Pablo Beneito

This article first appeared in Volume XXXII of the Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society (2002).

The Servant of the Loving One -
On the Adoption of the Character Traits of al-Wadûd

Introduction

Nowadays, the proliferation of false expectations, the cult of the personality and all that is quantitative, the acceleration of the processes of stimulation, the commercialization of ideas and the confusion of different orders, degrees and forms of love often generate a certain amount of frustration and obsession in the realm of what Ibn 'Arabî calls "human love". When love is fixed on a particular object, it can, if it is not accompanied by a deep awareness of the essentially transcendent nature of love, lead to obsession and alienation. If Ibn 'Arabî's ideas about love were internalized and borne in mind in our daily life, it could be extremely illuminating and could help to free us from prejudices and partial points of view, and to transcend limited perspectives.

In what follows, two commentaries by Ibn 'Arabî on the Divine Name al-Wadûd are translated in their entirety.

The first is the short chapter devoted to this Name in the treatise entitled Kashf al-ma'nâ.[1] The first section (ta'alluq) explains what the servant is asking for when he invokes this Name, the second (tahaqquq) explains its meaning with regard to the Divine Reality (al-Haqq) and the third (takhalluq), explains how, or in what sense, man – as a creature (khalq) – can be clothed in the characteristics of the Name in question.

The second commentary is the section dedicated to al-Wadûd in the penultimate chapter of The Meccan Illuminations. In this section, Ibn 'Arabî presents us with a revealing synthesis of his doctrine on love and explains at greater length what adoption by the servant of the character traits of al-Wadûd involves. [See the end of the printed article for the Arabic text of the autograph manuscript[2] in a reduced facsimile reproduction.]

This article also includes a final part on the technical term manassa (or minassa) which has been used repeatedly in the section translated from the Futûhât makkiyya. In this part we shall comment on the lexical inter-references of the root n-s-s which, in my opinion, affect the meaning and symbolic implications of the term.

(I) The Name Al-Wadûd[3] In The Kashf Al-Ma'nâ

1. Relationship (ta'alluq)

You are in need of Him, may He be exalted, so that He allows you to achieve the consolidation of constant love (wadd) for Him and affectionate love (wadd) for he whom He (God) has ordered you to love, fixing love for him in your soul (nafs).[4]

2. Realization (tahaqquq)

Affectionate love (wadd) consists in the actual manifestation of love (mahabba), from which it originates, and in constancy (thabât) in that love. The Quranic verse says, "Have we not made ... pegs (awtâd) of the mountains?"[5] These pegs (stakes) [which serve as supports for a tent] are called either watad (pl. awtâd) or wadd, so the term wadd means firmness (ithbât) and constancy (thabât). Therefore, the Lover (al-Muhibb) is the one whose love is free and pure and is devoted to the will of the Beloved, whilst the Loving One (al-Wadûd) is the one whose love is constant.[6]

3. Adoption (takhalluq)

If the love (hubb) of Allâh – may He be glorified and exalted – and the love of the one whom He has ordered you to love prevail in the heart of the servant in every state (hâl) which may arise unexpectedly from the Beloved (mahbûb), whether it is agreeable to him or not, then that servant is called loving (wadûd).

(II) The Presence Of Constancy In Love (Wadd):The Name Al-Wadûd[7] [in The Meccan Illuminations]

In the name of God, the All Compassionate and Most Merciful.

1. Indeed faithful love (widâd) consists
in maintaining constancy and persists
even in that state when
disunion agitates and shakes it.

2. When in the face the signs (simât)[8] are shown,
the abode (maqâm) unites us with Him[9]

3. in a solitary riverbed (wâdi)[10]
and a land adorned with flowers and plants.

4. If seen upon His Pedestal[11]
the land's flowers are the sons and daughters.[12]

5. The clarity of daylight (sabâh)
in the face of fear keeps them safe.
Only the arrival of the darkness of night
plunges them in fear.

