This article first appeared in the Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society, Vol. VII, 1988.

Two Poems from the Diwān of Ibn 'Arabi

translated and commented upon by Ralph Austin


Poem written in Damascus 634 A.H.(1236 A.D.)

1. If not for Him and but for us none of what has come to be would be
in existence, nor would there have come those messages and revelations
from our Master, the Merciful One.

2. Bringing to us tales and rules by way of elaboration and explanation.
(In the Qur'an) He has called us 'possessed of inner essences' although
clever and crafty thinking is more our style.

3. All of which has brought us to submission (Islam), faith und virtue.
Exalted then be He who carried him by night that he might see Him
in a measured way and by degrees.

4. Only he whom the Merciful One has called Man is specially favoured with His form
and (is promised) gardens, rivers, fresh breezes and refreshing scents.

The two poems translated here come from the Diwān al Shaykh al-Akbar, also known as the Diwān al-Kabir or simply al- Diwān, and it may be the first occasion on which poems from this collection have been translated into English. There are several existing manu­scripts of this work to be found in various libraries round the world, none of which is complete, and their variation makes the preparation of a critical edition a rather daunting prospect However the manuscript usually referred to is one written in 634H (1236 AD) in Damascus, which was printed at Bulaq in 1270H (1855 AD). The two poems presented here are beautiful examples of Ibn 'Arabi's condensed style and subtle allusions, factors which always render a translator's task so fraught with difficulty.


Poem from the Diwān written upon the death of one of his daughters

1. With my very own hands I laid my little daughter to rest because
she is of my very flesh,

2. Thus am I constrained to submit to the rule of parting, so that my
hand is now empty and contains nothing.

3. Bound to this moment we are in, caught between the yesterday that
has gone and the tomorrow that is yet to come.

4. This flesh of mine is as pure silver, while my inner reality is as pure
gold.

5. Like a bow have I grown, and my true posture is as my rib.

6. My Lord it is who says that He has created me in a state of
suffering and loss.

7. How then can I possibly hope for any rest, dwelling as I do in such
a place and state?

8. Were it not for that state I would be neither child nor parent.

9. Nor indeed would there be any to compare with me as is the case
with my Creator.

10. It is surely a case of the qualification being one with respect to
an essence which is full of implicit multiplicity.

11. Because I am for my Creator, in our creation like one of a
multitude.

12. Then my God alighted between us, in the very fabric of existence –
not merely a figment of belief.

13. All with a firm, well established emergence, to which I may trace
my antecedents with confidence.

14. Thus, on the one hand, I can say that I am a mortal like yourselves,
while You do vouch for me.

15. Always, however, on the understanding that I am not ultimately
a 'like', thus to maintain my integrity.

16. For You have banished all 'being like' from me in the pre-eternal
state; and that is my conviction.

17. See how sublime and lofty is my garden of paradise, secure in the
company of matchless beautiful maidens.

18. He speaks of this as we have also in our book the Maqsid ai-Asmā'.

19. Is not created nature His family and people, as also the very
essence of the Unique One?

20. Consider how He is a consort for her and how they came together
upon my being, so that it split asunder.

21. These words of mine are not written after long deliberation, but
have been a part of me eternally.

22. It was none but the apostle of the Eternal One who activated them
within me.

23. He it was who dictated it, leaving me to write it with my hand.

24. Thus is the matter, and none truly knows it,

25. Save a leader of the spirit surpassing in goodness or one of the
golden mean.

26. Indeed, one who is 'other' cannot know it now or ever.

27. Every branch reverts to its root, no more in any way than when
it sprang forth.

Commentary on the second poem

Ibn 'Arabi wrote a huge collection of poetry called the Diwān which has not yet been translated. As I was thumbing idly through it, my eyes fell upon the Arabic word lahadtu which means to lower somebody into the grave. The poem had been written immediately after Ibn 'Arabi had buried his young daughter, as a memorial to her. It is possible that this is the same little girl whom he mentions in the Futūhāt:

... The same year, I left my daughter Zainab with her mother, having given her mother permission to perform the Pilgrimage. I myself travelled to Iraq, intending to meet my family later in Mecca. When I arrived at the meeting place, I went with a group of people who were with me to look for them in the Syrian caravan. My daughter caught sight of me and cried out. "O Mother, there is Daddy!" Then her mother looked and saw me in the distance. Zainab went on calling. "There's my daddy! There's my daddy!" Then one of her uncles called to me and when I came to her she laughed and threw her arms round me shouting, "Daddy! Daddy!" (Futūhāt. IV. P.117)

Perhaps it is the same girl who unfortunately died and after whose funeral he wrote this tremendously rich poem, which contains in synopsis almost all the most important teachings of his life. It consists of 27 verses, interestingly the number of chapters in the Fusūs. This poem, very difficult and complicated even in Arabic, is inspired by a very sad event: the death of his daughter.

