Guide Ibn ‘Arabî - Time and Cosmology (Culture and Civilization in the Middle East)

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Like this Page on Facebook:. Favorite Quote. Allah is Beautiful, and He loves beauty. Hadith by the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him [Sahih Muslim - Top Articles. Recent Articles. Those who are bewildered transcend the formal limits and connect with the essential limits, the limits of self-disclosure.

They are the possessors of perfect knowledge, and they become such by turning themselves into essential limits—polished mirrors that perfectly reflect the form of the Real. Despite its simplicity, Mbar bin Hayyan's story may be useful for illustrating this point: "They say that in a certain valley there are snakes that can kill animals instantly by looking into their eyes. They also say that in this valley there is a great beast whose eyes are like gulfs.

As the snake seeks to kill it, the beast lifts up its eyes toward the head so that its sight would not fall on the snake and its eyes become like pure, polished mirrors. The snake sees itself in the mirror and dies. The knower attains live knowledge by turning himself into a liminal entity that resembles a perfectly polished mirror. By turning himself into such an entity, it becomes possible for the knower to see that which cannot be seen. This is because he sees "with God's eye," not "through his own eye from behind the veil of his essence.

Through the burning of these veils, the essences of the Gnostics become one essence that is identical with God. As for the common people, the veils are not lifted from them, so that they do not witness the truth of this unity. The Gnostics must not divulge this knowledge of unveiling and must take heed of the Prophet's saying: "Do not bestow wisdom on other than its folk, lest you wrong it, and do not hold it back from its folk, lest you wrong them. In introducing the naturalistic account of Hayy's birth, Ibn Tufayl presents a tripartite classification of bodies: transparent bodies that do not reflect light at all, such as air; dense bodies that reflect light partially; and bodies that reflect light perfectly, such as polished mirrors.

In correspondence to this classification, he divides existents into inanimate objects, in whose form the Spirit, which resembles the light of the sun, does not leave any traces; plants in whose form the Spirit leaves some traces; and animals in whose form, and the form of the human being in particular, the Spirit leaves a full impression. As the presence of the form of the Spirit is reinforced in the form of the human being, its reality eclipses all other forms and whatever stands in its way. It then resembles a mirror that reflects on itself and burns everything else with the glories of its light.

Then the form of the Spirit and the human form are united in a bond that is "indissoluble not only according to the senses but also according to reason. The story can be divided into three stages. In the practical stage, Hayy learns how to remove natural or physical veils. In the theoretical stage, he learns how to remove rational veils. In the mystical stage, he learns how to transform the ultimate veil, his own self, into an essential or liminal entity that turns on itself and burns everything else.

Then Hayy encounters common religious people and seeks to "bestow wisdom on other than its folk. He also learns Hayy's lesson, as he explains that even as he determined to write his book, he covered it with "a thin veil and a light covering, easily pierced by those who are worthy and too thick for those who are unworthy to penetrate it. Hayy may be regarded as the story of the development of human knowledge. This is different, however, from the story related in Farabi's Book of Letters in the major sense that its author refuses to halt at the formal limits of Aristotle's logic.

Hayy may also be regarded as the story of the relation between religion and philosophy. The problem of this relation, however, must not be depicted as external to philosophy and as pertaining merely to the relation between philosophers and religious people, but rather as falling within the limits of philosophy itself and as constituting a major incentive for refining or redefining these limits. This is why this problem cannot find its rather simple Farabian solution by investing philosophical effort in convincing religious people that their religious beliefs are imperfect imitations of philosophical truths.

Such a solution would only bring closure, whereas the story of philosophy is a story about disclosure. Chapter 1. I argue against the views of three scholars, Dimitri Gutas, George Tarabishi, and Lawrence Conrad, on Ibn Tufayl's mystical epistemology and the purpose of writing Hayy. Gutas claims that Ibn Tufayl misinterprets a certain passage in the prologue to al-Shifa' , in which Ibn Sind mentions his book on Eastern philosophy and falsely ascribes to him illuminative ideas to draw the attention of his readers to his own work.

I do not see an act of misinterpretation here. Even if we concede that Ibn Sind was no illuminationist, the most that we can charge Ibn Tufayl with is naively repeating his words.

Ibn Tufayl makes it perfectly clear that the essence of the knowledge of illumination is not to be found in Ibn Sina's Shift', which agrees almost completely with Peripateticism; or in his own work, in which he revealed whatever he could reveal of its secrets; or in any book, for that matter. He repeats his statement several times and in different places in his work, such that one begins to wonder what makes scholars freeze on one statement, in which he invites the reader to seek Ibn Sina's work on Eastern philosophy, and ignore all the rest.

