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.

Divine Theophanies and the Five Divine Presences

 In the third level, the divine Actions are exercised by the manifestations of Allah through His divine attribute of the All-Merciful, thus creating the worlds encompassed by His Throne on which He established as we described at the beginning of Chapter IV in Volume II. In this outward level of existence, Allah is also described by Oneness (Wahdaniyyah), by the Unification or Unity of all of His three divine manifestations of the Essence, Attributes and Actions.


 Based on this same relative determination of the same essence, and since the world is created on the divine Image, we can recognize similar corresponding levels of existence in the various realms of creation, such the spirit, soul and body of a human being for example. In total, however, there are five conclusive levels, which are often called the Five Divine Presences mentioned by Ibn al-Arabi in his Effusion Prayers, though the term has been more systematically developed later by his followers, including: Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi (d. 673/1274), Muayyid al-Din al-Jandi (d. ca. 700/1300), Kamal al-Din Abd al-Razzaq al-Kashani (d. 730/1329 or 736/1335-6) and others, in slightly varying schemes.


 In general, Ibn al-Arabi considers that existence encompasses innumerable presences, which are the infinite divine theophanies or the particular manners in which the One Being of God is manifesting. He often more clearly enumerates only the first three distinctive presences, but also discusses the other two realms in connection with the creations.

 Nevertheless, Ibn al-Arabi's closest student and step-son, Al-Qunawi, explains clearly the nature of these presences and the reason why they are five, not more or less, though some other followers enumerate six. The Presence, in general, refers to some level of existence, so although there can be infinite number of worlds or ontological levels, they can be divided into five distinctive categories as shown in Table \ref{tab-divinepresences}. This also goes in accordance with the levels of symmetries that we shall discuss in each of the coming chapters of this book. Moreover, we can easily make some connections with the various categories that we have discussed earlier, such as the four elements and their Quintessence, the five quantum fields, the dimensions of complex-time geometry, and the five regular polyhedra. To understand these connections, that we shall elucidate further in the book, it is good at this stage to explain the logic behind this categorization which underlies the essence of symmetry, and the most fundamental structure of space-time geometry and mathematics, or number theory in particular, since this explains how multiplicity is emerging from absolute oneness.


 The most obvious way to categorize existence, according to human experience, is to distinguish between the two fundamental levels of the Visible and the Unseen, as denoted in many places in Quran: (God is Knower of the Unseen and the Visible) [Quran: 13:9]. There is also the corporeal and incorporeal, and the divine and creation. Then Ibn al-Arabi adds that between any two different realities there is an isthmus that combines between them both, so for example, while no part of the world can accept Divinity, and God cannot accept servitude, man can possesses the two relations: through the one he enters into the Presence of Divinity, and through the other he enters into the Presence of Engendered Existence. On the contrary, the whole of the world is a servant, and God alone may not be described by attributes which contradict the Divine, whereas the world may not be described by attributes which contradict temporality and servitude. Man is servant since he is given directives by God, but he is lord in so far as he is God's vicegerent and was created upon His Image. Therefore, there are three fundamental and conclusive ontological levels of existence: God, the world, and man.


 On the other hand, since absolute existence belongs only to God, while all other things are theophanies of the His own One and Unique Being, we can then classify existence, in terms of its relative divine reality, into entified and non-entified existence. The Essence of God, or His Quiddity, is the Non-delimited Being that is His Unseen Identity, beyond whatever we can conceive of Him, because we may only understand Him as He becomes entified in relation to us, not as He is in Himself, for none can ever know His Ultimate Identity. In His absolute Non-entified Being, as the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said: ``God is, and nothing is with Him''. God as He is in Himself is absolutely unknowable, whereas Divinity is what we conceive of God as the Source of all things, yet embracing all perfections. In other words, the Essence of God, as sheer Being, is not a Presence, since it is beyond all entification, while the Presences are precisely the entifications of His Being, or the modes within which the He is manifesting.


 The Unseen, in turn, can also be divided into two categories: raw and created, since the first existed eternally in the foreknowledge of God, but not yet created into actual existence, though both these categories possess the state of entification. Al-Qunawi calls the un-created Unseen the Luminous Presence of Knowledge, which is God's foreknowledge of all things before they actually exist, in their undetermined states of infinite possibilities. On the basis of this Knowledge He then bestows existence upon the known things, which is to say that Being manifests Itself outwardly, or actualizes the latent potentialities of entification. This level of existence encompasses the constant entities that we shall discuss in Chapter IV.


 On the other hand, the created Unseen is called the world of Spirits or Intellects, including the Angels. This world is called Jabarut, indicating Power and Might, and it is the intermediary between God and the Visible world that can also be divided into two kinds: that which is visible in all respects, and that which, in spite of belonging to the Visible, is relatively unseen. These two kinds are the physical or sensory world and the world of Imagination (al-khayal) or Image-Exemplars (al-mithal). In most Islamic mystical and philosophical books, these two worlds are called Mulk and Malakut, which means: Sovereign and Kingdom, or Kingdom and Dominion, respectively. The first one is also often called Nasut, meaning: Human. In this book we shall simply denote them as the physical and psychical worlds, respectively, and they form together the two super-symmetrical pairs that make consciousness as well as quantum gravity actualized, which will also explain dark matter and dark energy as we shall see in Chapter II. This means that the psychical entities have exactly the same structure as the physical objects, with the same kinds of elementary particles, atoms, crystals, and even rocks and mountains; but they are denoted as incorporeal because they exist in an orthogonal dimension of time. This is indeed clearly indicated in the Arabic name (mithal) which literally means: similar or analogous.


 Although known by God for all eternity, the immutable entities are nonexistent at the level of divine Unicity, but they come into existence as simple luminous beings at the level of Spirits. Thereafter, at level of Imagination, the entities are compound and composed of parts, though they are still luminous, but to a lesser degree. In this world of Imagination, the visions of the saints take place and the spirits can also manifest themselves in sensory forms, and here also, after death, the works and moral qualities of men assume corporeal forms. In the lowest level of the Sensory World, things become dense and opaque and composed of heavy elements.


 It should be noticed that, although the human being lives in the lowest level, of the physical world, they embrace all levels of existence, especially the Perfect Human, whose reality belongs to the divine level, his immutable entity is his spirit that corresponds to the world of spirits, his soul lives the world of image-exemplars, and his body is in the sensory world. All human beings are relative images of the Perfect Man.


 In his book: Constructing the Circles (inshaa al-dawaer), Ibn al-Arabi gives detailed description of the hierarchy and symmetry of the realities of divine Names and Attributes. From this book we selected the above diagram that describes the circles and links of leading divine Names and Attributes. It maybe not by chance that Ibn al-Arabi designed this depiction according to the shape of a human body, since he always stress that the whole World, that is the macrocosm, is created on the image of the human, that is the microcosm, who is created on the divine Image. This reminds us again with fractals where the structure keeps repeating itself on any larger or smaller scale. However, this ``imaging'' is of course not visual or physical. Just as the Cosmos is by no means identical in shape to the human being, the latter is also not identical with God. When we say that the human being is created on the divine Image, this means that all the fundamental qualities and primary attributes of God are intrinsically implemented in humans to various relative extents, and they are most perfectly manifested in the Perfect Human. Also it can be noticed from this figure that the total symmetry of the whole is broken to lower symmetries as it is clearly indicated by the parity between the left and right sides.

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