Arabi, Abu Bakr Muhammad IBN Al

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Arabi, Abu Bakr Muhammad IBN Al


(called Shaikh al-Akbar, “Greatest Shaikh”). Born Aug. 7, 1165, in Murcia, Spain; died Nov. 16, 1240, in Damascus. Medieval Arab thinker and Sufi poet.

Arabi was born and educated in Andalusia. He was close to Sufi circles from early childhood (the most prominent medieval Arab philosopher, Averroxyés, was a friend of his father). In 1202 he started to travel through the Muslim East, staying in many cities of Iraq, Syria, and Asia Minor; in the 1230’s he lived in Damascus.

Arabi wrote many philosophical and poetic works that elaborated the ideas of Sufism, particularly the doctrines of a single source of being and of knowledge through internal illumination. al-Futuhat al-Makkiya (Meccan Revelations), Fusus al-hikam (Bezels of Wisdom), and the verse Tarjumanal-Ashwaq (Interpreter of Desires) are his best known works. Borrowing ideas from many non-Islamic philosophical and cosmological systems, Arabi interpreted the Koranic dogmas very freely; he was therefore frequently accused of heresy. Almost all later followers of Sufism felt Arabi’s influence.


Fusus al-hikam. Edited and annotated by A. Affifi. Cairo, 1948. (French translation:La Sagesse des prophetes. Translated by T. Burckhardt. Paris, 1955.)


Krachkovskii, I. Iu. soch., vols. 1–6. Moscow-Leningrad 1955–60. (See Index.)
Asin Palacios, M. El islam cristianizado. Madrid, 1931.
Affifi, A. E. The Mystical Philosophy of Muhyiddin Ibnul-Arabi Cambridge, 1939.
Pérès, H. La poésie andalouse en arabe classique, 2nd ed. Paris 1953.
Corbin, H. L’ Imagination créatrice dans le soufisme d’Ibn Arabi Paris, 1958.
Yahia, Osman. Histoire et la classification de I’oeuvre d’ Ibn Arabi, vols. 1–2. Damascus, 1964.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.