Ibn Tufayl's special appreciation of Ibn Sind stems from the fact that after making such a remarkable advance in Peripateticism, he was still able to make a declaration to the effect that rationalistic thought is limited. Gutas's reluctance to give serious consideration to this declaration is the outcome of his insistence on making an absolute distinction between philosophy and mysticism.

The portion of his writings in which Ibn Sind introduces his mystical insights is insignificant in terms of quantity and the assumption is that giving serious consideration to his mystical declaration in this meager portion must be inconsistent with the overwhelmingly rationalistic part of his work. Considered from Ibn Tufayl's point of view, however, this assumption is not only limited but is actually the root of the extreme rationalistic thought of which he is especially critical. After all, what is Hayy but such a long rational argument culminating in a mystical conclusion?

According to his own testimony, Tarabishi became interested in the study of medieval Islamic philosophy only after reading Muhammad al-Jabiri's Critique of Arab Reason. Because I make a number of references to Mill in this book, it will be useful to say a few words about his work. Several scholars consider Jabiri to be the first Modern thinker in the Arab world to provide a serious criticism of Islamic reason.

Indeed, Min's insistence on the significance of the rational order and the adherence to externalist principles bear a striking resemblance to the ideals of modern philosophies of the Enlightenment. However, it succeeded in exploiting those contents for the sake of settling its ideological conflicts, especially the conflict between philosophy and religion.

Hence, Jabiri thinks that those who, like the Orientalists, judge Islamic philosophy according to epistemological standards commit a serious mistake because from an epistemological point of view, Islamic philosophy did not possess much of an essence. The problem of the relation between philosophy and religion occupied a central place in Islamic philosophy; and concerning this problem, Muslims were divided into Eastern and Western schools of thought. The Western school included thinkers such as Ibn Rushd, Ibn Tufayl, and Ibn Khaldun, who maintained a view of separation between philosophy and religion.

Those thinkers were in opposition to the Eastern school, which included thinkers such as Ibn Sind and Ghazali, who attempted to establish harmony between philosophy and religion. This attempt resulted in alienating the Arabic mind from the path of rationalism. The thinkers of the Western school, the true philosophers, sought to overcome this alienation by building a wall that protects rationalistic philosophy from the esoteric influences of the irrationalists.

At the same time, however, he blamed them for ignoring the fact that Islamic philosophers, by whom he meant those who belonged to the Western school, did not occupy themselves with philosophy for its own sake, but only to use it in resolving their ideological conflicts and to build a barrier between rationalism and irrationalism. In his work, Tarabishi assumes the role of the skeptic, as he confines himself almost exclusively to demonstrating inconsistencies in Jabiri's position.

Tarabishi argues that the Western school of philosophy was not as united as Midi presents it. He actually considers Ibn Tufayl's work, in which he registers his special debt to Ibn Sind, as an attack against none other than the figure of Ibn Rushd and the rationalism that he represents. A careful examination of Ibn Tufayl's view on the relation between philosophy and religion, however, reveals how close it is to Ibn Rushd's.

Rather than lending support for Jabiri's view, this fact should provide grounds for a more consistent reading of the principle of Islamic philosophy, and this is what the present book attempts to do. Two main views on the purpose of writing Hayy have been advanced in scholarship. Leon Gauthier argued that the book is primarily about the relation between philosophy and religion, and George Hourani argued that its principal subject is the possibility of the soul's unaided ascent to philosophical knowledge.

Conrad criticizes both views. His criticism amounts to claiming that Ibn Tufayl was led to writing Hayy by societal rather than philosophical considerations.

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To establish his view, Conrad sought to reveal what he considered to be flaws in the logical structure of Ibn Tufayl's work. By doing so, he sought to throw doubt not only on Hourani's view, but equally on Gauthier's, because this is based on the assumption that Ibn Tufayl arrived at the concluding part of his work by following a perfectly planned and meticulously executed logical procedure. I attempt to show that what Conrad considers as flaws in the logic of Ibn Tufayl's narrative make perfect sense when examined from a liminal point of view and when proper consideration is given to the symbolic import of the treatise.

Chapter 2. Ibn Tufayl's employment of central Sufi concepts in the introduction to his book aims to emphasize the element of self-reflexivity intrinsic to his model of illumination and to reveal an important fact about the limitation of the use of language in relation to an experience that defies closure. Ibn Tufayl describes the seeker of knowledge as a person who devotes himself hamim to obtaining knowledge by constantly purifying safyy the mirror of his heart. The Safi then becomes one with the state 01 , which resembles the essence of time.

