This article first appeared in the Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society, Volume 57, 2015.

This paper is available in German: Der akbarische Jesus : Das Vorbild eines Reisenden in Gott (pdf file).

The Akbarian Jesus – The Paradigm of a Pilgrim in God

by Jaume Flaquer, SJ

Jesus, the physical embodiment of the divine breath

For Ibn ʿArabī, Jesus is an exceptional being. As the Andalusian author relates, Jesus was his first master and was decisive in his entry into the way of Sufism. This personal relationship, similar to a first love, encouraged him to hope that he would be a witness to the day of Jesus’s coming, and perhaps this motivated him to live his final years in Damascus, the place of his descent.

A vision he had had in the Kaʿba was the principal cause of this identification. Muḥammad, the Seal of the Prophets, had revealed to him that he was his spiritual son, and so, like Jesus, could share the title of the Seal of Sainthood, and this confirmed the friendship he enjoyed with him.

However, Jesus was much more than someone with whom the Shaykh al-Akbar could have a personal relationship of help and mutual care. Jesus is a theophany. Certainly, each prophet is a paradigmatic manifestation of some divine attribute, of a ‘Lord’ as it is interpreted in the sacred hadith: ‘Who knows himself, knows the Lord’. And Muḥammad was superior to all of the prophets in his role as the terrestrial manifestation of the Absolute contained in the Reality of Muḥammad. The prophets, on the other hand, are only visible manifestations of aspects of divinity: for example, Adam is the perfect man, having received all the Names; Abraham is the friend of God (khalīl Allāh); Joseph is the epitome of Beauty; Moses represents the possibility of God speaking directly to man without intermediaries; and David is the one that embodies the Caliphate by bringing together in one person the inner caliphate and being the visible governor of a people. Although Jesus appears in the same way as the prophets theophanically, the reader of Ibn ʿArabī can only be astonished by the divine quality manifested by Jesus.

Jesus is the embodiment of the divine breath, of this spiritus that Gabriel has deposited in the womb of Mary. The human body of Christ was animated by a divine spirit, [2] creating a dual, half human and half divine, being, and thus neither perfectly human nor perfectly divine.

Jesus, therefore, reveals the spiritual quality of every human being since all who live have received the animating breath of the spirit. Whereas in the case of all other living beings the spirit enters after the formation of the physical body, in the akbarian view the spirit is active in the formation of the body of Christ. It was no surprise then for Ibn ʿArabī that Jesus appeared as a man because Gabriel had appeared to Mary in a perfect masculine form. As a result, Jesus is not said to have a spirit but in fact is spirit. As the Shaykh says, his being is identified with his spiritual being because the spiritual side of him is superior to his physical side.

His spiritual constitution – the fact of being the condensation of the divine breath, and therefore of the divine Word – determines all his life: his ability to cure, to give and transform life, as well as being the source of the knowledge that he possesses at the highest level, that is, the science of letters, of alchemy and of the spirits. The long list of sciences attributed to the saints who were considered to be the inheritors of Jesus, and the influence of the planet Mercury, all flow from these fundamental sciences.

Moreover, his being a spirit and being ‘the word proceeding from God’ make him the paradigm of another quality: that of the pilgrim of God, of the spiritual traveller who comes from God and returns to God without ever having left the presence of God. This spiritual journey is the reflection of a cosmic movement of a creation which is constantly leaving God and returning to Him. Jesus is the model of both movements because he realises in himself this cosmic journey by being the manifestation of the Word arising from the divine Breath, and by walking through the world in the constant presence of God.

Ibn ʿArabī uses numerous terms to express the idea of movement: safara, to travel; salaka, to undertake spiritual travel; and sāḥa, to walk. [3] The fact that Ibn ʿArabī uses the term ‘travel’ in the title of various works confirms its importance. The etymology of the word illustrates the relationship between the idea of travelling and that of unveiling, thus making the journey a process of the discovery of the mysteries of God. In early Arabic, safara was the act of packing up the tents of the caravan in order to begin the trip, whereas today, it refers to the cloth spread on the ground on which the Bedouins eat. Therefore to travel is literally to discover or remove the veil that covers the earth. Ibn ʿArabī plays with the two meanings of the term in the title of one of his works: Kitāb al-Isfār ʿan natāʾij al-asfār, the Book of Unveiling of the Effects of Travelling, where isfār, unveiling, and asfār, travel, share the same root s-f-r.

