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|Topic: The Seals of Wisdom (first published in 1|
Joined: 20 March 2004
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| Topic: The Seals of Wisdom (first published in 1
Posted: 18 March 2006 at 5:17am
The Seals of Wisdom (first published in 1980)
By Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi
Translated by Aisha Bewley
Introduction by Shaykh Abdal Qadir as-Sufi
This translation by Aisha at-Tarjumana of the Shaykh al-Akbar’s masterwork is an event of supreme significance for what it is, at present, the dominant culture. That that culture has for some time been heading towards its own end is now no longer the understanding of a special group of sociological researchers alone, but rather the common coin of intelligent people across the world. I am not referring to “Western” society but rather to the production oriented culture which has asserted itself both in the capitalist and so-called communist communities. This culture functions within a common production nexus which has seconde learning itself to its discipline and requirements. Thus, while it arrogantly acclaims itself the champion of research and scientific discourse – it is exclusivist, imperialist, and dogmatic. In the sphere of economics there is absolutely no realistic critique of banking and usury and its structuralist control of political realities. In the sphere of biology there is no semantic critique of such banal and politically loaded concepts as natural selection and evolution. In the sphere of medicine there is no energy concept allowed to impinge on the crude interventionist techniques that pass for “advanced” treatment in the industrialised hospital arena. In the sphere of politics the decadence is so extreme that there is scarcely a country on the face of the earth that does not despise its own leaders while helpless to replace them, such is the tyranny of both the “democratic” and the “totalitarian” nation. In such a situation, new thinking and new concepts as well as new vision demand a profound and realistic metaphysical basis from which to examine the current crisis as well as to alter society and introduce life-giving and renewing energies to the endangered human species.
The viewpoint of the sufis of Islam is just such a point of renewal. Its significance and inspiration lies in the enthralling fact that its teaching – sprung as it is purely and without contamination from Quranic revelation – shows itself to be nothing other than the ancient and primal teaching that appeared in China three thousand years ago and which became known as the Tao. In here refer to the original teaching of a Unitary reality from which flow the primal opposites, and from them the myriad things of phenomenal existence. Thus we discover that there has been an underlying common body of teaching that has never ceased to manifest itself among human species. This teaching, coming as it does under the rule of the dual opposites, is itself divided in two. It has an outward and an inward. It has what the sufis call a Road and a Reality. Or a shariat or haqiqat. A set of laws and a unifying reality. The first of the dyad changes with each epoch and place – different communities have different rules governing moral parameters specific to the needs and conditions under which they live. They second element is, however, changeless in its supreme declaration of the Sublime Unitary Reality which neither begets nor is begotten, and which does not resemble any thing. This common basis to all deep teaching is called in the Quran – deen al-hanif and deen al-haqq – the ancient guidance, the life transaction of the Real.
The sufic teaching in this book, however difficult to access it may appear to be at the first reading – and we hasten to confirm that on studying it becomes very simple – is not merely a metaphysical construct among others. The dominant culture has used its tool, or rather its weapon, anthropology, an intriguing pseudo-science, to defuse the powerful dynamic of the Ancient Way. By the introduction of its own anaesthetic vocabulary it has rendered remote and - politically essential – primitive, the phenomenon of sufis activity. By use of the term “shamanistic” this pseudo-science has been able to clock in a pejorative distance-effect the vivid and deep humanism of the very process the wise men of the past have used to acquire direct experiential wisdom. That there is a mode of experiencing reality inwardly – and we do not refer to “feelings” or concepts – which make-plain reality, is something that the modern “educated” barbarian is frankly programmed and conditioned not to recognise let alone admit possible. That there is a knowledge which makes you assess differently without ratiocination, that there is an inner perception that lays bare the modes of natural function in organic life and the world-sphere, that there is a knowledge which by its action alters your existence prior to your own actions, that such a knowledge and the one who knows it are harmonically unified into a knower-knowledge-known field of unitary dynamic is not mysticism but the true condition of the human species when liberated from the fantasy projects of “progress” that have reduced the human race to its present abject slavery and barbarism.
The American culture has its modes of censoring this material and the Chinese has its different modes of doing the same thing. The end result is that its reality is not allowed to impinge on the “political” process of the current outer project which, cut off from its interiority – that is from the inner project – only plunges mankind deeper into intolerable tyranny.
It is the myth of this culture that the Muslims persecuted the sufis, but this is basically incorrect. They did correctly oppose and denounce any attempt to split the outer/inner balance that is shariat/haqiqat. Even the notorious execution of the great sufi al-Hallaj which catholic propagandists have tried to mythologise and romanticise to the detriment of Islam, was finally accomplished by the signature on the death warrant of the great Imam of the sufis, Imam Junayd, who wrote: “In the eyes of the Shariat he is guilty. In the eyes of the haqiqat – only Allah knows.” He spoke what should not be spoken. The reality is that it has always been the power nexus which has opposed the people who claim direct experience of illumination. We find this happened among the people of the Tao – I do not refer to the decadent magical Taoists of later times – as we find it did among the great Chan masters. We find it in the horrible and genocidal persecution by the French imperialist forces in Libya and Western Africa, Nigeria and the Indian sub-continent.
