by Erik Winkel

First published in Journal of the Ibn 'Arabi Society, Vol. XIII, 1993.

Themes in this article were expanded by Eric Winkel in two books, Mysteries of Purity: Ibn Al-Arabi's Asrar Al-Taharah, Cross Cultural Publications Inc., 1995 and Islam and the living law: the Ibn al-Arabi approach, Oxford University Press, USA, 1996.

Ibn 'Arabi's Fiqh: Three Cases from the Futūhāt

by Eric Winkel

Is there even any material for a study of Ibn 'Arabi's fiqh (legal discourse/jurisprudence)? Few people realize that Ibn 'Arabi had a fiqh! And yet a translation of just the extended fiqh section of the Futūhāt would run over two thousand pages. Yes there is an Akbarian fiqh: I have chosen here three particular cases he investigates and argues from a fiqh perspective.

Although Western scholarship on Ibn 'Arabi has focused on the philosophical and mystical aspect of his thought, situating Ibn 'Arabi in a metaphysical, philosophical context, especially around his work Fusūs al-Hikam and the numerous commentaries and discourses produced by his brilliant disciples,[1] another aspect of his thought is now emerging. Chodkiewicz[2] and Addas[3] have charted the growth and influence of the "akbarian" tradition as it nurtured a more universal and "earthy" approach, exemplified in Amir 'Abd al-Qadir, for example. Chittick has bridged the "Eastern" Ibn 'Arabi with his more "Western" dimension through a translation of many short passages from the Futūhāt.[4, 5] Sells' work has been exploring the various formats traditionally found to be conducive to the effort of articulating divine truths: poetry, allusion, symbolism, and metaphor.[6] And finally, Morris' work on "spiritual literalism" has seized the importance of Ibn 'Arabi's appropriation of traditional forms of the Islamic sciences to "convert" those practitioners to a higher understanding.[7]

By way of establishing a definition for fiqh here, Ibn 'Arabi seems to treat the fiqh as a superstructure erected upon the shari'ah, a superstructure of discourse conducted among the intellectual elites (the 'ulamā') of the community. It may be glossed "Islamic legal discourse".

The central patterns in Ibn 'Arabi's fiqh discourse involve the roots '.b.r. (to cross over/interpret) and kh.l.f. (differ in opinion). The extended section here covers the "pillars of Islam", with tahārah (purity) as a prerequisite for the second pillar, salāh (prayer). Each subject has a lengthy poem, which, Ibn 'Arabi explains elsewhere, is not a summary of the chapter's contents; the poems in effect serve as an "overture", touching the highlights of the contents and adding a few ideas which will not actually be dealt with in the prose section. There are also prose overviews. But the main content of the extended section is two thousand pages of ikhtilāf al-'ulamā' and min qā'il: each issue is introduced with the statement "the 'ulamā' diverge over such and such", and the enumeration of the different positions and arguments with the ellipsis "min qā'il": "among those who argue there is one who argues for" or more fluidly, "there is a proponent for".

The standard fiqh format is in fact the discussion and analysis of "differences of opinion" among the 'ulamā'. In the days of fiqh vitality, the scholars enjoyed entering the fray with their own views about the various positions held by previous scholars, with resounding phrases like "But he is a liar!" and "All of that is falsehood!" – in contrast to present-day fiqh, which wallows in the dead authority of past scholars. Ibn 'Arabi refrains completely from derogatory statements but does achieve the proper stance of skepticism and objectivity required of the fuqahā' (scholars of the legal discourse) by omitting, almost always, the name of the particular scholar whose views are being discussed by the anonymous phrase "there is a proponent that". Surprisingly perhaps, Ibn 'Arabi finds significance in every position – one gets the sneaking suspicion, however, that Ibn 'Arabi knew more about a particular position than its proponent!

The heart of the discourse is the area of disagreement, or divergence, because it is here that the revelation's meaning is tested. The fiqh exists in the nexus of revelation and society, the place where the universal and general revelation becomes applied and actualized in historical and contextual society. The areas of disagreement are the grist of the scientific discourse, because there interpretation and hermeneutics are pushed to the extreme in an effort to understand and apply the revelation. For Ibn 'Arabi, the mandate for fiqh comes from the Qur'anic passage "Nor should the believers all go forth together: if a contingent from every expedition remained behind, they could devote themselves to understanding the religion [li-yatafaqqahu fi'l-dīn], and admonish the people when they return to them – that thus they may guard themselves" [9:122].

The other theme is of metaphor, understood in its root meaning of "metaphorein", to bring something across. '.b.r. gives words such as the Qur'anic admonishment, the 'ibrah, as in "There is, in their stories, instruction (or admonishment) for those endowed with understanding [ūlū al-albāb]" [12:111, and 3:13, 16:66, 23:21, 24:44, 79:26]. In verb form, we have "So take warning [a'tabiru] of you endowed with understanding" [59:2]. Only the people who are endowed with discerning the kernel (lubb) of events are likely to understand the connection linking the superficial reality to the deeper reality, and in effect the '.b.r. is the link or bridge between one sort of reality (e.g., of events) and another reality, ontologically prior and more real.

Ibn 'Arabi glosses this concept in this way:

And so I have opened up for you the metaphor [i'tibār] according to the sharī'ah,[8] and it is the passage [jawāz] from the form which manifests its property in the sensory domain [al-hiss] to what is interrelated in your essence, or at the Side of the Real [janāb al-haqq], from among that which indicates [dall] God. This is the figurative meaning of the metaphor [i'tibār]. It is like "You have crossed over ['.b.r.] the wadi [arroyo] when you have forded it and traversed it."