The three types of travelling

Ibn ʿArabī speaks of three types of travelling – from God, in God and to God [4] – and Jesus realises these three dimensions of travel in an ideal way, since, as Word, he proceeds from God and returns to God without ever leaving God.

The journey from God is as much the descent of Revelation as it is the creative exhalation of God. But given that every word, as well as every creature, must return to God, this subsequently brings about a new journey from God. This does not imply a return to a previous state but rather, when he returns, he maintains his degree of the divine presence. That is why Ibn ʿArabī writes: ‘The cause that determines the Return (from the summit) is nothing other than the search for perfection or total fulfilment.’ [5]

Ibn ʿArabī takes the image of ascent and descent from the miʿrāj, or the nocturnal, spiritual journey of the Prophet Muḥammad. The important thing is that this return to the world of creatures in order to guide them does not imply losing the spiritual state of the presence. The prophet or mystic returns to normal life but with the heart transformed. Ibn ʿArabī says:

In our opinion, and that of those who contemplate that which we contemplate, our ascent is of three types: towards Him, from Him and in Him. After, we gather all of them in one sole and unique ascent which unfolds in Him. Because that which goes towards Him takes place in Him and that which leaves from Him equally takes place in Him, with the result that to Him and from Him are identical in the ascent in Him. Thus, in reality, there is no ascent other than ‘in Him’ and there is no progression ‘in Him’ other than ‘by Him’, since it is Him and not you (who realises it). [6]

This idea is shared by many other Sufis. Shushtarī sings a beautiful poem: ‘There where I go it is from Him, towards Him, and for Him that I go’. [7]

This coming from God and returning to God is a characteristic of all that is created. Creation, extinction and constant recreation never cease to happen. According to Ibn ʿArabī, the world flows from Him in His exhalation and returns to Him when He breathes in. This illustrates the ephemeral character of the world which falls into nothingness if there is no life-giving divine Breath, and if one strays from God.

God is represented by our author as a living, perpetually breathing being. And Jesus is granted a great dignity because, as the condensation of one of these breaths, he reveals the structure of creation.

The prophets on their travels

All the prophets undertake journeys which must be interpreted spiritually. The work K. al-Isfār describes the travels of the most important prophets. The model referred to continues to be the ascension of Muḥammad, a model which had been amply exploited in the Intertestamental tradition, as for example in the book of the ascent of Isaiah (1st Century ce). Ibn ʿArabī reminds us that Idrīs (Enoch) and Elijah also undertake a voyage of ascent. Although other prophets move horizontally, they do so in the same sense of a movement in God. The Shaykh also mentions the history of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Jacob and Joseph, and gives special attention to Moses. Many of these prophets combine horizontal and vertical movements: Adam follows a downward path; Noah goes up into the Ark, and at the end of the flood he alights on Mount Judī; Abraham also goes up for the sacrifice of his son, as does Moses to receive the Law on Mount Sinai; Enoch ascends in dignity; the voyage of Noah is one of salvation and that of Abraham is the journey of the Guide (of God to the prophet); Lot’s journey is a moving forward without looking back; and that of Jacob and Joseph is cunningness and trial, etc. [8] Jesus also experiences the vertical and the horizontal dimension of movement, both of which are undertaken in a most remarkable manner.

Jesus descends and ascends because he is ‘one of his words’

The Quran uses the formula of the Christian faith of Jesus as Word of God but without giving it a sense of unicity: Jesus is but a word proceeding from God and placed in the womb of Mary. He is, therefore, not the summation of all the words of God, whose theological place is occupied in Islam by the uncreated celestial Book, and whose continuous recitation by God has its reflection in what happens in the world below. For Ibn ʿArabī, the world is like a great leaf which is written upon on both sides, one facing upwards and the other down. The upper side symbolises the invisible spiritual and esoteric side of the world, and the lower its visible, material and exoteric dimension.

