The Science of Khayal
I would like to comment on a passage from ‘The Makkan Revelations’ of our Shaykh Muhiyyid-din ibn ‘Arabi for two reasons. One: some of our senior Fuqara with a background of physics have asked me about this matter. Two: because I see that American kafir academics have tried to acquire this knowledge without Deen and without Suluk. In their writings and translations they reduce the term to a simplistic definition – imagination. Of course this fails to grasp both meaning and significance of this key term in Andalusian and Maghribi thinking.
Our murshid openly defines al-Khayal.
He says: “The science of KHAYAL is the knowledge of the BARZAKH.”
He does not say it is a mental process or that it is a faculty. Knowledge of the Barzakh means understanding that there is a separation between the outer and the inner, the sensory and the meaning. It is not that separation but its recognition.
He says: “It is the science and knowledge of the physical world in which the Ruhaniyya appears.”
The Ruhaniyya which appears happens when we encounter the physical world and differentiate between phenomena, name them and also experience them. The Ruhaniyya appears when the person derives from the object a construct of metaphor or meaning which reaches to other phenomena by way of explanation or more precisely, enlightenment.
He says: “And it is the science of the SOUK AL-JINNAH.”
That is to say, that by it in the Unseen world the myriad forms both are manifest, recognised, and enjoyed with an enjoyment in the world of meanings that is experienced as sensory.
He says: “It is the science of the Divine Manifestation on the Day of Reckoning in changing pictures.”
That is, all the promised events of reward and punishment will happen in the Unseen of the post-time realm as immediately discernable and real.
He says: “It is the science of the appearance of meanings which cannot physicalise themselves by themselves, like Death in the vision of Ibrahim.”
That is, our experience of situation metamorphoses into meaning only because the human creature has been gifted with firstly, the faculty, and secondly, the capacity to make the transfer from sensory to meaning.
He says: “It is the science of what people see in their dreams.”
In the dream the meaning happens as event without the sensory. In the world the sensory happens as event without the meaning until it is tapped as meaning.
He says: “It is the science of the Abode people are in after death and before the Rising.”
This is hidden from the Salik but is reported to us by the people of Jadhb.
He says: “It is the science through which the visible pictures appear in the polished bodies like a mirror.”
It is that by which we perceive apple on table, person in doorway, sun rising and setting and in perceiving can give name to them.
He says: “After the knowledge of the Divine Names or Tajalli – this is the fundamental knowledge, because it is the means of connection.”
It connects us to the world of forms and their translation into meanings, so it connects us in the physical world to the Unseen which surrounds us.
He says: “Up to it move all the sensories and down to it move all the meanings. It does not leave its position – for the fruits of everything come to it.”
Without it there would be no recognition, no transformation of the physical world, no worship, no building, no yearning, no arrival, no departure, only inert matter.
He says: “It is the possessor of the Elixir which imposes the meaning upon it and thereby manifests it in any picture. Therefore, we must admit complete possibilities in connecting the meanings to the bodies.”
The philosopher, i.e. the materialist, asks, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” The knowledgable ask, “How are you able to ask, how do you recognise that there is something, and that you can think ‘nothing’?” Man in the world, cognisant, is the real event to be understood.
He says: “Allah has not brought about a greater station than KHAYAL, nor a more dominating control. Through it His judgments flow in all creation and non-creation.”
Clearly he is saying that it is by it that universe itself manifests.
He explains: “SIFAT AL-KHAYAL ADH-DHATIYYA – the essential characteristics of the KHAYAL: the truth of KHAYAL is change in every state, and appearance in every picture – for there is no real existence which does not accept change, except Allah, for in final certainty there is only the existence of Allah – and regarding other-than-that – it only exists in KHAYAL.”
Here our Shaykh is opening up Allah’s revealed secret, that He created the universe B’il Haqq. This is the B’il, the ‘with’ that makes happen. It is not the KUN but the Divine ordering of the KUN.
He says: “AMA’A is the jewel-essence of the whole world, because the world will not appear except in KHAYAL, for it envisages itself and that is why it is what it is (huwa huwa).”
If further commentaries are requested, insha’Allah, we may continue.
* * * * *