ibn arabi

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My heart can take on any form:
A meadow for gazelles,
A cloister for monks,
For the idols, sacred ground,
Ka’ba for the circling pilgrim,
The tables of the Torah,
The scrolls of the Quran.

My creed is Love;
Wherever its caravan turns along the way,
That is my belief,
My faith. 
― Ibn Arabi

Ibn ‘Arabî (1165–1240) can be considered the greatest of all Muslim philosophers, provided we understand philosophy in the broad, modern sense and not simply as the discipline of falsafa, whose outstanding representatives are Avicenna and, many would say, Mullâ Sadrâ. Western scholarship and much of the later Islamic tradition have classified Ibn ‘Arabî as a “Sufi”, though he himself did not; his works cover the whole gamut of Islamic sciences, not least Koran commentary, Hadith (sayings of Muhammad), jurisprudence, principles of jurisprudence, theology, philosophy, and mysticism. Unlike al-Ghazâlî, whose range of work is similar to Ibn ‘Arabî, he did not usually write in specific genres, but tended rather to integrate and synthesize the sciences in the context of thematic works, ranging in length from one or two folios to several thousand pages. Nor did he depart from the highest level of discourse, or repeat himself in different works. The later Sufi tradition called him al-Shaykh al-Akbar, the Greatest Master, a title that was understood to mean that no one else has been or will be able to unpack the multi-layered significance of the sources of the Islamic tradition with such detail and profundity.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: First published Tue Aug 5, 2008; substantive revision Mon Feb 10, 2014


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