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Ibn Al Arabi (ra): Controversial Mystic –Part Four– Views of the Shaikh ul Akbar on God Almighty


By S. M. Pasha for New Age Islam

Chapter VII

Views of the Shaikh ul Akbar on God Almighty

Ibn al Arabi asserted that the identity of “Huq” {the Creator} and the “Khalqh” {the created} is One.  According to him, ‘God is the Unity behind all Plurality and the Reality behind all phenomenal existence. In his ‘Futhhath’ he says: “there is nothing but Allah; nothing in existence other than He; there is not even “there” where the essence of all things is one.” The Shaikh ul Akbar’s “Wahdat ul Wujud” {“The Unity of Being” or “Ostological” or “Pantheistic “Monoism” is but an extension of the Doctrine of Tauheed {“Unity of God”} The Shaikh professed that “there is nothing in existence except Allah”   and that “to realize this, what is required is Not “Reason” but “Zauqh” {institutive experience of an individual}.

Here are a few sayings of Ibn al Arabi about God Almighty:

“Allah created all things from nothing and His own nothingness and made His Word the cause of their existence so that we may find out the secret of their beginning or beginninglessness from His beginglessness.”

“Mystics see God in One and All and One in All.”

“The One brought Number into being and the Number analysed the One.  One who knows this,  knows that , that is the Creator  -  who is declared to be Incomparable is the Creatures, which  are compared  with HIM by reason of HIS manifesting Himself  in their forms albeit the Creatures have been distinguished from the Creator.

The Creator is the Creature and the Creature is the Creator.  All this proceeds from One essence and Many individualized essence.  The world of Nature in many forms in one Mirror – nay One form in Diverse Mirrors”

“When one thing permeates another, the one becomes hidden in the other.  If the Creator is Manifest, the Created is hidden.  Then ALL the names of the Creator Such as “See-er”, and “Hear-er” become the names of the Created.  If the Created is Manifest, the Creator is hidden in it and the Sight and the Hearing of the Created become the Sight and the HEARING of the Creator.”

“The world has no existence of its own not it is a mere fancy or thought.  It is a Fancy inasmuch as it is not an addition on Allah or Extraneous to Him.”

“The true Gnostic is one who sees Everything as a Manifestation of God Almighty; hence, every Worshipped thing obtains the name of “Illah” {God} besides his own name of the Stone , Tree, Animal, Human Being or Angels. The Latter name is the Individualization of that Manifestation Divine, which is a particular manifestation among the Stages of God Almighty.”

“Gnostics ignore Forms in accordance with their Faith though they realize that Idolaters worship the One God Almighty in Several Forms. God’s knowledge is “Zauqi”   {pertaining to aptitude} and such knowledge is an Illumination and Illumination is Essential for the Manifestation of Forms.  Thus, one who sees an Illumination worships the FORM in which he or she sees it, being actuated by his or her own desire.”

“Junaydh has said; “The colour of the water is the colour of its vessel.” If people understand this doctrine of Junaydh, they will accept that  the God of  Every Believer   and Observe God in Every Form  and in All Forms;  Everyone’s conception of GOD is according to his or her own Idea and Not out of his or her Knowledge.”

 ALL things are attributes of God; as such they are ultimately identical with God, apart from whom they are nothing.”

Thus, it will see that the Shaikh al Akbar’s mystical system Implies The Immanence of God Almighty and this was construed to be Polytheism by his opponents.

Ibn al Arabi Rejected the Doctrine of Polytheism and T O Reject It, He Laid Emphasis on the Principle of Love.  The Shaikh ul Akbar makes it abundant clear that the Highest Manifestation in Which Allah Subhana”Thallah Is Worshipped Is Love.   To quote his OWN words: ‘My heart is capable of every form; a Cloister for a Monk; a Fane for Idols:  a Pasture for Gazelles:  the Votary’s Kaaba’, the Tables of Torah, the Quran; Love is the Creed I hold; wherever I turn His camels Love is still my Creed and Faith.”

“The entire knowledge of the learned is NOT equivalent to two virtues Reform of the people and Dedicated Service F Human Beings”   --- Shaikh Nizamuddin


Chapter VIII

Shaikh - The Mystic

The Shaikh al Akbar, the Founder of the Doctrine of “Unity of Being” was, without a iota of doubt, one of the most controversial Sufi.  Scholars were and are still sharply divided in their opinion about him some call him “Zindiq” {hypocrite) and even go to the extent of Prohibitting the Reading of His Books.  Shaikh Burhanuddin, in his work “Mu’jam’ corroborates this fact.

According to Shaikh al Nawa, opinions of scholars about Ibn al Arabi varied from Infidelity to Saint ship.

Ibn Hajr declares that some called the Shaikh ul Akbar ‘Siddiqh” {a man of truth} while denounced him as “Zindiqh” {hypocrite}.

