Articles and Translations

Image and Presence in the Thought of Ibn al-‘Arabi

Ralph Austin

Dr. Ralph Austin taught Arabic and Islamic Studies at Durham University and is well-known for his translations of Ibn Arabi, above all Sufis of Andalusia and The Bezels of Wisdom, which have been acknowledged as entry-points to the study of Ibn 'Arabi by many contemporary scholars.


Articles by Ralph Austin

Aspects of Mystical Prayer in Ibn Arabi’s Thought

Image and Presence in the Thought of Ibn Arabi

The Lady Nizam – an Image of Love and Knowledge

On Knowing the Station of Love: Poems from the 78th Chapter of the Futuhat al-Makkiyya

Two Poems from the Diwān of Ibn 'Arabi


As usual the manner of my approach to our theme this morning[1] is as much a meditation on its concepts and their ramifications as a more formal and academic exposition, since I have long felt that the purely academic approach to the ideas of a thinker and mystic such as the Shaikh al-Akbar is inadequate to the immensity and subtlety of his vision, this being particularly the case with respect to the double theme of the meeting today of Imagination and Theophany.

It is perhaps appropriate to be broaching this theme of Imagination and Theophany at this time of the coming of the season of Spring when the divine munificence in nature is once more so gloriously manifest after the rigour and cold of icy winter, since both concepts have to do with the affirmation of the world, the cosmos and its relationship with its Creator, rather than with those more world-negating strictures of higher, spiritual aspiration which seek to blot out its seductions. Indeed, one might say that this theme of Imagination and Theophany relates particularly well to the second verse of that quintessential chapter of the Qur’an, the 112th, which posits the two great poles of the divine Being, that of ahadiyyah or unicity and aloneness, and that of samadiyyah or creativity and manifestation.[2] Thus, as al-Ahad, God rejects all other, all “us and Him”, while as al-Samad He is the affirming source of all our becomings and destinies. It is pertinent in this respect that the Arabic word for Theophany which is tajalli has a very similar meaning to the word samad, both of them having the sense of displaying and exposing. Both also have a delightful bridal connotation as an image of manifestation, the former having the meaning of to present and display the bride in all her finery, the latter meaning to deck the bride in all her finery. In other words both the concepts of our theme are about existence and the divine-human experience of it in an affirming and not a denying way. It is about divine-human dualities and triplicities, about tensions and relationships, subjects and objects and the relationships between them. It concerns very much the interplay of divine-cosmic-human currents in which images become invested with meanings and meanings vest themselves in images, in which God and man share and exchange the creative urges and passions which make the whole tissue of our tragi-comic universe vibrant with life and sensitivity.

Of course this whole aspect of multiplicity, divine involvement and immanence which the two concepts of Imagination and Theophany connote inevitably means that we are today dealing with a theme inspired by Ibn al-‘Arabi which, like several others of his ideas, creates conflict with the established religious ideas of his and our times, in the world of Islam in particular and that of patri­archal monotheism in general. That is because the theme strongly implies the extension and projection of the divine into the exis­tential and the creaturely and the ability to discover the divine Presence and image in the very midst of this cosmos, both in the macrocosmos which lies outside us and in the microcosmos which is ourselves. In addition, however, to this implication of im­manence, there are, I believe, two concepts underlying our theme which have universally and perennially caused difficulties with religious orthodoxy. These are the notions of Creator-creation mutuality, and also existential support. The first suggests that God and His creation, especially His human creation, need each other, while the second suggests that the divine cannot properly be seen, witnessed or experienced except in the context of existence and the cosmic substratum. The first idea is vividly and boldly expressed in a well known short poem in the Fusûs al-Hikam where he says:

He praises me and I praise Him;
He worships me and I worship Him;
In my state of existence I confirm Him,
As unmanifest essence I deny Him.[3]

