Mulla Sadra and Ibn ‘Arabi on the Perfect Man

 Sayyid Husein Wa’ezi


The present paper is devoted to the subject of ‘the perfect man’ in the eyes of two unparalleled Muslim philosophers, Mulla Sadra and Ibn ‘Arabi. With reference to the Qur’anic verses and prophetic sayings, they maintain that the perfect man is the ‘Manifest Book’ of divine wisdom and His ‘Guarded Table’. Perfect man possesses noble qualities and carries out divine acts. Meanwhile, he exercises his influence over all creatures and is, thus, called the Guarded Table and the ‘Mother of the Book’.

The perfect man is the theophany of the form of the all-Merciful on creatures; at the same time, he is God’s vicegerent on the earth and the firmest evidence in favor of His Lordship, Divine secrets, and the most solid reason for His Attributes. He is God’s Treasure of knowledge, vault of wisdom, and carrier of all faculties of all existents of the world; he receives the teachings and knowledge from the All-Wise and All-Knowing and transfers them to others.

The soulishipseity of the perfect man is the manifestation of God’s Name, the image of His Light, and the key to His Knowledge. In order to recognize the perfect man, it is necessary to know that God created him as a microcosm similar to macrocosm, so that He could place all the worlds in him and make him the center of all the beautiful and glorious attributes, effects and acts of the Truth, as well as those of the worlds, states of beings and creatures, Tablet and Pen, and the Divine Destiny and Decree. Thus it is necessary for all humans to discover the secret of the perfect man, open his treasure of mysteries, and recognize him. It is this very knowledge that is necessary for knowing the Prophet (s) and the Imam (‘a). The perfect man is the first creature and the manifestation of all the society, a form of heavens and the earth; his creation began with Adam (s) and ended with Mohammed (s). Therefore, he is the cause of the creation and subsistence of the world from pre-eternity to eternity and from here to the Hereafter. God started his creation of the world from the intellect and ended it with the intelligent, and the perfect man’s spirit, Mohammed (s), is the core of the core and the oil and light of the torch of that intellect, and all other than God is a part of this perfect man. Thus he is a creature possessing the triple sensory, imaginal and rational configurations, and, through his personal unity, he is the essence of the angel, heaven, and earth.

The connection of other souls to the perfect man is established through assuming the character of the Prophet so that, in this way, they are qualified by noble traits and become aware of divine knowledge and the reality of existents, as they are possessed by the Truth.

The perfect man is the most excellent, the noblest, and most perfect of all creatures, including even the intellects and angels. And it was due to God’s breathing the divine spirit in his body that he became His vicegerent in different worlds, and angels prostrated before him, which is, in fact, the same as prostrating before the Truth.

The stages of perfect man’s development in descent and ascent are as follows: Since he possesses a form of the world of evidence and sensibles and a spirit of the heavenly hidden world, he is always moving among different worlds and, thus, following his descent from the original world to the world of separation, he was assigned to carry out a genetic and religious mission to be able to return to the original world again. Such ascending and descending stations have been determined for the perfect man from the beginning till joining the infinity. Therefore, he is sometimes an exemplar of the great spirit, and sometimes appears in the mould of the material body, because he is the manifest book and the core of all existential worlds and contains all the universals and particulars of the world.

Thus there are two reasons for the dominance of the perfect man over the two worlds: one is his perfect knowledge of the truth of objects, and the other is his complete power over everything; through his knowledge, he is a master of all that is necessary for apparent vicegerency, and, through his power, he can make all generated things in the upper and lower worlds obey him through his power.




Man's soul is his sustainer and guard, and God is the Efficient Cause of this soul. Thus the knowledge of the soul is the ladder leading to all other types of knowledge, and one can learn about the essence, attributes, and acts of the Truth through this type of knowledge.[1] Thus our knowledge of our soul is the same as our knowledge of the origin of our soul.

This soul deserves divine vicegerency, and it was due to his nobility that God ordered the angels to prostrate before him, and it is due to this very soul that divine names and attributes are manifested in the world of creation. Accordingly, the soul is, in fact, a divine dimension in this world, and it is because of this noble quality that it finally reaches God. The perfect extension of this divine dimension in the world of creation is the perfect man.

It seems necessary to make a comparison between the theories propounded by the two sublime scholars of the fields of philosophy and gnosis regarding the topic of ‘the perfect man’, because the deficiencies concerning the knowledge of this issue in other non-Islamic and Western schools of thought have been removed in these schools of philosophy.

 Methodology and research procedures

The necessary data for this study was mainly collected from available documents through a library research. The procedure involved collecting the theories of these two prominent scholars from their authentic works, omitting the repeated ones by referring to their sources as much as possible, and, finally, comparing them with each other. Of course, it has been tried to summarize the related issues and provide some short comments while keeping to their original statements.

Chapter 1: the perfect man as the manifest book and the Guarded Tablet

The human letter is the book of divine wisdom and the essence and core of Qur’anic meanings. The perfect man is the manifest book and the Guarded Tablet. Owing to his essence, he is a self-sustained existent out of the circle of time, place, and sense reference. The perfect man is a light among spiritual lights, a mystery among existential mysteries, a form among the various forms of the power of the truth, a sign among the signs of His Wisdom, and a word among the words of His Knowledge and Will. He is also God’s all-seeing eye.[2] According to Ibn ‘Arabi,

The perfect man is the carrier of divine trust and pledge and the mirror of the Truth. He is the manifestation of God’s Attributes and Names and the Truth’s locus of focus to view the creatures. He is God’s Celestial Throne and the secret and flowing life in the world.[3] He is at the top of divine names; in other words, all God’s Names are gathered in him, since the Almighty has a complete manifestation in him.[4]

As for his attributes, we can say that the perfect man has all desirable attributes originating from the Divine Essence. Likewise, his acts are similar to God’s Acts, encompass all creatures, and affect all times, places, substances, motions of material entities, innovations, and abstractions.

Some human acts are similar to innovations, which are needless of a tool or motion, such as the perception of real meanings, certain principles, believing in God, angels and other necessary issues, which are apprehended after the observations and perceptions made by the intellect, until the internal treasures of the soul and the intelligibles of the intellect are present before him without the need to think.

Some of the other human acts are similar to invention, such as man’s state when picturing the forms in his imagination, or natural bodily acts which are performed without thinking, such as taking care of his health, absorbing food, arranging the parts of something, and the like; all these acts are realized through the Divine Decree.

Some of the other human acts are similar to generation, such as outward acts, which are performed with a purpose, will, and motion, like eating, writing, and other bodily and mental acts.

The relation between the perfect man and his body, that is, ‘the microcosm’, is similar to God’s ruling the macrocosm; similarly, his command in the domain of his body is like that of Almighty in the macrocosm. [5] According to Ibn ‘Arabi,

The distinction between the servant and God in this relation lies in the servant’s poverty. Thus, if God wishes to remove poverty from the servant in every respect, he will also be decorated with divine attributes and names. In this way, if the servant says, ‘Become!’ to something, it will become immediately, and that is why whatever man wishes for in paradise will be ready for him.[6] Of course, this very ambition and demand indicates his essential poverty; however, since God has granted His favor to him, he can arrange everything and satisfy his need. This need has a different meaning when it comes to God. If He demands something, it does not show His poverty; rather, it indicates the essential possibility of the world that necessitates demand, and God meets this demand through the emanation of existence.[7]

Considering the fact that man has three configurations, namely, ‘sense’, ‘soul’, and ‘intellect’, the worlds are also of three types in conformity to them: the world, the Hereafter, and the world of Divinity. Man, too, enters one of these worlds depending on the configuration which overcomes him. [8] As Ibn ‘Arabi says,

Man’s judgment on the earth is like that of the intellect in the sky. Man is the last of generated things, similar to the intellect, and relates to it in a circle whose beginning is the first intellect. According to the Prophetic hadith, “The first creation of the Truth is the intellect”, and this intellect is the first genera. What completes this circle is the creation of the genus of man, who is, in this way, connected to the intellect, exactly in the same way that the end of the circle joins its beginning. God’s other creatures are located on the sides of this circle, i.e., the other genera of the world are between the first intellect and man, like the points on the circumference of a circle which stand at an equal distance from its center. [9]

The realities of objects are fixed in the rational world. They are called the ‘Divine Pen’ in the rational world, ‘Guarded Tablet’ and ‘Mother of the Book’ in the spiritual world (world of the souls), and ‘annihilation and affirmation’ in predestination tables. All these names are written in the Merciful’s book of knowledge. An engineer firstly designs the plan of the house in his mind and then exerts it; likewise, God initially prepared the plan or form of the world, and then created it according to the plan. [10]

According to Ibn ‘Arabi,

All other than God, including the soul and body, and the higher and the lower, whether we realize them or not, are called the world, and testify to the knowledge of the Necessary Being. This is because the world is essentially non-existent, and it is God’s Knowledge and Power that grants existence to it. [11] The levels of this world are, respectively, as follows: the world of luminous spirits, including the first intellect or the ‘Divine Pen’, the world of souls or the ‘Guarded Tablet’, and the world of bodies. [12]

After the creation of the world by God’s command, and after the beginning of angels’ activities and their perfection, God placed there a vicegerent of human species and granted him different senses, imaginl and rational faculties, instincts, and tools to enable him to be the intermediary between Him and His creatures.