For Ibn 'Arabi the "crossing over" does not negate or diminish the reality of the "sensory side". As Chittick has demonstrated thoroughly, Ibn 'Arabi is opposed to ta'wīl (interpretation) and allegory.[9] We do not find a neo-Platonic or Gnostic denigration of the body – in contrast, Ibn 'Arabi's treatment of the fiqh is true to its bodily and "earthy" ground. Ibn 'Arabi does not deal in symbols. Water is a metaphor for knowledge, as we shall see him argue, and the discerning eye will be able to "cross over" from water to knowledge and back again. This crossing over affirms both sides. As Reinhart showed in his study of tahārah,[10] ritual is the central means of re-creating the sacred world, and tahārah as a ritual addresses temporary imbalances (hadath) in order to restore a state of sacred purity – which for Ibn 'Arabi is a state conducive to the intimate conversation with God, the salāh.

Let us take two cases from the issues involving "tayammum" (abluting with clean earth or sand) and a case concerning woman's 'aurah (imperfection/deficiency). In modern Islamicist writings, the subject of "tayammum" has received a line here and there, while the subject of woman's 'aurah has received books upon books, and articles upon articles, and has launched movement after movement. These writings are a perfect foil for Ibn 'Arabi's work, as he, in great contrast, treats the revelation as entirely meaningful, content with letting God "speak for Himself" in assigning priorities and hierarchies and subjects for reflection.


I

The first case under discussion is introduced by Ibn 'Arabi as follows:

bāb [Chapter/Subject]

The 'ulamā' of the sharī'ah are in accord that tayammum is permitted for the sick and the traveler, if there is an absence of water. And according to us, "or non-use of water", despite its presence, for the sick in whom arises a fear that his sickness would increase, or he would die,[11] on the basis of the arrival of the plain text concerning that.

The purification of tayammum is given by the text "Oh you who believe, when you prepare for salāh, wash your faces, and your hands to the elbows, rub your heads, and your feet to the ankles. If you are in a state of ritual impurity, wash your entire body. But if you are sick or journeying, or come from excreting, or you have touched women, and find no water, take for yourselves [fa-tayammamu] clean sa'īd (earth, sand) and rub therewith your faces and hands. God does not wish to place you in difficulty, but to make you clean" [5:6]. The first issue the fuqahā' must deal with is the nature of tayammum and its relationship to the more intelligible forms of tahārah. The modern state 'ulamā' conceive of tayammum as a divine emphasis on the importance in Islam of hygiene:

This tayammum is a symbolic demonstration of the importance of the ablution, which is so vital for both worship and health. When Islam introduced the repeatable ablution, it brought along with it the best hygienic formula which no other spiritual doctrine or medical prescription had anticipated.[12]

Ibn 'Arabi accepts the obvious fact that tayammum has nothing to do with cleanliness, understood as "spotlessness" (nazafah). Nor is it a "symbolic demonstration",[13] some kind of empty gesture. More sophisticatedly, traditional 'ulamā' conceived of tayammum as a substitute, but this Ibn 'Arabi rejects as well.

Returning to the central text quoted above, Ibn 'Arabi questions the purpose of tahārah (to make you clean) and the relationship of water to tahārah (if you find no water). Then he crosses over. (How does he find this bridge? Through disclosure (kashf), although the crossing over, once discovered, may be articulated.) First, water is knowledge. Knowledge is the means by which one gains access to the divine. Even when knowledge is lacking, we must still approach the divine, or, when we do not find water, we must "take for yourselves clean sand or earth". Second, the earth is tractable and lowly, the lowness where even the soles of the lowly's shoes tread. "Dust" metaphorically warns us about whence we came. So, in the absence of water, humility must suffice. The only humble way to approach God when knowledge is lacking is taqlīd (following authority), so tayammum crosses over to taqlīd, and the entire discussion of tayammum may be linked metaphorically with the issue of taqlīd.

There are two routes, then, for attaining a state of purity conducive to the conversation with one's Lord, knowledge (water) and taqlīd (tayammum). An unacceptable route, in Ibn 'Arabi's thinking, is qiyās, the analogical extension of a known text to cover yet another issue which the revelation is "silent" about. For Ibn 'Arabi, there is a legitimate qiyās, but only in the sense of extending a command concerning a small issue to include larger issues; in his example, the command prohibiting saying a word of contempt to one's father extends to beating him with a stick. Of course the usual method of qiyās is to perform dramatic leaps of logic, which Ibn 'Arabi and his Andalusian near-contemporary Ibn Hazm both denounced with vigor. The key offense in qiyās, for Ibn 'Arabi, is its improper appropriation of lordship in creating a legal decision – because qiyās in effect creates a new text.

When arguing that tayammum is not a substitute, Ibn 'Arabi says that it rather

is based on a derivation of the property concerning this issue from a plain text in the book or sunnah, inserting the property concerning this issue into a synopsis [mujmal] of that discourse. It is the fiqh [legal discourse] in the religion [dīn]. God said, "(Let a contingent from every expedition remain behind) to apply themselves [tafaqquh] to the religion (and admonish the people when they return to them – that thus they may learn to guard themselves [against evil])" [9:122] – and we do not need deduction [qiyās] for that!

So, when the text seems to pass over something in silence, technically the maskūt, the solution is not in identifying an articulated text (mantūq) and performing qiyās, but in examining the entire synopsis of the revelation and "understanding and applying" (tafaqqah) the religion. (If this was Fazlur Rahman's life-long thesis, then yet another irony emerges: his dearest thesis found in the sufi thought he wrote off as psycho-sexual irrationality!) Instead, on the hypothetical case of the lawfulness of beating one's father with a stick, Ibn 'Arabi explains that

we decide [h.k.m.] with what is mentioned, and it is the word of God: "treat with kindness your parents" [2:83] – and the address is undifferentiated [ajmal], so we extract from this synopsis [mujmal] the property about everything which is not a "kindness". Beating with a stick is not one of the kindnesses which has been commanded by the revelation in our relationships with our parents. So we do not decide [h.k.m.] except with the plain text, and we do not need qiyās.

