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Sh. Muhyiddīn Ibn al-ʿArabī

Impressions from the Meccan Openings

Al-Futūhāt al-Makkiyya

Being and Existence 1

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Note 03

Translated by professor William C. Chittick from the Futūhāt al-Makkiyya[1]

Some interpolation was done, especially inside [ ] brackets. Mostly verbatim quotes.

On Being and Existence 1

F: What does it mean that the cosmos is qualified by nonexistence ?

A: Real existence, i.e. Being belongs only to God.

First of all

Wujūd is Being/ existence depending on the context.[3]

Wujūd is
- God's own Reality and Essence
- the fact that certain things are found in the cosmos.

When “existence” (wujūd ) is discussed:

- existence (wujūd ) : it is contrasted with a thing or entity that exists.
(Hence one speaks of the existence of a tree or of the cosmos.)

- The term ”Being” (wujūd ) refers strictly to God Himself, and cannot be juxtaposed with any entity other than Being, since God's “thingness” or entity [or mahiyya, essence] is Being Itself.

Distinguish between the thing itself (essence, mahiyya ) and the existence of the thing.
We can ask about anything in the universe,

• whether or not the thing is here to be discussed (f ex dragons and phoenixes)
[ → what it is, its 'whatness' - mahiyya ], and

• whether or not it exists, [ → whether it has wujūd , or being].


So the existence of anything (wujūd ) we discuss may be discerned and separated - at least by the mind - from the quiddity (mahiyya ) of the thing, except in the case of God.

Or, [in other words], you can say that God's “existence” (wujūd ) is identical to His quiddity, which is to say that He is Being (wujūd ).

Or again,
We can distinguish between a man (mahiyya ) and his existence (wujūd ); but we cannot distinguish between God and His Being, since He is Being as such (wujūd ).


Mahiyya, what is it? [2]

- If this question is asked about any thing, the answer will be, it is a horse, a house, a galaxy a.s.o.
- We can then discuss that thing without regard to whether or not it exists.
- But when we ask “what is it?” about God, the only answer sufficiently broad to include God's whole reality is to say “wujūd” (a philosophical term equivalent to the name “Allah”). God's quiddity is Being itself, and we cannot discuss His mahiyya without regard to Being (wujūd ), since then we would be discussing something else.

SPK80, The Sufi Path Of Knowledge, Ibn Arabi's Metaphysics of Imagination; W C Chittick; p80

  1. الفتوحات المكيّة التي فتح الله بها على الشيخ الإمام العامل الراسخ الكامل خاتم الأولياء الوارثين برزخ البرازخ محيي الحق و الدين أبي عبد الله محمد بن علي المعروف بابن عربي الحاتمي الطائي قدّس الله روحه و نوّر ضريحه ٱمين

  2. SPK80rc  ↩

  3. SPK80Lc  ↩

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The Other Notes in This Series
link-in The Possible Things
link-in The Veil of Otherness
link-in Being and Existence 1
link-in Being and Nonexistence 2
link-in Wujūd and Infinity
link-in Being, Names, and Nonexistence

Related texts
link-in Insights Into The Nature Of (Being) And Existence From Sh. Muhyiddīn Ibn ʿArabī
link-in Sh. Muhyiddīn Ibn al-ʿArabī And the Unfolding of the Islamic Intellectual Tradition

* Living Islam – Islamic Tradition *