Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn al-`Arabi
The Names . . . have existed from all eternity these Names are designated as 'Lords' (Arbab), who often have all the appearance of hypostases though they cannot strictly be defined as such. We know them only by our knowledge of ourselves (that is the basic maxim). God describes Himself to us through ourselves. Which means that the divine Names are essentially relative to the beings who name them, since these beings discover and experience them in their own mode of being. . . . Thus the divine Names have meaning and full reality only through and for beings . . . in which they are manifested. Likewise from all eternity, these forms, substrate of the divine Names, have existed in the divine Essence (A 'yan thabita). And it is these latent individualities who from all eternity have aspired to concrete being in actu. Their aspiration is itself nothing other than the nostalgia of the divine Names yearning to be revealed. And this nostalgia of the divine Names is nothing other than the sadness of the unrevealed God, the anguish He experiences in His unknownness and occultation.
The image of the God whom the faithful creates is the Image of the God whom his own being reveals. Thus it is psychologically true to say that 'the God created in the faiths' is the symbol of the Self. The God to whom we pray can be only the God who reveals Himself to us, by us, and for us, but it is praying to Him that we cause the 'God created in the faiths' to be himself enveloped in the Divine Compassion, that is, existentiated, manifested by it. The theophanies of the 'Gods' manifested to the heart or to the faiths are all theophanies of the real One God (Haqq Haqiqi). When we are the musalli, this must be borne in mind he who knows this is the gnostic who has untied the knot of closed, limited dogmas, because for him they have become theophanic symbols.
The 'God created in the faith' manifests Himself no longer in order to impose Himself on the faithful, but in order to express His limits, for these limits are the condition which makes possible one among the many divine epiphanies. The gnostic does not receive a ready-made Image of his Lord, but understands Him in the light of the Image which in the course of his manajat, his intimate dialogue, appears in the mirror of his heart as subtle organ.
Questioner How do you know God Abu Asaid al-Kharraz By the fact that He is the coincidentia oppositorum. Corbin's commentary ... the entire universe of worlds is at once He and not-He (huwa la huwa). The God manifested in forms is at once Himself and other than Himself, for since He is manifested, He is the limited which has no limit, the visible which cannot be seen. This manifestation is neither perceptible nor verifiable by the sensory faculties discursive reason rejects it. It is perceptible only by the Active Imagination (Hadrat al-Khayal...) at times when it dominates man's sense perceptions, in dreams or better still in the waking state (in the state characteristic of the gnostic when he departs from the consciousness of sensuous things). In short, a mystic perception (dhawq) is required. To perceive all forms as epiphanic forms (mazahir), that is, to perceive through the figures which they manifest and which are the eternal hexeities, that they are other than the Creator and nevertheless that they are He, is precisely to effect the encounter, the coincidence, between God's descent toward the creature and the creature's ascent toward the Creator. The 'place' of this encounter is not outside the Creator-Creature totality, but is the area within it which corresponds specifically to the Active Imagination, in the manner of a bridge joining the two banks of a river. The crossing itself is essentially a hermeneutics of symbols ..., a method of understanding which transmutes senosory data and rational concepts into symbols (mazahir) by making them effect this crossing.
... in Ibn Arabi's own terminology Al-Lah is the Name which designates the divine Essence qualified and invested with the sum of His attributes, whereas al-Rabb, the Lord, is the personified and particularized Divine in one of its attributes (hence the divine Names designated as so many 'lords', arbab).
... Ibn Arabi distinguishes between Allah as God in general and Rabb as the particular Lord, personalized in an individualized and undivided relation with his vassal of love. This individualized relationship on both sides is the foundation of the mystic and chivalric ethic of the fedel d'amore in the service of the personal Lord whose divinity depends on the adoration of his faithful vassal.... It is the passion that the fedele d'amore feels for his Lord which reveals the Lord to Himself. And this always individually, in an 'alone to alone,' which is something very different from universal logic or from a collective participation, because only the knowledge which the fedele has of his Lord is the knowledge which this personal Lord has of him.
Ibn Arabi was above all the disciple of Khidr an invisible master... such a relationship with a hidden spiritual master lends the disciple an essentially 'transhistorical' dimension and presupposes an ability to experience events which are enacted in a reality other than the physical reality of daily life, events which spontaneously transmute themselves into symbols.
All those among the Sufis who had no visible murshid (guide), that is, an earthly man like themselves and a contemporary, called themselves Uwaysis. One of the most famous was abu'l-Hasan Kharraqani (d. 4251034), an Iranian Sufi, who left us the following saying I am amazed at those disciples who declare that they require this or that master. You are perfectly well aware that I have never been taught by any man. God was my guide, though I have the greatest respect for all the masters.
When Sufism was at loggerheads with the legalitarian Islam embodied by the doctors of the Law, known as the fuqaha', according to Henry Corbin ... Ibn Arabi made no secret of his disgust at their stupidity, ignorance, and depravity, and such an attitude was not calculated to win their favor. The tension rose, giving rise to denunciations and arrests our shaikh was in mortal peril. At this critical moment the irreducible antagonism between the spiritual Islam of Sufism and legalitarian Islam became patent. Saved by the intervention of a friendly shaikh, Ibn Arabi had but one concern, to flee far from Cairo and its hateful, bigoted canonists. Where was he to seek refuge He returned to Meca (1207).
O marvel a garden among the flames... My heart has become capable of all forms. It is a meadow for gazelles and a monastery for Christian monks, A temple for idols and the pilgrim's Kaaba, The Tables of the Law and the book of the Koran. I profess the religion of Love, and whatever direction Its steed may take, Love is my religion and my faith.
God epiphanizes Himself to the soul according to the essence of that soul, which is at once physical and spiritual. Then the soul becomes aware that it sees God, but through Him, not through itself it loves only Him, not through itself, but in such a way that it is He who loves Himself it is not the soul which loves Him it contemplates God in every being, but thanks to a gaze which is the divine gaze itself. It becomes aware that He loves no other than Himself He is the Lover and the Beloved, He who seeks and He who is sought.
When the Divine Being is epiphanized to the believer in the form of his faith, this faith is true. He professes this faith in this world. But when the veil is lifted in the other world, the knot (aqd), that is to say, the dogma (aqida) which binds him to his particular faith, is untied dogma gives way to knowledge by direct vision (mushahada). For the man of authentic faith, capable of spiritual vision, this is the beginning of an ascending movement after death.
Indeed as Jalaluddin Rumi also says, each of our eternal individualities is a word, a divine Word, emitted by the Breath of Divine Compassion. When this Word penetrates the mystic's heart... that is, when the 'secret of his Lord' unfolds to his consciousness, when divine inspiration invests his heart and soul, 'his nature is such that there is born within him a spiritual Child (walad manawi) having the breath of Christ which resuscitates the dead.'