Chapter

The All-Comprehensive Circle (<i>al-Iḥāṭa</i>): Soul, Intellect, and the Oneness of Existence in the Doctrine of Ibn Sab̔īn

Vincent J. Cornell

in Sufism and Theology

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780748626052
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653126 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748626052.003.0003
The All-Comprehensive Circle (al-Iḥāṭa): Soul, Intellect, and the Oneness of Existence in the Doctrine of Ibn Sab̔īn

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This chapter discusses the Andalusian philosopher and mystic 'Abd al-Haqq ibn Sab'īn, one of the most misunderstood figures in the history of Islamic thought. Most pre-modern Muslim writers portrayed him as the epitome of whatever they considered wrong with mysticism. For instance, Ibn Khaldun described him as a radical monist whose ideas were of heresy and unwarranted innovations, and of extravagant and detestable interpretations of the literal meaning of orthodox doctrine. While his portrayal is problematical, ibn Sab'īn was also described as the author of incomparable works. Historian such as Ahmad al-Ghubrīnī praised him for his rhetorical skills, eloquence and remarkable fluency in Arabic language. He was also praised for his wisdom, intelligence and piety. Ironically, while there have been disputes over who and what ibn Sab'īn may have been, few writers have described him as what he himself claimed to be: a Muslim follower of Hermes Trismegistos who sought ultimate Truth beyond the boundaries of Peripatetic philosophy, Sufism and even formal religion. This chapter hence focuses on ibn Sab'īn' ‘Platonic Orientalism’, Hermetic ‘Third Way’, and monistic theosophy epitomised on the term wadhat al-wujūd (the Oneness of Existence).

Keywords: ibn Sab'īn; Islamic thought; Ahmad al-Ghubrīnī; Hermes Trismegistos; Peripatetic philosophy; Sufism; Platonic Orientalism; Hermetic Third Way; wadhat al-wujūd

Chapter.  8959 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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