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#05 Ibn Arabi's Life

On this week's episode, we're gonna talk about Muhyiddin Ibn Aarabi.Philosopher, Alim, Metapyhsicst, Historian and Politician, Mufti. We, most of us on this day know Arabi from the famous Turkish series Dirilis Ertugrul.  which he was the she of Artur Gazi, and I think in Turkey.

The series was a hit. Not only in Turkiye but also in many arab countries. Ibni Aarabi has a special place in Turkish Peoples heart because 15 years of his lifetime was spend on Anatolian Soil. During Secuklu Empire. We can say his mentoring the sejuklu princes contributed to the establishing of the Ottoman Epire. During Ottoman times his teachings were still highly followed and researched in instutitoions. The Anatolian soil is literally blended with Ibis visions and inspirations.

His full name is   Abū ʻAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn al-ʻArabī al-Ṭāʼī al-Ḥātimī. He is also called Seyh AL Akbar, (The Greatest Master)/  Muhyiddin meand the Reviver of the religion. What Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi makes special is the fact that he comes actually from the West. From Spain. He travelled all the way to the east. And because hew as bor in the west, in Spain – His teachings are spread globally. Ibn Arabis Philosophy  is still being taught in many Universities and and many academic articles are published based on this as well. There are even organisations such as the The Ibn Arabi Society which many academics and scholars from all around the world are a part of.

Do I also know Ibn-arabi From Turksih series, no. When I was a Kid I went to Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam in Istanbul. For those who ever have been in Istanbul or planning to go; it is right in The Gulhane Park next to the Topkapi Palace. A must for everyone Interested in Science.


So whenever I’m Talking about a person on this podcast, I’ll always start with their childhood, youth family and then slowy expand to his environment political situation then to his visions, contributions and then finally death. The persons I choose to talk about on the thinkwork podcast are really selected careafully and most of the time these persons influences doesn’t stop after their death. If you listened to Fatima al fihri that’s the case, for Ibn-I Arabi that was also the case. 


So Travel to 12th century Spain, Murcia. To start with the story of the Life of Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi.

Ibn Arabi's was born the year 1056 in Murcia, Spain. He was born into an aristocratic family, a factor that greatly shaped his early experiences. His father had close ties with governance leaders and was friends with another well known philosopher of the time, Ibn Rushd. His Mother was also educated and his uncles were Jurist, scholars etc.  From an early age, Ibn Arabi was exposed to a world of intellectual pursuits and spiritual exploration. As his name… he had an Arab bloodline.


At just 8 years old, Ibn Arabi's quest for knowledge led him to the city of Sevilla. Sevilla was newly ruled by the Almohad Empire. By the ruler Abu Yaqob Amohadi. This ruler was mersmerized by science, astronomy, philospy,poetry, Medicine. So he gathered many thinkers and philopopshers around him such as Ibn Rush, Ibn Tufeyl, and Ibn Zuhr.  Sevilla was a city where Islamic, Jewish, and Christian mysticism flourished with mutual enrichment.Sevilla  was the city was were Ibn Arabi would begin his formal education, immersing himself in both scientific and spiritual disciplines. When he was 15-16  years old he got the attention of Ibn Rush. Ibn Aarabi mentions this converstion with Ibn Rush in one of his works.


Startin with Qur’an and Hadith he got his Icaza (certification) at 18 years old. During his teenage years he went many time in Muraqaba (observation) for sometimes even 14 months. Muqaba is practiced when one turns to his heart and reflect. Muraqaba is an Sufi tradition. By practicing Muraqaba Ibn Aarabi was able to mature faster in his spiritual journey (Seyr-I suluk) then his peers. During his Muraqaba sessions, Ibn Arabi says he was able to benefit from many saints) This solid foundation in his youth later became instrumental in his groundbreaking philosophical insights.