He who finds himself in this Presence is named 'Abd al-Wadûd, "The Servant of the One who is Constant in love." God – may He be exalted – has said concerning those who share this presence that "He loves them and they love him" (Q.|5:|54), and has also said, "Follow me [meaning the Prophet] and God will love you" (Q.|3:|31). Also in the well-known and reliable hadith (concerning supererogatory works) God shows that when He loves His servant, God Himself is His servant's hearing, sight, hand and foot. Thus His faculties become permanent and immutable (thâbita) for the beloved servant so that, although he may be blind and deaf in the ordinary, physical plane, the ori­ginal quality subsists through the veil of apparent total blindness, muteness, or deafness.

Therefore, He (al-Wadûd) is He who gives permanence to love (mahabba)[13] insofar as love is "loving constancy" (wadd).[14]

[Denominations of the Four Conditions of Love][15]

This attribute [of love] has four conditions which each correspond to a name by which it is known. These four conditions are called hawà, wadd, hubb, and 'ishq.[16]

1. The first, which, in the descent of this attribute, overcomes the heart, is called hawà, "sudden desire" or "amorous inclination", in the sense of the expression hawà l-najm which indicates the descent of a star.[17]

2. Then comes the condition called wadd, the "constant" or "persistent faithfulness in love".

3. Next comes "original love" (hubb),[18] which is "pure love", in which the lover has no will (irâda) of his own and conforms without reservation to the will of the Beloved.[19]

4. Then comes the so-called 'ishq [blinding and captivating love, binding passion] that consists of love wrapped around the heart [of the lover] (al-iltifâf bi-l-qalb). This term derives from the word 'ashaqa, climbing, thorned convolvulus (or bindweed) that, twisting in a spiral, wraps around the grapevine and other similar plants. In this way, blinding love ('ishq) wraps around the heart of the lover, blinding him so that he can see no one other than his beloved.

Observation:
[Concerning the love of the Creator for His Creation]

How would the artisan not love his own work? We are undoubtedly His work for He has created us and He has created our sustenance and all that is good for us; how then could He not love us?

God revealed to one of His prophets these words: "Son of Adam! For you I have created all things and I have created you for me. Do not disperse what I have created for Myself in what I have created for you.

Son of Adam! In my duty towards you I am the Lover (muhibb). Love me then by reason of my right over you."[20]

The work itself shows the knowledge that the Maker has deposited in it, His capacity of execution, His sense of beauty, His own greatness, and His sublimity. [If His work par excellence, the human being, did not manifest His knowledge] then to whom or in whom or for whom would it become manifest?

So then, we are as necessary as His love for us, such that His love is for us and we are for His love. Thus has the Prophet said – God bless and give him peace – in his prayer in praise of his Lord that "we are through Him and to Him we belong". This is the presence of mutual attachment ('atf) and of permanence.

[The Ero-Genesis or Love-origin of the Cosmos]

1. Without this first original love
the constancy of love would not be known
and were it not for indigence
the Generous One would not be adored.

2. We are through Him and to Him we belong.
He is the foundation of my constancy (wadd)[21].

3. If God wants an entity to exist (wujûd 'ayn)
having desired that entity for itself (bi-hâ qad shâ'a-hâ)[22]
all resistance fades away.

4. He said to us "Be!" (kun)[23] and we became without delay,
for such a disposition towards existence
is the attribute of all that is engendered.[24]

5. So, the essence of original love
is itself the essence of what comes from it,
whose being the constancy of love (widâd)
outwardly manifests and determines.[25]

Therefore, He loves[26] incessantly and remains constant in His love (wadûd), so that he continually gives existence to that which corresponds to us and every day is concerned with a new task;[27] and the name al-Wadûd has no other meaning than this.

Whether in verbal language or in the tacit language of the condition (lisân al-hâl) we incessantly tell Him, "Do this, do that," and He – may He be exalted – does not stop acting [in answer to our request]. In fact, we say to Him "do!" by means of His own action in us.[28]

[The Best of All Possible Worlds]

