Eour Texts oI Ibn al-˜ArabŽ on the Creative
SelI-ManiIestation oI the Divine Names
Ibn al-˜ArabŽ treated the key cosmogonic subiect oI the hierarchy oI God`s Most-
beautiIul Names` (DO-DVPn¬ DO-„XVQi) in at least Iour non-discrete texts. or extracts.
produced at diIIerent times beginning relatively early in his career. The ’rst oI these.
composed around 596/1200 in Eastern Andalusia. was incorporated as a chapter in the
systematic-cosmological section oI the .. ˜$QTn¬ PXJKULE (The Book oI the Eabulous
Gryphon) and may be examined in my translation and study oI that work.
The other
three tracts. Irom the Shaykh`s .. ,QVKn¬ DO-MDGnZLO ZD-O-GDZn¬LU (The Composition oI
the Columns and Circles)
and two chapters (4 and 66) oI the )XW™„nW DO-PDNNŽ\DK. will
be translated in the present article. The redaction oI the ,QVKn¬ was drawn out over a long
period oI time. but the particular passage that concerns us here (our Text II. below) was
probably ’rst draIted in Tunis in 598/1202 at the home oI Ibn al-˜ArabŽ`s teacher and
Iriend. Shaykh ˜Abd al-˜AzŽz al-MahdawŽ.
The Iourth chapter oI the )XW™„nW. cast in the
Iorm oI a letter to al-MahdawŽ. was evidently written in Mecca sometime around
whereas Chapter 66. not bearing any conspicuous indications oI its proven-
ience. is more diI’cult to date with precision (though it certainly succeeds the latter by
many years). OI these texts only the third. Chapter 4 oI the )XW™„nW. has not hitherto been
made available in English; nevertheless. I have translated the others here. as well. in

Islamic Sainthood in the Eullness oI Time: Ibn al-˜ArabŽ`s Book oI the Eabulous Gryphon (Leiden.
1999). pp.'35371. |This source will be cited hereaIter as I.'S.|
This is the Iorm oI the title given by Ibn al-˜ArabŽ in his ,Mn]DK OL-O-0DOLN DO-0XŒDIIDU (see ˜A.-R.
BadawŽ. ed.. 'AutobibliograIia de Ibn ˜ArabŽ.¨ $O-$QGDOXV. 20 |1955|. p.'124. n.'71). but the )LKULVW DO-
PX¬DOODInW adds: ZD-O-GDTn¬LT ZD-O-UDTn¬LT (see A.-˜A. ˜AIŽIŽ. ed.. 'The Works oI Ibn ˜ArabŽ.¨ 5pYXH GH OD
IDFXOWp GHV OHWWUHV GH O¨8QLYHUVLWp G¨$OH[DQGULH. 8 |1955|. p.'200. n.'68). The work is now commonly cited
as ,QVKn¬ DO-GDZn¬LU (as below).
See at n.'32. below.
See n.'60.
order to provide as much technical consistency as possible among the Iour tracts which
we shall be comparing.
The obvious iusti’cation Ior grouping together this quartet oI texts is their
common subiect-matter. the creative interactivity oI the speci’c archetypal
maniIestations oI Divinity
known in Islamic theology as the excellent Names oI God.
Moreover. in all oI the tracts except Ior one (Text III) the topic is presented in a highly
unusual. even shocking Iorm a kind oI dramatic dialogue („LZnU) between the
personi’ed Names which has aptly been characterized as a creation P\WK. and which only
really diIIers Irom a polytheistic account oI any given pagan` religion Irom around the
world in that. being a deliberate allegorization. it may be said to lack the imaginative.
evocative charm oI most true myths. As William C. Chittick has observed. such an un-
abashedly anthropomorphic treatment oI a theological tenet is probably unprecedented in
Islamic literature.
Indeed. it was precisely this novel Ieature that proved to be a
stumbling-block to many oI Ibn al-˜ArabŽ`s detractors in the notorious incident oI the
great brouhaha raised in the Egyptian People`s Assembly over the on-going publication
(since 1972) oI Dr. Osman Yahia`s annotated critical edition oI the colossal )XW™„nW DO-
under the auspices oI President Sadat`s Ministry oI Culture in collaboration
with the Sorbonne. Apparently reacting to the grotesque. almost comic anthropopathy oI
the Almighty Names depicted in Chapter 66 (our Text IV). the scandalized Assembly
members demanded the suspension oI the state-sponsored proiect. accusing the author oI
the )XW™„nW oI rank anthropomorphism and polytheism.

These are not aspects oI Divinity` but. rather. aspects (ZXM™K) oI the SelI-maniIestation oI the Divine
(VFL.. oI creation`) as speciIic ideal archetypes abstracted Irom the content oI human consciousness and
personiIied by nominations such as the Provider`. the Equitable`. the Castigator`. Restrictor`. etc.
p.'126. The eighth chapter oI that work. entitled 'A Myth oI Origins.¨ includes a Iull translation oI Chapter
66 oI the )XW™„nW (see n.'92. below. Ior reIerences).
The Iull title is $O-)XW™„nW DO-PDNNŽ\DK IŽ PD˜ULIDW DO-DVUnU DO-PnOLNŽ\DK ZD-O-PXONŽ\DK. which could
6RYHUHLJQW\. BeIore Dr. Yahia`s lamented passing in 1997 Iourteen volumes oI his superb edition oI the
)XW™„nW had been published in Cairo since 1972. |That source will be cited in the notes as )XW. (rev.). with
volume. page and line numbers.|
On this episode. see Th. Emil Homerin. 'Ibn Arabi in the People`s Assembly: Religion. Press and
Politics in Sadat`s Egypt.¨ 0LGGOH (DVW -RXUQDO. 40 (1986). p.'466. (On a personal note. it was the social
debate aroused by this controversy that led to my taking up study oI the )XW™„nW at the American
University in Cairo in 1980 around the time oI Shah Muhammad Riza Pahlavi`s Iuneral there. Thus. my
In the ˜$QTn¬ PXJKULE. which contains the earliest and most detailed version oI
the Divine dialogue`.
the latter is recounted as an 'eternal conIerence¨ (PX„n³DUDK
D]DOŽ\DK) and 'monistic assembly¨ (LMWLPn˜ ZDWUŽ) oI the Names. 'Who discoursed
amongst Themselves without any |real| argumentation. each Name beckoning to the One
beside It without |actual| contact and contiguity. wondering to Themselves: Would that
We knew iI Existence contains other than Us!`¨
Elsewhere in the )XW™„nW this
Olympian summit is styled a discussion. or debate` (PX„nZDUDK). and 'a collegial
agreement in the arena oI supervision over the creation oI the World.¨
however. in the diIIerent texts oI the PX„n³DUDK-theme the telic obiect. or product. oI the
Divine-creative activity varies: In the ˜$QTn¬ it is the microcosmic PerIect Man. or
Mu„ammadan Reality; while in the ,QVKn¬ it is the macrocosmic perIect World 'than
which none more wonderIul could possibly exist. since it emanates Irom absolute
In Chapter 4 oI the )XW™„nW the obiect is. again. the World. but speci’cally
in its archetypal Iorm oI essential Realities („DTn¬LT ÷ Platonic Ideas`). which
correspond directly to the Names and are. in Iact. Their SelI-maniIestations. though they
are also said to relate to Them as worshippers` to their Lords`; and in Chapter 66 it is
the contingent. LPSHUIHFW world which is the ’rst-mentioned product oI creation
resulting in the need to evoke a cosmic Lawgiver. the Lord. to set the chaotic situation in
order. But all oI these variant created obiects can be classi’ed as FRVPRL (hence. we use
the term. cosmogonic). while they are. ultimately and in reality. simply the SelI-
maniIestations (WDMOL\nW) oI the creational Names Themselves (as the title oI our article
The myth oI the Divine dialogue is introduced in each context at the critical point
oI connection/separation between the transcendent Absolute oI apophatic theology and

own work in Akbarian studies was linked to Sadat`s Egypt iust as many others` were to pre-revolutionary
The passage Irom Chap. 4 oI the )XW™„nW is longer. but. strictly speaking. that does not treat the
Divine dialogue. The passage in Chap. 66 corresponding to the ˜$QTn¬ version is considerably shorter than
the latter but it goes on to deal with the related activity oI the lawgiving 5DEE.
.. ˜$QTn¬ PXJKULE IŽ NKDWP DO-DZOL\n¬ ZD-VKDPV DO-PDJKULE (rep.. Cairo. 1998). p.'45. translated in
,._6.. 3534.
0XMnUnWX-Kn IŽ „DOEDWL O-PXQnŒDUDWL ˜DOi ŽMnGL KnGKn O-˜nODPL in )XW. (rev.). III. 297. 25.
the universe oI relativity posited in speculative cosmology where the ’nger-tip oI the
Creator touches the ’nger-tip oI His beloved image. so to speak. On the supernal side oI
the equation this iuncture oI antitheses represents the paradox oI Divine multiplicity`
counterpoised to the equally anomalous notion oI a created Unicity` a Iullness oI
Grace. PerIection in progress. a holy. intrinsic Reality by and in Which the whole
universe was created` (DO-‘DTT DO-PDNKO™T EL-KL) that is to say. the PerIect Man` (DO-
the Goal. or Telos (DO-JKn\DK ÷ 5DLVRQ G¨rWUH). oI all evolving
existence. which 'has been groaning in one great act oI giving birth Irom the beginning
until now.¨ as a wise master-builder wrote.
Whereas Islamic religion emphasizes the
Divine multiplicity as expressed in the Qur`än (in which reIerences to Deity are typically
pluralized). Christianity has made a preIerential option Ior the created (or. better.
JHQHUDWHG) Unicity the 'only-begotten Son¨ oI the Iourth Gospel Who is the
apotheosis oI man and the 'Word made fesh.¨
Islamic Mythos and Christian Logos.
each the keystone oI the temple linking their respective Iaith-communities to Heaven and
the sacramental bridge to their salvation therein. have both. by an irony oI human social
history. become the stone reiected by the rival-builders.
mocked by unbelievers Ior its
patent absurdity (since. it has been well said. Iaith precedes knowledge`).

Whereas the latter Ielicitous expression only became popularized in the work oI that title by the late
Akbarian theorizer. ˜Abd al-KarŽm al-JŽlŽ (d. FLUFD 815/1412). it is important to understand that the basic
concept is. indeed. attributable to Ibn al-˜ArabŽ (though he did not invent it). who actually uses the term in
its proper sense in Chap. 198 oI the )XW™„nW: 'Every |created| thing except Ior man is |merely| created
but man is both a creation and an |uncreated| Reality (NKDOT ZD-‘DTT). Eor the perIect/complete Man (DO-
LQVnQ DO-NnPLO) is. in reality. |the same as Ibn Barraiän`s notion oI the veritable| Reality by/in which |all
that has been created| was created` (DO-‘DTT DO-PDNKO™T EL-KL) that is. because oI Which (EL-VDEDEL-KL)
the whole world was created`. That is because the Telos (DO-JKn\DK) is That Which is sought by all
preceding creation. Ior nothing oI what preceded It was created except Ior Its sake and the maniIestation oI
Its being; and were it not that It had not yet been maniIested. all that went beIore would not have preceded
It. Ior the Telos is That because oI Which all the secondary causes oI Its maniIestations that preceded It
were created¨ (Cairo. 1911 edn. |hereaIter. )XW.|. II. 396. 68; cI. LELG.. 469. 24). In LELG.. III. 231. 23. the
same concept is styled 'pre-eternal. universal. primordial Man (DO-LQVnQ DO-DZZDO DO-NXOO DO-DTGDP).¨ See.
also. the very important passage on the PerIect Man Irom Chap. 339 (in LELG.. 1512. translated by Chittick
in 7KH 6XIL 3DWK RI .QRZOHGJH |Albany. 1989; hereaIter cited as 6.3...|. pp.'3689).
5RP. 8: 22 (and cI. 1 &RU. 3: 911). In this connection it is perhaps not without relevance to note that
another master-stonemason. Socrates/Plato. was wont to resort to mythography in his Dialogues precisely
at the most crucial turning-points oI his (otherwise rigorously dialectical) arguments. and his entire
cosmology was developed in mythic Iorm in the 7LPDHXV.
-RKQ 1: 14 and 18.
See 0DWW. 21: 42 and (SK. 2: 1922. This reiected stone is the stumbling-block` oI ,VD. 8: 14. 1
3HWHU. 2: 78. 1 &RU. 1: 23. and 5RP. 9: 323 (cI. also /XNH 2: 34).
But in the present article we shall Iocus exclusively on the ’rst-mentioned aspect
oI this key structural tenet. the imagined interactivity oI the Divine Names which Ibn al-
˜ArabŽ oIIers as a rationalistic metaphor oI Their creative SelI-maniIestation. but which.
more immediately. also gives indication oI his classi’cation and hierarchy oI some oI the
maior canonical Names. or attributes. oI God. Our main purpose here will be simply to
give a coherent presentation oI the Iour texts concerned. briefy calling attention to some
oI their distinguishing Ieatures (by way oI preparation Ior a later in-depth analysis oI
their Iorm and content). In what Iollows. the ’rst text will be Iully described and the
other three translated aIter cursory introductions.
EVERLASTING EIGURE` (08‘cº$5$+ $=$/¾<$+ ˜$/c 1$6+¬$+
$%$'¾<$+) CHAPTER IN THE .. ˜$14c¬ 08*+5,%
As we saw already. the Eternal ConIerence` oI the Names in this ’rst and longest
version oI the theme begins with the Divine Appellations gathering together in the
presence oI Their common Identity. when/where They were overcome by the momentous
question: Does anything exist besides We Ourselves?` (÷ Is this all there is?). Eor.
perIect though They surely are in Their respective spheres. none oI the Names really
'know what is¨ beyond Themselves except Ior two. Allah and the Knower (DO-˜$OŽP).
Thereupon the latter. presumably motivated by the same existential query. aIter duly
invoking Allah. the MerciIul and the Compassionate in the EDVPDODK. uttered a blessing
(‰DOnK) oI the Prophet Mu„ammad
at which the other Names expressed surprise.
interrogating the Knower: ':KR is that whom You bless. ioining him to Our all-
comprehensive Presence?¨
The Knowing One explains that Mu„ammad (that is. the 5HDOLW\ oI Mu„ammad.
the PerIect Man) is an existent Entity (PDZM™G) corresponding to Themselves and

