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New translation: Knowing God: Ibn ʿArabī and ʿAbd al-Razzāq al-Qāshānī’s Metaphysics of the Divine (Ismail Lala)

New translation: Knowing God: Ibn ʿArabī and ʿAbd al-Razzāq al-Qāshānī's (...)

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Ismail Lala, D.Phil (2017), University of Oxford, is a seminary-trained academic who focusses on the metaphysical thought of Ibn ʿArabī and ʿAbd al-Razzāq al-Qāshānī. He has published widely on this topic, as well as on Sunnī Qurʾanic commentaries, Prophetic traditions, Islamic medical ethics, and Islamic philosophy.


Can we know God or does he reside beyond our ken? In Ibn ʿArabī and ʿAbd al-Razzāq al-Qāshānī’s Metaphysics of the Divine, Ismail Lala conducts a forensic analysis of the nature of God and His interaction with creation. Looking mainly at the exegetical works of the influential mystic, Muḥyī al-Dīn ibn ʿArabī (d. 638/1240), and one of his chief disseminators, ʿAbd al-Razzāq al-Qāshānī (d. 736/1335?), Lala employs the term huwiyya, literally “He-ness,” as an aperture into the metaphysical worldview of both mystics. Does Al-Qāshānī agree with Ibn ʿArabī’s conception of God? Does he agree with Ibn ʿArabī on how God relates to us and how we relate to Him? Or is this where Sufi master and his disciple part ways?


Transliteration Guide

1 Introduction  
1 The Meeting 2 The Master 3 The Disciple 4 The Word 5 The Presentation 6 The Qurʾan 7 The History

2 Ibn ʿArabī and Huwiyya  
1 Ibn ʿArabī’s Definition 2 Huwiyya in Al-Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya 3 Huwiyya in the Fuṣūṣ 4 The Chapter of Yūsuf 5 Conclusion of Ibn ʿArabī and Huwiyya

3 Al-Qāshānī and Huwiyya  

1 Al-Qāshānī’s Definition of Huwiyya 2 Huwiyya, Entity and the Perfect Man  
3 Huwiyya in the Taʾwīlāt 4 Conclusion of Huwiyya in al-Qāshānī’s Works 5 The Huwiyya of Ibn ʿArabī versus the Huwiyya of al-Qāshānī

4 Conclusion

Bibliography Index

Phd (Presentation)

Huwiyya is a term that essentially denotes the non-manifest aspect of God, His essence. But in the works of Ibn ’Arabī and al-Qāshānī, this term has many different applications corresponding to the many different facets of God and the many different modalities of His interaction with the Cosmos. God is fundamentally non-manifest, unfathomable to a creation that is ontologically and epistemologically incapable of comprehending Him—upon this primary signification both Sufis agree. However, al-Qāshānī discreetly breaks ranks with his master when he emphasises God’s connection to His creation more than His dissociation from it in the context of this term, and though this aspect is also present in Ibn ’Arabī’s usage of the term, in al-Qāshānī it is far more prominent. Moreoever, his scientific style and analytic approach stand in stark contrast to that of his predecessor. Both are the result of a pedagogical concern that supercedes commentative fidelity. However, though it is undeniable that al-Qāshānī’s style is far more didactic, it more than just that, it is the forging of a new worldview—one that is completely congruent with, but still subtly different from, that of Ibn ’Arabī. But in order to elucidate this, it is necessary to analyse relevant aspects of Ibn ’Arabī’s thought.
In attempting to excavate these and other nuances of difference, I have been influenced by the method of Toshihiko Izutsu in using a term, huwiyya, as a window in to the thought and cosmology of Ibn ’Arabī and al-Qāshānī. I have also been influenced by Ronald Nettler’s approach in Sufi Metaphysics and Qur’ānic Prophets, where Ibn ’Arabi’s thought is rigorously pursued to expose underlying assumptions and arguments. I have used these approaches in my own way, and towards my own interpretative analysis which compares the works of Ibn ’Arabī and al-Qāshāni. Furthermore, I have supplemented this type of analysis, which is primary source based (and appears as such in the works of both Izutsu and Nettler) with secondary material to provide a broader context of the rationale behind the differences in style and content between the master and his disciple.

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