From the 20th Annual Symposium of the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society - Worcester College, Oxford, May 3-4, 2003
... The term Unity of Existence' (wahdat al-wujud) was a term more ascribed to Ibn Arabi rather than used by him directly. Mohammed Mesbahi:
"Although the expression 'Unity of Existence' is not apparently expressed in Ibn Arabi's [known] works, we may however come across expressions which indicate such a doctrine, like 'the Union of Existence' (tawhid al-wujud), 'the Unicity of Essence' (ahadiyyat al-dhat), 'the Unity or Oneness of Reality' (wahdaniyyat al-haqq) etc.. we consider that the three terms indicate virtually the same meaning i.e. no entity other than God could exist."
A quote from Abdul Qadir al-Jaza'iri:
"While I was writing, God sent me His Word ... I was inspired to refute anyone who does not believe in the word of the imam Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi, for his word comes from God ... It is therefore necessary to follow his word and humbly submit to his knowledge for he is the perfect heir."
... Peter Coates's (paper) was "The Unity of Existence and the Era ['dahr' ]" (where he) equated the 'era' ['dahr' ] with the fact of the Unity of Existence quoting the hadith "... but the gnostics are the worshippers of the era ['dahr' ]" - a worship that is qualified by astonishment 'instantiated' at each moment in a new image of beauty with each breath of the divine. The world is both a veil as well as the 'shadow' of the Real - where the Real is both made visible and hidden. Modernity is an expression of the Real - qualified by great transformation in the spheres of science, technology and economics and where reason has replaced tradition.
The translation of the term 'dahr' as 'era' was questioned, as there are four terms which Ibn Arabi uses for time: two which denote time from God's perspective - 'eternity'(dahr), and its expression where God is "Every day in a business'(sha'n) and two from man's viewpoint: 'the passage of time'(zaman) and 'the instant'(waqt).
... show how much of what we understand in our time from Ibn Arabi comes though the lens of Ibn Arabi's closest disciple and son-in-law (Sadr al-din Qunawi).
Qunawi engaged with the philosophical tradition brought via Avicenna [Ibn Sina] for whom the concept of 'wujud' is central.
Ibn Arabi's exposition of divine unity became expressed as philosophy by Qunawi and later known as 'wahdat al-wujud' ... This was not so much a philosophy but a statement of 'what it means to be human' - the Fusus being explicitly concerned with the 'station of human perfection - or station of no station' where each thing is given its due.
Chittick further pointed to the meaning of the 'point of the centre of the circle of being' which is described by attributes of disassociation (tajrīd) and taste (dhawq) . The root meaning of wujud as 'finding' is shown as the conscious seeker is disengaged and stands at the centre of things with 'non-deliminated wujud'. Heady stuff - but Qunawi reminds us not to be attracted to "anything less than the Lord of Lords," as you are the servant of that to which you are attracted.
In early times Unity was a 'truism' -in the sense that it was so obviously true as not to require discussion. (See) the Tao Te Ching "When truth disappears, philosophy arises" - so that the formulation wahdat al-wujud was a "late development of tradition". (And) that the Surat al-Ikhlas was itself a perfect and adequate statement of the Divine Unity.
"Geometrical knowledge", we were told "has the effect of making us see the Good and enlightens the intellect" Mustafa demonstrated the underlying structure of Islamic calligraphy - the dot as the unitive principle of creation extending itself as an act of will to become the alif - the primary letter.
Martin Notcutt again affirmed the primary way of studying the Fusus with the commentary, a fact that was itself confirmed when the Bulaq edition of the Fusus, with its Ottoman commentary, was the first work of Ibn Arabi's to be printed.
... Sachiko Murata's paper "The Unity of Being in Liu Chih's Islamic Neoconfucianism", she tracked the understanding of Ibn Arabi's metaphysics from the Arabic to the Persian (through the pupils of Qunawi) and into the Far East where it appeared in the 17th century through a translation of Jami's Lawa'ih into Chinese by Liu Chih, who had himself been educated into a metaphysical school that was already one thousand years old. This school specialised in expressing its knowledge of ancient Taoist and Confucian wisdom in diagrammatic form. Ibn Arabi's ideas (many of which he had expressed graphically) thus arrived in fertile ground - where they could be understood and assimilated using traditional circular geometric forms combining opposites (Yin/Yang) and expressing different levels of meaning. In the modern age graphics is used more than written text to understand complex relationships and it will be interesting to see how the publication of Ibn Arabi's work in this form will help the assimilation of Ibn Arabi's ideas today amongst the 'elite of the many'.
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