Tayammum, then, is a tahārah set down by the revelation based on humility, through the metaphor of earth and dust. The issue before us is whether a sick person may do tayammum instead of washing with water. For Ibn 'Arabi, the qualifications of people (sick, female, menstruating, traveling, mature) are bridges. As such, he is not talking about a sick person, or a woman, but the Sick person, or Woman. He now takes the case, outlined in the bāb above, and explores its inwardness in the wasl (summary).

wasl

Its metaphor in the inwardness is that the "traveler" is a master [sāhib] of consideration [nazar] concerning proof. He is a traveler with his reflection [fikr] through way-stations of his excursions [manāzil muqadimat] and along a path of their hierarchies, so that the property for the issue sought would enter [the path] for him.

In this discussion, Ibn 'Arabi links the "traveling as far as China" theme with "traveling". The concept of rihlah (journey), especially as traveling in order to gather hadīth from Companions and Successors, also affirms this link. Travelers who do tayammum are searchers for knowledge who follow someone else's authority, at first. Then they find knowledge (water!) and gain a state which is pure from the point of view of the sharī'ah and of the intellect – the first purity of tayammum was so according to the sharī'ah, but not according to the intellect, while the second (with water) is purity from both points of view. Specifically, he says that

the master of consideration, even if he believed first through following authority, he [still] desires to investigate the considerative proofs which he believed in – [but] not because of doubt, [but] in order to achieve for himself knowledge in the proof which he examines [consideratively, nazar]. And so he emerges from following authority [taqlīd][14] to knowledge ['ilm].

But among the "travelers", there is a hierarchy. The travelers who were not content with tayammum but sought out water vigorously with their own efforts and through applying their own ideas about how to find this water are below the travelers who based their efforts on practice. The first group are never quite sure whether the water they eventually found was produced by their own efforts or is straight from God. The second group are "upon insight", because their progression to water was through practice ('amal), not consideration (nazar). He writes,

And it has been mentioned that "The knowledgeable ['ulamā'] are the inheritors of the prophets" – and so we call them "'ulamā'" – and "The prophets did not bequeath dinars and dirhams, but they bequeathed knowledge" – and taking [akhdh] knowledge is through spiritual struggle [mujāhadah] – and practices, also, are a journey. So just as the intellect journeys with its reflective consideration [nazar al-fikri] in the cosmos, the practitioner journeys with his practice, and they both come together at the end result [natījah]. The master of practice is greater as he is "upon insight" in what he knows, and doubt does not enter into him. The master of consideration does not lack doubt entering upon him in his proof. So the master of practice is first in [deserving] the name "knower" compared to the master of consideration. And I will give the discourse about what is permitted in the "journey", and about what is not permitted, in [the chapter on] "the salāh of the journeyer" in this book, if God so wills.

He continues:

The sick is the one to whose primordial nature was not bestowed consideration of proofs; given what he knows of his unfortunate primordial nature, and its inadequacy in reaching the intent [maqsūd] with consideration [nazar], rather it is obligatory that he be restrained from consideration and be commanded to follow authority [taqlīd].

So the "sick" should not attempt to deal with potent water–knowledge. Rather they should remain with taqlīd–tayammum.


II

In this next case, Ibn 'Arabi examines the sick person who fears that using cold water would cause harm. He summarizes as follows.

bāb

The 'ulamā' of the sharī'ah diverge concerning the sick who finds water but fears using it. There is a proponent for permitting tayammum for him, and I argue for it, and he need not repeat [the salāh]. And there is a proponent that he shall not do tayammum with the finding [wujūd] of water, regardless of the sickness and the fear about that. And there is a proponent with respect to them both that he do tayammum and he repeat the salāh when he finds water. And there is a proponent that he do tayammum, and if he finds water before the departure of the moment[15] he shall do ablution and repeat [the salāh], and if he finds water after the departure of the moment he need not repeat [the salāh].

The key elements which will undergo "cross over" are "sick" and "fear". The "sick", we have already seen, is "the one to whose inherent nature was not bestowed the [capacity for] consideration [nazar] [of proofs]". Water is available, but the "sick" fears it. Crossed over, this means that "proofs of God" are available, but the "sick" is worried about using them. Ibn 'Arabi says he is "fearful of destruction, and departing from the religion, if he were to examine [nazar] them [the proofs], on account of his inadequacy".

Soon after I had first seen this passage, I was teaching fiqh methodology to some students in Malaysia. Some of them, exposed for the first time to the powerful and critical methodology of the traditional fuqaha' , told me they were fearful, in the face of strong, rational fiqh thinking, of their hold on the religion. Although I explained that anyone in a university environment would have to learn to deal with critical thinking, they had unconsciously been aware of the following observation:

We have seen the majority of them departing from the religion through consideration [nazar], as their primordial natures were weak and they were presuming themselves to be, in that, upon correct knowledge, and they are as God said: "(Shall We tell you of those whose works are lost? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while) they reckoned that they were doing themselves good by their works" [18:104]. The likes of these took, if they desired deliverance, the articles of faith ['aqā'id] through following authority, just as they took the properties through following authority; but they should follow the authority of the people of hadīth and no one but them... Upon this [kind of incorrect taqlīd] are most of the common people, but they realize not. This is the "sick" who finds water but fears using it, in regard to the metaphor [i'tibār].