1. With my very own hands I laid my little daughter to rest because
she is of my very flesh.

Always with Ibn 'Arabi, everything he writes is loaded with meanings. The daughter is symbolic of his physical existence – of his dependency on God. The whole poem is a study of the tension and contrast between earthly existence – the existence of being a creature and being an eternal reality in the mind of God, and the linkage between the two. The daughter is an inspiration to meditate upon his fleshliness and his eternalness and the gulf that exists between the two and the link that exists between the two and, ultimately, the unity that underlies the two. With Ibn 'Arabi, there is always an underlying message of polarity and linkage – contrasts and opposites linked together by a basic and primordial unity.

2. Thus am I constrained to submit to the rule of parting, so that my
hand is now empty and contains nothing.

This verse can be seen simply as an expression of grief: 'I am now parted from my beloved little girl by death. Now that I have put her in her grave I possess nothing of her, she is gone from my hand'. In this, the parting refers to the sense which any creature (i.e. all of us creatures) has in any turning towards the spiritual life – as Rumi and other Sufis have put it – the sense of exile from the home of the Divine. The word used here by Ibn 'Arabi is nawa which is parting –  but also, distance and exile. In expressing his grief, he also expresses the proverbial nostalgia of the mystic for the divine spiritual eternal state from which we all come and which we feel, in this 'vale of tears', to be separated from. To say "... my hand is now empty and contains nothing" must have meant – quite apart from having lost his daughter – the very strong notion in Sufism of poverty, of indigence, of not being anything. As the Qur'an says: "Does not man remember a time when he was nothing worth remembering?" (lam yakun shay'an madhkura). In this verse, in the parting and the exile there comes to mind the story in the Mathnawi of Jalaluddin Rumi of the eagle, the mighty eagle of the mountain top who is kept chained down below, his wings clipped, a hood over his eyes. This, too, is an image of the spirit tied down to the earth, in exile from its spiritual haunts. The second verse has something of that connotation and is linked to the next verse.

3. Bound to this moment we are in, caught between the yesterday that
has gone and the tomorrow that is yet to come.

Again, the sense in Ibn 'Arabi's thought of man's situation – man's being in between two enormous realities: the reality of creation and the reality of eternal essence. As a Sufi master once said, "The past is irretrievable – the future infinitely precious". Here is another state familiar to the Sufis of al-hayrah or perplexity, confusion – being in between two realities, being in a state where one doesn't know where one belongs, where to turn. Ibn 'Arabi is very conscious, in relation to the death of his daughter, of time – the way time cuts us down, the way time changes states, the way time often renders our hopes and ideals to nothing – he is addressing the pressure of the moment. Another Sufi idea suggested here is that of being the person of the moment, Ibn waqtihi. Implicit in this consideration of yesterday and tomorrow is the notion that the present moment is the only real time. The past is gone, the future is not yet here so if we don't enjoy or make full use of the present, then yesterday we will never have again and tomorrow perhaps we won't be here. This is the perplexity of time which is brought home to him by the death of his daughter.

4. This flesh of mine is as pure silver, while my inner reality is as pure gold.

In this first part of the poem, he is contrasting two different states before starting to link them up later in the poem. Therefore, this is the prelude, the initial observations and expressions of grief and perplexity about the death of his daughter. This section contrasts his fleshliness with his eternal unity in God. Later he brings them back together and even later in the poem he says some very remarkable and very daring things about that unity. But here we have the contrast, the tension and the conflict between the flesh, between this world and the state of the eternal subsistence in the divine. He says: "This flesh of mine is as pure silver..." – Silver is a lunar metal, a feminine metal as compared with gold which is traditionally a solar metal, a masculine metal. It is probable that he is indicating the sub-lunar feminine aspect of worldly and fleshly existence and giving it a positive quality, i.e. that the silver of the world also has its preciousness.

