Shaykh Muhyi al-Din Ibn ‘Arabi

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

 

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