Articles and Translations

Extract from the Fusus al-hikam

Bulent Rauf

Bulent Rauf (1911-1987) was born in Istanbul in 1911. He was the grandson of Ismail Pasha, Vice-regent of Egypt, the family having close connections to the Ottoman imperial house. He was educated first at home, where he had a classical Ottoman education, reading Turkish, Arabic and Persian as well as three European languages, and then continued his studies at Roberts College. He attended Cornell and Yale Universities in he USA.

Bulent Rauf devoted many years of his life to the establishing of a body of knowledge based on an understanding of the absolute unity of existence. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Beshara [/] School of Intensive Esoteric Education at the Chisholme Institute [/] in the Scottish Borders. He was first President of the Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society.

His chief literary work was the complete rendering into English of Ibn Arabi’s Fusus al-hikam (“Settings of Wisdom”), incorporating the Turkish commentary attributed to Ismail Hakki Bursevi. He also translated into English (from Turkish), Kernel of the Kernel, by Ismail Hakki Bursevi (1981), and from French, Mystical Astrology According to Ibn 'Arabi by Titus Burckhardt (1977). [/]


Articles by Bulent Rauf

Extract from the Fusus al-hikam

Concerning the Universality of Ibn Arabi

Union and Ibn Arabi

Wisdom and Wisdoms

Ibn Arabi: Fusus al-hikam: Bulent Rauf

The Calling by Revelation of the Brides of Absoluteness in the Places of Absoluteness of the Wisdoms of the Bezels


In the Name of the All-Compassionate and Merciful, praise and glory to God, Who brings down the Wisdom to the hearts of the Words by the uniqueness of the straight and closest (amâm) Way from the Most Ancient station. Indeed, because of the difference of the people, the creeds and the religious communities became different. And God gave praise (salât) to the mamad al-himam (the source of extension of all himmah) from the treasuries of Munificence and Generosity, with the most righteous saying. Mohammed and all his relatives, and salutations.

Following on from this, indeed I saw the Envoy (S.A.) in a dream of announcement of good news (mubashshirah) in the last decan of the month of Muharrem in the year 627 (hegira) in the city of Damascus, and in his (S.A.) hand was a book and he said to me: ‘This is the book of the Fusûs al-Hikam. Take it and bring it out to the people who will benefit by it.’ And I said I heard and obeyed God the High and His Envoy and the people of order (people who are masters of command) from among us, as I was ordered.

I verified the desire (amniyah) and purified the intention, and abstracted the purpose and the himmah to expose this book as it was limited to me by the Envoy (S.A.) himself, without increase or decrease. And I asked of God that He bring it about for me in this (that is, in exposing this book), and all that my fingers write and all that speaks with my tongue and all that is folded in the core of my soul and mind, by the irradiation of the praise of God and the blowing (nafas) of the Spirit in the chest (rau’) of my nafs by the strengthening of the holding on. So that I become the interpreter and not the false arbiter. So that those who understand be certain of it, those from among the people of God who are the people of the Heart, that this is the book from the station of Sanctifying, transcendent from all self-interests of the nafs into which enters misrepresentation (talbîs). And I pray that it be so, that when God hears my prayer He will indeed respond to my cry. Indeed, I do not irradiate except that which has been irradiated to me, and do not bring down in these lines (in this book) except that which has been brought down in it to me, and I am not of the prophets, nor envoy, but I am an heir and a cultivator (hârith) of the other world.

And from God he heard and to God he returned,
And when you have heard that, indeed keep in the
receptacle of your heart what He has given you,
Then, with understanding, detail it
In the most succinct speech, and collect it,
Then, in your turn, according to the requester,
do not prevent it,
This is the Mercy that He has enlarged for you,
so enlarge it.

And I pray to God that I be of those that He helps by the purified Mohammedian religion, and which bonds and registers that we have been collected in the Day of Judgement in his own group of people, just as He brought us to be of his own people (now).

Of the Divine Wisdom (al-hikmat al-ilâhiyyah) in the Word of Adam

When God (haqq), whose praises are ever sung, and the High, wanted to see by virtue of His Beautiful Names whose number is countless, His essences (a’yân), or if you want you can say, to see His own Essence (‘ayn), in the totality of the immanence which encloses the order, His immanence which is qualified by existence. And to manifest by it His mystery (to Himself). Because the vision of a thing of itself by itself is not the same as the vision of itself by another order which becomes for it like a mirror. And He manifested to it His own Self in the image that the place bestows of what is shown to it which is not possible to manifest into it without the existence of such a place (of manifestation) and without His revealing Himself to it.

