The Qur’an in the Thought of Ibn ‘Arabi (Routledge Companion to the Qur’an, 2022)


“Paul Nwyia once wrote that the early Sufis were engaged in “the Qur’anization of memory,”1 a process that Ibn ޏArabī (d. 1240) seems to have taken to its logical extreme. By his time the various fields of Islamic learning had become subdivided into many specialties, some of which had little apparent connection with the founding revelation. His immense and highly sophisticated output, energized by the vision of tawhīd, reintegrated and harmonized these sciences – especially jurisprudence, principles of jurisprudence, Sufism, Kalam, and philosophy – by tying them back explicitly to the Qur’an, even if he did not do this in any systematic manner. 2 Like the Qur’an, he writes, his style does not follow standard rational procedures, deriving instead from the very roots of reality itself.3 Although he constantly interprets Qur’anic verses and terminology, he does so from a variety of shifting standpoints, so the whole range of his explications did not fit into any specific genre (such as ishāra as exemplified by Qushayrī’s, d. 1074, Latā if al-ishārāt, or tawīl like the commentary of ޏAbd al-Razzāq Kāshānī, d. circa 1330). As for the systematic versions of his teachings that spread to every corner of the Islamic world, these were the work of his followers and tended to obscure the fact that his formulations were typically offered as explanations of the sacred text”