Ibn Arabee ‘The heretic’..An overview of the unislamic beliefs of this ‘Father’ of Sufism
UNDERSTANDING IBN AL-ARABI
WHO IS IBN ARABI?
HIS BIO DATA: Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn al-‘Arabi al-Hatimi al-Tai -called Muhyi al-Din (“Reviver of the Faith”) by a specific group of Muslims- was born in Murcia in southern Spain, to an Arab family. Some claim that he had a vision ordering him to depart for the East where he was to spend the rest of his days. He died in year 638H. Some also called him “The Greatest Sheikh” (al-Sheikh al-Akbar). Ibn ‘Arabi authored many works, including his “Makkan Revelations” and “Beads of Wisdom”.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: Ibn Arabi lived during the end of the 6th century and the beginning of the 7th century. That era was filled with tribulation, commotion, and political instability. The Muslim lands were attacked from the east by the Mongols who captured Baghdad –the seat of the Muslim khalifah- in the year 656H. At the same time, the Crusaders were invading the Muslim lands from the north and north west. They captured parts of what is known today as Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt. The rest of the Muslim world was divided to the point that some cities and towns were considered independent states. This was the situation of the Ummah when Ibn Arabi and other figures like Ibn al-Fardh spread their “new thought”.
Before continuing, it is worth mentioning here that some early figures like al-Hallaj had come up with some foreign concepts as well. Al-Hallaj stated that Allah dwells in objects, a concept known as “Hulool”. If one applies this concept, one is falsely lead to believe that all the idol worshippers of the world are sinless. According to this concept, since Allah dwells in objects, all idol worshippers are actually worshipping Allah. In real terms, this is an excuse for the greatest Shirk of worshipping anything other than Allah. Fortunately, Al-Hallaj appeared at a time in which the Muslim state was strong and knowledge was widespread so scholars at his time exposed his extreme deviant thoughts and the Muslim governor at that time ordered him to be executed in the year 309 H. This is the prescribed punishment in Islamic Law for apostasy (committing an act that takes one out of the folds of Islam)
IBN ARABI’S CREED: The concept of Hulool is -in a sense- a stepping stone to the concept of Oneness of Being or “Wahdat al-Wujud” that Ibn Arabi advocated. In simple terms, Oneness of Being means that none exists but Allah, so everything one sees is Allah or a manifestation of Allah and this is the Tawheed (oneness or unity) according to some extreme Sufis.
WHAT DO THE SCHOLARS SAY ABOUT IBN ARABI?: Some argue that there is some controversy about Ibn Arabi, but the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the scholars considered him a kafir or a heretic and evil to say the least. Many Muslims scholars had issued fataawa (Islamic rulings) stating that Ibn Arabi’s work is nothing but plain Kufr (apostasy) and they considered him as a kafir (an apostate). Of special importance is the work of Imam Burhan al-Din al-Biqa‘i (d. 885). He wrote a book entitled Tanbih al-Ghabi ila Takfir Ibn ‘Arabi wa Tahdhir al-‘Ibad min Ahl al-‘Inad (“WARNING TO THE IGNORAMUS CONCERNING THE DECLARATION OF IBN ‘ARABI’S DISBELIEF, AND CAUTIONING THE SERVANTS OF ALLAH AGAINST STUBBORN PEOPLE”) in which he quotes many fataawa (Islamic rulings) by scholars from different madhabs stating that Ibn Arabi is a kaafir.
Some Sufis argued that the critiques of Ibn Arabi did not understand his work because of its depth, and hence a reader needs a sheikh to be able to comprehend Ibn Arabi’s work. This argument is rejected not only because his works testify that his creed is plain kufr, but also because those who criticized Ibn Arabi and declared him as a deviant are scholars of high caliber. Among those scholars are:
1. AL’IZZ IBN ABDUL SALAM (d 660 H): He said about Ibn Arabi “An evil liar sheikh who claims that this world is eternal (i.e. was not created by Allah) and embraces promiscuity.”
2. IBN TAYMIYYAH (d 728 H): He extensively discussed the arguments of ibn Arabi and refuted them.
3. AS-SUBKI (d 756 H)
4. IBN KATHEER (d 774 H)
5. ADH-DHAHABI (d 748 H) said: “If Ibn Arabi’s book (Beads of wisdom) does not contain clear Kufr, then there is no Kufr in the world.”
6. IBN HAJAR (d 852 H)
7. ‘ALA’ AL-DI AL-BUKHARI AL-HANAFI declared that: “The one who does not consider Ibn Arabi a kaafir (non-Muslim), then he himself is a kaafir!”