This act of identification gives rise to utterances that "flow from" the Suffs shatahat and that involve a claim for unity with Truth. This claim is paradoxical. It is a true claim, because Truth encompasses everything. Once stated, however, the claim becomes false because no matter how carefully unity is expressed, negation always creeps into it with the expression and splits it against itself. The recognition of this paradoxicality distinguishes the Sufi not only from those who do not possess awareness of the limitations of all claims for Truth, but also from extreme skeptics, who by holding unlimitation as their final position only impose on themselves another form of limitation.

Ibn Tufayl states that it was by the study of Ghazali and Ibn Sines that he could see truth for himself. He describes Ghazali as a person who was well-versed in ma 'Ilia knowledge1 and 'dm knowledge2. Knowledge2 is related to the world 'Nam , whereas knowledge 1 is related to the transcendent essences that are beyond the sensible world.

To say that Ghazali was well versed in both knowledges is to say that he possessed both knowledge of manifestation and knowledge of nonmanifestation. It is to say that he belonged to the category of knowers who are in the image of the light of God, to whom belong both East and West Q and whose resemblance is an olive tree that is neither of the East nor of the West Q The presence of Niche in Ibn Tufayl's work is so strong that, together with his depiction of Ghazali as a possessor of perfect knowledge, one is tempted to explain away his stated criticism of him as irrelevant.

The most striking resemblances between Ghazali's Niche and Ibn Tufayl's Hayy lie in their depiction of the cosmos as consisting of a hierarchy of light-reflecting mirrors. This depiction may be traced back to Neoplatonic influence, but I think that originally the influence goes back to Plato's Parable of the Cave. An important feature of the mystical experience as it is depicted in this parable is the gradual unfolding of the light of illumination. Despite this graduality, the experience proves to be painful to the person who is involved in it. As for the feelings of joy and exultation to which Ibn Tufayl gives special attention in his description of the experience, they belong to the person in the state of k intoxication sukr.

In this state, the person experiences absence,. When he is again present, the person struggles to regain his former state. Ibn Sind amply accounts for this gradual struggle to attain illumination in Isharat, and I attempt to show that a similar account is present in his mystical recitals of Hayy Ibn Yaqzan and Salaman and Absal, as well as the Hermetistic version of Salaman and Absal.

Chapter 3. Ibn Tufayl introduces two accounts of Hayy's birth: naturalistic and traditionalistic. He opens with a depiction of the naturalistic account, which describes Hayy's emergence from earth but interrupts it to add a succinct description of the traditionalistic account, according to which Hayy is born to human parents.

Then he resumes his discussion of the naturalistic account with rich scientific details. Hawi interprets this interruption as Ibn Tufayl's attempt to conceal his philosophical stand, which he identifies with naturalism. I argue against his interpretation. According to the naturalistic account, Hayy was generated on an equatorial island, which enjoyed the most temperate climate, from a portion of earth that was perfectly balanced to receive the human form.

Ibn Tufayl says also that people on this island were generated from trees. This is to emphasize the continuity between natural existents: minerals, plants, and animals. Ibn Tufayl's depiction of the chain of existents is compared to Ibn al-'Arabi's and a certain resemblance between the two thinkers is detected.

The major part of the discussion is devoted to Ibn Arabi's account of his mystical visions in the Earth of Barzakh, the conditions of which are similar to the conditions that existed on the equatorial island in which Hayy was born. On Earth, natural existents live and speak and, unlike objects on our earth, they are not subject to generation and corruption. On it become manifest things that are judged by the rational proofs to be impossible, such as the bringing together of the opposites, the existence of a body in two places, and the subsistence of an accident in itself.

The manifestation of these things on Earth enables Ibn al- 'Arabi to provide an interpretation for verses in the Qur'an that the rational faculties shift from their manifest meanings. I use Ibn al-'Arabi's theory to provide an interpretation of Plato's myth of spontaneous generation in Republic. Chapter 4. Upon the culmination of his intellectual growth, Hayy encounters human society and with this encounter he connects with the traditionalistic account of his birth.

The exoteric and esoteric aspects of the human condition are represented here by Salesman and Abseil, respectively. Although their relationship is depicted in terms of opposition, I attempt to show that their positions enjoy intermediary characteristics. Salesman's involvement in theological debates with Absal signifies his tendency toward rational deliberation.

Although fear for his religion leads him eventually to disconnect himself from Absal and adhere to the dogmatic beliefs of his community, the very existence of fear indicates an important difference between him and other members of his community. Absal tended toward esoteric interpretation. When he encountered Hayy, however, he also feared that interaction with him would endanger his religious beliefs. His fear was alleviated as he recognized that Hayy did not know language. His decision to teach him language was based on the hope that his lord would reward him.

