Ibn 'Arabi: The Meccan Revelations - Voluntary Death


Chapter 351

The voluntary return to God is something for which the servant is most thankful. God said: "The whole affair is returned to Him" (Qur'an 11:123). So since you know that, return to Him willingly and you will not be returned to Him by compulsion. For there is no escaping your return to Him, and you will surely have to meet Him, either willingly or against your will. For He meets you in [the form of] your attributes, nothing else but that―so examine yourself, my friend! [The Prophet] said: "Whoever loves to meet God, God loves to meet him; and whoever is averse to meeting God, God is averse to meeting him...."

 Now since we knew that our meeting with God can only be through death, and because we knew the inner meaning of death, we sought to bring it about sooner, in the life of this world. Hence we died, in the very Source of our life, to all our concerns and activities and desires, so that when death overcame us in the midst of that Life which never passes from us―inasmuch as we are that [Life] with which our selves and our limbs and every part of us glorifies and praises [God] ―we met God and He met us. And ours was the case [mentioned in the hadith above] of "those who meet Him while loving to meet Him" [so that He loves to meet us].

 Thus when there comes what is commonly known as death, and the veil of this body is removed from us (Qur'an 50:22), our state will not change and our certainty will not be any greater than what we already experience now. For we tasted no death but the first death, which we died during our life in this world, because our Lord protected us from the torment of hell as a bounty from your Lord; that is the Supreme Achievement (Qur'an 44:56-57). [As the Imam] 'Alî said: "Even if the veil were removed, I would not be any more certain."

 So the person who returns to God in this way is among the blessed, and he does not even feel the inevitable, compulsory return [of physical] death, because it only comes to him when he is already there with God. The most that what is [ordinarily] known as death can mean for him is that his soul , which is with God, is kept from governing this body that it used to govern, so that the soul remains with God, in its same condition, while that body reverts to its origin, the dust from which it was formed (Qur'an 3:59, etc.). For it was a house whose occupant has traveled away, then the King established that person with Him in a firm position (Qur'an 54:55) until the Day they are raised (Qur'an 23:100, etc.). And his condition when he is raised up will be just like that: it will not change insofar as his being with God is concerned, nor with regard to what God gives him at every instant.

 It is also like this in the general Gathering (al-hashr al-'âmm [on the Day of Resurrection]) and in the Gardens [of Paradise] which are this person's residence and dwelling place, and in the realm [of being (nash'a)] which he inhabits. For there he sees a realm created without any [fixed] pattern, a realm that provides him in its outward manifestation what the realm of this world provides in its inner [psychic and spiritual] dimension (bâtin) and its imagination (khayâl). So this is the way he freely controls the outward dimension (zâhir) of the realm of the other world. He enjoys all that he possesses in a single instant. Nothing that belongs to him, whether his wives or other things, is ever separated from him, nor is he ever separated from them: he is among them [simply] through his being desired, and they are in him through their being desired.

 For the other world is an abode of swift reaction, without any delay, [where external appearances constantly change] just as is the case with passing thoughts (khawâtir) in the inner dimension of the realm of this world. Except that for man the planes are reversed in the other world, so that his inward dimension permanently maintains a single form―just as his outward dimension does here―while the forms of his outward dimension undergo rapid transformations like those of his inner dimension here. [God] said: "...by what a reversal they will be transformed!" (Qur'an 26:227), yet when we have undergone our transformation, nothing will have been added to the way we were. So understand...

Excerpted from Volume I of The Meccan Revelations (al-Futûhât al-Makkiya) by Ibn 'Arabi. Published by Pir Press (2002, 2005), translated from the Arabic by Michel Chodkiewicz, William C. Chittick and James W. Morris.

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