Ibn al-ʿArabī's Barzakh

The Concept of the Limit and the Relationship between God and the World

By Salman H. Bashier

Subjects: Religion, Philosophy, Mysticism, Islam
Paperback : 9780791462287, 220 pages, May 2011
Hardcover : 9780791462270, 220 pages, October 2004

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Table of contents


List of Abbreviations


1. Ibn al-'Arabi's Liminal (Barzakhi) Theory of Representation: An Outlook from the Present Situation


Presentation and Representation: Complementary Elements in the Mystical Experience
Carter's View
Rorty's Antirepresentational Stand
Ibn al-'Arabi's Stand
Wasserstrom's Criticism of Mystocentrism


2. Creation ex nihilo, Creation in Time, and Eternal Creation: Ibn Sina versus the Theologians


Creation ex nihilo in the Qur'an
Creation ex nihilo, Creation in Time, and Islamic Theologians
Ibn Sina's Answers to the Theologians' Arguments
Ibn Sina on the Possible- and the Necessary-of-Existence
Ibn Sina's Distinction between Essence and Existence


3. Ibn Rushd versus al-Ghazali on the Eternity of the World


Between The Incoherence of the Philosophers and The Incoherence of the Incoherence
The First Proof
The Second Proof
The Third Proof
Ibn Rushd's Doctrine of Eternal Creation:
The Emergence of the Problem of the Limit


4. Mysticism versus Philosophy: The Encounter between Ibn al-'Arabi and Ibn Rushd


Mysticism between Theology and Philosophy
An Interpretation of the Encounter between Khadir and Moses from Ibn al-'Arabi's Perspective
The Encounter between Ibn Rushd and Ibn al-'Arabi


5. The Barzakh


The Intermediate State (Barzakh) in the Qur'an and in the Canonical Tradition
The Barzakh in the Exegesis of the Qur'an and in Scholastic Theology
Plato's Theory of the Forms
Ibn al-'Arabi's Definition of the Barzakh
Ibn al-Arabi versus Ibn Sina: Two Conceptions of the Relative


6. The Third Entity: The Supreme Barzakh


Plato's Form, The Mutazilites' Nonexistent, and Ibn al-Arabi's Fixed Entity
Plato's Introduction of the Receptacle
Ibn al-'Arabi's Introduction of the Third Thing
The Problem of the Creation of the World Revisited


7. The Perfect Man: The Epistemological Aspect of the Third Thing


The Perfect Man as the Conclusion of Divine Love
The Perfect Man as the Possessor of Divine Knowledge
The Logic of the Knowledge of Perfection


8. The Limit Situation


On Knowing the Waystation of "In the Articulations is the Knowledge of the Stairs. "
The Paradox of Infinity
The Limit Situation






Explores the concept of the Limit (barzakh), which the great Sufi mystic Ibn al-'Arabi used to address the philosophical controversy regarding God's relationship with the world.


This book explores how Ibn al-'Arabi (1165–1240) used the concept of barzakh (the Limit) to deal with the philosophical problem of the relationship between God and the world, a major concept disputed in ancient and medieval Islamic thought. The term "barzakh" indicates the activity or actor that differentiates between things and that, paradoxically, then provides the context of their unity. Author Salman H. Bashier looks at early thinkers and shows how the synthetic solutions they developed provided the groundwork for Ibn al-'Arabi's unique concept of barzakh. Bashier discusses Ibn al-'Arabi's development of the concept of barzakh ontologically through the notion of the Third Thing and epistemologically through the notion of the Perfect Man, and compares Ibn al-'Arabi's vision with Plato's.

Salman H. Bashier is Visiting Lecturer at Ben Gurion University and Haifa University.