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 Divine Origin of the Seven Days of the Week

The Divine Origin of the Seven Days of the Week:

Therefore, Ibn al-Arabi concludes, each Day of the seven Days of the divine Week has to be based on one of these seven basic divine Attributes:

So because Allah (Who is described by 5the seven fundamental Attributes) created the world according to His own Image [II.395.25],

 … the Days had to be seven due to these (seven) Attributes and their rules, so the world appeared living, knowing, able, willing, hearing, seeing and speaking.


We have already shown in section II.1 that 'time' for Ibn al-Arabi is an imaginary attribute that is used to compare the chronological order of moving things. The day is actually a measure of the motion of the orb of the sun, or more precisely the Isotropic Orb. And since motion is created by Allah, by creating events in the world, there are seven fundamental creative motions, or 'Days of events', each of which is originated from or ruled by one of these seven divine Attributes, and further associated with specific astronomical/astrological positions and figures apparently involved in the cosmological manifestations of those divine influences (see also the detailed outline of these associated symbols in Table III.1):

(the motion of) the Day of Sunday was from the (divine) Attribute of Hearing, …and the motion of the Day of Monday was from the Attribute of Living, …and the motion of the Day of Tuesday was from the Attribute of Seeing, …and the motion of the Day of Wednesday was from the Attribute of Willing, …and the motion of the Day of Thursday was from the Attribute of Ability, …and the motion of the Day of Friday was from the Attribute of Knowledge, …and the motion of the Day of Saturday was from the Attribute of Speaking.


This relation between the seven Days and the seven main divine Attributes is not arbitrary. We notice that Sunday, which is the first day of the week (and in the creation, as we shall see in section 5 below), was from the Attribute of Hearing. This is because Allah started the creation on this day, and the first thing that is needed for the thing to be created is hearing, in order to hear Allah's creative command 'Be' [II.401.28]. Ibn al-Arabi states that everything can hear before it actually appears in the world, because everything has some sort of existence or determination in the foreknowledge of Allah before He actually creates it [II.400.7, see also section II.3 above and section 6 below]. By hearing the command of Allah, the manifest world or cosmos starts to gain real existence after it had been existing in the fore-knowledge of Allah. Therefore the world appears in existence as hearing, living, seeing, willing, able, knowing, and speaking; but it gains these attributes one by one in a special sequence that starts by hearing and ends by speaking - but not necessarily in the same order, due to the 'intertwining' of those divine influences that will be explained in the next chapter.

As Ibn al-Arabi points out, we can also notice a similar sequence in the first stages of the development of the fetus and child's life: s/he acquires the first six attributes before birth, while speaking is acquired afterwards (see also section 6 below for more comparisons between the macrocosm of the world and microcosm of the true human being). This can be compared to the creation of the world by Allah Who created the Heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six Days [from Sunday to Friday, per IV 11.30], then He mounted on the Throne [on Saturday, per IV 11.31] (25:59), with Saturday being associated with the divine Speaking. As Ibn al-Arabi indicates in this regard [III.108-9], Allah also says: The All-Merciful, (He) taught the Qur’an, (then He) created the Human Being, (then He) taught him speaking out (59:1-4), which indicates again that speaking came last. On the other hand, Ibn al-Arabi affirms that the baby who is born after six lunar months may live to be quite healthy, and those six months are six lunar 'days'.

So for Ibn al-Arabi, the creation of the world, like that of the fetus, is completed in six Days: these correspond to the six directions: (up, down, right, left, front, back), and then on the Seventh Day (Saturday) it - both the world and the human being - continues living, changing from one state to another. That is why Ibn al-Arabi calls Saturday as the 'Day of eternity' as we shall see further below (end of section 5). So like the genesis of each human being, although we don not clearly recognize it, the world - with all what it includes - 'appeared living, knowing, able, willing, hearing, seeing and speaking' [II.438.19] in seven divine Days.