5. Like a bow have I grown, and my true posture is as my rib.

A rather difficult verse, this brings to mind that, traditionally, Eve is made out of Adam's rib. Also, it relates to the mirror of the soul which the Sufi seeks to prepare for perfect reflection of the Divine Light, which is not only initially covered with rust, but is also distorted. In speaking of the threefold path of the Sufis in terms of the preparing of the face of the metal mirror of the soul to reflect the Divine Light, the first stage is to take off the rust so that the surface of the mirror can reflect some light, in however a distorted a fashion. In the second stage, the real job for the Sufi is to level the surface of the mirror so perfectly that in the third stage, the Divine Light or the Divine Image is so perfectly mirrored in the mirror that the mirror itself disappears. This is the aim of the spiritual path – this is fana' annihilation – self effacement. When the mirror of the soul perfectly reflects the Divine, there is only the Divine left. As Ibn 'Arabi says in the Fusūs in the chapter on Adam, "you cannot see the mirror and what it reflects at the same time". The bow and the bentness of the rib indicate the distortion involved in being a separate ego. The task of the second stage of the Sufi path is not so much to remove the temptations of the flesh and the world which has been done in the first (that constitutes the 'rust') but, to iron out, to grind away the distortion of the false subject (false ego) and to replace it with the level, correct and true subjectivity which is typified by the Prophet. The second part of the litanies of the Sufi orders usually consists of the calling down of blessings upon the Prophet. In calling down blessings upon the Prophet, each Sufi is calling down blessings upon his own true self. In Islam and in Sufism, the Prophet typifies the normative human being. Therefore, in making the ego conform, imitating and copying the Prophet is an important part of Islamic spirituality. In making the ego conform to the ego of the Prophet, one is making it conform to an ego which is then capable of proceeding to the next stage. Therefore, this 'bentness' of the bow and the rib relates to the distortion of false egohood which it is a major task to correct. Ibn 'Arabi knew the Qur'an intimately and, when writing, is constantly drawing upon his memory of the Qur'an. As to the mention of the bow, Chapter 53 verse 9 says: "And God draws near a bow's length or even nearer". The bow and the rib, quite apart from its imagery of distortion, have a sense of nearness, in that, implicit in the very fact that we have an ego means that we are already semi-divine. The very danger our ego presents us with is that it is always in danger of claiming divinity. The paradox of the human state is that our egohood presents us with a terrible dilemma. On the one hand, it puts us as near as possible – a mere 'bow's length' away from God and yet, to get the wrong end of the stick, to use it improperly is to distance ourselves utterly from God. In this respect, in verse 26 he says "Indeed one who is other cannot know it now or ever". If one's egohood is used or is assumed by oneself to be other than He, then one will know nothing now or ever. The nearness is cleverly and very subtly worked into this verse which is about the distortion of life in this world, as a reminder of the other aspect of egohood.

6. My Lord it is who says that He has created me in a state of suffering and loss.

This verse is inspired by the Qur'an (Chapter 90, verse 4). It is interesting that suffering and loss or 'difficulty', which is another way of translating the word kabad, can be related to kabid which is the liver. The liver is seen in Arabic as the source of the emotions –  not the heart as in our language. We talk in our language of being 'liverish' and the liver is a source of one of the traditional humours. In Arabic, there is a line of a poem by a pre-Islamic poet which says: "What are our children but our livers walking before us on the earth", i.e. our hearts walking before us on the earth. The liver is the seat of the emotions, i.e. the seat of many of our difficulties, false passions – the very source of suffering and loss for much of human experience. Perhaps the Shaykh has this in mind when he quoted this bit of the Qur'anic verse. In another chapter of the Qur'an, Chapter 103, it says: "Consider the declining day, surely man is in loss except those who believe and encourage each other to piety". In this context man is in a state of loss and difficulty and suffering, characterizing the path in this world as 'a vale of tears'. However, in reality there is no path to follow because we are never anything other than God. There is a story on this point where two Shaykhs meet at Mecca having come from the far corners of the Islamic world to perform the Pilgrimage. One throws himself upon the neck of the other weeping and says: "What has brought us here, my brother?". The other one says: "No, tell me what has brought us here?" and he says: "Heedlessness." In other words, "Our heedlessness is obvious in the fact that we have gone to all the trouble of making the journey to come to Mecca to perform the rites etc. when we are always immediately with God." As Rumi says: "We are like flying birds looking for air". Implicit in this idea of being in a state of loss and suffering and difficulty, emotion and passion – we are in reality in a world of delusion and not in a world of actual suffering and loss. We are in a world of false knowledge and false vision which is what constitutes the loss and not the creation itself. The creation, as taught in the Qur'an, is the great proof of the wonderfulness of God that is the great earthly paradise in which we live. It is only the human predicament which makes it, on so many occasions, such a terrible place to be in – the terribleness of delusion.

