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Ibn Arabi

The private, liturgical prayer prescribed by Ibn 'Arabi

For prayer is not a request for something: it is the expression of a mode of being, a means of existing. The divine Compassion is the Prayer of God aspiring to issue forth from His unknownness and to be known, whereas the Prayer of man accomplishes this theophany because in it and through it the "Form of God" becomes visible to the heart. God prays for us, which means that He epiphanizes Himself insofar as He is the God whom and for whom we pray. We do not pray to the Divine Essence in its hiddenness; each faithful prays to his Lord , the Lord who is in the form of his faith.

The organ of Prayer is the heart, the psychospiritual organ, with its concentration of energy. The role of prayer is shared between God and man, because Creation like theophany is shared between Him who shows Himself and him to whom it is shown. In the inner liturgical action which Ibn `Arabi develops, taking as his text the first sura of the Koran (the Fatiha), we witness and participate in an entire ceremonial of meditation, a psalmody in two alternating voices, one human the other divine; and this psalmody perpetually reconstitutes, recreates the solidarity and interdependence of the Creator and His creature. Prayer is a "creator" of vision. It is simultaneously Prayer of God and Prayer of man. Through prayer we shall gain an intimation of who and of what nature is the "Form of God," when it shows itself to the mystic celebrating this inward liturgy.

Indeed to constitute such a dialogue, since by definition it implies two mystic "officiants," the dhikr, as rememoration "situated in the present," must not be a unilateral and exclusive act on the part of the mystic making himself present to his Lord. The reality of the dialogue implies that there is also a rememoration, a dhikr, on the part of the Divine Lord, having his devotee present to Himself. That is the meaning which Ibn 'Arabi gives to the Koran verse: "Have me present to your heart. I shall have you present to myself." . Understood and experienced in this way, Prayer, because it is an intimate dialogue, implies at its apogee a mental theophany experienced as contemplative vision.

Ibn 'Arabi distinguishes three successive moments which correspond to the phases of what we may call his "method of prayer" and provide us with a good indication of how he put his spirituality into practice.

First, the faithful must place himself in the company of his God and "converse" with Him.
In an intermediate moment the orant, the faithful in prayer, must imagine his God as present in his Qibla, that is, facing him.
Finally, in a third moment, the faithful must attain to intuitive vision or visualization, contemplating his God in the subtle center which is the heart, and simultaneously hear the divine voice vibrating in all manifest things, so much so that he hears nothing else.

(Below in tabular form is the prayer of the faithful taken from the Fatiha of the Koran and the Lord's response in liturgical form.)
The prayer is preceded by the ritual invocation:

Spacer "In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful"

Spacer The faithful:

Spacer In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
Spacer Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Creation.

Spacer The Lord:

Spacer Now my faithful makes me present to himself.
Spacer Now my faithful makes of me the Glorified One.

Spacer The faithful:

Spacer The Compassionate, the Merciful, King on the day of Judgment.

Spacer The Lord:

Spacer Now my faithful sings my praise.
Spacer Now he exalts my glory and puts his trust in me.

Spacer The faithful:

Spacer Thee alone we worship, and from thee alone do we await help.

Spacer The Lord:

Spacer Now there is a sharing in common between myself and my faithful;
Spacer to my faithful belongs what he asks.

Spacer The faithful:

Spacer Guide us in the straight path,
Spacer The path of those to whom You have given grace,
Spacer Not of those who have incurred your wrath,
Spacer or of those who have gone astray.

Spacer The Lord:

Spacer All that belongs to my faithful,
Spacer for to my faithful belongs what he asks.

In this interior liturgical prayer, the Lord and the faithful devotee deliver each other from their respective solitude. As the Lord states in Ibn `Arabi's Fusus "I am known only by you, just as you exist only by me. Who knows you knows me, although no one knows me, so that you too are known by no one."


"Neither my Heaven nor my Earth contains me, but the heart of my faithful believer contains me," this because the heart is a mirror in which the manifested "Form of God" is at each moment reflected on the scale of the microcosm.

... the divine Beloved, who defines Himself as admitting of no division, as desiring that the soul should love no one but Him and should love Him for Himself, manifests Himself to the soul, that is, produces Himself for the soul in the physical form of a theophany. And He grants him a sign, which makes it so plain that it is He who is manifesting Himself to the soul in this Form, that the soul cannot possibly deny it... The soul recognizes that the Beloved is this physical Form (sensible or mental, identified by the Active Imagination); at once in its spiritual and its physical nature, it is drawn toward that Form. It "sees" its Lord; it is aware of seeing Him in this ecstatic vision that has been bestowed upon its inner faculties, and it can only love Him for Himself: this love is "physical" since it apprehends and contemplates a concrete Image, and at the same time a spiritual love, for it is not concerned with taking possession of the Image, but is itself wholly invested with that Image. This conjunction of spiritual love and the natural love it transmutes, is the very definition of mystic love.

Every servant professes a special belief in his Lord, of whom he asks assistance according to the knowledge he has of himself. Thus the faiths differ with the Lords, just as the Lords differ, although all the faiths are forms of the one faith, just as all the Lords are forms in the mirror of the Lord of Lords...

God is not limited to the manner in which He is epiphanized for you and makes Himself adequate to your dimension to receive Him. And that is why other creatures are under no obligation to obey the God who demands your worship, because their theophanies take other forms. The form in which He is epiphanized to you is different from that in which He is epiphanized to others. God as such transcends all intelligible, imaginable, or sensible forms, but considered in His Names and Attributes, that is, His theophanies, He is, on the contrary, inseparable from these forms, that is, from a certain figure and a certain situs in space and time.

Spacer The Lord to his devotee:
Spacer Love me, love me alone.
Spacer Love yourself in me, in me alone.
Spacer Attach yourself to me,
Spacer No one is more inward than I.
Spacer Others love you for their own sakes,
Spacer I love you for yourself.
Spacer And you, you flee from me.
Spacer Dearly beloved!
Spacer ... if you approach me,
Spacer It is because I have approached you.

Spacer I am nearer to you than yourself,
Spacer Than your soul, than your breath.
Spacer Who among creatures
Spacer Would treat you as I do?
Spacer I am jealous of you over you,
Spacer I want you to belong to no other,
Spacer Not even to yourself.
Spacer Be mine, be for me as you are in me,
Spacer Though you are not even aware of it.

Mysticism in World Religions

Ibn Arabi: Page 3

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