Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ibn Arabi on 'Knowing yourself and knowing your God'


O son, the most frequently quoted phrases on the sufi path have got to be the Prophet s.a.w sayings: 'I know my Lord by my Lord' and 'He who knows himself, knows his Lord.' I have come across many interpretations of those sayings but I have not known anyone who could elucidate on them as bravely, as profoundly and with unequaled authority as Sheikh Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi. His Kitab al-Ahadiyyah (The One Alone) is one book we must study over and over again until we truly know our Lord by our Lord with great certainty. Allah says in the last verse of Surah al-Hijr: "And worship your Lord until there comes unto you the certainty." So what did the Prophet s.a.w mean when he said 'He who knows himself, knows His Lord'?
Ibn al-Arabi said: "By this it is meant that surely you are not you, and you – without being you – are He. He is not within you; nor are you in Him. He does not exclude you; nor are you excluded from Him. When you are addressed as you, do not think that you exist, with an essence and qualities and attributes – for you never existed, nor do exist, nor will ever exist. You have not entered into Him, nor He into you. Without being, your essence is with Him and in Him. You were not; nor are you temporal. Without having any identity, you are Him and He is you. If you know yourself as nothing, then you truly know your Lord. Otherwise, you know Him not. You cannot know your Lord by making yourself nothing. Many a wise man claims that in order to know one’s Lord one must denude oneself of the signs of one’s existence, efface one’s identity, finally rid oneself of one’s self. This is a mistake. How could a thing that does not exist try to get rid of its existence?"
Perplexed? Read the entire book here on Lisan al-Din. May Allah increase us in knowledge and gnosis! Ameen Allahumma ameen.
'The One Alone' (Kitab al-Ahadiyyah)
Sheikhul al-Akbar Sheikh Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi (1165 - 1240 CE)
Interpreted by: Shaykh Tosun Bayrak al Jerrahi al-Halveti
Publisher: Fons Vitae
Photo credit: Radiyya of Haqqani Fellowship

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