does not glorify Him in praise, but you do not understand their glorification' (l7:44).
The fact that the life which demands prescription derives from the spirit brings up thequestion of death, which occurs when the spirit leaves the body, and this in turn calls to mind the
(the intermediary stage of existence between death and resurrection) and the 'next world'
properly so-called, in both of which the spirit is once again attached to the body,though the body is manifest in an 'imaginal' rather than corporeal mode.Ibn al-'Arabi then connects God's trial of mankind with human understanding of the afterlife,i.e. with the question of correct faith and true knowledge. For faith in 'God, the angels, theprophets, the books, and the Last Day' is incumbent upon all Muslims, and if this faith is to besound, it must be based upon correct knowledge.Finally Ibn al-'Arabi turns, as he usually does, to the 'divine root'
of thediscussion at hand, i.e. the divine name or names which manifest their properties through thereality being discussed. In this section of the chapter his particular concern is to show that thespirit manifests the names Living
and that, in the last analysis, GodHimself is the spirit of the cosmos, while the cosmos is His body. Hence he concludes thechapter by illustrating the nature of the Oneness of Being, although, of course, he does not usethe expression
since it was coined by his followers.Ibn al-'Arabi's not infrequent discussions of 'trial'
usually have in viewthose Quranic verses which discuss the trials and tests to which God puts His creatures, such asthe following: 'We have made all that is on the earth an adornment for it, and that We may trywhich of them is fairest in works' (18:7); 'He has raised some of you in rank above others, thatHe may try you in what He has given you' (6:165), and 'We shall assuredly try you until Weknow those of you who struggle and are steadfast' (47:3 l).
In the present chapter, Ibn al-'Arabi takes up specifically the relationship between thefollowing two Quranic verses: 'Blessed be He in whose hand is the Kingdom, who is powerfulover everything, who created death and life, that He might try you, which of you is fairest inworks' (67:1-2); and 'His Throne is upon the water, that He might try you, which of you is fairestin works' (11:9). In both verses God is alluded to as 'King'
in the first because Heowns the Kingdom
and in the second because He sits upon the Throne
Whatneeds to be explained is why the King's Throne rests upon the 'water' and what His kingship hasto do with trial.God's argument against human beings depends upon the messages which He sends throughthe prophets, whereby He prescribes
for them the commands and prohibitions of theShari'a. The word
means literally 'to impose a burden': God tries people by placing uponthem the burden of the revealed Law. Human beings along with the
are unique amongcreatures in having this responsibility placed upon them. Even that which appears outwardly as apure blessing
is in fact a trial, since the servant must react to blessings in accordancewith prescription. As Ibn al-'Arabi writes:
The blessings with which God blesses His servants in this world are not free of trial, since thanksgiving (shukr)is prescribed for the servants, and this is the greatest of trials, since blessings are a greater veil over God thanafflictions. (III 209.21)
Ibn al-'Arabi often formulates these two kinds of worship, known
intrinsic worship and accidental worship, interms of the 'engendering command' and the 'prescriptive command' (cf.
pp. 291-4, 311-12).
The last of these verses is especially interesting, since the words 'until We know' imply that God does not knowuntil He tries us. Ibn al-'Arabi points out, however, that since God in His infinite knowledge knows all things indetail, what is really at issue here is His argument
against us on the Last Day.We will not be able to make any claims of innocence, since we will recognize that we have failed in the fair trialthrough which He tested us (cf. the