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Life of a Saint

Sheikh Ibn Arabi (vegetarian): Great Mystical Genius of the Arabs

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Renowned as “Sheikh ul Akbar,” meaning “the Greatest Master,” in the Muslim world, Hazrat Sheikh Mohye-ed-din Ibn ul-Arabi was an influential Andalusian Sufi mystic, philosopher, poet, and spiritual teacher. Born on July 28, 1165, in Murcia, Spain, Ibn Arabi provided a far-reaching understanding of Islam and spiritual Masters worldwide through his teachings and writings. Ibn Arabi wrote over 350 works on spirituality, as well as some fine poetry in the Arabic language. Sheikh Ibn Arabi became a fully-fledged Sufi when he was 20. During a house party of an important Sevillian leader, Sheikh Ibn Arabi left early to wander the outskirts of the city. He found a cemetery and meditated there for four days, after which he was immensely blessed with the knowledge of several disciplines. He then spent 14 months in retreat under the guidance of his master, Shaikh Yousuf bin Yuklaf al-Kumi. During this period, Ibn Arabi received secret revelations from the Divine. During his stay in Tunis, he entered the “Earth of Reality,” a spiritual realm in which the real adoration of God takes place. Upon his return to Seville, his writing career began with the “Mashahid al-asrar,” or “Contemplation of the Holy Mysteries.” After studying the Islamic sciences with several teachers in Andalus and North Africa, Sheikh Ibn Arabi went on a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1200. During his three-year stay there, he began writing the monumental “al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya,” or “The Meccan Illuminations,” a 37-volume project containing a complete clarification of the Qur’an and the Way of Islam. Sheikh Ibn Arabi explained the perfect being through the philosophical metaphor of the mirror. He compared an object being reflected in mirrors to the relationship between God and Hiers creations. Humans are mere reflections of God; therefore, there is no separation between the two. The person who understands and walks on this path of oneness pursues self-consciousness and self-realization. Sheikh Ibn Arabi maintained that by knowing the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him), one knows God. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) was the best proof of God, a perfect Being exemplifying morality, and a role model for human beings to emulate.
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