Ibn `Arabi was born in southeastern Spain in 1165 C.E. In addition to being a mystic, he was also a theologian. Around age 30 he began a life of wandering, slowly making his way toward the East. He lived at a time when Sufism was at loggerheads with the legalitarian Islam embodied by the doctors of the Law, known as the fuqaha'. According to Henry Corbin in Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn `Arabi:
Ibn `Arabi had enemies amongst the fuqaha' all this life, but he also had many important and influential supporters. He died peacefully in Damascus in 1240 surrounded by his family, friends, and his Sufi disciples.
Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn `Arabi is a fascinating, yet difficult book to read. It's a very scholarly work and makes considerable use of theological terminology as well as words and phrases drawn from Latin, Greek, and Arabic. In selecting quotations, I've tried to avoid difficult terminology as much as possible. Nonetheless I've been compelled to make numerous additions to the Glossary of Muslim Terms in order to clarify the quotations taken from this book. I strongly encourage the reader to click on the links appearing within these quotations to access the relevant definitions. Even some words that would appear to be fairly ordinary, such as creative imagination, don't mean what you think they mean.
Central Themes of Ibn `Arabi's Theology
*God in His Divine Essence is unknowable, yet He is free to impose limits
*When self-limited, God reveals some subset of His attributes whereby he becomes knowable.
*God in any one of His numerous self-limited forms is what we humans come to know as our personal Lord, and it is with this personal Lord that we establish a relationship based on mutual love.
*Not only do different religions devote themselves to different self-limited forms of God, but each individual also comes to know God in a unique and personal way.
*This personal relationship with God is established through manajat, which is a private, intimate dialogue conducted between an individual and his Lord.
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