In the context of the primary and original meaning of the term Theophany or tajallî this means that in manifesting Himself to Himself in the primordial divine urge to know Himself, we are the very principle of that otherness which makes His Self-relationship and Self-knowledge possible, while He, the divine, is that very principle of identity and ownness without which the otherness is absurd and meaningless. Thus to use again the manifestation image above, the divine “bride” is decked and displayed to be seen and admired by “others” who reflect back to “her” her own splendour by their approbations. This is the principle of mutuality by which the subject is meaningless without the object and vice versa, the third element being that tension and attraction of relationship between them, all three being but modes of a single reality. It is of interest in this respect that certain theories in modern particle physics would seem to suggest the mutual dependence of the observing subject and the observed object in the sense that both subject and object condition each other within the context of their relationship, so that, in a certain sense, the object is observed in ways conform­ing to inherent predispositions in the subject, while the subject observes in ways conforming to predispositions in the object, the whole constituting a unitive experience.

This point leads conveniently to the image and imagination part of our theme in that, for human beings, as constituting that special, intermediary creation between the higher and lower worlds, an object or an image can never be, as it is for the camera lens, simply an object or an image, but is always perceived as both a projec­tion and reflection of the perceiving subject. For the human eye a thing is always redolent, no matter how simply or basically, with patterns, signs, symbols, associations, premonitions, memories, sug­gesting not merely that which is inherent in the subject himself but also of realities which may transcend him and for which he is a vehicle. Thus, we always, in no matter how elementary a fashion, animate and ensoul what we see, as indeed what we hear and sense with our other senses. In this we do of course, as being all made in the image of God, imitate and reflect the creative imagining or imaging of the Divine Being when He invests the other as image with what is essential of Himself as a means to knowing Himself. Similarly, we may learn to know more of ourselves in the contem­plation of the images of our perception and the way we perceive them. Of course, this perceiving, this observing is also a far more complex experience and process than we commonly think, in that it inevitably involves a great range of emotions, such as love in its very broadest sense, since according to the hadîth qudsî it was the primordial love which impelled God to relate to and perceive Himself as “other”, as object. This idea of mutuality has all sorts of other implications not only for the Creator-creation, Divine-human relationship but also for all our perceptive relationships. In this context, does not the question arise as to whether, beyond the perceptions of human kind, such image/objects as mountains, clouds, trees, animals, etc., really exist, bearing in mind that those word/images are also profoundly concept/meanings which have no relevance outside human experience, just as all our moral and ethi­cal perceptions have no meaning for plants and animals. Thus, in creating us and the rest of His creation, God has imagined us in a similar way, since we have no meaning or relevance outside His creative imagination which ultimately tells Him of naught but Himself. Thus also, introducing here the terms of my own title, without the Divine Presence the notion of creation or cosmos has no meaning, and without the cosmic image which is His other, there is no Divine Presence which is His own.

I will shortly return in more detail to the two terms of my title. First of all however, I must deal with the second idea which I see as underlying our theme of Imagination and Theophany. That is the idea of existential support which very much reinforces what I have been saying about mutuality above. This then is the principle that the Divine cannot be perceived or experienced by us, except as presented, imaged, or embodied in a substratum of otherness, except as being extended beyond His Essence into the world of forms and substances. This notion is most forcibly and succinctly put by Ibn al-‘Arabi in the final chapter of his Fusûs al-Hikam where he makes the following very important statement:

Contemplation of the Real without formal support is not possible, since God in His Essence far transcends the Cosmos.[4]