Thus, despite his inclination toward esoteric interpretation, Absal was still subject to the principles of mass religion, especially fear of God's punishment and hope for his recompense. Using Plato's division of the degrees of reality in the parable of the Divided Line, I present Hayy as occupying the highest segment in the line. Next to him comes Absal, followed by Salaman. The dogmatic people of the religious community occupy the lowest segment of the line and the most distanced from Hayy's, which explains the intensity of their opposition to his attempt to convey his illuminative knowledge to them.

Chapter 5. Hayy's reflections on the problem of the eternity of the world signified a turning point in his intellectual development. Hayy examined limits between chains of existence in the world, but now he came to examine the limits of the world itself. This led him to thinking about the concept of the infinite and its role in establishing the arguments for and against the eternity of the world.

I present Aristotle's analysis of this concept and show its relevance to these arguments. Ibn Tufayl presented the positions of the philosophers and the theologians in relation to the problem of the eternity of the world as balanced. Hawi claims that by doing so, he attempted to conceal his eternalist position. I argue against this claim. Chapter 6.

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Ibn arabi books

In The Book of Letters, Farabi provides an account of the development of human thought from the commencement of the use of language to the time of the invention of logic by Aristotle. He includes in his account a discussion of the relation between philosophy and religion and the role that the philosopher must assume in establishing harmony between them. There are important differences between his account and the one provided by Ibn Tufayl. Ibn Tufayl's hero became acquainted with the use of language only after he had exhausted all the stages of the development that Farabi assigns to his rationalistic philosophers and that culminate in Aristotle's logic.

This is important because according to Farabi, the universal language of logic comes afterward and must therefore be considered prior in significance to ordinary languages.


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Ibn Tufayl, however, makes his "silent speaker" employ logic and then transcend its principles. Thus, he applies to formal logic the same argument that Farabi applies to ordinary languages and, by doing so, he endows it, and the philosopher who adheres to its categories, with a lesser status. Another important difference between the two philosophers lies in their treatment of the relation between philosophy and religion. Farabi seems to be positive about the chances of the philosopher to convince believers that what they have in their religion is only the imitation of higher philosophical truths.

Ibn Tufayl does not share this optimism with Farabi, not only because of his especially negative view of the intellectual capacities of dogmatic believers, but also because of his recognition of the limitations of the very rationalistic capacity that Farabi considers as absolute.


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Chapter 7. Despite his critical view of Ibn Baja," Ibn Tufayl had a special appreciation for his intellectual capacities. This appreciation stems from his recognition of the significant contribution that Ibn Baja made to the principle of illuminative philosophy, especially in relation to his liminal depiction of the levels of comprehension. I emphasize the liminal component in Ibn Bajja's thought and the clear impact that Plato's "mystical" parables had on it. Chapter 8. In describing the traditionalist account, Ibn Tufayl makes an allusion to the Qur'anic story of the Sleepers in the Cave.

Aristotle mentions the story in Physics in the context of discussing the nature of time. I relate his discussion to Ibn Tufayl's depiction of the resemblances in which Hayy was involved and in which he imitated natural time and motion, the unitary time and the circular motion of the transcendent essences, and the state of absolute fixity characteristic of God. In the context of this discussion, I elaborate on an important incident in Hayy's life: the discovery of fire.

The traditionalistic account of Hayy's birth bears a clear resemblance to Moses's birth story. I elaborate on Ibn al-'Arabi's depiction of the figure of Moses in Fusus al-Hikam, especially Moses's birth story and his encounter with the Saint al-Khadir. Chapter 9. Gilgamesh is the builder of Uruk's great walls and the one who plunged into the Absu sweet waters to claim the plant of rejuvenation following his encounter with Utnapishtim, The-One-Who-Found-Life. Enkidu is the child of nature, whose creation story bears a striking resemblance to Adam's. Enkidu was seduced toward civilized Uruk by a love-priestess.

He and Gilgamesh undertake a series of adventures that enrage the gods, who determine Enkidu's death. His death gives birth to Gilgamesh's quest for eternity. Gilgamesh goes on a long journey, at the end of which he comes together with Utnapishtim and hears from him the story of the Flood, which is, like Hayy's, a story about a new beginning.

As Moses failed to obtain the object of his quest for perfect knowledge in his encounter with al-Khadir, so Gilgamesh also failed to obtain the object of his quest in his encounter with Utnapishtim. The main lesson that we learn from both encounters is that the object of the mystical quest is one of seeking, not of possessing.

