On The Self-Disclosure of God
acc. to Sh. Ibn `Arabi

Themes from the introduction by W C Chittick               A quote on the soul, the cosmos

Ibn `Arabi stresses importance of imagination p.xi r
("He is simply flowing along with the infinitely diverse
self-disclosures of God")
Ibn `Arabi is not to be placed in a category p.xi ru

Cosmos DEF: "The science, theory or study of the universe as an orderly system and the laws that govern it." p. xii l

c/f the quest for 'objectivity'
But what starting point? the investigator himself.

Ibn `Arabi: people are generally "seized by terror when they are alone with themselves." p. xiii lo
- stn of bewilderment
- the preparedness of the investigator is everything p.xiii lu

The Self

"Not understanding oneself,
one does not know where one stands
& one cannot grasp the global implications of what one knows." xiii r+1

Ibn `Arabi's basic insight, that the human self is unbounded in its becoming:
"The self is an ocean without shore,
Gazing upon it has no end in this world and the next." xiii ro

forgets its unboundedness (being an ocean without shore)
and instead ties itself down to specific configurations.

These specific configurations and limitations
determine where stands and what it can know.

To escape from these limitations,
needs objective standards,
provided by the 'external provider' of the limitations,

The provider is also called 'the Guide',
it is God providing / offering ...paths . deliverance from the
limitations, that make the unbounded self perceive itself [erroneously]
as finite and constricted. p. xiii ru

Theses paths messengers and prophets (as).

3 sources of knowledge:
- transmission =most basic - 1.
- direct experience =second
- rational investigation =third

The 'real'
Prophetic knowledge cannot be known without a subject to know it. p. xiv lu

diverse intellectual schools in Islamic history p. xiv lu-2

The [inherent] need of the self for knowledge p. xvi rc
:~ is of 2 sorts:
(1) science of the Shari`ah rulings
(2) knowledge of God (the knowledge which pertains to God) & the ... resurrection.
(1) only in as much needed for everyday life
(2) limitless, no halt.

Ibn `Arabi's basic themes
(A) The Names of God
(B) existence & nonexistence
(C) tanzîh & tashbîh
(D) modes of knowing
(E) human perfection
(F) barzakh

(A) The Names of God

GODHEAD= Essence and God's LEVEL, when we differenciate God and the cosmos, we situate Him at a certain level...
BUT we have (by doing this) not exhausted the reality of God, but simply mentioned an outlook on that reality.

- Names (=adj.) f ex "Alive" - name: by which He can be addressed
- Attributes (=n.) f ex "Life"

*relation/s: those relations that most of the names establish between God and the cosmos.

Formula for differenciating the two senses of a single attribute:

= Shahadah (1st part)
xviii lo

- the attribute 'real' ---
* attributes are anthropomorphic [even personal] [for us to conceive]
however they [the human attributes] are [in reality] theomorphic,
--. (dependant on ) our knowledge of God (His Level)
within God, attributes have interrelations
f ex God's Mercy > His wrath
(on the level)
xviii rc

* 4 fundamental attributes:
LIFE,,,, knowledge,,, DESIRE (WILL),, POWER,
([scope ,,,, to , lesser] without life there is no knowledge, aso)

- creatures are ranked acc. to their capacity to manifest the properties of the Divine Level. xix lc

(B) Existence & Nonexistence


(wujûd: that which finds and is found, and finding is with knowledge and conciousness.)

- strictly speaking Only GOD has wujûd.
- in themselves the objects of God's knowledge are non-existing,
(these objects of God's knowledge = 'entities' or 'things')

The things are always and foreever the objects of God's knowledge,
because they have no wujûd, apart from His wujûd.

→What comes to exist in the cosmos is not the things in themselves,

The things are analogous to the fixed stars (thawâbit),
leaving their traces on earth, but not moving from their places ever

-(a) their own essential situation is
that they are objects of God's knowledge,
= their thingness of fixity

-(b) when / if they are given existence by God,
they "enter into wujûd"
= their thingness of wujûd:

the entities borrowed wujûd <------------> GOD's real wujûd

* How to describe things in relation to wujûd:


* When GOD gives existence to a possible thing,
this is called PRePONDERATION, GOD is the the Preponderator,
since a thing's coming into existence depends upon His knowledge, desire, power.

