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Extract from the Encyclopaedia of Islam CD-ROM Edition v.1.

IBN SAB#N, #Abd -\a . Ibrhm . Muammad . Nar, -#Akk -Murs Ab Muammad |ub -Dn , 'Peripatetic' philosopher and f (f #al #idat al-falsifa). He himself used the surname Ibn Dra. This last word, which denotes a circle, a ring, the halo round the moon, here apparently signifies the null or zero which, according to the of Granada, Muammad b. Amad (d. 760/1358-9), was said to correspond to the figure of seventy (sab#n) "according to certain methods of computation peculiar to the people of the Marib". Ibn Sab#n was born in Murcia in 613 or 614/1217-8 and died in Mecca in 668 or 669/1269-71. "A bitter and tormented spirit", L. Massignon called him. His life, consisting entirely of controversies, quarrels and persecutions, seems to have been a long and painful trial, alleviated however by the love and loyalty bestowed on him by his disciples, the sab#niyya, men humble of heart and living in poverty. In Spain, where he carried out his studies, fortune at first favoured him. His wide learning and knowledge of medicine and alchemy were esteemed. On the other hand, his fism was suspect; he was reproached for some of his doctrinal assertions, among others, that in which he defined God as being the sole reality of existing things; this was regarded as a profession of monist faith, which his own position as a hellenizing philosopher could only render more suspect in the eyes of the #ulam" and fuah". He was compelled to leave his native land, when about thirty years old, to escape from persecution by his enemies. Followed by a group of disciples, he settled in Ceuta. There he acquired such celebrity that Ibn al, the governor of the city, deputed him to answer the philosophical questions which the emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen had put, through an ambassador, to the Almohad sultan #Abd al-Wid al-Rad (630-40/1232-42). But this high official, fearing that public order might be disturbed by the philosopher's teaching, soon expelled a visitor whom he considered to be compromising. Once again, Ibn Sab#n was compelled to go into exile. He turned towards the East. He travelled to Bdis, then to Bougie. It was in that town that he met al-utar (610-68/1213-69), who became the most faithful, as well as the most moving, of all his disciples. Continuing on his way eastwards, he came to Tunis. In a milieu of orthodox Islam, this Aristotelian f once again came up against the hostility of the #ulam". To escape from his chief enemy Ab Bakr al-Sakn, a theologian from Seville who had settled in Tunis, he hurriedly left the town. There is a record of his journey on to Gabes, and thence to Cairo. But there he scarcely felt secure and the great Mamlk sultan Baybars I was ill-disposed towards him. Only the arm of Mecca remained as a place of refuge for him. But there too he was persecuted, by an Andalusian emigre named |ub al-|asalln (614-86/1217-88). For once, however, he escaped unharmed from the accusations that were brought against him. M. A. F. Mehren regards Ibn Sab#n as "one of the last representatives of the Arab 'Peripatetic" school". [III 922a] This opinion is shared by L. Massignon, who considers that through his very Hellenism the philosopher was condemned to remain without disciples in the history of Islam. Ibn aldn places him among the adherents of wada, that is to say among the Monists, whom he contrasts with the theorists of taall. His isolation in a world of #ulam", mufts, theologians and fuah" is not without its poignancy. He reacted by adopting a haughty attitude, pouring scorn on his adversaries. He possessed a restless temperament, racked by a nervous distemper which led even to the vomiting of blood, according to the reports of some of his biographers. This aristocratic intellectual seems to have found his only consolation among the humble men who listened to him and allowed themselves to be charmed by his words. His disciple al-utar, who spoke of himself as his slave and dedicated three of his zaals to him, called him "the magnet of souls" (mans al-nufs). That he took his own life in the manner of the Stoics, by opening the veins of his wrists, is in no way improbable [see intir]. For this philosopher, possessed by Love, it was the ultimate way of uniting himself with the Beloved, of fleeing a world that rejected him. The isnd of the ara sab#niyya given by al-utar in one of his adas shows the overlapping of the two cultures, the Greek and the Muslim, as accepted by the followers of Ibn Sab#n. In it, among other links, we find Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, al-\all, al-, who as a mystic was the teacher of that strange character al-Suhraward, and Ab Madyan. In this initiatory chain, Hellenistic philosophy and
2001 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands

Extract from the Encyclopaedia of Islam CD-ROM Edition v.1.1

Muslim taawwuf are linked together under the patronage of Hermes, the spokesman of the gods and their messenger to men. His biographers ascribe a certain number of works to him, the principal ones being Budd al-#rif, which he is said to have written at the age of fifteen (an ed. is being prepared in Paris), al-Dura, al-Ia, al-Fat al-mutarak, a short book, al-Fariyya, several treatises and a few essays. (A. Faure) M.A.F. Mehren, Correspondance du philosophe soufi Ibn Sab"in Abd oul-Haqq, avec l'empereur Frederic II de Hohenstaufen, in JA, 1880 (in this article will be found information concerning his biography, the text of the replies that he is said to have given to the four philosophical questions put by the emperor Frederick II, and also some extracts from his two principal biographers, namely Kutub, Fawt al-wafayt and Maar, Naf al-b). See also #Abd al-\a al-Bdis, al-Maqad (Vies des saints du Rif), annotated trans. by G. S. Colin, in AM, xxvi (1926), 47-9, 180-2, n. 141 L. Massignon's helpful studies, Ibn Sab#n et la critique psychologique dans l'histoire de la philosophie musulmane, in Memorial Henri Basset, ii, Paris 1928, 123-30 idem, Recueil de textes inedits relatifs a la mystique en pays d'Islam, Paris 1929, 123-34 idem, Investigaciones sobre utar, in al-And., xiv/1 (1949), biographical note, 33-5.

2001 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands