Muhyiddin Ibn `Arabi
On Knowledge
And Knowing Oneself

Intro: Shaykh Muhyiddin Ibn `Arabi returns to this most important topic of knowing oneself many times in his writings. Below are a few quotes by the Shaykh, translated into english.*

Increase in knowledge

“Allah never commanded His Prophet ﷺ to seek increase of anything except knowledge, since all good (khayr) lies therein. It is the greatest charismatic gift (karamât). Idleness with knowledge is better than ignorance with good works ... By knowledge I mean only knowledge of God, of the next world, and of that which is appropriate for this world, in relation to that for which this world was created and esablished. Then man's affairs will be { upon insight }[1] wherever he is, and he will be ignorant of nothing on himself and his activities.

Knowledge is a divine attribute of all-encompassingness, so it is the most excellent bounty of Allah. Hence Allah said: { ... and whom We had taught knowledge from Us } Sura 18:65, that is, as a mercy from Us. So knowledge derives from the mine of mery.
(II 370.4) SPK148

[1] from:
{ This is my way: I call to Allah upon insight, I and whoever follows me. } 
Sura 12:108

Knowledge acquired

“Know - Allah confirm you - that knowledge is for the heart to acquire (tahsîl) something (amr) as that thing in itself, whether the thing is nonexistent or existent. Knowledge is the attribute gained by the heart through this acquisition. The knower is the heart, and the object of knowledge is that acquired thing. Conceiving the reality of knowledge is extremely difficult.
(I 91.19) SPK148

Knowledge as Gnosis (ma`rifa)

“For the Tribe, ma`rifa[2] is a path (mahajja). Hence any knowledge which can be actualized _only_ through practice (`amal), godfearingness (taqwâ), and wayfaring (sulûk) is ma`rifa, since it derives from a verified unveiling which is not seized by obfuscation[3].
This contrasts with the knowledge which is actualized through reflective consideration (al-nazar al-fikrî), which is never safe from obfuscation and bewilderment, nor from rejection if that which leads to it.
(II 297.33) SPK149

[2] ma`rifa: This knowledge can only be gained through spiritual practice, not by reading books or sitting with a teacher. It is the knowledge referred to by Allah in His Book, when He says:
{ Be godfearing and Allah will teach you! } Sura 2:282

[3] obfuscation: confusion resulting from failure to understand, or mystification, or obscuring the sight of something.

Know yourself!

(When the servant comes to know himself, thereby knowing God, he does not know God in Himself. Rather he knows Him as his own Lord. This is the God who discloses Himself to the soul, and the self-disclosure [to this soul] is different from that experienced by any other soul.) SPK344

→ worshiping what you have created or worshiping your Creator.. SPK350

To be continued, inshah Allah ...


SPK: From Chittick's translation and comment on parts of the
Futuhat al-Makkiyya by Ibn `Arabi:

"The Sufi Path Of Knowledge -
Ibn `Arabi's Metaphysics of Imagination"

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latest update: Fri, 6 Nov 2009


* living Islam – Islamic Tradition *