2S. FLW.. pp.'458. translated in ,.'6.. 35371. In the latter source I translated this chapter heading as
'An Eternal ConIerence on an Everlasting 3ODQH.¨ reading the prepositional phrase as locative. While that
interpretation is tenable. I now think that the Iinal expression probably reIers to the Mu„ammadan Reality.
or PerIect Man. the Iirst-emergent cosmic arising (QDVK¬DK). as the subiect-matter oI discussion in the
'conIerence¨ oI the Divine Names.
There is an unIortunate editorial lapsus in ,.'6. at this point (on p.'355. Iirst line). where 'in the
%DVPDODK¨ should read DIWHU the %DVPDODK` (that is. in the ¹DOnK`).
maniIesting all oI Their own excellent qualities. He is. in Iact. Their Epitome. summing
up in microcosm all that may be Iound LQ H[WHQVR in Them.
The Names then ask ZKHQ
will this marvelous thing come to pass. and the Knower has to point out that. not being
'in time.¨ the question oI time`s obiective (JKn\DW DO-]DPnQ) is meaningless to Him. but
is under the iurisdiction oI the |Divine| Will (PXOn„DŒDW DO-PDVKŽ¬DK). so recourse should
be had to the Name. the Purposer. or One-Who-Wills (DO-0XUŽG). The oracular
pronouncement oI the latter Dignitary 'It is as it was and will be in the |immutable|
Identities (DO-D˜\nQ |DO-WKnELWDK|)¨
would not appear to have solved the problem.
however. as the whole Host oI Names had to contribute something to the Prophet`s
maniIestation the Knower de’ning him as Man` (DO-LQVnQ). the MerciIul 'choosing
him¨ (\D‰‚DIŽ-KL) Ior existence. and the Bene’cent (DO-0X„VLQ) granting him long liIe.
By way oI illustrating how the Names interact in accordance with Their
distinctive properties. Ibn al-˜ArabŽ has the Most- Giving One (DO-:DKKnE) declare: 'I
am the Bestower. both according to measure (EL-„LVnE) and without measure!¨ But then
the Reckoner (DO-‘DVŽE) counters: 'I shall charge to You what You give and debit You
what You bestow!¨ but that must be by the testimony oI the Witnesser (DO-6KDKŽG).
Similarly. the Knower and the Purposer sometimes check each other`s activities. leading
to serious ethical complications. In this manner all oI the Divine Names allot among
Themselves 'the Kingdom oI the Human Servant. • anticipating the presence oI this
World/ Existent` (DO-NDZQ). in the desire that an |all-comprehensive| Identity` might be

At this point in our text (,.'6.. 357) there is a passage relating to the role oI two Names the
Generous. or Magnanimous (DO--™G). and the Light (DO-1™U) in the maniIestation oI the 'existent Entity¨
which is particularly abstruse (so much so that I am not conIident oI my previous translation) and which I
propose to take up in a later study.
Chittick has given a lucid and generally valid argument Ior preIerring to translate ˜D\Q in this sense as
'entity¨ in 6.3.... 834. and elsewhere. While appreciating his reasoning. I have opted here. IDXWH GH
PLHX[. Ior the somewhat neoteric translation. 'identity¨ (÷ substance. essence; selI. identity`). to allow Ior
the unmaniIest. pre-existent nature oI the ˜D\Q (as I point out in nn.'11213. 115 and 121. below). In
current usage the word. entity` (· Late Latin. HQWLWnV). seems to me to connote more the obiective
existence oI PDZM™G (as above). or else the pure. technical existence oI Nn¬LQ. or NDZQ (existent). Also. I
cannot entirely concur with the assertion that the D˜\nQ must be distinguished Irom the Platonic (or. at
least. the Neoplatonic) notion oI 'ideas. or Iorms¨. Sometimes the correspondence. as in our present text.
appears Iairly close.
maniIested to Them.¨
To that end They have recourse to the Purposer in Whom rests
the Iunction oI the speci’cation oI being` (WDNK‰Ž‰ DO-ZXM™G) once His Iancy` (QDIV) has
become attached to the anticipated Being (DO-ZXM™G DO-PXQWDŒDU) so that He ZLOOV it to be.
Then the PowerIul (DO-4nGLU) actually FUHDWHV it. and the Knower SHUIHFWV it. while the
MerciIul grants it the sustaining bond oI |maternal| relations (‰LODW DO-DU„nP).
content with this situation. the PowerIul interiects that 'all oI that is under • My
subiection (WD„WD TDKU-Ž)!¨ at which the All-Vanquisher (DO-4nKLU). iusti’ed by
etymology. strenuously obiects. stipulating that even the PowerIul is +LV 'Servant¨
(NKDGŽP). despite His being. also. His 'Companion¨ and 'close Associate.¨ But the
Knowing One ends the spiritual boasting-match (PXInNKDUDK) by reminding the whole
cosmocratic Company that the comprehension oI all oI Their prerogatives is logically
dependent on +LV aprioristic Knowledge.
AIter that remarkably IanciIul account Ibn al-˜ArabŽ takes up another perspective
on the subiect oI cosmogenesis. approaching it more as a philosophical problem to be
explained teleologically. in terms oI the end-result. which is now described as a desired
obiect` (VKD\¬) and reIerred to as both 'cosmic Being¨ (DO-ZXM™G DO-NDZQŽ that is.
Mu„ammad. the PerIect Man`) and the World (DO-˜nODP) each regarded as the unique.
generative Source oI all multiplicity (D‰O DO-˜DGDG ZD-O-NDWKUDK). the Eountainhead by
and through which the emanation oI Divine Grace overfows the universe.
Again. it is
the Names Themselves Who 'yearned Ior the maniIestation oI Their Impressions
(nWKnUX-Kn) in existence¨ Ior the sake oI Their Realities and Bene’ts (DO-„DTn¬LT ZD-O-
PDQn’˜). The Worshipped Name` (DO-LVP DO-PD˜E™G ÷ the Lord?). in particular. desired
the creation oI Iree. rational creatures to worship Him (see 4XU¬nQ /,: 56) that they might
come to know Him by the very attributes (that is. the anthropomorphic Names`) that He

CI. ,.'6.. 361. Note the typical rhyming parallelism between the unmaniIest. immutable identity. or
essence` (˜D\Q) and the anticipated. obiectively-existent world. or entity` (NDZQ) which are both the
'kingdom oI the human Servant.¨
'Eor. truly. |Man/Mu„ammad| is a close relation (VKLMQDK) to Me. and he cannot bear to be apart Irom
Me.¨ declares the MerciIul in ,.'6.. 363. This maternal. umbilical 'bond oI relations¨ could be envisaged
metaphorically as the attractive Iorce oI gravity grounding man`s substance in reality. The other three lines
oI inIluence those oI the speciIication (WDNK‰Ž‰). creation (ŽMnG) and perIection (L„NnP) oI the anticipated
being are represented as rays. QRV.'11. 17 and 8 in the key to the cosmographic diagram reproduced
below (aIter n.'58).
See ,.'6.. 3648.
had. in eIIect. attributed to WKHP when He created them such as they are. To achieve this
desiratum. all oI the Names are imagined as Ialling back upon (ODMD¬DW LOi) the Greatest
Name. Allah. the Most-protective. Strong Support` (DO-UXNQ DO-TDZŽ DO-D˜‰DP) and the
All-inclusive Imäm`.
At this iuncture it would appear that the Names make the Iollowing argument
beIore Allah: 'As You know very well. the obstacle (DO-PnQL˜) to the realization oI the
Obiect |that is. the maniIestation oI the Micro/Macro-cosmos|. as Iar as rational
speculation is concerned. is Your own omnipresent Being (NDZQX-ND) therein nothing
more. But were |the Obiect| to become isolated` Irom You in retreat (WDMDUUDGD ˜DQ-ND
). as it were. then You would surely behold It |as apart Irom You|. reIreshing
YourselI in Its maniIestation. so to speak. and you would come to know It |as a distinct
Eor the Names are One in Their essential Reality („DTŽTDK). and in that
unitary state They are oblivious oI anything other than Themselves; but. They reasoned.
iI the desired Being were to become maniIest in space. in a locus (D\Q) apart Irom Them
(IŽ „nO ID‰O ZD-ED\Q). a spiritual UDSSRUW in the Iorm oI a subtle Ray` (UDTŽTDK)
connecting each quality oI the Being to Its corresponding Divine Reality would be
established rather as the spoke oI a wheel connecting its hub to the circumIerence.
These subtle Rays. or UDTn¬LT. represent not only the inalienable ontic connections
uniting the transcendent Names to Their maniIest Realities. but also the vital epistemic
lines oI communication by which rational creatures may acquire all that they might know
about God as by the inIerence oI a metaphor (LVWLGOnO PDMnO) and the 'nocturnal
appearance oI an Apparition¨ (‚XU™T NKD\nO).
Evidently moved by this argument. the Name. Allah. resorts to the Pure Godhead
oI the supreme SELE/ESSENCE (DO-'KnW); and. emerging thereIrom. He gives the
command: 'Tell the Purposing Name that He should tell the Speaker (DO-4n¬LO) to