7. How then can I possibly hope for any rest, dwelling as I do in such a place and state?

By '... place and state' he indicates his delusion – his own failure to realize the Reality in the context of grieving for his daughter, and thus reinforces the delusion. 'Rest' always suggests the state of eternal latency: "How can I have any rest", comes to mean: how can I enjoy or know about my eternal state when I am in this state of delusion?

8. Were it not for that state I would be neither child nor parent.

Here very interestingly, he draws deeply upon the Surat-l Ikhlas: "Say, God, He is One, God on Whom all depends. He begets not and is not begotten and there is nothing like unto Him". (That final verse in the Surat-l Ikhlas really means, "and there is nothing 'adequate' to Him.") Ibn 'Arabi is thus inspired by the words, "He begets not nor is He begotten" – therefore, He has no child and He has no parent. In other words: "Were I not in this state of delusion, I would be He in every sense not only in reality but in my consciousness." The 9th verse emphasizes this point:

9. Nor indeed would there be any to compare with me as is the case
with my Creator.

The word al-ahad, as in 'qul huwa 'llahu ahad – God is the Unique One – is the first of the Names of God mentioned in the Surat-l Ikhlas (the other one is Samad which appears later). Ahad is the Incomparable One, i.e. the God Who has no creation, Who knows none but Himself, Who is utterly alone, peerless, unique. Consequently, he says: "But for my illusion, I would be part of that uniqueness; I would be myself incomparable because I would be in all senses nothing other than He Who is Incomparable. Could I but shed the illusion of the other world that I am in, I would be parentless, childless – I would have no connection outside myself, I would be incomparable like my Creator". With this direct reference to the Surat-l Ikhlas, Ibn 'Arabi goes on:

10. It is surely a case of the qualification being one with respect to
an essence which is full of implicit multiplicity.

Here he is pointing to a very interesting paradox in his teaching. His teaching is very much about the polarity of two great movements. (I have mentioned this in the introduction to my translation of the chapters of the Fusūs.) The movement of the creation and the Divine Will which brings everything into existence, which creates the whole cosmos infinitely and continuously as an act of Mercy – an act of the Rahman, and the reverse movement back to the source – as verse 27 of the poem states very clearly: "Every branch reverts to its root, no more than when it sprang forth". This outpouring, this great cosmic earth which comes from the womb of the Godhead, is countered by the beginnings in the very creation itself of the return. When the cosmos has reached its logical conclusion, it begins to come back again. As it says in the Qur'an constantly: wa ilayhi masir "To Him is the eventual becoming". All things ultimately and inexorably go back to Him who has imagined it all in the first place. Just as when you sit and imagine something, ultimately, it is nothing other than yourself. In this respect, Ibn 'Arabi is pointing out that the ahad, the Oneness of creation, is the signal to begin the return to an essence, which because it is the source of knowledge for God has implicit multiplicity in it. Thus, each movement of Mercy contains the seeds of its reversal.

11. Because I am for my Creator, in our creation like one of a multitude.

In other words: "Because I, in my eternal essence, being '... full of implicit multiplicity' (as mentioned in the previous verse) am able to enable the creating god." Using language, we are always separating, polarizing and differentiating even though the whole thing isn't like that. However, we have no alternative but to use language neither has he. In our eternal state we are 'full of implicit multiplicity' because in our eternal state we are part of the treasureness of God which He longs to know. Therefore, we have within us implicitly the whole multiplicity of the universe. Man, being the microcosm, has within him the infinitude – the infinite multiplicity and possibility of the universe. In the words "I am for my Creator in our creation...", I think what he means is not 'our' as the universe, as all creatures, but that he is very subtly saying: "... in our creation..." – God's and mine. Similarly, each of us in eternity has his own compact with the God who is to do the creating, just as each of us has our own Lord. Each of us is a peculiar and special expression of God, and we have a special rabb-marbub — Lord and lorded relationship with God; in other words, "It is my creation, 'our' creation – I share this creation of me with God." Therefore, in this verse, he is stressing not all our creation but 'our' creation: 'His and mine'. Now up to verse 11 he makes the contrast between the earthly state which he described in the wake of the funeral of his daughter, and the state that he would be in were he to see through the illusion. In other words, he would share with the God of the Chapter of Sincerity, in His Incomparability and His being neither begotten nor begetting. This early part of the poem, up to verse 11, is this contrast. Then the linkage between these two contrasted states begins in verses 12 – 15:

