By Henry Corbin

A penetrating research of the existence and doctrines of the Spanish-born Arab theologian.

A penetrating research of the existence and doctrines of the Spanish-born Arab theologian.

Originally released in 1969.

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Sample text

An extraordinary aura surrounds their relations. Despite her advanced age, the venerable shaikha still possessed such beauty and grace that she might have been taken for a girl of fourteen (sic), and the young Ibn ‛Arabī could not help blushing when he looked at her face to face. She had many 54 disciples, and for two years Ibn ‛Arabī was one of them. Among other charismas that divine favor had conferred on her, she had “in her service” the Sūrat al-Fātiḥa (the opening sūra of the Koran). 13 The sūra fulfilled its mission, after which the saintly woman Fāṭima recited a profoundly humble prayer.

One of the greatest disciples of Najm Kubrà, the shaikh Sa‛duddīn Hammū‛ī (d. 6 In turn his most noted disciple, ‛Azīzuddīn Nasafī, left a considerable opus all in Persian, in which Hammū‛ī recognized the quintessence of his own doctrine and of his own works, which have today been largely lost. The work of ‛Azīz Nasafī is perhaps eminently suited to illustrate our vision of an Orient coming to meet the eastbound pilgrim. Finally, there is a high place of the spirit in Iran, which cannot remain absent from our topography: Shīrāz, the capital of Fārs (Persis) in the southwest of Iran.

We shall consider these events later on, grouped according to the sequence of three privileged symbols which orient the inner life curve of our shaikh. We should first like to consider them, as it were, in their polarizing function. 37 We have already gained a glimpse of the first event in evoking Ibn ‛Arabī looking on as the body of Averroes was brought back to Cordova; in his mind there arises a question whose sadness falls back upon the person of the great dead philosopher. As though in standing there Ibn ‛Arabī had felt himself in advance to be the silent victor in the conflict between theology and philosophy in the West, that conflict in which they were both to exhaust themselves, unaware that their very antagonism had its origin in common premises which are absent in esoteric gnosis, whether it be that of Ismailism, of the Ishrāqīyūn, or of an Ibn ‛Arabī.

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