Al-Wujūd al-Haqq And The Oneness of Being

(These are short quotes from Chittick’s Central Point about Ibn ‘Arabî and Wahdatu-l Wujud.)


It is obvious that Ibn ‘Arabî did accept that wujūd is one. However, the wujūd he is talking about is al-wujūd al-haqq, the Real Being, or the Being that is God.

In other words, to say that Ibn ‘Arabî believed in wahdat al-wujūd is to state the obvious. All Muslims who understand that wujūd means al-wujūd al-haqq, the Real Being, know that Being is one; therefore they believe in wahdat al-wujūd. 

The later tradition make such a big issue out of belief in wahdat al-wujūd, bec that technical senses were ascribed to the expression by later authors, and some of these were problematic, to say the least.

When any of these authors (who criticized the expression and who had certain meanings in mind) said that Ibn ‘Arabî believed in wahdat al-wujūd, they were attributing to him a doctrine that he did not necessarily hold. So anyone who says that Ibn ‘Arabî, or someone else, believed in wahdat al-wujūd should be prepared to defend his position by defining the specific meaning of wahdat al-wujūd that he has in mind. If he claims that for Ibn ‘Arabî, wahdat al-wujūd means anything other than “God is one”, he will need to provide solid textual evidence to prove his point.

[fn: Preferable translation is “Oneness of Being”. If, however, we translate wahdat al-wujud as “the unity of existence”, we are implying that everything that exists is a unified aggregate and that all things are equal in being parts of the same whole. But, for what Ibn ‘Arabî is saying, this is far from the mark. Rather, what wahdat al-wujud might mean for Ibn ‘Arabî and his immediate followers is that the Real Being is One, and everything else is uniquely itself, different from the Real Being and from every other thing. In each unique thing, the Real Being discloses a unique face of its infinite reality while remaining One and Unique in itself. We -as human beings on the other hand – remain forever ourselves in our own realities, forever other than the Real Being, while we simultaneously remain conjoined with the Real Being inasmuch as we find and are found. This situation can best be expressed with the paradox “He/not He” (huwa lā huwa).]



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