Whilst his Admirers  - there were good many – bestowed  on him grand titles such as “ Hujjathul Zahira” { meaning:  “The Outward Proof  Of God Almighty”  and  “ Ayathul Bahira’ { “ The Astounding Miracle Of God”} .  His opponents showered on him the degrading title: “Rasool As Shaithan” {Apostle of Satan}.

Whilst  Syedina  Jalaluddin  Suyuti , his “Tanbhil Ghabi Bi Tanziate Ibn Arabi “  defends the Shaikh ul Akbar’s doctrine ,  Syedina Ibn al Maqri , in his work  “”Rouda”  declares: : Doubting  Ibn Arabi’s Infidelity  and doubting  the Infidelity of Ibn Arabi’s followers is Infidelity”

Syedina  Abd al Shalrani, who epitomized the “ “Futhuhath” considers  Ibn al Arabi a  great saint  but Syedina Dhahabi  writes: “ I do not at all doubt that Muhiyuddin is deliberately telling lies wholly. He is among the Chief heretics and a hardened Sufi.”

Whilst  Ibn Taimiyya,  al-Taftazani  and Ibrahim al Biqal  Denounce  the Shaikh ul Akbar as an  INFIDEL  and level very serious charge  against   him of Advocacy of “Hulul” { Incarnation},  Shaikh Abvdur Razzack al Kashani, Shaikh Najmudin Isphani , Shaikh Taj bin Athaullah  of Alexandria  praise the Shaikh ul Akbar as a great  scholar and profound mystic.

Amongst the Ulema {Islamic scholars} who shower praises on the Shaikh ul Akbar are:

Allama Jalaluddin Suyuti writes in one of his works: “I saw Muhiyuddin at    Damascus.  He was the greatest of scholars of the Path.  He combined in him all the acquirable arts and those arts which are conferred by Allah Subhanathallah. He occupied a very prominent place and he has written many works. He was obsessed with the Idea of Unity through study and Nature, even when he was in “Muraqabah” {trance}. He had ulema and common folk falling into transport   as his “Mureeds”.  Among his disciples were many authors. Between Him and My Teacher Shaikh Al-Harrar, There Was Brotherliness and Affection”

When asked whether  it is advisable to read the works of the Shaikh ul Akbar, Shaikh Mujuddin Ferozabadi – the famous author of “Al-Qumus”  wrote a  treatise entitled “Al- Lghtibathu Bi Mu’ala Jati  Ibn  Il Khayyath”  wherein he states “ The great Shaikh ( Ibn al Arabi) was  a Shaikh of the Path, knowledge of exposition and an  Imam of research in matters both real and ceremonial.  As far as his books and contemplations, they are surging oceans whose pearls and whose extent are unknown.  Allah’s knowledge is confined only to such people as deserve it.  The peculiarity of his works is that if one reads them and contemplates, one’s heart will be widened: one’s difficulties met and knotty problems solved.  This is NOT possible except by those on whom the Choicest Blessings of Allah Subhanathallah pours down and His Special sources of knowledge are opened.  He has written Four Hundred Books and left a Commentary on the Quran incomplete. He was a man of “Wilayath “{saint ship} and “Siddiqiqiyyah” {truth}.  Some try to ignore him and the ignorant go to the extent of calling him an infidel. It is due to nothing but a lack of understanding of the import of his sayings and actions and poetry.  Their unfortunate hands have not reached the fruits on account of their shortness…”

Shaikh Kamaluddin al Zamlaqani – an eminent Syrian Sufi remarks: “How ignorant are those who oppose Shaikh Muhiyuddin Ibn al Arabi!  His great sayings and precious words which occur in his writings are too great for their understanding.  Let them bring to me for explanation of difficult passages and I will show them their import so that they may understand the truth and give up misunderstanding.  He wrote the “Fusus” under instruction from the Holy Prophet {s.a.w.s} and he was asked to go among people and spread knowledge.”

Prof. R.A.Nicholson states that Ibn al Arabi   “combined in him the most extravagant mysticism with straightest orthodoxy.” In simpler terms, the Shaikh was a ‘” Zahiri” [conformist] outwardly and a “Bathini” {esotercist} in his inner beliefs.”  Regarding  Ibn a l Arabi’s writings, the  learned Scholar  remarks that they are ‘Abstruse  Fantastic  and  the interminable speculations which  Ibn al Arabi presents to his readers in the guise of  “ Heavenly Truths”   He comes to the conclusion that : It Will Not Be Easy To Sketch Even  The Outlines Of His Theosophical System Until The Copious Materials  At Our Disposal Have Been Thoroughly Studied By Some European Scholar Interested In Them.’

I conclude this chapter by quoting an eminent Theosophist D.B. Mac Donald who describes the works of the Shaikh ul Akbar as: “A Strange Jumble of Theosophy and Metaphysical Paradoxes.’

“Men vaunt their noble blood but I behold no lineage than can vie with righteous deeds”  - Shaik Abu’l Atahiy

URL of Part 3:,-shaikh-the-man-and-his-works/d/100274