Articles and Translations

“At the distance of two bows’ length or even closer”

The Figure of the Prophet in the Work of ‘Abdal Karīm Jīlī – Part II

Go to Part I of this article


III. The Qāb qawsayn or the apotheosis of the ittibā’ al-nabī


III.1. The Yemen, focus of the Akbarian tradition

Did ‘Abd al-Karīm al-Jīlī really exist? Were it not for his work, and the repercussions to it, as evidenced in the literature of tasawwuf, one might have doubted it. There is no trace of his passage through this world in the Arab historiographers who were his contemporaries, except for a brief mention by Ibn al-Ahdal, although he was an adversary of the school of Ibn ‘Arabī.[1] Neither in the works of the comprehensive biographical dictionaries (tabaqāt), nor in the Tabaqāt al-khawwās by Sharjī (d.983/1488), does a single line appear – even though this latter was a collection entirely dedicated to the pious who lived in the Yemen, and contains notes on the Sufis of Zabīd with whom Jīlī rubbed shoulders.[2] All that exists is a disconcerting silence, largely explaining the uncertainties which until recently surrounded both his place of birth on the one hand, and the date of his death on the other. Thanks to investigations led by Riyadh Atlagh,[3] these two questions have now been clarified. According to information given by Jīlī himself in a poem,[4] it was in Calcutta, India where he came into this world on the 1st day of Muharram 767 / 18 September 1365; he also specifies that while he was still an adolescent he was taken to Aden by his father, who died there. Finally, this same document repeats some information originating from Jīlī’s son, according to whom his father died at Zabīd on Saturday, 28th of Jumāda II 811 / 18 November 1408.

Only forty-four years old at the time of his death, Jīlī left behind no disciples and no tarīqa likely to perpetuate his name. What remains of him comes to us through his writings which contain brief autobiographical details here and there from which we can retrace some of the major stages of his earthly and spiritual journey.[5] From these various sources we can conclude that he was in India in 790,[6] and six years later in Zabīd where he had two visions of the Prophet, in one of which he appeared clothed in the seven divine attributes.[7] In 799 he was in Mecca,[8] before returning to Zabīd again the following year where another vision unveiled to him all the prophets and saints.[9] Two years later in 802 he performed the pilgrimage and while he was meditating close to the tomb of the Prophet he once again had a vision concerning his “sublime character” (khuluq ‘azīm, Q. 68:4).[10] The following year, in 803, he was in Damascus where he states that he attained to the station of servanthood (maqām al-‘ubūda).[11] The month after he was in Gaza [12] where he received the order to compose the Kamālāt ilāhiyya fī l-sifāt al-muhammadiyya – a work in which his muhammadology unfolds to its full extent and, directly linked to this, we next see him in the vision which takes place at Medina – and then he went on to Cairo.[13] Finally, in 805, he arrives once again back in Zabīd where, notably, he completes the compilation of the Kamālāt.[14]

One thing we can be certain of is that Jīlī travelled widely, which kept him involved to a degree with his professional occupation. In fact, in a passage in the Haqīqat al-haqā’iq he states that he was already commercially active before dedicating himself full-time to the mystical way.[15] And it is also certain that Zabīd, the intellectual seat of the Yemeni Rasūlids, was his home base. Furthermore, it was here that Ismā’īl al-Jabartī (d.806/1403),[16] his spiritual master, lived and, as a distinguished representative of Yemeni Sufism during the Rasūlid era, Jabartī was known to have been a fervent advocate of Ibn ‘Arabī. His name appears in certain chains of transmission of the Futūhāt, in a collection of Ibn ‘Arabī’s prayers,[17] and even more significantly in one of the silsilas of the khirqa akbariyya.[18] In addition, not content to study Ibn ‘Arabī by himself, Jabartī imposed the reading of his works on those in his circle; in fact, Ibn Hajar (d.852/1449), who had met him, affirms that he turned his back on those of his disciples who did not possess a copy of the Fusūs.[19] There is proof of this in an event corroborated by Jīlī, who reports in the Marātib al-wujūd a revealing anecdote on the importance that Jabartī gave to the study of Ibn ‘Arabī’s work on the spiritual journey.[20] It goes without saying that this proselytising in favour of Ibn ‘Arabī irritated the Yemeni ‘ulamā’, who also reproached him for the frequent samā’ sessions which he organised at his zāwiya – and where, according to evidence from Khazrajī (d.812/1409), one of his disciples found ecstasy … and death.[21] But Jabartī benefited from the protection of the noble al-Ashraf (r.778–803 / 1377–1401)[22] who, like a good number of his predecessors and successors,[23] proved himself to be very favourably inclined to the Sufis, especially to Jabartī who was his close confidant.[24]

The support that the majority of the Rasūlid monarchs – successors of the Ayyūbids and, like them, defenders of Sunnism – lavished on the Sufis is explained partly by the political situation existing at the time. Confined mainly to the southern region of the Yemen, they were in armed conflict against the Zaydīs and badly needed local support. The fact remains that several of them, particularly al-Muzaffar (r.647–694 / 1249–1295),[25] al-Ashraf and his successor al-Nāsir (r.803–827 / 1401–1424),[26] were also driven by religious aspirations, subsidising in particular the construction of numerous mosques and madrasas. In 790 al-Ashraf took the initiative to organise an important samā’ session on the coast where he invited all the masters of the region;[27] and it was also he who, in 796, invited Fīrūzābādī (d.817/1415) – a well-known traditionist and lexicologist – to his court, giving him one of his daughters in marriage, as well as the title of Qādī general of the Yemen.[28] Thereafter, the rancour of the ‘ulamā’ resulted in their launching a slander campaign against Fīrūzābādī, reproaching him especially for his frequent references to Ibn ‘Arabī. This led Fīrūzābādī to reply by means of a fatwa which became celebrated, in which he sang the praises of Ibn ‘Arabī.[29] At the time of al-Ashraf’s death, his son Nāsir named Ibn Raddād to this same position of Qādī, one of Jabartī’s closest disciples and who, like him, was an assiduous reader of Ibn ‘Arabī.[30]