When I came to think about this idea in preparation for this paper, I returned again to the Arabic text of the Fusûs al-Hikam to see what word the Master had used which I had translated as “formal support”. I was most interested to see that my original translation had missed many of the profound and subtle nuances implied by the word he chose. That word is, in the Arabic, mawddd, which might superficially and baldly in the modern context be translated as “materials”, “substances”. As is my wont on these occasions I betook myself to the dictionary to explore more deeply the various senses of this word. The basic meaning of the root verb madda means, as alluded to above, to extend, to prolong. This basic meaning however, becomes elaborated to mean also to succour, to provide. Its related words mean also oil for the lamp, the threads of a web and, very interestingly in our context today, ink; that ink by which the pen of the divine Intellect writes the creative words on the Guarded Tablet of primal matter.[5] My point here is that the word used by Ibn al-‘Arabi to indicate that thing without which God, the Real, may not be perceived or experienced denotes not merely image or form in some abstract sense, but a combination of the extension of otherness with the substance of fluid impression­able matter, ever ready to receive the divine imprint and reveal it as His image. This primal materiality and otherness of the means by which we might behold and experience the Divine is import­ant in the context of religious and spiritual systems which are all too prone to denigrate and reject the material and the “other”. It is also important because the acceptance and proper recognition of the primordial substratum of formless matter as an essential component of the wholeness of the Real is an essential element of orthodoxy even in those religious traditions which tend to be world-negating. Thus, both Christianity and Islam insist in their teachings upon the inclusion of the body, albeit a transformed one, in the afterlife. As I have pointed out on many occasions before, this notion of sacred and essential materiality is a very important aspect of Ibn al-‘Arabi’s teaching. Indeed, as if to reinforce his argument, he follows the statement quoted above by saying, “Since therefore, some form of support is necessary, the best and most perfect kind is the contemplation of God in women”, women being universally and perennially regarded as a symbol of earth and matter.[6] Thus, the concept of the Imagination in Ibn al-‘Arabi is not limited to mental and spiritual abstractions, but includes the substantial.

Indeed, he goes so far as to say in the Fusûs al-Hikam, “. . . since the Imagination deals only in what is sensible”.[7] In the Futûhât al-Makkiyyah he makes much the same point when he says, “The second is imagination. God gave it power to rule over meanings. It clothes them in substrata (mawâdd) and makes them manifest through them. No meaning is able to hold itself back from ima­gination.”[8] It is of interest here that he is using the same word mawâdd (as in the Fusûs) in speaking of the material in which the imaginative power clothes the meanings.

In these quotations from Ibn al-‘Arabi’s writings we have the two concepts of meanings and images or their material substrata, which two concepts correspond in very important ways to the two concepts of our theme, Imagination and Theophany, as also the two terms of my own title, Image and Presence. One might per­haps express it in another way by saying that while Theophany, Presence and meaning are about content, Image and material are about what contains. I would therefore like to concentrate, from now on, on considering the content in terms of presence and the container in terms of image as also their relationship with certain other ideas and concepts peculiar to Ibn al-‘Arabi.

Aboriginally and eternally the primary theophany is that manifestation of God to Himself by which He becomes able to perceive Himself as in the image of the “other” and able to experi­ence Himself as His own Presence. The impulsion of love or of the longing to be known or know Himself compels the extrajection of the otherness eternally latent in the Divine Essence to become the reflecting image, while the ownness always implicit in that image compels the attention of the reflected Presence. The divine energy and power at work between the Presence and Its image, flows in both directions, being, so to speak, a wonderful mixture of being (wujud) and vision (shuhûd), of experience and perception, a mixture which is of the very essence of a concept essential to this whole equation, that of “becoming” or kiyân. Actually this flowing of creative and re-creative energy and power might more properly be designated by two terms, kiyân denoting the creative flow from the Presence to the Image, while the re-creative energy which re-merges the image in the Presence is more accurately termed masîr as in the oft repeated phrase from the Qur’an, “And to Him is the eventual becoming.”[9] Thus, one might say that the image is invested with Presence while the Presence Itself is provided with a form or image or, to put it another way the form is invested with meaning and the meaning is given shape or form. For God, of course, this invested Image which reflects His Presence and in which He perceives His infinite possibility is an image of endless cosmic elaboration and unfolding of which we are inevitably a part, although as humans we also share mysteriously not only in His reflecting otherness, but also in His ownness and Presence. That is perhaps why we are all so busy creating for ourselves, as far as is possible in our contingent state, little worlds and universes of reassuring and corroborating images, relationships and patterns, in the building and nurturing of which we might find, somehow, confirmation of our presence, our being, our ownness and identity. Not being God, however, but only His microcosmic gesture or signature, so to speak, we only have what one might call reference identity and not His core identity. What core identity we have derives entirely from Him Who alone may truly and actually say “I”. Otherwise we are left with our reference identities, unfortun­ately in competition with others like us, so that if our constructed worlds and cocoons of self-corroborating images are damaged or destroyed, we are also damaged and destroyed, unless we have lost our little selves in the One Who ever remains, Who, as the Qur’an says, “. . . is beyond all need of the worlds”.[10]

