1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ibn 'Arabī

IBN ʽARABĪ [Muḥyiuddīn Abū ʽAbdallāh ibn ul-ʽArabī] (1165–1240), Moslem theologian and mystic, was born in Murcia and educated in Seville. When thirty-eight he travelled in Egypt, Arabia, Bagdad, Mosul and Asia Minor, after which he lived in Damascus for the rest of his life. In law he was a Zahirite, in theology a mystic of the extreme order, though professing orthodox Ash‛arite theology and combating in many points the Indo-Persian mysticism (pantheism). He claims to have had conversations with all the prophets past and future, and reports conversations with God himself. Of his numerous works about 150 still exist. The most extensive is the twelve-volume Futūḥāt ul-Makkīyāt (“Meccan Revelations”), a general encyclopaedia of Sufic beliefs and doctrines. Numerous extracts from this work are contained in Sha‛rānī’s (d. 1565) manual of Sufic dogma (Yawāqīt) published several times in Cairo. A short account of these works is given in A. von Kremer’s Geschichte der herrschenden Ideen des Islams, pp. 102–109 (Leipzig, 1868). Another characteristic and more accessible work of Ibn ‛Arabi is the Fuṣūṣ ul-Ḥikam, on the nature and importance of the twenty-seven chief prophets, written in 1230 (ed. Bulāq, 1837) and with the Commentary (Cairo, 1891) of Qāshāni (d. 1350); cf. analysis by M. Schreiner in Journal of German Oriental Society, lii. 516–525.

Of some 289 works said to have been written by Ibn ‛Arabī 150 are mentioned in C. Brockelmann’s Gesch. der arabischen Litteratur, vol. i. (Weimar, 1898), pp. 441-448. See also R. A. Nicholson, A Literary History of the Arabs, pp. 399-404 (London, 1907). (G. W. T.)