Ibn 'Arabi mentions briefly here a point whose importance is clear in the terse chapter later on usūl al-fiqh (the foundations of Islamic jurisprudence): there, he posits a list of things to do when in doubt. The first response to doubt is taqwā, as God promises to teach the one who fears him. The second response is taqlīd, but one must follow the authority of the ahl al-dhikr (the people of remembrance), which he links to the scholars of hadīth. (Ibn 'Arabi's fondness for hadīth is amply demonstrated by Morris' article on "Esotericism".) Under no circumstances does Ibn 'Arabi accept recourse to opinion (ra'y).


III

Finally, let us examine his discourse on woman's 'aurah. The profusion of literature and discourse surrounding woman's body and 'aurah is astonishing. Quite clearly, woman's body is the scene of great contestation, and especially so in social and cultural milieus of modernization and its concomitant economic deprivation. Just one factor mentioned in Leila Ahmed's[16] careful study of "fundamentalist" thinking on woman, the dramatic increase of publicly educated young women and the burgeoning surge of unemployed educated young men, is enough to get a grasp of the societal upheavals which sustain "fundamentalism". Sachiko Murata's[17] description of fundamentalist desire, not for the past, but for a super-modern, aggressively masculine society under their domination,[18] similarly goes far in explaining much of the polemics around woman. The standard narrative of woes attending woman's liberation (where glosses of the modern Arabic hurriyah descend rapidly from liberty to licentiousness, wild abandon, and fearful images of gender anarchy – i.e., lack of male dominance!) are almost ludicrous in their modern form:

First we condone female public exposure; next dating and easy mixing; next, pre-marital "games"; next, extra-marital relations and open marriages; next, the elevation of open homosexuality to an acceptable normal status; and next, uni-sex marriages... The result: broken laws, blood relations torn apart, deep dissatisfaction, a criminal climate, a disquieting sense of insecurity, fear and mutual mistrust, wide-spread corruption, irresponsible strikes, uncontrolled inflation, more frequent cases of rape, and the threat of depression and bankruptcy.[19]

Ibn 'Arabi's discussion of man and woman's 'aurah, unusually, is an argument for a completely unique, as far as I know, position. Usually, Ibn 'Arabi argues for a position which others have argued for, adding to its great insights through "crossing over". Even his position that a woman may lead the salāh when men are in the ranks, as bizarre as it sounds to most Muslims, is found in a handful of eminent scholars. But what has happened for this case, and which explains why Ibn 'Arabi must be unique in his argument, is that 'aurah has been conflated with covering.

He begins, as usual, with a summary of positions.

There is a proponent that all of her is 'aurah, except the face and the palms,[20] and there is a proponent for that and additionally that her feet are not 'aurah;[21] there is a proponent that all of her is 'aurah.[22]

Then, he gives his argument. Assuming that 'aurah is "fitric", or based on our primordial selves, he naturally turns to a consideration of Adam and Eve. The Qur'an quite clearly describes God's attention to Adam and Eve's well-being, especially in the verse promising further guidance. Adam and Eve were not in a "state of sin", requiring later historical redemption: instead, whatever "lifestyle" they had was by definition "Islamic". This is the background for Ibn 'Arabi's argument.

As for our school, the 'aurah is not, for the woman, in fact, anything but the two private parts [sau'ah], as God said, "(When they had tasted of the tree, apparent to them became their private parts) and they began to sew together the leaves of the garden over them" [7:22]. It sufficed for Adam and Eve for covering their two private parts, and the two parts are the two 'aurahs.

But while Adam and Eve fulfilled the primordial injunctions of the dīn al-fitrah (primordial religion), they did not necessarily fulfill prescriptions of later revelations. And here Ibn 'Arabi finds a distinction.

Even though the woman is commanded with covering, it is our school that yet [she does not do so] given the fact that it is 'aurah, rather because that is a property set down by the revelation mentioning the covering. It is not imperative that the thing be covered given its [supposedly] being 'aurah.

There are numerous hadīth concerned with what men, women, children, and elders are supposed to cover with clothes. Implied in Ibn 'Arabi's argument is that these hadīth are the dictates for covering of the last sharī'ah, but that they are not delimitations of 'aurah. Thus, while a man is enjoined to cover from navel to knees, that area is not necessarily his 'aurah. The importance of this distinction is automatic: it deals with determining the revelation's intent by asking if there are two different categories concerned with covering, that is, the covering of 'aurah (which is primordial) and the covering of the body which is peculiar to this sharī'ah (in the way a man having a beard is peculiar to this sharī'ah).

But the distinction also has societal importance as well. 'Aurah is not simply a dry abstract concept: it carries a sense of shame and embarrassment. To label woman's entirety 'aurah, and even her voice and scent, as some modern groups do, is to erect a massive discourse around woman, her "place", her proper relegation to very private and shameful realms, and so on. That such discourses are sponsored with the semblance of fiqh argument makes it all the more imperative to transform an easily manipulated fossil-like fiqh into a tafaqquk rūhānī (spiritual understanding) along the lines revived by Ibn 'Arabi.[23]


Translation of Tayammum Chapters

[370/507] Tayammum is the striving [qasd] for clean earth, whether that earth is – from among the [things] called "earth" – dust, or sand, or stone, or zarnikh).[24] If any of these things – each of them or their like – quits the earth, tayammum is not permitted with what quits the earth from among those, except dust specifically, on account of an appearance of a plain text about it and about the earth, whether it quits the earth or does not quit [it].

wasl

Its metaphor in the inwardness: striving for earth is, in respect to its being tractable [dhalūlan], the absolute striving for servanthood ['ubudiyyah] absolutely, since servanthood is humility [dhillah], and service ['ibādah] is part of it, so tahārah of the servant is rather fulfilling what the servant is obligated with by way of humility and dependency [on God], and halting upon the formalities of his master and his [master's] limits, and submitting to his commands. If the "rational consideration [nazar]"[25] quits its terrestrial being, then one may not do tayammum with that – except with dust, since from dust was created the one of whom we are his offspring [Adam], and what remains thereof, including poverty and indigence, as the saying of the Arabs, "May the hand of the man be dusted",[26] and he became poor.

