Some Notes on Ibn Arabi’s Correlative Prophetology – The “Veil of Glory”: Perplexity (ḥayra) and Revelation in the Qurʾānic Hermeneutics of Ibn ʿArabīSome Notes on Ibn Arabi’s Correlative Prophetology – Gregory Vandamme


In this paper, I discuss Ibn ʿArabī’s view on the nature of the Qur’ānic text, as it appears through its relation to the central notion of “perplexity” (ḥayra). My aim is to show how the Shaykh al-Akbar uses this notion to define the peculiar nature of the Qur’ānic language and its very purpose, and to discuss the epistemological and hermeneutical outcomes stemming from this approach. This will allow us to consider ultimately why he advocates a “literalist” reading of the Qur’ān, as opposed to an “interpretative” approach, precisely in order to preserve its perplexing aspect. After a brief introduction to the notion of ḥayra and its importance in defining both the originality and the continuity between Ibn ʿArabī and the tradition that precedes him, I focus on two passages in which this notion is directly linked to the nature of the Qur’ān. The first is taken from the K. al-Isfār ʿan natāʿij al-asfār (“The Book of Uncovering the Results of the Journeys”), a rather brief writing from Ibn ʿArabī’s youth, and the second from his major work, al-Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya (“The Meccan Conquests”). Both passages illustrate how the Qur’ān, Human Being, and Cosmos are related to each other, and how, in Ibn ʿArabī’s view, this correlation in which they appear inseparable is the object of an “apprehension”—rather than a “comprehension”—wherein the experience of ḥayra brought by Revelation is to play a key role.