What is produced in man’s intellect corresponds to the existing world. This world also corresponds to the world referred to in the Divine Recipe and the Intellectual Tablet, which is the same as the hearts of God’s favorite angels. This second world is preceded by its existence in the predestination Tablet. Man is capable of perceiving each level of the world forms in the light of his unity with that level and his realization of its existence. Some of these existences are of the type of the senses, some of the type of images, and some of the type of the intellect. Thus existence is intellectual at the first level, spiritual at the second, and sensual and material at the third. Following this, the soul is sometimes sensual, sometimes spiritual, and sometimes intellectual. If man obtains a high status and reaches the station of lordship, he will be aware of the Divine Decree and Ordinance and witness the Divine Pen and Tablets, and thus the whole world will be present before him. The perfect man is a true exemplar of this case. [13] As Ibn ‘Arabi says,

The perfect man is the all-showing mirror of the Truth. Depending on his different dispositions, the reflection of the Truth in this mirror is of different forms. The manifestation of the Truth in perfect human souls depends on their dispositions both in this world and in the other world. Therefore, each perfect soul discovers the truth in conformity to his knowledge and demands, and thus a gnostic is the most perfect of all existents in the world. This is because he knows God with all His Attributes and Perfections. [14] 

The station of prophethood and messengership is exclusively granted by the Divine Power, cannot be acquired, and is not given to everyone; however, individual’s capacity and dispositions could provide the grounds for the realization of this important event. [15]

The personal essence of the Prophet (s), owing to his perfect ipseity, was the highest of the essence of all human souls, and, considering perfections, his powers were the greatest and most luminous of all.

The Prophet’s (s) soul is higher than any soul or intellect. As he, himself, says, “With God I spent times which no Archangel or sent prophet had the capacity for.”

Thus the Prophet (s) looks like other human beings in nature only in terms of his natural human existence.[16] Nevertheless, considering the spiritual aspects, he is the intermediary for effusion and connected to the ‘Guarded Tablet’ and the ‘Divine Pen’.[17]

Ibn ‘Arabi maintains,

Mohammed (s) is the most perfect of all humans, and the first evidence for the existence of his Lord, since the Lord only appears through His servant and is manifested through him. All his perfections appear through the existence of this perfect man, since he is the gathering place for all the words and sources of divine realities, as well as the first evidence for the great Divine Name.[18]

By the perfect man and Mohammedan truth, Ibn ‘Arabi and Mulla Sadra mean a truth which can bear the burden of divine trust and vicegerency and is realized before the creation of all other things at the time of the manifestation of the first intellect. This perfect man was first manifested in Adam (s), and then, in its most complete form, in Prophet Mohammed (s), and then in other divine saints. The perfect man is superior to all immaterial beings, since they are extensions for Divine Beauty, and the perfect man is the extension for both Divine Beauty and Glory. That is why angels failed to bear the burden of divine trust; they did not apprehend the divine wrath and majesty, and, thus, called man a blood-shedder. However, it was this very man who was given the responsibility to carry both attributes of beauty and glory and secure the credibility for vicegerency.

Chapter 2: perfect man; theophany of the merciful’s image on creatures

 God created the telos of generated bodies through man. The perfect man is God’s vicegerent on the earth and in the higher world, for He created him with His Own Hands and granted him the knowledge of names and superiority over angels. [19] and [20]

According to Ibn ‘Arabi,

The perfect man is the telos and goal of the creation of this world; he is rightly appointed as God’s vicegerent and is the locus for the manifestation of divine names and all the realities of the world, including the earth, heaven, spirit, body, nature, minerals, vegetables, and animals. And man, in spite of his negligible body, has exclusively found access to the knowledge of divine names, and this is the reason behind his superiority over the whole world.[21]

The perfect man is the most equitable witness of Lordship and divine secrets and the most solid reason for the attributes of Glorified God. He is the evident proof for the Truth and the image of the Merciful. Prophet Mohammed (s) says, “God created man on the image of His Mercy.” Accordingly, man’s relation with the Truth is in the outward, as well as in the inward. This very relation is an evident proof for God’s essence, attributes, and acts and is equipped with divine qualities, creation and command. [22]

According to Ibn ‘Arabi,

Man is the image of the Truth, and the whole world has been created for him. Thus the entire world seeks for man, and man seeks for God. Therefore, man’s belonging to objects is forbidden, since he belongs to the Truth, and the entire world has been created for him. [23] and [24]

The perfect man is the treasure of God’s knowledge and wisdom. [25] Thus he is the complete book of the Truth and involves all generated realities.

The perfect man is the carrier of all the faculties of the existents of the world, and all the degrees of existents are realized for him; he deserves the position of divine vicegerency and is aware of the reality of the Truth, creation, and the telos of making the world.[26] According to Ibn ‘Arabi,

Vicegerency or wilayah (mastership) is a divine attribute that God imparts to those servants He wishes. Of course, this wilayah, due to being a general attribute, belongs to all existents; however, God has saved some of the attributes such as this exclusively for Himself and grants them to some of his special servants, believers, and pious men, and all these people act under absolute divine mastership or wilayah.[27] Man has been created by God’s two hands: His Beauty Attributes and Glory Attributes. This indicates that his wholeness carries the realities of the world, and that is why he is appointed as God’s vicegerent. [28]

The perfect man, due to being the divine vicegerent, has been created on the image of the Merciful, is an evident proof for God, and includes the worlds of creation and command; moreover, innovation, generation, creation, disposition, and provocation surrender to his will and are under his control. [29]

As Ibn ‘Arabi maintains,

When the essential manifestation of the Truth is realized in a man, he sees himself as the Truth and does not see the Truth anymore, like one who sees his image in the mirror and sees himself no longer. Thus when essential manifestation occurs, the servant loses all his limitations and becomes the Truth itself. In this case, the Truth is the mirror of the perfect man, and he explores his essence in the Truth. Similarly, the perfect man is the mirror of the Truth, and He observes its perfections in him. However, this is a sublime station which no one has ever been able to reach except for the Seal of Prophets and divine favorites. [30] Accordingly, since the perfect man has been created on the image of the Truth and comprises all the truths in the world, when God addresses him, He is, in fact, addressing the entire world.[31]

The perfect man is an existent who learns the knowledge and teachings from the All-Knowing and All-Wise; he hears the words of the Truth through his spiritual endeavors, and following this, he starts speaking, and the substance of his essence moves from the low stage of potency to the stage of actual and simple intellect. As a result, he attains such a station that whenever he wishes, differentiated sciences will be present before his soul. Therefore, he starts speaking about true sciences and teachings, and there will be nothing in his words except for the images of undifferentiated hidden realities in the form of differentiated human knowledge, and the manifestation of the inside of material objects on the book of the soul and the tablet of imagination. [32]

The perfect man’s spiritual ipseity is the manifestation of divine hidden ipseity, and the ipseity of his soul is the manifestation of God’s Name and the Idea of light, which flows in the heaven and earth.

According to the Qura’nic chapter of ‘Nur’ (Light),[33] the existence and manifestation of what is there in a human realm depends on the light of divine ipseity.

The perfect man is the key to God’s Knowledge and the manifestation of worldly treasures, since He is the keeper of all of them. [34] The key of all these treasures is in the perfect man’s hand. [35] The right path and the divine route are not in the heaven, earth, mountains, plains, lands, and the sees; rather, they are in the essence and substance of the wayfarer’s existence, since that wayfarer is the Pen of the Most High, and the Qur’an is a strong rope providing the connection to the path of the perfect man. The conduct of the perfect man is the same as what the Qur’an advises to, and all divine names are collected in him. He is the same as the Qur’an, the Manifest Book expressing the realities.