These expressions are translated as the 'Most-excellent. Mighty Eirst-Principle¨ and 'Comprehensive
Leader¨ in ,.'6.. 3656.
CI. ,.'6.. 366. where I opted Ior a somewhat diIIerent reading (which I now consider to be errant on
the side oI too much caution).
In Christian parlance. the circumIerence (which is nowhere) is the Eather; the central point (which is
everywhere) is the Son. the intelligible Obiect oI all consciousness; while the spokes. or UDGLL (together
Iorming the surIace oI the circle/sphere) represent the Holy Spirit. the universal intelligence and
transcendent Subiect oI each individual experience. In the diagram oI the World Sphere`. below. the
twenty-eight lines interconnecting some oI the thirteen spheres are the subtle rays` (UDTn¬LT).
command |the World/Man| to EH!¨ an allusion to the Divine-creative (VWR (.XQ) oI the
while the PowerIul is to actually produce the |individual| Identities (ŽMnG DO-
D˜\nQ) 'so that He might make maniIest that which You desire and bring to Your view
that which You all crave.¨ In the diagram oI the World Circle` Irom the ,QVKn¬.
reproduced below. note that the spheres oI the Speaker and the PowerIul (QRV. 4 and 5)
are connected directly to the created World (QR. 11) on the leIt-hand side oI Power.
which echoes the precedent` order oI the Knower and the Purposer (QRV. 2 and 3).
similarly connected on the right. Ior God`s Speaking-Nature` answers to His Knowing-
in that refecting the MerciIul.
II) EROM THE .. ,16+c¬ $/--$'c:,/ :$-/-'$:c¬,5:
Our second text comprises the ’nal pages oI Ibn al-˜ArabŽ`s ,QVKn¬. which give a kind oI
UpVXPp oI the 0X„n³DUDK-motiI. As stated above. this particular passage was evidently
composed in Tunis in 598/1201-2. during the author`s last soiourn at the home oI his
teacher and close Iriend. Ab™ Mu„ammad ˜Abd al-˜AzŽz al-MahdawŽ (d. 621/1224).
That can be inIerred Irom a remark made at the beginning oI Chapter 4 oI the )XW™„nW
where Ibn al-˜ArabŽ is addressing his Tunisian conIrere. probably Irom Mecca:
The saintly-pure Eriend |YL].. Shaykh al-MahdawŽ| (May God grant him
continuance!) has already had occasion to learn about the cause oI Cosmogenesis
(VDEDE EDG¬ DO-˜nODP) in our book entitled ˜$QTn¬ PXJKULE. as well as our book.
,QVKn¬ DO-GDZn¬LU. part oI which was composed in his noble house at the time oI our
visiting him in the year. 598 A.H.. when we were planning to undertake the

.XQ ID-\DN™QX. The expression occurs in 4XU. 2: 117. 3: 47 and 59. 6: 73. 16: 40. 19: 35. 36: 82. and
40: 68. Note that this is the Iirst mention oI the Speaking Name` (sphere QR.'4 in the diagram).
)D-DMnED QDIVX-KX O-PXWDNDOOLPX EL-QDIVL-KL O-˜DOŽPL. (Eor the sake oI the VDM˜ rhyme. either the Iirst
adiective should be DO-NDOŽP or the second DO-PX˜DOOLP).
Hendrik S. Nyberg. ed.. .OHLQHUH 6FKULIWHQ GHV ,EQ DO-˜$UDEŽ (Leiden. 1919) |hereaIter. N|. pp.'368.
My translation is also based on 06 0DQLVD 1183/11 |hereaIter. M|. II.'118139b. transcribed in 655/1257
Irom an original in the hand oI the author. The entire ,QVKn¬ was ably translated by Paul Eenton and
Maurice Gloton as 'The Book oI the Description oI the Encompassing Circles¨ in the commemorative
volume. 0XK\LGGLQ ,EQ ˜$UDEL (ShaItesbury. Dorset. 1993). pp.'1243 (cI. especially pp.'401).
On this important relationship. see my article. 'Shaykh ˜Abd al-˜AzŽz al-MahdawŽ. Ibn al-˜ArabŽ`s
Mentor.¨ -RXUQDO RI WKH $PHULFDQ 2ULHQWDO 6RFLHW\ (Iorthcoming).
Pilgrimage. His servant. ˜Abd al-Jabbär
(May God raise his rank!). transcribed Ior
him as much as we had written down oI |the ,QVKn¬ at that time|. and I carried the
book with me in my iourney to Mecca (May God increase it in honor!) in the
aIorementioned year so that I might complete it there. But then WKLV book |YL].. the
)XW™„nW | diverted us Irom |working Iurther on the ,QVKn¬ and other works| •
Now. we know that the ,QVKn¬ was begun beIore the composition oI the .. DO-7DGEŽUnW
DO-LOnKŽ\DK (where the Iormer is mentioned). which. in turn. preceded the ˜$QTn¬.
As we
learn here that part oI the ,QVKn¬ undoubtedly the very passage translated below (Text
II) was not written until iust prior to Ibn al-˜ArabŽ`s departure Irom the Maghrib. then it
would appear that that work was among the very earliest maior literary eIIorts oI the
Shaykh with which he was still struggling at the time oI his ’rst pilgrimage. Eurthermore.
we may understand Irom this text that the ,QVKn¬ as we have it now is incomplete
indeed. WUXQFDWHG. abandoned midway lacking the whole cosmogonic chain-oI-being
system that was presumably intended to ensue aIter the theological treatise oI Divine
Essence. Attributes. Acts and Names (as we ’nd in the ˜$QTn¬ and again in the larger
Iramework oI the ’rst halI-dozen chapters oI the )XW™„nW).
Whereas the Iollowing extract is presented as a synopsis or abridgement (ID‰O
PXNKWD‰DU) oI our ’rst text. it is actually much more (and rather less) than that. Eirstly.
the Names Themselves are divided into two distinct classes: the general Custodians. or
Gate-keepers` (DO-VDGDQDK). and seven special Names thereamong Who are denominated
Imäms. or Leaders`. These include. in addition to the Iour cardinal Names treated in our
’rst passage the Knower. the Purposer. the PowerIul and the Speaker three others: the

That is. al-MahdawŽ`s servant. who is called 'the pure. trustworthy IDTŽU ¨ at the end oI Ibn al-
˜ArabŽ`s 5. 5™„ DO- TXGV (Damascus. 1970). p.'163.
)XW. (rev.). II. 119. The passage was translated by Eenton and Gloton in the monograph cited in n.'29
(on p.'12 therein).
See ,.'6.. 237VT. Nyberg also edited the 7DGEŽUnW in his .OHLQHUH 6FKULIWHQ (pp.'103240; see
especially p.'209).
This. oI course. is debatable. and Eenton and Gloton assume that the ,QVKn¬ 'was probably completed
in the East several years later¨ (p.'13). I originally shared that view (see ,.'6.. 76. n.'1). but now it seems to
me that the ,QVKn¬ is maniIestly an aborted work. and there is no reason to suppose that any Iurther
progress was made on it aIter the synopsis added in Tunis.
Generous (DO--DZnG) and the Just. or Equitable (DO-0XTVL‚).
along with the Living (DO-
‘D\\). Which is not actually discussed in the text although It is apparently the highest-
ranking oI the seven Leaders. occupying the topmost sphere (QR. 1) in the diagram
(‰™UDK. VKDNO) reproduced below. and is even there denominated the 'Imäm oI Imäms.¨
In the text itselI. however. it DSSHDUV. rather. that the Name. Allah. is the seventh Imäm.
inasmuch as It/He is actually reIerred to as the Divine Leader and supreme ,PnP DO-
Another novelty introduced into the present account is the symbolism oI the
'Keys to hidden treasures¨ (PDInWŽ„ PDNKn]LQ) which the Names possess granted to
Them by Their seven Imäms without knowing what treasures. iI any. They thus have
control over. An obvious allusion to the popular „DGŽWK TXGVŽ. 'I was a hidden Treasure
(NDQ] PDNKIŽ) and I desired to be known.¨
the imagery also resonates here with the
notion oI the Names being Custodians. Gate-keepers. or 'Treasurers¨ (NKX]]nQ). Einally.
the prominent role assigned to the Generous (÷ the Good` oI Plato`s 7LPDHXV?) in the
creation oI Ab™ ‘ämid al-GhazzalŽ`s 'most-wonderIul oI all possible worlds¨
was not
developed in the ˜$QTn¬ chapter.
although the general thesis had been adumbrated by
Ibn al-˜ArabŽ in the 7DGEŽUnW.
and was to be revisited. later. in the )XW™„nW and )X‰™‰
The original ’gure oI the World Sphere. or Circle` (Gn¬LUDW DO-˜nODP) reproduced
aIter our translation oI Text II. below. derives Irom 06 0DQLVD 1183. which was copied
in the seventh/thirteenth century.
(In the ,QVKn¬ the diagram is actually placed EHIRUH

These two Names occupy the middle tier oI spheres (QRV. 6 and 7) in the diagram. Recall that a
cognate Iorm oI DO--DZnG £ DO--™G £ was mentioned in Text I (see nn.'19 and 55).
See at n.'53. below.
CI. Su˜äd al-‘akŽm. $O-0X˜MDP DO-‰™IŽ (Beirut. 1981). pp.'12667. QR.'34.
On this subiect. see Eric L. Ormsby`s excellent study. 7KHRGLF\ LQ ,VODPLF 7KRXJKW (Princeton.
1984). pp.'92134 (Chap. 2). especially pp.'1037.
But cI. n.'19.
See N. 1067. Ibn al-˜ArabŽ Iirst broaches the theme earlier in the ,QVKn¬ itselI (see LELG.. 18. 112).
See )XW. II. 96. 124. 103. 334. and III. 449. 89; and A.-˜A. ˜AIŽIŽ. ed.. )X‰™‰ DO-„LNDP (Beirut.
1980). p.'172. 156.
Osman Yahia did not register this important manuscript in his +LVWRLUH HW FODVVLILFDWLRQ. CI. the
similar diagram produced by Eenton and Gloton in RS. FLW.. p.'39.
our passage).
A similar ’gure may be Iound in the )XW™„nW.
which relates. however. to
the more developed Iorm oI the onomalogical motiI represented in our Texts III and IV.
AIter explaining the apparatus oI the diagram.
Ibn al-˜ArabŽ concludes the ,QVKn¬ (as
we have it now) with the Iollowing account oI the Divine ConIerence` oI the Names:
Know that in the %RRN RI WKH )DEXORXV *U\SKRQ. in the chapter. An Eternal ConIerence
on an Everlasting Eigure` (PX„n³DUDK D]DOŽ\DK ˜DOi QDVK¬DK DEDGŽ\DK). we dealt with the
cause oI the World`s emergence (VDEDE QDVK¬ DO-˜nODP)
in accordance with the model
oI an allegorical Unveiling and Divine Wisdom (DO-NDVKI DO-PLWKnOŽ ZD-O-„XNP DO-LOnKŽ).
I will now relate thereIrom what is relevant to the present context.
And that is that while the Custodians` (DO-VDGDQDK) oI these Names
had in
Their possession the Keys oI the heavens and the earth when there were as yet neither
heavens nor earth. each Custodian-Name with Its Key remained unable to ’nd what to
open therewith. WhereIore They exclaimed: 'How strange! |We are| Treasurers with
Keys` to hidden Treasures Who know oI no Treasure existing!
So what do these Keys
Then the Names came to an agreement among Themselves. declaring: 'We must
go to Our Seven Imäms` Who have given Us these Keys without apprising Us oI the
Treasures over which We have control.¨ So They rose up and accosted the Gates oI the

At p.'35. 7 in N.
)XW. III. 427.
At this point in his edition (pp.'356) Nyberg includes a rather long passage (not translated by
EentonGloton) which reads rather like a scholion (by some such commentator as ˜Abd al-KarŽm al-JŽlŽ?).
1DVK¬: arising. emergence. coming into existence; growing. springing up`. Note that the expression
is implicitly naturalistic`. a quality more pronounced in the later treatment oI this motiI in the )XW™„nW (see
below. at nn.'11521). where the contingent beings (DO-PXPNLQnW) themselves are said to initiate the
process leading to their genesis. (CI. the use oI the verb. LQWDVKD¬DW. aIter n.'78).
The Custodians` are represented in the Iourth tier oI the diagram (spheres QRV.'810) reproduced
below. 6nGLQ: a door-keeper. chamberlain or guardian oI the Ka˜bah`; speciIically. one in charge oI
opening and locking its door (whence the imagery oI the 'keys¨).
Imäms that oI the SpeciIying Imäm (DO-LPnP DO-PXNKD‰‰L‰). oI the BeneIactor-Imäm
(DO-PXQ˜LP) and the Imäm oI Justice (DO-PXTVL‚).
The Names inIormed |these three
Imäms| oI Their aIIair. and the Latter replied: 'You have spoken well. The Resources
are with Us. and We shall apportion them to You.
iI Allah (Be He
exalted!) so wills. But come. let Us go to the remaining Imäms.
and We shall gather
beIore the Presence oI the Divine Imäm. the Imäm oI Imäms.¨
Thus. all |oI the Names| and They are all Custodians` in consideration oI Their
relation to the Imäm known as Allah They all assembled and stood at the Gate oI Allah.
Then the Latter emerged beIore Them and asked: 'What has brought You here?¨
Thereupon They related the matter to Him. stating that They sought the existence oI the
heavens and the earth so that They might apply each Key to its |respective| Gate.
The Name. Allah. then made inquiry: 'Where is the SpeciIying Imäm?¨ at
which the Purposer hastened to Him. Then |Allah| asked: 'Are You not in possession oI
the inIormation (DO-NKDEDU). You and the Knowing One?¨ He replied. 'Yes.¨ |Allah|
then declared: 'II so. then put These |Custodians| at ease regarding Their obsession and
preoccupation (WD˜DOOXT DO-NKn‚LU ZD-VKXJKO DO-EnO).¨ The Knower and the Purposer then
said: 'O Most-PerIect Imäm. tell the PowerIul and the Speaking Imäms to help Us. Ior.
verily. We cannot carry out Your command by Ourselves. but only by the Iour oI Us.¨
So Allah (Exalted be He!) called the PowerIul and the Speaker and said to Them:
'Help Your Brothers in what lies beIore Them!¨ to which They answered. 'Surely!¨