At 26 years old started travelling Ageciras, Ceauta, Morocco. From Morocco he went to tunasia. He also turned once to Sevilla  but then went to Morroco Fez and stayed FOR  4 YEARS THERE. Overal he stayed 35 years of his lifetime in the west. While he as staying in Fas he met his Friend that will accompanyIbn Arabi for the rest of his life 24 years.  

I Think this is very interesting, for 24 years, Abdulah Bedr-Al Habashi will accompany him in almost all of his travels. I immediately think about this quote from Omar el-Khattab.

To summarize, if you want to get to know someone, there are three ways you can get to know someone if that person is your neighbor, because you actually, live together.

The second one is doing business with that person so you can see if he's righteous, if he has justice.

The third one is traveling with that person. To see whether they have a good character. When times are hard, how will that person react? So these three things are the ways, according to Omar Al-Khattab (get) to know someone. Traveling for 24 years with someone. It's also mind blowing because . We know traveling is nice. You get to know new places, new things, but it's also stressful and in stress situations.

We tend to be like more sensitive and especially when you are in a group, it's not always easy.

I think at the end of that 24 years, you'll be like, as good as brothers or sisters.      


He went to Granada, and Cordoba and that was the last time for him being in the west. Because While he was stayin in Morroco for 4 years, Ibn Arabi says he received a spiritual sign to start  distribute his knowledge for those who are “worthy”.  So after this sign he went to Palestine, The holy city Al Quds. He visits Masjid Al Aqsa and the continues his pilgirmase to Medina and Mecca.


I can stop the urge to say how  I feel truly lucky and  privileged to visit al Aqsa some time ago. I haver never in my life tasted such a peace in my entire life. I was never sad and  happy at the same time in my life. For everyone that have a documents and papers to go please add Palestine in your Umra/Pilgirmage  route. May everyone that dreams of seeing Al Quds be gifted with a mini Omra to Palestine inshaAllah.

That was also Ibn Arabi’s route. From Al Quds he went to the village El Halil to visit Ibrahim a.s grave. Well the history of the Ibrahimi  mosque were Ibrahim a.s grave is located has a really sad story.

As I mentioned previously,  Ibn Arabi got a spiritual sign in Fas and started his pilgrimage. He visited Palestine first but then he continued his journey by FOOT to the holy City Mecca and MEDINA. By foot. He did 1 year to finish this journey. He took on every step his time to read and learn and met Jurists, Sufis. Wherever he go, he always find a tekke or and educational meeting. His knowledge and insight caught peoples attention so wherever he got he gathered many knowledge hunger Sufis around him.

Mecca and Futuhat-I Mekkiye

 Ibn Arabi's pilgrimage to Mecca is a turning point for him. As he stepped foot in the holy city, he embarked on a path of spiritual exploration. It was during this time that he started writing his his magnum opus, great work:  "Futuhati Mekkiye" a collection of profound wisdom and insights that would span over two decades. With 37 Volumes. I

"Futuhati Mekkiye" translates to "The Meccan Openings”.  Over the course of 23 years, Ibn Arabi diligently penned down his thoughts, bridging the gap between the mystical and the intellectual realms. Ibn Arabi's writings carry a unique aspect.


Ibn Aarabi says about Futuhati Mekkiye: Iam the  the receiver of intuition. Prophets got the relevation (vahiy).  First I was  to read and then was able to wrote by “ ilkā-i rabbânî ve imlâ-i ilâhî.” believed that they were not mere creations of his mind but rather divine inspirations granted to him by Allah. These inspirations and connections with Allah came to him During his circumambulation around the Kaaba (Tawaf) and moments of reflection within the Haram.

So what does his last sentence mean?

He was actually saying that his work Futuhati Makkiya was not mere creations of his mind, but rather divine inspirations granted to him by God, by Allah swt. And these inspirations and connections with Allah swt he made, came to him during his tawaf, circumambulation around the Kaaba and also moments of reflection, muraqaba as we said in the beginning, during the area around the Kaaba.

