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Ibn al-'Arabi and the Sufis by Binyamin…

Ibn al-'Arabi and the Sufis

by Binyamin Abrahamov

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Al-Harith ibn Asad al-Muhasibi's main concern was mystical psychology, as attested by his principle work Kitab al-Ri aya il-huquq Allah, which concerns what one is obliged to do for the sake of God.
Every scholar of Ibn al-'Arabi's thought has been impressed by the wealth of his mystical and philosophical ideas, parables and poems. From the earliest research on Ibn al-'Arabi's thought, scholars have tried to trace his sources and to evaluate his originality. This is an extremely difficult task not only due to the huge quantity of his writings, but also with regards to the complexity of his theories. An analysis of the Greatest Master's attitude toward the Sufis, both his predecessors and contemporaries, has not yet been accomplished, except for William Chittick's discussion of three mystics. Such a work is needed to enhance our knowledge of the foundations of his thought and answer, at least as an initial step, the question of the measure of his originality.

The present volume examines Ibn al-'Arabi's attitude toward the Sufis and assesses the extent of their influence on him. A crucial point is Ibn al-'Arabi's general acceptance or rejection of the Sufis' views and practices. We do not pretend to be exhaustive, because the basis of our research is mainly al-Futuhat al-Mekkiyya, Fusus al-hikam and some of the author's epistles. We believe that these writings are representative of his thought and hence appropriate to serve as the basis of our investigation.
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Ibn al-'Arabi and the Sufis is a fascinating and groundbreaking analysis of the extent to which various major Sufi figures contributed to the mystical philosophy of Ibn al-'Arabi. While recent scholarship has tended to concentrate on his teachings and life, little attention has been paid to the influences on his thought. Each chapter is dedicated to one of Ibn al-'Arabi's predecessors, from both the early and later periods, such as al-Bistami, al-Hallaj, and al-Jilani, showing how he is discussed in the works of the Greatest Master and Ibn al-'Arabi's attitude towards him. This book brings into sharp relief the highly original nature of Ibn al-'Arabi's mystical theory, unprecedented in Islamic mysticism, and the unique way in which he interwove the ideas of others into his own thought.… (more)

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