Eollowing M. I.'138b: .KX]]nQ
. 'Keys¨
here is PDInWŽ„. but the same word in English in the preceding and the Iollowing sentences translates the
synonym. PDTnOŽG.
These are. respectively. spheres QRV.'3. 6 and 7. Note that these circles correspond to the Names. the
Purposer (DO-0XUŽG). the Generous (DO--DZnG) and the Just (DO-0XTVL‚).
I read thus (plural oI NKD\UDK) in preIerence to DO-NKDEDU (the inIormation) in N in order to accord
with the plural direct obiect in the Iollowing clause (but cI. below. where NKDEDU is associated with the
Purposer and the Knower).
)D-TnO™. ¹DGDTWXP. $O-NKL\DUX ˜LQGD-Qn. ZD-VDQX˜D\\LQX-Kn OD-NXP. N reads DO-NKDEDU as the direct
obiect oI ‰DGDTWXP. but M clearly marks it as nominative.
I take this to reIer to the three Imäms belonging to spheres 2. 4 and 5 (YL].. the Knowing. the Speaker.
and the PowerIul). while the 'Divine Imäm¨ oI the next clause is sphere QR.'1. corresponding there to the
Name. the Living (DO-‘D\\). Here. however. Allah seems to be intended.
The reIerence here is clearly to Allah (see what Iollows). In the diagram. however. note that the
topmost sphere. occupied by the Living One. is styled the ,PnP DO-D¬LPPDK.
Then They
entered the Presence oI the Generous (DO--DZnG).
declaring to Him: 'We
have resolved to create engendered Existents and the temporal World (DO-DNZnQ ZD-
˜nODP DO-„LGWKnQ) and to draw them out oI non-existence into existence. |But| this is oI
Your entitlement. the Presence oI Generosity („D³UDW DO-M™G). So give Us the Generosity
by which We might bring them Iorth!¨
|The Generous| then granted Them absolute Generosity (DO-M™G DO-PX‚ODT). and
with it They departed Irom His Presence and made contact with the World (WD˜DOODT™ EL-
O-˜nODP). maniIesting |Generosity| in the most perIect and excellent manner. Eor it is
impossible that there should be any |World| more wonderIul (DEGD˜) than |the present
one| since. verily. it emanates Irom absolute Generosity. Were |any World| more
wonderIul than it to exist. |that would mean that| the Generous had been PLVHUO\ in the
perIection which He Iailed to bestow and kept to HimselI. |so that| it would be inaccurate
to call Him the Generous` in that something oI miserliness would be Iound in Him. The
Name. the Generous`. with respect to what He gave would not |in that case| be more
appropriate to Him than the name. the Miser` (DO-EDNKŽO). regarding what He withheld!
|Moreover| the essential Realities would be nulli’ed.
But it is clear that the name. the
Miser`. cannot conceivably be applied to |God|. and that. thereIore. He cannot have kept
the more perIect |World| to HimselI.
This. then. is the origin oI the emergence oI the World and its cause. The Imäm oI
Justice (DO-0XTVL‚) did not appear until aIter the Revelation oI the Divine-legal
Prescriptions (QX]™O DO-VKDUn¬L˜) |in the Qur`än|.
Then the Names each took up Their
Keys. coming to learn oI the Reality oI what they represented and to which they
corresponded in the existence oI engendered Beings. So realize the meaning oI this

Some sources (including M) have the plural here (and in what Iollows); N has the dual. indicating the
PowerIul and the Speaker.
M. I.'139. has DO--™G (meaning the same) here and DO--DZnG as obiect oI the Iollowing verb. CI.
:D-ED‚DODWL O-„DTn¬LTX. The realities` are SHUIHFWLRQV. which. as such. could have no place in an
imperIect world. It is interesting that Ibn al-˜ArabŽ thus adverts to the Platonic ideas` in his treatment oI
the notion oI Divine generosity. or goodness. and the best oI all possible worlds`. the argument Ior which.
likewise. originates in the 7LPDHXV (27d30a).
In creation. God`s mercy precedes His iustice. even as the existence oI the world may be said to
precede its perIection (on this notion. see Text IV aIter n.'132. below). But although it is leIt unsaid here. in
the UH-creation` oI mystical realization. or liberation which is GHDWK to the temporal human entity the
Divine Destroyer`. DO-0XPŽW. is Lord (recall Socrates` last words in the 3KDHGR).
marvelous abridgement |Irom the ˜$QTn¬ PXJKULE|. Ior. indeed. it will be useIul in
understanding the present section |oI the ,QVKn¬ DO-MDGnZLO treating oI Cosmogenesis|
while '*RG NQRZV EHVW.¨
Courtesy oI Manisa K•t•phane
Irom 06 0DQLVD 1183/11. II.'37b38.
copied in the 7th/13th century.

4XU. 3: 167. HW SDVVLP. Instead oI this. N`s sources read: 'God is the Guide to the Truth.¨
Courtesy oI Koninkliike Brill. Leiden
1) The Living (DO-‘D\\). the Eirst |Imäm|.
2) The Knowing (DO-˜cOLP). the 2nd. or Wise Imäm` (DO-LPnP DO-„DNŽP).
3) The Purposer (DO-0XUŽG). the 3rd. or SpeciIying Imäm` (DO-PXNKD‰‰L‰)
4) The Speaker (DO-4n¬LO). the 4th. or Commanding Imäm` (DO-nPLU).
5) The PowerIul (DO-4nGLU). the 5th. Creator-Imäm` (DO-P™MLG).
6) The Generous (DO--DZnG). the 6th. BeneIactor-Imäm` (DO-PXQ˜LP).
7) The Equitable (DO-0XTVL‚). the 7th. or Just Imäm` (DO-˜nGLO).
8) The Sphere oI the Custodians (Gn¬LUDW DO-VDGDQDK): the BeneIactor. the Honourer. the
Debaser. the Harmer. the Pro’ter. the Restrictor. the Expander. the LiIe-Giver. the
Giver oI death.
9) The Keepers oI the |Divine| Pleasure (VDGDQDW DO-UL³i): the BeneIactor. the Veiler.
the PreIerrer. the Provider. the Giver. the Compassionate. the Eorgiving.
10) The Keepers oI the |Divine| Wrath (VDGDQDW DO-JKD³DE): the Debaser. the Severe in
punishment. the Calculator. the Reckoner. the Harmer. the Castigator.
11) The Created World (DO-˜nODP DO-NKDOT).
12) The Presence oI Paradise and Eaith` („D³UDW DO-MDQQDK ZD-O-ŽPnQ).
13) The Presence oI Hell and In’delity` („D³UDW DO-QnU ZD-O-NXIU).
17) Rays extended Irom sphere QR. 1 unlabeled.
8) The ray oI perIection (DO-L„NnP).
9) " " " the perIection oI grace (L„NnP DO-QD˜ŽP).
10) " " " the perIection oI punishment (L„NnP DO-˜LGKnE).
11) The ray oI speci’cation (DO-WDNK‰Ž‰).
12) " " " the speci’cation oI grace.
13) " " " the speci’cation oI punishment.
13') " " " detriment and suIIerings (DO-³DUDU ZD-O-nOnP).
14) The ray oI command (DO-DPU).
15) " " " the command to grace.
16) " " " the command to punishment.
17) The ray oI creation (DO-ŽMnG).
18) " " " the creation oI grace.
19) " " " the creation oI punishment.
20) The ray oI bene’t (DO-QDI˜).
21) " " " universal bounty (DO-M™G DO-NXOOŽ).
22) The ray oI detriment (DO-³DUDU).
23) " " " universal iustice (DO-˜DGO DO-NXOOŽ).
24) The ray combining bene’t and detriment (DO-MDP˜ ED\QD O-QDI˜ ZD O-³DUDU).
25) " " oI legal bene’t (DO-QDI˜ DO-VKDU˜Ž).
26) " " " legal detriment (DO-³DUDU DO-VKDU˜Ž).
27) The ray separating the people oI happiness Irom the world
28) " " " " " " misery Irom the world
29) The ray oI bene’t (DO-QDI˜).

30) " " " detriment (DO-³DUDU).

According to notations on the diagram. this designation does not occur in all manuscript copies (cI.
rays QRV. 21 and 22). Note that the twenty-eight other UDTn¬LT correspond to the number oI letters in the
Arabic alphabet.
III) EROM CHAPTER IV OE THE )87¿‘c7 $/-0$..¾<$+
Our next text. translated here Ior the ’rst time. is the last halI oI Chapter 4 oI the )XW™„nW.
which was written in the vicinity oI Mecca. probably around 600/1204. and appended to
an open letter addressed to Shaykh al-MahdawŽ which makes up the beginning oI that
As al-MahdawŽ was already Iamiliar with the 0X„n³DUDK passages Irom both
the ˜$QTn¬ and the ,QVKn¬. it is no wonder that Ibn al-˜ArabŽ does not simply recast the
Eternal ConIerence` theme here but approaches the subiect Irom another angle. more as
a traditional theological disquisition. The seven cardinal Names reIerred to earlier as
Imäms` are now styled Mothers. or Matrices` (XPPDKnW).
and two other Appellations
the disposing Director. or Planner` (DO-0XGDEELU) and the more hands-on
Distinguisher. or Particularizer` (DO-0XID‰‰LO) are introduced. bringing the pantheon oI
demiurgic Names up to nine. a proper (QQHDG. Apart Irom such modi’cations. the
present text provides more in the way oI theory as to the correspondence between the
Divine Names oI Revelation (now called Relations`. QLVDE) and the mystical
philosophical Realities` („DTn¬LT).