If a thing does not exist, it is a 'fixed entity' or object of God's knowledge.
If a thing does exist, it is an 'existent entity' or existent thing.

- There is a differnce between: (e) and (f)
(e) - the thing itself - [mahiyya], whatness, Wesen
(f) - the existence of the thing - wujûd, (whether or not is has wujûd)

The true [mahiyya] of a thing is the thing as it is known by GOD. = its FIXED ENTITY, as it is known by GOD.
The true [mahiyya] = the reality
the realities are the fixed entities.

OBS: Sometimes reality is used for 'existent entities' to the things as they are actually found in wujûd, in whatever modality (mental wujûd ... )

The cosmos is called the 'ENGENDERED EXISTENCE' = kawn, Greek: generation [becoming]. → ENGENDERED THING ([mkwn]), = existent entity or existent reality.
(Be (kun)! - GOD engenders it).

The word Be (kun) is the ENGENDERing COMMAND (giving existence to things)
differing from the PRESCRIPTIVE COMMAND (addressing human beings through messengers and prophets, establishing shari`as.

(C) Tanzîh & Tashbîh (g) & (h)

(g) strictly speaking Only GOD has wujûd = standpoint of tanzîh or declaring INCOMPARABILITY.
(h) wujûd appears whenever anything finds or is found, and there is nothing but finding and being found. We experience only wujûd, bec experience is finding, and there is nth there to experience or to be experienced save what is found. Our experienceo of the wujûd of our own entities is sufficiently real for us to function in the sit in wh we find ourselves. Hence some common measure betw us - busy find os a others - and God, who alone finds in the true sense. THis is the perspective of tashbîh or declaring SIMILARITY, and it is as imp as (g).

F ex Divines Names can be seen as in terms of (g) or (h).

Begin with (g), => response is SERVANTHOOD.
Then (2nd point of view) (h), the divine names exhibit their properties and traces in creation. hadith, Allah created Adam in HIs form. This for great and small Adam, macrocosmos / microcosmos. => Human beings are VICEREGENTS of GOD.
Those who have achieved this stn: prophets (as) and awliya.

The two groups of names (referring to (g) or (h)),
are the names of 'beauty and majesty' or 'gentleness and subjugation' or 'mercy and wrath'. The TWO HANDS.
Tashbîh - God's presence in the cosmos - averrules the effects of tanzîh, His absence from it.

* God is the NONMANIFEST and the MANIFEST. (k) (l)

in respect of (k) He is the incomparable Essence, but
in respect of (l) He displays Himself to the universe through the traces and properties of His names. The universe is nth other than His display, His SELF-DISCLOSURE or His LOCUS OF MANIFESTATION. Hence in the last analysis, the cosmos is God as Manifest, while evth other than the cosmos is God as Nonmanifest.

wujûd = nonmanifest, bec it is "no thing", hence wujûd is not differenciated and distinct from any thing. It is UNBOUNDED (NONDELIMITED) while every created thing is BOUND (DELIMITED) and constrained.
However, since wujûd is unbounded in an abs sense, it is not bounded by unboundedness. Hence it binds itself in accordance with every possible mode of binding. The diverse modes in which wujûd binds itself are the existent things that fill the cosmos.

(D) modes of knowing

3 basic routes to knowledge:
- transmission

- rational investigation
- direct experience
* the affinity betw routes of knowledge and
the FOLK OF ALLAH / GOD. the REALIZERS recognize God in His self-disclosures
and at the same time
acknowledge His utter incomparability w/ evth found in the self & cosmos.
= knowledge of the HEART, whose beating signifies its constant FLUCTUATION betw understanding God as different, far and incomparable and seeing Him same, near, and similar.