III.2. Jīlī and the inheritance of Ibn ‘Arabī

It was thus in an environment singularly favourable to tasawwuf and to the study of Ibn ‘Arabī’s doctrine that Jīlī’s work was written. However decisive this work was in the development of the Akbarian tradition, it remains largely unknown, having been basically unpublished and little studied. Incidentally, the exact number of Jīlī’s works is unknown, and many have now disappeared. Let us confine ourselves to facts: in the inventory which Riyadh Atlagh drew up,[31] he identifies eleven titles whose attribution to Jīlī is without question, and which survive in manuscript form. Two of these works are vast compendiums which include many treatises: one is the collection entitled Haqīqat al-haqā’iq which Jīlī reports consists of thirty parts, but only three remain; and the other is the Nāmūs al-aqdam fī ma’rifat al-rasūl which contains forty treatises, seven of which have survived, and one of which is the Qāb qawsayn.[32] The three works which I have just mentioned are only known to a small number of specialists, and within the field of tasawwuf they have only had a limited, but nevertheless significant, distribution (involving in all cases the Qāb qawsayn). Such is not the case with al-Insān al-kāmil which has enjoyed an immense reputation, as evidenced by the large number of copies which were made throughout the Islamic world, as well as numerous editions, the first of which was in ah 1293 and the most recent in 1418/1997.[33] Without a doubt it is because of this work that Jīlī has his place in posterity and emerged as one of the major representatives of the school of Ibn ‘Arabī; we may also recall that Titus Burckhardt published a partial French translation in 1953.[34] But there is another side to this coin: it is on the Insān al-kāmil that Muslim authors and Islamicists have based their assessment of Jīlī’s doctrine. This is reminiscent of Ibn ‘Arabī’s Fusūs al-hikam, a work which does not take into account all aspects of his metaphysics and hagiological doctrine, but it was the one on which his adversaries chose to focus their attacks. The same can also be said of the Insān al-kāmil, which offers a synthesis of Jīlī’s metaphysics and his prophetology, but it inevitably omits some considerations which he develops elsewhere. On the other hand, this work is paradoxical in the sense that, while it obviously, in a good many respects, reveals his debt towards Ibn ‘Arabī, it is also here that Jīlī calls into question Ibn ‘Arabī’s authority on three separate occasions and, what is more, in rather severe terms.[35] However, it is advisable not to attach too great an importance to the criticisms made against Ibn ‘Arabī, as demonstrated in a recent study, since, when all is said and done, they rely on only one single point and result very largely from a misunderstanding on Jīlī’s part of certain doctrinal terms of Ibn ‘Arabī’s, the wording of which could give rise to confusion.[36] Incidentally, Jīlī is not the only one of Ibn ‘Arabī’s commentators to voice reservations on one aspect or another of his teaching,[37] not to mention the large number of people who have deliberately kept silent about certain themes of his which clearly troubled them, most notably the one relating to his universalist conception of divine mercy.[38]

The fact remains that the author of the Insān al-kāmil always adheres fully to the fundamental principles of Ibn ‘Arabī’s doctrine, those which arise from metaphysics or which touch on hagiology or prophetology. In actual fact, this so-called adherence is not only of an intellectual order: like the author of the Futūhāt, Jīlī “only speaks of that which he tastes”,[39] of what his own spiritual experiences lead him to know. This is precisely where the differences in emphasis between the two authors, the Shaykh al-Akbar and his heir, Jīlī, lie; but also there are, here and there, divergent points of view, in the proper sense of the word. The pinnacles to which their respective spiritual ascents led them and the landscape offered to each of them certainly present some similarities, but could not be identical.


III.3 The “seven oft-repeated”

Suffice it to say that Jīlī expresses himself as witness and not as theoretician, and this is particularly true in connection with everything in his writings that stems from his treatment of the Prophet. He takes these principles from his own spiritual life and, more especially, from the two visions of the Prophet quoted below which, from all the evidence, had a profound effect on him and shaped his mode of doctrinal expression.

The first took place at Zabīd in ah 796 [40] when Jīlī was less than thirty years old and occurred at the time of a spiritual concert organised by his master al-Jabartī, during the course of which one of the participants chanted the 87th verse of the Sura al-Hijr, as follows: “And we have bestowed upon thee the seven oft-repeated verses and the glorious Qur’an”.[41]

God, may He be exalted, then made me to see His Prophet qualified by the attributes of the divine entity, namely: life, knowledge, will, power, hearing, sight, speech. Then I saw him, peace and mercy upon him, after which he assumed His Attributes, as the very essence of the Invisible (‘ayn dhāt al-ghā’ib) in the ipseity of the world of mysteries, and it is to this that the end of the verse refers: “and the glorious Qur’an”.

This visionary experience is thus the occasion on which Jīlī fully realises the Prophet’s “sublime character” (Q. 68:4), insofar as he is ontologically “the replica of God” (nuskhat al-haqq) and consequently possesses all the divine attributes.[42] The idea itself is not new: it is part of the doctrinal motif of the unsurpassable perfection of the Prophet, which had taken shape since the time of Imām Ja’far.[43] In addition, Jīlī was not the first to propose such an exegesis of verse 87 of the Sura al-Hijr: we find it again, set out in concise terms, in a treatise often attributed to Ibn ‘Arabī but which is in fact by Muhammad Wafā (d.765/1363), an Egyptian master for whom the Shaykh al-Akbar’s doctrine was a great inspiration, without his ever acknowledging him by name.[44]

Although I have never encountered an analogous interpretation in Ibn ‘Arabī’s writings that relates directly to the verse in question, it goes without saying that he supports the point of view that the Prophet is the physical manifestation of the “Muhammadan Reality”. As he points out in an allusive manner in a passage in the ‘Anqā’,[45] this is the mithl, the “like” of God mentioned in verse 42:11 (Laysa kamithlihi shay’un) and, as such, the Prophet therefore necessarily assumes all the divine attributes.[46] However, Ibn ‘Arabī is wary of comparing the essence of the Prophet to that of God, as Jīlī does in this text and elsewhere.

In this connection it is in fact important to stress that Ibn ‘Arabī is always careful to express himself in an elliptical and allusive manner. Not only is this the case in the above-mentioned passage of the ‘Anqā’, but also in other texts where he mentions this question of the essential nature of the Prophet.[47] As far as I know, he never formally identifies the essence of the Prophet with that of God. On the other hand, Jīlī hardly ever bothers himself with such linguistic niceties. This is particularly the case in the Kamālāt ilāhiyya, which includes some statements that make one somewhat amazed that he was not burned at the stake.[48] For example, he completed the khutba of this work with the following astonishing profession of faith: “I testify that there is no god but God, the Lord of Muhammad and his essential reality (haqīqatuhu).”[49] Elsewhere he does not hesitate to declare: “The knowledge that the Prophet has of God is the same knowledge that God has of Himself.”[50] Or, yet again, “God is the reality of his essence and His attributes are the reality of his attributes.”[51] And, no less surprising, is this affirmation according to which “the Qur’an is his (i.e. the Prophet’s) word”,[52] which leads him elsewhere to a surprising slip of the pen.[53]