The Breath of God, undifferentiated in itself, causes the multiplicity of different words to appear, in the same way as the human being is capable of speaking through the movement of his mouth. Jesus is just a word, but given that the Quran affirms only in the case of Jesus that he is a word of God, Ibn ʿArabī considers him the unfolding of the creative dynamic of God. It is said in the Quran that: ‘Jesus the Messiah, son of Mary, is but a messenger of God, His Word that He sent to Mary and a breath (of life) proceeding from Him’ (Q. 4: 171). However, Jesus not only emerges from God, but like every word and every creature, he must also return to God following the path of return, which is a path of ascent. In the Kitāb al-Isfār, Ibn ʿArabī does not overemphasise the position of Jesus, but what he does say is: ‘God has raised Jesus to Him because he is one of His words.’ [9]

These two affirmations, the one affirming the divine origin of Jesus as every word and the other of his return towards God, are found in the book of Tadbīrāt al-ilāhiyya: ‘God on high has said: “...His word that He sent to Mary”, and also: “Every good word ascends to Him, and every good action ascends to Him”.’ [10]

The image of the word which descends and returns to God is equally present in the New and the Old Testaments, particularly in Isaiah 55: 11, referring to the Wisdom of God. Clearly, Islam does not give the hypostatic sense of Christian theology to the concept of Jesus as word of God, but it is evident that Ibn ʿArabī goes further than the exoteric tradition of Islam.

Within the Shia tradition, another mystic and poet by the name of Mollā Ṣadra Shīrāzī [11] quotes a logion of Jesus which follows the same theological line: ‘Jesus, son of Mary – peace be upon him – said to his disciples: “He who ascends to Heaven must already have descended.”’ [12]

Jesus, a good word

If Ibn ʿArabī affirms that every good word and every good action ascends towards God and says that in reference to Jesus, he must attribute these characteristics to Jesus.

To be exact, one of the spiritual characteristics of Jesus is that he always says good words. This characteristic is of such importance that it is one of the distinctive features of the Christic saints:

Christic saints possess a spiritual energy capable of acting, their prayers and their words are heard. One of the features of Christic saints is that as you get to know them you will see that in their dealings with every creature regardless of their religion or their faith, they show great mercy and compassion. They offer themselves to God through them. One of their characteristics is that they see the most beautiful in each creature, and their lips only pronounce the best words. This is shared by the first and the second category of saints. The first is like Jesus when it is reported that he said: ‘He saw a pig and said to it: Go in peace’. His companions asked what he meant and Jesus replied: ‘I am training my tongue to speak well’. An example of the second category is when the Prophet says, as he passes by a dead animal: ‘How beautiful are its teeth!’ while his companions could only remark: ‘How it stinks!’ [13]

Both Jesus and Muḥammad share this station as God ordered His Envoy to imitate the path of his predecessors, and this virtue of the compassionate regard forms part of the Christic way. In this example of good words, and on other occasions, it can be seen how Muḥammad synthesised all the theophanic elements of the prophets who preceded him.

Another feature of Jesus’s good words is his good manners (adab) in his dealings with God. Ibn ʿArabī sees this quality when Jesus says to God: ‘You know what is in me and I don’t know what is in You’ (Q. 5: 116). [14] According to the Shaykh, these good manners are also manifested when Jesus recognises publicly that if and when God has asked him whether he has attributed to himself divinity, it is not because He does not know the answer but rather it is to make clear what he has been preaching.

One final aspect of the ‘good word’ is when Jesus, even though he knew the science of creation and alchemy through his knowledge of the mysteries of the creative verb (kun! = Be!), he refuses to use it in vain and for his own benefit. In this respect, Muḥammad supersedes all the other prophets.

Jesus, a good action

If Jesus is a word which rises to God, we can also ask ourselves if this is a result not only of being a good word but also a good action. The goodness and mercy of Jesus form part of the outstanding spiritual qualities that Ibn ʿArabī considers to be part of his maternal inheritance. This idea is developed in the chapter of Fuṣūṣ, where he comments on the Quranic verse: ‘(God has ordered me) to be good with my mother. I was not made violent nor unhappy’ (Q. 19: 32). The feminine goodness of Jesus is seen in his capacity to turn the other cheek.