And when indeed the haqq brought into existence the totality of the universe, that body was a figure (shape). There was no spirit in it and it was like an unpolished mirror. It is of the glory of the Divine order that in fact He never prepared any place which was not to receive the Divine Spirit by the blowing of the Divine Spirit into it. And all that is nothing other than the order for the coming about of the aptitude from such a spiritless image to receive the effusion (because) the revelation is ever constant.

Nothing is left to say except that which concerns the receiver, and the receiver does not become immanent except from the Most Holy Effusion. The totality of the order is from Him, the beginning of it and the end of it. The totality of the order (of being) returns to Him as it started from Him. And the order necessitates the polishing of the mirror of the universe, and Adam is the same as that polish of such a mirror and the spirit of such an image.

The angels are certain of the powers of that image which is the image of the universe which in the terminology of certain people is meant to mean the Great Man. The angels are like certain spiritual and sensitive powers for it which were there at the emergence of mankind. Each of the powers (of the universe) is veiled by its own self and does not see anything superior to itself. And in these (in all the powers of the images of the universe) there is the belief of familiarity with all the high positions and elevated stations with God, since it is with Him from the Divine collectivity between that which refers from all this to the Divine Person and to the side of the Reality of Realities, and because in the total emergence of this its qualities have necessitated the Total Nature which encloses all the receptivities of the universe, high and low. And also in this he does not know this by way of reasonable intellect. This is from the science of comprehension. It cannot be except through Divine insight (kashf) from which he will know what the origin of the image of the universe, which is the receiver to his spirits, will be.

This which is mentioned above is called Man and Viceregent, and his being Man is due to the generality of his emergence and because he encompasses all the realities. He is for God in the same place as the eye of the eye is for the man, with which seeing happens, and that is what is meant by vision. This is why he is called Man, because in fact he is the sight of God over His creation and God’s mercification of it. And he is the recent Man and from all eternity, and his emergence is continuous and forever. And he is the connective and collective word. And the universe is complete by his existence and he is for the universe like the bezel of the seal, and he is the place of the engraving by which signature all the possessions of His treasuries are sealed. And he is called the Viceregent because of this, that he is the preserver of His creation like the seal is the safeguard of the treasures, and as long as the seal of the King is upon it no-one dares to open it without His permission, and He made him His Viceregent in the preserving of the universe and the universe never becomes unpreserved as long as there is in it this Perfect Man.

Do you not see him (that is to say, the Perfect Man being the seal of the treasuries of the world), if he is to go out of it, (or as in certain copies:) if he were not permanent and (the seal) was removed from the treasuries of the world, there would not remain anything to treasure for the haqq therein, and all that was in there would come out and some would join some others and the order would translate into the other world and he would be a seal to the treasuries of the other world, an eternal seal. And he manifests all that there is of the Divine images in the Names in this emergence of mankind, and he reached the degree of encompassing and collecting by this existence. And with this he became the outstanding argument of God the High over the angels.

Be guarded that maybe God has given you a warning by another than you, and look from whence He gave you that which He gave you, and that the angels did not know what the emergence of this Viceregent bestowed with it, nor did they know what was necessary for the essential worship of the Presence of God. It is that no-one knows from the Truth (haqq) except that which his own essence bestows. And the collectivity of Adam is not for the angels, and they did not know the Divine Names except the ones which were particular to them and they praised God (haqq) with them and sanctified Him subbûh (the Glorious), quddûs (the Holy), tayyib (the Agreeable), tâhir (the Pure), nûr (the Light), wâhid (the One), ahad (the Only), ‘aliyy (the Most High). And they did not know that God the High has Names the knowledge of which has not reached them and with which they did not praise Him, nor did they sanctify Him.

They fell under the dominion of what we have mentioned, and this state determined over them. They said by virtue of their emergence: ‘Will You bring therein one that will sow corruption therein?’. And is this other than contention? And this is exactly the same as what came about from them in what they said; in what they said concerning Adam is exactly the same (as what came about) in the matter of God. If their emergence had not bestowed this on them they would not have said concerning Adam what they said, but this they were not aware of. Had they known themselves, they would have known. If they had known, they would have been safeguarded from it.

