Ibn 'Arabi

"There is no knowledge except that taken
from God, for He alone is the Knower."

Ibn Arabi (1165-1240) Born in Murcia, in Moorish Spain, his family moved to Seville when he was eight. During a childhood illness, he had a vision that transformed his life. At age 27 he began to write and continued for the rest of his life. It is estimated that he wrote some 300 works, of which 75 to 100 exist today. At the age of thirty-five, he left Spain. He lived near Mecca for three years, where he began writing his Al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya (The Meccan Illuminations). He left Mecca, traveled, then settled in Damascus for the remaining years of his life. Ibn Arabi believed in the unity of all religions and taught that the different prophets all came with the same essential truth.

the poetry of Ibn 'Arabi

It is from God, so hear! And to God do you return! When you hear what I bring, learn! Then with understanding see The details in the whole And also see them as part of the whole. Then give it to those who seek it, and stint not. This is the mercy that Encompasses you; so extend it. The Breath of the All-Merciful has no basis in anything other than the All-Merciful... Its stopping-place is the Yaman of the creatures and It is neither spirit nor body. It has no limit to define It yet It is what is (always) sought, the Eternal. For all the creatures are seeking It though none of them can possess it Unique, nothing can be compared to It alone in the Perfection of Its description. When my Beloved appears, With what eye do I see Him? With His eye, not with mine, For none sees Him except Himself. O Marvel! a garden amidst the flames. My heart has become capable of every form: it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks, and a temple for idols and the pilgrim's Kaa'ba, and the tables of the Torah and the book of the Quran. I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love's camels take, that is my religion and my faith. She said: I wondered at a love that struts its glory through the garden's flowers as they blossom. I said: don't wonder at what you see. You see yourself in the mirror of a man. If what she says is true And she feels for me The obsessive desire I feel for her. Then, in the sweltering heat of noon, In her tent, in secret, we will meet To fulfill the promise completely. We will reveal the passion We feel for one another As well as the harshness of the trial And the pain of ecstasy. The spring meadows are desolate now. Still, desire for them lives always in our heart, never dying. These are their ruins. These are the tears in memory of those who melt the soul forever. I called out, following after love-dazed: You so full with beauty, I have nothing! I rubbed my face in the dust, laid low by the fever of love. By the privilege of the right of desire for you. Don't shatter the heart Of a man drowned in his words, burned alive in sorrow. Nothing can save him now. You want a fire? Take it easy. This passion is incandescent. Touch it. It will light your own. I marveled at an Ocean without shore, and at a Shore that did not have an ocean; And at a Morning Light without darkness, and at a Night that was without daybreak; And then a Sphere with no locality known to either fool or learned scholar; And at an azure Dome raised over the earth, circulating 'round its center -- Compulsion; And at a rich Earth without o'er-arching vault and no specific location, the Secret concealed . . . . I courted a Secret which existence did not alter; for it was asked of me: "Has Thought enchanted you?" -- To which I replied: "I have no power over that; I counsel you: Be patient with it while you live." But, truly, if Thought becomes established in my mind, the embers kindle into flame, And everything is given up to fire the like of which was never seen before! And it was said to me: "He does not pluck a flower who calls himself with courtesy 'Freeborn'." "He who woos the belle femme in her boudoir, love-beguiled, will never deem the bridal-price too high!" I gave her the dower and was given her in marriage throughout the night until the break of Dawn -- But other than Myself I did not find. -- Rather, that One whom I married -- may his affair be known: For added to the Sun's measure of light are the radiant New Moon and shining Stars; Like Time, dispraised - though the Prophet (Blessings on him!) had once declared of your Lord that He is Time. What you plant here, you will reap there.

home page

poets list