Another way of understanding the whole process is of course to see the creation of the cosmos as the dream or fantasy of God in which He eternally weaves for His own delight, from deep within the tissue of His own being, endless images and visions of His own complexity, all of which vanish in an instant when He wakes again to Himself, to His own integral Presence and identity. Being in His image we imitate this act of world-spinning in our own small way, waking from our own imagining to what He is imagining us to be in. We perish when His world-creating attention is withdrawn from our part of His dream, for our own image-spinning is wrapped within His imagining, an imagination within an Imagination, so that the Prophet Muhammad advised us, “Die before you die,” that is to say recognise and acknowledge what is real from what is ultimately unreal.

These considerations bring us to consider two other terms or concepts which are closely related in this context to the notions of Presence and Image. These are the concepts, very peculiar to the Shaikh al-Akbar, of hawâ and himmah, both of which Arabic words are easy enough to translate in their ordinary sense, but very difficult to render into English in their Ibn al-‘Arabi-invested meanings. The term hawâ which has been variously translated as passion, caprice, whim, infatuation, fall, must, I think, be properly explained as meaning that spontaneous attraction to and enthusi­asm for something which creates the compelling desire to pour energy and attention upon it. In the Fusûs al-Hikam he says that “… nothing can be worshipped or served without it”, this, even though the word is used in the Qur’an in an entirely derogatory sense;[11] but that is the way with Ibn al-‘Arabi who uses words according to their profundity and complexity of meanings, rather than being guided by their traditional usages. The word himmah on the other hand, which is the perfect complement to hawâ, variously translated as concentration, interest and aspiration, more properly denotes that sustaining and maintaining attention and energy which is able to “keep the show on the road”, to continue to foster and develop the relationship or enterprise which the hawâ enthusiastically initiated.[12] When I think of these two important concepts of the Andalusian Master and of the best way to explain them to people I always think of the way in which many a cause is enthusiastically espoused and initially supported, later to be run and kept going by the himmah of a devoted and committed few. Thus one might say that while hawâ has more to do with the response to an image (love at first sight), himmah is very much the effect of a continuing presence. In this way it was perhaps the wonder and thrill of the initial vision of His infinite cosmic possibilities which tempted the Godhead to create the cosmic dream, but it is His divine himmah which sustains it and us within it. In other words if He is not present to attend to that image, if His himmah ceases to maintain the initial enthusiasm, the cosmic dream is gone. As a Sufi Shaikh once said to a disciple of his as they were looking at a scene of great beauty, “But for the outgoing bounty of God all this would vanish in an instant.”

As in the case of all concepts relating to the creative and re­creative aspects of God, these two are double-edged. On the one hand there is the hawâ which pours energy into creating the cosmos together with the himmah which sustains that creating urge, while on the other there is that desperate desire {hawâ) to turn one’s back on the world and its works and return to the source of the Presence away from the million images of His bounty, with its sustaining himmah of committed spiritual attention and labour. Under the influence of the first aspect man sees the face of God “at every turn”, while, influenced by the second, a man heeds the call in the Qur’an, “Then flee to God”, or “Say God and leave them wallow­ing in their confusion.”[13] It is the hawâ then which rushes to invest the image, but it is the himmah which flows from the perceiving and attentive Presence.