You may think that this way of acting is due to the [Divine] ruse (makr), but Allâh is far above such an attribution, for it does not belong to Him [considering his absolute divinity] but is rather the prerogative [ruling property] (hukm) of His name al-Wadûd, since "He is the one who covers (al-Ghafûr)[29], the Constant in His love (al-Wadûd), Lord of the Throne (Dhû l-'arsh)[30], the Glorious (al-Majîd)" (Q.|85|:14–15)[31]. He sits on this Throne by virtue of His name the All Compassionate (al-Rahmân)[32], and the All-Compassionate (al-Rahmân) only actualizes His compassion in the effusive passion of the lover (sabâbat al-muhibb), who yearns to find his beloved, but whom he is only able to find by means of His attribute which is the primordial, unlimited generosity (jûd), due to which the Compassionate grants him existence (wujûd) [in the most perfect way]. Had there been a possibility of an existence more perfect than the one granted, He would not have been stingy in depriving the lover of it. As Imâm Abû Hâmid [al-Ghazâlî] has observed in this respect, if there had been such a perfection and God had kept it to Himself and impeded the possibility of a greater perfection, this would imply both a lack of generosity in contradiction to His superlative generosity and an incapacity contrary to His unlimited power, [which would be inconceivable].

[Those Who Love God are the Eye-Pupils of the Cosmos]

God has informed us that He – may He be exalted – is "the one Who forgives and covers, the Constant in His love (wadûd)" (Q. 85:|14) whose love (mahabba)[33] persists in His concealment,[34] since He – may He be glorified and exalted – sees us [in His concealment even though we do not see Him] and, on seeing us, sees His beloved [mahbûb, the object of His love] and in this He delights and takes pleasure.

The cosmos as a whole is a single Man:[35] this one man is the beloved (wa-l-'âlam kullu-hu insân wâhid huwa-l-mahbûb) and all of the individuals of the cosmos are the members or organs of this macrocosmic Man (ashkhâs al-'âlam a'dâ' dhâlika l-insân).

The beloved is not characterized by the love of the person he is loved by, [for such a love does not convert him into a lover], since it only confers the passive condition of the "beloved" (mahbûb), but to him whom God has granted to love Him with the same kind of love which God has towards him, he has granted testimonial vision (shuhûd) and has blessed him with the capacity to contemplate God in the images of things (bi-shuhûdi-hi fî suwar al-ashyâ').

Those who love God occupy the same position in relation to the cosmos, as the pupil to the eye.[36]

Even though man has been given many organs, he contemplates and sees exclusively through the use of his eyes. Therefore, the eyes occupy in him a position analogous to the one that lovers occupy in the cosmos.

God grants testimonial vision (shuhûd) to those who love Him when He knows they love Him which, for Him, is direct knowledge [or knowledge of taste] ('ilm dhawq)[37]. His action, with those who love Him, is His action with Himself, and this is witnessing [the action] in the state of existence (al-shuhûd fî hâl al-wujûd) which is a beloved for the Beloved (mahbûb li-l-mahbûb). [According to Q. 51: 56] God created the jinn and human beings to adore Him[38] so that He created His creation especially in order to love Him [actualizing love for Him] (mahabba), for only a lover (muhibb) can love Him and bow down to Him. Apart from human beings (insân), everything glorifies God with its own praise,[39] since nothing else can contemplate Him or, in consequence, love Him.

To my knowledge, God does not reveal Himself in the Presence of His name al-Jamîl[40] to any of His creatures except to human beings and in human beings exclusively. For this reason, the human being does not become annihilated or lose himself in his love for [God] in His totality,[41] but only becomes annihilated in his particular Lord[42] or whoever may be the place of manifestation of his Lord (majlà rabbi-hi).

The eyes of the cosmos are, therefore, its lovers, whatever the apparent object of their love (mahbûb) may be, given that all of the created beings are places of manifestation (majâlî) or "seats of honour" [or "the wedding beds"] (manassât) of the revelation of the Truth (tajallî l-Haqq). Therefore the love (widâd) of all [created beings] is constant: they are "the faithful in love" and He is the one who constantly loves [and is loved]. But this reality, by virtue of the relationship between God and humankind (al-Haqq wa-l-khalq) is veiled by the curtain that separates the creation from the Divine Reality. For this reason, in the verse [Q. 85: 14], the name al-Ghafûr, "the One who covers", appears with the name al-Wadûd, "the One who constantly loves [and is loved]", in reference to this protective curtain[43].