Then, the dust is the lowest of the elements, so the servant halts with his reality in respect to his configuration, his purification being from every hadath ["temporary ritual impurity"] expelling him from this station. And this [occasion for tayammum] does not arise except in the absence of finding [wijdan] water. And water is knowledge, and in knowledge is the life of the heart, just as in water is the life of the earth. And as it [tayammum] is the state of the follower of authority [al-muqallad] concerning knowledge of God, and the follower of authority, according to us, concerning knowledge of God, is the one who follows his intellect in his rational consideration [nazar] concerning his gnosis in God in respect to his reflection [fikr], and as, when the one doing tayammum finds water, or an amount [sufficient] for his use, tayammum is falsified, so, like that, when the revelation produces some command about divine knowledge, falsified is taqlīd [following authority] of the intellect for the sake of his rational consideration about knowledge of God for this issue, especially when the return to the revelation with the proof of the intellect is not in accordance with his proof. And so he is a possessor of revelation and intellect simultaneously, in this issue, so understand that!

wasl

The 'ulamā' of the sharī'ah are in accord that tayammum is a substitute for the minor tahārah,[27] but they diverge on the major [tahārah, i.e., ghusl]. But we, we do not argue about it that it is a substitute for anything, but rather we argue that it is a tahārah set down by the revelation specified with preconditions given expression by the revelation. It is not mentioned by the Prophet, may God give him blessings and peace, nor by the exalted Book, that tayammum is a substitute. There is no difference between tayammum and every other tahārah set down by the revelation. We rather say "set down by the revelation" since it is not a tahārah linguistically,[28] and I will give [371/510] the detailed explanation [tafsīl] in the sections [fasūl] of this subject [bāb], if God so wills.

There is a proponent that this tahārah, meaning the tahārah of dust, is a substitute for the major [tahārah], and there is a proponent that it is not a substitute for the major [tahārah] – where the linguistic relationship of "minor" and "major" in tahārah is to the general tahārah of washing the entire body [i.e., ghusl] and to the specific [tahārah] of [washing] some of the bodily parts in wudū'; so the "minor" hadath [temporary ritual impurity] is the one obligating wudū', and the "major" hadath is every hadath obligating washing.

wasl

Every hadath maligning faith obligates washing from it with water, which is the renewer of faith in knowledge: if he is one of the people of consideration [ahl al-nazar] concerning intellectual proofs, then he is a believer based on intellectual proof – and it is like finding water, an amount [sufficient] for its use. And if he is not one of the people of consideration concerning proofs, but is a follower of authority, tahārah is imposed on him, with faith, from that hadath which removes the faith from him by the [sword] or a good surmise [hasan al-zann]. He is the one doing tayammum with dust in the loss of water, or an absence of an amount [sufficient] for the water to be used.

This is according to the school of the one who sees that tayammum is also a substitute for the major tahārah; they see tayammum for the one in a state of janābah [major ritual impurity]. As for the school of the one who does not see that tayammum is a substitute for the major tahārah, he sees that the one in a state of janābah does not do tayammum, like Ibn Mas'ud and others. He is the one who does not see following authority in [matters of] faith, no, inevitably for [matters of] gnosis of God, and he does not obligate him – whether it is possible or impossible – with considerative proofs. And the majority of the Mutakallimin [proponents of Kalām] argue for it.

As for its being – meaning tayammum – a substitute for the minor tahārah, it is that a hadath maligns for him a designated issue, not faith, in the absence of a plain text from the book or sunnah or consensus [ijma'], concerning that. And so just as permitted for him is tayammum concerning this minor tahārah according to "substitute", permitted for him is deduction [qiyās] concerning the property of this issue, on account of the general meaning ['illah al-jāmi'ah] between this issue for which there is no property concerning it articulating it [al-mantūq] and the other issue for which there is a property articulated concerning it by the book, or sunnah, or consensus.

Our school concerning our argument that tayammum is not a substitute but rather a tahārah set down by the revelation, specified and designated for a specific state; the one who revealed it [also] revealed the use of water for this specified [act of] worship, and it is God and his messenger, may God give him blessings and peace, so it is not a substitute. Rather it is based on a derivation of the property concerning this issue from a plain text in the book or sunnah, inserting the property concerning this issue into a synopsis [mujmal] of that discourse. It is the fiqh [legal discourse] in the religion [dīn]. God said, "(Let a contingent from every expedition remain behind) to apply themselves [tafaqqah] to the religion (and admonish the people when they return to them – that thus they may learn to guard themselves [against evil])" [9:122] – and we do not need deduction [qiyās] for that!

The similitude of that [qiyās] is a man striking his father with a stick, or whatever it may be. The people of qiyās say "There is no plain text, according to us [for this situation]."[29] But as God said "Say not (to your parents) 'oof' [a sound of contempt], nor repel them, (but address them in terms of honor)" [17:23], we argue that when it [the revelation] mentioned the prohibition of saying "oof" – and it is a little thing, and beating with a stick is severer – the admonishment [tanbīh] from the Law-giver is with the lesser toward the uppermost, and so there is inevitably something of qiyās on it. The "saying of oof" and the striking with a stick bring together the wrong, so we seek "the striking with a stick" – the thing the text has passed over in silence [al-maskūt] – in the "saying of oof" – the thing the text articulated [al-mantūq].