Traditional, pre-secularised man, whether as primitive savage or as sophisticated spiritual seer has always been attuned to the two great currents of the divine-cosmic energy, whether pouring out His presence energy onto the multifaceted image of the cosmos in an animistic ensoulling of a daimonic world, or drawing back that energy in a profound realisation of its deep transcending source into that great presence which true man shares with God. Spiritual man has always sought to effect through his heart-based imagination the translation of divine archetypes into perceptible forms and images or the transformation of visible images into a heavenly vision. One thinks of the great human work, the human-divine work of the great Dante Alighieri, and the realisation of the two-way imaginative power in his vision of Beatrice in God and God in Beatrice. One thinks of course also of Ibn al-‘Arabi’s similar experience which I have studied elsewhere. It is the true destiny of human kind precisely to partake with God, to be granted to imitate God in the deep experience of Presence and Image, of being that Presence in one’s essence, of seeing that image with one’s inner and possibly one’s outer eye, to have bestowed upon one the gift of the imaginative power of the heart and to know with certainty Whose Presence one shares and also Whose vision.

Secular man however, to put it tritely and rather obviously, has gained the whole cosmos and lost his own soul. For has he not withdrawn his animating and ensoulling energy from the forms and substances of the natural cosmos in forgetting that the presence into which he withdraws it is not the Presence but merely a contingent and ephemeral, mental presence of frightening fragility. Has he not thus de-animated and killed the world around him with his empty names and formulae, while losing sight entirely of the inner and transcending Presence which is alone the basis for any identity and human presence. This secular man has thus not only ruthlessly stripped all real meaning from his vision of the cosmos, but has turned away from and can no longer find that microcosmic image which gives his existence any cosmic or ontological meaning or relevance. Man, as the great religious traditions teach, is the barzakk, the link mediating the Divine Presence to the cosmic image/matter and mediating also the return of that Presence and its power to its source in the Divine Essence. If man is not that link, what possible meaning can he have. What is a link, after all, if both the elements it links together have been lost, or as Jesus put it in the Gospels, “If the salt has lost its savour wherewith shall it be salted?”[14] As far as the hawâ and himmah of secular man are concerned one is quickly reminded of the line from Yeats’ The Second Coming, ”The worst are full of passionate intensity, while the best lack all conviction,”[15] Endless enthusiasm being poured into an over-active physicality drained of all natural meaning and significance, while hyperactive overeducated minds play remorse­lessly with words largely devoid of spiritual content.

We have to learn to be again, to look again, Ibn al-‘Arabi rather ominously refers in the Fusûs to the birth of the last true man who, he says, will be born in China.’[16] His words must conjure up the vision of a being whose divine-cosmic function has ceased, who has become as it says in the Qur”an, “The lowest of the low”, of a species which has lost all sense of the Presence, all vision of that image.[17] Some indication as to how close we might be to that bleak prospect is the increasing tendency today to regard as intelligence what amounts to little more than a good memory and mental agility. True intelligence is surely to understand and act in the world in accordance with a sense of the Presence and a keen perception of Its image in the cosmos.

At this point it might be useful to look briefly at the relationship between the three concepts of Presence, Theophany and Imagination and also at the various levels of divine-cosmic experience at which they function. Put in fairly simple terms one might distin­guish between these three principal modes of the divine manifestation, which have a great affinity with each other, by saying that it is the happening of the Theophany or tajallî which occasions the essential and principial bi-polarisation of the Godhead into the manifesting Self or subject and also the manifested Other or object, the primor­dial Self-revelation which prompts that first great burst of Self-enthusiasm or hawâ which will be the trigger, so to speak, of the whole creative and revelatory process. It is this bursting forth of divine hawâ or divine enthusiasm which will initiate that gasping forth of the divine creative Breath of the Merciful, nafas al-rahman, which will bring the whole infinite possibility of the universe into actualisation. This event of Self-revelation will take place at many spiritual and cosmic gradations of becoming which Ibn al-‘Arabi typifies as three, the Theophany of the Divine Essence, that is the revelation of the Essence to Itself, the Theophany of the Divine Names in which God becomes aware of His infinitely complex and multiple cosmic possibilities, and the Theophany of Witness by which the Divine comes to know Himself in our concrete forms and substances.[18]