To see some of Ibn Arabi’s works visit the following web sites: (or read below)
EXAMPLES FROM IBN ARABI’S WORKS:
The purpose of the following examples is to show beyond the shadow of a doubt what the creed of Ibn Arabi is. These comments by him can be found at: http://bewley.virtualave.net/fusus.html
1. HIS SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE: He claims at the beginning of his book Fusus al-Hikam (Beads of Wisdom) that he got that book from the Prophet SAAWS. He also claims that he got the knowledge from the “Mother of the Book”. In the Noble Quran Verse 39, Surah 13, the Mother of the Book is the Preserved Tablet or Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz. Ibn Arabi says: There is a seal for each wisdom. So I have condensed these wisdoms according to what is established in the Mother of the Book, and I compiled with what was written out for me, and stopped at what was set as a limit for me Worse than this, he even claims that he speaks to Allah directly.
2. IBN ARABI CRITICIZES NOAH AS A MESSENGER: Found under section: “The Seal of the Wisdom of the Breath of Divine Inspiration in the Word of Nuh (Noah)”
Ibn Arabi accused Prophet Noah (AS) of being ignorant of the proper way to convey the message:
So “there is nothing like Him” unified several matters in one single matter. If Nuh had articulated something like of this âyat, his people would have responded to him, because it contains connection and disconnection in a single âyat, rather in half an âyat.
Although Allah SWT clearly states that the people of Noah had belied the messengers (see for example, Verse 105, Surah 26), Ibn Arabi claimed they answered the call of Noah. Ibn Arabi said:
Then he said of himself that he called upon them that He might forgive them, not that He be unveiled to them. They understood that from him. That is why “they put their fingers in their ears and wrapped themselves in their clothes,” (71:7) and this is the form of veiling to which he called them. So they answered his call by action, not by saying, “At your service.”
Also, he claims that anything that is being worshipped has an aspect from Allah in it. This is in conformance with his deviant creed according to which nothing exists –in the whole universe- but Allah. So according to Ibn Arabi, the idols that used to be worshipped by Noah’s people were in fact a part of Allah and hence deserved to be worshipped. In this regard he said:
They said in their plotting, “Do not abandon your gods. Do not abandon Wadd or Suwa’ or Yaghuth or Ya’uq or Nasr.” (71:22) Then they abandoned them ignorant of the Truth according to what they left of the idols. Allah has an aspect in every worshipped thing. Whoever recognizes it recognizes, and whoever is ignorant of it is ignorant among the people of Muhammad.
To support such a concept, Ibn Arabi misinterpreted Verse 23 in Surah 17 in which Allah says: “And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him”
The key word here is “decreed” which means in this context “ordered or commanded”. Ibn Arabi uses it to mean “to write as a divine decree that is bound to be fulfilled so nothing other than Allah could or ever will be worshipped. Based on this incorrect understanding, one reaches the false conclusion that whatever idols people might worship, these idols are manifestations of Allah SWT.
3. IBN ARABI DECLARES THE WORSHIPERS OF THE GOLDEN CALF WERE NOT COMMITTING SHIRK.
Found under section: “The Seal of the Wisdom of the Imam in the Word of Harun (Aaron)”
Ibn Arabi talks about the calf that the followers of Moses worshipped:
Musa knew the matter better than Harun because by his knowledge he knew the One the people of the Calf worshipped since Allah decreed that only He would be worshipped. When Allah decrees something, it must occur. Musa chided his brother Harun since the business consisted of disavowal and inadequacy. The gnostic is the one who sees Allah in everything, rather he sees Him as the source of everything. Musa was teaching Harun with the instruction of knowledge even though Musa was younger than him in age.
In other words, according to Ibn Arabi, the One the people of the Calf worshipped is not the Calf but rather it was Allah manifesting Himself in the form of the Calf. This is the reality of the concept of “Oneness of Being” as understood by Ibn Arabi and other Sufis like Ibn al-Fardh.
Ibn Arabi discusses the story of the Calf that Samiri made and called the Children of Israel to worship. Ibn Arabi said: So he [Musa]burned it (the golden calf) and then scattered the ashes of that form in the sea. He told the Samiri, “Behold your god.” He called it a god to alert him in order to teach him that he did know some of the places of divine tajalli
Ibn Arabi is claiming that Musa admitted that the Calf was indeed a god because it was a place where God made tajalli i.e. manifested Himself.
4. IBN ARABI DECLARES THE PHARAOH DIED A BELIEVER (MUSLIM)
Found under section: “The Seal of the Wisdom of Sublimity in the Word of Musa (Moses)”
Ibn Arabi says: The consolation of Pharaoh was with the belief Allah gave him when he was drowning. So Allah took him pure and purified. There was no impurity in him since He took him in his belief before he had acquired any wrong actions. Islam effaces what was before it. He made him a sign of His concern so that none might despair of the mercy of Allah, for “no one despairs of solace from Allah except for the unbelievers.” (12:87) If Pharaoh been of those who despair, he would not have embarked on belief.
The above statement of Ibn Arabi is a clear contradiction to the following Qur’ânic verses:
“And indeed We sent Musa with our Ayat and a manifest authority, To Pharaoh and his chiefs, but they followed the command of Pharaoh, and the command of Pharaoh was no right guide. He will go ahead of his people on the Day of Resurrection, and will lead them into the Fire…” (Surah Hud 11:96-98)