and others by Ibn Abi ‘Umar al-Ma‘dani in his Musnad, al-Tabarani, al-Suyuti in al-Jami‘ al-Saghir (1:516), Ibn ‘Asakir in his Tarikh (15:90-92), al-Khatib in his (6:328), and others. Al-‘Ajluni stated that it is sahîh as a halted report from Ibn ‘Abbas as narrated by al-Quda‘i in the wording: “The Corner is the Right Hand of Allah on earth…,” and declared it hasan as a hadith of the Prophet r. Ibn Qu­tayba in Mukhtalaf al-Hadith (1972 ed. p. 215) attributes it to Ibn ‘Abbas and relates a saying of ‘A’isha that the Stone is the deposi­tory of the covenant of souls with Allah. Its mention in the Reliance of the Traveller (p. 853b) as “narrated by al-Hakim, who declared it sahîh, from ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Amr,” is incorrect.

[47]Multazam is the space between the Black Stone and the Ka‘ba’s door (including the two) where prayers are answered.

[48]An allusion to the kiswa or black cloth covering the Ka‘ba.

[49]Ibn ‘Arabi, Futuhat (original ed. 1:701).

[50]Main sources: Hilmi, al-Burhan al-Azhar; Ibn ‘Imad, Shadharat al-Dhahab (5:190-202); al-Suyuti, Tanbih al-Ghabi.

[51]From ‘Uthman Yahya’s edition of al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya (1:162-172), Part Three of “The Meccan Conquest,” chapter entitled “Attach­ment Comprising the Essential Creed of All, Which is the Doctrine of the People of Islam Agreed To Without Examining the Proof Nor the Pre­s­en­tation of Evidence” (Waslun Yatadammanu Mâ Yanbaghî an Yu‘taqad ‘alâ al-‘Umûm wa Hiya ‘Aqîdatu Ahl al-Islâmi Musallama­tan min Ghayri Nazarin ilâ Dalilin wa lâ ilâ Burhân). Also quoted in full in Hilmi’s al-Burhan al-Azhar (p. 69-77).

[52]Part of a hadith of the Prophet r narrated from Abu Hurayra by Bukhari and Muslim.

[53]Cf. al-Shibli in Ibn Jahbal’s Refutation of Ibn Taymiyya §27 (published in full separately): “The Merciful exists from pre-eternity while the Throne was brought into being, and the Throne was established and made firm (istawâ) by the Merciful.”

[54]See Appendix entitled “Allah is Now As He Ever Was” in our translation of Ibn ‘Abd al-Salam’s al-Mulha fi I‘tiqad Ahl al-Haqq, published separately under the title The Belief of the People of Truth.

[55]Or: “He created place and all that takes place.”

[56]I.e. I am in no need of any of you.

[57]Lâ tarji‘u ilayhi sifatun lam yakun ‘alayhâ min sun‘ati al-masnû‘ât. Ibn ‘Arabi apparently allows inferred attributes which do describe Him, such as “The Far” (see §163 below and note) in contradiction of the general principle that the divine Names and Attributes are ordained and non-inferable (cf. Appendix entitled “The Names and Attributes of Allah Are Ordained and Non-Inferable” in our translation of Ibn ‘Abd al-Salam’s The Belief of the People of Truth).

[58]See our translation of Ibn Khafif’s Correct Islamic Doctrine (pub­lished in full separately) §10: “In no way does He subsist in originated matters (laysa bi mahall al-hawâdith) nor they in Him.” This is due to the mutually exclusive nature of contingency (hudûth) and incontin­gency (qidam). The former refer to whatever is created, the latter to the be­ginningless and uncreated, “and the twain never meet.”

[59]This is directed against the Mu‘tazila and those affiliated with them.

[60]The notion of “linkage” (ta‘alluq) between the pre-eternal Attributes of Act and the acts pertaining to creation was expressed by some scholars as a distinction between two types of linkage (ta‘alluq) to the act: “beginninglessly potential” (salûhî qadîm) and “actualized in time” (tanjîzî hâdith).