The essential role which the Imagination plays in all of these stages, since all save the Divine in Its Essence is of the Imagin­ation, is to image and identify the bi-polarised other, by immedi­ately establishing a knowing and recognising relationship between manifesting subject and manifested other or object, endowing and investing the other, at whatever level and gradation with that irresistible injected presence of the subject and their original wholeness (as two poles of a single being) as an image or images of attracting beauty and fascination.[19] Ibn al-‘Arabi typifies the three kinds of Imagination as the Absolute Imagination which has over­all imaging power as soon as the Divine Essence begins to relate to Itself as other, the Detached Imagination which is essentially macrocosmic in character, and the Attached Imagination which is essentially subjective and individual in character.[20]

The function of the Presence or presences in the context of the functions of Theophany and Imagination is precisely to maintain the theophanic momentum and bestow continuity and stability upon the imaginative process in which, as I have indicated earlier, it has a profound connection with the notion of himmah or sus­taining attention and energy, since unless the Divine power and energy, the Divine attention and commitment, is present at all spir­itual and cosmic levels simultaneously, the whole fabric of crea­tion and becoming will vanish. The levels at which Ibn al-‘Arabi sees the Divine Presence functioning as “presences” include the physical (mulk), the psychic (mithâl), the angelic (malakût), the spiritual (jabarût) and the Absolute (mutlaq).[21] Once this presence or these presences are withdrawn, as we have said, the whole Self-manifesting experience of the Divine Being is resolved once again into the unique and undifferentiated Oneness of the Divine Essence. One must of course stress that all of these divine-cosmic processes and experiences are not to be seen in some sort of time frame or reference, but as happening in aeternis, in an eternal “now” which alone is the Real.

Earlier I spoke of the necessity, in the context of a growing secu­lar disintegration of our suprahuman sensitivities, for us to learn to be again, to look again so that we might regain and renew our sense of true Presence and true Image. In all the great religious traditions there are two spiritual activities or rituals which relate very particularly to the notions of Presence and Image. They are perhaps best exemplified in the Hindu tradition where they are called puja and darshan. Puja is the practice of worshipping a holy image or ikon with a view to restoring within oneself one’s own presence with God by receiving the image’s invested Presence. Puja then is a seeing, a perception, a vision of the divine in the other which may keep alive one’s own divine aspect. Darshan is “to practise the presence of God”, to live and work and eat and sleep as being the human effect of His continuing Presence, to be constantly conscious of one’s being a presence of one’s Lord. This of course is what is truly meant by the practice of dhikr in Islam. One might then say that puja is an objective and darshan a subjective attention to the Divine Reality. It is interesting in this con­nection that in certain kinds of Hindu puja practice, notably in the Tantric tradition, the images or ikons are smashed after their use, thus demonstrating that it is the presences investing the forms and not the forms themselves that are the object of worship and con­templation.[22] It helps also to illustrate quite nicely the well known Sufi concepts of fanâ’ or annihilation and baqâ’ or remaining, in that all this cosmos of imagined being passes away, there remain­ing, ultimately, only the face or image of the One Whose Presence is the sine qua non of all becoming and appearing.[23]

