Unity and multiplicity of Ibn ‘Arabī’s philosophy in Indonesian Sufism

Asian Philosophy 34 (1):45-55 (2023)
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Abstract

ABSTRACT The connection between the unity of God and the multiplicity seen in the universe represents the central concern for the Sufi thinker, Muḥyī al-Dīn ibn ‘Arabī (d. 638/1240). It deeply affected the thought of the Southeast Asian mystic, Ḥamza Fanṣūrī (d. 1590?), and his alleged disciple, Shams al-Dīn al-Sumatra’ī (d. 1630). Traces of this idea, through its popularisation in the poems of Fanṣūrī, exert a powerful influence on the Indonesian intellectual topography to this day. This article investigates the concept of unity and multiplicity, of the One expressed as the many in the phenomenal world, in Ibn ‘Arabī’s Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam (Ringstones of Wisdom). Through a close textual reading of the chapters of Ādam (Adam) and Ibrāhīm (Abraham) and their various commentaries by the most influential followers of Ibn ‘Arabī, it concludes that the representation of ‘oneness of being’ (waḥdat al-wujūd), which was extensively taught by Fanṣūrī in Aceh, as an erasure of the God-Man divide, is untenable.

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