Then they did not even rest with blaming Adam, but they increased their contention (by saying) by what they were about with sanctification and praise. But Adam was with the Divine Names which the angels were not, and they did not praise their Lord with these and they do not sanctify Him by these. And God qualifies this to us for our sake so that we stop at these and learn from them the proper attitude (adab) with God the High, and we should not lay claims over it in our relativity because of what we have been realised with and what we contain. How can we claim absoluteness and generalise with it when we are not in that state and we are not of it in knowledge, and (thereby) disgrace ourselves? And this is the Divine explanation by which God (teaches) the proper attitude to His servants, the people of adab (proper attitude), the people of Security and the Viceregents.

We shall return to the Divine Wisdom. And we say, know it like this, that certainly all orders (like Life, Knowledge, Power,) have no being in their essence (‘ayn) (yet) it is certain they are in the mental capacity, intelligible and known. And that it is interior does not diminish it from essential existence and it has determination and effect in everything which is its essential existence. Rather it is the same as itself and no other than itself, I mean the essences of essential existents, and they do not diminish in themselves by being intellectually immanenced as they are interior from the point of view that they are intelligible. And the support of all essential existents in this is the total orders which are not possible to remove from the intellect, and their existence in the Essence (‘ayn) is not possible by such an existence through which they could be removed from being intelligible, and it is the same thing whether this existent be temporal or non-temporal. Temporality or non-temporality is in the same relationship to this intelligible total order, except that in this total order a determination returns to it from the essential existents by virtue of what they have been given, (and in certain copies:) as realities necessitate in such essential existents, like the relationship of knowledge to the knower and of life to the alive, and the alive is an intelligible reality and it (the reality) is different from the alive as it is different from life.

Then we say concerning God the High that to Him is knowledge and being alive, and that He is Alive and Knowledgeable, and then we say of the angel that to him is knowledge and being alive, and that he is alive and knowledgeable, and we say the same of Man that to him is knowledge and being alive, and that he is alive and knowledgeable, and the reality of knowledge is one and the reality of life is one, and their relationship to the knower and the alive is the same. We say concerning God’s Knowledge, indeed it is ancient and for Man’s knowledge we say it is recent. Now look at the thing that qualification brought forth in this intelligible reality, and look at this connection between intellectual things and essential existents. When knowledge determines over someone he is established with it and it is said about him that he is a knower (which is) the determination of he who is qualified by knowledge. That is recent in the case of the recent, or ancient in the case of the ancient, and each one becomes determined over. So it certainly becomes known if these total orders are objects of intellect, yet they are indeed non-existent of essence but are existent by determination, these (total orders) are determined upon if they are considered in comparison with the essential existents (since) they accept the (special) determination in the essential existents. And it does not accept chaptering nor portioning because this is impossible for it, and because it is manifest by itself in all that is qualified by it, just as humanity in each person of this special kind does not become chaptered and does not become enumerated by the enumeration of people, and does not cease to be intelligible. And if there is a connection established between that which has an essential existence and that which has no essential existence, this is a relation of non-existence. It is closer to understand the connection of one thing to another from among existents because the state is such that among all existents (there) is that which connects and collects which is that essential existent. And there, when the collector ends there remains a connection without a connector, but with a connector it is more strong.

Without a doubt, when the recent establishes its recentness and its need of what makes it recent, it is that it is recent because of the possibilities in its own self and its being is from another, and it is connected by the connection of necessity. It is without a doubt that what it depends on should be necessarily-so by itself, rich beyond need in its own being, by itself without being in need, and it is this which bestows being by its own self to this recent, and it (the recent) relates to it, and when it (the existent necessarily-so) through itself necessitates (the recent), then (the recent) is necessarily-so by it. As it (the recent) became necessarily existent through this dependence, it (the recent) became manifest from its ipseity which necessitated that it be according to its image and relate to it in everything, be it Name or quality, except being necessary in its ipseity because this is not true in the case of the recent, and although it (the recent) became necessarily existent, yet its necessarilyness is through another, not through itself.