He explains us in detail how he assembled Futtuahati mekkiye but what we  can understand is. Futuahti Mekkiye is just a mere summary of all the divine knowledge and insights he gained.  He was able to write only a fraction of experiences in order to not loose them.

When he arrived at Sham, Syria went through his book and made some changes and adaptation. And finally rewrote Futuahti Mekkiye wit his own hand. If you want to see the original Futuati mekkiye wirtte with by himself,  It is exhibited in  Turkish and Islamic art Museum at the SultanAhmed Square in Istanbul.

Ibn Arabi's way of Philisophy

The 37 volumes of his work were actually a fraction what he was actually experiencing. So let me kind of elaborate all of this. While philosophers and scientists typically rely on observations to understand the world, Ibn Arabi and other Sufis take a different path. They use methods of perception that directly access the hidden aspects.

Aiming to connect with the ultimate reality Ibn Arabi reminds us that observations. Are not error proof due to the defects of inaccurate tools like human senses or technical gear.

On the other side, philosophers and scientists are based on logic and experiments. To shape their theories and clarify observations. Sufis on the other hand, often describe their profound spiritual visions without being overly concerned with providing logical explanations.

Sometimes these visions may seem strange as first glance, but they remain authentic. Therefore, Sufis like Ibn Arabi can swiftly and accurately gain insights into reality. Even surpassing some philosophers in understanding. However, conveying these insights can be a challenge. And when they attempt to explain their profound experiences, their message might not resonate with everyone simply because not everyone has walked the same path.


Anatolian doors

He stayed aaround 2,5 years in Mecca, then continued his travels to Bagdat accompanied by Sadreddin Konevî’nin babası Mecdüddin İshak and his close firen Abdullah Bedr Habesi. While I’m mentioneing these names you’ll see. They wen to  Bagdat to Mosul. In these cities again as he always does he attended many lectures of scholars. He started his writing new works Mevsillite.

So at this time The Seljuklu empire was dominant in anataolia. The Sultan I Giyassettin Keyhusrev sat newly on the throne for the second time. He called on his friend Mecduddin Ishak to be the mentor of his son. SO while Mecuddin Ishak was with Ibn Arabi travelling. So Ibni Arabi came ong with Mecduddin Ishak and went to Anatalolia to be more specific Konya.

Izzeddin Keykubat

Ibni arabi was still travelling a lot of course ( he went to Syria Halep, Quds Egypt and Mecca and then from Bagdat back to Konya. And thank god he did. He considered Izzeddin Keykubat the first as his spiritual son and mentored him and supported him. Izzeddin Keykubat came on throne after his father we previously mentioned Giyassettin died. Ibn Aarabi’s intellginece and foresight made him not only a  consultant for the sejuklu Empire but also to Eyyubi’s  in Alleppo and Damascus.

Ottoman politicains says: "We were nursed by two mothers: one is Mawlana Jalaladdin Rumi and th other is Ibn Arabi."


So during his lifetime, Ibn Arabi was really celebrated and embraced by everyone. But over time, leaders changed the understanding of Sufism. Tasawwuf , and scholars started considering Ibn Arabi and his understandings as heretic. So what they did is after Ibn Arabi died, They started neglecting his grave.

It was prohibited to read and even touch his, touch, his works, his books such weird times. So they neglected Ibn Arabi's grave and over time it disappeared. But what interesting is Ibn Arabi knew that all of these things would happen.

So in one of his works, he foretold this event. He says " When sin shall enter shin the grave of Muhyiddin's will appear." So when seen the letter, the Arabic letter "sin" shall enter " shin"- the Arabic letter shin. Muhyiddin's grave will appear. He was talking about his grave, but no one really understood , what he meant by "sin shall enter shin".

So after decades, when the Ottoman Empire was established, Sultan Selim came across this saying "When sin shall enter shin the grave of Muhyiddin will appear."

And he immediately understood what Ibn Arabi was trying to say.