Chapter In the preface to Myths from Mesopotamia, Stephanie Dalley writes: "A few original contributions by this translator are included: recognition that the Tale of Buluqiya in the Arabian Nights is related to the Epic of Gilgamesh. At the same time, I wish to point out that I have detected a strong resemblance between chapter 8 of the Futuhat and Uthiilidiya, a highly influential work that was mistakenly attributed to Aristotle, and that I will elaborate on this resemblance in my next book.

I want to discuss a few points at the close of this introduction. First, I consider Plato to be one of the main originators of the liminal notion that I presented in my book Ibn al- 'Arabi s Barzakh and that I develop further here. The emphasis on the parable of the Cave and the parables that lead to it must be appreciated not only in terms of the obvious resemblance between the story of Plato's enlightened philosopher and Hayy's, but also in terms of the obvious impact that it had on the illuminative ideas of other thinkers with whom I deal in this book.

Second, Aristotle's thought is equally important for the purposes of this book, not only because of the obvious consideration that the story of Islamic philosophy cannot be accounted for in isolation from his philosophy, but especially because of the fact that Aristotle was perceived in Islamic intellectual tradition as the thinker who perfected rational thought. This does not mean that Islamic thinkers believed that Aristotle was the end of the story. On the contrary, by pushing rational analysis to its ultimate limit, Aristotle played a central role in opening the door for the development of the notion of liminality in Islamic medieval thought.

Finally, I wish to address a concern that readers of this book must be aware of, and that is related to the absence of an elaborate discussion of Suhrawardi's illuminative thought from this book. My simple response is that the treatment of such an important and difficult thinker is beyond the scope of this work. By comparing this original view with modern theories of physics and cosmology, Mohamed Haj Yousef constructs a new cosmological model that may deepen and extend our understanding of the world, while potentially solving some of the drawbacks in the current models such as the historical Zeno's paradoxes of motion and the recent Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox EPR that underlines the discrepancies between Quantum Mechanics and Relativity.

Students of the world's religious traditions, together with specialists in the history of premodern science and philosophy, are well aware of the centrality within the scriptures and theologies of the major world religions, over many centuries, of detailed symbolic accounts of cosmology and metaphysics including the intricate problematics of creation — and of the crucial role played within each of those religious traditions by corresponding philosophical and scientific schemas of astronomy and cosmology that often provided a common language and framework of understanding shared by their educated elites.

In premodern times, this key interpretative function was particularly important in the case of that complex of Hellenistic philosophic and cosmological disciplines largely shared by educated proponents of each of the three Abrahamic faiths. Given today's widespread journalistic stereotypes about the supposed 'opposition' of science and religion, this book is a salutary reminder — and an extraordinarily rich and detailed illustration — of the complex interpenetration of philosophical and scriptural elements throughout the central traditions of later Islamic thought, prior to the recent scientific revolutions.

At the same time, Dr Haj Yousef's training and expertise as a modern physicist allow him to suggest, in his provocative final chapter, intriguing ways in which the earlier cosmological and theological speculations of Ibn 'Arabi carefully outlined in this study may also parallel very recent developments and insights in the cosmological theories especially String Theory of modern physics. In that sense, this study provides a more demanding, Islamic parallel to such recent popular works such as F. Capra's Tao of Physics. While the prolific Andalusian Sufi writer Ibn 'Arabi is most widely known today as a mystic and spiritual teacher, his voluminous writings — and particularly his immense magnum opus, the Meccan Illuminations, which is the primary source for this study — constantly refer to the insights, theories, and cosmological schemas of earlier Muslim philosophers and scientists, such as Avicenna and the popular spiritual treatises of the 'Brethren of Purity' Ikhwan al-Safa.

For that reason, this book begins with a helpful survey of the standard theories of cosmology and time found in earlier Hellenistic thinkers, which were largely taken over into the succeeding traditions of Islamic philosophy and science. Every reader who engages with this demanding discussion will come away, at the very least, with a heightened appreciation of the symbolic richness and challenging intellectual dilemmas posed by this unduly neglected — yet arguably quite central and unavoidable — dimension of the Qur'an and its metaphysical teachings.

Today, of course, no one is used to thinking of those recurrent metaphysical problems in terms of the theological language of creation. But by this point Dr Haj Yousef has outlined just how Ibn 'Arabi, by carefully elaborating the complex literal indications of the Qur'an itself, is able to illuminate both the temporal and the ontological dimensions of the divine cosmogonic Origination of all things. The fascinating 'phenomenology' of the human psychological and experiential dimensions of this cosmic creative process, we might add, is also the subject of even more fascinating discussions in Ibn 'Arabi and later Islamic philosophers as well as earlier Sufis and mystical thinkers.