)XW. (rev.). II. 12331; corresponding to )XW. I. 99.'26101.'21.
The opening lines oI the chapter are translated above. at n.'32. Erom the contents oI the letter in
which Ibn al-˜ArabŽ is trying to persuade al-MahdawŽ to come to Mecca. it is apparent that it was written in
the blessed environs oI the Holy Places shortly aIter the author`s Iirst pilgrimage thereIore. sometime
between 598/1202 and 601/1204.
The seven are also called 'Lords |oI the other Names|¨ in the Iollowing passage (see at n.'75). but
that usage should not be conIused with the Iact that all oI the Names are regarded as Lords` to Their
worshippers` (˜nELGnW. PDUE™EnW) Their corresponding existential realities („DTn¬LT) making up the
|The Names oI God and the existential Realities|
Know (May God grant us and you and all Muslims success!) that most oI the Knowers oI
God among the People oI Unveiling and the Realities do not have knowledge oI the
cause oI the origination oI the World (VDEDE EDG¬ DO-˜nODP) beyond the connection oI the
pre-eternal Knowledge (DO-˜LOP DO-TDGŽP) with its creation. Eor |God| caused to exist
(NDZZDQD) that which He NQHZ would be made to exist and there most people end their
inquiry. But as Ior us and those to whom God has shown what He has shown to us. we
have come to know other matters besides this. And that is that iI you consider the World
analytically (PXID‰‰DO
) in terms oI its various Realities and Relations („DTn¬LTX-KX ZD-
you will ’nd it limited (PD„‰™U) by those Realities and Relations.
determined (PD˜O™P) by the Stations and the Ranks (DO-PDQn]LO ZD-O-UXWDE). bounded by
the genera (PXWDQnKŽ O-DMQnV) something between homogeneous` and various`
When you come to know this matter. you learn that in this
there is a subtle secret and a wondrous thing oI which you may not realize the Reality
either by precision oI thought or speculation. but only by a God-given Knowledge (˜LOP
PDZK™E) oI the knowledge oI Unveiling and the eIIects oI spiritual Strivings associated
with the psychic Energies (QDWn¬LM DO-PXMnKDGnW DO-PX‰n„DEDK OL-O-KLPDP). Eor spiritual
Striving without a psychic Energy cannot generate anything and is without an eIIect on
knowledge. although it ZLOO have an eIIect on the spiritual Condition as to the subtlety
and purity |oI Condition| that the one engaged in the spiritual Striving experiences.
Know May God teach you the Secrets oI Wisdom (VDUn¬LU DO-„LNDP) and the
Comprehensive Words (MDZnPL˜ DO-NLODP)! that the Excellent Names oI God which
number more than the Names enumerated |speci’cally in the Scripture| but which
descend below` Them in Ielicity |so to speak| They are the Ones Which bring about
impressions (DO-PX¬DWKWKLUDK) in this World. They being the Primary Keys` (DO-PDInWL„
Which no one knows but He. To each |existential| Reality („DTŽTDK) there is

On the Relations` (which are. in Iact. the Divine Names). see n.'103.
On the latter dichotomy. see below. aIter n.'84.
Whereas in Text II the Names were 3RVVHVVRUV oI the Keys (see at n.'48). here They are the Keys`
One oI the Names Which is special to it. (By Reality` I mean a reality which comprises
a genus |MLQV|). The Lord (UDEE) oI that Reality is that Name; and the Reality is the
worshipper oI |that Lord| (˜nELGDWX-KX) and under His constraint (WDNOŽIX-KX) nothing
When some thing (VKD\¬) brings together Ior you many |Divine| Names. the
matter is not as you may imagine it. But iI you consider that thing. you will ’nd that it
has aspects (DO-ZXM™K) to which those Names indicated by |the aspects| correspond they
being the Realities` which we mentioned. An example oI that is what is proven to you in
the knowledge concerned with the external sense oI the intellects (ŒnKLU DO-˜XT™O) and
under their authority with regard to any given existent entity (PDZM™G). |that it is| an
indivisible individual (IDUG
On \DQTDVLPX) like individual substance (DO-MDZKDU DO-IDUG).
the part |oI the entity| which is not divisible. |But even so| there are in |that so-called
individual` substance| numerous Realities requiring a corresponding number oI Divine
Names. Eor the Reality oI its creation (ŽMnGX-KX) requires the Name. the PowerIul; while
the aspect oI its perIection (L„NnPX-KX) requires the Name. the Purposer; and the aspect
oI its maniIestation (ŒXK™UX-KX) requires the Name. the Seer (DO-%D‰ŽU). the Observer (DO-
and other |such Names|. Thus. this |substance|. although it is an individual`. has
these |various| aspects (DO-ZXM™K) and others we have not mentioned. And to each aspect
there are many |other| aspects requiring Names. accordingly. These aspects are the
Realities in our |nomenclature|. the 6HFRQGDU\ (DO-WKDZnQŽ) |Realities|. Intellectual
inquiry into them is diI’cult. and learning about them by way oI Unveiling is even more

Note that the Seer is not given a place in the diagram. above. even though sight (along with hearing)
is among the traditionaltheological attributes oI Deity. and here it is recognized as having a maniIesting
(creative?) Iunction.
|The Mothers` oI the Divine Names|
Know that. as Ior the Names Themselves. we might leave Them in Their multiplicity iI
we simply take note oI the aspects oI those seeking Them (DO-‚nOLE™QD OD-Kn) in the
World. II we do QRW. then we shall return and take note oI the Mothers`/Matrices oI the
|Divine| Obiects-oI-seeking` (XPPDKnW DO-PD‚nOLE)
|that is. the Names oI God|
Which are indispensable to |the system oI the Divine Names as a whole|; and we will
then realize that the Names upon Which the aIoresaid Mothers` are based are DOVR
Mothers` oI the Names. in turn. Thus. speculation will be Iacilitated and the obiective
completed. the passing on (DO-WD˜DGGŽ) oI these Mothers` to the Daughters` (DO-EDQnW)
being made easy. even as the return oI the Daughters` to the Mothers` will be
Iacilitated. Eor iI you consider all oI the Names Which are known in the higher and the
lower worlds. you will ’nd that They are contained by the Seven Names by Which the
partisans oI the science oI discursive theology denote the |Divine| Attributes (DO-‰LInW).
We have already spoken oI this in our book. 7KH &RPSRVLWLRQ RI WKH &LUFOHV.
Our purpose in WKLV writing is not concerned with these Seven Mothers which
signiIy the Attributes. but. rather. we have in mind the Mothers Which are necessary Ior
the creation oI the World. Nor are we in need oI rational prooIs as regards the Gnosis oI
the Real (PD˜ULIDW DO-‘DTT) (Be He praised!) but only |the knowledge oI| His being
Existent (PDZM™G). Knowing (˜nOLP). Purposing (PXUŽG). PowerIul (TnGLU) and Living
(„D\\) nothing else.
What is additional to that is made necessary by the imposition |oI
Divine Law| (DO-WDNOŽI). Eor the coming oI the Apostle |Mu„ammad| (Upon him be
peace!) made us to know Him (Be He exalted!) as Speaking (PXWDNDOOLP). and the Divine
Law made us to know Him as Hearing and Seeing (VDPŽ˜ ED‰ŽU). as well as in terms oI
other Names. That oI which we are in need Ior the Gnosis oI the Names is the existence
oI the World. |and Those iust-mentioned Names| are the Lords` |among| the Names

0D‚nOLE is the plural oI PD‚ODE. one Irom whom something is sought` here signiIying the Divine
Names. Yahia adds DO-˜LOPŽ\DK (epistemic; semantic) as a modiIier oI XPPDKnW DO-PD‚nOLE. suggesting that
the Names are the meanings`. or semantic bases oI the ZXM™K (aspects) oI things.
The seven cardinal attributes are liIe. knowledge. will. speech. power. sight and hearing.
See N. 278VT.
Reason posits only the Iive attributes oI Deity listed above. Revelation requires LSVR IDFWR that we
recognize. also. speech; and the content oI the latter adds sight. hearing. etc.
(DUEnE DO-DVPn¬). while Others |oI Them| are Their Custodians` (VDGDQDK OD-Kn). even
as some oI the Lords` are Custodians` oI some among Them.
Now. the Mothers` oI the Names are: the Living. the Knowing. the Purposing.
the Speaking. |the PowerIul|.
the Generous and the Just; and These are also the
Daughters` oI the two Names. the Director (DO-0XGDEELU) and the Distinguisher (DO-
Eor the Living determines your intelligence (IDKPX-ND) aIter your existence
and beIore it; while the Knowing determines your perIection (L„NnPX-ND) during your
existence. and beIore your existence in your predestination; and the Purposing
determines your speci’cation (LNKWL‰n‰X-ND). the PowerIul your nullity (˜DGDPX-ND). the
Speaking your eternity (TLGDPX-ND). and the Generous your creation (ŽMnGX-ND). These
are Realities the existence oI which is necessary; so their Names. Which are their Lords.
are also necessary. Eor the Living is the Lord oI the Lords and the Servants` (5DEE DO-
DUEnE ZD-O-PDUE™EŽQ). He being the Imäm; while the Knowing Iollows Him in rank. and
the Purposer Iollows the Knowing. and the Speaker Iollows the Purposer; the PowerIul
Iollows the Speaker. the Generous Iollows the PowerIul. and the Just is the last oI Them.
Verily. He is the Lord oI the |lower| Ranks (5DEE DO-PDUnWLE) they being the last oI the
Stations oI Existence. The Names Which remain are under the authority oI these Imäm-

Inadvertently omitted.
The signiIicance oI the two putative Names. DO-0XGDEELU and DO-0XID‰‰LO. becomes clearer in the
next section. Their ranking in the hierarchy oI the cardinal Names may be contemplated in the diagram in
)XW. III. 427. where They are the two spheres situated directly below the Living (QR.'1) on the central axis.
Note. however. that there They maniIestly rank below` the Knowing. Purposing. Speaking. and PowerIul
Names (and above` the Generous and the Just). so how are we to understand Ibn al-˜ArabŽ`s apparent
statement here that the seven Mothers` are the Daughters` oI the Director and the Distinguisher? (CI.
also. below. where the latter are the 'Ministers¨ oI the Name. DO-5DEE). Perhaps we should amend the
sentence to read: '... and These |last two Names. the Generous and the Just| are also the Daughters` oI the
Director and the Distinguisher.¨
|The Imäms oI the Names|
The cause oI these |seven| Names resorting to (WDZDMMXK LOi) the |Greatest| Name. Allah.
in the creation oI the World was the rest oI the Names. along with Their Realities.
Nevertheless. the |veritable| Imäms oI the Names |considered in Themselves|. without
regard to the World. are iust Iour no more: His Name
(Be He exalted!). the Living
and the Speaking and the Hearing and the Seeing.
Eor |God| (Exalted be He!). when He
hears His own Speech (NDOnPX-KX) and sees His own Essence (GKnWX-KX). His existence
in His Essence is complete without regard to the World; whereas we |rational creatures|.
we only intend by His Names that upon which the existence oI the World is based.
Hence. the Names become numerous Ior us. We turned toward Their Lords and came
unto Them in Their Presences.
and we Iound |there| none other than These |Lords|
Whom we have iust mentioned. presenting Them in accordance with our own witnessing
oI Them. But the cause oI the Lords oI the Names resorting to the Name. Allah. in the
creation oI our essential Identities (ŽMnG D˜\nQL-Qn)
was the rest oI the Names.
The ’rst to rise up to demand this World were the Director (DO-0XGDEELU) and the
Distinguisher (DO-0XID‰‰LO). in response to the request oI the Name. the
Sovereign/Possessor (DO-0DOLN).
Eor when |these two Names| resort |to Allah|. the
Thing (DO-VKD\¬) |Ior which They are petitioning| ascends |in maniIestation the Thing|
the ideal Image (DO-PLWKnO) oI which exists in the Soul oI the World without any non-
existence having preceded it. But a rank |in the ideal cosmic order| (PDUWDEDK) preceded
it. not any real existence as in the case oI the rising oI the sun preceding` the beginning
oI the day. even though the beginning oI the day is |strictly speaking| simultaneous with
the rising oI the sun. But it is clear that the |logical| cause (DO-˜LOODK) oI the existence oI

But as we learn below. the Names Who initiated the movement toward creation were the Director and
the Distinguisher. in response to the request oI the Divine King (DO-0DOLN). CI. 4XU. 13: 2. quoted below.
Thus. in the singular.
Recall that in our Text II. the Imäms were the seven Names Which are now called Mothers`.
Moreover. below (at n.'81) the seven Mothers` are reIerred to as Imäms` and Lords`.
That is. the presences oI the Lords („D³DUnWX-KXP) the pronoun Ior Whom is human-plural. not
collective (as in the case oI the Names as such).
On the identities` (D˜\nQ). see nn.'11213. 115 and 121.
Eor the sense oI these two Names. compare the cognate verbs in 4XU. 13: 2 (quoted at the end oI the
article). where the Lord (DO-5DEE). corresponds to DO-0DOLN here (on the latter. cI. 59: 23 and 3: 26).
the day is the rising oI the sun |even though| it was simultaneous with it in actual
existence and such is the matter |oI the other case|.
|Similarly| when these two
Names GLUHFWHG DQG GLVWLQJXLVKHG the World without any ignorance or privation oI
knowledge thereoI having preceded it and the Eorm oI the ideal Image (‰™UDW DO-PLWKnO)
developed (LQWDVKD¬DW) in the Soul oI the World. His Name (Exalted be He!). the
Knowing (DO-˜cOLP). made connection (WD˜DOODTD) at that moment with that ideal Image.
even as it connects with the Eorm Irom which |the Image| is taken. despite its being
invisible (JKD\U PDU¬Ž\DK) since it is non-existent as we have mentioned in the |sixth|
chapter |oI this book. containing the section|. 'Whence Comes the World into
Existence?¨ (0LQ-Pn ZXMLGD O-˜nODP?).
|The Eirst Names in the World|
The ’rst Names |to become pre-eminent in the development| oI the World are these two
|YL].. the Director and the Distinguisher|.
and the Name. the Director. is |in Iact| the
One that determines the moment oI the preordained Creation (ZDTW DO-ŽMnG DO-PXTDGGDU).
Then the Purposer made connection with |the World| commensurate with what the
Director presented and directed. |These two Names. the Director and the Purposer| did
nothing with regard to the development oI that ideal Image |oI the World| without the
participation (PXVKnUDNDK) oI the rest oI the Names. but that was Irom behind the veil oI
these two Names. Thus. the Imämate rightly belongs to Them. while the Others are not
speci’cally conscious (On \DVK˜XU™QD) oI that |development oI the World| until the actual
Eorm oI the ideal Image appears. and They behold the Realities therein which have a
correspondence with Them. attracting Them to Iall in love` with them (WDMGKLEX-KXP OL-
Each One oI the Names began to Iall in love with Its own Reality which was in
the ideal Image |oI the World|. but They were unable to have any concrete infuence
upon it since the Presence in which this Image was maniIested does not |actually| present