But, given that the Breath of the Merciful is placed by Gabriel in the womb of Mary, the goodness and mercy of Jesus also comes from his paternal side. The fact that Jesus is the protector of the saint who occupies the Yemeni corner of the Kaʿba is related to the same Mercy, as the help that Muḥammad received from the Anṣār.

But, for Ibn ʿArabī, good action is principally an act of adoration of God. An act of adoration such as prostration, forms an image, and this image as a good word, ascends towards God. One example which Ibn ʿArabī speaks of is the fact of being polite towards God. [15] Another is fasting, of which Jesus is a model. Mary, his mother, fasted for two days and rested on one, which was more than David had done. But Jesus fasted continually. Ibn ʿArabī tells us:

Jesus fasted continually, never breaking his fast, and stayed awake all night. During the day he manifested himself in the world under the divine name al-Dahr (the Remaining), and during the night under the name of al-Qayyūm (The one who subsists by Himself), who is affected neither by sleep nor by dreams. [16]

Another act of adoration in which Jesus is outstanding is his invocation and constant remembering of God. Ibn ʿArabī deals with this question in a commentary on the creator verb, kun, which appears in the Quran in reference to the formation of Jesus in the womb of Mary. [17]

In order to confirm further the relationship between Jesus and his acts of adoration, we see that Ibn ʿArabī considers Jesus’s creation of the clay figure in the form of a bird as the model for all forms of adoration. In this action, Jesus creates a form and breathes the spirit into it. In the same way, all acts of adoration should be carried out in the established way so as to be filled with spirit:

...equally Jesus created the shape of a bird from clay by blowing into it, and so transformed it into a living creature through God’s permission. This form only came into existence through the hands of Jesus and his breath. In this way, the clay form became a living bird through God’s permission. That is to say, God ordered Jesus to exhale and allowed him to do this thing. Equally, God also ordered the believer to fulfill the Law and permitted him to create the form of his adoration that God had charged him with. [18]

All of these aspects confirm Jesus as the good word who ascends and returns to God.

Jesus, the pilgrim in this world

However, Jesus is not only characterised by his vertical movements, but also by his pilgrimage in this world which takes place in a horizontal dimension. This image of Jesus as the wandering pilgrim living alone or in the company of a few disciples is well developed within the Muslim tradition. Although it is supported by the Gospels, this image of Jesus as the person who has no place to lay his head [is supported by the Gospels, it] reached Sufism through the examples of the hermits and monks of the desert. In this way, those aspects of extreme asceticism which are associated more with John the Baptist in the Gospels than with Jesus, who is accused of eating, drinking and sharing the table of sinners, are also transferred to Jesus. The Gospels give the picture of an individual searching for the lost sheep rather than the image of a man searching for purity and distanced from the concerns of the world.

Nevertheless, Ibn ʿArabī does not only restrict himself to the pious aspects of Jesus but is also interested in showing his quality as the manifestation of something universal: the world is in perpetual movement just like God Himself, who is always in Action. That is why he says of Jesus: ‘His spiritual state is that of renunciation and of constant movement (...) He was a pilgrim who guarded faithfully that which was entrusted [19] to him’. [20]

His ability to travel great distances

The image of the pilgrim as offered by Jesus is based on [Jesus has offered] the knowledge of certain miracles that are related to his horizontal movement. Particularly surprising is his ability to cross great distances in a moment. This is the special gift of Khiḍr which the Christic saints also share because of their trust (tawakkul) in God: ‘In one of the levels of trust you will receive four miraculous gifts. These are signs and proof that you have acquired the first level of trust. These are the ability to travel great distances in a moment, walk over water, travel through the air and be fed by the universe.’ [21] Probably this gift must be placed in the context of Jesus’s spiritual nature. As spirit, he is neither affected by spatial nor temporal restrictions.

Echoing the gospels, Ibn ʿArabī also mentions the ability of Jesus – and those who inherit his abilities – to walk upon the water, although this is exceeded by Muḥammad who, thanks to the greater level of trust he enjoys, is able to travel through the air.

