Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wahdat al-Wujud

People have misunderstood this doctrine because they misunderstood the term "wujood" to mean "all that exists", and so they thought that what is meant is that all that exists is part of the one God. But that is a completely wrong understanding, because that is not what is meant by "wujud" by those who use this expression. (Btw, Ibn Arabi never used this expression, but some of his students did).

Basically Wujud means Allah. Therefore "the oneness of Being" means "the oneness of Allah." Basically it's another way of saying that Allah is one, except that it emphasizes that only Allah is Real, while our existence isn't because it needs Allah to sustain it at all times.

Ibn Arabi says,

“Existence belongs to Him, and non-existence belongs to you.”

(Quote from http://www.holosforum.org/v3n1/lumbard.html)

In the words of Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi:

The Oneness of Being that we maintain is none other than
the Oneness of the Truth (al-Haqq), so understand what we say,

The Oneness of Allah, the sole Unity, which the pre-eminent
luminaries have witnessed,

And there is no difference with us, O ignoramus, whether we say
"Being (wujud)" or "The Truth (al-Haqq)",

Don't imagine that the Being (wujud) that we mention is
creation according to us.

So as you see, the entire misunderstanding about Ibn Arabi comes from a different way of looking at the world. Those who see it as "wujud" think Ibn Arabi must be a kafir for saying that the creation is part of Allah, and those who see it as "mawjud" understand that "wahdat al-wujud" upholds the transcendence of Allah Most High.

Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi explains the difference between "wujud" and "mawjud", and how he sees the creation, by saying:

Truly, Being is unseen by eyes,
In respect to what the beholder sees;

Eyes perceive nothing of it besides "what is besides",
Namely, contingent things, a collection of shadows;

A shadow but shows that there is something standing,
That controls it, beyond any doubt;

So beware of thinking that what you perceive
Is that Being: be one of those who know;

For all of what you perceive is but what "is there (al-mawjud)",
Not this True Being, He of Glorious Signs;

Of a certainty, Being is completely debarred from you,
In its majesty, elevation, and exaltedness;

For all you see is contingent and perishable,
and you too, are bound to perish.