On this question there is a very clear difference of emphasis between Ibn ‘Arabī’s texts and those of Jīlī, which seems to rest on two factors. In the first place, there is that to which the author of the Futūhāt attaches great importance, namely, the observance of the rules of adab, appropriateness. He admits to observing these particularly when he allows himself to speak of religion; he even forces himself to respect them in the expression of his own ideas, which he wants to be in as close conformity as possible to the “divine expression”, just as the Qur’an and hadith convey it.[54] This concern for keeping his discourse as close as possible to the divine Speech not only guides Ibn ‘Arabī in his choice of words: in certain cases it also leads him, if not to silence, at least to resort to evasive and allusive expressions, indeed even to a poetic language. Thus when he deals with the notion of the Muhammadan Reality, he does not dwell on a discussion of its nature or mode of being, and consequently refrains from expressions as explicit as those we find coming from Jīlī’s pen. Rather, he endeavours to encompass his cosmic and transhistoric function by relying on two scriptural arguments, such as the well-known hadith “I was a prophet when Adam was still between water and clay”, and the verse “We did not send you except [as a Messenger] to all mankind” (Q. 34:28), a literal reading of which allows him to legitimise his point of view and to express himself, for once, without the least ambiguity.[55] But I would stress that Ibn ‘Arabī himself never refers to any of the many traditions which have flourished on the subject of the nūr muhammadī, deriving from the hadīth reported by Jābir b. ‘Abd Allāh (“The first thing God created was my light…”),[56] or traditions which appear even in the writings of certain ‘ulamā’, stating, in one form or another, that “If not for you, I would not have created the universe” (law lāka…).[57]

On the other hand, Jīlī makes abundant use of these traditions without calling their validity into question in the least.[58] In the field of ‘ilm al-hadīth he certainly did not benefit from as solid an education as that of Ibn ‘Arabī. We may remember that this science was especially in evidence in Andalusia during Ibn ‘Arabī’s time, and that he also pursued the study of it throughout his life to the degree that it imbued him, literally, with a holy character.[59] Whatever it might have been, one can pick out several traditions in Jīlī’s writings, the authenticity of which is somewhat suspect. This can be said of the two above-mentioned hadiths, and equally of two other hadiths relating to the cosmic function of the Prophet. According to the first, the Prophet is said to have added: “I come from God and the believers come from me” (anā min Allāh wa l-mu’minīn minnī),[60] a tradition that Jīlī quotes on several occasions, particularly in the Kamālāt ilāhiyya, the Qāb qawsayn and Al-kahf wa l-raqīm. These three works are entirely focused on the theme of the pre-excellence of the Prophet,[61] demonstrating that the Prophet is the isthmus by which the universe is joined to God. The second tradition appears in Al-kahf wa l-raqīm in these terms:[62] “There is not a single thorn that pricks the foot of one among you, without my feeling the pain of it”, and gives Jīlī the opportunity to state that the Prophet is connected with the entire universe.[63]

In any case, it is in the very origin of the Kamālāt ilāhiyya – where one encounters Jīlī’s most outspoken statements on the Prophet’s “sublime character” – that one should seek the main reason for this noticeable discrepancy of expression between Ibn ‘Arabī and Jīlī. The work had its origin in a vision which took place at Medina on the 24th of Dhū l-Qa’da 802 (6 July 1400), just after Jīlī had completed the rituals of the pilgrimage, which he records in the Kamālāt in the following way:[64]

On the 24th of Dhū l-Qa’da 802 a vision of the Prophet was given to me at Medina in the rawda. I saw him, upon him mercy and peace, in the supreme horizon (al-ufuq al-a’lā, Q. 53:7) and the sublime “limit” (al-mustawā); there where there is no “where”, such a pure, absolute essence, representing that which is divine in a perfect and total manner. I heard someone at his right side chanting the verse, “Say, He, God is One” (Q. 112:1) and who, on saying “He, God” displayed the Muhammadan receptacle and I repeated the same thing. When I returned to the creaturial world, I saw this sura inscribed on one of the panels of the window, which faced towards his tomb, even though I had never noticed it before; and this sura is still inscribed there to this very day. I knew then that he who had written it in that place, had done so after having contemplated the revelation of the Muhammadan Reality during a sublime contemplation.

This vision of the Prophet thus confirms and completes that which had taken place at Zabīd some years earlier. The relationship which is clearly established between the first words of the first verse of Sura 112, “He, God”, and the revelation of the Muhammadan Presence, particularly magnifies the importance of this visionary experience and sheds light on the meaning contained in the title of the work: “The divine perfections in the Muhammadan attributes” (al-kamālāt al-ilāhiyya fī l-sifāt al-muhammadiyya). Jīlī started writing this work hardly three months after this event, the 1st of Rabī’ Awwal 803 (20 October 1400),[65] that is, the month in which the mawlid, the Prophet’s birthday, is celebrated. As for the rest of it, it is surely a divine injunction that made him decide to set down in writing the knowledge and certainties that he drew from this visionary episode,[66] and of which chapter 3 is particularly relevant. Based on the verse “In truth you are of a sublime nature” (Q. 68:4) – which he relates, like many others before him, to the famous words of ‘A’isha, “His character, it was the Qur’an” – Jīlī began to demonstrate that all the names of God can, without exception, be applied to the person of the Prophet, who has realised them “outwardly and inwardly, from the point of view of his essence as well as his attributes.”[67]


III.4. ”And you will meet the Companions again …”

This “muhammadology”, as developed by Jīlī, cannot be limited to these various concise phrases that I have quoted. As is the case with Ibn ‘Arabī, to whom it owes so much, it unfolds on two levels: one is the metahistorical which organises the notion of the Muhammadan Reality, and the other is the initiatory which focuses on the principle of ittibā’ al-nabī (prophetic following).

On the metahistorical level, Jīlī returns to the governing principles of the Akbarian doctrine, namely, both the cosmic and transhistoric dimensions of the highest spiritual office practised by the Prophet which, by virtue of his ontological pre-excellence, he is in possession of from all eternity. On the one hand, the Prophet is the spiritual father of all the prophets, who are equally “substitutes” (nuwwāb) of the haqīqa muhammadiyya, with authority over humankind. On the other hand, he is the spiritual father of all saints, without exception, to whatever denomination they belong, who inherit from him all that qualifies them in their saintliness, such as their knowledge, charisma, states and stations, etc., drawing this from the tabernacle (mishkāt) of the Muhammadan Presence.[68] Another fundamental thesis of Akbarian prophetology following on from the first, and to which Jīlī attaches great importance, is the rigorously universal nature of the soteriological function of the Prophet, which is a final assurance for all humankind that they will receive unreservedly the divine pardon.[69]

On the second point, which deals with the initiatic domain, Jīlī’s work indisputably marks an advance with respect to that of Ibn ‘Arabī. With the latter the notion of prophetic following is certainly fundamental and goes, as it were, without saying – by which I mean that, to the degree that it is the bedrock of all his initiatic teaching, it permeates the whole body of his work. Furthermore, it is remarkable in this respect that the chapter which seals this vast mystical work, chapter 560 of the Futūhāt, should be made up of a long series of principles drawn from the Sunna. For Ibn ‘Arabī it is a way of indicating to the reader that all knowledges and sciences as discussed in the hundreds of preceding pages are drawn from the most rigorous conformity to the Muhammadan model, within which is the living source.