Finally, it is interesting, perhaps, to consider the story of Jesus and the clay bird as discussed in the Fusûs al-Hikam in the context of our theme. In the fifth chapter of the Qur’an God is quoted as saying to Jesus, “And when you did create the likeness of a bird from clay by My permission, so that you blew into it and it became a bird by My leave.”[24] Here we have that very powerful image of the creating and enlivening breath projecting and injecting into basic matter in the form of clay a living presence. Thus, in a very particular person and event the whole phenomenon of Presence and Image is set forth. It is clear from the twice uttered “by My permission” that Jesus is here a manifestation of the divine Pres­ence, while the image of the clay bird represents that agelessly receptive matter (mawâdd) in which otherness will become made-alive and actualised. In his discussion of this story Ibn al-‘Arabi makes it plain that it is God who confers the life on the bird, although Jesus it is who blows, just as with Gabriel and Mary, it is Gabriel who blows the breath, while the Word itself is of God. In our story here the blowing is thus, as alluded to earlier, analogous to the Imaginative process by which a living reality is caused to appear externally to the sole Living One. Thus, as he says in his discussion, of Jesus it might be said that it was he that did it and yet not he, just as in the first tajallî or Self-manifestation of the God­head, the manifesting subject is not that Godhead in Its essential Reality, but rather, as Jesus is here, a mode of that Reality.[25]

In recent years I have become very interested in Ancient Egyptian studies. From this I have learnt that when the ancient Egyptian sculptors made a statue of a god or a person they had not finished their task until a priest had performed the ceremony of “opening the mouth”, a ceremony which was also performed on mummies before entombment. This ritual was seen as investing the statue with the living presence of that god or person; indeed the ceremony had to be repeated at regular intervals to ensure the continuing life of that image and form.[26] Thus we might say that God it is who opens our mouths when He creates us and closes them in every instant, since according to Ibn al-‘Arabi’s teaching on the “Creation by Breaths” we are made alive and annihilated in each instant, because, of course, that aspect of the Godhead which is alone to Itself and knows nothing of our cosmic shenanigans is ever withdrawing Its Presence from us and proclaiming “no other”.[27] The ephemerality of our passing images and forms so clearly implicit in that thought, a thought which all humankind must surely reflect upon on pain of being less than human, is ominously and starkly enunciated in the final verse of the Chapter of Mary in the Qur’an where it says,

How many a generation before them have we annihilated, or can you sense anything of them or hear so much as a faintest echo of them?[28]


This paper was first presented at the ninth annual symposium of the Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society: “Theophany and Imagination”, Oxford 1992, and published in Volume XII of the Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society.


[1] This paper was first presented at the ninth annual symposium of the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society: "Theophany and Imagination", Oxford, 1992.

[2] Qur’an, CXII;2.

[3] Ibn al-‘Arabi, The Bezels of Wisdom, trans. R. W.J. Austin, SPCK, 1980, p. 95.

[4] Ibid., p. 274.

[5] Cf. Qur’an, LXXXV: 22 and XCVI: 4.

[6] Bezels, p. 274.

[7] Ibid., p. 122.

[8] Ibn al-‘Arabi, Al-Futûhât al-makkiyyah, Cairo, 1911, III, p. 232.

[9] Qur’an, V: 18.

[10] Ibid., Ill: 18.

[11] Cf. Bezels, pp. 246-7. Also Qur’an, XXV: 43.

[12] Cf. Bezels, p. 160.

[13] Qur’an, LI: 50 and VI: 91.

[14] Gospel of St. Matthew, V: 13.

[15] Oxford Book of English Verse, ed. Helen Gardner, Oxford, 1972, p. 820.

[16] Bezels, 70.

[17] Qur’an.XCV: 5.

[18] Cf. H. Corbin, Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi, trans. R. Manheim, Princeton University Press, 1969, p. 295.

[19] Cf. W. C. Chittick, The Sufi Path of Knowledge, Albany, NY, 1989, pp. 116-17.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Cf. Creative Imagination, p. 261.

[22] Cf. H. Zimmer, "On the Significance of Indian Tantric Yoga", in Spiritual Disciplines (Papers from the Eranos Yearbooks), London, 1960, pp. 3-58.

[23] Qur’an, LV: 26-7.

[24] Ibid., V: 110.

[25] Bezels, pp. 176-7.

[26] E. A. Wallis Budge, The Mummy, London, 1987, p. 291.

[27] Bezels, p. 193.

[28] Qur’an, XIX: 98.