But the elaboration of that closely related topic would require another, equally wide-ranging and original study. So the author has prudently set that related issue aside while focusing on those dimensions of ontology and time most directly connected with the analogous approaches of modern theoretical physics that he outlines in his concluding, more speculative chapter. This constantly challenging and thought-provoking study is clearly the fruit of years of research on one of the most difficult subjects to be found in the writings of one of Islam's most seminal, creative, inspired, and notoriously difficult thinkers.

Morris, Boston College. Ibn 'Arabi is one of the most prominent figures in Islamic history, especially in relation to Sufism and Islamic philosophy and theology. In this book, we want to explore his cosmology and in particular his view of time in that cosmological context, comparing his approaches to the relevant conclusions and principles of modern physics whenever possible.

We shall see that Ibn 'Arabi had a unique and comprehensive view of time which has never been discussed by any other philosopher or scientist, before or even after Ibn 'Arabi. In the final two chapters, in which we shall discuss some of the ways his novel view of time and cosmology may be used to build a complete model of the cosmos that may deepen and extend our understanding of the world, while potentially solving some of the drawbacks and paradoxes in the current cosmological models of modern physics.

As we discuss in the opening chapter, there is no doubt that time is one of the most important issues in physics, cosmology, philosophy and theology, and hundreds of books and articles have been published in these fields. One possible reason for this relative neglect is the difficult symbolic language he usually used. Also, he did not discuss this subject at length in any single place in his extant works — not even in chapters 59, and of the Futuhat whose titles relate directly to time — so we must piece together his overall cosmological understanding of time from his scattered treatments in many works and different contexts within his magnum opus, the Futuhat and other books.

To start with, Ibn 'Arabi considers time to be a product of our human 'imagination', without any real, separately existing entity. Nevertheless, he still considers it to be one of the four main constituents of existence. We need this imagined conception of 'time' to chronologically arrange events and what for us are the practically defining motions of the celestial orbs and other physical objects, but for Ibn 'Arabi real existence is attributable only to the actually existing thing that moves, not to motion nor to time or space in which this motion is observed.

Thus lbn 'Arabi distinguishes between two kinds of time — natural and para-natural — and he explains that they both originate from the two forces of the soul: the active force and the intellective force, respectively. Then he explains that this imaginary time is cyclical, circular, relative, discrete and inhomogeneous. Ibn 'Arabi also gives a precise definition — drawing on the specific usage of the Qur'an and earlier Arab conceptions of time — of the day, daytime and night, showing how these definitions are related to the relative motions of the celestial orbs including the Earth , where every orb has its own 'day', and those days are normally measured by our normal observable day that we count on the Earth.

To begin with, Ibn 'Arabi considers the cosmic, divine Week, rather than the day or any other time unit, as the main primitive time cycle. Thus he explains how the world is created in seven cosmic, divine 'Days', what happens on each Day, and the underlying ontological relation between the Week's Days of creation and the seven fundamental divine Names of Allah. Ibn 'Arabi also shows that all the Days of this cosmic Week, including the last Day Saturday , all actually occur in Saturday, the 'Day of eternity'.

This complex understanding of the ever-renewed divine creation in fact underlies his conception of the genuine unification of space and time, where the world is created 'in six Days' from Sunday to Friday as space, and then is displayed or manifested on Saturday in the process that we perceive as time. However, we perceive this complicated process of creation in Six Days and the subsequent appearance of the world on the seventh Day, we perceive all this only as one single moment of our normal time. For him, this process of divine re-creation happens gradually in series , not at once: i.

So the creation of the world in six Days actually happens every moment, perpetually and recurrently. Therefore, those first six divine Days are actually the creative origin of space and not time, which is only the seventh Day. In this novel conception, for the first time in history, the 'Week', as the basic unit of space-time, will have a specific and quite essential meaning in physics and cosmology.

In order to explain this initially paradoxical notion, Ibn 'Arabi introduces — again initially mysterious Qur'anic on the basis of indications — the different nature and roles of three very different kinds of compounded days the 'circulated' days, the 'taken-out' days and the 'intertwined' days , which highlight the fact that the actual flow of time is not as uniform and smooth as we feel and imagine.

By comparing this original view with modern theories of physics and cosmology, Mohamed Haj Yousef constructs a new cosmological model that may deepen and extend our understanding of the world, while potentially solving some of the drawbacks in the current models such as the historical Zeno's paradoxes of motion and the recent Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox EPR that underlines the discrepancies between Quantum Mechanics and Relativity. Kevin Boyle provides an excellent beginning to the discussion by an introduction to the international legal background on the freedom of religion.