In fact, for the Shaykh al-Akbar, the ittibā’ al-nabī is not only the condition sine qua non which governs the quest for God from the outset; it is also, and above all, the only way of access to the higher degree of sainthood.

When God reveals Himself in the mirror of your heart, your mirror reflects Him only to the degree of its capacity and according to its ability; […] persevere then in the faith and the following of the Prophet and keep the Prophet in front of you as a mirror […], for the manifestation of God in the mirror of the Prophet is the most perfect, the most righteous and the most beautiful; when you perceive Him in the mirror of the Prophet you see a perfection that you cannot perceive when contemplating Him in your own mirror. […] Do not try then to contemplate God elsewhere than in the mirror of the Prophet, on whom be blessing and peace; be wary of contemplating Him in your own mirror or contemplating the Prophet and what manifests itself in his mirror, in your own mirror. […] Persist then in following him and imitating him and do not walk in any place where you do not see the trace of your Prophet, and place your foot in the imprint of his, if you want to be of those who have attained to the supreme degrees and sublime contemplation.[70]

And this is why, in the long chapter in the Futūhāt on the “Abode of Love”, where he contemplates a hadīth qudsī to which he is particularly attached, “… and when I love him, I am his hearing by which he hears, his sight by which he sees, his hand by which he takes hold of…”,[71] Ibn ‘Arabī emphasises that it is only in and through ittibā’ al-nabī that the spiritual person attains to this station where God is his hearing, his sight, etc.[72]

Jīlī’s teaching in this matter is somewhat different in that it is, in contrast to Ibn ‘Arabī, gathered together and concentrated in a few works. And it is basically here where one of the principal differences exists between the prophetocentrism of the Akbarian doctrine and that expressed in the work of Jīlī. Viewed from its many aspects, the theme of the pre-excellence of the Prophet runs through the work of Ibn ‘Arabī from start to finish, but even if he devotes himself here and there to some doctrinal developments, none of his writings are exclusively dedicated to this question. With Jīlī, it is not only a matter of one recurring theme amongst others: it is the central motif around which all his work is arranged and which, furthermore, is much more modest in dimension than that of Ibn ‘Arabī. Jīlī dedicated several of his writings to the contemplation of the theme of the supreme perfection of the Prophet. Not only can this be seen in the Kamālāt but also, not to be forgotten, in his most famous work, the Insān kāmil; when he speaks of “the Perfect Man”, it is always to the person of the Prophet that he is specifically referring.[73] Finally, and above all, there is the Nāmūs – in my opinion, Jīlī’s magnum opus – of which there remains, sadly, only a tiny part. Two of the seven treatises which have come down to us are particularly worthy of interest on this subject: one is to do with the Nasīm al-sahar, to which I will refer briefly, and the other the Qāb qawsayn which I will expand on further since it is the origin of this present study.

The twelfth epistle in the Nāmūs is the short Nasīm al-sahar, itself composed of twelve sections. Each of these refer either to an exact episode in the life of the Prophet (his retreat on Mount Hīrā, watching over his flock, his journey to Syria), or to one of the dominant character traits of his personality (his love for women, perfume and prayer, etc.). In fact, it has nothing to do with an abridged version of the sīra nabawiyya in the conventional sense of the term; rather, it is a hermeneutic of the biography of the Prophet that Jīlī devotes himself to in order to bring out the greatest spiritual meanings. In this way the sālik is urged to follow in the way of the Elect, and to practise prophetic following according to the order of spiritual states.

The notion of ittibā’ al-nabī is also at the centre of the Qāb qawsayn, but this time viewed from the perspective of a particular practice of worship, that of “attachment to the Prophet”. Furthermore, ittibā’ al-nabī lies at the heart of a wide-ranging doctrinal exposition in which it appears as its goal. In fact the Qāb qawsayn is specific in this, in contrast with Jīlī’s other known works, in that it offers a full and ordered summary of his “prophetological” doctrine. All themes relating to “muhammadology” are tackled therein: the primogeniture of the Prophet, his role as a driving force in the cosmological process, his ontological status of nuskhat al-haqq, his universal spiritual leadership, his role as spiritual guide on the initiatic journey, etc. In this respect, the Qāb qawsayn corresponds perfectly to the project which Jīlī had the idea of doing when he undertook the redaction of the Nāmūs, which he wanted to be “an eternal summation on the knowledge of the Prophet’s eminence”.[74]

The treatise is structured around seven chapters, Jīlī giving the impression that this number is not randomly chosen;[75] undoubtedly there is a relationship here with the vision which, in 796 in Zabīd, revealed to him the Prophet assuming the seven attributes of the divine entity. Nevertheless, he states that the title Qāb qawsayn wa multaqā al-nāmūsayn was given to him by God.[76] We are reminded, incidentally, that the expression qāb qawsayn has its origin in Sura 53 of the Qur’an, the first eighteen verses of which describe in elliptical terms the ascension (mi’rāj) of the Prophet towards God, which culminated in his being led into His presence “to the distance of two arcs or closer” (qāb qawsayn aw adnā, Q. 53:9). Furthermore, this Quranic sequence has nourished a whole mystical hermeneutic, which Isma’īl Haqqī (d.1137/1725) refers to in some very beautiful pages in his Tafsīr.[77]

But Jīlī has not the slightest intention of developing an exegesis of the verse in question here. As we shall see, the meaning which he gives to the expression of qāb qawsayn to a certain extent agrees with the interpretation that spiritual Muslims offer concerning this most important episode in the Prophet’s spiritual journey. The objective that Jīlī settles on is of an altogether different nature. His goal is to unveil the secrets and mysteries of the dazzling figure of the Prophet, so as to urge those who strive for God to seek Him nowhere other than in union, in the strongest sense of this term, with the one who is the most resplendent manifestation of it. Because, as he affirms:

It is not only about access to the supreme happiness through his intervention, […] it is necessary that you attach yourself to his sublime presence and that you cling to the “strong bond” (Q. 2:256, 31:22), by virtue of his unsurpassed dignity and, in that, never ceasing to have present in the spirit this perfect form which embraces all realities and forms of existence, until the secrets pour forth into your spirit, and your spirit on your heart, and your heart on your soul; and your soul on your body pours the beverage of his love, a drink so subtle which will revivify the spirit and body, and annihilate the contours of your individuality to the point that you depart and that he, upon him be peace and mercy, be in you in place of yourself (fatadhhabūn wa yakūnu fīkum ‘iwādan minkum ‘ankum).[78]

Another significant passage in this introduction is the one which makes up the first lines of the khutba, properly entitled the doxology, where Jīlī affirms from the outset that the Prophet is the place of revelation of the divine essence, whereas the saints and the other prophets are the receptacles of the divine attributes. This passage concerns a leitmotif which gives emphasis to Jīlī’s prophetology and which he sets out in various places, especially in two of the doxologies which open each of the sections of the Nasīm.[79] It also appears in the first chapter of the Kamālāt,[80] and again in a poem in the Al-kahf wa l-raqīm where Jīlī proclaims: “Sent from God, O receptacle of the Godhead, you whose essence is the pure essence!” (yā majlā l-ulūha wa yā man dhātuhu al-dhātu al-nazīha).[81]

The first five chapters of the Qāb qawsayn take up again the essential themes of the Akbarian muhammadology, but in Jīlī’s own style – a discourse both lyrical and striking. In this way the first chapter recalls some pages of the ‘Anqā’ in which Ibn ‘Arabī, contemplating the famous hadīth qudsī “I was a hidden treasure and I loved to be known…”, describes the divine drama which generates the Creation.[82] At the insistent request of the Divine Names which demand to be able to manifest themselves, God created the Muhammadan Reality, “replica of God” (nushkat al-haqq), and once again Jīlī emphasises the revelation of His essence.

