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Ibn al-'Arabi's Barzakh

The Concept of the Limit and the Relationship between God and the World

Salman H. Bashier

Publication Year: 2004

This book explores how Ibn al->Arabiµ (1165–1240) used the concept of barzakh (the Limit) to deal with the philosophical problem of the relationship between God and the world, a major concept disputed in ancient and medieval Islamic thought. The term “barzakh” indicates the activity or actor that differentiates between things and that, paradoxically, then provides the context of their unity. Author Salman H. Bashier looks at early thinkers and shows how the synthetic solutions they developed provided the groundwork for Ibn al->Arabiµ’s unique concept of barzakh. Bashier discusses Ibn al->Arabiµ’s development of the concept of barzakh ontologically through the notion of the Third Thing and epistemologically through the notion of the Perfect Man, and compares Ibn al->Arabiµ’s vision with Plato’s.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page Copyright Page

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pp. xi-xii

I am grateful to my mother Nazera who has been a source of divine inspiration to me, and to my late father Hamze. I like to think of him walking in the house chanting lines of classical Arabic poetry. The lines are still engraved in my memory and I often find myself chanting them in the way he did. I am grateful also to my MA teacher at the University of Haifa, the late professor Itzchak...


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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. 1-10

In the year 1562 a Turkish aga came to Istanbul. Six years later he became the watchman of the sultan’s garden. One day he entered the garden and watched a musician demonstrating his skills before a group of people, bringing forth “laments like the nightingale and passions like a butterfly.”1 The gathering group applauded the musician and showed him great respect and admiration. ...

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CHAPTER 1. Ibn al-Arabi's Liminal (Barzakhi) Theory of Representation: An Outlook from the Present Situation

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pp. 11-28

The barzakh is an Arabized form of the Persian pardah.1 It signifies a (hidden) barrier between two things. Such are, for examples, the barrier between this life and the life of the hereafter and the barrier of belief between doubt and certainty. Barzakh appears in three places in the Qur’ån, in all of which it signifies a limit or a barrier that separates two things, preventing them from ...

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CHAPTER 2. Creation ex nihilo, Creation in Time, and Eternal Creation: Ibn Sin

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pp. 29-42

The controversy between Islamic theologians and Islamic philosophers is presented in this work as consisting of two major parts. The present chapter covers the first part while the next chapter, which deals with the controversy between Ibn Rushd and Ghaz

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CHAPTER 3. Ibn Rushd versus al-Ghaz

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pp. 43-58

Much has been said about the debate between Ghaz

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CHAPTER 4. Mysticism versus Philosophy:The Encounter between Ibn al-Arabi and Ibn Rushd

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pp. 59-74

William Chittick follows scholarly convention in dividing Islamic thinkers into three groups: philosophers (falåsifa), scholastic theologians (mutakallimun), and mystics (Sufis), stating that the difference between the three groups comes down to the methodologies that they applied for acquiring knowledge and not to their objects of investigation.1 He indicates that the philosophers’ emphasis ...

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CHAPTER 5. The Barzakh

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pp. 75-96

Barzakh appears three times in the Qur’ån, in which it plays the role of a barrier between two things (bodies, situations). It is presented as a limit that separates two entities, preventing them from mixing with each other. In this respect, the barzakh shares with the common conception of the limit its main characteristic, namely, its being an extremity either in the form of absolute beginning or in the ...

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CHAPTER 6. The Third Entity: The Supreme Barzakh

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pp. 97-112

In chapter 2 I discussed the controversy between the Asharites and the Mutazilites over the question of whether the world was created from absolute nothingness or from a preexistent matter. I mentioned Wolfson’s view that the Mutazilites’ belief in the world’s creation from a preexistent matter was due to their acquaintance with Plato’s theory of the creation of the world out of a preexis-...

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CHAPTER 7. The Perfect Man: The Epistemological Aspect of the Third Thing

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pp. 113-128

The notion of the Perfect Man will be presented in this chapter as the conclusion of divine love and divine knowledge. Between reason (aql), which is delimiting, and the heart (qalp), which is fluctuating; between the unity (wahda), which is binding, and difference (tafriqa), which is separating, and between stability (tamkin), which is remaining in one state, and variegation (talwin),...

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CHAPTER 8. The Limit Situation

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pp. 129-142

In this chapter I provide an account of the limit situation as it is presented in chapter 451 of the Futuhåt. First I provide a translation of the chapter followed by a brief interpretation of the key concepts in its title.1 Then, I elaborate on the problem of the relationship between the manifest and the nonmanifest aspects of reality, or, the “paradox of infinity.” Finally, I present the limit situation, a situa-...

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pp. 143-148

I have presented what I think is an essential concept in Ibn al-Arabi’s mystical philosophy, namely, the concept of the Limit (barzakh). I have conducted this presentation as systematically as possible and within the limitations of the subject matter of the study. The task was not an easy one, as readers of Ibn al-Arabi can imagine. This is not, however, to rid myself of the full responsibility for ...


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pp. 149-186


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pp. 187-196


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pp. 197-206

E-ISBN-13: 9780791484340
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791462270
Print-ISBN-10: 0791462277

Page Count: 206
Publication Year: 2004