Artwork for podcast The Hikmah Project
The Special Place of the Qur'an in Ibn Arabi
16th April 2022 • The Hikmah Project • Saqib Safdar
00:00:00 01:05:56

Share Episode


In this podcast, we continue alongside Dr Eric Winkel (Shuʿayb) to unpack the multifaceted voluminous work of Ibn al-ʿArabī—the translation of the Futūḥāt al-Makkīyah, a project that spans over 10 years in the works and counting! He provides an update about the complimentary visual works that draws meaning from imagery for the 28 or so concepts needed to understand Ibn al-ʿArabī (An Illustrated Guide to Ibn al-ʿArabī, concerted with the Islamic Creative Imagination, now available on Pir Press) and explains how creative art and visualization have been immensely beneficial for translation.

Ibn al-ʿArabī see things visually—letters, grammatical forms, and syntax; they all form a world of their own, a universe of rules and meaning through which الله (Allāh), God, communicates with us. Through visualization, one taps into the portal for the imaginal realm and arriving at greater intrinsic meaning becomes possible. Eloquently expressed, as illustrated, by Sidi Shuʿayb.

To access this shoreless ocean comprised of multilayered meanings, Shuʿayb also looks at the root words of the Arabic language with quite a literal approach to interpreting the Qurʾān. By bringing the implicit forward, conscious understanding manifests and the message of Islām, from the outward شريعة (sharīʿa) to the inward طريقة (ṭarīqa), continues to propagate as a waveform in the universe. A deep learning opportunity for the listener arises through Shuʿayb’s detailed discussion on the Nūr Muḥammad ﷺ, relayed in the context of the ḥadith in which ʿĀʾisha r.a. says that ‘His character was the Qurʾān.’  

Steering with the theme of this podcast, the Qurʾān in the works of Ibn al-ʿArabī, we delve into specific verses and passages. Shuʿayb explains: every page has an honouring of the Prophet ﷺ and every page has many verses of Qurʾān and they’re very much connected. The potential permutation of meaning from a linguistic undertaking reminds us of the importance of إجتحاد (ʾijtiḥād) and the myriad عقيدة (ʿaqīdas) underlying a spiritual walking. As Sidi Shuʿayb touches on in this podcast, طحقيق (ṭaḥqīq), our internal validation, becomes essential to uncovering our story and the story of creation.

Once again, Ibn al-ʿArabī’s role as a dragoman reminds us that through the special face of حق (Ḥaqq) in every created being the تجلی (tajallī) of Allāh hits, yielding depth to the phrase Islām, in surrender, is the دين (dīn) of Allāh. Every person is painted a unique picture through the means that Allāh reveals Himself, never twice to two people nor in the same way twice, allowing each individual thread of creation to be carried forward into the world as a unique expression of truth.

So in contrast to the negative connotation traditionally derived from scholarly works for example with a concept such as كفر (kufur), this conversation extends an invitation to a change in viewpoint where the word كافر (kāfir), through inflection, can also mean the people who cover up their station, beautifying revelation. Other words with inflected meanings are examined in the context of the original Qurʾānic sūras.   

Together, we explore the subtle nuances. We begin to taste, through a seamless transmission of love, the paradoxical nature, and perplexing depth, of what it means to hold close proximity to the Divine—taking off the covering of those who are drawn near. The kind of love experienced by the ʾawliyāʾ—the friends of God, lovers of the Divine Truth, al-Ḥaqq. 

The transcript can be found at