12. Then my God alighted between us, in the very fabric of existence –
not merely a figment of belief.

This verse mentions the God he has had 'our' creation with. He is making a very important point here – namely, the familiar distinction that Ibn 'Arabi makes between al-Haqq the Reality and Allah who is the God of creation, of relationship, i.e. the God who is worshipped. Thus, without worshippers, He cannot be a God who is worshipped, so Allah has this very special linking function between the latency of the essence in eternity, and us all here now. We have this essential relationship and it is, in the sense that has just been mentioned, a very private special relationship; we all have our very own God to be Godded because we are all in special relation to that God who 'alighted' between us, that is between the two parts or aspects of 'me' – '... not just as a figment of belief, not just as a doctrine or someone's idea but as a very vital part of the whole dialectic of existence and being.

13. All with a firm, well established emergence, to which I may trace
my antecedents with confidence.

This 'God reality', this 'linking divine' is absolutely essential to the whole process, it is not just somebody's idea but the God which must be worshipped – a suprahuman reality who is the object of our worship: "Thee do we worship and Thee do we ask for help" (Qur'an, I.). This is the essential duality which is necessary in ordinary everyday religion and which serves the Sufi until he achieves real identity with God, the essential reality of Him and us, Thou and me, Beloved and the lover, the essential link between the creation and Creator. Therefore, as he is saying: "I pronounce and proclaim the link by which I can confidently trace myself back to the state of eternal being."

14. Thus, on the one hand, I can say that I am a mortal like yourselves,
while You do vouch for me.

Here, Ibn 'Arabi is again quoting from the Qur'an, referring to the Prophet. He is saying: "Certainly I am mortal, certainly I belong to this world of creation, but You, i.e. this God, this Lord 'vouch for me' – Your presence, my worship of You, my consciousness of you as a God guarantees that I am not purely creaturely." Finally, this section ends with:

15. Always, however, on the understanding that I am not ultimately
a 'like', thus to maintain my integrity.

He is saying: "In reality, although I am part of the world, the 'God thing' guarantees that I am not a separate thing that is 'like' God but, ultimately, I am nothing other than God '... thus to maintain my own integrity', i.e. my existential and ontological integrity as being essence-creature – in God."

16. For You have banished all 'being like' from me in the pre-eternal
state; and that is my conviction.

Ibn 'Arabi is quoting from the Qur'an once more where the Prophet is encouraged to conduct his affairs through consultation. Chapter 42 is called the Shura or the Consultation. According to what Ibn 'Arabi says about the nature of the latent essences in the divine mind, God cannot release the vision of Himself as the treasure which He wants to know without the cooperation of the essences, without the cooperation of you and I, which will provide Him with the things that He is going to know about Himself. In a way, before creation, there must be a 'pre-eternal consultation' between the essences which preserve and contain potentially all that God can know of Himself and between the God that wishes to be known and to create Himself, to see Himself.

17. See how sublime and lofty is my garden of paradise, secure in the
company of matchless beautiful maidens.

The lofty garden of paradise is precisely the state of eternal existence in God. The beautiful maidens must be regarded as being the unreleased, uncreated non-existent (not 'non-being') essences in God eternally. So this is a rather delightful picture of the experience of being nothing other than God, of being identified with God in eternity, inspired by Qur'an 69:22 and 55:70.

18. He speaks of this as we have also in our book the Maqsid al-Asmā'

The Maqsid al-Asmā' is not available in print and I have been unable to consult it.

Verses 19 and 20 are really quite shocking in the context of Islamic religion. They are extremely paradoxical and are perhaps the most powerful two verses of the poem.

19. Is not created nature His family and people, as also the very
essence of the Unique One?

Nature, as representative of creation, is in this line a feminine word. As Ibn 'Arabi points out in the last chapter of the Fusūs, the male God or the male element is surrounded by two female elements-created nature and the very essence itself of God which contains all the essences that we are. It is also a feminine word – dhdt. Nature, the creation itself and the sophic basis of that creation – the deep inner wisdom which provides all the material for that creation are as a family, like a wife and family for God, the Reality. He speaks then of His family. His ahl – His household. The creation is compared to a household – a family or a wife to God but, also the very innermost essence. Here we have the union of the two things that were contrasted in the earlier part of the poem – the worldly state and the pre-eternal state are brought together. They are both a 'consort' for the Divine One and therefore, very much a part of the Divine. This is a very difficult idea to articulate without causing certain misunderstandings which is rather compounded in the next verse.