The Paradise and its joys and the hell and its calamities are all inherent in the perfect man’s existence, and it is him who chooses one of them as the right way. [36] Mulla Sadra interprets verse 33 of al-Baqarah chapter[37]  as follows: The meaning of the hidden aspect of heavens and earth is the reality of the perfect man. The telos of the existence of material objects, the fruit of the tree of the spheres, and the chosen member of the world is the very perfect man.

If we pay attention to the forms of the world, whether those which have come from the highest to the lowest, such as primary hyle, or those which have come from the lowest to the highest, such as the place of Adam’s fall, we will see the perfect man at all these levels.

The perfect man is the closest of all existents, including the sacred intellects and guardian angels, to the Truth. Thus such a perfect man, whose existence starts from the lowest levels and ends with the highest of them, should go over the other degrees, and this would not be possible unless he obtains the teloses of such degrees. Such a task is, therefore, followed by gaining the knowledge of the unseen and innermost of the world, thus the perfect man is the telos of the heaven and earth.[38] As Ibn ‘Arabi maintains,

The goal of the creation of the world is the creation of the perfect man; he is the leader (imam) of the world. Every ‘effective’ in this world is called ‘ab’ (father), and every ‘affected’ is called ‘umm’ (mother), and the fruit of the marriage of the two is called ‘ibn’ (son) or the ‘generated’. Of course, this marriage is a spiritual one, and, accordingly, all spirits are fathers and the nature, due to its being the locus of change and origination, is the mother. In the same way, their sons and generated beings include mines, vegetables, animals, jinn, and man. [39]

It is necessary to emphasize that the level of ‘ab’ (father), due to its affecting ‘umm’ (mother), is higher than that of others. The first supreme fathers are spirits; the first low level mothers are the very possible non-existent objects; the first marriage is the intention or command; and the first of this kind of existence is the essence of possible objects. The marriage of the father and mother permeates in all objects and brings about a permanent consequence. From among the first fathers, the highest of all affecting the world is the ‘great name’, including all the divine names; it is the very first intellect and the high Divine Pen affecting creation on the part of the Truth. [40]

In Ibn ‘Arabi and Mulla Sadra’s view, the perfect man is a continuous existence, ranging from God to the lowest of all existents, manifesting the divine effusions at each level. This sacred existence is the telos of the world, the treasure of divine wisdom, the Merciful’s image, and a mirror reflecting the beauty of the Truth.

Chapter 3: necessity of knowing the perfect man

One of the wonders of creation is the perfect man. God created man as a microcosm and similar to the macrocosm, in which the collection of other worlds exists. The essence of this man is qualified by all attributes related to beauty and perfection, effects and acts, worlds and states of being and creatures, tablet and the pen, destiny and decree, angels and spheres, elements and compounds, and paradise and hell. In sum, the perfect man is a perfect example of the essence, attributes and acts of the Sublime Truth.[41] According to Ibn ‘Arabi,

Man has been created on the image of divine attributes and possesses divine perfections and the truth of His Names. Man’s inward relation to the Truth is more perfect than his outward relation to the world. [42] Man is the manifestation of divine theophany in the mirror of existence. God wished to observe Himself in the mirror, and thus he created man to be the manifestation of divine theophany. Therefore, the perfect man is the manifestation of all divine names. [43]

Considering these attributes, the perfect man or the microcosm must be known, since he is the great secret of divine knowledge and cannot be obtained unless through knowing this man. This is because he is the divine gate and the firm rope by which one could connect to the higher world.

It is necessary for all to find out about the secret of the perfect man, to discover the key to his treasure, and to know him. This is the same as the necessity to know the Prophet and the Imam (leader), since, “Whosoever dies without knowing the Imam of his time, has died in ignorance.” [44] The reason for this is that man’s life in the eternal world depends on the knowledge of Divine wisdom, which is inherent in the perfect man. [45]

God Almighty assembled the entire world in the perfect man and presented him as the epitome of his book, including all the faculties of the world. And following the creation of this man, He created the intermediaries, compounds and spirituals in him. [46]

Ibn ‘Arabi states,

The perfect man’s relation to the world is similar to the relation of the bezel to the ring; when kings finish a letter, they seal it with the bezel of their ring to secure it; similarly, the security of the perfection of the completion of the world is guaranteed by the perfect man. [47]

Due to divine generosity and blessing, the perfect man is the carrier of God’s Names and Attributes, thus he possesses the first and last perfections of the inward and outward and is the all-knowing. However, he sometimes considers such divine attributes of his own and usurps them. As a result, he becomes an ‘oppressor’, and since he has not learned that he must return them to their Owner, he becomes ignorant. Thus whosoever wishes to get rid of these two qualities, i.e., oppressiveness and ignorance, he must return the divine trust to it Owner and people. [48]

According to Ibn ‘Arabi and Mulla Sadra, man’s knowledge of the perfect man is equal to knowing the Divine Essence, Attributes and Acts, the microcosm, and the bezel of the ring of the world. Therefore, if one leaves the world without having gained this knowledge, he is no different from those who lived in the period of paganism and ignorance.

Chapter 4: the perfect man as an image of heavens and earth

The perfect man is the manifestation of all human beings. The creation of the perfect man and his image began with Adam (s) and ended with Mohammed (s). During this period, he was gradually perfected, until he appeared in his most complete form. The idea of seven-fold spheres[49] in the Qur’an refers to the structure of this very perfect man, indicating that his inward is of seven degrees, including: the soul, heart, the intellect, spirit, the secret, the hidden, and the most hidden. Verse 28 of al-Baqarah chapter[50] also refers to this very gradual creation of the perfect man and describes it from the lowest of all stages as the creation of one image after another, a life after death, and a perfection after imperfection, till it reaches the Praised God, that is, where he was from the very beginning. [51] According to Ibn ‘Arabi,

The existents of the world fall into four worlds: The higher world, which is the world of subsistence; the world of transformation, which is the world of annihilation; the world of construction, which is the world of subsistence and annihilation; and the world of relation, which is the world of accidents. These four worlds are contained in two abodes: macrocosm, which is outside man’s domain, and micro-cosm, which is the perfect man. Accordingly, the perfect man is the all-inclusive version of the world and the cosmo'rama cup and the concise form of the world of possibilities. [52]

Thus the perfect man is the cause of the creation and subsistence of the world from pre-eternity to eternity and from the world to the hereafter. [53] 

The perfect man is God’s vicegerent on the earth: an all-inclusive and archetypal word covering the Divine Book; a book which has completely been written by the Merciful. The perfect man is the great spirit and contains the whole macrocosm, since he is the general origin, form and telos, the seed of the intellects and souls, and the fruit of the tree of the spheres, and everything else that exists in them, whether intelligible or sensible.

The great spirit includes all possible things, both cognitively and objectively. This spirit is the perfect man and God’s vicegerent on the earth and in heavens. Cognitively, the great spirit’s inclusion of all the possibles is as follows: Its essence is the image of the whole, just as it is the universal agent and telos. The image of an object is its totality; therefore, since the perfect man is the universal image, he is all things.

The inclusion of perfect man’s intellectual spirit of all possible beings is due to the fact that the manifest book, before joining the heavenly court and great spirit, contains all the extensions of worlds, details and individuals. However, after joining them, there is no difference between the Truth’s Pen and that intellectual spirit in terms of including all things.[54] As Ibn ‘Arabi says,

Man consists of the whole world. Microcosm is the condensed form of the macrocosm, and thus he is the perceiver of the macrocosm, and God has related all details of macrocosm to him. Man has been created on the image of the name of ‘Allah’; this name includes all names, and, although it is physically small, it covers all the meanings and contains the macrocosm. The perfect man has been created in a divine form, so all his faculties and senses function divinely; he sees with God’s eyes; he finds happiness in God; he is with God at all times and places. [55]

Both Ibn ‘Arabi and Mulla Sadra believe that the perfect man is an epitome of the heavens and earth and holds the station of all-inclusiveness. They consider him the all-embracing world and cosmo'rama cup.

Chapter 5: the perfect man as the fruit of creation

In the creation of the world, including the creation of man, God began with the intellect and ended with the intelligent.

