Born in Murcia in Muslim Spain in the year A. In the year , he was told in a vision to go to the East, and in 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 He left behind some five hundred works.
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Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? William C. In this book Chittick explains Ibn al-Arabi's concept of human perfection, his World of Imagination, and his teachings on why God's wisdom demands diversity of religious expression.
He then suggests how these teachings can be employed to conceptualize the study of world religions in a contemporary context. Ibn al-Arabi, known as the "Greatest Master,"is the most influential Muslim thinker of the past 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. The book is divided into three parts. In the first part Chittick explains Ibn al-Arabi's concept of human perfection; in the second part he looks at various implications of the World of Imagination; and in the third part he exposes Ibn al-Arabi's teachings on why God's wisdom demands diversity of religious expression, and he suggests how these teachings can be employed to conceptualize the study of world religions in a contemporary context.
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Verified Purchase. Religious diversity is a problem for all multi-cultural Empires; and it was a problem throughout the medieval world of the Islamicate. Not only was Islam born in the midst of several long established religious traditions in the Middle East, it encountered still more when the Muslim Conquests spread into India and Southeast Asia. Now, every empire certainly desires internal peace; but one wonders how this peace can be achieved, and also endure, given the fact of religious diversity within their own ever at least in intent expanding borders.
And it is his unique understanding of religious diversity that I would like to pursue in this review.
Unlike modern secularists, whose 'solution' to the problem of religious diversity is based on some form of historicist evolution basically, 'stoopid then - all wised up now' and the eventual elimination of all religion, the Shaykh based his explanation upon a certain understanding of the very nature of Reality.
And it turns out, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, that our religious diversity is itself an ontological necessity! Well, there are several reasons for and implications of this, and they involve understanding some of his technical terms too. Okay, let's start with his understanding of the Real.
Our author, William Chittick, leaves this term untranslated throughout this book. Usual english translations of this word are either 'being' or 'existence'.
But in the Cosmos i. But these entities are not the Real. So what are they? We are told that "all things stand in an intermediate domain, a barzakh or isthmus. The universal isthmus or Supreme Barzakh is the whole cosmos; on one side stands the ocean of the Real, utterly unknowable in itself.
On the other stands the ocean of nonexistence, also unknowable, because there is nothing to be known p. Not only the Cosmos, but each particular thing in the cosmos including you and I! Each can lead towards God the Real or away from God - eventually into nothingness. How does humanity, individually and collectively, choose which direction to take?
Well, this question involves several additional points, but it first brings us to the question of the Attributes. Now, the problem of the attributes of God was a common thread throughout the philosophical and theological thought of the medieval period. But it seems the Shaykh doesn't use the term 'attributes', he calls them 'Names'. Each existing thing in the Cosmos 'participates' in Ultimate Reality and therefore exists due to its instantiation of an attribute i.
Now, it is very important to understand that humanity is no mere thing among other things. The answer is, to use a contemporary post-Nietzschean term, perspective. We each view the Whole from our own perspective; that is to say, we each view the world from our own particular and unique mixture of the Attributes i. The Shaykh refers to this phenomenon as 'Knots'.
After explaining the derivation of this term our author writes that as, "a technical term signifying belief, it suggests a knot tied in the heart that determines a person's view of reality. The Shaykh employs the word to refer to all the knottings that shape understanding - the whole range of cognitions, ideas, theories, doctrines, dogmas, prejudices, perceptions, feelings, and inclinations that allow people to make sense of the world.
It is He who has put things in their places. It is He who has given each thing its creation . Hence, God has made no error in engendered existence in relation to its order.
Indeed, there is absolutely no error in the cosmos. Regarding that Chittick goes so far as to say that -- Together, God and the cosmos denote everything in reality, while each is the mirror image of each other.
Hence every name of God finds loci of disclosure in the macrocosm. As the Shaykh puts it, the cosmos is the sum total of all the properties and effects of the divine names. But we were speaking of humanity, not the Cosmos. We have seen that all particular paths that is, all the myriad 'knottings', all the different human perspectives are 'accepted' and better said understood by the Shaykh. They are called the people of the 'Station of No Station'.
What is a 'Station'? He saw each friend of God and each seeker of God as standing in a specific station. How do these perspectives achieve Truth? This leads us to the necessity of Prophesy. While it is true that no human position is entirely false, prophesy is the road to Truth. Since, according to our author, -Only the Real is clear and sure. Everything else is vague, opaque, and unreal. Prophets point the way. If I understand our author correctly the implication is, that even though we all have a unique distribution of the Attributes of God, left on our own we would eventually fall into nothingness.
The many Prophetic Traditions were sent by God to prevent this! What I was surprised to find is that the Shaykh accepts the Islamic teaching that Muhammad is the last prophet.
And with that I conclude this terse rendition of Chittick's intriguing explication of the Shaykh's teaching regarding Religious diversity. I suspect that it will leave late modern secularists and postmodern nihilists with more questions than answers. Diversity and Creation First, I suspect many of us are wondering if, and doubting that, the fact of diverse religions, and even the tolerance of them, is truly ontologically based; - we wonder if this understanding is merely a politico-cultural construction that justifies whatever 'useful' religions happen to be.
But the socio-cultural world we inhabit is not a museum; and it cannot be turned into one. The reiterated insistence that all must follow a pre-established path i. And thus I wish to conclude this review with a discussion of the Shaykh's very Muslim insistence that one must always trod a preexisting path an existing prophetic tradition in order to even begin to find ones way to the 'standpoint of no standpoint' i.
Of course the danger of saying that there are many paths to God, but adding that everyone must tread an already existing path, is that eventually people may no, they almost certainly will come to believe that each of these paths i.
But nations and empires, of course, will also tend to downplay tolerance to the extent necessary to maintain their separate existences. Now, whether a State is expanding or merely struggling to maintain itself, successful new religions always tend to tear apart already existing polities. And so, if one theoretically i. Therefore it is not surprising that neither political nor religious leaders and I imagine their followers would ever concede this point.
Imaginal Worlds: Ibn Al-Arabi and the Problem of Religious Diversity
William C. In this book Chittick explains Ibn al-Arabi's concept of human perfection, his World of Imagination, and his teachings on why God's wisdom demands diversity of religious expression. He then suggests how these teachings can be employed to conceptualize the study of world religions in a contemporary context. Ibn al-Arabi, known as the "Greatest Master,"is the most influential Muslim thinker of the past years.
Imaginal Worlds : Ibn al-'Arabi and the Problem of Religious Diversity