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Two Very Different Scholars – Ibn Arabi and Ibn al-Arabi

Published: 23/08/2011 06:54:00 PM GMT
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I am confused about the scholar Ibn ul Arabi. I read many scholars declaring him to be an unbeliever or heretic. Then I see these same scholars – and other equally prominent scholars of the same caliber – quoting liberally from his works without hesitation. What is going on?

Answered by

the Fatwa Department Research Committee - chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî

Please know that there are two scholars – both of whom are Spanish – whom people often confuse with one another.

One of these is Muhyî al-Dîn Ibn `Arabî (1165-1240 CE), the controversial mystic philosopher who was born in Murcia, Spain and died in Damascus Syria. He was declared a heretic by some scholars, especially on account of his advocating the doctrine of wahdah al-wujûd.

The doctrine of wahdah al-wujûd (unity of existence) is essentially the belief that only Allah truly exists. However, there are as many understandings of this concept as there are subscribers to it. One understanding of this doctrine is commonly expressed as the idea that “Allah is everywhere”. This statement, taken literally, is patent disbelief.

Other scholars have tried to interpret Ibn `Arabî’s statements and teachings so as not to declare him a heretic.

His most important works are al-Futûhât al-Makkiyyah and Fusus al-Hikam. It is generally recommended for lay people to avoid his works. Regardless of how one may wish to interpret Ibn `Arabî’s teachings, the overt meanings of many of his statements are inarguably heretical.

The other scholar is the equally prominent Abû Bakr Ibn al-`Arabî (died 1148 CE), a highly orthodox, Spanish Mâlikî jurist.

He is the author of some very important legal commentaries, including Ahkâm al-Qur’ân, as well as a commentary on the Muwatta’ entitled al-Qabas, and a commentary on Sunan al-Tirmidhî entitled `Aridah al-Ahwadhî. He also wrote the historical work al-Qawâsim min al-`Awâsim.

These works of his are highly recommended.

And Allah knows best.

Source: Islam Today

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