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The Inadequacy of Reason

For Achieving True Understanding

Muhyi al-Din Ibn ʿArabi

Interpreted by W C Chittick

Part 2

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The knowledge that people are able to acquire by their own efforts situates things in relation to other things or, at best, in relation to God. Only God has direct, unmediated knowledge of Himself and things as they are. God can bestow direct knowledge of Himself, but even then, none knows God but God. What in fact happens is that God becomes the hearing through which the servant hears, and the intelligence through which he knows.

Given the impossibility of any real knowledge without reference to God, it should come as no surprise that Ibn ‘Arabi frequently discusses the inadequacy of reason for achieving true understanding. Every knowledge gained by rational thought or by any other purely human mode of knowing is obscured by created limitations. People can understand only inasmuch as their native ability, circumstances, upbringing, and training allow them to. They know in the measure of their own selves, which is to say that, in the last analysis, they know only themselves.

“The thing knows nothing but itself, and nothing knows anything except from itself.”
F. III 282.34

Ibn ʿArabi, Heir to the Prophets; W C Chittick

"In any case, what Westerners call civilization, the others would call barbarity, because it is precisely lacking in the essential, that is to say, a principle of a higher order."
René Guénon, East And West, 1924

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صلّى الله على سيّدنا محمّد و على آله و صحبه و سلّم

The blessings and peace of Allah on the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions, ( sallAllahu ʿaleihi wa sallam ) .



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