Learning from the Natural World: Ibn ʿArabī on the Wisdom of the Animals, Plants and Minerals
In the vision of the Islamic mystics, the world, and everything in it, is a manifestation of the divine, and as such is alive with meaning. “Even worms in their movement are rushing with a message to those who can understand it,” writes the 12th century Andalusian master, Muhyddin Ibn ʿArabī. This talk will explore some of Ibn ʿArabī’s highly original – and currently relevant – writings on our relationship to the natural world.
Dr Jane Clark will explain that on the one hand Ibn ‘Arabi fully endorses the Qurʾānic understanding that human beings have a special place in the order of creation, and in fact, he himself developed one of the most complete expositions on the ‘realised human being’ (al-insān al-kāmal) as the representative of the divine on earth. But at the same time, he advises us not to underestimate the spiritual status of the other realms of creation, and to be humble enough to listen to what they can teach us. Ibn 'Arabi, one of the most influential and prolific writers within the Islamic mystical/philosophical tradition, maintains that by acknowledging the spiritual reality of these other communities – who he refers to as “non-human masters” – we can come to a fuller understanding of the nature of humanity, and avoid falling into false beliefs about our ourselves and our role in the world.
This talk, presented during Dr Clark's first visit to Australia, will explore ideas based on material which is largely unpublished, drawing particularly on works from the middle period of Ibn ʿArabī’s life such as ‘The Holy Spirit in the Counselling of the Soul’ (Rūḥ al-quds fī manāṣaḥat al-nafs) and ‘Love Letters to the Kaʾba’ (K. Tāj al-Rasāʾil) as well as his masterwork ‘The Meccan Revelations’ (Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya).
A light lunch will be provided at the conclusion of the seminar.
Dr Jane Clark
Dr Jane Clark is a Senior Research Fellow Muhyiddin Ibn ʿArabī Society, Specialist support tutor for University of Oxford and Editor, Beshara Magazine. She has taught various courses on the teachings of Ibn ʿArabī (200812), Mystical Islamic Poetry (2010 16), day schools in the series ‘Approaches to Mysticism’ (2010 2016) and forthcoming, ‘Attar’s ‘Conference of the Birds’ (2018) at Oxford University. Dr Clark has also presented various lectures and courses including weeklong seminars on Ibn ʿArabī’s Fuṣūṣ al ḥikam (2017) and Rūḥ alquds (2013). She has written and published widely on Islamic Mysticism.