Muhyi'ddin Ibnu 'l-'Arabi; born in Spain
1165 and died 1240 in Damascus
, was among the greatest of the Sufic Mystics.
He espoused a doctrine of the Unity of Existence, or 'wahdatu 'l-wujud'. He held that all things pre-exist in the Mind of God and that the World is merely the outward aspect of His inward Nature. These ideas may be found among his huge Corpus of writings, perhaps the most famous examples are his 'Futuhat al-Makkiyya' (Meccan Revelations) and the 'Fusu 'l-Hikam' (Bezels of Wisdom). Considerable amounts of his writings are quite abstract or obtuse and require a special kind of study.
Ibn 'Arabi was a true mystic and was able to see the divine in all religions as the following verses express:
"My heart is capable of every form:
A cloister for the monk, a fane for idols,
A pasture for gazelles, the votary's Ka'ba,
The tables of the Torah, the Koran.
Love is the faith I hold: wherever turn
His camels, still the one true Faith is mine."
Ibn 'Arabi's influence upon sufism changed the old out-of-touch ways of finding God through sore travail and transfiguration of death, to the encouragement of a Theosophy and Hierophantic approach in which the Hidden Mysteries are revealed to those who idendify themselves with the Logos.
This doctrine fused together elements derived from Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Christianity and other mystical techniques, in much the same way as the Brethren of Purity of Basra. Henry Corbin, a professor of Islamic Religion at the Sorbonne, opens wide Ibn' Arabi's way by describing what he called the 'Creative Imagination' but also warns that the only approach to understanding this mystic is to read Ibn 'Arabi's writings themselves.