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.

The Future, the Present and the Past

We have already said that the future and the past do not exist; the real time is only the present, the now (al-‘an) or the current state (al-hal). Also, we explained that the Age is an endless circle that does not have a beginning nor an end for itself; it is all an 'eternally ongoing present' which is called al-an al-da’im or - as Ibn al-Arabi calls it elsewhere - 'the continuous existence' (al-wujud al-mustamirr). [II.69.13, IV.362.32] However, we live in time at the present now, and we feel the past and the future, so how can they be non-existence?

 As we noted earlier, Ibn al-Arabi often explains that the essential realities [a‘yan: the essences or entities] of the manifest world have always been existing in the Knowledge of Allah, though not actual real existence [II.309.25, I.538.32]. When Allah creates the world, it appears in real existence in the same reality as it is determined in Allah's knowledge. Allah does not create all the successive states of the world at once, but in a series process; so the creations are brought into existence one by one. Ofcourse this is true in relation to us, but with relation to Allah, Who is out of time, the word 'series' would be meaningless because it is confined to time. For Allah nothing was changed because the creation existed in His knowledge eternally. So because we are sub-entities in this whole creation, we encounter time as past, present and future, but in fact only the present exists. The past is 'a relegation of an actualized non-existence', and the future is 'a pure non-existence' [II.69.13], whereas the present now (al-an) or state (hal) is 'what makes the distinction between them' [II.56.11], 'so without the (current) state (hal) there would be no distinction between the past non-existence and the future non-existence, so the now (al-an) is like a partition (barzakh)' [III.108.16]. 'Therefore the present state (al-hal) is described by the continuous existence and it is the constant and immutable rule, and anything other than the present state is non-existence and could not be a firm (absolute) existence' [IV.362.33].

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