The Greatest Master Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi
The Greatest Master Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi

Most of these introductory articles are exracted from Volume I of the Single Monad Model of the Cosmos: Ibn al-Arabi's View of Time and Creation... more on this can be found here.

Testing Possibilities

One of the main consequences - and principles - of this model of cosmogony and creation, as we have seen in the previous chapter, is that the creation is being continuously refreshed, like a kind of computer screen. A first possibility could be, therefore, to measure the 'refresh rate' of creation, which is also the smallest quantum of time, or the length of the moment (al-zaman al-fard). As we have noted, this could be expected to be equal to 24 hours (or 24×60×60 seconds) divided by the whole number of states or entities in the world. So with such an extremely small quantity of time, there is no possible device that could measure it.[1] If we think, for example, of using high-speed cameras and then replaying their images in slow motion in order to see the flickering,[2] we shall find that this is not possible even in theory, no matter how fast the camera might be. Since the camera, no matter how fast, is itself part of the world whose re-creation it is supposed to observe, it will not be able to see its state of non-existence because then it will not be existing itself. Similarly, we ordinarily do not notice the re-creation of the world because we are part of it. However, a specially detailed study of the memory and other human internal and external senses would be necessary to judge how the actual process of perception of the world is happening with the re-creation principle in mind, both in our 'normal' state and in those specially enlightened perceptions of the 'knowers' which Ibn al-Arabi points to as the ultimate root of his cosmological thesis of 'perpetual re-creation'.

On the other hand, other promising domains for testing and examining this model would involve the properties of light particles (photons) and other elementary particles. The peculiar properties of photons that are normally treated as electromagnetic waves can be a starting point to test the model above. The photon, being a wave, has a probability of existence anywhere in space and at any time as long as it is still undetected; it takes fixed space-time coordinates only after it is detected either by the eye or by a device. We can therefore say that the photon of light, being the fastest in nature, does not undergo any re-creation, and that's why it is the fastest, because creation or re-creation is a process that takes the smallest quantum of time. Therefore one key to test the Single Monad Model experimentally could be in the emission and absorption of light by different known processes, or in the process of converting light into mass (and vice versa) through electron-positron annihilation and pair production (see further below).

The best and easiest potential domain of investigation in this regard is to look at the electron orbits around the nucleus, where it is known that the electron jumps between the orbits when it absorbs or emits a photon of light. Because this process is quantized, the electron may not exist between the orbits; it is therefore re-created in the new orbit (see also the following section). We can therefore say that the re-creation time (i.e. the moment) equals the time the electron takes to move between the orbits (i.e., actually re-appears in the new orbit). This time-gap, however, is different from one atom to another, or even from one orbit to another inside the atom, because it depends on the kind of atoms and on temperature, etc. It is not possible here to discuss this subject in detail, but it is certainly a good point which may constitute a new subject of research.

We may also look in the annihilation of particles and anti-particles into light and vice-versa ('pair production'). For example, when an electron meets with a positron (each has a mass of 9.1×10-31 kg) they are both annihilated into a massless photon (energy) according to the famous equation E=mc2. One electron alone can not annihilate, and one positron alone can not annihilate. But it is possible to convert energy into particles, as when two sufficiently strong photons meet; they convert into an electron (negative charge e-) and a positron (positive charge e+). It is worth mentioning here that Ibn al-Arabi has apparently referred to phenomena that have only been known scientifically after the discovery of elementary particles at the beginning of last century. For example, he says:

When two monads/atoms (jawharan) [like two photons] are joined, it is as though they are two bodies. That is to say, when they are joined with each other, each one of them can be called a body (jism) so that in this respect they are two bodies, as He said: and of every thing, We created two pairs (51:49). He actually created one pair - masculine and feminine, for example. But He called it 'two pairs' for this reason that we just mentioned, because each one of them alone without the other is not a pair, but when another is added to it then each one of them may be called pair (zawj), so they are two pairs.


In other places he says that the body is composed of at least 8 points, like a unit cube which is similar in shape to the Kaaba [III.276.6] (see also section VI.6). We have already seen in Chapter VI above that in Ibn al-Arabi's cosmological symbolism, the Kaaba represents the Single Monad. Therefore, we may look at the possibilities of how mass emerges out of massless photons in annihilation and pair production and see if this phenomenon can be related to the cosmogonic conceptions of the 'Week' of creation explained in Chapter III and the 'intertwining of days' explained in Chapter IV.

Yet another related and handier possibility of investigation involves the refraction of light in transparent materials. As is well-known, light slows down when moving in transparent materials such as air, water and glass; usually the denser the material, the more slowing light suffers, which is indicated as a higher refraction index. The reason why this is the case is because light is absorbed by atoms along the path and then is emitted again by almost every atom along its path. Any absorption and emission of light can be related to the phenomenon of re-creation, so the re-creation hypothesis can be investigated via the phenomena underlying different refraction indexes. The refraction indexes of hundreds of minerals and their density and other properties are already widely available.[3] So it may be possible, by comparing these data, to find some correlation between the refraction indexes and the underlying refresh rate of re-creation.

Testing this model could also be done by computer simulation, especially since Ibn al-Arabi himself (in Kitab Ayyam al-Sha’n: 11-16) invited people who can do more accurate calculations to calculate the intertwining of Days on a smaller scale than hours (for example, minutes and seconds), as we pointed out in section IV.4. This simulation would have to take into account that, as we mentioned in section III.6, Ibn al-Arabi's theory means that the world is created in six comic 'Days' as space and then displayed on the last Day of creation (Saturday) as time.

In general, the possibilities of testing these hypotheses in physics are diverse and worth trying, but here we are more interested in the theological and philosophical consequences developed in the following sections.


[1] In 1999 Ahmed Zewail got Nobel Prize 'for showing that it is possible with rapid laser technique to see how atoms in a molecule move during a chemical reaction' (see: Press Release, The 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Kungl. Vetenskapsakademien, The Royal Swdish Academy of Sciences, 12 October 1999). This discovery is known as femtochemistry, where molecules are watched over a very short time scale with Femto-second resolution. The Femto-second resolution (1 fs = 10-15 s) is the ultimate achievement to date for studies of the dynamics of the chemical bond at the atomic level. On this time scale, matter wave packets (particle-type) can be created and their coherent evolution as a single-molecule trajectory can be observed (Zewail 1990: 40-46).

[2] The flickering is the variation (and discontinuity) in light intensity which is normally seen on some computer monitors. As we have all observed in watching monitor screens shown on television emissions, that flickering becomes more apparent when we video-record what appears on the screen. That effect happens because of the difference in the frequency (refresh rate) of the filmed monitor and that of the observing video camera. If the refresh rate of the camera is much higher than that of the monitor, then at some times the camera will record blank screens that we normally do not see with our naked eye. This concept can be used to measure high frequency motions. This is the same phenomena that causes us to see fast-moving wheel spokes or a propeller appear to be moving backward (or forward) in slower motion, or even motionless, when it is in fact moving at a very high speed. The illusion happens because of the human eye's limit for the tracking and retention of images, which is usually about 1/15 of a second.

[3] See for example: Dana's New Mineralogy, by Richard V. Gaines, H. Catherine Skinner, Eugene E. Foord, Brian Mason, and Abraham Rosenzweig, with sections by Vandall T. King (John Wiley & Sons, 1997).

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