The realizers reach their knowledge by following authority. No knowledge is accessible without an initial acceptance of the authority of reports. If reason attains knowledge, it does so on the basis of accepting the reports transmitted to it by the senses and REFLECTION. Since all knowledge goes back to authority, ... the only rational route is to follow the authority of God, and we can only do this by accepting the reports brought by the prophets.
xxiii lu

(E) Human Perfection

Human Perfection = for HUMAN BEINGS to be fully human.

Humans = integral forms of the whole, as the cosmos,
other creatures are parts.
h: "khalaqa Adam fii sûrati - Rahman"
Human beings are called upon to display the entirety of the divine form,

-° → their worth as God,s servants & viceregents &
sit in this and next world.
=: those who reach FELICITY / WRETCHEDNESS.

God is the Level that is named by all divine names,
[and bec created in the divine form, s.o.]
=> every attribute is found in the INNATE DISPOSITION
( fitrah ) of the human being.

tanzîh, imposs for people to understand
their own innate disposition,
made in the form of God, without God's help.**
** This help comes as prophetic guidance:

People need to observe the revealed Law (shari`ah),
io to bring their activity and kx into
conformity with God's scales of measurement.

Evth has a haqq = evth has a right and appropiate mode
of being +
+ it is our duty before God, the Real (al-Haqq) to
realize it & act accordingly.

wujûd is not simple what exists, but
also what makes moral & ethical demands on us
its very nature.

TAHQîQ (realization, giving evth its rightful due, its
haqq, recognizing the haqq of each thing and acting
accordingly )

All the manifestations of wujûd ,
all the self-disclosures of the Real (al-Haqq ),
(all things manifesting (al-Haqq ) possessing a haqq)
address us personally and we will be held resp...
for all the haqqs that pertain specifically to us.

( haqq - its rightful due (tahqîq )) xxiv ro

of human perfection:

Living up to the Real, the Right, the True (al-Haqq )
by the Realizers:
in their minds,
in their understandings,
in every their acts,
in their every word.
..cc.. xxiv rcu

The Realizers recognize that each name has a specific
haqq in each of its loci of manifestation - each
[haqq ] appears properly and appropriately in the
created things and each makes demands upon them. tfsr
Su 20-50 xxv lo

The Real has given each created thing an appropriate measure,
a rightful due, a glimmer of wujûd , a theophany of the divine
names, a haqq .
..cc.. xxv lo

In Itself the Haqq - which is the Real wujûd - has no form,
or rather,
through its infinity and unboundedness,
wujûd assumes every binding and every form
- without becoming bound and constricted.

The Barzakh

The Barzakh xxv ru

2 basic rules for the [Realizers],
those who achieve & realize the highest station of human perfection in the cosmos:

1.) guide others human perfection
2.) ontological role ( full realization of wujûd's form)

* "Many of those ~ can only be actualized externally
their embodiment in human beings.
The divers attributes have no meaning,
if they remain abstractions."
(F ex mercy, compassion, wisdom, love) xxxvi

"This world was brought into existence
1st of all & only =:
to actualize all the possibilities of manifestation
~ perfect [human] beings embody."

:~ bring together God & creation cosmic function:
As fully actualized divine forms, are the
self-disclosures of the All-Comprehensive Name,
~= God / Allah, within the universe.
In themselves stand
fully with God & fully with the cosmos,
they = both eternal & temporal,
non-manifest & manifest,
divine & human, infinite & finite. xxvi

The Muhammadan Reality
or Reality of Realities.**


The Principles of IA's Cosmology

In this text only the 'bare bones' of the 'principles' and the articulations of IA's cosmology. But they should not be removed from IA's text, imp is how the bare bones become ... experience on various levels: al-Khabîr = the Experienced, bec He knows things through their actual manifest reality, and He hence experiences them as they are.
And God is also experienced by us, bec we become aware of wujûd through our presence within the All-Merciful Breath. xxvii ro

* to become aware
(1) how the reader experiences the cosmos and (2) how it may be experienced.
IA ... asks us to know it in terms of our [own] experience.

- The cosmos and the self, in brief, are the face of the Real, disclosingas they do His names and attributes, but they are also His veil, bec they prevent us from seeing Him as He is.