So Sultan Selim asked to his team of scholars to gather all of the information, to find the grave of the great Ibn Arabi

So like a little side note: finding disappeared graves was a spiritual gift given by God to the Saints, so that's why Sultan Selim was able to ask Saints to find the grave of Ibn Arabi, they were able to find, the grave of Ibn Arabi. So what Ibn Arabi was trying to say was, when seen when Selim shall enter sheen -Sham, AKA Damascus. Muhyiddin 's grave will appear.

That was actually Ibn Arabi trying to say.


About the death, there are many things said, some reports said that Ibn Arab's death was a hundred percent natural, but there are also some sources saying that it was a tragic event

Lemme tell you, one day Ibn Arabi stood on a hill and addressed the Damascus inhabitants. The following, the God you worship lies under my feet. The inhabitants of Damascus. They were also Muslims. No one understood why Ibn Arabi was saying this to them. They even thought that Ibn Arabi was trying to offend God. So what did the inhabitants do? At that spot where Ibn Arabi said the sentence, the God you worship lies under my feet. They killed him right there.

So Sultan Selim asked his servants to go to the exact location where Ibn Arabi made the statement and asked them to dig that place. When the servants started to dig that place, they couldn't believe their eyes. They found gold. Where Ibn Arabi said the sentence, the God you worship lies under my feet.

So actually he was referring to the gold and not to God. He actually wanted to say, you are valuing gold more than God. You will even kill each other to get gold. So that is also another example. How Ibn Arabi was misunderstood many times in his life,

so what did Sultan Selim do? He took the gold and used it to maintain the grave and built even a meal center next to its grave so the visitors can get a meal after their visitation to the Great Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi. How thoughtful is that?

Ibni Arabis works

He says he tried to count them, but there are probably more. He can't remember everything. And when I say his works, don't think it's just a book. No. are even works made from 37 volumes, and in his work he mostly talks about ontology, that is related to the existence and the reasoning why humans exist, why the universe exists, how God exists. Philosophers that talk about ontology are considered higher up philosophers because the complexity of these topics. It's really interesting the way how he takes these complex concepts and explains it to us level by level. Very detailed and that's why Ibn Arabi is also very special. But till this day, unfortunately, only 150 of his work could survive.

So why should we talk about someone who died centuries ago?

The topics that Ibn Arabi covered are not just topics specifically related to that time. No. The

topics that Ibn Arabi covered. We're actually questions that humanity will always have. We will always talk about these topics. Why do we exist? How do we exist? How is the existence of the human towards the existence of God? On which level?

Because I always had interest in Muslim scientists and philosophers in history, I know Ibn Arabi but actually I never got into detail who he was and what his teachings are.

In the past Ibn Arabi's teachings were only taught to persons who had gained a particular baggage in important teachings in Quran, Hadith, Kalam and such. Without this background, it was not permitted to read and learn Ibn Arabi.

And Ibn Arabi was also someone who got so many critics in his life, and some of the critics were even accusing him of being a heretic. And according to academics and researchers, this is a hundred percent normal. Someone like Ibn Arabi, if he didn't got any critics, that would mean that he, that his views are average, basic, that he's not impressive at all.

So with all of this information I told, I will not let my doubts to control not really focus on whether or not I will understand his high level teachings because I know no one ever can hundred percent. so this helped me at least take an attempt to learn about his life and try to understand his teachings.

So what Ibn Arabi does in his work is trying to find the link between the existence of God and everything else. Whatever he explains us, he always shows us the link between the existence, and the manifestation of it. He has many ideas about the perfect human.

Which I'm planning a separate episode about it, hopefully in the future. I really loved this episode and I really loved learning about Ibn Arabi, and hopefully you did also learn together with me about him.

So if you got any value from this episode, Please consider to follow on whatever platform you're listening from, but also follow me on Instagram to get updates sometimes, or just if you want to say hi to me on Instagram, In any case, next week I'll be back with more thinking work to do . Salaama!.

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