The second chapter quickly deals with the notion of the primogeniture of the Prophet (“The first thing that God created…”) and of his spiritual supremacy. It goes on to describe the long cosmological process of which the Muhammadan Reality is the point of departure, setting in motion the movement of the universe, a theme to which the marātib al-wujūd are entirely dedicated; likewise chapter 42 of the Insān kāmil.

The third chapter, which concentrates on the perfection, both formal (sūratan) and subtle (ma’nan) of the Prophet, returns to and summarises chapter 3 of the Kamālāt. Jīlī reiterates here his thesis according to which the Prophet assumes all the divine names without exception; and then in a second section he quotes in full a long hadith which describes in detail the physical appearance of the Prophet, with the aim, as he specifies at the end, of

allowing you to imagine this noble constitution and look upon it at each instant so that it becomes present for you; in this way you will attain the rank of those who contemplate him, you will gain the supreme happiness and you will join the Companions, may God be satisfied with them all. And if you cannot do this constantly, at least you must keep present this noble form in all its perfection when you recite the tasliya.[83]

The question of the spiritual supremacy of the Prophet is at the centre of the fourth chapter. This is an opportunity for Jīlī to again affirm that, by virtue of his ontological pre-excellence, the Prophet alone possesses the ability to manifest God fully (qābiliyya kulliyya), as opposed to all other creatures who only have a necessarily partial (juz’iyya) revelatory ability. The question of the affinity between prophethood (nubuwwa) and sainthood (walāya) is also dealt with from a typically Akbarian perspective.

In the fifth chapter Jīlī meditates at length on the hadīth qudsī, briefly mentioned above, “I was a hidden treasure and I loved to be known…”,[84] going back to the interpretation Ibn ‘Arabī gives it in the Kitāb al-hujub where he indicates that Creation is initially an act of love,[85] the object of this love being the Prophet, or more exactly the Muhammadan Reality. This is both the principle (asl) by which the universe is originated and the ultimate cause of its existence, as expressed in a well-known tradition whose authenticity is highly suspect,[86] on which Jīlī relies in this matter: “If not for you, I would not have created the universe”. Then follows a long passage which seems to be an abridged version of chapter 178 of the Futūhāt on the Abode of Love, in which Ibn ‘Arabī enumerates the various degrees.

With chapters 6 and 7, we arrive at by far the most remarkable and meaningful part of the Qāb qawsayn, and here one can understand how Muhammad Sammān might have yielded to the temptation of plagiarising them. In fact, contrary to the various doctrinal terms which pepper the preceding chapters, Jīlī develops here some considerations which do not appear either in Ibn ‘Arabī’s work or, to my knowledge, in any previous author, even though the notion which underlies this whole section – that of “attachment” to the Prophet – is not fundamentally a new one given that, as we may recall, it is to be found set out in concise terms in Ahmad al-Wāsitī’s work.

Remembering, before anything else, that the spiritual quest has always been to endeavour to receive divine mercy through the intermediary of the Muhammadan Reality, Jīlī attempts to describe the two kinds of attachment to the Prophet: the formal (sūrī) and the subtle (ma’nawī). The former rests on two principles: firstly, it requires a strict observance of the regulations decreed in the Qur’an and the Sunna and, within that, conformity to the prescriptions of one of the four schools of Sunni law; secondly, it necessitates “following the Prophet while loving him with all one’s strength” (an tattabi’ahu bi shiddat al-mahabba), to which Jīlī appends his own personal experience in this respect:

By God, what my love for him makes me feel in my heart, in my spirit, in my body, in my hair, in my skin corresponds to that which I feel in my very being when I thirst for cool water, parched by a day of intense heat. […] I who blacken these pages, the poor in God – ‘Abd al-Karīm b. Ibrāhīm b. ‘Abd al-Karīm b. Khalīfa b. Ahmad b. Mahmūd al-Kaylānī [87] al-Baghdādī al-Rabī’ī al-Sūfī, I take God as my witness, as well as His angels, His prophets and His envoys and all His creatures, that I love Muhammad, the Envoy of God, that I prefer him to my soul, to my spirit, to my belongings, to my child; the love that I feel towards him makes me experience in my heart, in my body, in my hair, and in my skin an overflowing and palpable current [of feeling] that no-one who has experienced it could ever deny.[88]

The subtle attachment is likewise of two kinds: the first consists of imagining the corporeal form of the Prophet according to certain well-defined modalities, which Jīlī describes in a passage that undoubtedly forms the crux of this treatise:

It is necessary to always keep his outward form in mind such as has already been described, at the same time as observing appropriate rules, and demonstrating adoration, reverence and respectful fear. And if you cannot mentally visualise this form thus described, but have seen him in your sleep, then you should imagine him in the form in which you saw him while sleeping. If you have never seen him in your sleep, and are incapable of imagining him according to the form already described, then call upon him and recite the tasliya, comporting yourself as if you found yourself in his presence when he was alive, with reverence, adoration and respectful fear, because he sees you and he hears you each time you mention him. […] And if you cannot keep yourself in his presence thus, and you may have had the chance to visit his noble tomb, to see the rawda and the cupola, then visually summon the image of his tomb, and each time you call upon him and recite the prayer over him, do it as if you are standing there in front of his tomb, with adoration and respect, until you perceive his spiritual presence (rūhāniyyatahu). And if you have not visited his tomb and have not seen the rawda, then recite constantly the prayer over him, with respect and concentration, imagining to yourself that he hears you, so that your prayer may reach him.[89]

Let us reconsider the famous text by Sanūsī mentioned above, in which he describes the essential practice which establishes the Muhammadan Way, and seen by some as the founding text which initiated a new practice, revealing a further tendency at the heart of tasawwuf: that of “prophetocentrism”.

