Ibn al-Arabi



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Fast Facts
arabi1.jpg
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Sheik al-Akbar (the Greatest Master)
Function: 
Mystic
Traditions: 
Islam, Sufism
Main Countries of Activity: 
Andalusia, Spain
Date of Birth: 
July 28, 1165
Place of Birth: 
Murcia (modern day southern Spain)
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
No
Date Left His/Her Body: 
November 10, 1240
Ancestor Gurus: 
Other Related Gurus: 
Shaykh al-‘Uryabī

Biography

Ibn al-Arabi was born in Murcia (modern day Spain) in 1165 A.D. He grew up, however, in Seville.

He was drawn to spirituality and mysticism early on in his youth. He was but 16 years of age when he first went into seclusion. During this time he had a deep spiritual awakening. He is famously known to have confounded the Islamic philosopher Averroes. He is also known to have had contact with several spiritual beings- prophets from the Bible and/or Qur'an, but also the spiritual (babaji-like) figure known as al-Kidhr.

He quickly rose as a teacher, a sheik. And he experienced multiple visions and 'openings' during his life time, experiencing the miraj- a mystical journey through the 7 spheres, or planets with their respective prophets, having met with each one, and gaining spiritual insight from each.

He authored several books, including Al-Futuhat al-Makkiya (the Meccan Openings/Revelations), and Fusus al-Hakam (the Bezels of Wisdom). He was to Islamic mysticism what Pseudo-Dionysius was to Christian mystical traditions.

He taught in several places (to be listed), but spent his final days in Damascus, and died at the age of 75 in the year 1240 A.D. His shrine may still be visited today in Damascus, Syria.

Teachings

The main teaching of the 'Sheik al-Akbar' was that of 'Wahdat al-Wujud' meaning, "the Oneness of Being". He believed in the Oneness of Being, but the manyness of knowledge. This is in agreement with the Islamic understanding of tawhid- Oneness, or monotheism. But, rather than a theological point as such, it was also an ontological view.

Though often charged with being a "pantheist", this is not the teaching of Ibn al-Arabi. His view has been called an existential monism. But one thing is certain, he believed that all things are Huwa/la-Huwa, or He/not-He. "He" being the divine He-ness, the divine Essence, or the One- The One is beyond, and Unknowable by the creatures. However, as the Hidden Treasure wished to see Itself, it manifested through the 99 Most Beautiful Names of Allah, which are the divine attributes, in order to see Himself. These names are reflected in creation- in particular, in man which serves as Allah's pupil through which He sees Himself. Man, especially the Perfect Man (insan al-kamil) is the mirror for all of God to manifest through Himself to Himself. In order for a person to come to this place of the highest spiritual station (the station of no-station) they must be in perfect accord with their Lord. The Lord-servant (rabb-abd) relationship is of utmost importance with all adab-courtesy or reverence toward God. Each person has their particular Lord, which will not be someone else's Lord. This Lord may be a particular divine name, or related to a divine name. But the Lord and servant share a unique bond, as the individual is the secret of his/her Lord, whereas the Lord provides the person with their existence. The servant is thus the loci for God's Self-manifestation. Thus the Lord provides one with existence, while the servant provides the Lord with (self-)knowledge. Thus, a 'dualistic' relationship is necessary in order to come to that Oneness in the divine Essence.

There are many other teachings relating to multiple issues, but above may serve as the main point as it were. If other relevant issues come to mind, they'll be added if needed.

Locations

His shrine is located in Damascus, Syria.