Ibn al-`Arabi in the Baha'i Writings

By Muin Afnani

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #95
Bosch Bahá'í­ School: Santa Cruz, California, USA
May 19–23, 2010
(see list of papers from #95)

    Ibn Arabi (1165-1240) is considered the greatest Islamic mystic and philosopher. Due to the range of his influence, both within the Islamic community and outside its circle, he has been called the greatest Muslim after Prophet Muhammad. The range and extent of his writings are so extensive that even to this day scholars are trying to figure out the authorship of new treatises and articles that continuously surface and get attributed to him. So far, about 750 books and articles have been attributed to him; there is consensus on his authorship of about 550 of those works. As for the remaining 200 works, there are differing opinions as to whether he has been the author or one of his student or followers. His writings cover a wide range of topics from philosophy, Sufism, commentary on the Qur'an, explanation of Islamic traditions, jurisprudence, theology, cosmology, and literature. His largest work is known as Futuhat al-Makkiyyah, The Meccan Opening, which in the modern edition amounts to about 15,000 pages. We recall from the Baha'i history that when Baha'u'llah was in Sulaymaniyyah, some of the mystics of that area approached Him for explanation of some of the difficult passages from Futuhat al-Makkiyyah. The most celebrated mystical work of Ibn Arabi is called Fusus al-Hikam, The Ringstones of the Wisdom. More than any other work of Ibn Arabi, this book has been the subject of commentaries and books since the 13th century. In the last three decades in Europe and North America the Ibn Arabi Society has been holding conferences and seminars, where scholarly research on the writings of Ibn Arabi is presented. Moreover, several academic journals publish the latest research on his writings.

    The Bab, Baha'u'llah, and Abdul-Baha have made references to Ibn Arabi and some of his thoughts and doctrines. Such instances include topics like the ontological divine order, the concept of love as the motivating force for existence, the concept of creation, references to the Promised One, and so forth.

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