Imaginal Worlds: Ibn Al-Arabi and the Problem of Religious Diversity

Imaginal Worlds: Ibn Al-Arabi and the Problem of Religious Diversity

Imaginal Worlds: Ibn Al-Arabi and the Problem of Religious Diversity

Imaginal Worlds: Ibn Al-Arabi and the Problem of Religious Diversity

Synopsis

"Ibn al'Arabi, known as the "Greatest Master," is the most influential Muslim thinker of the past 600 years. This book is an introduction to his thought concerning the ultimate destiny of human beings, God and the cosmos, and the reasons for religious diversity. It summarizes many of Ibn al'Arabi's teachings in a simple manner. The ideas discussed are explained in detail." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Muḥyī al-Dīn ibn al-'Arabī, known as al-Shaykh al-Akbar or the "Greatest Master," is probably the most influential thinker of the second half of Islamic history. Born in Murcia in Muslim Spain in the year A.D. 1165, he exhibited his outstanding intellectual and spiritual gifts at an early age. In the year 1200, he was told in a vision to go to the East, and in 1202 he performed the pilgrimage to Mecca. From then on he traveled from city to city in the central Islamic lands, eventually settling in Damascus, where he died in 1240. He left behind some five hundred works. His al-Futūāt al-makkiyya or "Meccan Openings," which will fill more than 15,000 pages in its new edition, provides a few glimmers and flashes of the luminous sciences he acquired when God "opened" for him the doors to the "Treasuries of Unseen Generosity." He summarized his teachings in the most famous and often studied of his books, the Fuūal‐ hikam or "Bezels of Wisdom." He synthesized Islamic law, theology, philosophy, mysticism, cosmology, psychology, and other sciences. His numerous students spread his teachings throughout the Islamic world, and within two centuries there were few expressions of Islamic intellectuality untouched by his genius. He has continued to inspire some Muslim intellectuals even in the present century, and his influence has permeated popular forms of Islam.

The significance of Ibn al-'Arabī's extraordinary influence on Islamic thinking is suggested by a frequently quoted passage in which he recalls his meeting, as a youth of perhaps fifteen, with the famous philosopher Averroes, when the latter would have been fifty-five. Averroes perceived in the young Ibn al-'Arabī the wisdom for which he had been searching all his life. In cryptic language, the boy informed him that rational investigation was not sufficient to attain complete knowledge of God and the world.

The different perspectives of the two thinkers suggest the differing destinies of Islam and the West. The philosophical works of Averroes were studied carefully by Western philosophers and theologians, helping them establish nature as an autonomous realm of intellectual endeavor. Under the discerning . . .

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