Thursday, 12 July 2012

Ibn-e-Arbi and Quran

The concept of man’s union with Allah is older than Islam. This concept is found in various shades of Pantheism in vogue in pre-Christian era in the forms of Hinduism, Taoism, Monoism, Dualism, Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Neo-Platonism. All these philosophies opine that all things are one; God (if exists) is everything and everything is God. God exists in pluralism. In other words, individual and God have shared/unified existence. Ibne-e-Arbi carried forward this philosophy of pantheism by introducing theistic aspect of this philosophy in the form of “wahdatul wajood”. 

According to Ibne Arbi’s theory, existence is only one i.e. the Creator who is present everywhere in this universe, and there is no room for any other existence in this universe. Therefore he concludes this universe exists within the Creator’s existence. The Creator is infinite/ undetermined but universe is finite/ determined. Where the Creator’s existence becomes finite/ determined, it no longer remains the Creator’s infinite/undetermined existence, rather it becomes creation. In other words, in one way this universe is the Creator’s existence; but, in other way, this universe is created one. Briefly speaking,  universe is part of the Creator’s Existence because it is lesser degree of the Creator’s Existence so it is not the Creator itself.

This pluralist view of God is forcefully rejected by Quran.
"Has he made (all) gods into one Allah? Truly this is a wonderful thing. And the leadership among them went away (impatiently), (saying), "Walk ye away, and remain constant to your god…….(sad-5,6).
This verse-5 sarcastically rejects the idea (nurtured by non-believers’ leadership) that all gods exist into one Allah; in other words this verse rejects the idea that everything is part of Allah and Allah is everything. It may be noted that addressee of this verse is not our Nabi (saw) as is usually interpreted. Rather addressee of this verse is leadership of non-believers, and this fact becomes clear from the next verse-6.
In verse 6, addressee (i.e. non-believers leadership) is specified whereas in verse 5, addressee is not specified but both verses have been connected by conjunction ‘wa’. It implies that both verses have the same addressee.  Both in verse 6 and verse 5, 3rd person masculine singular perfect verbs have been used; in verse 6 3rd person masculine singular perfect verb (intalaqa) has been used for non-believers leadership. It implies the addressee of verse 5 is also non-believers' leadership.

Moreover if we believe that addressee of verse 5 is our Nabi (saw), the verse’s literal meaning would be that our Nabi (saw) believed (mazaAllah) many gods into one Allah; this description is not factual, nor could non-believers assign such a belief to our Nabi (saw), which was not factual. 
From the foregoing it is evident that addressee of this verse 5 is leadership of non-believers. This verse negates non-believers’ intellectual leadership’s idea that everything is Allah and Allah is everything; that Allah and His creations have shared existence. This verse rejects Ibn-e- Arbi’s “Theory of wahdatul wajood”.
Similarly Quran says:
“Say, "He is Allah , [who is] One, "Allah-us-Samad (The Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, He neither eats nor drinks). He neither begets nor is born, And none is like Him” (sura Ikhlas).
These verses also reject the idea that universe/human being is part of Allah’s Existence with a lesser degree. Allah’s Existence is Allah and He is One in whatsoever form He exists (He never exists in lesser degree). He is ‘alsamad’/ Absolute, in whatsoever form He exists (He never exists in lesser degree). Everything is destroyable except Allah, in whatsoever form He exists (He never exists in lesser form). Allah is Pure/ ‘Subhan’ in whatsoever form He exists and nothing else is ‘Subhan’. Every bit of Allah’s Existence is Allah, in whatsoever form He exists.

The philosophy of ‘wahdatul wajood’ has been adopted by many sufis. It is this philosophy which makes some “sufis” believe that human body is a hurdle in the way of man’s union with Allah; when individual’s body /all attributes of human body are destroyed, individual becomes able to unite with Allah. This idea is not justifiable in the light of Quran.

According to Quran, it does happen that sometimes Allah takes over an individual’s person, and in that condition the individual’s acts are assigned to Allah; but  in such cases too Allah’s Entity and that individual’s entity remain two separate entities. Quran says:
“So you (Muslims) did not slay them (the enemy), but it was Allah Who slew them, and you [Muhammad (saw)]did not smite when you smote (the enemy), but it was Allah Who smote…” (al-anfal-17).

In this verse Allah is describing His taking over the persons of the Muslims and Muhammad (saw) and assigning their acts to His own self. But it may be noted that even in that condition Allah is reaffirming existence of two separate entities by stating that “you smote but it was Allah who smote”. In other words, the person of Muhammad (saw) did not unite with Allah even when union of acts had occurred; if person of Muhammad (saw) cannot unite with Allah, we cannot think of any other person uniting with Allah.
From the above discussion, we may conclude that Ibn-e-Arbi’s Theory of wahdatul wajood  which is theistic aspect of Pantheism  does not have roots in Quran; rather this theory is contradictory to Quran.


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