According to this, when it is said that Qays loved Laylâ, the name Laylâ refers to the theophanic place[44] and the same is true when it is said that Bishr loved Hind, Kuthayr loved 'Azza, Ibn ¯Durayh loved Lubnâ, Tawba loved al-Akhyaliyya, or that Jamîl loved Buthayna.[45]

All of these are "bridal chambers" (manassât) of the self-disclosure of the Truth [which for the lovers is manifested in the beloved].

[Ultimately Only God is Loved][46]

It is possible for lovers not to know the name of the one they love. It may happen that someone sees another person and falls in love with him without knowing who he is, or his name, his lineage, or where he lives. By its own essence, love drives him to find out the name of the beloved and to discover his dwelling-place so that he may begin to frequent it. When the beloved is absent, the lover has knowledge of him through his name and his relationships, and asks for him when he cannot see him. Thus is our love for Allâh – may he be exalted – We love Him in His epiphanies (majâlî) and in this particular name (ism khâss) which is "Laylâ" or "Lubnâ" or whoever it may be, without having consciousness that it is the same divine Reality ('ayn al-Haqq) [that we love]. In this case we love the name [for example Laylà] and we do not know her real essence which is the Truth. In relation to the created, [as we have already seen] one might know and love the entity ('ayn), possibly without knowing its name, but real love refuses to accept this and is only content with the knowledge of the name, that is to say, the Beloved.

Among us are those who already know Him in this world and those who do not know Him until they die whilst loving something in particular. So, at the removal of the veil (kashf al-ghitâ')[47] it is revealed to them that in reality they did not love any other than Allâh – but they were veiled by the name of the creature (ism al-makhlûq) – in the same way that the servant of the creature ('abd al-makhlûq) here is the one who adores it without knowing that, ultimately, in a manner unknown to him, he only adores God.

Thus, the object of his adoration might be called [with the names of the goddesses] Manâ, al-'Uzzâ, or al-Lât,[48] but when he dies and the veil is removed, he knows with certainty that he did not adore any other than God, and understands the meaning of the Word of God who said: "Your Lord has decreed" – that is to say, has resolved (hakama) – "that you only adore Him" (Q.|17: 23).[49]

Likewise, if the idolater ('âbid al-watn) does not believe that divinity (ulûhiyya) is within the idol in a certain way (bi-wajh),[50] then he will not adore it. It may also happen as a result of the veil that covers reality – according to the Divine Word "al-Ghafûr al-Wadûd" – that the idolater does not recognize Him [in the idols] although they are nothing but His names (asmâ'). For this reason, [in the verse 13: 33] the Truly Adored One (ma'bûd haqîqî) said in the same situation, when the polytheists ascribed their adoration to epiphanic places (majâlî) and to the seats of honour (manassât) in which He has revealed Himself, "Say: Name them! (sammû-hum)", since on naming them they would know them, and on knowing them, they would distinguish between Allâh and whoever they would name, as the receptacle of His epiphany is distinguished from the One who is manifested in it, in such a way that, establishing the adequate distinction, we say that the second is the place of the manifestation of the first.

[The Unity of Love: a Unique Essence]

1. Such is the situation if you understand it well:
If you are in Him, then you are you.

2. In truth you are the bridal chamber
where the Truth (manassât al-Haqq) reveals Himself,
but you are not you when you are.

3. You conquered the one you wanted so much[51]
and thus, since you knew the one you adored

4. now you know he is neither Laylâ nor
Lubnâ[52] but rather He whom you well know.

5. If from yourself you see His love
then you can contemplate Him being you.
Since the lover only loves himself
as everything is You, everything is You.

