Sayyid Ḥaydar Āmulī’s Seal of Absolute walāya: A Shīʿī Response to Ibn ʿArabī – Mohammed Rustom


In Ibn ʿArabī’s (d. 638/1240) highly developed theory of walāya (‘sainthood’ or ‘friendship with God’), Jesus is conceived of as the ‘Seal of Absolute walāya’ whereas Ibn ʿArabī is the ‘Seal of Restricted walāya’. After explaining how Ibn ʿArabī understands these two designations, we shall move on to Sayyid H aydar Āmulī’s (d. ca. 787/1385) critique of Ibn ʿArabī’s hagiology. Although Āmulī was one of Ibn ʿArabī’s most prominent Shīʿī admirers, he was opposed to the identification of Jesus as walāya’s Absolute Seal and Ibn ʿArabī himself as its Restricted Seal. Instead, Āmulī contends, these titles can only apply to ʿAlī b. Abī T ālib (the first Shīʿī Imam) and the Mahdī (the twelfth Shīʿī Imam) respectively. In order to demonstrate his point, Āmulī deploys his arguments from three different perspectives, namely those of transmission (naql), the intellect (ʿaql), and unveiling (kashf). Since Āmulī’s understanding of the Seal of Restricted walāya turns out in many ways to be a natural corollary to his identification of the Seal of Absolute walāya, this article will only be concerned with Āmulī’s explication of the latter. It is hoped that this investigation will help shed greater light on a key feature of Āmulī’s Imamology, which is inextricably tied to his simultaneous critical reading of, and commitment to, Ibn ʿArabī.