Saturday, September 06, 2008

Ibn Arabi and Quranic Experience in Alam al-Mithal

Ibn Arabi (Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Al-Arabi), one of the greatest philosopher, mystic and scholar in islamic and world history was born in Murcia, in the southeast Spain on 17th Ramadan, 560 Islamic Calendar (July 28, 1165).

As he grew in adolescence, he entered into marriage to a girl of whom he speaks in terms of respectful devotion, and who seems to have influence him in his orientation towards Mystical Core of Islam or Sufism.


It was at this time that Ibn Arabi's visionary aptitudes became apparent. He fell gravely ill; his fever brought on a state of profound lethargy. While those about him thought him dead, he in his inward universe was beseiged by a troop of menacing, diabolic figures. But then there arose a marvelously beautiful being, exhaling a sweet perfume, who with invincible force drove away the demonic figures.

"Who are you?" Ibn Arabi asked him.

"I am Sura Yasin."

Ibn Arabi's anguished father at his bedside was indeed reciting that sura which is the 36th chapter of the Quran, and the sura is intoned specifically for the dying.

Such was the energy released by the spoken Word that the person corresponding to it took from in the subtile intermediate world - a phenomenon not at all rare in religious experience. This was one of Ibn Arabi's first entrance into the 'alam al-mithal, the world of real and subsistent images.

The experience was soon repeated.


Ibn Arabi's memory of his youth seems to have been especially marked by his friendship with two venerable sufi women, two shaikha, Yasmin of Merchena and Fatima of Cordova. The latter was a spiritual mother to him.

Among other charismas that divine favor had conferred to her, she had "in her service" the Surat al-Fatiha (the opening chapter of Quran). On one occasion, when it was necessary to help a woman in distress, they recited the Fatiha together, so giving it its consistent, personal and corporeal, through subtile and ethereal form. The sura fulfilled its mission, after which the saintly woman Fatima recited a profoundly humble prayer.

- adopted from the book, Alone with The Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn Arabi by Henry Corbin. Pin It Now!