Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Surat al Anbya'a (51-57) : Ibrahim the Spirit

Old Image of the Station of Ibrahim near the Kaaba
And we bestowed upon Ibrahim His guidance before and of him We were fully knowledgeable. As he said to his father, what are those idols that you are continuously offering devotion to. He (the father) said, we found our fathers (already) worshiping them. He ( Ibrahim) said, you all and your fathers are gravely and obviously lost. He ( the father)said : Have you come to us with Truth or are you playing games. He said: far from it, your Sustainer is the Sustainer of the heavens and earth who split them asunder and I am one of those who witness this. By Allah, I shall plot against you idols when your backs are turned.

Notes before reading: For Ibn Arabi, Ibrahim is the Spirit; his father the primordial Nafs; his people are the celestial expressive selves, [the prototypes existing in the universe of potentialities]...The interaction of Ibrahim and his people is the external manifestation of the dynamics of the soul, the heart and the intellect between being guided and going astray.
The adverb [before] is one of the key words in this verse, opening up for Ibn Arabi and the other Sufi commentators vistas on occurrences in the Azal (eternity before time) and the realities of the verse.
I included at the end of the text brief explanations of concepts that may help with a deepening understanding of the commentary. I say deepening because no other commentary has ever given me the clear vision that what I am offered is not a fixed doctrine but a vessel to travel with through the verse towards the Truth (al Haqq)

Ibn Arabi states in his commentary on the verses:

"And We have bestowed upon Ibrahim" :Ibrahim is the Spirit, the guidance special to him, which only befits those like him. This guidance is towards the Unicity of the Essence (Tawheed Dhati) and the station (Maqam) of the witnessing (Mushahada) and friendship ( Khilla....[ thus Ibrahim al Khalil]). We bestowed on the Spirit this guidance “before”: meaning before we bestowed it on the ranks of the heart and the intellect preceding them in honor and loftiness.
“And of Him we had full knowledge” for no one else but Us knew of his accomplishment and his virtue in the elevation of his position.
He said to his father “who is the primordial Nafs” and to the other celestial selves (the potentialities):” What are those statues?” meaning: what are those intellectual images which are nothing but etchings made on the intellect by products of thoughts and by the nature of existent things (that the intellect comes in contact with, or apprehends)?
“Those to which you are devoted” meaning that you are diligent in representing and in placing in constraining images (Suwar pl: of Surat) [ an act which limits and chains thoughts and vision leading to loss of depth and the ability to voyage to the Unseen solely through the intellect]*
The above was said by the Spirit (Ibrahim) after it left the Station of the Sacred Spirit and protruded through the luminous veils into the space of the Unicity of the Essence, as Ibrahim peace be upon him said :
“I am free from what you associate”- I have directed my Face without deviation ( Haneef) towards He who has burst apart the heavens and the earth (Surat al Anaam see 6: 78-79.)
It is from this station that he said to Jibril peace upon him: “from you No”! **
“We found our fathers” which are nothing but ( 3ilall pl. of 3illa) the secondary effects of the previous universes on the Selves (Nafs) and are all from the people of Jabaroot ***
“In a state of worship of the idols” in that they internalized them within their own essence and became unable to be distracted from them.
“Obviously gone astray” in a veil of light from the Haqq, unable to reach the source/eye/ center of the Essence. Instead, they stand in devotion at the limit of the Attributes unable to be guided to the truth of Oneness (AHhadiyat) and to drown themselves in the ocean of Hu-ness.
(Ibrahim’s people said) “Have you come to us with the Haqq ?” meaning: Is the Haqq speaking to us through you or is it your Nafs ? In which case, your words are nothing but a game that has no reality.
“It is rather your Sustainer’ who is coming to you and speaking to you-He who sustains you by bringing you onto existence, establishing you, bringing you to life, denuding you (from all other than Him), informing you and teaching you...the Sustainer of everything that Has brought you to life.
“And of that “I” – to you- am among the Witnesses”: the Speaker here is al Haqq, the Sustainer. This witnessing is that of the Sustainership and of Creation.
“I will plot against your idols”, I will wipe the images of things, the prototypes ( al A3Yan)**** of the existing things that you have devoted yourselves to bringing about, maintaining and taking care of, then persisted in finding proofs for their reality and truth. You ignored the Eye of the essence of Oneness and instead hurried towards the multiplicity of the Attributes.

* see Surah (constraint)
** Hadith transmitted by Abu Hurayra detailing the experience of Ibrahim as he was being burned on the stakes, was increasingly drowned in witnessing the truth of Unicity, the archangel Jibril approaches him ans asks if he needs help, Ibrahim responds with the famous :" From you, No!" 
 أما إليك فلا Amma ilayka fala included in the collections of al Daylami and Ibn al Najjar
*** The Universe of the Jabaroot is the third level of the Universe descending from the Divine presence, it consists of the Throne and the Divine Emanations ( FuyuDd Ilahyiat)- (upcoming post)
**** Al A3Yan al Thabita : The fixed prototypes occupy a key position in the thought of Ibn Arabi. They are the restricted potentialities( archetypes) upon which the Divine Attributes take effect allowing for the possibility of the emergence of a creation that is able to perfect itself in order to return to the Divine (also an upcoming post) 
May Allah swt sanctify the Sirr of Ibn Arabi for this marvel of Knowledge which he shared. It is now that I understand the significance of the Station of Ibrahim so close to the Kaaba; closer than the Station of Ibrahim is only the Hijr ( the place of burial of Hagar, the woman slave who also truly never relied on anyone but God).
I cannot pretend that I got everything Ibn Arabi wanted to say but I pray that I have here something that is of use for us the voyagers. May Allah swt bless us all from Knowledge from Him.

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