Forgotten legacy of Ibn Arabi in Kashmir

In Kashmir we are today witnessing sectarian fights. We have largely forgotten both Rishis and the legacy of Shah-i-Hamdan and the great Sufi poets. We debate books published by lesser mortals who are neither accomplished theologians, nor metaphysicians, nor thinkers, nor even well informed regarding important things. We say this scholar or sermonizer or TV debator has said this and that. We have forgotten the adage “Never consider inferior thinkers.” We have, to give one illustration, forgotten our great predecessors like Ibn Arabi who has been decisively shaping not only Muslim thought in general but Kashmiri Muslim consciousness through the impact of Shah-i-Hamdan and most of Kashmiri Sufi poets. So let me recall our heritage and point out the great gap that exists between our aslaaf and us. The world is rediscovering Rumi and Ibn Arabi and we are debating only certain political appropriations of them. So where is an attempt to recover or even know our great intellectual and spiritual heritage in current system of education and institutions devoted to culture?  We google shallow discussions or articles on a thinker and debate about their orthodoxy without being able to give a definition of orthodoxy in intellectually respectable terms or modern idiom that other parties or modern educated audience will understand. Why don’t we care about the fact that our new generation donb’t know our great predecessors. We can’t understand Shah-i-Hamdan and Kashmiri Sufi poetry without reference to Ibn Arabi.

Encyclopedic scholar, mystical philosopher, mystic, theologian, “the Seal of the Muhammeden  Saints,” Ibn ‘Arabî, known as the “Greatest Master,” is the most influential Sufi-metaphysician and the greatest exponent of Divine Love in the history of Islam. His works are arguably the deepest and densest explorations of varied dimensions of the Islamic Tradition. Though an exponent of mystical unveiling he appropriates the religion of reason of Late Antiquity and builds one of the most imposing “systems” of thought, at once rational, mystical and religious directed towards attaining the supreme aim ofeudaimonia, sa’âda which has been the prerogative of traditional philosophies, religions and wisdom traditions of the world. He is, self avowedly, the heir of the prophetic and mystical wisdom of countless generations and indeed it appears that God hid nothing from him and he is undoubtedly unrivalled in unpacking multidimensional meanings and significance of Islamic tradition. Combining in himself all the traditionally recognized paths to the Ultimate Reality – mysticism, philosophy, poetry and religion – he is a man of all seasons representing Islam’s multidimensional – theological, mystical, metaphysical and aesthetical – genius and is, arguably, the medieval Islam’s greatest contribution to the world and quite relevant to the era of postmodernity. Every orthodox tradition can claim him. His notion of man is, arguably the most comprehensive in world history. He is universally orthodox. He is the conscience of world spirituality, a challenge to all secular worldviews and the central theses of rationalistic scientistic modernity and relativist postmodernity which are blatantly ignorant or choose to be ignorant of the rights and joys of the sacred or transcendence.

            Ibn ‘Arabî  has impacted upon history of Islam in so decisive a way that none can separate the two. Last 800 years of a great current of Islamic thought is only a footnote on him. His Fusûs alone has received more than hundred commentaries by the best minds of Islam. He has been both praised and reviled. Some have questioned his credentials as a thinker of Islam and it is no less a thinker than Ibn Taymiyyah who stand in the opposite camp. We must not forget that it is so easy to misunderstand him or misread him and great thinkers have misread him. Regarding Ibn Taymiyyah it has been shown that he didn’t have access to the right or whole corpus of Ibn ‘Arabî  (so we can partly understand his differences) could and we must not forget that he was initiated himself in Qadri Order and Ibn ‘Arabî ’s chain of Masters includes the founder of Qadri Order.

It has rightly been remarked that the subsequent Muslim thought is largely a footnote on Ibn ‘Arabî. No other saint has written so much and that too of such a quality. He is the most prolific philosopher-mystic of history. His is the most comprehensive formulation of Islamic spirituality. Ibn ‘Arabî  demonstrates why and how Islam stands for the rights or primacy of intelligence and objectivity. He is the most universal of mystic-philosophers as he has ample room for all kinds of outsiders – atheists, heterodox thinkers, sinners etc. He is widely traveled not only on the earth – human atmosphere – but also in the heavens – divine stratosphere. He has resonances everywhere, in the universe of faiths and philosophies.

There are international societies devoted to study of him. Manybooks and research theses are devoted to him. He is approached for opening up certain knots that postmodernists find difficult to unknot. He has been subject of numerous comparative studies like those of Izatsu, Peter Coates, Nasr, Ian Almond and others.