The ‘first intellect’ is the seed and origin of scholars and learned people. The other intellects that are prior to bodies function under the command of the first intellect. The ‘universal soul’ is a branch of the first intellect; heavenly bodies are its veins and nerves; elemental simples are its pages; earthly souls are its blossoms; human souls are the seeds of those blossoms; acquired intellects are the cores and lights of seeds; and Mohammed’s (s) spirit is the core of the core and the oil and light of the lantern of this intellect. And this is the wisdom laid in al-Sajdah chapter: verse 5, [56] al-‘Imran chapter: verse 79, [57] some prophetic traditions[58] and hadiths. [59]

What is higher than the fact that the believer’s heart is the mirror of the Truth’s beauty, and that whenever God wishes to view the theophany of His essence, he turns to the believer’s heart?[60] The same point has also been emphasized by Mohammed (s), [61] and there is also a sacred Åadith in this regard stating: “I was a hidden treasure, but I decided to be known; thus I created the perfect man to obtain my goal.”

So, the fruit of creation, which is the very divine knowledge, is realized in the believing servant. [62]

And the perfect man is the telos of creation of heavens, elements and compounds. There is a holy hadith in this regard saying: “(O’Mohammed) If you were not there, I would not have created the heavens.” According to Ibn ‘Arabi,

The whole world specifies man. He is the very all-inclusive divine book, which is like a soul in the body of the world; thus man is the soul of the world, and the world is man’s body; therefore, all the world is the very macrocosm. As a result, if we consider the world without man, we have considered a body without a soul. So, the perfection of the world depends on man, as the perfection of body depends on the soul. In fact, man is the goal of the world and the soul breathed into it.[63] He is a micro exemplar of macrocosm, and a copy of all the possible beings lies hidden in him. [64]

However, the perception of the essence of the Truth is not initially possible unless through the mirror of the believer’s heart. This issue has been referred to in some of the glorious chapters in the Qur’an, including, Fussilat: verse 53, [65] al-Dhariyat: verse 21, [66] al-Nisa: verse 80, [67] al-Ahzab: verse 72, [68] al-Åajar: verse 29. [69] In this regard, it has also been quoted from the Prophet, “whoever sees me, he has certainly seen God.” There are also two other noble Prophetic hadiths in this regard, saying, “One who obeys the Prophet, in fact, obeyed God” and “God has trained me, and what a good training He has given me.” All the verses and Åadiths just mentioned are examples of God’s words and the Prophet (s), confirming the sublime station of the perfect man.[70]

Thus the perfect man is, in fact, the carrier of divine secrets, and all other than God is a part of him. One who wishes to understand his own perfections has to turn to his own self.[71] It is through paying attention to himself that he understands the perfect and all-inclusive divine book, containing all verses, the realities of the intellects and souls, the different branches of science, and all of God’s names, is this very macrocosm.[72] As Ibn ‘Arabi says,

The human form is a firm proof demonstrating the existence of his cause and creator.[73] The perfect man is the only creature deserving divine vicegerency, since he is the image of the Merciful, and all the predispositions in the world are inherent in him; he is the best proof of the maker and creator of the world and the most perfect of all divine signs, so that knowing the Truth depends on knowing him, and knowing him depends on knowing the whole world and obtaining holy knowledge and divine realities.[74]

That is why, regarding his spirit and intellect, he is the Divine Pen and is called the ‘Mother of Book’ and, as a result, dominates the greatest of all realities of the universal intellect. And his true heart is the book of the Guarded Tablet, in which the intelligibles are recorded eternally and in a differentiated form. As for his animal soul, he is a subtle steam-like matter, and, like a heavenly body which receives sensory and luminous lights, he is a corporeal and material book.[75]

Chapter 6: the perfect man as a being inclusive of triple configurations

Concerning their sensory aspect, man’s soul and spirit exist in the world of matter and are of animal genus. As for his soul, he is from the middle dominion, and, spiritually, from the high dominion.[76]

According to Ibn ‘Arabi,

Man is the microcosm and the spirit of the world and its cause. Considering his body and origination, he is a minor being; however, since he is God’s vicegerent and has the entire world under control, he is the macrocosm. Man’s most perfect configuration is in this world, and in the Hereafter, human beings will be divided into believers and non-believers and, as a result, become either happy and prosperous or wretched and tormented.[77]

Of course, the majority of people do not take leave of the configuration of the sense and the world, and, thus, they are tormented. This is not true about the substance of prophethood, which is all-inclusive of triple configurations, since the Prophet (s) is perfect in terms of the triple faculties of the sense, imagination and intellect. [78] According to Ibn ‘Arabi, “Therefore, the perfect man (the Prophet) is an all-inclusive world, and instead of being a part of the world, he is the whole world.” [79]

The substance of prophethood is the locus of the assembly of intellectual, psychic and sensory rays. The Prophet (s), with his spirit and intellect, is one of the divine archangels; and as for the mirror of his mind and soul, he is a heaven free from animal impurities; he is also a tablet immune against evil temptations. As for his senses, he is a king among the greatest of all kings.

Thus by personal unity, Prophet (s) is the essence of ‘angel, heaven, and kingdom’ and inclusive of triple configurations in the most perfect form; thus by spirit, he is from the high dominion; by soul from the middle dominion; and by nature from the low dominion; he is God’s vicegerent and the gatherer of the manifestations of Divine names and His perfect worlds. As the Prophet (s) says, “All words have been granted to me.” [80]

According to Ibn ‘Arabi,

The Prophet is the perfect man and the most perfect of all existents, since his level includes all levels. However, this excellence is not inherent in his essence; rather, he has obtained it in the light of the value of his station before God.[81]

The three above-mentioned characteristics are specific to the prophets, though some aspects of them may also be witnessed in others, such as the knowledge of ‘objective realities’, which is also seen in God’s friends and their followers, or knowledge of ‘the hidden’, which some people with powerful souls may also possess. Some others may still exercise certain effects on others’ souls through having an evil eye and the like. [82] Ibn ‘Arabi says,

God created the creatures in various kinds; then from each kind, He selected some; from among the chosen ones, He selected the noble ones, who consisted of the believers; from among the believers, He chose the awliya’ or God’s favorites; from among awliya, He chose the noble ones, who consisted of the prophets; from among the prophets, He chose the owners of Shari'a (religious law); from among them, He chose the messengers; from among them, he chose one who was one of them and none of them at the same time. This person was Mohammed (s): the master of all chosen people in the world. [83]

Mohammedan spirit is the continuation of all prophets and messengers from the beginning of man’s creation to the Day of Resurrection. As he says, “I was a prophet when Adam was still between the clay and water (had not been created yet).” [84]

Thus God’s Great Name is, indeed, just the same Mohammedan reality, since the Great Divine Name and its theophanies originate from His unity, and Oneness essentially refers to the perfect man’s level and the reality of the Prophet (s) and his successors. Undoubtedly, he is a proof for everything.[85]

He is the origin and telos; He is the beginning and the end. God is the agent of all things, and the perfect man shows God’s attention to creatures.[86] So, the Prophet’s soul is a proof for everything, both exterior and interior. [87]

For Ibn ‘Arabi and Mulla Sadra, the perfect man contains all beings and worlds; he is the entire world and the core of its core, not a part of it.

Chapter 7: the perfect man as the first creature

The Most High God’s first creature is the ‘intellect’, which is the owner of the Divine Pen. The first intellect is called light due to its brightness and essential manifestation; ‘Active Intellect’ due to its essential catharsis and presence before its essence; ‘angel’ due to its dominantly angelic attributes and conduct; and ‘pen’ due to portraying the realities on the tablets of rational souls in detail.[88] In this regard, Ibn ‘Arabi says,

God created the Pen and the Tablet and called them ‘intellect’ and spirit’, respectively. The spirit was given two attributes, namely, scientific and practical, and the intellect became a good teacher for the spirit. Then He created a substance lower than the soul and called it ‘hiba’, and this ‘hiba’ is inclusive of all natural images.

