Ibn al-'Arabi and Islamic Intellectual Culture: From Mysticism to Philosophy

Publication Year



Caner K. Dagli, Ph.D. 2006.

Ibn al-'Arabi (d. 1240) was one of the towering figures of Islamic intellectual history, and among Sufis still bears the title of al-shaykh al-akbar, or "the greatest master."

Ibn al-'Arabi and Islamic Intellectual Culture traces the history of the concept of "oneness of being" (wahdat al-wujud) in the school of Ibn al- 'Arabi, in order to explore the relationship between mysticism and philosophy in Islamic intellectual life. It examines how the conceptual language used by early mystical writers became increasingly engaged over time with the broader Islamic intellectual culture, eventually becoming integrated with the latter’s common philosophical and theological vocabulary. It focuses on four successive generations of thinkers (Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi, Mu'ayyad al-Din al-Jandi, 'Abd al-Razzaq al-Kashani, and Dawud al-Qaysari), and examines how these "philosopher-mystics" refined and developed the ideas of Ibn al-'Arabi. Through a close analysis of texts, the book clearly traces the crystallization of an influential school of thought in Islamic history and its place in the broader intellectual culture.

Offering an exploration of the development of Sufi expression and thought, this book will be a valuable resource for students and scholars of Islamic thought, philosophy, and mysticism.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1 Theoretical Considerations: Cutting the Pie of Mysticism, Philosophy, and Theology 2 Setting the Stage for the School of Ibn al-ʿArabī 3 Metaphysical Preliminaries 4 Qūnawī’s Metaphysics 5 Jandī’s Use of Wujūd and Related Concepts 6 Kāshānī: Conditioning and Proving God’s Existence 7 Qayṣarī and the Centrality of Existence Conclusion


"He brings together a close reading of daunting primary sources with the findings of a wide range of specialists, demonstrating in the process his own impressive analytic and synthetic talents. With remarkable lucidity, he chisels away long, drawn out metaphysical arguments and gets to their heart in a few sentences."

Atif Khail, Assoc. Prof., University of Lethbridge, Nazariyat Journal for the History of Islamic Philosophy and Sciences

"Much more can be said about the significance of this study. The first three chapters are indispensable for the serious reader, as they offer a very nuanced and seasoned reading of Islamic metaphysics…"

Ramzi Taleb, University of Toronto, Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society

Series Title
Routledge Sufi Series
London and New York