Mujaddid Alf al-Thani on Shaykh al-Akbar Ibn ‘Arabi

By ‘Allamah Abu ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi

Mujaddid disagreed with Ibn ‘Arabi but his criticism of the latter was always moderate and showed no signs of rancour against him. In a letter included in the first volume of the Maktubat he expresses his views about Ibn ‘Arabi:

“This meek-spirited considers Shaykh Muhyi al-Din as one of the elects but regards his doctrines (which are against the faith of the Muslims and teachings of the kitib and the srnnah) as incorrect and injurious… There are people who have either exalted or denounced him and strayed far from the road of moderation Some of these persons denounce him and controvert his doctrines and ecstatic illuminations while there are others who follow him unreservedly, are convinced of the truth of his doctrines and bring forth arguments and evidences in his favour. There is not the least doubt that both these groups have been guilty of either overrating or belittling the Shaykh and have left the golden mean… It is rather strange that Shaykh Muhyi al-Din seems to be one of the elects and the saved but most of his spiritual illuminations which do not agree with the faith of the true believers are erroneous and untrue.”1

The difference between the stand taken by the Mujaddid, on the one hand, and that of the opponents and followers of Ibn ‘Arabi, on the other, has been stated by him clearly in another letter addressed to Khwaja Jamal al-Din Husayn. He writes:

“This humble self differs with the followers of the Unity of Being in what they call its kashf (mystical revelation) and shuhud (spiritual apprehension). The learned are convinced of the harmfulness of these precepts (that is, Unity of Being and denial of all existence besides that of God). This poorling has no doubt about the excellence of the states and illuminations of the tawhid al-wujud (Existential Unity) provided they also lead one to go beyond it.”

1. Maktubat, 1:266, to Khwaja ‘Abdullah and Khwaja ‘Ubaydullah
2. Maktubat, 2:42, to Khwaja Jamal al-Din Husayn

Saviours 3:245-6 (255)

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