Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Ibn Arabi: Superiority of Wilaya over Nubuwwa

بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم

والصلاة والسلام على رسوله الكريم

وعلى اهل بيته الطيبين الطاهرين المظلومين

والعاقبة للمتقين

In the previous entry, I referenced Ibn Arabi’s understanding that Nubuwwa (prophethood) is of two kinds; 1. Legislative or particular prophethood, and 2. Non-legislative or general prophethood. According to Ibn Arabi, the former has ceased, but the latter remains. This I quoted from Ibn Arabi’s book Fusus al-Hikam, in the Uzayriya chapter. Ibn Arabi has devoted this chapter to explaining his view that the status of Wilaya is superior to that of Nubuwwa. He claims that Allah Most High censured Uzayr (Ezra) for asking about the reality of Qadar (divine decree), and further threatened him:

لئن لم تنته عن السؤال عن ماهية القدر لأمحون اسمك من ديوان النبوة

“If you do not desist from asking about how the decree is, I will efface your name from the register of prophethood” (Fusus al-Hikam, pp.134, 136):

I say that Ibn Arabi has shamelessly fabricated this. Nowhere is it stated in the Quran or Hadith that Uzayr asked Allah about the reality of al-Qadar, or that Allah threatened to erase his name from the register of prophethood. Orthodox Muslims believe that once Allah appoints someone as a prophet, he is a prophet forever and it is impossible that his prophethood should ever be taken away from him. I have made this point several times against those people who argue that Jesus of Nazareth shall return to this Earth not as a prophet but as a reformer and an ummati. Effectively, such people believe that Jesus of Nazareth shall have his status of being a prophet taken away from him, and demoted to being an ummati, non-prophet. The true and orthodox position is that the coming Messiah will simultaneously be a prophet and ummati. Returning to Ibn Arabi, he has made this fabricated story about Uzayr a proof for his heresy that wilaya (sainthood) is superior to nubuwwa (prophethood). This is why he says that if Allah took away nubuwwa from Uzayr, the latter would still retain his wilaya, and would be acquainted with the reality of the things he was asking about through tajalli rather than wahi (divine revelation. According to Ibn Arabi, it is the fact that a prophet is a wali that makes him superior. So a prophet who is a wali in addition to being a prophet is superior to someone who is merely a prophet:

فإذا رأيت النبي يتكلم بكلام خارج عن التشريع فمن حيث هو ولي عارف. ولهذا مقامه من حيث هو عالم وولي أتم وأكمل من حيث هو رسول أو ذو تشريع وشرع. فإذا سمعت أحدا من أهل الله يقول أو ينقل إليك عنه أنه قال الولاية أعلى من النبوة، فليس يريد ذلك القائل إلا ما ذكرناه. أو يقول أن الولي فوق النبي والرسول فإنه يعني بذلك في شخص واحد وهو أن الرسول من حيث أنه ولي أتم منه من حيث أنه نبي ورسول

“If you see a Prophet speaking a language outside the simple ordinances of the Shari'a, that is due to the fact that he is a wali and a gnostic. For this reason, his station in respect to his being a man of knowledge and a wali is more perfect and complete than it is due to the fact that he is a Messenger or someone who legislates and has a Shari'a. If you hear one of the People of Allah speaking, or it is related to you that he said, ‘Wilaya is higher than prophethood,’ that speaker only means what we mentioned. Or if he says that the wali is above the Prophet or the Messenger, he means in the same person. He is the Messenger, and inasmuch as he is a wali, he is more complete than he is by simply being a Prophet.” (Fusus al-Hikam p.135):

This is a great heresy from Ibn Arabi and the other so-called “People of Allah” he is referring to. The truth is that every prophet and apostle of Allah is necessarily a wali also, but the office of nubuwwa and risala within him is what elevates him above the non-prophets. It is the rank of nubuwwa and risala which is the supreme rank that any human can be given.

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