The initial problem with the content of freedom of religion is that of the historical and political context in which these human rights standards were negotiated. Whilst originally established during the cold-war period, they now operate in the wholly different environment of the opening decade of the twenty-first Century. Notwithstanding the different historical roots of the standards, Boyle argues that it is imperative that the universal standards on human rights, sustained despite the cold-war are not jettisoned in the crisis generated by the 'global war on terror: International law signifies the commitment of all states to defend freedom of religion as the right of the individual to hold and to practice a faith.

The critical point that Boyle makes in his chapter is that human rights law, as a part of the corpus of international law does not place itself at some higher level above religion or non-religious beliefs.

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Rather, he argues that the purpose of the right to freedom of religion is to accommodate the plurality of such beliefs in the world while drawing its inspiration from the principles of justice and ethics shared by all religions and humanist beliefs. To advance religious freedom and to end religious persecution in this first decade of the twenty-first century, an understanding of that freedom that is inclusive of all religions is urgently needed.

The international norms of freedom of conscience, freedom of thought and freedom of religion will remain lifeless until they are invoked as a framework for much needed sustained dialogue and action by the world's religions. As Seyyed Hossein Nasr attests, within this tradition, philosophizing is done in a world in which prophecy is the central reality of life—a reality related not only to the realms of action and ethics but also to the realm of knowledge. Comparisons with Jewish and Christian philosophies highlight the relation between reason and revelation, that is, philosophy and religion.

It presents the corpus of Hanafi law in its approved and preferred form and forges an organic link with the other schools of law. There is no book that can match the power of al-Hidayah as a teaching manual. Education in Islamic law is not complete without this book.

M. ibn al-'Arabi

Gracia, Timothy B. Noone Blackwell Companions to Philosophy: Blackwell Publishers This comprehensive reference volume features essays by some of the most distinguished scholars in the field. The volume is organized into two sections. In the first, essays cover the historical context within which philosophy in the Middle Ages developed. Topics include the ancient philosophical legacy, the patristic background, the School of Chartres, religious orders, scholasticism, and the condemnation of various views in Paris in the thirteenth century.

Within these clear, jargon-free expositions, the authors make the latest scholarship available while also presenting their own distinctive perspectives. The second section is composed of alphabetically arranged entries on philosophically significant authors — European, Jewish, and Arabic — living between the fourth and fifteenth centuries.

These essays contain biographical information, summaries of significant philosophical arguments and viewpoints, and conclude with bibliographies of both primary and secondary sources. A Companion to Philosophy in the Middle Ages is extensively cross-referenced and indexed, constituting a complete source of information for students and professionals alike. Understood by Muslims to contain God's own words, it has been an object of reverence and of intense study for centuries. It ventured behind the headlines to offer a positive, constructive view of Islam and Muslims, showing how Islam is lived and practiced in daily life.

New maps and illustrations are included, detailing the diversity and representation of Islam and Muslims throughout the world. Additional material includes discussions of male and female relations; folk Islam, popular expressions of faith, and the five pillars; Sufism, including the Turkish Dervishes; ethnic and racial differences in the Muslim world; Islamic law and the application of harsh punishments; political Islam and the future of the state in the Islamic world; and the many voices of progressive Muslims--feminists, human rights activists, and anti-extremist writers.

The focus will, however, not be on the introduction of Islamic laws during and following Lia-ul-Haq's martial law, but on the role of Islamic law in the legal system as a whole. The central thesis is that the Islamization of laws in Pakistan has been primarily a judge-led process, which was initiated to enhance the power of the judiciary and to expand the scope of constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights. It will be argued that the role of judges in the Islamization of the legal system has been largely obscured by the more visible manifestations of Islamization, namely the promulgation of the infamous Hudood Ordinances' and other isolated pieces of Islamic legislation, such as, for instance, the Enforcement of Shari'ah Act In the work, Professor Arkoun pays as much attention to exploring the epistemological options underlying the different types of discourses, as to the development of facts, events, ideas, beliefs, performances, institutions, works of art and individual biographies based on reliable archives.

He argues that writing history, without making an issue of each word, each concept, each attitude used by the social protagonists, is misleading and even dangerous for people who assimilate the representations of the past proposed by historians as the undisputable truth about the past. He asserts that this is why each social group has itself built an image of its past without having the means of differentiating the mythical or ideological image from the critical approaches provided by modern historians.

The book will be an invaluable asset for those concerned with the contemporary world as viewed through the disciplines of Islamic and Religious Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology and History. Gaiduk Ivan R Dee A concise survey of the long and complex history of relations between Europe and Islam, from the early seventh century to the present day. The book differs from other works in its inclusion of Russia as part of European civilization and in describing Russian relations with Islam. At first glance the history of relations between Europe and Islam appears rife with conflict-a chronicle of two worlds entrenched in a permanent "holy war," the bloody consequence of hatred and hostility.