We argue, we, that we do not have the exercise of governing control [tahakkum] over the Law-giver concerning anything [even] among the things it is permitted that we be responsible for,[30] nor do we have the exercise of governing control [with no plain text of the Law-giver], and especially not in the likes of this. If he will not refer to the articulation [nutq] of the revelation other than this, we do not impose qiyās, and we do not argue for it, nor do we augment it from "the saying of oof". Rather we decide [h.k.m.] with what is mentioned, and it is the word of God: "treat with kindness your parents" [2:83] – and the address is undifferentiated [ajmal], so we extract from this synopsis [mujmal] the property about everything which is not a "kindness". Beating with a stick is not one of the kindnesses which has been commanded by the revelation in our relationships with our parents. So we do not decide [h.k.m.] except with the plain text, and we do not need qiyās.

The religion is perfect,[31] and adding to it is not permitted, just as subtracting from it is not permitted. So the one who beats his father with a stick has not treated him kindly, and the one who does not treat his parents kindly has rejected what God commanded of him, that he practice [kindness] toward his parents. And the one who opposes the word of his parents, and does what his parents do not approve of, something which is [nevertheless] permissible for him to leave off, has in fact been disrespectful to them both. And it has been established that disrespect to parents is one of the great sins. For this reason we argue that the tahārah with dust – and it is tayammum – is not a substitute. Rather it is set down by the revelation, just as [the command about] water was revealed. And it has a specific description for [its] practice – it is explicated to us that we do not practice it except on the face and hands. Wudū' and ghusl are not like that. It is appropriate that the substitute take the place of the thing it is substituting for, and this is the taking the place of the thing it is substituting for in the act. "(God has not made for any man 'two hearts in one body', nor has He made your wives whom you divorce by repudiating them as 'mothers', nor has He made your adopted sons your 'sons'. Such is your manner of speaking, but) God says what is really true and He shows the way" [33:4].

bāb

The 'ulamā' of the sharī'ah are in accord that tayammum is permitted for the sick and the traveler, if there is an absence of water. And according to us, [tayammum is permitted... if there is an absence of water] or non-use of water, despite its presence, for the sick in whom arises a fear that his sickness would increase, or he would die,[32] on the basis of the arrival of the plain text concerning that.

wasl

Its metaphor in the inwardness is that the "traveler" is a master [sāhib] of consideration [nazar] concerning proof. He is a traveler with his reflection [fikr] through way-stations of his excursions [manāzil muqadimat] and along a path of their hierarchies, so that the property for the issue sought would enter [the path] for him. The sick is the one to whose primordial nature was not bestowed consideration of proofs; given what he knows of his unfortunate primordial nature, and its inadequacy in reaching the intent [maqsūd] with consideration [nazar], rather it is obligatory that he be restrained from consideration and be commanded to follow authority [taqlīd].

We have already said in what preceded that the follower of authority concerning faith is like the one doing tayammum with dust, since dust is not for the sake of tahārah – meaning [in the sense of] spotlessness [nazafah] – like water is. And yet we call it a purification according to the sharī'ah – meaning dust – specifically, in contrast [khilāf][33] with water, and I call it [i.e., purification with water] a purification according to the sharī'ah and the intellect. So, the master [372/521] of consideration, even if he believed first through following authority, he [still] desires to investigate the considerative proofs which he believed in – [but] not because of doubt, [but] in order to achieve for himself knowledge in the proof which he examines [consideratively, nazar]. And so he emerges from following authority [taqlīd][34] to knowledge ['ilm]. Or he practices with the authority he was following and so is produced for him by that practice knowledge in God, and thus he differentiates therewith between the real and the false, with a correct insight, not through following authority about it. It is the disclosed [kashf] knowledge. God said, "Oh you who believe, if you have taqwā of God, He will make for you a criterion" [8:29] – it is an entity of what we said about it – "Be in taqwā of God, and He will teach you" [2:282] and He said, "The merciful/who taught the Qur'an/created humankind/taught them the message" [55:1ff.], and He said, "(So they came across one of Our servants,) on whom We had bestowed mercy from. Ourselves and to whom We had taught knowledge from Our presence" [18:65].

And it has been mentioned that "The knowledgeable ['ulamā'] are the inheritors of the prophets" – and so we call them "'ulamā'" – and "The prophets did not bequeath dinars and dirhams, but they bequeathed knowledge" – and taking [akhdh] knowledge is through spiritual struggle [mujāhadah] – and practices, also, are a journey. So just as the intellect journeys with its reflective consideration [nazar al-fikri] in the cosmos, the practitioner journeys with his practice, and they both come together at the end result [natījah]. The master of practice is greater as he is "upon insight" in what he knows, and doubt does not enter into him. The master of consideration does not lack doubt entering upon him in his proof. So the master of practice is first in [deserving] the name "knower" compared to the master of consideration. And I will give the discourse about what is permitted in the "journey", and about what is not permitted, in [the chapter on] "the salāh of the journeyer" in this book, if God so wills.

bāb

The 'ulamā' of the sharī'ah diverge concerning the sick who finds water but fears using it. There is a proponent for permitting tayammum for him, and I argue for it, and he need not repeat [the salāh]. And there is a proponent that he shall not do tayammum with the finding [wujūd] of water, regardless of the sickness and the fear about that. And there is a proponent with respect to them both that he do tayammum and he repeat the salāh when he finds water. And there is a proponent that he do tayammum, and if he finds water before the departure of the moment[35] he shall do ablution and repeat [the salāh], and if he finds water after the departure of the moment he need not repeat [the salāh].