Jesus, pilgrim to the other world

The question of Jesus as a pilgrim would not be complete if mention was not made of the direction and destiny: Jesus is pilgrim to the other world, to Paradise. This explains his asceticism and his rejection of the pleasures of this world. There are many texts where Jesus exhorts people to consider death:

In his recommendations to his companions, Jesus said: ‘fast in this world and death will be for you the end of fasting. Imitate the one who cures his wound with a remedy, fearing that it will worsen! Exercise your mind by often remembering death, as this will give to the believer a good that no evil will ever threaten, and to the wicked an evil after which no good can ever be hoped for.’ [22]

On the other hand, it is said that Jesus always had the question of death in mind. Similarly, the conversion of Ibn ʿArabī may have been caused by an experience during a retreat in a cemetery. Regardless, Ibn ʿArabī tells us that one of his masters lived in a cemetery. [23] And that for him, ‘man remains asleep while he is not dead’. [24]

Travel in God: Jesus in state of constant presence

In a chapter of the Futūḥāt dedicated to prayer, Ibn ʿArabī raises the question as to whether a sigh escaping from the person who prays invalidates his ritual prayer or not. The Shaykh considers that if no word is pronounced then the prayer remains valid. What is interesting in his argument is that he talks about Jesus and affirms that Jesus never loses the state of presence, not even when he breathes into the bird. He writes: ‘Jesus was in the presence of the Lord at every moment, and when he breathed the spirit into the bird the presence did not disappear.’ [25] This quality of Jesus had already been affirmed by al-Ghazālī in the 36th book of al-Iḥyāʾ, ‘On love’. Jesus, being a word which comes from God and returns to God, never loses his state of presence before God. Jesus, therefore, accomplishes his voyage in God.

The loss of presence results from man focusing on himself and forgetting that he is in God. Jesus would have lost the presence if he had not been aware that the breath in no way belonged to him but rather came from God. The awareness of being a simple tool of God at the moment when he gave life to the bird maintained him in God’s presence. Any man who believes himself to be the core of his own existence and responsible for his own actions is considered by the Shaykh to be inattentive and distracted in the presence of God. As a result, in one of his eulogies of the divine unity the knower (al-ʿārif) of the divine mysteries is described as ‘he who never becomes inattentive of God’, and as such ‘behaves before God like a corpse in the hand of the body washer’. [26]

Once the limits on vision imposed by divine transcendence are clear, there is no risk of misinterpreting one of the mystical confessions of Abū Bakr, often quoted by Ibn ʿArabī: ‘I see nothing without seeing God before it.’ [27] This state of constant presence is closely related to the constant invocation of God. This invocation (dhikr) is at the same time a constant reminder of God, as well as a constant reminder of death. Jesus possesses this quality because he is spirit, because he is divine breath, but it is also something that he shares with his mother, when she dedicated herself to a life of prayer in the temple. Ibn ʿArabī writes: ‘Mary completely consecrated living for God, through God and from God.’ [28]

Etymology of the term ‘masīḥ

All the preceding is confirmed by Ibn ʿArabī’s reflections on the etymology of the word ‘masīḥ’. Jesus’s quality as a pilgrim and traveller is written within his name. The Shaykh al-Akbar had an extraordinary knowledge of Arabic and the etymology of its words. And thanks to this, he is able to relate the word ‘Messiah’ with the Arabic word for travel ‘siyāḥa’. One aspect is the historical derivation of the word and the other is the wealth of hidden meanings in the word, which speak of the real identity of the person referred to. Ibn ʿArabī has no problem relating a word to a particular root if this reveals the true identity of the person. Our author relates ‘Messiah’ to the root ‘masaḥa’ (to measure the earth) [29] and with ‘sāḥa’ (to travel):

Jesus is the Messiah (al-Masīḥ) and is also he who measures (masaḥa) the surface of the earth by walking upon it and he who travels in every direction, finding traces of the Lord in all he contemplates. This corresponds to the Word of God in the Quran when it is said: ‘has he not travelled the earth...’ [30] on his feet and with his ideas? [31]

This text is very interesting since here Jesus is not only an individual but also the representative of an attribute shared with other men. Jesus is more than an individual, he is a way of living in movement and on pilgrimage. Measuring his journeys, Jesus measures the earth, that is to say, he gets to know it intimately. This knowledge is nothing less than the ability to recognise the traces of the Lord upon it. Thanks to this knowledge, Jesus knows that when he carries out miracles he is no more than an instrument in the hands of the Creator.

