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Abstract

This paper examines a series of sequential cosmological and eschatological maps drawn by Ibn al-ʿArabī (d. 638/1240) in his second recension of al-Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya (Türk ve İslam Eserleri Müzesi 1845+). These images, drawn from the visual language of the rational sciences, map the images of revelation into the cosmology of the day so as to show the vastness of God’s cosmos and the limits of the intellect. Ibn al-ʿArabī, aware of the limits of his medium, explicitly states that these should be a “single composition.” He uses visual cues to mark shifts of perspective, helping the reader visualize the interconnections that bind together this multidimensional representation of the cosmos. By considering their placement and their relation to the narrative, I also argue that the final two maps are a representation of two eyes, identifying the cosmos and the reader as reflections of God, a contemplative use that is lost in their transmission history.

In: Journal of Sufi Studies

Abstract

This article presents an introduction to and a complete English translation of the eighth chapter of Ibn al-ʿArabī’s (d. 638/1240) magnum opus al-Futūḥāt al-makkiyya. The chapter, entitled, “On the earth that was made from the remainder of Adam’s leaven clay, which is the Earth of Reality, and on some of the strange and wondrous things contained therein,” contains a description of a world wholly separate from our own. An underlying argument in this chapter is that the human intellect, constrained as it is by the categories of possibilities which pertain to our earthly configuration, is incapable of grasping the vast expanse of this “Earth of Reality.” Ibn al-ʿArabī also aims to show how many of the Qur’anic and Prophetic traditions which the intellect struggles to comprehend exist in this other world without any contradiction. In this sense, the chapter in question seeks to inculcate a sense of wonder and bewilderment in readers, reminding them that there will always be worlds, beyond our immediate sensory world, that remain to be seen and known.

In: Journal of Sufi Studies