Whoso Knoweth Himself from the Treatise on Being
  • Book Title:
 Whoso Knoweth Himself From The Treatise On Being
  • Book Author:
Ibn al-'Arabi
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In the name of God, the Merciful, the Com­ passionate, and Him we ask for aid: Praise be to God before whose oneness there was not a before, unless the Before were He, and after whose singleness there is not an after, except the After be He. He is, and there is with Him no after nor before, nor above nor below, nor far nor near, nor union nor division, nor how nor where nor when, nor times nor moment nor age, nor being nor place. And He is now as He was. He is the One without oneness, and the Single without singleness. He is not composed of name and named, for His name is He and His named is He. So there is no name other than He, nor named. And so He is the Name and the Named. He is the First without firstness, and the Last without lastness. He is the Outward without outwardness, and the Inward without inwardness. I mean that He is the very existence of the First and the very existence of the Last, and the very existence of the Outward and the verv existence of the Inward.1 So that there is no first no last, nor outward nor inward, except Him, without these becoming Him or His becoming them.2

Understand, therefore, in order that thou mayest not fall into the error of the H ululis3 :- H e is not in a thing nor a thing in Him, whether entering in or proceeding forth. It is necessary that thou know Him after this fashion, not by knowledge (‘ilm), nor

by intellect, nor by understanding, nor by imagina­ tion, nor by sense, nor by the outward eye, nor by the inward eye, nor by perception. There does not see Him, save Himself; nor perceive Him, save Himself. By Himself He sees Himself, and by Himself He knows Himself. None sees Him other than He, and none perceives Him other than He. His Veil 4 is [only a part of] His oneness; nothing

veils other than He. His veil is [onlyJ the conceal­

ment of His existence in His oneness, ,,vithout any quality. None sees Him other than He-no sent prophet, nor saint made perfect, nor angel brought nigh 5 knows Hirn.. His Prophet is He, and His sending is He, and His word is He. He sent Himself

,vith Himself to Himself. There was no mediator nor anv means other than He. There is no difference betv.-een the Sender and the thing sent, and the person sent and the person to ·whom he is sent. The very existence of the prophetic message is His existence.6 There is no other, and there is no existence to other, than He, nor to its ceasing to be (Jana)), nor to its name, nor to its named.

And for this the Prophet (upon whom be peace) said: “Whoso knoweth himself knmveth his Lord.” And he said (upon him be peace): “I know my Lord by my Lord.” The Prophet (upon whom be peace) points out by that, that thou art not thou: thou art 

He, without thou; not He entering into thee, nor thou entering into Him, nor He proceeding forth from thee, nor thou proceeding forth from Him. And it is not meant by that, that thou art aught that exists or thine attributes aught that exists, but it is meant by it that thou never wast nor wilt be, whether by thyself or through Him or in Him or along with Him. Thou art neither ceasing to be nor still exist­ ing. Thou art He, without one of these limitations. Then if thou know thine existence thus, then thou knowest God; and if not, then not.

And most of ‘those who know God’ (al ‘urrof) make a ceasing of existence and the ceasing of that ceasing a condition of attaining the knowledge of God, and that is an error and a clear oversight. For the knowledge of God does not presuppose the ceasing of existence nor the ceasing of that ceasing. For things have no existence, and what does not exist cannot cease to exist. For the ceasing to be implies the positing of existence, and that is poly­ theism. Then if thou know thyself without existence or ceasing to be, then thou knowest God; and if not, then not.

And in making the knowledge of God conditional upon the ceasing of existence and the ceasing of that ceasing, there is involved an assertion of polytheism. For the Prophet (upon whom be peace) said, “”\;\Thoso knoweth himself,” and did not say, “Whoso maketh himself to cease to be.” For the affirmation

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