How marvellous is the Qur'ân in establishing correspondences between the Divine Names and the states!: "He [God] is the One who covers (al-Ghafûr), the Constant in His Love (al-Wadûd), the Lord of the Throne (Dhû l-'arsh), the Exalted One (al-Majîd), Who always does what He wants (fa''âlun li-mâ yurîd)[53]. Thus He is the Lover and "the One who does what he wants," so that he is also the Beloved one (mahbûb) since the beloved does what he wants with his lover.[54] The lover obeys and complies with all that his beloved requires of him with total conformity, since the lover is the one who is faithful in his love (wadûd), that is to say, the one who is constant in the requirements and conditions that the actualization of love (mahâbba) requires. In fact the essence [of both the lover and the beloved] is single[55] as re¦ected in the aforementioned passage in the Qur'ân, in which the Constant in love (wadûd) [attribute of the lover] is also "the One who does what he wants" [attribute of the beloved]. Consider then how marvellous and subtle is this divine suggestion, "and say: My Lord! Increase my knowledge!"[56] "And God says the Truth (al-Haqq) and indicates[57] the way" (Q. 33: 4).

(III) The Lexical Inter-Reference in The Root Of The Term Manassa

Having concluded the section about al-Wadûd, I will now brie¦y analyse the implications and lexical inter-references of the term manassa which the author has employed repeatedly in the text. This commentary may serve as an example of the expressive possibilities of the text and of the technical nature of this ocean of polyvalences into which the interpreter dives.

Derived from the verb nassa, which means "to elevate", "to show" (with ilâ "to attribute", "to indicate", "to fix"…; with 'alâ "to make the bride sit on her seat of honour", "to order"…), manassa means the "bridal chamber", "seat of honour", "podium", "throne"…. The term thus designates a place of elevation and manifestation. Ibn 'Arabî uses it in an analogous sense to the term mazhar, place of manifestation (zuhûr) or majlà, the support of the epiphany (tajallî). However, the term manassa alludes to the image of the beloved, with her face covered and elevated in her seat of honour during the public ceremony, who after the wedding celebration will take off the veil in her bridal chamber as a newlywed: hence his specificity and poeticality in the epithalamic, amatory context.

Due to this and to an affinity with The Song of the Songs or The Spiritual Song of St. John of the Cross, I have preferred to keep, when possible, this marital imagery.

In Arabic the word 'arûs, which Ibn 'Arabî uses in other texts to indicate the same marital relationship, is ambiguous and might refer to the groom as well as the bride. This fact allows either the lover or the beloved to occupy the position of wife or husband in the metaphor. Let us remember that in the Akbarian doctrine of love it is ultimately God Himself who is the lover and the beloved. For example, in one of his Mafârid[58] he says:

To my own soul (nafs)
I was wed
and I was my husband
while I was my wife.[59]

Hence, manassa can mean (1) a place of elevation and manifestation as well as (2) a wedding chamber where the newlyweds meet. As we shall see, the term can also mean (3) the creative recitation of the text in which activity and receptivity coincide.

As already mentioned, in one of its meanings, nassa signifies (with the preposition ilâ) "to determine", "to fix (in writing)", and from there nass comes to mean "text". Hence, "the place of elevation in which the beloved is manifested" (manassa) could also be "the place of the revelation of the text". This revealed text would be, in this sense, the wedding chamber in which the beloved – essence and meaning – unveils herself to the lover or would be the inspired recitation of the text in the state of theophanic prayer when it is God himself who recites His own Word.

Thus the term manassa allusively designates the Qur'ân as theophany and the bridal chamber of lover and beloved, united in the reading of the revealed text.

(Translated from the Spanish by Amy Franklin and Cecilia Twinch)

Notes

[1] See Ibn 'Arabî, El secreto de los Nombres de Dios (Kashf al-ma'nâ 'an sirr asmâ' Allâh al-husnâ) (ERM, Murcia, 1996), pp.|107 and 188–90.

[2] MS. Evkaf Müzesi, Volume 33, folios 1b–4b.

[3] The Loving One, the One who is Constant in His Love, the One who is Faithful in Love, the Affable One, the Affectionate One.

[4] That is, primarily, the Prophet Muhammad – one of whose names is Habîb, "Beloved" – as the supreme representative of the human condition, the Perfect Man par excellence, Seal of universal prophecy in the horizontal, historical dimension and Muhammadian Reality or Light, from which the universe was created, in its vertical, cosmic dimension.