The Breath of the All-Merciful

The First Intellect, the Innovator, was created directly by God, evth else is created through one or more intermediaries.

(xxx - xxxii)
xxxiii-xxxv CL
xxxv-xxxvii TL

Cosmic Language

Q: what might 'all of reality' entail?**
All of reality is situated in language [see below |1.|]
but: is wrong to find language's origin in the human self or in anyth other than God.
=: The self is nothing but a word articulated by the Essence [see below |1.|] and the
Essence remains always and forever
beyond articulation.
= Every language (whether meta-, cosmic-, human or infrahuman)
= an articulation of Uni-articulated Wujûd. xxxii

**Ibn Arabi, the Shaykh al-Akbar,
does have a clear idea of that. xxxiii

#Why language is basic#

|1.| Language is an articulation (expression) of the breath.
:~ (nafas) = the life force,
:~ = the self (→ human beings) (nafs).

articulates the contents of the self in a barzakh (an isthmus) ( = the breath),
:~ = neither immaterial ; the self,
:~ = nor material ;the external world.

we experience its articulation ( .. words) -
- language = intelligible the self = intelligent,
- language = sensory . perceived by sensation.

a world of imagination,
a barzakh between:
awareness < - - - - - - > embodiment,
meaning < - - - - - - > form,
reason < - - - - - - > sensation,
self < - - - - - - > other.

an image
of the self & the world outside the self,
neither here nor there, neither this nor that.
It clarifies & obscures, reveals & veils.

'Adam' = the human being =:
the most complete, perfect and all-comprehensive of the infinite array of configurations of the Wujûd,
a ~ when it is self- disclosing**,
AND does nothing but disclose ITSELF,
IT ( ) nothing if not <f o u n d>
**this Wujûd
=: alive (having LIFE), 'desiring' (having WILL),
& powerful (having POWER),
& speaking (having SPEACH),
God / Allah = Wujûd,
~ which cannot not be
& God created Adam in His own form ( rahmân ).

|2.| Wujûd = unbounded
not determined & defined by any articulation.
such : the Essence

The creativity of (this ... ) divine self-articulation
can be best understood in terms of the creative power
(given . the divine form [see above]) . the human being,

when the Wujûd discloses IT-Self,
it does so in conformity with the divine Level,
of which the human beings are the form.
:~ appears first and foremost in speech,
:~ = intelligence articulated and formalized
within the imaginal world . the breath.

|3.| The human breath = the form (sûra ) of a meaning
that is called (on the divine side):
"the Breath of the All-Merciful".

~ is attributed espec. to the name All-Merciful,
God =: All-Merciful
in as much as He displays His bounties
& His Wujûd within everyth in the realm of possibilty,
~= precisely the cosmos, or
"evth other than Allah." (la-ilhâha ) xxxiii lu

Ibn Arabi quoted
On the Selves, the Horizons and the Cosmos

The cosmos, all of it, is a book inscribed [Su 52:2],
since it is an orderly arrangement, parts of which
have been joined to other parts. Instant by instant in
every state it gives birth. There is nothing but the
appearance of entities perpetually.

No existence-giver ever gives existence to anything
until it loves giving it existence. Hence everything
in wujûd is a beloved, so there are nothing but loved
ones. (IV 424-21)

The Lawgiver turned you over to knowledge of yourself
in knowledge of God through His words,
{We shall show them Our signs}, which
are the signifiers, {upon the horizons and in themselves}.
Hence He did not leave aside anything of the cosmos
that is outside of you is identical with the horizons,
which are the regions around you.
{Until it is clear to them that it is the Real}, nothing else,
because there is nothing else. (III 275.32)

[The friend of God] exceeds those who are veiled only
because of what God inspires into his secret heart.
This may be a consideration of his rational faculty or
his reflection, or it may be a readiness, through the
polishing of the mirror of his heart, for the signs
to be unveiled through unveiling, witnessing, tasting,
and finding. (III 344.34)


God has placed His signs in the cosmos as the habitual and the non-habitual.
No one takes the habitual into account save only the folk of understanding from God.
Others have ho knowledge of God's desire through them.

