Ultimate Reality

Understanding the One and the many

 Discerning between Allah and the cosmos (world)

It is about discerning between existence (wujūd ) per se, or the reality of God, and the [borrowed] existence that is ascribed to the cosmos.

”The cosmos, all of it, is a book inscribed (Sura 52-2), since it is an orderly arrangement, parts of which have been joined to other parts. Instant by instant in every state it gives birth. There is nothing but the appearance of entities perpetually.

 The Self-Disclosure of God (2), Ibn `Arabi


There is a never-ending bestowal of existence (wujūd ) upon the possible things in this world. The cosmos obviously undergoes generation (kawn ) and corruption (fasād ),
everything within it comes into existence and eventually disappears.
Perpetual existence-giving (takwīn ) belongs to Allah, and perpetual reception of activity belongs to the possible things (al-mumkināt ), which are the cosmos.

 The Self-Disclosure of God (1), Ibn `Arabi

The Possible Things

There are 3 different ways of describing things in relation to wujūd : the Necessary wujūd, that which is and cannot not be: which is God, then the Possible things and the Impossible things.

The possible wujūd of something is everything other than God, or everything that is found apart from God in any mode of finding.

The Possible Things (al-mumkināt )fn4 stand logically between wujūd and nonexistence, so a possible thing may or may not exist. If it does not exist, it may be called a ”fixed entity” (ayān al-thābit ) or an ”object of knowledge,” and everything other than God is always a fixed entity.

Whenever God gives existence to a possible thing, this is known as Preponderation (tarjīḥ ) – giving weight to the side of existence over the side of nonexistence.fn3

fn4  The Possible Things, Sh Muhyiddīn Ibn al-ʿArabī

See ’The Possible Things’

What is it that exists?

Created things may be said to exist, but when we compare their wujūd (existence) with God’s wujūd (Being), we have to recognise that they do not exist in and for themselves.

Created things are contingent on their Existence-Giver, they may or may not been given wujūd (existence).

This is a statement of (توحيد‎ ) taḥīd, of making one, of unification.

 Mahiyya - Asking What It Is?

”Every creature is a shadow cast from the Unseen.”


Wujūd has 2 basic meanings in the Islamic intellectual tradition

  • it refers to the fact that something is there, it designates a concept or mental assertion.
  • it refers to the ultimate reality that undergirds all of reality (al-wājib al-wujūd "The Necessary in Existence") = ’God is Existence’ or ’God is Being.’

There is no reality but the reality of the Real.
Only God is true reality. - Shahādah

Everything Other Than God

Everything other than God is not true reality, even though, in a certain sense, the "others" (aghyār ) may be said to exist.

Hence the others are real in one respect and unreal in another. (This is a place of bewilderment: He/ not He huwa lā huwa ), which is to say that:

→ all things are identical with God inasmuch as they exist, but different from God inasmuch as they are specific things.fn1


When God disclosed Himself to a mountain…

وَلَمَّا جَآءَ مُوسَى لِمِيقَاتِنَا وَكَلَّمَهُ رَبُّهُ قَالَ رَبِّ أَرِنِي أَنْظُرْ إِلَيْكَ قَالَ لَنْ تَرَانِي وَلَكِنِ انْظُرْ إِلَى الْجَبَلِ فإِنِ اسْتَقَرَّ مَكَانَهُ فَسَوْفَ تَرَانِي فَلَمّا تَجَلّى رَبُّهُ لِلْجَبَلِ جَعَلَهُ دَكّاً وَخَرَّ مُوسَى صَعِقاً فَلَمّآ اَفَاقَ قَالَ سُبْحَانَكَ تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَاَنَاْ اَوَّلُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

{And when Moses came to Our appointed time and his Lord spoke with him, he said: ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself), that I may look towards You!’ He (Allah) said: ‘Never shall you see Me, but look towards the mountain: if it remains firm in its place, only then you will see Me.’ So when his Lord manifested (His) glory to the mountain, He sent it crashing down, and Moses fell down senseless. Then when he recovered, he said: ‘Glory be to You! I turn to You (repentant), and I am the first of the believers’.} 7-143

When God disclosed himself to the mountain:

The mountain of apparent reality was shattered in the face of divine Reality.


The World: God's Ongoing Self-Disclosure

The world is nothing but the locus in which God discloses his reality and attributes.

God discloses Himself in an all-inclusive, all-encompassing self-disclosure, and He discloses Himself in a specific, individual self-disclosure. The all-inclusive self-disclosure is an all-merciful self-disclosure, as indicated in His words, {The All-merciful sat upon the Throne} 20-5. The specific self-disclosure is the knowledge of God that belongs to each and every individual.

 How God Brought The Cosmos Into Existence Disclosing Himself, Sh Muhyiddin Ibn ʿArabi
 On Allah’s Self-Disclosure

Seeing things as they are allows observers to grasp that the independent existence of things is an illusion.

 To say it is 'an illusion' does not mean it has no significance. It is the place of testing, of witnessing and purification, and of knowledge of God.

Leaving the Shade of Separation

As it is said (referring to verse 7-143),

Leave the shade of separation, and gatherness will result. This is a group which spoke about unity.

As long as you see the branches and you do not see the root, you are veiled by them from the Creator. How do you expect the Real to appear when you are with creation? In creation there are clear categories of tall and short, small and large, good and bad, Muslim and Kafir, oppressed and oppressor, winner and loser, the forgetful one and the rememberer, asleep and the awake, thankful and unthankful, patient and impatient. How do you expect the Real to appear to you in these appearances when He appears in them with all kinds of manifestations and attributes to the extent that He is out of the grasp of the inner eyes? If you do not gather them in themselves and annihilate them in their root, you will have no news - as it is said,

Those of intellect have not grasped it except when annihilated from everything. Then they see it glimmering.

One Water, many flowers.

This is why the Real, Blessed and Exalted, is the Loved One in things, and is not the things that are loved in their essence, since the attributes of these things have no beauty. They are loved because of Him, and if it were not for the borrowing of that beauty, everything would be dust. It is said,

Know that you and all the beings, without Him, Are in effacement and destruction.

O brother, beware of letting your sight rest upon existence so that you have the illusion that your sight rests upon existence by its own essence. This is impossible, because in the essence of things is non-existence, and sight does not connect with non-existence. Sight rests on the existence of the One who made it exist, and this existence is borrowed from Him.

You thought it rested upon its own existence.

Knowledge of God, Sh al-ʿAlawi. p.286


There is neither reformation of the human state and purification, nor knowledge of God except through understanding and imitation of the best of men who walked on the earth and who ”encompassed all the human qualities imaginable”fn2 which is the blessed Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

Sunna Notes, Studies in Hadith & Doctrine - Volume 1; Hadith History & Principles, by Sh Gibril F Haddad; p.16/17

الدنيا متاع، وخير متاعها المرأة الصالحة

About this world the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said among other sayings (hadith):

"The world is but a (quick passing) enjoyment; and the best enjoyment of the world is a pious and virtuous woman".
'Abdullah bin 'Amr bin Al-'As - Muslim

 Dunya - Sunnah.com


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