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The Symposium

Each year the Society organizes Symposia in the UK and the USA on an aspect of Ibn 'Arabi's work.

These international gatherings bring together people from many different fields and traditions, and include scholars, students, and anyone interested in what Ibn 'Arabi has to say. These events provide a unique opportunity for both speakers and listeners, specialists and non-specialists, to enrich their understanding of the Shaykh's teachings and their relevance today. The Society also encourages public seminars and lectures and can provide speakers on request.

Reason, Revelation and Inspiration - Ibn 'Arabi and the Philosophers. Symposium – London May 6, 2017

This symposium is jointly organized by the Society and Professor Stefan Sperl of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. It will be held on May 6th, 2017, at the Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, SOAS, London WC1H 0XG.

Summary Statement

Ibn ‘Arabi, in reporting meetings with Ibn Rushd (Averroes) on two occasions – once as a ‘beardless youth’ and once at the great Aristotelian philosopher’s funeral – highlighted the differences between their ways of thinking. Philosophical knowledge, he declared, is based on reason (aql) and revelatory knowledge is based on insight (kashf) and inner certainty (yaqin). In some cases they are the same and in others they differ.

However, a difference between points of view is not an essential separation. The Shaykh al-Akbar would surely have agreed with the last recorded words of the great Neo-platonist Plotinus “Strive to give back the Divine in yourselves to the Divine in the All." Greek philosophical texts, first translated in Baghdad in the 8th and 9th centuries, were widely available in Muslim Spain. Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi, who is sometimes called Ibn Aflatun ‘The Son of Plato’, would have had access to these, both directly and indirectly through the Islamic philosophical schools. This symposium aims at delving into these roots by exploring Ibn Arabi’s engagement with the philosophical heritage of his time.


Salman Bashier

Salman Bashier: Dr. Bashier was born in Israel in 1964. His Phd was published in 2004 under the title ‘Ibn Al –‘Arabi’s Barzakh: the Concept of the Limit and the Relationship Between God and the World’. He has since been a research scholar at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute pursuing his research, “Past and Present: Ibn al-Arabi’s Mysticism, Religious Fundamentalism and the Sense of History,” which focussed on the relevance of Islamic mysticism and the role it can play in balancing Religious fundamentalism. He has spoken before at a Society Symposium in Oxford (2007) and at the New York Symposium in 2009. His most recent book (2012) is ‘The Story of Islamic Philosophy:Ibn Tufayl. Ibn Al-‘Arabi, and Others on the Limit between Naturalism and Traditionalism’

Maria de Cillis

Maria de Cillis: Dr de Cillis completed her undergraduate studies in the field of Languages and Literatures (English and Arabic) graduating from the Università degli Studi di Napoli - L’Orientale in Naples, Italy in 2001 (cum laude). She carried out her MA and then PhD studies at SOAS, graduating in October 2010. Her Thesis is entitled: The Discourse of Compromise: Theoretical Constructs of Free Will and Predestination in the Works of Avicenna, Ghazali and Ibn ʿArabi which has since been published . The thesis examines the contributions made by these scholars to the discourse on the doctrines of free will and predestination in classical Islamic thought. Her work shows how these luminaries were committed to compromise between philosophical, theological and mystical outlooks. She is currently working at the Ismaili Institute researching early Shi’ite mystics, especially Hamid Kirmani.

Eric Geoffroy

Eric Geoffroy: Professor Geoffroy is an expert in Islamic thought and spirituality, he teaches Islamic studies at the University of Strasbourg, and other centers (including the Catholic University of Louvain). He is specialist of Sufism and also works on issues of spirituality in the modern world (globalization, ecology). He is president of the International Foundation "Sufi Conscience”.He is a member of several international research groups, such as Kalam Research & Media (KRM), and acts as scientific advisor and editorial on Islam ( Fondapol, The notebooks of Islam, Religion-Adyan...). He is a columnist in the magazine Ultreïa, and writes regularly for The World Religions. He wrote twenty articles in the Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2 and 3, and is the author of over a dozen books. Several of his works are translated into different languages. Eric Geoffroy spoke at the Society Symposium in Oxford in 2012 on ‘ al-Tahqiq through Daily Awakening’.

Husam Al-Mallak

Husam al-Mallak is a Senior Teaching Fellow at SOAS where he lectures on Modern Trends in Islam. He completed his PhD thesis in January 2016, under Dr Cosimo Zene, Dr J.-P. Hartung and Dr Nasr Abu Zayd (d. 2010), on how the mystical thought of Ibn al-‘Arabi can be considered as an Islamic overcoming of Nietzschean nihilism. His MA dissertation at Birkbeck was ‘Beyond Postmodernism and the Crisis of Truth: Re-Reading Ibn Al-‘Arabi’s Qur’anic Hermeneutics’ and he has given public lectures on this subject at The Islamic College, the Royal Asiatic Society and the Oriental Institute in Oxford. He has published book reviews in the Journal for Shi‘a Islamic Studies and has forthcoming articles in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Provisional Programme

Saturday, May 6th

8.45 am Doors open. Registration begins

9.15 Introduction. Stefan Sperl and Richard Twinch

9.30 Salman Bashier The Merging of the Two Seas of Mysticism and Philosophy in Ibn ‘Arabi

10.30 Coffee & Tea

11.00 Maria de Cillis Free Will and Predestination. Between Philosophy and Mysticism

12.00 pm Eric Geoffroy Some Aspects of “Supra-reason” in Ibn ‘Arabî’s Epistemology

1.00 pm Lunch

2.30 pm Husam al Mallak Ibn al-‘Arabi and the (Postmodern) Philosophical Heritage of Nietzsche

3.30 Tea & Coffee

4.00 - 5.00 pm Workshops with speakers

5.15 pm Plenary

5.45 pm End

There may be changes to this programme. Updates will be posted here.

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Member and Standard registration includes a sandwich lunch and teas and coffees. Vegetarian options will be available, but beyond that special diets cannot be catered for. Student rate bookings include teas and coffees but not sandwich lunch.

Registration fees
Student* £10
Standard (Non-member) £50
Standard Early Bird £45
Member £45
Member Early Bird £40

* Please bring student ID to the Symposium.

How to register

Please use the Eventbrite Online Registration Form. (Clicking on this link will take you to another website – Eventbrite – which hosts our registration form.)

  • The online form shows the tickets available to the general public. MIAS Members have been sent a Promotional (discount) Code by e-mail to be entered before selecting any tickets. Press "Enter Promotional Code" top right in blue above Member (or Member Early Bird) registration. You then enter the Code - not case sensitive. This changes the registration rate for the ticket that otherwise shows at Standard rate. Then you select the ticket.

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How to get there

Parking is very difficult in Central London. The nearest tube stations are Russell Square and Goodge Street. Googlemaps

Who to contact

For further information, please contact the Symposium organiser, Richard Twinch