God has filled the Koran with [mention of] the habitual signs,
such as the alternation of day and night,
the descent of the rains, the
bringing forth of vegetation, the running of
ships in the sea, the diversity of tongues and colors,
sleep during the night, and the daytime for
seeking after God's bounty. So also is everything He
has mentioned in the Koran as signs {for a people who
have intelligence} [Su 13:4], {who hear [Su 10:67] {who
understand} [Su 6:98], {who have faith [Su 6:99], {who know}
[Su 6:97], {who have certainty} [Su 2:118], and {who reflect}
[Su 13:3]. Despite all this, no one gives it any notice
save the Folk of God, who are the Folk of the Koran,
God's elect.

The non-habitual signs-that is, those that break
habits - are those that display traces within the souls
of the common people, such as earthquakes and
tremblers, edipses, the rational speech of animals,
walking on water, passing through the sky, announcing
events in the future that happen exactly as announced,
reading thoughts, eating from engendered existence,
and the satiation of many people with a small amount
of food. Such things are taken into account only by
the common people.

When miraculous breaking of habits occurs not on the
basis of uprightness, or if it does not alert people
and incite them to retum to God such that they return
and exert themselves in returning, then it is a
deception and a {leading on step by step from whence
they know not} [Su 7:182]. This is the {sure guile}
[Su 7:183] - God's gifts, despite [the servant's] acts of
opposition.' (II 372.10)


God has unveiled the covering of ignorance from the
eyes of their insights and has made them witness the
signs of themselves and the signs of the horizons.
Hence it has become {clear to them that it is the Real}
[Su 41:53], nothing else. So they have faith in Him, or
rather, they know Him through every face and in every
form, and they know that {He encompasses everything}
[Su 41:54]. The gnostics see nothing unless in Him, since
He is the container that encompasses everything. And
how should He not be? He has alerted us to this with
His name Aeon, within which enters everything other than God,
so he who sees something sees it only in Him. That is why
Abû Bakr said, "I see nothing without secing God
before it," for he did not see it until it had entered
into Him. Necessarily, his eye saw the Real before the
thing, for he saw the thing proceed from Him. So the
Real is the house of all existent things, because He
is wujûd. And the heart of the servant is the house of
the Real, because it embraces Him - that is, the heart of
the one who has faith, none other. (IV 7.30)


In this waystation is found the knowledge of the
rational proofs and demonstrations that judge their
Existence-Giver as is worthy of Him and [the knowledge
of] His acknowledgment of their truthfulness in what
they judge. After all, God set up some signs only for
the Possessors of the Kernels, who are those who
understand the meanings of the signs through the
rational faculty that God has mounted within them.

Moreover, God made reason itself a sign of reason, and
He bestowed upon it the remembering and reminding
faculty that reminds it of the Real who discloses
Himself to it so that it knows Him through witnessing
and vision. Then He lets down the veils of nature
upon it, and then He calls it to His knowledge through
the signifiers and the signs. He reminds it that its
own self is the first signifier of Him, so it should
consider it. (III 291.2)


The Messenger of God MHMD said that there is no path to
knowledge of God but knowledge of self, for he said,
"He who knows himself knows his Lord." He also said,
"He who knows himself best knows his Lord best." Hence
he made you a signifier. That is, he made your
knowledge of yourself signify your knowledge of Him.
This is either by way of the fact that He described
you with the same essence and attributes with which He
described Himself and He made you His vicegerent and
deputy in His earth; or it is that you have poverty
and need for Him in your existence; or it is the two
affairs together, and inescapably so.

We also see that, concerning the knowledge of God that
is called ma`rifa, God says, {We shall show them Our
signs upon the horizons and in themselves until it is
clear to them that He is the Real}, Hence the Real
turned us over to the {horizons}, which is everything
outside of us, and to {ourselves}, which is everything
that we are upon and in. When we come to understand
these two affairs together, we come to know Him and it
becomes clear to us {that He is the Real}. Hence the
signifying of God is more complete.