20. Consider how He is a consort for her and how they came together upon my being, so that it split asunder.

'Her' is Nature on the one hand and the Essence on the other. In this verse, the Arabic word ba'al is used meaning a husband or a consort. (The Arabic word ba'al is the same word as 'Baal' used in this way in the Old Testament.) God is seen here as the consort of the double but single feminine. Therefore, the rest of the line is concerned with how 'they' consummated their union '... upon my being'. Here 'my being' (wujudi) is the material which provides the wherewithal for a birth to result from this union of God the Divine al-Haqq and His inner/outer consort. The Hindu concept shakti gives a similar taste of what is indicated by this idea for without the shakti nothing would happen and thus, God would be alone and undivided. It is only the shakti –  the female energy (expressed here by Ibn 'Arabi in terms of the inner essence and the outer world) which can bring about the whole drama of creation. In this respect then, 'my being' is 'my inner essence – my divine pre-existent being'. The words '... so that it split asunder' refer to the fact that because of the coming together of these two elements, the difference between them became apparent. In many ways, this situation is similar to the vivification of the egg in the womb – splitting, dividing into the eternal and non-eternal.

Verses 19 and 20 are very powerful and central forming the actual conclusion of the poem. In the beginning we had the difference between the two things, then the linking of the two things by the worshipped God and finally the identity of the two things in a union which itself again produces the difference once more so that it is really a cycle that is being discussed here. These two verses are concerned with what is known in religion as hieros gamos – the sacred marriage.

21. These words of mine are not written after long deliberation, but
have been a part of me eternally.

This verse harks back to the constant theme of eternal subsistence in this poem. He is saying, in effect: "I have not sat down and thought: 'What sort of poem can I write? What has my daughter's funeral conveyed to me?.'" Ibn 'Arabi is declaring that this rich and difficult poem that he has written has always been there in his heart of hearts, in his deepest depths – from all eternity. His daughter's death and funeral simply served to trigger the release and articulation of these thoughts, images and ideas into writing.

22. It was none but the apostle of the Eternal One who activated them
within me.

In the introduction to the Fusūs, he states that the Prophet had dictated to him the whole of the Fusūs. The Prophet comes in a vision or in an inspiration. As in Verse 23:

23. He it was who dictated it, leaving me to write it with my hand.

As the 'apostle of the Eternal One', the Prophet is acknowledged as being the normative human being, the true ego that releases the particular wisdom which Ibn 'Arabi articulates in this poem – in a particular way, at the right time, according to a particular event. Verses 24 and 25 must also be considered together:

24. Thus is the matter, and none truly knows it,

25. Save a leader of the spirit surpassing in goodness or one of the
golden mean.

Perhaps these two verses refer to a particular person, if so, it isn't made clear who. Obviously, Ibn 'Arabi is saying that only one who is good in him or herself – only one who follows this middle path, who pursues the path of man towards realization, will understand it. Then, right at the end, he utters an extremely important thing:

26. Indeed, one who is 'other' cannot know it now or ever.

Unless one is prepared to become nothing thereby acknowledging the sole identity of God – the true 'other', unless one is prepared to sacrifice one's separateness, otherness and apparent independence from God, the things that are contained in this poem's treasury are barred to such a person. Indeed, the poem ends with:

27. Every branch reverts to its root, no more in any way than when
it sprang forth.

All that creation is – all that has come forth from God the Reality, returns there in no whit enlarged or increased in no way other than what it was eternally in the mind of God. The cosmos – everything that we are, everything around us is nothing other than the oneness of being – the wahdat-l wujud. This is the basic tenet of Ibn 'Arabi and of Sufism. We are not God, God is not us – but – we are nothing other than God. 'We are nothing other than God' is a very different statement than either of the two statements 'God is the same as us' or 'We are the same as God'. 'We are nothing other than God' means we have no being other than His being and it is only in His/Its experience of selfhood that we have any selfhood at all. Therefore, any notion that we constitute something original that is not in God or that we may contribute something to God is folly. Whatever we may believe of God or of ourselves will not affect in the slightest degree this reality that ultimately, we are/there is nothing other than He.

In conclusion, this poem, which I providentially alighted upon is amazingly intricate and full of content and has the power to provide a lot of food for thought every time one reads it. The full flavour of the wisdom of a poem like this is only tasted by those predisposed to receive it – to them it will open like a flower and reveal its treasure in due season.