Then let it be known that indeed when the order is like what we have said, that his manifestation (of the recent) is in His image, the High left it to us concerning the knowledge of His Being, to look at the recent, and mentioned it to us that in fact He showed it to us in His acts (âyât) and he gave us guidance in this matter that we qualify Him with the qualification only to the extent that we have that qualification, except the Necessarily-so-ness which is particular to Himself, and when we knew Him as of us and with us we related to Him all that we related of that to us and with this came the Divine information to us according to the languages of the interpreters (the prophets). And He qualified His Self by us, and if we witness It (through a qualification) we witness ourselves, and if He witnesses us He witnesses Himself.

There is no doubt that we are many by variety and personality, yet there is no doubt that we are according to one Reality and that (that single Reality) collects together. We know absolutely that then there are differences by which people are distinguished, some from the others. And if it was not like that there could not be plurality in the One. In this way, although He has qualified us with what He qualifies His own Self in all aspects, there is no doubt that there is a difference, and that is no other than our need of Him in our being and the dependence of our being on Him, because of our being possible and His being Rich beyond Need from that which is like our need of Him.

It is true for Him that He is Eternal and Ancient, which is absolutely without attributing to Him Firstness, that (Firstness) for which there is an opening of being from non-existence (‘adam). No immanential priority can be related to Him and it is because of this that He is spoken of as the Last. Had there been a Firstness, that Firstness would be the being of relativity, then it would not be true that there would be a Last for the relative because it would be the Last of the possible whereas the possibles are infinite and they have no end. Rather it is that He is the Last because all the orders return to Him after these have been related to us. And He is the Last, exactly the same as His Firstness, and He is the First, exactly the same as His Lastness.

Then let it be known that indeed God qualified Himself as both Manifest (zâhir) and Hidden (bâtin)and brought into existence the universe of the Unknowable (ghayb) and Witnessing (shahâdah), so that we comprehend the hidden through our own non-existence (ghayb) and the manifest with our own witnessing. (God) also qualified Himself by Agreement (ridhâ’) and by Anger (ghadhab), and brought into existence the universe of fear and prayer so that we fear His Anger and pray for His Agreement. God also qualified Himself in that he is the Beautiful (jamîl) and Possessor of Majesty (jalâl), (He) created us according to both awe (haybah), (grandeur) and intimacy (uns). And it is like this for all that relates to the High and all by which He is named.

And then He interpreted the two (opposing) qualities as two Hands which He turned towards us, from them to create the Perfect Man, as his total immanence collects together the realities of the universe and its singularities, and the universe is (thus) of witnessing, and the Viceregent hidden. And by this he hid, (and in certain copies:) the Sultan is hidden, and the haqq qualified Himself with veils of darkness and these are the elemental bodies, dense and of light, (and in certain copies:) and these are the bodies of Nature and these are the subtle spirits, and the Prophet said the universe is between the dense and the subtle, and it (the universe) is the same as its veils for itself. And it (the universe) cannot comprehend God like His comprehending of Himself. It does not diminish in the veil which does not ever lift with its knowledge that it is different from its Creator due to its need of Him. But it has not the satisfaction in the Necessarily-so-ness of the Essential Being which is Him, the Being of God, which it does not comprehend ever. And God does not ever diminish from this unknown reality of knowledge of taste and witnessing, because for the recent there is no place in this (the Necessarily-so-ness of the Essential Being).

And God did not collect Adam between His Hands except to honour him, and because of this He said to Iblis: ‘What prevented you from prostrating yourself to that which I have created with both my Hands?’ And he, Adam, is no other than the same thing as the collection of the two images, image of the universe and the image of God, and these are the Hands of God the High. And the Iblis is a part of the universe and this collecting did not come about for him.

It is because of this that Adam was the Viceregent. If he were not manifested in the image of that to which he was the successor, he would not have succeeded to it (viceregency), and if there was not in this all that the subjects, over whom he was made Viceregent, require, he would not be a Viceregent to them, because they depend on him (the Viceregent). It is impossible if he were not with what each thing needs of him. Unless this is so, he cannot be Viceregent for them. Viceregency would not be true except by the Perfect Man.

His apparent image emerges from the realities and the images of the universe, and built his interior image according to the image of the High, and it is because of this that he (the Prophet, S.A.) said (in the hadîth qudsî): ‘I become his hearing and his sight’, and did not say: ‘I become his eye and his ear’ and he differentiated between the two images.

And it is thus He is in every existent in the universe to the extent of what this existent demands of this Reality, but there is not one except the Viceregent who has the totality, and he did not attain it except by the totality. If it was not for the fluency of God in the existents because of that image, there would not have been an existence for the universe. Just as indeed if it were not for such as the total intelligible realities there would not have manifested a determination in the individuated existents. It is from this Reality that comes the dependency of the universe upon God for its being.