Although the entity`s particular existence is beginningless` in that there was no time preceding it
during which it was nonexistent. nevertheless. its Ioreordaining when it was subsistent in the knowledge oI
God is required by the logic oI positive theology.
This is part oI the cosmogonic Chap. 6 oI the )XW™„nW (rev. edn.. II. 220. 6VT.).
Eollowing Yahia in taking this Iirst reIerence to be to the two Names iust treated above.
|it to Them|. Hence. that love and attachment (DO-WD˜DVKVKXT ZD-O-„XEE) leads |the
Divine Names| to seek. to strive Ior and desire` the creation oI the Eorm oI that ideal
Image itselI in order to maniIest Their authority (VXO‚nQX-KXP) and make Their Existence
right by Reality. Eor there is nothing more tremendous in distress (KDPP
) than a
Mighty One (˜$]Ž]) Ior Whom nothing mighty` (˜D]Ž]) exists which He can subiugate
under His subiection so that the authority oI His might is legitimated or One-Who-is-
Rich (*KDQŽ) Ior Whom none can be Iound who needs His riches! And it is thus with all
oI the Names. Hence. |They all| resorted to Their Lords the Seven Imäms
Whom we
mentioned desiring Them to create this very Image which They had beheld in the
Essence oI the Knower thereoI (GKnW DO-˜cOLP EL-KL) and that is what is known as the
|The Divine Names: One in Essence. diverse in Connections|
Perhaps some proponent |oI the exoteric theological doctrine oI Attributes| will maintain:
'O Veri’er oI the Truth. how can the |other| Names see` this ideal Image when no one
except. speci’cally. the Seer. none other. can see it. since each Name is in possession oI a
|special| Reality not shared by the Others?¨ To him we say: 'Know (May God grant you
Name is quali’ed by all oI the Names in Its Iurthest scope.
Thus. each Name is Living.
PowerIul. Hearing. Seeing. Speaking. in Its Iurthest scope and knowledge. Otherwise.
how could |each Divine Name| really be a Lord to Its worshipper? What an idea!¨
However. there is a subtle point (OD‚ŽIDK) not generally realized. and that is that
you can positively know regarding grains oI wheat and such things that each wheat-berry
has in it what is contained in any one oI its counterparts. iust as you can know. also. that
that particular grain is not identical to the other grain. even though they both do embrace
homogeneous Realities („DTn¬LT PXWDPnWKLODK).
Ior they are homogenetic (PLWKOnQ) |to

Note that here the seven Mothers` oI the section preceding the last are. again. the seven Imäms` oI
our Text II. They are also denominated Lords`.
There is a pun on the words. ˜nOLP (knower) and ˜nODP (world).
This is the doctrine oI the essential identity oI the Divine Names which Ibn al-˜ArabŽ attributed to his
compatriot. Ibn QasŽ (see n.'85).
That is. individual realities. or essences`. which are universal (common to the species).
each other|. But examine the Reality which causes you to distinguish between the two
grains. and you will say: 'Indeed. this one is QRW the same as that.¨ This is valid in the
case oI all things which are homogeneous as regards what makes them so. Similarly with
the |Divine| Names: Each One is comprehensive (MnPL˜) oI all oI the Realities that the
|other| Names comprehend. Moreover. you can know positively that this Name is QRW
|identical to| that Other by virtue oI that same subtle point by means oI which you
distinguished between the grains oI wheat and all such things which are like each other.
Now. examine careIully this Meaning until you realize it by Remembrance |oI God`s
Names| (DO-GKLNU) not by mere thought (DO-’NU)!
But. I would like to acquaint you with the truth oI what one oI |our S™IŽ|
Predecessors (DO-PXWDTDGGLP™Q) |YL].. Ab™ l-Qäsim Ibn QasŽ|
spoke oI and. maybe.
what he UHYHDOHG. Ior perhaps you |too. ˜Abd al-˜AzŽz| have been destined to it. I do not
know iI it has been granted to another than me aIter me or not. Irom the Presence to
which I myselI was granted |access|. But iI one Iollows it up or realizes it by means oI
|this| my book. then , am his Teacher (DO-PX˜DOOLP); and. as Ior the |other S™IŽ|
Predecessors |in general|. they did not ’nd |the above-mentioned truth|.
And that is that
each Name. as we aI’rmed. comprehends |all oI| the Realities oI the Names and contains
them despite the existence oI the subtle point by which you make a distinction between
the two things which are alike. That is. |Ior example| that the Names. the BeneIactor (DO-
0XQ˜LP) and the Chastiser (DO-0X˜DGKGKLE) Which are the Outer and the Inner (DO-
ÁnKLU ZD-O-%n‚LQ) each oI these two Names include that which Its |Eellow|-Custodians
(VDGDQDWX-KX). Irom the Eirst to the Last oI Them. comprise. Notwithstanding. the Lords
oI the Names. along with the other Names. Iall into three classes (PDUnWLE): among them.

The allusion is to the PXUŽG™Q-rebel leader oI the Algarve. Ab™ l-Qäsim A„mad Ibn QasŽ (d.
546/1151). who taught that the essence oI each Divine Name was identical to all oI the others (as Ibn al-
˜ArabŽ observes in )XW. II. 686. 225; and in )X‰™‰. 79 and 180. and elsewhere). But recall that these words
are addressed to Shaykh al-MahdawŽ. who must. thereIore. have been unIamiliar with Ibn QasŽ`s book. the
.. .KDO˜ DO-QD˜OD\Q. This is noteworthy since Ibn al-˜ArabŽ himselI became privy to the doctrine oI Ibn
QasŽ (not necessarily Ior the Iirst time) through the latter`s son whom he met in Tunis in 590/1194 during
his Iirst soiourn with al-MahdawŽ (see )XW. IV. 129. 1112).
This is an unequivocal endorsement oI Ibn QasŽ as a ranking S™IŽ authority which cannot easily be
explained away despite the clear evidence oI Ibn al-˜ArabŽ`s critical attitude in his later commentary on the
.KDO˜ DO-QD˜OD\Q (cI. Claude Addas. 4XHVW IRU WKH 5HG 6XOSKXU |Cambridge. 1993|. pp.'557). Moreover. it
should be noted that Ibn al-˜ArabŽ here is explicitly presenting himselI as a transmitter oI Ibn QasŽ`s
(eIIectively esoteric) doctrine oI the homogeneity oI the Divine Names (cI. also )XW. II. 286. 257).
|1| Those |more universal Names| attaining the |higher| grades (GDUDMnW) oI the Lords oI
the Names;
and Those specializing in a |particular| grade
either |2| in that oI the
BeneIactor. or |3| in that oI the Chastiser. These Names oI the World. then. are limited
(PD„V™UDK) |by Their cosmogonic connections|.
%\ *RG. Whom we ask Ior help!
|The Supreme Divine Essence|
When all oI the |other| Names resorted to these Imäms |oI the Names|. and the Imäms. in
turn. had recourse to the Name. Allah. the Latter then took reIuge in the |SUPREME
DIVINE| ESSENCE (DO-'KnW) WHICH has no need oI the Names by way oI petitioning
the granting oI what the Names had requested. The MOST-GENEROUS BENEEACTOR (DO-
0L„VnQ DO--DZnG) graciously granted that |request| and declared: 'Tell the Imäms to
devote Themselves to the bringing-Iorth (LEUn]) oI the World in accordance with what
Their Realities bestow!¨ So the Name. Allah. went out |Irom the Presence oI the
SUPREME DIVINE ESSENCE to the other Names| and related to Them the message (DO-
NKDEDU). and They quickly turned about. ioyIul and delighted. and They ceased being
|discontented|. Eor They looked to the Presence which I shall mention in the sixth
chapter oI this book.
and then They brought about the existence oI the World as we
shall speak oI Iurther in the chapters aIter this. God willing. 'And God speaks the Truth
and shows the Way!¨

Either These are simply the seven Lords` (÷ Mothers`. Imäms`) oI the Names. or else. perhaps. we
should also include the more centrally-situated Custodians` oI sphere QR.'8.
. II my reading oI this (and the preceding clause) is correct. then Ibn al-
˜ArabŽ has expressed himselI rather awkwardly here. The point is evidently that whereas the more
universal signiIicance oI the Names must be kept in mind when considering spheres 17 (and 8?). Those oI
spheres 9 and 10 representing. respectively. the Keepers oI the Divine pleasure and wrath are
characterized by Their special (partial) signiIications.
Recall that in the present text Ibn al-˜ArabŽ has speciIied that he is treating the Names in reIerence to
the creation oI the World (see aIter n.'68).
That is. the PerIect Man. or Mu„ammadan Reality. which is the primary subiect-matter oI that
chapter (see )XW. |rev.|. II. 2215VT.).
4XU. 33: 4 (end).
IV) EROM CHAPTER LXVI OE THE )87¿‘c7 $/-0$..¾<$+=
Chapter 66 oI the )XW™„nW is entitled 'On the Gnosis oI the Secret oI the Holy Law (DO-
VKDUŽ˜DK) • and Which Divine Name originated it.¨ The Name in question is DO-5DEE.
the LORD.
# the Cosmocrator called upon to preserve peace in the universe and.
consequently. its very existence by instituting the principles oI law and civil custom.
The portion oI the chapter translated here (roughly the ’rst third) because oI its
correlation with our other three onomalogical texts. recounts the allegory oI the Divine
dialogue leading up to the maniIestation oI the realm oI contingent beings (DO-PXPNLQnW)
and. aIter the threatened Iailure oI the experiment due to the inherent tyranny oI a virtual
the decision to institute a monarchic henotheism` with the appointment
oI the LORD by the other Names on behalI oI existent creatures. the meek oI the earth.
who Ieared Ior their survival in a world without moral order.
I do not know iI anyone
has yet determined when this chapter oI the )XW™„nW was written. but my impression is
that it probably dates Irom a period considerably posterior to that oI our last text. It is. in
Iact. the ’rst oI a continuous series oI chapters (the last seven oI Volume One oI the
Bulaq edition). some oI them quite long. dealing with the orthopractic pillars oI Islamic
Law: the VKDKnGDK. ritual purity. prayer. almsgiving. Iasting and pilgrimage. It would
seem likely that such a series might have been produced DIWHU Ibn al-˜ArabŽ`s biographic
phase oI highest mobility (during which we know that he composed many shorter tracts)