wasl

The metaphor of that in the inwardness is that the sick is the one to whose inherent nature was not bestowed the [capacity for] consideration [nazar] [of proofs] – he is sick chronically, despite the wujūd of proofs, but he was fearful of destruction, and departing from the religion, if he were to examine [nazar] them [the proofs], on account of his inadequacy. We have seen the majority of them departing from the religion through consideration [nazar], as their primordial natures were weak and they were presuming themselves to be, in that, upon correct knowledge, and they are as God said: "(Shall We tell you of those whose works are lost? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while) they reckoned that they were doing themselves good by their works" [18:104]. The likes of these took, if they desired deliverance, the articles of faith ['aqā'id] through following authority, just as they took the properties through following authority; but they should follow the authority of the people of hadīth and no one but them. This following of authority of the prophetic hadīth concerning God is "upon knowledge of God" concerning it with no allegorical interpretation [ta'wīl] through [excessive] designated tanzīh [declaration of incomparability], and no [declaration of] similarities [tashbīh]. Upon this [kind of incorrect taqlīd] are most of the common people, but they realize not. This is the "sick" who finds water but fears using it, in regard to the metaphor [i'tibār]...


Translation of 'Aurah Chapter

[VI: 172] The 'ulamā' are in accord that it is obligatory to cover the "shameful part" ('aurah), with no divergence, and absolutely. That is, it is a requirement during salāh and during other times. I will indicate its limit for the man and for the woman.

The metaphor for that in the inwardness is that it is obligatory on every reasoning person to cover the divine mystery which if disclosed, its disclosure would lead someone neither knowledgeable nor reasoning to a lack of reverence [ihtiram] for the divine Side, most mighty, most unapproachable. The reality of 'aurah is "inclination" [mail], and therefore the one who said it said "Truly Our houses are 'aurah (exposed)" [33:13], that is, the inclination was to cancel [their promise] after they had volunteered to go on the expedition. But God called them liars before His messenger, with His words: "Yet they were not 'aurah (exposed): they intended nothing but to run away" [33:13], meaning with this word [those who intended nothing but to run away] from what you [Muhammad] had called them to. And another [meaning of 'aurah] is a'war, a one-eyed man, and indeed his outlook inclines to a single perspective.

Likewise, it is appropriate that the knowledgeable person cover before the ignorant person the mysteries of the Real, such as "There is not a secret conversation among three people but God is the fourth" [58:17], and His words, "We are nearer to him than his jugular vein" [50:16], and His words, "I become his ear and his eye and his tongue."[36] In fact, the ignorant person, when he hears that, it leads him to forbidden interpretations [fahm] [about God], like corporeal indwelling [hulūl] or delimiting [tahdīd]. So it is appropriate that what God used to gladden the hearts of the 'ulamā' be covered up, and He inclines – glorified and exalted be He, praised and sanctified be He – in His speeches to things which necessitate God's sublimity of total self-sufficiency and independence from the world, to His words on the tongue of His messenger, may God give him blessings and peace, "I was hungry and you fed Me not, I was sick and you visited Me not, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink."[37]

So let the knowledgeable cover up knowledge of a mystery from the ignorant and not add to what was said by way of explanation [tafsīr] by God, just as God covered it [the mystery] with His words "Truly, when there is someone sick, and if you visit him, you will find Me there before him."[38] This statement is more difficult than the first one, since God has given in this explanation [tafsīr] to the 'ulamā' in God another knowledge about Him – may He be exalted through it! – that they did not previously have, and that is that in the first statement, God made Himself the "sick" and the "hungry" Himself, but in His explanation, God made Himself the "visitor of the sick", in that He was "there before him", in that whoever visits a sick person is in fact "there before him". What a difference between the [second statement and the first statement] where God makes himself the sick person! Each statement is true, and to every truth there is its reality.

As for the covering which is for that, before the common person, it is that he should say to him about God's words "you would find Me there before him" that the state of the sick person is always one of dependency and needing the one who has in his hands the cure – and he is none other than God! The most part of medicine is remembering God and being patient, in order to repel what has befallen him which is different for healthy people. He has said [for them] "I am sitting with the one who is remembering Me." This is a correct perspective, and the common person will be satisfied with it. But the knowledgeable person will remain with what he knows of that according to his knowledge, and this is the covering of the "divine inclination" from the sight of the common person...


Notes

1. For the spread of Ibn 'Arabi's teachings, see Seyyed Hossein Nasr's (1972) Sufi Essays (London); William C. Chittick (1991) "Ibn 'Arabi and His School", World Spirituality (New York), 49-79; Osman Yahia (1964) Histoire et classification de l'oeuvre d'lbn 'Arabi (Damascus); Masataka Takeshita's Ibn 'Arabi's Theory of the Perfect Man and its Place in the History of Islamic Thought; and for an extensive list of all the 'ulamā' who have spoken "for" or "against" Ibn 'Arabi's Fusūs, see Osman Yahia and Henry Corbin (1975) Le Texte des Textes (Teheran and Paris).

2. See Michel Chodkiewicz (1986) Le Sceau des Saints (Paris), his translation and discussion of Amir 'Abd al-Qadir's "kitāb al-mawāqif" published in 1982 and entitled Écrits spirituels, and an article published in 1991 entitled "The Diffusion of Ibn 'Arabi's Doctrine", Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society IX: 36-57.

