The Greatest Master Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi
The Greatest Master Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi

Most of these introductory articles are exracted from Volume I of the Single Monad Model of the Cosmos: Ibn al-Arabi's View of Time and Creation... more on this can be found here.

The Daytime and Nighttime

Ibn al-Arabi not only extends the concept of the known day to the orbs and divine Names as we have seen above, but also he gives a very broad meaning of daytime and night (nahar and layl), suggesting that every orb and divine Name has a corresponding daytime and night like our normal daytime and night. Just as our daytime and night are caused by the apparent motion of the sun, these other infinitely varied daytimes and nights are all caused through the manifestation of the primary divine Name 'the Light' [III.201.35], which brings into manifest existence in the world all the transient images or 'likenesses' of the infinite divine Names:

… so when the divine Name 'the Light' is considered (from the perspective of) the existence of the exalted shadow imaged forth (in the cosmos: i.e., the First Intellect or 'Perfect Human Being') and (from the perspective of) its rising upon those who are in the world, then the world (i.e., the creatures) which are in this image will call this rising, until the time it sets for them, a 'daytime', and from the time it sets for them, they call it a 'night'. But that (divine) Light is still present for this shadow, just as the sun is still present in respect to the earth both in its rising and in its setting (though it is only visible to us in its rising) … so in reality (that appearance of night) it is (only) a shadow, although they call it 'darkness'. … So know this!

… Then Allah made these days which we know, that are caused by the motion of the isotropic orb, and the daytime and night that are caused by the heart (of the cosmos) - I mean the sun - in order to determine through them the effects of the divine Days that belong to the Names.


Thus, as we have just seen, every divine Name has a specific Day (with its corresponding daytime and night), and when the Day of one divine Name appears to be over, a Day of another Name starts, and so on; and all these are included in the eternal Day of the divine Name 'the Age':

And every divine Name, known or unknown, has a (specific) Day in the Age, and these are the ‘Days of Allah’ - and all, in reality, are the Days of Allah, but most people do not know that. So if we descend from the divine Names to the Day of the First Intellect, we find that its effect in the Universal Soul divided it into daytime and night: its 'night' in respect to the Soul is when the Intellect turns away from her when he approaches his Lord to benefit (by receiving knowledge from Him), and its daytime in respect to this Soul is when he approaches her to benefit her, so this is her daytime. And through this effect Allah made in the Soul two forces: the intellective force, which is her 'night' in the world below her; and the active force, which is her daytime in the world below her. - and that (contrast of these two universal powers) is called unseen and seen, letter and meaning, abstract and sensed. So this causes in the Soul a Day that has no daytime and night, while in the world it has (what we perceive as) daytime and night. The same applies to the Day of the 'Universal Matter' (al-hayula al-kull): its daytime is its essence, and its night is its form, while it is in itself a Day with no daytime and night.


This (i.e. the relation between the two forces of the Soul and the two phases of the day; the daytime and the nighttime) leads to a very important conclusion that we (physically) move in the world in the 'daytime' (nahar) of the Soul, and that we (psychically/spiritually) perceive the world in the 'nighttime' of the Soul - a key symbolism of the Qur’an and hadith that Ibn al-Arabi develops at length throughout the Futuhat and other works. This motion-perception that happens in the 'day' (yawm) of the Soul is a cyclic unit action that repeats every day (in fact, every moment for us). In other words: we either move or perceive, but not at the same time.

Likewise, the Day in every orb is a Day with no daytime and night for that orb, but with the appearance of a daytime and night for (some of) the world below it. Ibn al-Arabi even gives an excellent example, using a detailed scientific explanation about something that we are familiar with nowadays, the phenomena of daytime and night on the earth:

And Allah caused the (normal) daytime and night by creating the sun and its (apparent) rising and setting on the earth - whereas in the sky it is all light, with no daytime and night. The outlet of the night from the sphere of the earth where the sun sets is cone-shaped.


This is exactly what everybody admits now as a fact of science, drawn in Figure II.2 for more clarification.

Figure II.2: The daytime and night in the sky. Night is only in some regions below the corresponding orb, whereas in the orb itself it is all day. And in the case of the normal day on the earth, the outlet of the night is extended in space as a cone.


So with regard to us, we are necessarily either under the effect of the daytimes of particular divine Names of Allah or under the effect of their nights, depending on Allah's manifestation for each one of us and in everything else. But these Names in themselves have no daytime and night, but rather are all light. Ibn al-Arabi explains this differing influence of the different divine Names further by saying:

So its night is the 'unseen' (ghayb), which is what is hidden away from us but at the same time affects the high Spirits which are above Nature and also the roaming Spirits; and its daytime is the 'seen', which is its effect in natural bodies down to the last elementary body.


Ibn al-Arabi also gives more details about the different manifestations of God to different kinds of bodies and spirits, by dividing the daytime and night each into three thirds:

and when Allah divided His Days like that, He made its night three parts and its daytime three parts; so He, the Exalted, descends down to His servants in the last third of the night of His Days [Kanz: 3355, 3388], and that is when He is manifested to the natural spirits (al-arwah al-tabi‘iyya) that manage the material bodies; and in the middle third He manifests to the subjected spirits (al-arwah al-musakhkhara, or the angels of each heavenly sphere), and in the first third He manifests to the 'dominating spirits' (al-arwah al-muhaymina).

And He divided the day of these days into three parts, and in every part He is manifested to the world of bodies - for they are always praising Allah. So in the first third He is manifested to the subtle bodies (al-ajsam al-latifa) which are unseen by sight, in the middle third He is manifested to the transparent materials (al-ajsam al-shaffafa), and in the last third He is manifested to the dense materials (al-ajsam al-kathifa). Without this manifestation, they would not be able to know Whom they are praising.


Please note that some contents are translated Semi-Automatically!