The paradox of the duty of perfection in the doctrine of Ibn 'Arabi

Claude Addas

'Laqad khalaqnā-l insān fī ahsanī taqwīm' (Q. 95:4). This Qur'anic verse which affirms that God created man 'with the most perfect stature' is echoed – at least in one of its meanings – in a hadīth according to which 'God created Adam according to His form ('alā sūratihi)'.[1] The affixed pronoun which determines the word sūra (his form) remains nevertheless ambiguous: the Arabic language disregards capital letters which western languages can use to signify that the subject concerned is God. Moreover, numerous controversies have arisen between the interpreters of the Qur'an and of the sunna in the many cases where a scriptural text allows an ambiguity to remain over the grammatical antecedent of a pronoun: does the latter refer to God or to man? Ibn 'Arabi's position, on this point, could not be clearer: whether it is a question of the Qur'an or of the hadīth – as is the case here – it is necessary to stick to the literality of the wording; if this literality allows several meanings, none of them must be excluded. All, from one point of view or another, are valid and legitimate. In the same way that one must not fill in the 'silences' of the Divine Word, so one must not decide on one meaning to the detriment of another when the divine grammar opens up the possibility of various, sometimes contradictory, interpretations. God knows what He wants to say and knows how to say it.


1 comment (s):

  1. Mo'in said...

    Dear Maryam,

    Thank you very much for sharing this article.

    Kindest wishes,


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