The second form of subtle attachment can be seen as a premonition of the essential reality (haqīqatahu) of the Prophet, of his mithl character, the “likeness” of God. This assumes the knowledge that he is the isthmus (barzakh) between the eternal and the contingent, and Jīlī specifies that it is this to which the Quranic expression, qāb qawsayn aw adnā, refers. Like many authors before him, especially Ibn ‘Arabī, Jīlī refers in this sense to the symbolism of a circle which is divided through its middle by a line, each half-circle representing an arc. The upper half-circle illustrates the eternal being, the Haqq, and the lower half-circle represents contingent beings, the khalq; and the line which both separates and joins them, and which participates in the nature of both, is the Muhammadan Reality.[90]

In chapter 427 of the Futūhāt,[91] which concentrates on the interpretation of this verse from the Sura Al-najm, Ibn ‘Arabī resorts once again to the image of the circle to illustrate the spiritual status of the Prophet, but seen from a different perspective to that of Jīlī. Here, the median which divides the circle through its centre, causing a distinction to appear between the haqq and the khalq, is no other than the illusory “I” of the creature; for, when it is considered in contrast to the One without equal, everything else is illusory, God alone possessing being. This illusion dissolves itself, and the two half-circles vanish and all that remains is the unique circle of the Being.[92] And it is precisely to this spiritual station of total extinction of the ego that the Prophet thus attains – that is, the station to which the expression aw adnā, “or even closer”, refers, immediately following the mention of the “two bows’ lengths”. This refers back to a sentence which Ibn ‘Arabī comments on in the Kitāb al-fanā’: “When that which never was disappears and there remains that which has never ceased to be.”[93]

Chapter 7 deals, very logically, with the fruits and spiritual gifts allied to the constant practice of attachment to the Prophet. After quoting some hadīths relating to the virtues of the tasliya, Jīlī describes a quite remarkable case:

One of the prerogatives of the Prophet is that when a saint sees him at the time of a revelation clothed in one of the gowns of perfection, the Prophet offers it to him and from then on it belongs to him. If the saint in question is sufficiently strong, he can wear it immediately; if not, it is put in reserve close to God until he may be strong enough to wear it, in this world or in the other. The one who obtains this gown and wears it, in this world or the other, is in possession of it directly from the Prophet, and this is what heroism (futuwwa) is. Whoever has a vision afterwards of this saint clothed in this gown, the saint offers it to him in his turn on behalf of the Prophet, and himself receives instead another gown, even more perfect than the first. And if, after that, a third person has a vision of this second beneficiary, the same thing will take place, and so on indefinitely.[94]

An investigation of the Qāb qawsayn clearly establishes that the prophetocentrism which characterised the doctrinal and initiatic teaching of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century African masters, does not in any way constitute a new phenomenon arising from nowhere. We should not see Jīlī as the founding father of the Muhammadan Way. This would be to forget that in every era and from the first days of Islam the quest for God has merged with ittibā’ al-nabī in the proper sense of the term, which implies following patiently and step-by-step, the itinerary traced by God’s Elect, insofar as, according to Hīrī’s expression, it is true that his way is “the ideal way”. And even if the practice of attachment to the Prophet does not appear to be set out in texts from the seventh-century Hijra, in my opinion there is hardly any doubt that it always had currency with those who, from one era to the next, wanted to think of themselves as the Companions of the Prophet.

It remains true that the work of Jīlī marks a powerful period in the doctrinal development of this devotion to the Prophet, whose figure obviously governs Jīlī’s spiritual journey just as it dominates his work. It remains to be determined to what extent the “Muhammadology” which is used in the Qāb qawsayn might have influenced the founders of the African brotherhoods. Do the cases of Muhammad Sammān and ‘Uthmān al-Mīrghanī, both of whom had access to this text and are in this respect significant, constitute isolated examples? I think not, but we must await the results of further investigations to bring to light new elements in order to be certain.


Reproduced from the Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society, Volume 46, 2009. Please refer to the original if citing. Translated by Judy Kearns.


[1] Ibn al-Ahdal, Kashf al-ghitā’ ‘an haqā’iq al-tawhīd wa l-radd ‘alā Ibn ‘Arabī al-faylasūf al-sūfī (Tunis, 1964), p. 214.

[2] Sharjī, Tabaqāt al-khawwās (Cairo, >ah 1321), entry on Ibn al-Raddād, p. 30, and on Jabartī, pp. 37–40; see also the entry (p. 170) on Muhammad al-Ashkal, Jabartī’s disciple who composed a vast collection on the karamāt of his master (of which a single MS. remains in Cairo, dār al-kutub, ta’rīkh, Taymūr, 1520) which refers on several occasions to the oral evidence of Jīlī, whom he therefore knew.

[3] R. Atlagh, Contribution à l’étude de la pensée mystique d’Ibn ‘Arabī et son école à travers l’oeuvre de ‘Abd al-Karīm al-Jīlī (doctoral thesis, EPHE, 2000), pp. 17–18.

[4] This poem appears following the colophon of a manuscript of the Ghunyat al-arbāb, British Library, India Office, MS. B479B, fol. 296, cf. Contribution, pp. 17–18.

[5]Contribution, pp. 18–21.

[6]Insān Kāmil, II (Cairo, 1970), p. 53.

[7]Al-kahf wa l-raqīm (Hyderabad, 1985), p. 28.

[8]Insān Kāmil, I, p. 97.

[9] Ibid., II, p. 97.

[10]Al-kamālāt al-ilāhiyya fī l-sifāt al-muhammadiyya (Beirut, 2004), p. 125; R. Atlagh has prepared an unpublished critical edition of the Kamālāt which I have been able to consult.

[11]Contribution, p. 20.

[12]Kamālāt, p. 14.

[[13]Contribution, p. 20.

[14]Kamālāt, p. 170.

[15]Contribution, p. 104.

[16] Cf. Knysh, A., Ibn ‘Arabī in the Later Islamic Tradition (New York, 1999), pp. 241–246; Tabaqāt al-khawwās, pp. 37–40.

[17] Cf. Yahia, Histoire et classification de l’oeuvre d’Ibn ‘Arabī, II (Damascus, 1964), p. 541; Majmū’āt al-ahzāb (Istanbul, n.d.), p. 135; Suha Taji-Farouki, A Prayer for Spiritual Elevation and Protection (Oxford, 2006), p. 20 (chain F) and p. 25.

[18] Zabīdī, Ithāf al-asfiyā’ (MS., n.p., n.d.), p. 16.

[19]Inbā’,, p. 295.

[20]Marātib al-wujūd (Beirut, 2005), p. 38.

[21]‘Uqūd,, p. 278.

[22] On the connections between Rasūlid monarchs and Sufis, cf. Knysh, op. cit., chapter 9.

[23]EI[2], see “Rasūlids”.

[24] Knysh, op. cit., p. 242.

[25] This monarch renounced the throne at the end of his life in favour of his son; according to Khazrajī, he was versed in hadith and tafsīr, cf. Al-‘Uqūd al-lu’lu’iyya fī ta’rīkh al-dawla al-rasūliyya (Leiden, 1913–1918), p. 113.