)XW. (rev.). V. 907; corresponding to )XW. I. 322. 26324. 1. This passage has been masterIully
translated by William Chittick in ,PDJLQDO :RUOGV. pp.'12636 (see especially pp.'12932). See also the
same scholar`s 6.3.... 4758. especially pp.'534; and his 'Ibn al-˜ArabŽ`s Myth oI the Names`¨ in J.
Martin. ed.. 3KLORVRSKLHV RI %HLQJ DQG 0LQG (New York. 1992). pp.'20719.
I transcribe this Name in capitals to distinguish it Irom the generic usage oI Lord` Ior all oI the
Names in relation to Their existential realities`. and Ior the seven cardinal Appellations YLV-j-YLV the other
I think that in this context Ibn al-˜ArabŽ has in mind the verse: 'II there were in |the heavens and the
earth a plurality oI| Gods (nOLKDK) besides GOD. |the heavens and the earth| would surely be corrupted¨
(4XU. 21: 22).
The situation could be compared to Israel`s institution oI the Divine monarchy. the precursor oI
Christ`s messianic Kingship. David`s triumph over Goliath (personiIying the brute Iorce oI the PowerIul
uncontrolled by the Knowing) is alluded to in the verse: 'II God had not repelled some men by others the
earth would have been corrupted¨ (4XU. 2: 251).
that is. at some time in the second decade oI the seventh/thirteenth century. when he
was settled in Damascus and working Iull-time on redacting the multi-chaptered )XW™„nW
Eurthermore. it may be possible to detect some evidence oI a diachronic
development in the Shaykh`s treatment oI the Eternal ConIerence` theme as presented in
this Iourth text. Here the Realities` („DTn¬LT) are conceived as intelligible (PD˜T™ODK).
epistemic instead oI existential. and the Identities` (D˜\nQ) are largely replaced by
possible beings`. the PXPNLQnW. which. aIter maniIestation (or enti’cation) are called
Existents` (DNZnQ). Moreover. most notably. the very root-cause` (D‰O) oI creation is
allegorized in the present text as an impulse arising in the contingent beings themselves.
who cunningly tempt the Names to do their bidding by oIIering Them the TXLG SUR TXR oI
worship Ior existence. The reader will also notice many signi’cant diIIerences in the
enactment oI the Divine dialogue itselI. particularly as concerns the relationships
between the Names. the Producer` (DO-%nUL¬) and the PowerIul. and the Latter and the
Speaker. or Commander` (DO-cPLU). Who gives the command to EH (.XQ!) directly to the
possible being which then. H[ PHUR PRWX. as it were. enables the PowerIul to create it.
Einally. the SUPREME DIVINE ESSENCE oI all oI the Names is now reIerred to as THE ONE
(DO-:n„LG). and the demiurgic duo oI Names. the Director and the Distinguisher.
introduced in Text III. are here subordinated as ministers to the Lawgiving LORD (DO-
The Glorious requested oI the GLORIOUS Glory.
but HE disdained to certiIy a Glori’cation:
When. in HIS Maiesty and Generosity. HE saw
the Servant oI Divinity beIriending YDLQJORU\
Eor he was quite content to take glory in his own selI.
haughty. throwing his weight around and showing himselI proud
HE apprised him oI a Holy Law inviolate.
the authority oI which subdued him mightily.
The lowly Servant cried out in his want and abasement:
'O THOU WHO art Exalted and Blessed in THY Greatness!¨
God has declared (To Him be Might and Maiesty!): 'Say: II there were Angels walking
at peace on earth.# We would have sent down unto them Irom heaven an Angel as
#And#He said (Exalted be He!): 'We never punish |any people| until We have
sent Iorth an Apostle |to warn them|.¨
Know that the Divine Names` are the |silent| Voice oI a Condition` (OLVnQX „nO
) bestowed by the Realities.
So be mindIul as to what you are about to hear |regarding
the supposed speech` oI these Names| and do not imagine multiplicity or the actual
meeting together |oI the various Names|! Rather. in this chapter I will only present the
order oI intelligible Realities (WDUWŽE „DTn¬LT PD˜T™ODK) which are multiple in regard to
the Relations (DO-QLVDE)
#but not with respect to any identi’ed` Being (ZXM™G ˜D\QŽ).

The particular Divine Name. the Glorious (DO--DOŽO). requested oI the transubiective Divine Essence
(÷ the One Named. DO-0XVDPPi. by all oI the Names) the maniIestation in the World oI the reality
corresponding to His own Name L.H.. glory (MDOnO). But this was tantamount to demanding that some
human being be granted the kingly quality oI glory certainly much to ask Ior the sake oI vainglorious
mankind. The metre oI the poem is DO-NnPLO.
4XU. 17: 95.
4XU. 17: 15.
That is to say. Their speech` as depicted parabolically in the Divine dialogue motiI is not real (and.
thereIore. limited). but symbolic. the most-eloquent 'voice oI silence.¨ On the expression. OLVnQ „nO. see
ManIred Ullmann. HW DOLL. :|UWHUEXFK GHU NODVVLVFKHQ DUDELVFKHQ 6SUDFKH (Wiesbaden. 195783). s. v.
These are the Divine Names Themselves (see n.'103).
Ior the Essence oI the Real ('KnW DO-‘DTT) is 21( inasmuch as It is |pure| ESSENCE.
AIter that. however. we know Irom our own existence our abiect need and our
contingency# ¤# that we must have a Preponderator` (PXUDMML„) by Whom we may be
# and that our |multiIarious| existence will require oI that Supporter` (DO-
PXVWDQDG. cause`) various Relations
which the Lawgiver (DO-6KnUL˜) alluded to
metonymically as the Most-beautiIul Names`.
Eor HE named HIMSELE by Them in
HIS capacity as a Speaker (0XWDNDOOLP) at the |ultimate| level oI the essentiality oI HIS
DIVINE BEING (PDUWDEDW ZXM™EŽ\DW ZXM™GL-KL O-LOnKŽ) in which none may participate
since. verily. HE is 21( GOD there is no other God.
With that stipulation at the beginning oI this matter. and |keeping in mind God`s|
eIIecting and giving preponderance to the Possible World (DO-˜nODP DO-PXPNLQ) I say
|parabolically|: The Names gathered together (LMWDPD˜DW) in the Presence oI the NAMED
ONE and contemplated Their own Realities and Meanings.
Then They sought the
maniIestation oI Their Predications (D„NnPX-Kn)
so that Their various Identities
(D˜\nQX-Kn) might be distinguished by Their Impressions.
Hence. the Creator (DO-
.KnOLT) the One-Who-Predestines (DO-0XTDGGLU)
the Knower (DO-˜cOLP). the

That is. essential reality. The „DTn¬LT PD˜T™ODK are epistemic essences. or meanings` (PD˜nQ
). not
ontological entities. which are the realities` proper.
As Creator. God gives preponderance (WDUMŽ„) to the creature`s possibility oI being over its equally
possible non-existence.
$O-QLVDE (s.. QLVEDK). Ibn al-˜ArabŽ employs this term in preIerence to the dialectical theologians`
usage oI the word. ‰LInW (attributes). to denote the speciIic characteristics oI Deity evidenced by the Names
oI God in the Scripture (see )XW. IV. 294. 1119). Thus. he sees the Names more as Iormal. or hypo-
thetical. interrelations oI the supposed aspects (ZXM™K) oI the Divine SelI-maniIestation rather than the
actual. distinct semantic Iields implied in the concept oI attributes. or qualities`.
See 4XU. 7: 180. 17: 110. 20: 8 and 59: 24. 'The Lawgiver¨ here is God as Speaker in the Qur`än.
CI. 4XU. 5: 73. HW DO.
The PD˜nQ
are the 'intelligible realities¨ mentioned above.
These are the authorizations. or iudicial regulations` that each Name. by Its very nature. causes to
be predicated. rather as an astrological planet was conceived to impose certain iudgments (D„NnP) when
passing through the zodiac.
cWKnUX-Kn. $WKDU : trace. vestige; impression. eIIect`. These are apparently the secondary
properties` (DO-WKDZnQŽ) oI the Name hence. attributes oI the Attributes`. On the identities` (D˜\nQ). see
nn.'11213. 115 and 121. below.
CI. 4XU. 25: 2. 87: 23. HW DO. See Chittick`s commentary in 6.3.... 38990. n.'16. where he quotes
)XW.. II. 62. 4: 'The Divine determination (DO-WDTGŽU DO-LOnKŽ) concerning |creatures| is like the architect
who causes what he wants to bring Iorth to be present |in his mind|.¨ The point here is that the Name. DO-
.KnOLT. ranks above` other Creator`-Names. such as DO-%nUL¬ (see n.'114).
Director (DO-0XGDEELU). the Distinguisher (DO-0XID‰‰LO). the Producer (DO-%nUL¬). the
Giver-oI-Eorm (DO-0X‰DZZLU). the Provider (DO-5n]LT). the Giver-oI- LiIe (DO-0X„\Ž). the
Death-Dealer (DO-0XPŽW). the Inheritor (DO-:nULWK). the GrateIul (DO-6KDN™U). and all oI
the Divine Names considered Their own Essences (GKDZnWX-KXP).
but They did not
see any obiect oI |Their| creation (PDNKO™T) nor anything directed (PXGDEEDU).
distinguished (PXID‰‰DO) or provided Ior (PDU]™T).
So They asked: 'How |are We| to
act so that these Identities
might become maniIest |Identities| in which Our
Predications shall be made maniIest. and. thus. maniIest Our authority?¨
Hence. the Divine Names Which certain oI the Realities oI the World have
necessitated (WD‚DOODED-Kn) aIter the maniIestation oI the |World`s| Identity (ŒXK™U ˜D\QL-
had recourse to the Name. the Producer. to Whom They proposed: 'Perhaps You
could create these Identities so that Our Predications might become maniIest and Our
authority established. since the |transcendent| Presence in which We now are cannot
admit oI Our infuence |on the external World|.¨ But the Producer replied. 'That depends
upon the Name. the PowerIul. Ior I am under His aegis („Ž‚DWX-KX).¨

Note that Irom here on the pronouns are animate plurals. signiIying true personiIication.
These are the passive obiects (patients) oI the Divine actions. corresponding grammatically to the
Iirst Names mentioned above.
That is. the concrete maniIestations oI the Names` eternal natures. conceived as immutable equally
eternal essential identities. or substances` (D˜\nQ). which yet lack obiective existence (entiIication).
Here it is the realities` („DTn¬LT) in the world`s essential identity` (˜D\Q) which are responsible Ior
the initial movement toward the maniIestation oI the world. That world had already been created H[ QLKLOR
by the Creator. however hence. only some oI the realities (not those corresponding to the Creator or the
Knower. Ior example) urged the Names to approach the Producer.
The Producer needs power in order to act since His creation` is not H[ QLKLOR (as with DO-.KnOLT) but
out oI pre-existing matter. as Adam was created`. or produced. out oI clay (see E. W. Lane. $UDELF£
(QJOLVK /H[LFRQ. s. v. EDUL¬D |end|. quoting a WDIVŽU oI al-BaydäwŽ). In the diagram. above. the PowerIul is
correlated with the Iunction oI creation. ŽMnG (see sphere QR.'5 and ray QR.'17).
|Possible beings and their maniIestation|
The root-cause oI this is that the Possible beings` (DO-PXPNLQnW)
in their state oI non-
existence (˜DGDPX-Kn) petitioned the Divine Names with the petition oI their abiect state
and need.
imploring Them: 'Non-existence makes us unable to discern one another or
to know what we owe to You by right.
Were You to make maniIest our Identities and
clothe us in the vestments oI Existence („XOODW DO-ZXM™G). You would be doing us a great
Iavor in that. and we would surely give You Your due veneration and magni’cation. And
You. also authority will only be truly iusti’ed Ior You when we |Your subiects| are
made maniIest in actuality (EL-O-’˜O). Today. You are Authorities` (VDOn‚ŽQ) over us only
potentially and plenipotentially (EL-O-T™ZDK ZD-O-‰DOn„Ž\DK). This which we ask oI You
is more in <RXU interests than it is in ours!¨ The Names replied: 'What the Possible
beings have said is correct.¨ So They were moved to seek that |VFL.. the maniIestation oI
the World|.
When |the Names| had recourse to the Name. the PowerIul. He declared: 'I am
under the aegis oI the Purposer. so I cannot create an Identity among You except by His
The Possible being (DO-PXPNLQ) oI itselI cannot enable Me |to bring it
into existence| unless the command oI the Commander (DPU DO-cPLU) come to it Irom its
Eor when He gives the Command oI Existentiation (DO-WDNZŽQ). commanding the
|Possible thing to| Be!` (.XQ).
|the Possible being then| empowers Me oI itselI.
I become connected` (WD˜DOODTWX) to its creation. Then I immediately cause it to come