[61]No such Attribute is established in the texts, but Ibn ‘Arabi here states it without contra­diction of his own precept (§145, cf. §180) that “Attributes which do not describe Him and are devised by creatures do not apply to Him” since He uses “the Far” in the same way that some have used the indefinite qualificative “Separate” (bâ’in) – like­wise not found in the Qur’an and Sunna – meaning “far and separate from crea­tion,” so that nearness in no way affects Him as it affects creatures. Al-Tabari (in his Tafsir on verse 17:79) relates from some of the Salaf a contrary position which states that Allah is not said to be “in contact with,” nor “separate from” anything. The latter is reminiscent of Abu Nu‘aym’s narration from ‘Ali in Hilya al-Awliya’ (1997 ed. 1:114 #227): “How can even the most eloquent tongues describe Him Who did not exist among things so that He could be said to be ‘separate from them’ (bâ’in)? Rather, He is described without modality, and He is (nearer to [man] than his jugular vein) (50:16).” Al-Bayhaqi reports the Ash‘ari position on the issue from Ibn Mahdi al-Tabari: The Pre-eternal One (al-Qadîm) is elevated over His Throne but nei­ther sitting on (qâ‘id) nor standing on (qâ’im) nor in contact with (mu­mâss), nor separate from (mubâyin) the Throne – meaning separate in His Es­sence in the sense of physical separation or distance. For ‘contact’ and its opposite ‘separation,’ ‘standing’ and its opposite ‘sit­ting’ are all the char­ac­ter­istics of bodies (ajsâm), whereas (Allah is One, Everlast­ing, neither begetting nor begotten, and there is none like Him.) (112:1-4) Therefore what is allowed for bodies is impermissible for Him.” Al-Bayhaqi, al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat (Kawthari ed. p. 410-411; Hashidi ed. 2:308-309). This shows with remarkable clarity that those who made it a categorical imperative to declare that “Allah is separate from creation” went to excess, although their intention was to preclude notions of indwelling. Examples of these well-founded excesses are given by Ibn Khuzayma: “Whoever does not defi­nitely confirm that Allah established Himself over His Throne above His seven heavens, separate (bâ’in) from His creation, he is a disbeliever who must be sum­moned to repent” [in al-Dhahabi’s Mukhtasar al-‘Uluw (p. 225-226)] and Sulayman ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab: “It is obligatory to declare that Allah is separate (bâ’in) from His creation, established over His throne with­out modality or likeness or examplarity” [in al-Tawdih ‘an Tawhid al-Khallaq fi Jawab Ahl al-‘Iraq (1319/1901, p. 34, and new ed. al-Riyad: Dar Tibah, 1984)].

[62]The Prophet r said: “His veil is light, and if He removed it, the glorifications (subuhât) of His face would burn everything His eyesight fell upon.” Narrated from Abu Musa by Muslim, Ibn Majah, Ahmad, Abu ‘Awana, Abu Dawud al-Tayalisi, Ibn Abi ‘Asim, al-Ajurri, and al-Bayhaqi in al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat (Kawthari ed. p. 180-181; Hashidi ed. 1:465-466 #392-394). Al-Bayhaqi said: “The veil mentioned in this and other reports refers to creatures for they are the ones who are veiled from Him by a veil He created in them. Allah said of the disbe­lievers: (Nay, but surely on that day they will be covered from (the mercy of) their Lord) (83:15). His saying: ‘if He removed it’ means if He lifted the veil from their eyes without empowering them to see Him, they would have been burnt and would have been unable to bear it.” Al-Qurtubi in al-Asna (2:92) said: “If he had removed from them the veil, His majesty (jalâl), awe (hayba), and subjugation (qahr) would have caused everything His sight fell upon to disappear – from the Throne to the undersoil, for there is no end to His sight, and Allah knows best.” Cf. Ibn Khafif’s ‘Aqida §12: “Nor does He hide Himself (istatara) with anything created.”

[63]See Ibn ‘Abd al-Salam’s refutation of those who claimed the pre-eternality of letters and sounds in various passages of his Mulha.

[64]In al-Nihaya, entry b-l-â: “Al-Azhari said that a number of scholars glossed ubâlî as ‘loathe’ (akrah).” Meaning: “It adds nor subtracts nothing from My greatness.”

[65]Narrated from Anas by Abu Ya‘la with a chain of trustworthy narrators except for al-Hakam ibn Sinan al-Bahili who is weak, and by Ibn Marduyah; from ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Qatada al-Sulami by Ahmad and al-Hakim who declared it sahîh, and al-Dhahabi concurred; from Mu‘adh ibn Jabal by Ahmad with a munqati‘ chain missing the Successor-link; from Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri by al-Bazzar and Ibn Marduyah; from Ibn ‘Umar by al-Bazzar and al-Tabarani; from a Companion named Abu ‘Abd Allah by Ahmad in his Musnad with a sound chain according to Ibn Hajar in al-Isaba (7:258 #10198); from Abu Musa al-Ash‘ari by al-Tabarani in al-Kabir; from Abu al-Darda’ by al-Tabarani in al-Kabir and Ahmad with a sound chain in the Musnad according to al-Kattani. Also narrated, but without the words lâ ubâlî, from Abu Hurayra by al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi in Nawa­dir al-Usul; without mention of the handfuls, from ‘Umar by Malik in al-Muwatta’, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi (hasan), al-Nasa’i, and others. Al-Suyuti in al-Durr al-Manthur under the verse (And remem­ber when your Lord brought forth from the Children of Adam, from their reins, their seed) (7:172) cited other narrations to that effect from Abu Umama, Hisham ibn Hakim, and other Companions. Al-Fattani in Tadhkira al-Mawdu‘at said its chain was “muddled” (mudtarib al-isnâd) because of great varia­tions in it, which makes the narration mutawâtir al-ma‘na or mass-narrrated in its import – as opposed to its precise wording – as indicated by al-Kattani in Nazm al-Mutanathir, due to the great number of Companions that relate it.

