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Ibn Arabi Speaks

February 10, 2007

kr’s note #1: The delay from the last post to this post can explained by several things, perhaps the most important being that I had no motivation for life after my beloved Bears lost this past Sunday. I’ll be the first to admit that my team got owned, and it hurt… badly. I’ve been in shock this whole week, continuing to wear my Bears shirt since Sunday (and no, that’s not gross, man). People have asked me to do a post about what I learned from the 2006 Chicago Bears’ season… and maybe I will, but I also think I ought to do a post in defense of sporting events, since many people seem to bash on them. All that will come in due time, Inshallah. As for you Bears haters… I’ve got two words for you… figure it out.

kr’s note #2: New posts shall Inshallah be added once a week, or whenever I feel like it. These days I don’t have the time to visit other xangas (though I browse through the emailed subscription posts), so I apologize if I don’t leave comments on your respective sites.


Many people wonder what exactly is tasawwuf or Sufism, and such discussions often conjure up images of drunken whirling dervishes and wandering mystics that claim they can fly. The true concepts and philosophies of Sufism have all been lost in a medley of various quacks that employ outlandish beliefs and practices, justifying them under the banner of Sufism and claiming to be true Sufis. And those who attempt to stay true to the original tenets of the various Sufi tariqahs, even their use of the word “tasawwuf” seems to automatically include them with the wackos. And thus what was common practice in the early days of Islam, from the time of the Companions themselves and through the classical periods, is either misunderstood or viewed as antithetical to Islamic beliefs. The irony, of course, is nothing could be further from the truth. In the coming days, perhaps I’ll do a post concerning the defense–an unnecessary one, if I might add–about Sufism. In the meantime, to perhaps whet your collective appetites, I’ll share the words of one of the greatest scholars and mystics that Islam ever produced as perhaps what is quintessential Sufism: a mindset, worldview, and concern about the internal aspects of our external affairs, infusing even the mundane with spirituality to make them higher acts of worship.

The Qadi writes:

“…Make a ritual ablution before each prayer, beginning every action with “In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.” First wash your hands, intending to pull them away from the affairs of this world. Then wash your mouth, remember and reciting God’s name, purifying it in order to utter His Name. Wash your nose wishing to inhale the perfumes of the Divine. Wash your face feeling shame, and intending to wipe from it arrogance and hypocrisy. Wash your forearms trusting God to make you do what is good. Wet the top of your head feeling humility and wash your ears (in preparation) to hear the address of your Lord. Wash from your feet the dirt of the world so that you don’t stain the sands of Paradise. Then thank and praise the Lord, and send prayers of peace and blessing upon our Master, who brought the canons of Islam and taught them to us.

After you leave the place of your ablution without turning your back to it, perform two cycles of prayer out of hope and thankfulness for His making you clean.

Next, stand in the place where you are going to make your prayers as if between the two hands of your Lord. Imagine, without forms and lines, that you are facing the Ka’bah, and that there is no one else on the face of this earth but you. Bring yourself to express your servanthood physically. Choose the verses you are going to recite, understanding their meanings within you. With the verses that start with “Say…” feel that you are talking to your Lord as He wishes you to do: let every word contain praise. Allow time between the sentences, contemplating what our Master, the Messenger of God, gave us, trying to keep it in your heart. Believing that your destiny is written on your forehead, place it humbly on the floor in prostration. When you finish and give salutations to your right and to your left, keep your eyes on yourself and your connection with your Lord, for you are saluting the One under whose power you are and who is within you…”

Al-Shaykh al-Akbar Qadi Muhyiddin Ibn `Arabi,  from Al-Tadbirat al-Ilahiyyah fi Islah al-Mamlakat al-Insaniyyah (The Divine Governance Concerning the Rectification of the Human Kingdom)



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  1. Al-hamdulilah. Remarkable piece. Sufism is over-rated, and under-rated at the same time.
    What particularly strikes me is that when ‘you’ (third person) claim to be a Sufi, or even bring those extremely sacred words (words = thoughts/meanings/intentions) to your lips – you have to hold your heart in your mouth- and because it is so personal – you have to guard it. Why gaurd it? Thats just because it’s so precious – and sacred. Now of course – sharing what you feel, and why you feel the way you do Re: Sufism or the way of practicing Islam/world view/ etc – is very important because it allows dialogue, discussion and communication/understanding among people – yet, ostensibly – when you start discussing it with too many people, and too often, it begins to sound like a mantra which has lost its essence. And no sooner, you’re part of a cult, a label, a brand, and category. Why, What, Who is lost.
    This is just an observation.
    Random thought.

  2. Anonymous permalink

    “…for they shall cry unto Jehovah because of oppressors, and he will send them a saviour, and a defender, and he will deliver them.” (Isaiah 19:20)(ASV)-BibleGateway “…At the time that God has already decided, he will send Jesus Christ back again.”(1Timothy 6:15)(CEV)-BibleGateway JESUS  DECLARED :”I have come in My Father’s nameand with His power…”(John 5:43)(AMP)-BibleGateway “I will come with the mighty acts of the Lord Jehovah…”(Psalm 71:16)(ASV)-BibleGateway   “““`

  3. Jzaks…that answers a lot of questions, seriously.
    but what question that i’ve been having that you scratched the surface of, and then left completely is this: what exactly is Sufism?

  4. “for you are saluting the One under whose power you are and who is within you…”
    Asalaamu ‘alaikum
    Curious about the bolded terms akhi. I’m sure I’m misunderstanding it. Nice post by the way.
    Asalaamu ‘alaikum

  5. squirvana: that will perhaps be answered in a future post, inshallah. the short answer is that sufism is the discipline by which one seeks to infuse every single outward action with beauty and perfection (ihsan), as in the hadith of Jibril: “… to worship Allah as if you can you see Him, and if you cannot see Him, then verily He sees you.”
    heartdoctor: i cannot speak for the shaykh, but it is my opinion that he is refering to the well-known Hadith Qudsi:  “Neither My earth nor My heaven contain Me, but the heart of My believing slave contains Me.”

  6. Going to be an interesting set of posts. Wish I could embody my prayer like that.Btw, I’m done with your blueprints. So if you want it back, let me know.

  7. Asalaamu ‘alaikum
    I’m still a bit unsure by the hadith you mentioned. I looked for the authenticity of the hadith and it didn’t seem like it had an isnad. Although I did find this nice quote about that hadith in my search:
    Al-Sakhawi said in Al- Maqasid, following his shaykh al-Suyuti in Al- La’ali, “There is no known isnad from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) for it, and its meaning is that his heart can contain belief in Me, love of Me and gnosis of Me. But as for the one who says that Allah incarnates in the hearts of the people, then he is more of an infidel than the Christians, who specified that to Christ alone.”
    Regardless, judging form the understanding displayed in this quote, the shaykh must have meant that it was the belief in his heart, not Allah in his heart.
    JazakAllahu khair for your help akhi. Always a pleasure coming to your site.
    Asalaamu ‘alaikum

  8. Who is Hisham Kabbani?

  9. I am Hisham Kabbani…

  10. What is Tasawwuf? (an excellent resource):

  11. you’re dreamy

  12. “The Divine Governance Concerning the Rectification of the Human Kingdom”They just don’t make titles like that anymore do they?

  13. SubhanAllah, that was a great read.

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