Between the spirit, qualified by being scientific and practical, and ‘hiba’, God specified degrees from the highest of the high to the lowest of the low.[89]

According to a prophetic hadith, “The first creature that God created was the intellect. It was ordered to go (to the world), so it did, then it was ordered to return (to Me), so it did.” And this intellect is the very Prophet’s (s) spirit, which was ordered, “Go to the world; you are a grace for mortals”; then it was ordered, “Go back to your God; you are a grace for mortals”; Finally, it was ordered, “Go back to me”; and so he went towards the Truth at the Ascension night. He said to the intellect, “By My Honor and Glory, there is no one and nothing among My creatures dearer than you for Me.” This reveals that the Prophet (s) was God’s most favorite creature. Therefore, what is there in the knowledge of the great spirit is the same as Prophet’s state which is united with the Active Intellect and the great spirit.[90]

So, the first creature of the Most High was the soul of the Prophet (s), i.e., the perfect man, as he, himself, says so to Imam ‘Ali (‘a) on returning from the ascension journey. [91]

According to Ibn ‘Arabi,

Mohammed has absolute sovereignty over the entire world, and his word is a command to everything and everybody till the Day of Resurrection.[92] There are no people unless they obey the divine Mohammedan Shari’a (religious law). As he says, “I was a prophet when Adam was still between the clay and water (he had not been created yet). Since Mohammed is the lord of prophets and messengers, he is also the lord of other people, and all people, from Adam’s time to the Resurrection Day, are his people. There is a glorious verse in the Holy Qur’an referring to the same point,[93] since all people, before and after his appearance are his people and he is the lord of all of them.[94] Therefore, he deserves all respect and grace, since God has not appointed him the Prophet of a specific time or specific people.[95]

For Ibn ‘Arabi and Mulla Sadra, the first creature of the Truth is the perfect man, the first intellect and Mohammedan reality. This creature is the most perfect of all creatures after the Exalted Truth, as well as the first and second emanated. This existential extension of the perfect man began from the beginning of creation and will continue till its end, so that he will be present in every creation and any time in a way. Its first manifestation was in the mould of prophets in Adam’s (s) body, and its most perfect manifestation was in Prophet Mohammed (s).

Chapter 8: the quality of the connection of souls to the perfect man

The Prophetic soul (s) is a noble station which can be attained only when man’s cognitive and worshipping powers reach perfection. This station also will reach specific individuals among Prophet Mohammed’s (s) people. There are a great number of hadiths quoted in this regard, such as, “The knowers are heirs of the prophets”, “God has some servants who are not prophets, but the prophets envy them”, “The knowers among my people are like the prophets of Israel”.[96]

If man assume the character of the prophet (s), the predisposition for receiving the divine knowledge emanated to the Prophet’s heart will also be emanated to his heart by reflection. This is because obeying the Prophet (s) is like obeying God.[97] However, one who does not model the Prophet’s conduct cannot be led by him, even if, apparently and without insight, he performs his duties, or even if he were among deniers.[98]

The Prophet (s) was appointed because he had a noble conduct and character and possessed the triple specifications belonging to the spirit, the soul and the sense in their most perfect forms. His first superiority was his mastery of divine knowledge and awareness of the reality of existents, as it is with the Truth. He is aware of all beings, thus he is aware of the states of all creatures in the other world. His second superiority is his inward power, through which he learns about the realities inherent in imaginal forms between the two worlds of the intellect and sense and, in the light of outward sense, portrays those realities in material forms. That is why he can see Gabriel’s real form and face. His third superiority lies in his great power against the enemy, and because of this power, he overcomes the evils and is patient in hardships and steadfast in wars.[99] As Ibn ‘Arabi states,

The perfect man is of a laudable station which bears the consequences of all stations. Accordingly, he deserves all divine names used for specific stations. This station exclusively belongs to God’s messenger (s), and that is why he is the master of all people.

The symbol of this station in this world is Adam (s) (since he has the Prophet’s body) and in the Hereafter is Mohammed (s). According to this station, he intercedes on behalf of the entire world, including angels, prophets, messengers, believers, animals, vegetations, and minerals.[100]

 By reference to divine verses and infallibles’ words, Ibn ‘Arabi and Mulla Sadra unanimously maintain that the attainment of perfections for human beings would only be possible through joining the perfect man, obeying his commands and avoiding what he prohibits.

Chapter 9:the perfect mans superiority over angels                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Man, the noblest of all creatures, is led by the divine light. God chose him and related him to Himself. Thus man’s origin and end is the very God. He was born with the divine spirit under God’s supervision, and the Almighty has ascribed the fermentation of man’s body to His Own Hands. In the light of this grace, when going through each world, man assumes a form which is appropriate to that world.[101] As Ibn ‘Arabi says,

The superiority of the human world over the world of other creatures lies in the greatness bestowed upon him by God, since He made him with His two Hands, Beauty Attributes and Glory Attributes, while no other creature has ever been directly created by Almighty Truth. This man is superior to all earthly and heavenly angels, except for supreme angels, who are higher than human kind.[102] Generally, man’s superiority over angels lies in his inclusiveness, since each angel worships God because of one of His Names, while man worships Him because of all His Names.[103]

Man’s spirit was breathed in his body in a divine form, thus he became the vicegerent of both worlds and was prostrated by angels. However, this is only ture about a perfect and spiritual man rather than about each and every individual living in the outside world.

According to verse 34 in al-Baqarah chapter,[104] the reason for the necessity of prostrating before Adam (s) is that man is the condensed version of the spiritual and corporeal worlds and an exemplar of all innovations, since he is pre-destined to possess all actual perfections and luminous illuminations and obtain all good.[105]

According to Ibn ‘Arabi,

Angels are superior to man in terms of tafsir (differentiated), not in terms of reality, since all individuals are related to divine Names in light of their levels, and these Divine Names, in spite of their different effects, have no superiority over each other, and each dominates the world in a way.[106] A real servant, because of his body, is from earth; however, because of his intellect, he is from heavens. Thus he is, in a way, a ‘human angel’ and an ‘angelic human’.[107]

Accordingly, the command to prostrate before Adam (s) is the same as the command to prostrate before the power of the Truth rather than the command to His possible ipseity; otherwise, it would entail polytheism. Thus he was prostrated because of his level, his closeness to God, his annihilation in the Essence of the Truth, his subsistence in the light of the Truth, and his possessing a human soul which mirrors the Beauty of the Truth.[108] As Ibn ‘Arabi says,

Angels have supremacy over man in worship, since they are involved in this task by essence and suffer no negligence in this regard; a being which is involved in worship and prayer has found its object of praise. Angels are as such essentially, and natural configurations and the like cannot make them neglect their task; therefore, they continually praise the Truth. They are different from man, whose nature causes his negligence and creates a veil of darkness before his eyes. Nevertheless, man is similar to angels in terms of his spiritual existence and station and is superior to angels because of being the product of God’s hands, without any intervention on the part of other elements, and other existents are made by the human soul. However, it is because of his body and nature that he becomes negligent and his station declines.[109] This man has supremacy over angels owing to knowing the divine names;[110] accordingly, he pays attention to the realities of the cosmos and the creation of existents, including the very angels, while angels do not possess the knowledge of all names, and, thus, the wisdom behind angels’ prostrating before Adam (s), which is the same as prostrating before God, is this very divine nobility and knowledge of names.[111]

The superiority of the human world over the jinn’s world lies in the soul’s domination aided by spherical influences and natural features of objects. That is why ‘Asif ibn-Barkhiya was more perfect than jinn in practice and could prepare Bilqays’s throne for Solomon sooner. However, in all the above cases, it is God who grants the permission for the act to be done, since the Truth is identical with these individuals’ spiritual faculties and bodily organs.[112]

As a result, in order to clarify the reasons behind man’s supremacy over angels, it is necessary to comply with the following principles:

1. The essence of existents depends on their substance rather than their accidents, and their very substance belongs to the world of command and immaterial entities rather than to the world of creation and matter. And the essence of immaterial things consists of intellects and universal spirits rather than heavenly and earthly spirits. The essence of spirits is the universal spirit. There is no distance between this spirit and the Truth.

2. In cause- effect chain and creatures, any existent which is closer to the Truth is nobler and more perfect, since the Exalted Truth first comes to it and then to others.

3. Man is an animal species because of his human form; however, he is capable of reaching multiple species and opposite realities some of which are angle in genus, some evil, some beast, some other animals, and some lower than animals. In other words, there is no species, from the lowest to the highest, unless it is possible for some human individuals to reach it.

4. All the existents of the world have come from the highest to the lowest in the arc of descent to reach corporal things, and they move from the lowest to the highest in the arc of ascent to reach the Sublime Truth. Now, in this hierarchy, which so ever is prior in existence will be nobler and superior in the chain of creation, and which so ever follows the highest  telos will be the most illustrious.

5. From among all creatures, man is the chosen one due to being capable of reaching the highest degree of perfection from the lowest, so that he has become the noblest of possible beings because of this very proximity and joining the Truth.

6. The origin of the transfer of this weak creature to the highest world is the Agent’s providence, since as mentioned before, all creatures are seeking for perfection, but the reason for man’s reaching this level lies in the Agent’s providence over him for actualizing his potentiality. The most other existents can do is to move from the ‘mineral’ stage to the ‘vegetable’ stage and, then, to the ‘animal’ stage, but man can leave this stage behind, too, since he is weak in animality,[113] and this very weakness is the origin of his affection and moving from the low state to the high state, and from the sensory animal level to the intellectual and angelic level. However, archangels are needless of entelechy and motion, since they are always in God’s proximity.