3. See Claude Addas (1989) Ibn 'Arabi, ou la Quête du Soufre Rouge (Paris).

4. William C. Chittick (1989) The Sufi Path of Knowledge (Albany).

5. See also Michel Chodkiewicz, editor (1988) Les Illuminations de La Mecque (Paris). Contributors included Chittick, Morris, Gril, and Cyrille Chodkiewicz.

6. See Michael Sells (1984) "Ibn 'Arabi's Garden Among the Flames", History of Religions 24, 2:287-315; Sells (1988) "Ibn 'Arabi's Polished Mirror: Perspective Shift and Meaning Event", Studia Islamica 62:121- 49; and for mystical language in general, his contribution in Moshe Idel and Bernard McGinn, editors, (1989) Mystical Union and Monotheistic Faith (New York).

7. James Winston Morris (1990) "Ibn 'Arabi's 'Esotericism': The Problem of Spiritual Authority", Studia Islamica 71:37-64. The definitive study of Ibn 'Arabi's interpreters is Morris', published in JAOS numbers 106-7 (1986-7).

8. The Beyazid MS. has "to the extent of your capability in this path – may you carry out what you are responsible for through i'tibar".

9. His views on the Bātiniyyah heresy are clear. He writes,

[They] take the [legal] properties of the sharī'ah and discharge them in their inwardnesses, and they left nothing of the properties of the sharī'ah for their outwardnesses. They are called Bātiniyyah, and they are, in that, in various schools. Imam Abu Hamid indicated, in his book [entitled] Kitāb al-Mustazhiri refuting them, something of their schools and has explicated their errors in them. Felicity is with "outward people". They are diametrically opposite "inward people". But felicity, all felicity, is with the group who combine the outward and inward; they are "'ulamā' in God" and his [legal] properties.

10. A. Kevin Reinhart (1990) "Impurity/No Danger", History of Religions, 1-24.

11. If he should use the cold water and get chilled.

12. Hammadah Ablati (1975) Islam in Focus (Indiana), 57.

13. One sees yet again the irony of Ibn 'Arabi rejecting the allegories and symbolisms so beloved by modern state fundamentalists, who distort Islam atrociously to make it fit their perversions; this from Ibn 'Arabi, the sufi they love to hate, opposing their pretence with literal and strict exegesis.

14. The Beyazid MS. has "until he emerges from the noose of taqlīd".

15. Time period, for salāh.

16. Leila Ahmed (1992) Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate (New Haven).

17. Sachiko Murata (1992) The Tao of Islam (Albany, NY).

18. "Many Islamic movements in the modern world seem unwilling or unable to grasp the nuanced appreciation of masculine and feminine provided by the intellectual tradition. In some cases we see that Muslims have adopted the worst and most negative tendencies of the modern world as their own... All the problems of the ecological crisis – which are the clear results of a negative masculinity run amuck – are being adopted with glee... we see a headlong rush into a position of power and domination found in technology."

19. Muhammad Abdul-Rauf (1977) The Islamic View of Women and the Family (New York), 35.

20. For instance, Ibn 'Arabi's contemporary, Imam Nawawi, writes that "The 'aurah of a free woman is all of her body except the face and palms... and Malik says this... as do al-Auza'i and Abu Thaur" in his al-Majmu' III:175.

21. Imam Nawawi records that "Abu Hanifah, al-Thauri, and al-Mazni say her foot is not in fact 'aurah", Majmu' 111:175.

22. Imam Nawawi writes that Ahmad (Ibn Hanbal) says that "All of her body is 'aurah, except her face alone", and "al-Mawardi and al-Mutawali take from Abu Bakr ibn 'Abd al-Rahman al-Tabi'i (i.e., from the second generation after the Prophet) that all of her body is 'aurah", Majmu' 111:175.

23. Leila Ahmed understands the failing of non-Islamic feminism: "colonialism's use of feminism to promote the culture of the colonizers and undermine native culture has ever since imparted to feminism in non-Western societies the taint of having served as an instrument of colonial domination, rendering it suspect in Arab eyes... That taint has undoubtedly hindered the feminist struggle within Muslim societies." This is Murata's premise too, that "the rigidly 'patriarchal' stress of some contemporary Muslims is to be softened", but "Muslims will be able to do this as Muslims – not as imitation Westerners – only if they look once again at the spiritual and intellectual dimensions of their own tradition."

24. Yellow and red earth, pigmented by a compound including arsenic.

25. The Beyazid MS. has "earth".

26. The saying is an imprecation which recalls the dusty look of an impoverished person.

27. I.e., wudū'

28. Rubbing dust on the face and hands is not an act of cleansing and purification in the customary usage and linguistic sense of the word.

29. Or "We have no plain text".

30. Exercising governing control, i.e., making decisions that the revelation allows us to make.

31. Complete.

32. If he should use the cold water and get chilled.

33. Or "divergence".

34. The Beyazid MS. has "until he emerges from the noose of taqlīd".

35. Time period, for salāh.

36. "My servant continues drawing nearer to Me through supererogatory acts until I love him; and when I love him, I become his ear with which he hears, his eye with which he sees, his hand with which he grasps, and his foot with which he walks." See William A. Graham (1977) Divine Word and Prophetic Word in Early Islam (The Hague), 172-4.

37. Graham (1977) 179-80.

38. This hadīth qudsī has been in effect split by Ibn 'Arabi into two columns, the first ("I was hungry") a confusing mystery, the second ("you would find Me there before him") a cover-up explanation which placates the confused person. The format of the entire hadīth is "God says on the day of resurrection, 'Oh son of Adam, I was sick and you did not visit Me.' He says, 'Oh my Lord, how could I visit You, when You are the Lord of all beings?' He says, 'Did you not know that My servant so-and-so was sick, and you did not visit him? Did you not know that if you had visited him, you would have found Me with him?' "