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Ibn al-Arabi stated the concept of “Wahdat-al-wujud.” I’ve heard from scholars that it is a correct principle for Muslims to believe in. However, I’ve also read that Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi refuted this concept. Is this true? Both Ibn al-Arabi and Ahmad Sirhindi were sufis. Why the disagreement on this concept when both were spreading Ahl al-Sunna da’wa? Is it not only the Wahhabis who call this concept a “bad innovation?”

“Ask Ahlu-d-Dhikr

if you don’t know…”

(Qur’an majid)

Questions


As salaam-u-alaikum Shaykh Abdul Hadi,



QUESTION 1

Ibn al-Arabi stated the concept of “Wahdat-al-wujud.” I’ve heard from scholars that it is a correct principle for Muslims to believe in. However, I’ve also read that Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi refuted this concept. Is this true? Both Ibn al-Arabi and Ahmad Sirhindi were sufis. Why the disagreement on this concept when both were spreading Ahl al-Sunna da’wa? Is it not only the Wahhabis who call this concept a “bad innovation?”

 

 

 

 

 

ANSWER

By asking this question you are touching one of the subtlest aspects of ‘ilm.

Unfortunately, it seems that many persons who are not qualified for studying these doctrines think of themselves as experts, and express groundless judgments. Ibn ‘Arabi and Imam Rabbani Sarhindi, radi Allahu ‘anhuma’, were sufis of the highest level and – apart from this – were also muhaddithuns and fuqahas. IMHO, Imam Rabbani reached a higher degree in wilayah. Their respective doctrines (wahdat al-wujud and wahdat as-shuhud) are not theological (kalami), but gnostic (‘irfani).

When two theological doctrines are opposite (e.g. Ash’arism and Mu’tazilism), one of them must necessarily be true, and the other necessarily false.

But ‘irfani doctrines do not refer to the rational understanding of the nature of Allah, but to a special level of comprehension, depending on the level one reaches during the spiritual journey.

Suppose I tell you: “Your cousin is Allah”. From the point of view of kalam, this affirmation is false (and kufr), and you will answer me: “No, my cousin is a created being”.

But, from the point of view of a wali who is in the maqam of ahadiyyah, it could be correct. In the ahadiyyah, the condition of “createdness” (‘ubudiyyah) is dissolved in fana’, and what is left of “your cousin” is only a peculiar manifestation of a divine Name. The Quranic verse “Everything perishes, except His Face” hints to this condition.

A wali is compelled to disguise this condition of his, since when he speaks according to it, ordinary Muslims will think he is becoming a kafir. Mansur al-Hallaj was killed since he uttered “Ana ‘l-Haqq”, but this was not a real form of kufr, since his ego was completely in fana’; those who condemned him to capital punishment – in their turn – are not sinners, because the judgment of the Shari’ah is based on exterior acts.

All this is clearly explain by Jalal ad-din Rumi in his Mathnawi.

The spiritual journey has two directions: a) from al-khalq to al-Haqq, and b) from al-Haqq to al-khalq. During the first part of the journey, the created world disappears, and the wali sees only Allah. Ibn ‘Arabi’s doctrine is connected to this part of the journey and, for this reason, it can seem that, from an exterior point of view, it contradicts the teaching of Ash’ari kalam. On the contrary, Imam Rabbani’s doctrine refers to the second part, when the world reappears in Allah; for this reason, it fully agrees with ‘ilm al-kalam.

Technically speaking, wahdat al-wujud is a “intoxicated” doctrine, and wahdat as-shuhud is a “sober” doctrine.

There is no arm in studying and preaching a sober doctrine, but a drunk doctrine can exteriorly appear as kufr.

Some Sunni ‘Ulema (like as-Simnani), who have never reached that degree of wilayah, condemned Ibn ‘Arabi, but none of them ever condemned Imam Rabbani. My personal opinion is that everyone can study his Maktubat, while the study of Ibn ‘Arabi’s Futuhat al-Makkiyyah or Fusus al-Hikam must be reserved for those scholars who are experts in Tasawwuf.

Notwithstanding this, Imam Rabbani defends Ibn ‘Arabi against those who criticize him.

SOURCE:

http://village.flashnet.it/users/fn034463/questions1.html

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