Everything is in need, everything is not without need,
This is the truth itself and it is plainly said,
If I mention One which is without need
Then you will understand what we mean by our words,
Everything is tied up with everything and there is no separating,
So take (the truth) from what I have said.

Now that you have already been caused to know the wisdom of the emergence of the body of Adam, I mean his apparent image, and have already learnt the emergence of the spirit of Adam, I mean his interior image, which are God and creation, you have also already learnt the emergence of his rank, and that is the totality due to which he deserves the viceregency.

Adam is one person (nafs) from whom has been created this human genus, and that is by His Word, and His Words are: ‘Revere your Lord and bring what manifests from you for the safeguarding of your Lord, and bring that which is interior to you and that is your Lord which is safeguarded for yourselves.’ And it is indeed that the order is both blame and praise, and be the safeguard where it is blame and bring your safeguarding to Him in praise and you will be people of good form (adab) and knowledge.

Then God the High showed him (Adam) what He had given into him, and this he brought about between His Hands; one Hand is the universe and the other Hand is Adam and his descendants, and made clear their degrees therein.

When God showed in my mystery what He gave into this leader, the greatest progenitor, I brought in this book of that only that which was within the limits set for me, not what I knew of it, because for this the book is not wide enough, nor is the universe (which is) at this moment existing. It is of what I have seen that is put in this book as the Envoy of God (S.A.) limited it to me, the Divine Wisdom in the Word of Adam, and this is this chapter.

Then the Wisdom of Breathing Out (nafathiyyah) in the Word of Seth.

Then the Wisdom of the Transcended Magnificat (subûhiyyah) in the Word of Noah.

Then the Wisdom of Sanctity (quddûsiyyah) in the Word of Idris.

Then the Wisdom of Ecstasy and Rapture (muhaymiyyah) in the Word of Abraham.

Then the Wisdom of the Truth (haqqiyyah) in the Word of Isaac.

Then next is the Wisdom of Exaltedness (‘aliyyah) in the Word of Ishmael.

And then the Wisdom of Spirituality (rûhiyyah) in the Word of Jacob.

Then the Wisdom of Light (nûriyyah) in the Word of Joseph.

Then the Wisdom of Uniqueness (ahadiyyah) in the Word of Hud.

Then it is the Wisdom of Opening (futûhiyyah) in the Word of Salih.

Then the Wisdom of the Heart (qalbiyyah) in the Word of Jethro (Shu’ayb).

Next is the Wisdom of Strength and Forcefulness (malkiyyah) in the Word of Lot.

Next is the Wisdom of Apportioning of Fate (qadariyyah) in the Word of Ezra.

Then is the Wisdom of Elevation (nubûwiyyah) in the Word of Jesus.

Then the Wisdom of Compassion (rahmâniyyah) in the word of Solomon.

Then the Wisdom of Being (wujûdiyyah) in the Word of David.

After this is the Wisdom of the Self (or Breath) (nafsiyyah) in the Word of Jonah.

Next is the Wisdom of the Unknowable (ghaybiyyah) in the Word of Job.

Then the Wisdom of Awesome Majesty (jalâliyyah) in the Word of John.

Then is the Wisdom of Ownership (mâlikiyyah) in the Word of Zachariah.

Then the Wisdom of Intimacy (inâsiyyah) in the word of Elijah.

After this, the Wisdom of Beneficence (ihsâniyyah) in the Word of Loqman.

Then the Wisdom of Religious Leadership (imâmiyyah) in the Word of Aaron.

Next is the Wisdom of Eminence (‘ulûwiyyah) in the Word of Moses.

Then the Wisdom of Intention and Refuge (samadiyyah) in the Word of Khalid.

Then the Wisdom of Singularity (fardiyyah) in the Word of Mohammed.

And the engraving of all the Wisdoms are for the Words they are related to.

In this book I have limited myself in what I have mentioned of these Wisdoms to (the limit of) what has been established (concerning these) in the Mother of the Books (Quran), I have mentioned only in accordance as it was delineated to me, and I stopped at that which was given as limit to me. If I had thrown more into this I would not have the power (so to do) because the Presence prevents from doing so.


© Grenville Collins

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