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Sufi Metaphysics and Qur’anic Prophets

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    Sufi Metaphysics and Qur’anic Prophets

    The Fusus al-Hikam is acknowledged to be a summary statement of the sufi metaphysics of the Greatest Master”, Ibn ‘Arabi (d.1240). It is also recognised that the Fusus is a work of great complexity both in its ideas and its style; and, over the centuries, numerous commentaries have been written on it. Each of the chapters of the Fusas is dedicated to a Qur’an prophet with whom a particular wisdom” is associated. In Sufi Metaphysics and Quranic Prophets: Ibn’ Arabi’s Thought and Method in the Fusus al-Hikam, Ronald Nettler examines ten chapters from the Fusus which exemplify the ideas, method and perspective of the entire work. Concentrating on a detailed analysis of the text, the author brings out the profound connection and integration of scripture and metaphysics in the world-view of Ibn Arabi. Sufi Metaphysics and Qur’anic Prophets serves not only as an explication of Ibn Arabi’s thought in the Fusus, but is also a great aid in the overall understanding of Ibn Arabi’s thought. Ronald L. Nettler is university research lecturer in Oriental Studies, Oxford University, and fellow and tutor in Oriental Studies at Mansfield College, Oxford.

    Table of Contents

    Chapter One:

    Ibn Arabi: The Man and His ideas and methods

    Chapter Two:

    The Wisdom of Divineness in the Word of Adam

    Chapter Three:

    The Wisdom of Exaltedness in the Word of Musa

    Chapter Four:

    The Wisdom of leadership in the Word of Harun

    Chapter Five:

    The Wisdom of Ecstatic Love in the Word of Ibrahim

    Chapter Six:

    The Wisdom of Unity in the Word of Hud

    Chapter Seven:

    The Wisdom of the Heart in the Word of Shu’ayb

    Chapter Eight:

    The Wisdom of Divine Decree in the Word of Uzayr

    Chapter Nine:

    The Wisdom of Divine Sovereignty in the Word of Zakariyya

    Chapter Ten:

    The Wisdom of Singularity in the Word of Muhammad

    Chapter Eleven:

    A Lutian Epilogue

    The Man
    Muhammad b. 'Ali al-'Arabi al-Hatimi al-Ta-i, commonly known and referred to as Ibn 'Arabi, was a major figure of Islamic religious thought and of sufism, the mystical tradition of Islam. Ibn 'Arabi was born in Murcia in al-Andalus, Islamic Spain, on 27 July 1165 (17 Ramadan 560). He grew up in a privileged position, as a result of his father's various posts of political importance. Inclining in his later teen years toward a quest for intellectual, religious and spiritual truth, Ibn 'Arabi spent the rest of his life on this path. From his late twenties, he began his physical journeys outward from Spain, first to the Maghrib several times and, in following years, to various points in the East. In 1223, Ibn 'Arabi finally settled in Damascus where, now finished with his wanderings, he lived out his remaining years, working assiduously and producing a number of important works; among these was the Fusus al-Hikam, which Ibn 'Arabi claimed to have received in a vision from the Prophet Muhammad in that city.

    The long period of travel was for Ibn 'Arabi the physical correlative and the context of his concomitant intellectual and religious journey. Learning from others, as well as himself teaching them during his wanderings, Ibn 'Arabi achieved an impressive literary productivity closely linked with his physical movements.

    Each place, it seems, provided the human and creative resources which made possible the development and refinement of his outlook. The 'arc' of Ibn 'Arabi's life, as Henri Corbin called it, was in this sense truly integrative. The result was an original perspective that in later Islam served to reorientate religious thought, whether sufi or other, in most profound ways.

    Ibn 'Arabi's Sufi Thought
    Ibn 'Arabi’s sufi thought is highly complex and subtle. In both its method and content, Ibn 'Arabi's thought resists any simple and straightforward understanding; it yields itself only to the most strenuous interpretative efforts and then only partially, often leaving unresolved problems and some degree of ambiguity. This is particularly true in the case of the Fusus al-Hikam, but it holds also for Ibn 'Arabi's other works which propound

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