Each heavenly angle, too, is at the station of her servant ship and has no motivation for movement and promotion, since she continually receives illuminations. Evils, too, due to their nature (fire), ambition and love of authority will never surrender to worship and altering their innate disposition. Minerals, too, due to their hardness cannot turn into something else. However, man can be in motion from pure potentiality to pure actuality.[114]

According to Ibn ‘Arabi,

The world of jinn and evils is between those of men and angels. Angels are spirits breathed in lights; jinn are spirits breathed in winds; and men are spirits breathed in ghosts. So, jinn are from the intermediate world and are, in a way, similar to man and, in another way, similar to angels. Man can reach the intermediate world and come into proximity with jinn or go higher than that and join the angels or something higher than them. [115]

7. What belongs to the body, whether animal, human or heavenly forms or souls, possesses faculty and predisposition; therefore, it requires an intellectual essence to actualize it, and what is actualized can turn into all creatures, since all creatures deserve to become intelligible, such as material forms which are potentially intelligible. Then what is completely actualized includes all intelligible things, and it has to be the simple intellect; in other words, it has to become the universal form while enjoying unity; in fact, it can complete the souls. Thus it is a spiritual and actual intellect from the unseen world.

8. The possible creatures emanated from the truth possess two chains: the chain of ‘beginning and emanation’ and the chain of ‘return and restoration’. The chain of beginning and emanation’ begins from the noblest and descends, while the latter moves in the opposite direction. Therefore, the first thing that is emanated is the first intellect – the Mohammedan truth, the supreme name, the universal intellect, and the world of intellects –; the next things which are, respectively, emanated include: the universal soul, the world of immaterial souls and perceivers of universals, the immaterial soul (which is separate from the body), the imprinted soul (which perceives the particulars), the faculties of the imprinted soul, vegetative souls, mineral substances, elemental substances, and hyle, which is specific to substances. The chain of ‘return and restoration’ towards perfection occurs after descending and follows the above-mentioned stages once more in the reverse direction.

In such an ascending and descending chain, the human form is the last corporeal meaning and the first spiritual one, and, after the human level, there are many levels until infinity. Accordingly, human souls are different in the beginning, as they are at the end.[116] As Ibn ‘Arabi says, “Prophets are the most intelligent of all intelligent beings and the most perfect of all creatures, since they observe the Divine command as it is. Therefore, they can also prove whatever the intellect proves.”[117]

Considering the above-mentioned premises, it is concluded that it is possible for man to ascend to the station of the highest and noblest of all angels. There are different degrees in descending existence for angles, the noblest of which is the degree of active intellects. Similarly, there are different degrees in ascending for man, the noblest and most perfect of which is the degree of prophetic spirits (actual intellect), which is the complementary aspect of souls and intellects and interceder of creatures before God. And there is no intermediary between them and God.[118]

According to Ibn ‘Arabi,

The perfect man (not the animal man) is the most perfect creature, including all the realities of the world and divine names. God has created him on His own image and is the locus of his manifestation; therefore, the perfect man, due to his all-inclusive station, sees the Truth with everything and in every form. Then the angel is a part of the perfect man, and part and whole, each, have certain features that the other lacks, thus each of them is more perfect than the other in a way.[119] Among men, too, God granted supremacy to some over some others; however, this supremacy is not based on the humanity of the low individual; rather, it is based on his animality, which is conquered by the high individual, since man cannot conquer his like. Thus what is conquered here is man’s animality rather than his humanity.[120]

Ibn ‘Arabi and Mulla Sadra unanimously maintain that the perfect man is superior to all creatures, even to the intellects and angels. Of course, in some texts ascribed to Ibn ‘Arabi, there are some sentences which indicate angels’ superiority over man, while the opposite has been emphasized in other texts. It seems that the man intended in the first case refers to one who is disobedient and concerned with material things, while the one intended in the second case is a perfect man. Thus, as we can see all through this chapter, there is no contradiction in Ibn ‘Arabi’s words in this regard.

Chapter 10: stages of the perfect man’s journey in descent and ascent

Man carries a form of the sensible world and a spirit from the heavenly unseen world. There is a secret in his being able to obtain effusion from Divine Lights without the mediation of another agent. By training, he can reach the unseen world from the sense world, and from the earth to heaven. Through obeying the Truth, he can also leave the heaven behind and reach the grandeur of the unseen and observe the rays of the beauty and glory of the Truth directly. And this is the very secret which has been left in trust in nature, and of which angels were ignorant,[121] since, due to their lack of preparedness, they could not go beyond their world.[122]

When man, following the Divine command, descended to the earthly world and, leaving his main world behind, entered the world of disunion, he was appointed to a creative and religious mission to be able to go back from this world to his world of origin. Thus he was originally the intellect; then he became the soul, form and body, respectively. And then, in his ascending journey, he will become body, human form, spiritual heart, Israfilis’ breathed spirit, and a witness of dominion of objects and divine spirit. There are two verses in the Holy Qur’an referring to this issue.[123] and [124]

These stations and degrees have been pre-determined for the perfect man from the beginning to infinity. From the beginning of creation, Man’s first level and station and his archetypal form in Almighty Truth’s Knowledge was God’s vicegerency on the earth; his second station was to be prostrated by angels and become the spirits’ paradise and the sacred world of universal Divine Names; his third station was the attachment of his soul to his body after his attachment to the heavenly world. The soul was a delicate animal entity between the intellectual spirit and this dirty and dark body. That is why it entered the world of animals and the paradise of bodies.[125] Man’s fourth station was his fall to the earthly world and his belonging to the dirty dark body, which is a composite of opposites. It is at this level that he becomes the source of enmity, corruption, envy and rebellion and is veiled from the world of Resurrection. After this stage, he resorts to his innate disposition, returns to the origin, begins his ascending journey in a direction opposite to his descending journey, is released from material ties, and moves towards God.[126]

Therefore, the perfect man is the all-inclusive word and the epitome of the divine book, a book whose all words are luminous and have been written by the Merciful God.

The human spirit and the Divine last intellect, that is, the Active Intellect, at the ascending and proximity level, is an exemplar of the great spirit and the Qura’nic first intellect in the beginning and descending level, and its reign and sovereignty in the Day of Resurrection and action is like the reign of the great spirit in pre-eternity, that is, both creatures, the perfect man and the great spirit, include all the levels of creatures.

What is intended by the first intellect and the last spirit is the very Mohammedan reality and the perfect man who appears twice; once when returning to creatures to perfect them; and once when turning to the Truth to intercede on behalf of creatures. The Prophet (s) says: “The first thing God created was my light,” and “The first thing God created was the intellect; he ordered him, ‘Turn’, so he turned, then he ordered him, ‘Turn your back’, and so he did. He said, ‘By my glory and honor, I have never created a creature greater than you; I will grant, take, punish and reward through you.’”

Then, since, in the light of its external manifestation, the great spirit includes all possible entities cognitively and objectively, the perfect man, who is the great spirit, is God’s vicegerent in heavens and earth.

Cognitively, the great spirit includes all possible beings, since it is the Almighty Truth’s Pen, grants form to realities and writes divine secrets on predestination tablets, as the Guarded Tablet and its contents have been emanated from him. However, the reason behind the great spirit’s inclusion of objective things is that the essence of the great spirit is the form of all creatures, just as it is both the agent and the optimum result of objects; and form represents the world quiddity essentially, and the determination of everything depends on its form.

The inclusion of all possible entities in the perfect man’s intellectual spirit is due to his being the manifest book and epitome of existential worlds, embracing all their particulars and universals. Of course, this is true about him before his joining the angels and the great spirit; when connecting to them, there is no difference between him and the Almighty Truth’s Pen in their inclusion of the world.[127]

Considering the fact that God has absolute control over all creatures, he might push man from the possible world to the world of spirits, take him from that world to the world of phantoms, lead him through the highest heaven to heavenly souls, spheres, stars, air, oceans and earth, until He finally transfers him to the lowest of the low and hyle.[128]

As we learn from different verses and hadiths, there are many proofs and evidences indicating that man is the telos of all generated bodies and the fruit of all spheres and pillars. First, he descends from the highest world, the abode of Adam and Eve, and then he views all the worlds once more and travels again till he reaches the last stage of his journey, i.e., his original abode.