[5] (Q.|78:7) "Have we not made of the earth a bed and of the mountains pegs (stakes) (awtâd)?" In Arabic, the expression awtâd al-ard, lit. "stakes of the earth" means the "mountains". Ibn 'Arabî quotes this verse in order to point out the semantic connection of the term watad, pl. awtâd, "peg or stake of a tent", with the term wadd which, in addition to "loving constancy", also has this meaning of "stake". Based on this synonymous connection, Ibn 'Arabî interprets wadd as "a love which fixes and consolidates".

[6] Ibn 'Arabî distinguishes between sympathy or loving inclination (hawà), affection (wadd) which is its consolidation (thabât), love (hubb) which is detached and free from its own will in favour of the will of the Beloved, and passion ('ishq). Cf. Fut. IV, p.|259 (lines| 28–30).

Nevertheless, in another passage the Shaykh explains that affection does not only designate consolidation of sympathy but "it means the constancy of love (hubb), of passion ('ishq) or of loving inclination (hawà)." Cf. Fut. II, p.|337.

[7] Futûhât makkiyya, Cairo, 1329|h (reprinted Beirut, undated), pp.|259–61. This edition has widâd instead of wadûd which appears in the Bûlâq edition, Cairo, 1293|h, pp.|333–5. In the autograph only the name (al-wadûd) is mentioned and, after the poem, we read hâ¯dihi hadrat al-wadd (see folio 1b).

In the first and third of the three poems included in the text, both of which rhyme in tâ', one notes a particular repetition of the use of the second person singular (anta), characterized by this same letter tâ' which is written with two diacritical points.

The middle poem rhymes in dâl. It is interesting to observe that in the name wadûd – written w-d-w-d – [6 + 4 + 6 + 4 = 10 + 10 = 20 = kâf = kawn (creation) = 2 (minor system) = second person] the same letters are repeated twice.

The repetition of the sequence "w-d" indicates constancy as well as parity and unity in the lover-beloved duality.

[8] With this term (sing. sima) with the root w-s-m like wasîm (beautiful), wassama (to hurry to the reunion of pilgrims in Mecca) and mawsim (season, time) the author is referring to the Quranic term sîmâ, with the related root (s-w-m) and an analogous meaning, "… Their distinctive marks are on their faces (wujûh – a word used in the verse), as a result of pros­tration …" (Q.|48:|29). "… In ‘high places' (al-A'râf) there will be men who will recognize each one by his distinctive marks (sîmâ) …" (Q.|7:|46). This passage (7:|46 and ff.) refers to those who dwell in the Garden.

[9] Lit. "and to Him."

[10] This wâdî, "riverbed" or "watercourse" (active part. of the lexical root w-d-y, a root which by analogy refers back to that of wadd, w-d-d) may allude to the waters upon which, according to the hadith, the Divine Throne is raised. There, there is no companion (anîs) because there is only One.

[11] Ibn 'Arabî represents the Pedestal at the foot of the Divine Throne as a circle which, encompassed by the greater circle that represents the Throne, includes in its turn the seven heavens and seven earths of the cosmos. The two feet of the Creator, symbolizing the creative duality of the opposites, rest on this Divine Pedestal.

This is also an allusion to the verse which says, "To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and on the earth … His Pedestal (kursî) encompasses the heavens and the earth …" (Q.|2:|255).

If the name al-Rahmân – which, like the Name Allâh integrates the totality of the Names (see Ibn 'Arabî, El secreto de los Nombres de Dios 1–2) – corresponds to the all-comprehensive reality of the Throne ("al-Rahmân is sitting on the throne …", Q.|20:|5), the different names and the opposition of the contraries (Interior/Exterior, etc.) correspond to the dominion of the Footstool or Pedestal.

[12] Possibly an allusion to the active spirits (arwâh fâ'ila) and natural bodies (juthuth tabî'iyya) which are born as a result of the marital union (nikâh) of the "heaven" – active principle, and the "earth" – passive principle. "If the ‘water' (sperm) of the agent of union (nâkih) predominates over the ‘water' of the passive receiver of the union (mankûh), the fruit of this union is masculine (the child is male), so that active spirits appear; if the reverse is the case, the fruit is feminine (the child is female), so that receptive and passive natural bodies appear." Fut. IV, p.|266.

[13] The support or place-time in which the original love is actualized.