One of the greatest periods in which this knowledge system of practice flourished was in Andalusia during the great days of its Islamic civilisation. One of the most terrible losses brought about by the ruthless murder of the indigenous Muslim population by the barbaric hordes of the catholic invaders was that the great Andalusian school of Sufism went down in the disaster. It did not, however, die. The translation of this work by the Greatest Master of that school is a direct result of the continuing and living tradition of that Sufism, for the Sufic Order to which the translator belongs is none other than the inheritor of that wisdom – both in doctrine and its technique. Today the Darqawiyya-Shadhiliyya Way which has taught the works of Ibn Arabi since this time, flourishing in England, Spain, the USA, Argentina, Malaysia and on the Arabian Peninsula.
One of the unfortunate results of the pseudo-scholarship of the dominant culture has been that it encouraged any works or indeed activities which would erode the sufic way as a valid historical reality. Apart from the open propagandist works on Sufism which now appears in the world’s bibliographies as the authentic “scholarly” works on Sufism by catholic activists, we find there are now joined by quite sinister fictions from the universities of Israel, which, however peppered they are with scholarly footnotes and “evidence”, are clearly recognisable as openly political attempts to “rewrite” history and thus smother the living reality of the sufic movement, and therefore, Islam. To these in turn we must add a lesser but equally distasteful group who have played a minor and sometimes bizarre role in western culture, the esotericists of the masonic movement. We mention this only because up until the current work only a truncated version of the Fusus had appeared in English which, as well as being distorted by the use of the masonic vocabulary, contained only a small portion of the full text, and to confound this confusion its author had added parts of al-Qashani’s commentary as if it were part of the original text.
Our text has been edited with great care by the translator, and revised many times. The most important aspect of this translation is, however – and we must emphasise this – that its author is herself a living practitioner of the sufic science in the line of Masters that take their doctrine from the Shaykh al-Akbar.
The decision to retain a core vocabulary in the original Arabic is very significant and should be examined. Sufic practice is a science based on a profound and necessary theory. The teaching prepares the seeker step by step on a dual path of action and concept. The two are intertwined – here is an understanding which can only be gained as the Shaykh al-Akbar puts it, “on the carpet of courtesy”, that is, spiritual courtesy. Sufism is a technique. That technique is only known to an elite group who are prepared to undergo the necessary transformation through practice and learning. In the same way computer-science is only known to that elite group which has learned its language and its disciplines. Which of these are the practitioner of compassion is what the human race must decide. As of now, much of the library listed books on Sufism are the translations of orientalists such as we have referred above.
This work will, we are convinced, reach two groups in the present culture and affect them profoundly. One, the personal seeker who wishes to learn the true science of the sufis and not a zionist-orchestrated fantasy of sufic-dancing devoid of either method or system – and two, those scientists who are searching for an underlying framework which allows them to view the multiplicity of existence, the realms of form, while recognising that reality is One.
Mention should also be made of Ibn al-Arabi’s place in the Muslim world today. It is a recognisable sign of the times and an indication of how deeply politics is embedded in the groves of academic that the modern arab is brought up programmed to denounce Ibn al-Arabi by emotive dismissal while in almost every case not having read one of his vast opus which includes over three hundred volumes. I have never met any intellectual opposition to Ibn al-Arabi’s system. I have encountered inadequate philosophical assessments which attempt to reduce his dynamic over-view to a flat two-dimensional Aristotelian grid, and I have encountered vituperative and often irrational attacks which dominant flavour was antipathy rather than disagreement. Hostility is never a sound basis for either argument or illumination of a subject
Lastly, it is our hope that by the publication of this work in English the Muslim community will cease repeating the slogans they took from the western propagandists that Ibn al-Arabi was a monist who denied the “otherness” of the object. His teaching is nowhere naïve as it is nowhere pantheist. Individual statements of his out of context can appear quite staggering but they must be seen within their setting. Sometimes that setting is a series of deliberate contradictions. Sometimes it is made in a series of negations to drive the intellect to a point where definition collapses. The intention then is never anarchic but specific. It is the intention of the Greatest Master to awaken in the intellect of the seeker that state of bewilderment from which there IS no exit – for there is no dilemma to get out of, as there is no one to get out of it. But already we have abolished the object? No. the reader must make the journey and find out for himself or herself.
"I am a slave. I eat as a slave eats and I sit as a slave sits.", Beloved, sallallahu alyhi wa-sallam.
Joined: 12 September 2006
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|Posted: 21 December 2006 at 8:27pm|
At first glance this Fusus al-Hikam is a difficult book for general muslims or beginners. But it contain many simple and hidden wisdom and hikmah because Ibnu Arabi deals directly with his audience. He ask, are you ready ? Are you willing to travel on this Path. What is existence that is facing you ?
Do you recognize the Divine voices that articulated thru the Prophets and Messengers. As Maulana Rumi says: we wrote this book for you to fly. Not with your feet of intellect. Do you smell the perfumes of Allah's Garden ? Do you veiled by the Walls of modern society and its nihilism ?
You need Companions to travel this Way. Disaster disaster if you read on ..you get bewildered. At last we found ourselves being pulled by Divine Care and sheltered under His Guidance. As many seekers find out. The first arrow of truth hit you lightly.
The second arrow goes deep into your being and become a seed, a tree and a flowering garden. What a suprise. The wind of change is here in this book, provided you found its elite study circle.
Cai jian. Abuzuhri shin
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