MIAS education: the journey to heaven
Course 1 | Course 2
“If not for Him, and if not for us”
Exploring the multi-layered meanings of Ibn Arabi’s own ascension in Fusus al Hikam
Credit: NWhitten1776 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA4.0 /
From: Capulin Night Sky.jpg.
In the first heaven course, we focused attention on the Prophet’s journey and its symbolic relation with the spiritual journey towards God in The Secrets of Voyaging. In this course, we will explore the multi-layered meanings of Ibn Arabi’s own ascension by focusing on his first encounters with Adam and Jesus in the Fusus al Hikam (The Ringstones of Wisdom or also translated as The Bezels of Wisdom). In addition to reading excerpts from the Fusus, the voyagers will be invited to read an excerpt from Ibn Arabi’s Kitab Al-Isra (especially translated for this course).
Learning Aims and Outcomes
Course learning aims
1. Identify the key aspects of the Ibn Arabi’s encounters with the prophets.
2. Develop a familiarity with Ibn Arabi’s central concepts such as the Divine Names, the Breath of the Merciful and the Perfect Human
Upon completion of this course, you can achieve any of the possible outcomes below:
Throughout this course, the voyagers will be encouraged to work closely with the Divine Names. This practical method is inspired by the poetic lines:
If not for Him, and if not for us
What is would not yet be
We worship truly
And indeed God is our Master
What is His, and what is ours
He who knoweth my heart gave it life
When he gave us life
In Him we were beings,
Identities and moments
As such we are ‘beings’ with ‘identities’ and ‘moments’ and because we are connected to other beings, then it is through us that forms of worshipping can become manifest. So, one of the ways of showing this intertying between the Divine and us is to contemplate and remember His Names. In this light, the voyagers will endeavour to turn/transform what they have learnt from Ibn Arabi into active engagement. Working under the Names of The Giver of Gifts, The Provider, The Giver of Peace, The Most Generous, The Guide and The All-Grateful the voyagers can choose to work either in pairs or in small groups of three. They will work on or share a project that demonstrates how the qualities and attributes of giving, providing, offering peace, guidance and gratitude are implemented in everyday life. Ideally, the project should show active engagement with others (the voyagers, small community, the world we live in etc..). This collective project emphasises not only the practical benefits that can derive from applying Akbarian teachings in our daily lives but also the significance of learning from each other. According to Souad Hakim: “Each traveller may learn from the experience of others, from the unveiling of their cognitive experiences and their mark on the world, which may inspire him (her). Furthermore, he (she) may benefit from their stories about the nature of the path, or even use some of the same methods that they have mentioned […] But in the end, he (she) will find a way which is his own, a path constructed from the dialectic between his journeying and the attraction which draws him (her) on – that is to say, between human effort and divine gift”
The Paths to God in Sufism
Creativity is integral to the human being. Undeniably, our imagination is a force that impacts our daily life. The notion of imagination occupies a significant position in Ibn Arabi’s teachings since the Divine Imagination constitutes the very force that inspired the Great Master’s works. As Henry Corbin succinctly puts it: “To the initial act of the Creator imagining the world corresponds the creature imagining his world, imagining the worlds, his God, his symbols.” Such a correlation between the Divine act of creation and His creatures is an open invitation to those who wish to explore the realm of imagination. Thus, in this course, we invite you to dive into Ibn Arabi’s world of imagination. You will have the opportunity to connect your appreciation of Ibn Arabi’s text with your own creative expression such as poetry, writing, storytelling, drawing, painting and music etc. Such an interaction echoes James Morris’ observation on “the remarkably active approach which Ibn Arabi expects and constantly demands of his truly qualified and spiritually ‘ambitious’ readers, those who begin to interact with his work with the appropriate intentions and preparation.” (source: https://ibnarabisociety.org/how-to-study-the-futuhat)
Instructional strategies include mini-lectures, shared reading, creative forms of expression and group discussions.