Ibn Arabi on Love. Follow up to The unknown face of Rumi – Sufism and Spiritual Consumerism in the West 3

I opened my late night reading Ibn Arabi Heir to the Prophet by Wiliam Chittick and came to the following which in many ways supports my previous posting The unknown face of Rumi – Sufism and Spiritual Consumerism in the West 3 . Without further ado:


It is perhaps needless to say that Ibn ‘Arabi did not write about love as a compiler of mystic lore, but rather as a resident in theWide Earth of God.What he has to say about love bubbles up from his own realization of the realities, his first-hand recognition of self, his “tasting” (dhawq) of the way things are.

He is describing his own unveilings and openings, but in the rational and didactic language of the scholarly tradition. One incident drawn from autobiographical remarks in the Futuhat can serve as an illustration of Ibn ‘Arabi’s personal acquaintance with love. He is in the midst of explaining that love can carry the lover to a station on the path to God where he is deaf to every sound but his Beloved’s words, blind to every vision but his Beloved’s face, and dumb to every utterance but his Beloved’s name. Nothing enters his heart but love. Love’s power to transform is such that the lover “can no longer imagine anything but the form of his Beloved” (F. II 325.17).

Next Ibn ‘Arabi alludes to a famous hadith that he cites more often than any other in his works. The Prophet quotes the words of God concerning the fruit of the mutual love between God and man:

My servant keeps on seeking nearness to Me through voluntary works until I love him.Then, when I love him, I am his hearing through which he hears, his eyesight through which he sees, his
hand through which he grasps, and his foot through which he walks.

This shows, says Ibn ‘Arabi, that “The lover hears Him through Him, the lover sees Him through Him, and the lover speaks to Him through Him.” By way of illustration, he describes his own situation at the hands of love:

The power of my imagination took me to the point where my love embodied my Beloved before my eyes in the outside world, just as Gabriel used to embody himself to the Messenger of God. I could not bear to gaze upon Him, yet He addressed me and I listened to Him and understood what He said. For several days He left me in a state where I could not eat.

Whenever the dining cloth was spread for me, He would stand at its edge, look at me, and say in a tongue I heard with my ears,“Will you eat while gazing upon Me?” I was prevented from eating, but I was not hungry, and He kept my stomach full. I even put on weight and became plump from gazing upon Him. He took the place of food.

My companions and family were amazed at my becoming plump without food, for I remained many days without tasting anything, though I became neither hungry nor thirsty. During all this time, He never left from before my eyes, whether I was standing or sitting, moving or still. (F. II 325.20)


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