[26] According to al-Qārī al-Baghdādī al-Nāsir possessed a considerable number of works by Ibn ‘Arabī; cf. al-Qārī al-Baghdādī, al-Durr al-thamīn fī manāqib Mu¢yī l-Dīn (Beirut, 1959), p. 64.

[27]‘Uqūd, p. 256.

[28]EI[2], see “Fīrūzābādī”.

[29] The text of the fatwa is reproduced in Al-Qārī al-Baghdādī, Manāqib, pp. 64–72.

[30] Knysh, op. cit., pp. 246–261.

[31]Contribution, p. 22.

[32] Of the seven treatises which remain, two have been printed in full, the Qāb qawsayn wa multaqā al-nāmūsayn, reproduced by Nabhānī in Jawāhir al-bihār (4 vols.; Beirut, 1998), IV, pp. 261–264; and in the Tabri’at al-dhimma fī nush al-umma, by Shaykh ‘Uthmān al-Burhānī (d.1983) (n.p., n.d.), pp. 42–67 (it is to this edition that the notes refer); the Nasīm al-sahar, published in Cairo (n.d.), and recently in a collection comprising several treatises by Jīlī (Beirut, 2005), pp. 65–106, also reproduced by Nabhānī in Jawāhir, IV, pp. 290–310 and in the Tabri’at (which, in connection with Jīlī’s texts, is in fact an exact reproduction of the part of Jawāhir IV containing Jīlī’s texts); the Kitāb sirr al-nūr al-munkamin is only partially reproduced by Nabhānī, Jawāhir, IV, pp. 284–290; the other four treatises have not been published.

[33]Contribution, pp. 59–60; none of these editions can be considered a critical edition.

[34] Published under the title De l’Homme Universel: Extraits d’al-insān al-kāmil, 2nd edn, 1975; subsequently published in an English translation by Angela Culme- Seymour as Universal Man (Sherborne, 1995).

[35] The criticisms set out by Jīlī against Ibn ‘Arabī appear in chapters 17, 18 and 19; Jīlī comes back to them very briefly in his Kamālāt ilāhiyya, p. 43. Note that R. Atlagh has prepared a critical edition of this treatise by Jīlī, which unfortunately has not yet been published.

[36] Cf. M. Chodkiewicz, “Les trois cailloux du shaykh ‘Abd al-Karīm al-Jīlī” in Mystique musulmane, parcours en compagnie d’un chercheur: Roger Deladrière (Paris, 2002), pp. 141–154.

[37] In this connection, cf. Chodkiewicz, op. cit., n.41; Jīlī’s case is comparable here to that of Sitt ‘Ajam who, on an injunction by Ibn ‘Arabī, composed a commentary of his Mashāhid but allowed herself the authority to criticise it in condescending terms; cf. Sitt al-‘Ajam Bint al-Nafīs, Sharh al-mashāhid, ed. Bakri Aladdin and Souad Hakim (IFPO, Damascus, 2004), pp. 16, 222, 250, 362.

[38] Cf. Addas, Une Victoire éclatant, le Verus Propheta dans la doctrine d’Ibn ‘Arabī (n.p., 2005), p. 71.

[39]Fut. II.24, 324.

[40]Al-kahf, p. 28 gives ah 799, but the MS. Berlin we 1631, fol. 222a gives ah 796 which is corroborated by information in al-Insān al-kāmil, II, p. 74.

[41] We recall that this verse is traditionally interpreted as referring to the seven verses of the Fātiha; cf. Tabarī, Jāmi’ al-bayān fī tafsīr al-qur’ān, VII, juz’ 14 (Beirut, n.d.), pp. 36–42.

[42] In his Sharh mushkilāt al-futūhāt al-makkiyya (ed. Zaydān; Kuwait, 1992), Jīlī indicates that the haqīqa muhammadiyya has been created ‘alā l-nuskhat al-ilāhiyya, cf. p. 174.

[43] In Ruzbehān Baqlī (d.606/1209), there is an analogous interpretation but to do with verse Q. 68:4 (“In truth you are of a sublime character”) which he mentions in relation to the famous hadith of ‘A’isha: “His character, it was the Qur’an”; cf. P. Ballanfat, “La prophétologie dans le ‘Ayn al-hayāt, tafsīr attribué à Najm al-Dīn Kubrā”, in Mystique musulmane, pp. 171–364, especially p. 213, n.44.

[44] This concerns the Nafā’is al-‘irfān, published with the K. al-kunh (Cairo, 1967), p. 21; cf. O. Yahia, Histoire et classification, RG 519. Several treatises by M. Wafā have been attributed to Ibn ‘Arabī; see for example RG 148, 417, 663, 803, 815; but we should point out that the Tā’iyya of 1,000 verses, attributed to Ibn ‘Arabī under two titles RG 211 and RG 566, is in fact by Wafā. For more about him and his son ‘Alī (d.807/1404), who was contemporary with Jīlī and may have met him during his stay in Cairo, see the excellent monograph by R. McGregor, Sanctity and Mysticism in Medieval Egypt, The Wafā Sufi Order and the Legacy of Ibn ‘Arabī (Albany, NY, 2004); this attitude of Wafā father and son, who borrowed much from Ibn ‘Arabī’s terminology and doctrine without ever acknowledging him, is reminiscent of that of Ibn Sab’īn. See M. Chodkiewicz on this subject, op. cit., n.40.

[45]K. ‘Anqā’ al-mughrib fī khatm al-awliyā’ (Cairo, 1954), p. 38.

[46] Note that Muhammad Demirdāsh (d.928/1523) dedicated a treatise to the commentary of verse 15:87 in which he proposed an exegesis along the same lines as that of Jīlī; cf. M. Chodkiewicz, “Shaykh Muhammad Demirdāsh: un soufi akbarien au XVIème siècle” in Horizons Maghrébins, no. 51, 2004, pp. 20–28.

[47] There is, for example, a related reference to mithl in the K. al-isrā’ (ed. S. alHakīm; Beirut, 1988), p. 52.

[48] The absence of repercussions and, therefore, persecution is explained by the fact that Jīlī’s works, with the exception of the Insān kāmil, have remained in the shadow with only a very limited audience; however, it is significant that the publication of the Tabri’at al-dhimma by Shaykh ‘Uthmān al-Burhānī (d.1983), a collection in which Jīlī’s Qāb qawsayn is reproduced, has given rise to some lively polemic insofar as his authors were accused of making the Prophet divine; see V. Hoffman, Sufism, Mystics and Saints in Modern Egypt (Columbia, SC, 1995), chapter 10.

[49]Kamālāt, p. 11.

[50. Ibid., p. 104; the more reliable text by R. Atlagh (p. 62), gives: fama’rifatuhu li Llāh ‘ayn ma’rifati Llāh linafsihi.

[51]Kamālāt, p. 135.

[52] Ibid., p. 126.

