Thursday, June 3, 2010

Notes: Islamic Art & Architecture - 4

In the Futuhat, the Shaykh [Ibn al-Arabi] makes an explicit connection between poets and the World of Imagination during a visionary description of the soul's ascent (mi'raj) to the divine presence. Following the hadiths concerning the Prophet's [S.A.W] mi'raj, the Shaykh places a specific prophet in each of the celestial spheres, then discusses the sciences that pertain to each prophet and are acquired by the traveler who reaches the appropriate sphere. The third sphere that of Venus, is inhabited by Joseph, the great dream interpreter. Hence at this level the spiritual traveler acquires knowledge of the World of Imagination and of how to interpret images, and it is from this sphere that poets gain their inspiration:
When the traveler reaches the third heaven, Joseph casts to him the sciences that God had singled out for him, that is, those connected to the forms of imaginalization and imagination ....
.... This is the celestial sphere of complete form-giving and harmonious arrangement (nizam). From this sphere is derived assistance for poets. From it also arrive arrangement, proper fashioning, and geometrical forms within corporeal bodies…. From this sphere is known the meaning of proper fashioning, correct making, the beauty whose existence comprises wisdom, and the beauty that is desired by and is agreeable to a specific human constitution. (Ibn al-Arabi, Futuhatal Makiyyah. II 275.13).
William C. Chittick,  Imaginal Worlds
Ibn al-Arabi and the Problem of Religious Diversity, 2001
Section: Worlds of Imagination.
Chapter: Revelation and Poetic Imagery, pp. 80-81.

Image(Top Left): Miniature depicting man in the bound cosmos, surrounded by the heavens, each corresponding to one of the prophets; the zodiacal signs; the lunar mansions which symbolize the letters of the sacred alphabet;  and finally the angelic realm which is above all space and therefore beyond the visible cosmos and itself the gate to the Divine Presence.

Islamic Science : An Illustrated Study, 1976 

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