[66]Hadith qudsi within the narration of the Prophet’s r ascension: “The day I created the heavens and the earth I made obligatory upon you and upon your Commu­nity fifty prayers: therefore establish them, you and your Community…. Let them be five prayers every day and night, and let every prayer count as ten. That makes fifty prayers. This word of Mine shall not be changed nor shall My Book be abrogated.” See the translation of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Alawi al-Maliki’s his collated text of the sound narrations of the Prophet’s r isra’ and mi‘raj entitled al-Anwar al-Bahiyya min Isra’ wa Mi‘raj Khayr al-Bariyya translated in full in Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani’s Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine.

[67]For §168-173 see also Ibn Khafif, al-‘Aqida al-Sahiha §32-37: “[32] Allah is doer of what He will: [33] Injustice is not attributed to Him, [34] And He rules over His dominion as He will, without [anyone’s entitlement to] objection whatso­ever. [35] His decree is not revoked nor His judgment amended. [36] He brings near Him whomever He will without [need for] cause and He removes far from Him whomever He will without [need for] cause. [37] His will for His servants is the exact state they are in.” The Ash‘ari position is that Allah rewards and punishes without being obliged to do so by the actions of His servants (“Allah is doer of what He will”). He is free to place the disbeliever in Paradise and the believer in Hellfire without any injustice on His part (“Injustice is not attributed to Him”), since He owns all sovereignty over the heavens and the earth, and no one received any share or authority from Him to ob­ject to what He does.

The evidence for this is in the verses: (Know you not that unto Allah belongs the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth? He punishes whom He will, and forgives whom He will. Allah is Able to do all things) (5:40); (Say : Who then can do aught against Allah, if He had willed to de­stroy the Messiah son of Mary, and his mother and everyone on earth? To Allah belongs the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. He creates what He will. And Allah is Able to do all things) (5:17); (The sentence that comes from Me cannot be changed, and I am in no wise a tyrant unto the slaves) (50:29). At the same time it is obligatorily known that Allah does not take back His promise to reward those who believe and do good and punish evil-doers: (But as for those who believe and do good works We shall bring them into gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide for ever. It is a promise from Allah in truth; and who can be more truthful than Allah in utterance?) (4:122). The scholars have described the former evidence as “based on reason” (dalîl ‘aqlî) and the latter as “based on law” (dalîl shar‘i), noting that it is the latter which takes precedence over the former. Cf. al-Buti, Kubra al-Yaqinat (p. 149).

[68]Narrated from Abu Bakrah al-Thaqafi, Ibn ‘Umar, Ibn Mas‘ud, and Jabir by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Ahmad, and al-Darimi.

[69]The Prophet r was asked by ‘A’isha – may Allah be well-pleased with her: “Will the beloved remember his beloved on the Day of Resurrection?” He replied: “On three occasions he will not: At the Balance until it either weighs for or against him; at the time the individual Records fly in every direction, so that he should be given his record either with the right hand or the left; and at the time a long neck comes out of the Fire, winding itself around them [at the Bridge over Hellfire]…” Narrated by Ahmad in his Musnad with a fair chain, ‘Abd al-Razzaq, Ibn Abi Shayba, Ibn al-Mundhir, al-Hakim who stated it is sahîh, al-Ajurri in al-Shari‘a, and ‘Abd ibn Humayd in his Musnad as stated by al-Suyuti in al-Durr al-Manthur. Abu Dawud narrates it in his Sunan without mention of tatâyur.

[70]Another possible translation is: “the interrogation of the two examiners in the grave is real; the punishment in the grave and the rais­ing of the bodies from the grave are both real; the review in the presence of Allah is real; the Basin is real; the Balance is real; the flying (tatâyur) of individual Records in every direction is real; the Bridge is real; Paradise is real; Hell­fire is real; (A host will be in the Garden, and a host of them in the Flame) (42:7) really; the agony of that day is real for one group; as for an­other group, (the Supreme Horror will not grieve them) (21:103).” Cf. Ibn Khafif’s ‘Aqida §83: “Paradise is true; Hellfire is true; Resurrection is true; the Rendering of Accounts is true; the Balance of Deeds is true; the Bridge [over the Fire] is true; the punishment of the grave is true; and the questioning of the angels Munkar and Nakîr is true.”

Peace and Blessings upon the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions


© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America

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