Thus man’s ascent, because of his specific or personal perfection, is towards the levels of heavens, until he reaches God. And it is possible for certain people to attain some of these ascending levels.[129]

Owing to his innate nature, man unites with each and every degree he attains, is qualified by its attributes and performs the deeds corresponding to that degree. At the beginning of his journey and ascent, he is created from the clay and the lowest degrees and generated bodies; then he becomes an embryo, which is the fruit of nature; then he becomes vegetable and animal, until he becomes the most delicate of all creatures, that is, a smoke-like mass, which is the most similar to the heaven among the bodies; then he attains the intellect and perceives universals. Spiritually, he ascends until he attains the Active Intellect and, in terms of his body, takes the form of heavenly bodies. In other words, he will be freed from corruption and opposites and pass through the lower intellect to reach the Lote Tree of Boundary and Garden of Retreat. Consequently, we can say that God has made the heavens and spheres and their pillars dependent upon man’s deeds and has adorned their towers, ceilings and walls with the light of human intellects.[130]

Considering the above-mentioned explanations concerning the arcs of descent and ascent, the levels of man’s journey, from the station of the highest of the high to the lowest of the low, is as follows:

At first he is individuated in the Most High Truth’s Knowledge; then he manifests as the high pen and the first intellect, including the world of intellects; then he appears in the inward tablet; then, due to the manifestation of his rule, he appears in bodies; later, from the level of the throne, he appears as a limit for directions and as an equal to All-Merciful’s Name; and then, after the level of the divine seat, he appears as an equal to the Merciful’s Name; then he appears in the seven-fold spheres; finally, he becomes manifest in the forms of elements belonging to the hyle of elements.

What was mentioned above details the perfect man’s journey from the station of the first intellect to the material earth, which is pure faculty.[131]

Then begins man’s ascending journey, till he reaches the point where he has descended from. The order of this act is, briefly, as follows: first some elements synthesize with each other and turn to clay; then the clay turns into growing vegetable; then it turns into embryo, which can possess spirit; then it turns into man, who can hear and see; and then he is matured and notices the high world.[132] Then he reaches the level of intellects and joins the great intellect and the high pen. It is at this stage that his ascending levels are completed.[133]

Chapter 11: the reason for the perfect man’s supremacy over the two worlds

All God’s creatures, whether the reality of the Throne and the Chair or the like, have an exemplar in the world of the perfect man. According to Ibn ‘Arabi,

The world is the macrocosm, and its epitome is the microcosm. God has left the form of the whole world in trust in the microcosm; therefore, man is like the image of the Truth. In the light of granting such all-inclusiveness to the perfect man, God appointed him His vicegerent.[134]

The exemplar of the throne in the outward of the human world is the heart, and in the human inner sense is the mental soul, and in the inward of inward is the very rational soul. The exemplar of the throne in human appearance is the very bosom and in his inward is the very natural spirit and animal soul, including the seven-fold heavens: ‘feeding, growth, reproduction, gravity, retention, digestion, repulsion’.

The perfect man has supremacy over both worlds for two reasons; his perfect knowledge of the reality of objects and his perfect sovereignty over everything.

A. Knowledge: the perfect man’s knowledge is divided into inward and outward types. Through his outward knowledge, he learns all he needs for his outward vicegerency, such as who the maker is, how to strengthen the humors, how to conquer animals, how to hunt the beasts on the earth and birds in the sky, what the secrets of heavens, motions, earth, and mountains are, and what ethics, astronomy, arithmetic, music and the like have to offer. Through his inward knowledge, he attains the knowledge of spiritual beings, the revelation of celestial angels, intellectual substances and Ideas, the first basis and the last end, as well as the knowledge of God, and so on.

B. Power: The perfect man, in the light of his power, makes the higher creatures manifest and the angels obedient, and, in this way, makes divine vicegerency realized.[135] As Ibn ‘Arabi says,

Adam was created on the All-Merciful’s Image, and Eve on Adam’s image. Their children were born by the marriage of the two, and, thus, they enjoy the perfections of both. Therefore, the predispositions of the perfect off springs of Adam and Eve are superior to those of their parents, since they are all-inclusive of these attributes. That is why Mohammed (s) was individuated to be the most perfect.[136]

As a result, the perfect man, that is, the holy prophetic spirit is God’s vicegerent on the earth and an exemplar of God’s light. This very issue causes his superiority over both worlds. According to Imam ‘Ali (‘a), “O, man, you are a manifest book which reveals its complexities through its verses. You assume that you are only a small and minor mass, whereas there is a great world hidden in you.”[137]






[1]. One who knows himself has known his God (Prophet Mohammed)

[2]. Mulla  Sadra,  Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 4, pp. 401 -405.

[3]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Asri ila maqam al-asra, pp. 68-69.

[4]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 13, sec. 73, ch. 66, p. 100.

[5]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 4, pp. 401-405.

[6]. Fussilat chapter: verse 31: …There ye will have (all) that your souls desire, and there ye will have (all) for which ye pray ….

[7]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 11. sec. 72, chs. 10-11, pp. 58-59.

[8]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 4, pp. 401-405.

[9]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 2, sec.7, chs. 373-374, pp. 251-252.

[10]. Mulla Sadra, al-Shawahid al-rububiyyah, pp. 349-352.

[11]. al-Qisas chapter: Verse 88: … Everything will perish save His countenance….

[12]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 3, sec. 371, ch. 9, p. 443.

[13]. Mulla Sadra, al-Shawahid al-rubêbiyyah, pp. 349-352.

[14]. Ibn ‘Arabi, Rasa’il, Risala’ Åaqiqat al-haqayiq, p. 72.

[15]. Ibn ‘Arabi, Fusus al-hikam, ch. Davudi, p. 760.

[16]. al-Kahf chapter: Verse 110: Say: I am only a mortal like you. My Lord inspireth in me that your God is only One God ….

[17]. Mulla Sadra, al-Asfar, vol. 8, pp. 246-247.

[18]. Ibn ‘Arabi, Fusus al-hikam, ch. Mohammedan, p. 214.

[19]. al-Baqarah chapter: Verse 37: Then Adam received from his Lord words (of revelation), and he relented toward him … .

[20]. al-Baqarah chapter: Verse 31: And He taught Adam all the science of all names (the knowledge of the secrets of creation and naming of existents) …

[21]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 2, sec. 7, ch. 376, pp. 252-253.

[22]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 1, p. 190.

[23]. al-Jathiyah chapter: Verse 13: And hath made of service unto you whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth; it is all from Him …

[24]. al-Baqarah chapter: Verse 29: He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth …, Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 10, sec. 72, chs. 169-170, pp. 187-188.

[25]. al-Baqarah chapter: Verse 269: He gives wisdom onto whom He will, and he unto whom wisdom is given, he truly hath received abundant good …

[26]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 1, p. 190.

[27]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 2, ch. 152, pp. 246-247.

[28]. Ibn ‘Arabi, Fusus al-hikam, ch. Adami , pp. 54-55.

[29]. Mulla Sadra, al-Asfar, vol. 7, p. 7.

[30]. Ibn ‘Arabi, Fusus al-hikam, ch. Adami, pp. 61-62.

[31]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 12, sec. 73, ch. 398, pp. 459-460.

[32]. Mulla Sadra, al-Asfar, vol. 7, p. 7, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 4, pp. 390-391.

[33]. al-Nur chapter: Verse 35: Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth …

[34]. al-An‘am: Verse 59: And with Him are the keys of the Invisible. None but He knoweth them…

[35]. al-Dhariyat: Verse 21: And (also) in yourselves. Can ye then not see?

[36]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 4, pp. 405-407.

[37]. Al-Baqarah: Verse 33: … did I not tell you that I know the secret of the heavens and the earth? And I know that which ye disclose and which ye hide.

[38]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 2, pp. 365-366.

[39]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 2, sec. 11, ch. 478, p. 309.

[40]. Ibid., vol. 2, sec. 11, ch. 481, pp. 311-313.

[41]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 4, pp. 400-401.

[42]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 12, sec. 73, chs. 191-192, pp. 252-253.

[43]. Ibn ‘Arabi, Fusus al-hikam, ch. Adami, p. 49.

[44]. Prophet Mohammed (pbuh).

[45]. al-Nisa chapter: Verse 80: Whoso obeyeth the messenger, obeyeth Allah…

[46]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 4, pp. 400-401.

[47]. Ibn ‘Arabi, Fusus al-hikam, ch. Adami, p. 50. 