The glance reveals an implacable enmity between two civilizations that has endured for centuries and today takes shape in the terrorist acts of radical Muslims and their organizations. But is this impression correct? Ilya Gaiduk sets out to answer that question in The Great Confrontation. Here he succinctly explores the long and complex history of relations between Europe and Islam, from the early seventh century to the present day.

But history as well as religion may also become the propaganda tools of terrorists. And discussions in the West about the nature of Islam and its relationship to the outside world are often abstract, static, and ahistorical. Gaiduk's attentive and objective study of this history reveals numerous circumstances of peaceful coexistence and cooperation.

The "fault lines" between the two cultures have been not only battlefields but also marketplaces and meeting points that have fostered an exchange of goods, cultural values, and ideas.


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  8. His book differs from other works in its greater regard for Russia as part of European civilization and for Russian relations with Islam. Gaiduk argues that twentieth-century developments have made "the great confrontation" a phenomenon of the past, that in today's interrelated and interdependent world, lines of division run not between different civilizations but between civilization and the ills that threaten it—poverty, pollution, weapons of mass destruction, and terrorism. Success in combating these ills depends upon the cooperation of different societies and cultures, not their antagonism.

    Rather than looking to history for examples of hatred, the more important guiding principles for the future will be found in history's examples of tolerance and partnership between civilizations. The Great Confrontation is an excellent brief account of a relationship that has assumed growing urgency in our time. Irya V. He lives in Moscow. Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition: Essays by Western Muslim Scholars edited by Joseph Lumbard World Wisdom Books capably argues for a return to the true spirit of classical Islamic intellectualism, disregarding the distractions and obstacles created by the West.

    Its strongest chapter, "Recollecting the Spirit of Jihad" by Reza Shah-Kazemi, marshals the history and traditions of the noble Muslim warrior, who never killed out of revenge, protected Jews from slaughter and embodied the true spirit of jihad, which means an inner spiritual struggle.

    The writer contrasts heroes of Muslim history, like Saladin, with the manipulative terrorists of Al-Qaeda, who politicize and deliberately misconstrue jihad. In the following essay, "Roots of Misconception," Ibrahim Kalin contends that propaganda against Islam, from the Crusades through contemporary movies and news media, is responsible for the inaccurate Western view that Islam needs to be modernized. Although all the authors are Western Muslims—a quality rightly admired by Seyyed Hossein Nasr in his foreword—the absence of an essay by a Muslim woman is glaring. This book is a good resource for progressive Muslims, graduate students and readers already well versed on the politics of Islamic theology.

    Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition is the first book to account for the religious, historical and political dimensions of Islamic fundamentalism in a single volume. It provides analyses based upon spiritual principles, rather than conjecture based on political prejudices. This book provides the context necessary for a deeper understanding of important issues pertaining to Islam and the contemporary Middle East. It accomplishes this by explaining the traditional Islamic perspective in a contemporary language.

    Some essays analyze the historical background of Islamic militancy, demonstrating how the scriptures and teachings of Islam condemn religious fanaticism and gratuitous aggression. Others examine the conditions that allowed for the rise of such an aberration, while yet others address the divide between East and West, bringing into relief the pressures of modernization and globalization which have produced an internal confusion which fans the flames of religious extremism.

    Written as a collaborative effort by a group of young Muslim scholars, this volume questions much of the prevailing "wisdom" regarding extremist interpretations of Islam. In coordinating our efforts at every stage of this project, we strived to produce a volume which draws from several disciplines and perspectives while presenting a unified analysis. We have employed both traditional Islamic teachings and modern methodologies to provide in-depth analyses of Islam in the modern world.

    Such is the only means by which the aberrations now at large can be fully addressed, for the factors fomenting Islamic extremism arise from a meeting between East and West. Sustainable solutions must therefore draw from both civilizations. The first part of the book, "Religious Foundations," is comprised of three essays which demonstrate that from a traditional Islamic perspective the acts of aggression which now dominate perceptions of Islam have no textual, historical, or intellectual legitimacy.

    It concludes with a detailed analysis of distortions of Qur'anic verses in the now infamous calls for "jihad" against the "Jews and Crusaders," showing the fundamentally anti-Islamic basis of such perspectives in light of the earliest sources. This, he argues, results in part from an imbalance in the application of the Islamic sciences, which has allowed for the misinterpretations of both strident puritanical reformists and liberal secularists to persist and prevail. Lumbard maintains that the contributions of "the ihsani intellectual tradition," which combines the highest degree of intellectual and spiritual rigor, have been largely dismissed by both factions.