Ibn 'Arabi: The Invisible World

May God open the eyes of your heart, shedding His divine light. The angelic realm, which contains the potential of future creation, incorporeal existences, the meaning of all and everything to come, and divine power, is the element from which the visible world is created and, therefore the material world is under the influence and domination of the angelic realm. The movement, the sound, the voice, the ability to speak, to eat and to drink is not from the existences themselves in the visible, material world. They all pass through the invisible world of the angelic realm.

For example, an animal does not move on its own unless it is motivated for a certain purpose.  This motivation comes from inside the animal, from its heart, what we call its instinct, which receives its orders from the invisible world.  There the power to move the animal is kept, while the resistance to this motivation is from the elements of this visible world.

We think that we see with our eyes.  The information, the influences of perception, are due to our senses—while the real influence, the meaning of things, the power behind what sees and what is seen, can be reached neither by the senses, nor by deduction and analysis, comparison, contrasts, and associations made through intellectual theories.  The invisible world can only be penetrated by the eye and the mind of the heart.  Indeed, the reality of this visible world also can only be seen by the mind and eye of the heart.

What we think we see is but veils which hide the reality of things; things whose truth, whose meaning may not be revealed until these veils are lifted.  It is only when the dark veils of imagination and preconception are raised that the divine light will penetrate the heart, enabling the inner eye to see.  Then either the sunlight or the light of a candle will become a metaphor for the divine light.

The principal veils which render the inner eye blind are arrogance, egotism, desires of the flesh, lust; as well as the influence of others who are afflicted by these sicknesses.  If man truly believed that he had an inner eye, a mirror where only the truth is reflected, and if he made efforts to rid himself of the veils which hide reality from it, then it would be possible for the divine light of the invisible realms to join with the light inside him, and he would see all that is hidden there. As we are now, we are like the blind who feel the warmth of the sunshine, but are unable to see the light. When your eyes are closed, does it matter whether there are objects in front of you, whether they are near or far, whether they are beautiful or not? That is what we are concerned with.

That veil which hinders our vision is very heavy to lift. Only those chosen by God—the prophets, the saints, the ones who love Him and the ones whom He loves—can pierce through it. Then whether the object to be seen is in front of your eyes or not, whether it is near or very far, also does not matter! Our Master the Prophet, may God's peace and blessings be upon him, used to say to his Companions: "I can see you even when my back is turned."

The mystics who devote their lives to come close to their Lord are encouraged by their Lord in their efforts by what we call miracles. They are shown people and places, right in front of them, that are somewhere else, miles away. Though they are in the West, they see Mecca, far off in the East.

Many such visions are experienced by those who seek to know their Lord, especially if their affection for our Master, Muhammad, may God's peace and blessings be upon him, draws them to be like him—for then they inherit his qualities and are blessed with divine favor. All praise be to God that I myself have experienced this.

These people of elevated state are called abdal. Sometimes their ability to see the secrets beyond the visible world is taken away from them. That is a sign that they have reached the highest state aspired to by every human being, the state of true servanthood to the Lord. Then they are the heirs of the prophets, and no longer simply people who know what is unknown to others in this world. Their knowledge belongs to the invisible angelic realms; they are between two worlds.

For people in this state, there is no longer a separation or distance between the visible and the invisible, neither between their exterior and their interior being. The veils which hid things are all lifted. All that is left of them is a ringing in their ears. All their secrets are now raised to the surface and exposed. All the paths leading to the unknown are open to them.

Excerpted from Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom by Ibn 'Arabi. Published by Fons Vitae (1997), interpreted by Shayk Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti.

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