Ibn `Arabī on Poetry: Three Prose Texts

Denis E. McAuley

in Ibn `Arabī’s Mystical Poetics

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199659548
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191743375 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Oriental Monographs

Ibn `Arabī on Poetry: Three Prose Texts

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This chapter discusses Ibn `Arabī’s theory of poetics as expressed in three prose texts. Ibn `Arabī emphasizes the connection between poetry and the world of imagination (khayāl). He makes a sharp distinction between poetry and the Qur'an, and between morally good and morally bad poetry. In so doing, he is closer to mainstream medieval Islamic, Jewish, and Christian theology than is usually thought, a fact that is illustrated with examples from each tradition, including a brief discussion of Moshe Ibn Ezra. In an autobiographical passage, he tells us how his poetry was revealed to him by a spirit — an idea that plays on, and Islamicizes, a pre-Islamic theory of poetic inspiration. Lastly, Ibn `Arabī uses a striking analogy with dietary law to give his surprisingly ambivalent views on the use of poetry in sermons.

Keywords: Ibn `Arabī; Dīwān; poetics; khayāl; Qur'an; Ibn Ezra; pre-Islamic; poetic inspiration

Chapter.  13196 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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