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 Single Day

As we have seen above, Ibn al-Arabi declares that there is an indivisible duration of time [IV.425.8] that is the smallest possible time or Day. Ibn al-Arabi calls this Day 'the single Day or time' (al-zaman al-fard) or 'the Day of task or event' (yawm al-sha’n). Another translation of sha’n is possibly 'concern', which could also convey the general meaning of the underlying Qur’anic verse, repeatedly cited by Ibn al-Arabi and it forms the basis of his unique view of the discrete nature of time.: kulla yawm Huwa fi sha’n (55:29). But we prefer to use the words 'event' or 'task' in order to stress the meaning that in each such momentary 'Day', Allah acts in the world by creating the totality of all events. Ibn al-Arabi himself stressed this meaning: '(The sha’n) is nothing but the (single universal creative divine) Act, which is what He creates in each day of the smallest Days, which is the single time that is indivisible.' [IV.425.11]

In every ‘Day of event,’ Allah re-creates the world in a new image that is similar to the previous one, but with slight changes. Or in other words, in every 'Day of event' Allah causes one unique, singular Act in the world, because Allah is One and His Command (amr) is one (Al-Masa’il, #26). However, this same single Act will have different results on the different entities in the world, depending on the capabilities and characteristics of each individual creature. For example, when Allah inspires the Universal Soul (al-nafs al-kulliyya) to move the element of fire (‘unsur al-nar) in order to heat the world, the effects of this single Act depend greatly on the individual creatures, so those who are ready to burn will burn, and those who accept heat will be heated, and so on [Ayyam Al-Sha’n: 11]: Also he says in the Futuhat that 'the task in relation to the Real is one from Him - but in relation to the recipients (qawabil) of the whole world, it is many tasks (events) that - were it not (all) confined by existence - we could call infinite (because everything that physically exists is necessarily finite) [II.82.6].

The 'Day of event' is a single and indivisible duration of time that equals the entire earthly global day at each instant, but because the Universal Intellect scans in this 'Day' N number of states (that is N/2 for bodies in its 'day' and N/2 for spirits in its 'night'), it appears to the observer, who is one of these states, as infinitely divisible, because it is extremely small: 24×60×60/N seconds, and N is surely unimaginably huge. This is simply because the observer exists only for this infinitesimal amount of time during every 'Day of event'. This infinitesimal amount of time is what we call 'now' (al-an), the 'moment' (see the following section) or the 'presence' - and this is the only real part of the imaginary time (see also section VI.8).

We must note that the isotropic orb, which is the first orb beneath the divine 'Pedestal', is not material. Therefore we can not differentiate between its 'parts', since there are no distinguishing features in this orb - which indeed is why it is called 'isotropic' (atlas), or the same in all directions. Therefore we can not measure the length of our normal day which is actually the 'day' of this isotropic orb (as we explained above in the previous section), and which also equals the Day of event. But rather we use this perceptible earthly day as a measure of other days, even though in itself it is an unknown duration of time. Although we divide it into 24 hours, each of which has 60 minutes of 60 seconds, all this is mere convention. We can not measure anything by its parts, so in order to measure this day, which is the period of the first orb, we need to compare it to other days 'before' it. But since it is the first day, we can not actually measure it: '…and when Allah created this first orb, it rotated a cycle which is unknown to other than Allah, the most Exalted, because there are no finite bodies above it, since it is the first transparent body [I.122.29].

Moreover, Ibn al-Arabi also observes that since the isotropic orb has only one cycle, it can not be described as having an end, although we assume in it a beginning and an end [III.548.29].

In many cases Ibn al-Arabi calls this smallest, singular day 'the day of Breath' [II.520.33, III.127.335], and he even gives a measure of this day through the Breath: 'and the day is the magnitude of the breath of the Breather in the single time' [II.171.23]. This is because in this instantaneous 'Day' the divine creative 'Breath' emerges and returns to its Source, with its manifestation being the realm of all the divine 'letters', 'Words', or 'sounds' repeatedly produced by this Breath. As we shall see in section VII.8, Ibn al-Arabi visualizes the divine 'Word' as essentially composed of vibrations or sounds that are the 'letters' that form all the manifest objects and entities of the cosmos, just as letters form the words in human language. All words are composed of letters, and all letters are composed of the letter or initial out-breathing vowel sound alif, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet [I.78.22]. So in each single Day, this creative divine sound is produced by the divine Breath, and the manifest world is in reality the succession of these sounds/breaths. We shall explore this important issue in section VII.8 below. Also in section VI.8 we shall explain the creation scenario according the Single Monad Model of the cosmos.

Please note that some contents are translated Semi-Automatically!