[48]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 10, sec. 72, ch. 215, pp. 227-228.

[49]. al-Baqarah chapter: Verse 29: … Then turned He to the heaven and fashioned it as seven heavens.

[50]. Al-Baqarah chapter: Verse 28: How disbelieve ye in Allah when ye were dead and He gave life to you! Then He will give you death, then life again, and then unto Him ye will return, and Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 2, pp. 287-288.

[51]. al-Anbiya chapter: Verse 104: … As we began the first creation, We shall repeat it.

[52]. Ibn ‘Arabi, Rasa’il, Risala’-i Alam akbar wa alam asghar (Treatise of Macrocosm and Microcosm), p. 174.

[53]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 4, p. 130.

[54]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 4, pp. 302-303, 398-400.

[55]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 13, sec. 73, chs. 96-102, pp. 125-130.

[56]. al-Sajdah chapter: Verse 5: He directeth the ordinance from the heaven unto the earth,…

[57]. al-Imran chapter: Verse 79: … (what the Prophet said was): Be ye faithful servants of the Lord by virtue of your constant teaching of the Scripture and of your constant study thereof.

[58]. The believer is the mirror of the believer (the believer is the mirror of God).

[59]. The believer’s heart is the abode of the Merciful God.

[60]. According to a noble hadith, during the day and night, God notices the believer’s heart 360 times.

[61]. Your faces and external acts are not important to God; rather, He pays attention to your hearts and intentions.

[62]. al-Dhariyat chapter: Verse 56: I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship me.

[63]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 12, sec. 73, ch. 194, p. 255.

[64]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Tajaliyyat al-ilahiyyah, p. 6.

[65]. Fussilat chapter: Verse 53: We shall show then Our portents on the horizons and within themselves until it will be manifest unto them that it is the Truth…

[66]. al-Dhariyat chapter: Verse 21: And (also) in yourselves. Can ye then not see?

[67]. al-Nisa chapter: Verse 80: Whoso obeyeth the messenger, obeyeth Allah…

[68]. al-Ahzab chapter: Verse 72: … And man assumed it. Lo! He hath proved a tyrant and a fool:

[69]. al-Hijr chapter: Verse 29: So when I have made him and have breathed unto him of My spirit, do ye fall down, prostrating yourselves unto him.

[70]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 4, pp. 385-387.

[71]. Ibid, vol. 5. pp. 196-197.

[72]. Ibid, vol. 4, pp. 396-397.

[73]. al-Tin chapter: Verse 4: Surely we created man of the best stature.

[74]. Ibn ‘Arabi, Rasa’il, Risala’ Åaqiqat al-haqayiq, pp. 64-65.

[75]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an,  vol. 5, pp. 196-197, and vol. 4, pp. 396-397.

[76]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 7, p. 153.

[77]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 2, sec. 6, chs. 313-315, p. 221.

[78]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 7, p. 153.1

[79]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 2, sec. 10, ch. 360, p. 300.

[80]. Mulla Sadra, al-Shawahid al-rubêbiyyah, pp. 344-345.

[81]. Ibn ‘Arabi, Fusus al-hikam, Idrisi chapter, p. 75.

[82]. Mulla Sadra, al-Shawahid al-rubêbiyyah, pp. 344-345.

[83]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 12, sec. 73, ch. 236. pp. 299-301.

[84]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 2, sec. 14, ch. 568, p. 363.

[85]. Fussilat chapter: Verse 53: … Doth not thy Lord suffice, since He is Witness over all things?

[86]. As the holy Åadith says: If you were not (meant), I would not have created the heavens.

[87]. Mulla Sadra, al-Mazahir al-ilahiyyah, pp. 47-48.

[88]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 4, pp. 133-135.

[89]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 2, sec. 7, chs. 344-346, p. 236.

[90]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 4, pp. 133-135.

[91]. O’ Ali, there was, indeed the Most High, and there was no existent with Him; then He created me and then you as two spirits from the light of His Glory. Thus we were before the throne of the God of the entire world and praised, thanked and chorused Him, while all this happened before the creation the heavens and earth. Mulla sadra, al-Masha‘ir, p. 60.

[92]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 2, sec. 12, ch. 512, pp. 333-334.

[93]. al-Fath chapter: Verse 2: That Allah may forgive thee of thy sin that which is past and that which is to come, and may perfect His favor unto thee, and may guide thee on a right path.

[94]. Saba’ chapter: Verse 28: And We have not sent thee (O Mohammed) save as a bringer of good tidings and a warner unto all mankind …

[95]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 13, sec. 73, ch. 339, pp. 266-267.

[96]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 7, pp. 154-155.

[97]. al-Nisa chapter: Verse 80: One who obeys the Messenger has certainly obeyed God. You have not been sent to watch over those who turn away from you.

[98]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 7, p. 177.

[99]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 7, pp. 151-153, vol. 5, p. 161.

[100]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 12, sec. 73, chs. 331-333, pp. 393-395.

[101]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 1, p. 106-109.

[102]. Ibn ‘Arabi, Fusus al-hikam, Isawi chapter, p. 145.

[103]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 8, sec. 69, ch. 14, p. 56, and Fusus al-hikam, Adami chapter, pp. 50-51.

[104]. al-Baqarah chapter: Verse 34: And when We said unto the angels: Prostrate yourselves before Adam, they fell prostrate, all save Iblis. He demurred through pride, and so became a disbeliever.

[105]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 3, pp. 5-6.

[106]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 12, sec. 73, ch. 153, pp. 211-212.

[107]. Ibid., vol. 7, sec. 69, ch. 539, p. 397.

[108]. Mulla  Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 3, pp. 5-6.

[109]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 12, sec. 73, chs. 477-478, pp. 550-552.

[110]. al-Baqarah chapter: Verse 31: And He taught Adam the names of all things …

[111]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 12, sec. 73, chs. 218-221, pp. 283-287.

[112]. Ibn ‘Arabi, Fusus al-hikam, Sulaymani chapter, p. 155.

[113]. al-Nis’a chapter: Verse 28: Allah wills to lessen your burden; and man was created weak.

[114]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 3, pp. 59-71, and vol. 2, pp. 356-358.

[115]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 2, sec. 9, ch. 443, pp. 281-282.

[116]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 3, pp. 59-71, and vol. 2, pp. 356-358.

[117]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 9, sec. 71, ch. 368, pp. 332-333.

[118]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 3, pp. 59-71, and vol. 2, pp. 358-359.

[119]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futêhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 9, sec. 71, ch. 368, pp. 332-333.

[120]. Ibn ‘Arabi, Fusus al-hikam, Haruni chapter, p. 193.

[121]. al-Baqarah chapter: Verse 30: … Surely I know that which ye know not.

[122]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 2, pp. 306-307.

[123]. al-Hijr chapter: Verse 29: … and have breathed unto him of My Spirit, …

[124]. Bani Isra’il chapter: Verse 85: They will ask thee concerning the Spirit. Say: The Spirit is by command of my Lord, and of knowledge ye have been vouchsafed but little, and Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 2, p. 247.

[125]. al-Baqarah chapter: Verse 35:  And we said: O Adam! Dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden, …

[126]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 3, pp. 80-81.

[127]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 4, pp. 398-400.

[128]. al-Sajdah chapter: Verse 5: He directeth the ordinance from the heaven unto the earth,… and Mulla Sadra, al-Mazahir al-ilahiyyah, p. 47.

[129]. al-An‘am chapter: Verse 132: For all there will be ranks from what they did. Thy Lord is not unaware of what they do.

[130]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 2, pp. 280-282, and Mulla Sadra, Mafatih al-qayb, pp. 950-951.

[131]. al-Insan chapter: Verse 1: Hath there come upon man (ever) any period of time in which he was a thing unremembered?

[132]. al-Insan chapter: Verse 2: Lo! We create man from a drop of thickened fluid to test him; so We make him hearing, knowing.

[133]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 6, pp. 47-48, and vol. 3, pp. 69-71, and Mulla Sadra, al-Mazahir al-ilahiyyah, pp, 47-52.

[134]. Fussilat chapter: Verse 53: We shall show then Our portents on the horizons and within themselves until it will be manifest unto them that it is the Truth … and Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 13, sec. 78, chs. 420-421, pp. 354-356, and vol. 3, sec. 17, ch. 14, pp. 64-65.

[135]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 4, pp. 166-167.

[136]. Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Futuhat al-makkiyyah, vol. 10, sec. 72, ch. 123, p. 145.

[137]. Mulla Sadra, Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol. 4, pp. 390-391.


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