[53] Ibid., p. 125; citing a Quranic verse, Jīlī does not precede it with the traditional dedication “God, may He be exalted, has said…” but with “he [i.e. the Prophet], peace and mercy upon him, has said…”; is this really a slip? Nothing is less certain insofar as this passage comes just before the one where he affirms that “The Qur’an is the word of the Prophet”.

[54] Cf. M. Chodkiewicz, Un Océan sans rivage (Paris, 1992), p. 45; D. Gril, “Le hadith dans l’oeuvre d’Ibn ‘Arabī ou la chaîne ininterrompue de la prophétie” in C. Gilliot and T. Nagel, Das Prophetenhadīt Dimensionen einer islamischen Literaturgattung (Gottingen, 2005), p. 139.

[55] Cf. Une Victoire éclatant, chapter 3; I should add in this respect that in the Kitāb al-isrā’ (p. 177) Ibn ‘Arabī indicates that the Fātiha corresponds to the hadīth “I was a Prophet when Adam…”.

[56] On the other hand, Ibn ‘Arabī retains the recension of this hadith which appears in the canonical collections, “The first thing God created was the pen”, or according to another version: “the intellect (al-‘aql)”; cf. Fut. II.95, 395.

[57]Une Victoire éclatant, p. 32 and n.94.

[58] For law lāka…, cf. Kamālāt, p. 20, Qāb qawsayn, p. 59; concerning the hadīth “The first thing God created is…”, Jīlī vaguely mentions, without giving his preference, all the existing versions: qalam, ‘aql, nūr nabiyyika, nūrī, rūh nabiyyika, rūhī; cf. Sharh mushkilāt al-Futūhāt, p. 67 (rūh nabiyyika, qalam, ‘aql); Al-kahf, pp. 6, 27 (rūh nabiyyika); Qāb qawsayn (rūh nabiyyika, qalam, ‘aql), p. 48; Marātib al-wujūd (nūr nabiyyika), p. 47; K. sirr al-nūr al-munkamin, fol. 42a (nūrī, rūhī, rūh nabiyyika). The Emir ‘Abd al-Qādir did the same in his Mawāqif; see, among others, I, pp. 181, 182, 183, 185; II, pp. 631, 645.

[59] Cf. Gril, op. cit.

[60] Cf. ‘Ajlūnī, Kashf al-khafā’ wa muzīl al-ilbās (Beirut, ah 1351), no. 619; the Emir cites a variation, Mawāqif, I, p. 186.

[61]Kamālāt, p. 19; Kahf, no. 619; Qāb qawsayn, p. 48; Nasīm al-sahar (Beirut, 2005), p. 88.

[62]Kahf, p. 15.

[63] An idea which is also expressed by Ibn ‘Arabī (Fut. IV.161; ‘Anqā’, pp. 50–51).

[64]Kamālāt, p. 125.

[65] Ibid., p. 14.

[66] Ibid.

[67] Ibid., p. 125.

[68] On these two points, cf. M. Chodkiewicz, Seal of the Saints (Cambridge, 1993), chapters 4 and 5.

[69] On the soteriological function of the Prophet in Ibn ‘Arabī, see Victoire éclatant, chapter IV; and in Jīlī cf. Kamālāt, pp. 17–18, Al-kahf, p. 27, Nasīm, p. 72.

[70]Fut. III.251–252; this passage is largely reproduced in a pamphlet falsely attributed to Ibn ‘Arabī entitled Al-tanbīhāt ‘alā ‘uluw l-haqīqa al-muhammadiyya (Cairo, 1987), pp. 33–34; treatise also reproduced by Nabhānī in his Jawāhir, IV, pp. 311–320. On this same theme, see also Fut. IV.184, where Ibn ‘Arabī states: “The most perfect vision of God is the one which occurred in the muhammadan form and through the muhammadan form; I could never stop urging men to do that, either verbally or in this book here.”

[71] On this famous hadith see the long explanatory note by M. Chodkiewicz in Emir Abd el-Kader, Ecrits spirituels (Paris, 1982), pp. 202–203, n. 84; English trans. The Spiritual Writings of Amir ‘Abd al-Kader (Albany, NY, 1995), pp. 208–209.

[72]Fut. II.341.

[73]Insān kāmil, II, p. 72; Kitāb al-talsam al-mughnī, MS. Esad Ef., 1665, fol. 181a.

[74] In fact, the full title of the Nāmūs is: al-nāmūs al-a’zam wa l-qāmūs al-aqdam fī ma’rifati qadri al-nabī.

[75]Qāb qawsayn, p. 46.

[76] Ibid., p. 47.

[77]Tafsīr rūh al-bayān (10 vols.; n.p., n.d.), Vol. IX, pp. 208–232; Qāb qawsayn, p. 46.

[78]Ibid., p. 46.

[79]Nasīm, pp. 65, 86.

[80]Kamālāt, p. 19.

[81]Al-kahf, p. 28.

[82]‘Anqā’, pp. 32–40.

[83]Qāb qawsayn, p. 55.

[84] This hadīth qudsī seems to have come into circulation quite late on; see the detailed note from H. Landolt, ed. and trans. of Isfarāyinī, Le Révélateur des mystères (Verdier, 1986), p. 202, n.60. According to Isfarāyinī, this divine discourse was addressed to David (Ibid., p. 156); in the Kitāb al-hujub (in Majmū’ al-rasā’il alilāhiyya (Beirut, 1991)) Ibn ‘Arabī indicates that it appears in one of the revealed books, without being precise, but in the Futūhāt (II.399), he specifies that the knowledge of the authentic nature of this hadith was unveiled to him. See also ‘Ajlūnī, no. 2016.

[85]K. al-hujub, p. 39; see also C. Addas, “The experience and doctrine of love in Ibn ‘Arabī” (JMIAS 32, 2002), pp. 25–44.

[86] See above, n.53.

[87] According to how it is given in MS. Esad Efendi, 1665, fol. 35.

[88]Qāb qawsayn, p. 63.

[89] Ibid., p. 64.

[90]Qāb qawsayn, p. 65.

[91]Fut. IV.39–40.

[92] This is also the interpretation which Ismā’īl Haqqī retains in the Rūh al-bayān, IX, p. 219.

[93]Kitāb al-fanā’, in Rasā’il (Hyderabad, 1948); trans. M. Vâlsan, Le Livre de l’Extinction (Paris, 1984), p. 2; this concerns a well-known prayer in the Mahāsin al-majālis by Ibn al-‘Arīf – to which Ibn ‘Arabī himself refers when he cites this sentence in the Rūh al-quds (notice 1, p. 78) – but which the latter loaned to Ansārī; cf. B. Halff, “Le Mahāsin al-majālis…”, p. 335, last line of the Arabic text of the ‘Ilal; see also Ansārī, Chemin de Dieu, trans. S. de Beaurecueil (Paris, 1985), p. 239.

[94]Qāb qawsayn, p. 67.