These 'possible beings¨ are ultimately non-diIIerent Irom the D˜\nQ. which I have called the
essential identities` (÷ Chittick`s 'entities¨). It is important to understand that WKH\ GR QRW DFWXDOO\ H[LVW £
they only subsist` in God`s Iore-knowledge so it is rather misleading to call them 'entities¨ or 'beings¨
as I do here. analogically (since they are obviously personiIied).
. That is. they spoke` in the silent language oI their glaring need.
0D˜ULIDWX Pn \DMLEX OD-NXP PLQD O-„DTTL ˜DOD\-Qn: the knowledge oI pious observance.
In our diagram. above. the ray oI speciIication` (QR.'11) connects the created world with the
Purposer (sphere QR.'3). The Divine will must direct the power to a speciIic purpose.
This would be the command oI the Logos. or Speaker. ray QR.'14.
See the verses cited in n.'27.
0DNNDQD-QŽ PLQ QDIVK-KL. I take the subiect here to be the 'possible being¨ DO-PXPNLQ. cognate
with the verb (compare the same expression in the preceding sentence). Chittick`s reading oI the subiect
as God is quite tenable but. I think. misses the important point that the possible thing` itselI calls out Ior its
own maniIestation.
into existence. So. go to the Name. the Purposer. Perhaps He will give preponderance to
the side oI existence and speciIy it over that oI non-existence. Then We can ioin together
MyselI. the Commander and the Speaker
and give You existence |Ior the
Identities` which You seek to maniIest|.¨
So They sought the counsel oI the Name. the Purposer. saying to Him: 'We
petitioned the PowerIul concerning the creation oI Our Identities. but He deIerred the
command oI that to You. Then. what do you prescribe?¨ 'The PowerIul has spoken the
truth.¨ the Purposer replied. 'but I have no inIormation as to what the Name. the Knower.
has decided
concerning You. Has His knowledge anticipated the creation |which You
seek| so that We might speciIy it. or has it QRW done so? I am under the aegis oI the
Name. the Knower. so go to Him and tell Him oI Your suit.¨
They then proceeded to the Knower and told Him what the Purposer had said. to
which the Knower responded: 'The Purposer has spoken the truth. My knowledge has.
indeed. anticipated Your creation. but courtesy (DO-DGDE) comes ’rst: Verily. We have a
Presence watching over Us all (PXKD\PLQŽ\DK ˜DOD\-Qn). and that is the Name. Allah. We
must attend upon Him. Ior. indeed. |His| is the Presence oI All-Comprehensiveness
(„D³UDW DO-MDP˜).¨
Hence. all oI the Names gathered together in the Presence oI Allah. 'What is on
Your minds?¨ |He| asked. |The Names| related the inIormation to Him. and |Allah|
responded: 'I am a Name comprehending all oI Your Realities. and I am. indeed. a ProoI
|by all oI You Names|. WHO is a HOLY
ESSENCE ('KnW PXTDGGDVDK) having the characteristics oI PerIection and Transcendence
(QX˜™W DO-NDPnO ZD-O-WDQ]ŽK). But stay here while I call on the ONE oI WHOM I am the
ProoI (PDGO™O-Ž).¨
|The Name. Allah| then called upon the ONE oI WHOM He is ProoI and told HIM
what the Possible beings had said and what the Divine Names had discussed. |The

'The Speaker¨ (here. DO-0XWDNDOOLP) is DO-4n¬LO. the Commanding Imäm` (DO-cPLU). in our
The verb. „DNDPD. here relates to the character oI the Knower as the Wise (DO-„DNŽP) Imäm`.
Whose ray is that oI perIection (DO-L„NnP). QR.'8 in the diagram.
'DOŽO: 'a sign set up Ior the knowledge oI a thing indicated¨ (Lane. /H[LFRQ. V.Y.). whence smoke is
called GDOŽO ˜DOi O-QnUL (an indication oI Iire). 0DGO™O. then. means the thing indicated`.
TRANSCENDENT HOLY ESSENCE| then declared |to Allah|: 'Go out and tell each One oI
the Names to establish a connection with that which His own Reality necessitates among
the Possible beings.
Eor I am THE ONE (DO-:n„LG).
unto MYSELE. in respect oI
The Possible beings. however. |eternally| seek
MY |exalted| Status`
(PDUWDEDW-Ž). and MY Status` |eternally| seeks them.
The Divine Names. all oI Them.
apply to the |exalted| Status. not to ME
except Ior THE ONE. in particular. that being
a Name special to ME |alone|. None oI the Names. none oI the Ranks. nor any Possible
being shares with ME in the Reality oI |THE ONE| („DTŽTDWX-KX) in every aspect.¨
|The Emergence oI the LORD (DO-5DEE) and the Holy Law|
So the Name. Allah. went out. and. with Him. the Name. the One-Who-Speaks (DO-
0XWDNDOOLP). interpreting Him to the Possible beings and the other Names. He related to
Them what the NAMED ONE had said. and consequently. the Knower. the Purposer. the
Speaker (DO-4n¬LO) and the PowerIul duly established Their connections |with
Then the Eirst Possible being became maniIest by the speci’cation oI the
Purposer and the wisdom oI the Knower.

Eor Chittick`s translation oI the remainder oI this passage. see 6.3.... 54b.
$O-:n„LG (which is interchangeable with DO-$„DG) is the Iirst oI the Divine Names. ranking even
above the all-comprehensive Name. $OOnK. according to Ibn al-˜ArabŽ (see )XW. II. 57. 611. translated in
6.3.... 390. n.'17).
7D‚OXEX: they seek; demand. require`.
All oI the points oI a pyramid converge upon the apex. which. symbolizing the eye/source oI
spiritual blessing to the material cosmos. may be said to seek out even the darkest corners oI the
As superlative perIections in Their own spheres. each oI the Names have the status oI Lords`.
reIerring to the highest subiect-level (PDUWDEDK) oI the universal hierarchy. But. as such. They logically
require the existence oI servants. or worshippers`. who are the obiects oI Their lordship (PDUE™E™Q). Even
the Name. Allah. comprehending all oI Their perIections. requires an obiect oI His Divinity (PD¬O™K). Only
the Name. DO-:n„LG/DO-$„DG. utterly precludes such a logical requisite. It would be interesting to compare
Ibn al-˜ArabŽ`s DO-:n„LG with the Plotinian notion oI the One` (Gr.. +HQRV). then to extend the
comparison to $OOnK-5D„PnQ and 1RXV-3V\FKH $.
These connections` |s.. WD˜DOOXT| are represented by the Iour diagonal lines. or UDTn¬LT. connecting
the spheres QRV.'2.'3.'4 and 5 with the created world` (sphere QR.'11) in the diagram.
The reIerence is to the rays oI perIection (L„NnP) and speciIication (WDNK‰Ž‰). QRV.'8 and 11. ,„NnP
denotes the activity oI perIecting. IortiIying by iudicious wisdom („XNP) hence the Knower is called the
Wise` (DO-„DNŽP) Imäm.
When the Identities and the Impressions became maniIest in the engendered
Existents (DO-DNZnQ)
and some oI |the Existents| exercised authority over others. while
some |tyrannously| subiected others all in accordance with what the Names supported
in them it led to discord and controversy. so that |the engendered Existents| declared:
'We Iear Ior ourselves that our order might be corrupted and we Iall into the non-
existence in which we used to abide!¨ So the Possible beings inIormed the Names (by
that which the Knower and the Director presented to them). saying: 'You. O Names
were You to predicate a Eixed Scale` (PŽ]nQ PD˜O™P) and an Ordained Limit` („DGG
PDUV™P) by means oI an Imäm under Whose iurisdiction You would be. that would
preserve our existence Ior us and Your Infuences (WD¬WKŽUnWX-NXP) upon us would also be
preserved. Surely. that would be better Ior both us and You. So betake Yourselves to
Allah! Perhaps He will send Iorth One Who will set Ior You a Limit at which You may
stand. II not. we will perish. and You will be out oI commission!¨
|The Names| responded: 'Indeed. this is most proper and the best idea.¨ And
They did iust that. Then They said |to the Existents|: 'The Name. the Director He will
settle your aIIair.¨ So they apprised the Director |oI their proposal| and He declared: 'I
am Ior the idea.¨
The Director entered |into the Presence oI Allah| and emerged thence with the
Command oI the Real to the Name. the LORD. saying to Him: 'Do what the Best interest
(DO-PD‰OD„DK) requires as regards the sustaining oI the Identities oI these Possible
beings!¨ Then |the LORD| took two Ministers (ZD]ŽUnQ) to assist Him in what He was
commanded to do. One Minister was the Name. the Director. the other Minister was the
Distinguisher. |God| (Exalted be He!) has said: 'He GLUHFWV the |whole| Thing. He
that. haply. you will be certain oI the Meeting with your
Who is the |above-mentioned| Imäm`. So consider how exact is the Speech
oI God (Be He exalted!) where expressions occur which are suited to the situation
required by the matter at hand!

The DNZnQ (s.. NDZQ) are here the possible beings (PXPNLQnW) aIter they have been granted
<XGDEELUX O-DPUD. \XID‰‰LOX O-n\nWL. Note that the verbs are cognate with the two Names. DO-
4XU. 13: 2.
Then the Name. the LORD. set down the |legal| Limits (DO-„XG™G) and established
the |social| Customs (DO-PDUnVLP) Ior |the Existents| that the |Cosmic| Kingdom might
be improved •
-## - -
These Iour texts on the creative SelI-maniIestation oI the Most-beautiIul Names oI God
provide an excellent opportunity Ior an in-depth examination oI Ibn al-˜ArabŽ`s treatment
oI the theme over a period oI time ranging Irom the beginning through the middle oI his
career. In this article I have merely sought to present the textual material in an internally
consistent Iorm. and. although some provisional observations oI the nature oI each text
and their interrelations have been suggested. I would emphasize that the present study
does not pretend to oIIer a suI’cient analysis oI the subiect-matter embraced. The
problems bearing Iurther consideration are legion: Ior instance. what. exactly. is the role
oI the Living (DO-‘D\\) in the drama oI creation. and how does the Divine „D\nK relate to
ZXM™G? And what about the Iactor oI mercy. so pronounced in other creational
Can it be treated in terms oI the supreme goodness oI God`s generosity (DO-
M™G) as touched upon in our Text II? And how does Divine iustice (DO-TLV‚) Iactor in? Are
we really to believe that mercy precedes iustice? Also. the precise Iunction oI the
Speaking Name is not entirely clear to me: Is DO-4n¬LO/ DO-0XWDNDOOLP the same Persona
as DO-cPLU (the Logos. Who commands possible things to EH)? Does the One-Who-Sees
(DO-%D‰ŽU. DO-5n¬Ž) not participate in the maniIestation oI the World (ŒXK™UX-KX)?
why is He not treated Iurther in this context? And what about the One-Who-Hears (DO-
6DPŽ˜)? Does the sound oI a tree Ialling in the woods have no existence? Do the Names.
DO-0XGDEELU and DO-0XID‰‰LO. introduced in Text III. and DO-5DEE. added in Text IV.
mean that we should be contemplating WHQ Imäm-Names in our pantheon rather than
seven? Would that not raise the interdisciplinary question oI the comparison oI our S™IŽ
World-Sphere` oI Divine Names with the well-known Qabalistic $UERU YLWDH oI ten

The remainder oI Chap. 66 has been translated by Chittick in ,PDJLQDO :RUOGV. pp.'1326.
On this. see 6.3.... 1302 and 2901. HW DO. See. also. at n.'22. above.
See above. at n.'65.
Lastly (but not ’nally). how does the whole system oI the Names relate to
that most quintessential oI all Akbarian tenets the PerIect Man? Is the latter DeiIorm
personage more the obiect oI discussion oI the Eternal ConIerence` oI the Names or.
rather. its ultimate subiect. the very Spirit oI our most sacred insights? These and
countless other questions remain to be explored even within the limited con’nes oI the
Iour texts presented here.
Eirst published in the -RXUQDO RI WKH 0XK\LGGLQ ,EQ ˜$UDEL 6RFLHW\. Volume XXIX. 2001.
‹ Gerald Elmore. 2001. You may download and print this article to read Ior your own
personal use. but you may not copy or republish it without written permission Irom the
Muhyiddin Ibn ˜Arabi Society.

Note that even as the twenty-eight lines (UDTn¬LT) connecting the spheres oI our diagram correspond
to the number oI Arabic letters. so the twenty-two paths` connecting the Qabalistic VHILUR
WK correspond to
the Hebrew alphabet.

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