This is because, when we consider ourselves to begin
with, we do not know whether consideration of the
cosmos outside ourselves - indicated by His words, {in
the horizons} - gives us a knowledge of God that is not
given by ourselves or by everything in ourselves.
If if did give us such a knowledge, then, when we
considered ourselves, we would gain the knowledge of
God that is gained by those who consider the horizons.
As for the Lawgiver, he knew that the self brings
together all the realities of the cosmos. Hence he
focused you upon yourself because of his eager
desire-since, as God said concerning him, {He is
eagerly desirous for you} [Su 9:128]. He wanted you to
approach the signifier so that you would win knowledge
of God quickly, and through it reach felicity.

As for the Real, He mentioned the horizons to warn you
of what we mentioned - lest you imagine that something
remains in the horizons giving a knowledge of God
that is not given by your self.
Hence He turned you over to the horizons. Then,
when you recognize from them the very signifier of
God that they provide, you will consider yourself, and
you will find that the knowledge of God that is
yielded by your consideration of the horizons is
exactly the same as that yielded by your
consideration of yourself. Then no obfuscation will
remain to cause misgivings in you, because there will
be nothing but God, you, and what is outside you, that
is, the cosmos.

Then He taught you how to consider the cosmos. He said,
{Do you not see how your Lord
draws out the shadow?} [Su 25:45]. {What, do they
not consider how the clouds were created} and
so on [Su 88:17 ff.]. {Have they not considered the
sovereignty of the heavens and the earth?} [Su 7:185].
Such is every verse in which He urges you to
consider the signs. In the same way He says, {Surely
in that are signs for a people who have intelligence}
[Su 13:4], {who reflect} [Su 13:3], {who hear} [Su 10:67], and
{who understand} [Su 6:98], and {for the knowers} [Su 30:22],
{for the faithful} [Su 15:77], {for the possessors of
understanding} [Su 20:128], and {for the possessors of the
kernels} [Su 3:190]. He knew that He created the creatures
in stages, so He enumerated the paths that lead to
knowledge of Him, since no stage oversteps its
waystation, because of what God has mounted within it.

The Messenger turned you over to yourself
alone because he knew that the Real would be
your faculties and that you would know Him
through Him, not through other than He. For
He is the Exalted, and the 'Exalted' is the forbidden
through its unreachability. When someone
attains someone else, the latter is not
forbidden in its unreachability, so he is not
exalted. That is why the Real is your faculties,
When you know Him and you attain to Him,
none will have known and attained to Him save
He. Hence the attribute of exaltation never
leaves Him. Such is the situation, for the door
to knowledge of Him is shut, unless it comes
from Him, and inescapably so. (II 298.29)


God says, {We shall show them Our signs upon the
horizons and in themselves} so that they will know that
the human being is a microcosm of the cosmos
containing the signs that are within the cosmos. The
first thing that is unveiled to the companion of the
seclusion are the signs of the cosmos, before the signs
of his own self, for the cosmos is before him, as God
has said: {We shall show them Our signs upon the
horizons}. Then, after this, He will show him, the
signs that he saw in the cosmos within himself. If he
were to see them first in himself, then in the
cosmos, perhaps he would imagine that his self is seen
in the cosmos, So God rernoved this confusion for him
by giving priority to the vision of the signs in the
cosmos, just as has occurred in wujûd. After all, the
cosmos is prior to the human being. How should it not
be prior to him? It is his father. Thus the vision of
those signs that are in the horizons and in himself
clarify for him that He is the Real, nothing else.
(II 150.33)


The negation (of the shahadah: 'no god' / la ilâha) is turned
toward the indefinite noun,
which is god, while the affirmation is tumed toward
the definite noun, which is {God / Allâh}. The negation is
turned toward the indefinite that is, {god} only because
all things are included within it. There is nothing
that does not have a share of divinity
to which it lays claim.
This is why the negation is turned toward it, since the
"god" is he whose shares do not become designated,
because all shares belong to him. When people recognize
that the god possesses all shares, they recognize that
He is called by the name God / Allah. (IV 89.16)

from SDG p. 6 - 9


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latest update: Wed, 7 Jan 2009


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