[14] That is, insofar as wadd signifies watad, "stake" and thus "fixity".

[15] In the section that follows, the author does not deal with the Divine Attributes or the Names which are attributable to God, but with the manifestation of the states of love in the human being, presented here in a progressive way.

[16] The author deals with the same theme in Chapter 178 of the Futûhât, entitled fî ma'rifa maqâm al-mahabba, vol.|II (edn Beirut), pp.|360–2. See the French version Le traité de l'amour, trans. M. Gloton, ed. Albin Michel (Paris, 1986) and the extracts translated by M. AsSn Palacios, El Islam cristianizado, pp. 426–18.

[17] It would therefore be analogous to the state indicated by the expression "to fall in love". Nevertheless, the Arabic root may also indicate an ascending movement.

[18] Or "germinant" and "seminal love", since habba means "seed".

[19] It is illuminating to be aware of this meaning, considering it is God Himself who attributes the condition of Lover to Himself and responds to the demand of the creatures as the Mujîb, "the One who responds".

[20] Ibn 'Arabî quotes these words as coming from the Torah. See William Chittick, The Sufi Path of Knowledge (Albany, NY, 1989), p.|391, n.|13. It may be a tradition from some rabbinical commentary.

[21] That is, "of my loving constancy", in the sense of watad, "stake" or "peg" with which the ropes of a tent are fixed.

[22] Bi-hâ may refer to the essence-eye ('ayn): when God wants an eye-entity to be found – that is, to receive existence – He sees it and wants it through this very eye.

[23] As has already been mentioned, the numerical value of the name wadûd, in what is called the greater calculation, is 20. This is also the numerical value of the letter kâf which refers to the suffix of the second person (ka). However, in writing – which is what counts in the sum of the letters – the terms wad(d) [6 + 4] and hub(b) [8 + 2] give the same total [= 10].

[24] The attribute itself of the engendered being is this condition as predicate, the reception of the creative command.

[25] Fa-'ayn al-hubb 'ayn al-kawn min-hu: therefore, the entity of creative love (hubb) is the same entity as the engendered being which derives from it. Original love is identical to the being engendered (kawn) from it and constancy of love (widâd) determines it and causes what is engendered/predicated to manifest.

[26] Also "is loved", since the form fa'ûl is both active and passive. The name al-Wadûd, when it refers to God, therefore means lover-beloved.

[27] An allusion to the Quranic verse 55:|29. That is, every day and at every instant He is occupied with the renewal of creation.

[28] Note the circular nature of the creative process: He responds to the request which His own action causes in the created one, so that demand and reply, activity and passivity, coincide and correspond to each other like the images on both sides of a mirror.

[29] On this interpretation of the name al-Ghafûr, commonly understood as "the Indulgent One", "the One who Forgives", see El secreto de los Nombres de Dios, n.|35, p.|145, and n.|16.3, p.|331. In this context, al-Ghafûr, which is associated with al-Wadûd which follows it in the text, is the One who covers or veils the Divine constancy, the immutability of His love and His will, the One who veils the Throne and keeps hidden the fact that it is He Himself who is, in fact, epiphanized in every lover and beloved.

[30] In my opinion, the first poem of this section is based on and inspired by the scriptural con¦uence of the names Wadûd and Dhûl-'arsh in this verse – let us remember that for Ibn 'Arabî no detail of the Quranic text, which is providentially inspired, escapes the Divine consciousness.

[31] In both the Futûhât and El secreto de los Nombres this name (al-Majîd) is commented on after the al-Wadûd, and it also appears in this order in the traditional list by Walîd (see D. Gimaret, Les noms divins en Islam; Paris, 1988).

[32] An allusion to Q.|20:|5.

[33] The actualization of love.

[34] Thus in the autograph and the Beirut edition, fî ghaybi-hi. In the Bûlâq edition it reads "or in Himself" (fî'ayni-hi).

[35] Universal Man, created in His image, is the lover and beloved of God.

[36] In Arabic, the pupil is literally called "the man of the eye".

[37] In order to understand this passage it is necessary to bear in mind the hadiths relating to al-Ihsân and supererogatory works (nawâfil).