Ibn ʿArabī relates the term ‘Messiah’ to two different roots, those of m-s-ḥ and the s-y-ḥ. Regarding the first, the Sufi Master prioritises the sense of measuring the earth with palms of the hand as opposed to the normal meaning of cleansing either by hand or with a cloth. [32] This latter meaning is closest to the original Hebrew ‘Mashiyaḥ’ which means the one who has been anointed with oil. These two meanings are not completely distinct because to measure with palms one has to pass the hand over something. The classic dictionary Lisān al-ʿArabī cites a hadith which says: ‘masaḥ-nā al-bayt’ meaning: we have moved around the Kaʿba, in the same way as when we rub something we make a repeated circular movement. ‘Masaḥa’, therefore, can mean a measure or a simple change of position. Lisān al-ʿArabī says that ‘masaḥa fī al-arḍ’ means ‘has gone’.

This dictionary also offers another hypothesis on the application of the term ‘al-masīḥ’ to Jesus and already introduces the idea of pilgrimage:

Ibn Sīdah has said: al-Masīḥ is Jesus, the son of Mary. It is said that he received this name as a result of his sincerity (ṣidqi-hi) and it is also said that he has this name because he is a sāʾiḥ (traveller) of the world. He is based nowhere. It is also said that he is called this because he rubs (kāna yamsaḥ) the sick, the paralytic, and the leprous with his hand, and he cures them with the permission of God. Al-Azharī said: ‘The word “al-Masīḥ” which appears in the Quran from “masaḥa”, corresponds to the “Mashīḥ” of the Torah, and has been arabised by changing letters, as in the case of Mūsā from the original Hebrew, Mūshā.’ [33]

As regards the root s-y-ḥ (sāḥa-yasīḥu), Lisān al-ʿArabī indicates that this designates firstly the water which flows across the earth. From this, we obtain the term siyāḥa which means to walk upon the earth in adoration of God. The dictionary also cites a hadith which says that: ‘lā siyāḥa fī al-islām’ which can be translated as ‘there is no wandering in Islam’ and offers interpretations of its meaning. Either it refers to those who move far away from towns and people in order to live in the desert but then miss the Friday prayer, or those who travel in order to do evil. Applied to Jesus this term does not have a pejorative sense, as the dictionary explains:

The name ‘al-Masīḥ’, the son of Mary, is derived from the verb to travel (or to walk) ‘sāḥa’. According to various authors, Jesus used to walk in the world and when night surprised him he joined his feet together (in adoration) and prayed until dawn. If this etymology is correct, the term is a passive participle (mafʿūl) but the meaning is an active participle (fāʿil). [34]

The dictionary then gives another meaning for the term siyāḥa which does not appear to have been used by Ibn ʿArabī in relation to Jesus, but which coincides with a quality of the son of Mary, namely, fasting. Lisān al-ʿArabī says: ‘The pilgrimage of this Muslim community consists of fasting and attending the mosque’.

Conclusion

In summary, Jesus follows a path from God, and returns to God, without ever having been away from God; his descent into this world is followed by his ascent to the second Heaven (the one of Mercury), waiting to descend again to the great mosque of Damascus, before making the final ascent to Paradise. His vertical movement combines with a horizontal movement – that is, he travels ceaselessly [his ceaseless travelling] across the world as a wanderer with no place to rest his head. This constant travel is a manifestation of the constant activity of God and reveals the nature of all reality. Every creature is a word that comes from God and is destined to return to him. In addition, Jesus, by means of his preaching centred on asceticism and the reminder of death, and through his alchemical spiritual and health-giving activity, he helps human beings on their path of return to the Creator.


Notes

[1] First presented at the Muhyiddin Ibn ʿArabi Society Symposium entitled ‘Jesus and Mary: a spiritual perspective’, held at St Anne’s College, Oxford, May 2014. This article first appeared in the Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society, Volume 57, 2015.

[2] This way of conceiving Jesus resembles the beliefs of Apollinaire (4th century). However, Apollinaire considered Jesus as perfectly divine and non-perfectly human, because the Logos had conjoined in a human body. For Apollinaire, Jesus did not have a human mind, and therefore was not perfectly human.