[38] From this we may gather that the jinn, insofar as they are worshippers, may also be lovers.

[39] An allusion to Q.|17:44. However, in Perfect Man the praise which God addresses to Himself takes place, that is, the praise to God with His own praise.

[40] The onomatophany of the Infinitely Beautiful One, whose all-encompassing beauty corresponds to manifestation.

[41] That is, in the wholeness of the manifestations of God or the names contained in the all-comprehensive name Allâh.

[42] That is, in the name of God or the onomatophany which rules his state at that moment.

[43] Without which, according to the well-known hadith of the veils of Light and darkness, the glorious lights of the Divine face would annihilate the reality of the creatures.

[44] Laylâ is therefore the onomatophany of al-Wadûd, the Beloved.

[45] All of these are famous pairs of archetypal lovers in Arabic literature.

[46] Next the author deals indirectly with the names of God, the lordly names which are the "relationships" which govern the actuality of the servant and with the progressive knowledge of Him which man acquires as a result of his aspiration.

[47] An allusion to Q.|50: 22.

[48] An allusion to Q.|53: 19–20 (a verse which, according to tradition, has been abrogated).

[49] Regarding this, Ibn 'Arabî says, "Men have many beliefs about God / and I profess everything that they profess," that is, I profess them all. Fut., edn. Bûlâq, III, p.|131.

[50] Or "manifesting a face of the divinity".

[51] In the hadith of the Hidden Treasure two variations appear: arâda and ahabba. Here arâda is used in this meaning of "to want". However, it also means "mean" and, in this sense, the verse would be translated, "the one to whom you referred, or whom you meant: (with the meanings of love…)". Ultimately, all the loved-beings are signifiers of the same ultimate meaning, the Single Lover-Beloved.

[52] Laylâ ("Night") is the name of the well-known Bedouin beloved of Qays who is proverbially known in the entire Islamic world as Majnûn-Laylâ, "the one who is mad for love of Laylâ". Sufi authors have made these two characters, who appear repeatedly in love poetry, into the paradigm of the lover and beloved whose human love is transformed into love for the divine.

Lubnâ [bint al-Hubâb al-Ka'biyya (d.687)] is the name of the famous beloved of the poet Qays b. ¯Durayh. Her name, which has the lexical root l-b-n, like the word laban (milk), alludes to knowledge ('ilm), due to a hadith which Ibn 'Arabî often quotes and comments on with respect to symbolic interpretation. It refers to a dream-vision in which the Prophet drank from a bowl of milk which he then passed to his companion 'Umar and then interpreted the milk (laban) as a symbol of knowledge. On this hadith, see for example W. Chittick, The Sufi Path of Knowledge, s.v. (pp.|119 and others).

[53] Q.|85:|14–16. This expression again refers to the hadith of the Hidden Treasure. God does, creates or manifests what He wants (irâda), what He loves (hubb).

[54] The author uses mahbûb here instead of muhibb. I think "lover" is clearer in the context.

[55] Both are one and the same reality.

[56] Q.|20:|114. See the complete verse which contains a suggestion addressed to the Prophet which illustrates a fundamental aspect of Ibn 'Arabî's hermeneutic procedure in conformity with the descent of revelation, "Do not hurry in the recitation [of the Qur'ân] before its inspiration has been completely communicated to you, and say …".

If one here understands bi-l-qur'ân to mean the "reading" or reception of the Qur'ân, the verse constitutes a hermeneutic hint: in the inspired interpretation, the contemplative "receives" the meaning and lets himself be guided. It is not therefore a question of minutely examining the text philologically, but of remaining open to divine inspiration.

[57] Ibn 'Arabî ends most of the sections of this chapter and many of his other writings with this Quranic saying. One might say that this formula is a kind of literary hijjîr [inspirational Quranic verse or "sign" intimately connected to the very heart of the particular traveller and to his personal "migration" (hijra) towards the Real] of the author's. In this context it is perhaps significant to point out that the verb used here, "guide" or "direct", also means "to lead (the bride) to the husband".

[58] Single, independent verses.

[59] Ibn 'Arabî, al-Dîwân al-kabîr, edn. Bombay, undated, p.|25.