[3] For the difference between these three concepts, see: Ibn ʿArabī, K. al-Isfār ʿan natāʾij al-asfār (R.G. 307), Denis Gril (Combas, Éditions de l’Éclat, 1994), p. x.

[4] See Ibn ʿArabī, Le Livre de la filiation spirituelle, trans. Claude Addas (Marrakech, Al Qoubba Zarqua, Collection Hikma-bilingue, 2000), p. 32, n. 65.

[5] Fut.I:251 (R.G. 135) (Beirut, Dār Ṣādir, 1980); from the trans. by M. Vālsan, ‘Un texte du Cheikh el-Akbar sur la “Réalisation descendante”’, Études Traditionelles (Paris, April–May, 1953), 131.

[6] Ibn ʿArabī, K. al-Tajalliyāt, (R.G. 738), ed. Ayman Hamdī, (Cairo, Hiʾat al-miṣriyyat al-ʿama li-l-kitāb, 2002), theophany 68, p. 74. See also: ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jazāʾirī, Le Livre des Haltes, vol. I, trans. Michel Lagarde (Leiden, Brill, 2000), Halte 25, pp. 82–3.

[7] Al-Shushtarī, Poesía Estrófica (Cejeles y/o Muwassahat) Atribuida Al Místico Granadino Aš-Šustarī: Siglo XIII dc (ce), § 12, 1–2.

[8] One of Ibn ʿArabī’s shaykhs, ʿAbd al-Salām al-Aswad, had this gift of the wandering life; see Rūḥ al-Quds, trans. R.W.J. Austin, Sufis of Andalusia (George Allen & Unwin, 1971), p. 138; also, Les Soufis d’Andalousie (Paris, Éditions Orientales, 1979), p. 154.

[9] K. al-Isfār (R.G. 307), ed. M. al-Ghurāb (Beirut, Dār Ṣādir, 1997), p. 457.

[10] Al-Tadbīrāt al-ilāhiyya (R.G. 716), vol. II (Beirut, D. al-Intishār, 2002), p. 368.

[11] According to this Persian author (b. 979–80/1571–72, d. 1050/1640), the world separates from God at the moment of creation, moving steadily away from him. But man is the point of departure for the reverse process which moves from the material to the spiritual on an ascending path.

[12] Mollā Ṣadra Shīrāzī, K. al-Mashāʿir (The Book of Metaphysical Penetrations), trans. and intro. by H. Corbin, Le Livre des Pénétrations métaphysiques (Paris, Verdier, 1964), p. 205, § 127.

[13] Fut.I:226.

[14] Fut.I:300.

[15] Fut.III:240.

[16] Fut.I:652; Q. 2: 255.

[17] Fut.II:635.

[18] Fut.IV:217.

[19] With reference to the unerring conservation of the faith and adoration which has been placed within him.

[20] Fut.II:49–50.

[21] Risālat al-Anwār (R.G. 33), ed. Saʿīd ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ, vol. II (Beirut, Dār al-Intishār al-ʿArabī, 2001), p. 154.

[22] Fut.IV:511.

[23] R.W.J. Austin (trans.), Sufis of Andalusia, p. 140; Les Soufis d’Andalousie, p. 156.

[24] Fut.I:207.

[25] Fut.I:477.

[26] Muḥāḍarat al-abrār (R.G. 493), ed. M. ʿAbd al-Karīm (Beirut, Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyah, 2001/1422), vol. I, p. 116.

[27] Fut.II:5.

[28] ‘Fa-kānat kullu-hā li-llāh, wa-bi-llāh, wa-ʿan Allāh’. Fut.II:417; ‘ʿan Allāh’ means from God in the sense of proceeding from the place of origin.

[29] ‘Masaḥa’ can also be understood as ‘to move across the surface of the earth’.

[30] Q. 30: 9.

[31] Fut.IV:443.

[32] See the entry ‘masaḥa’ in Lisān al-ʿArabī.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Entry ‘sāḥa-yasīḥu’ in Lisān al-ʿArabī. The form masīḥ is a passive participle from the verb sāḥa. But Jesus has not been transported; it is he who travels. That’s why we find this nuance in the dictionary.