Like the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians, Ibn al-Arabi also assigns a specific divine Day to each planet of the seven moving planets in the seven heavens [I.154-6]. In addition to that, he also assigns to each of these planets - following the detailed indications in certain hadith - the spiritual reality (ruhaniyya) of one particular prophet (Morris 2002: 201-30). Furthermore, each one of these seven prophets always has a representative on earth as one of the seven 'Substitutes' (abdal) of the spiritual hierarchy, each one located in one region (iqlim) of the seven basic geographical regions of the earth.[1] Ibn al-Arabi always affirms that whatever happens on the earth is preordained in the heavens day by day and hour by hour - through these spirits of the prophets and other angels who reside in the heavens - and received by their agents (nuwwab, s. na’ib) on the earth, though he also affirms that there are always other unpredictable actions or events due to the direct relation between Allah and every entity in the world, which is distinct from those relations mediated through the First Intellect or the Soul [II.434.8].

Thus he explains that:

He (the prophet Idris)[2] told his friends that there are seven (spiritually perfect) Men called (the 'Substitutes' (al-abdal, s. badal) by whom Allah keeps the seven geographical regions (aqalim); to each Substitute (is assigned) a region. They are looked after by the spirits of the seven Heavens, and each person of those (Substitutes) has power from the spirits of prophets residing in these Heavens. They (i.e., the prophets in the seven heavens) are Abraham (al-Khalil, in the highest, seventh heaven of Saturn) then (in descending order) Moses, then Aaron, then Idris, then Joseph, then Jesus, then Adam may Allah's peace be upon them all. As for John (the Baptist), he alternates between (the heavens of) Jesus and Aaron. So (the divine knowledge) descends upon the hearts of those seven Substitutes from the realities of those prophets - peace be upon them!; and they are looked after by the seven planets by what Allah, the Exalted, entrusted (in those planets) through their rolling in their orbs and by what Allah entrusted in the motions of these seven heavens of secrets, knowings, and higher and lower effects. Allah said: and He inspired in each heaven its mandate (41:12). So they have in their hearts in each hour and in each day what the possessor of this hour and the ruler of this day give away (to them).


Ibn al-Arabi also shows elsewhere that the seven Days are 'created' by the corresponding seven divine Names, and those are not the same as the fundamental Names or Attributes that initiated their motion [II.442.5]. Each one of those seven creating Names also created the corresponding heaven, the prophet who is in it, as well as the planet within that orb, a specific letter from the Arabic alphabet, and one specific constellation where 'the specific planet of this orb is first created by Allah and started moving in this constellation' [II.445.5]. The relation between each heaven and the corresponding letter of the alphabet is that 'this heaven has some (special) effect in the existence of these letters' [II.445.3]. All this is summarized in Table III.1 which arranged from the First Day (Sunday) to the Seventh Day (Saturday).

The information brought together in this Table III.1 provides essential keys to Ibn al-Arabi's cosmology, astrological symbolism, and understanding of the spiritual hierarchy. However here we are mainly concerned with the seven Days of the Week. It is particularly important to notice the 'irregular' relationship between the order of the days as we witness them (Sunday, Monday, and so on) and the corresponding order of the seven heavens and the seven related regions on the earth. The week starts with Sunday, from the middle (fourth, solar) orb, which is the heart of all orbs [II.275.31], then Monday in the orb of the moon (the first, lowest heaven), then the fifth heaven, and so on. However, the corresponding order of earth regions ('climes') goes from the fourth, seventh, third, and so on as in Table III.1. Thus we can see that there is always a difference (separation) of three days between one heaven and the other that is directly above it. As we shall see in the coming chapter, Ibn al-Arabi therefore distinguishes between the witnessed order of the days of the week and their actual flow in the heavens, and he calls this separation Salkh or 'taking-out' [Ayyam Al-Sha’n: 7], a rare expression taken from the Qur’an (36:37). In interpreting that Qur’anic verse, Ibn al-Arabi explains that there are three nights' and three daytimes' difference between the actual daytime and its own night that it was taken out of it. This process of taking the daytimes out of the nights and vice versa is, in Ibn al-Arabi's view, the ultimate reason underlying the creation itself: for without it the world would not appear in existence in six dimensions [Ayyam Al-Sha’n: 8-9]. This will be explained further in the following chapter with diagrams and illustrations.

Table III.1: The correspondences between the seven Days of the divine Week and the seven heavens, seven earthly regions, divine Names, lunar mansions and letters of the Arabic alphabet. The information in this table is extracted from chapter 198 of the Futuhat [II 456-458] and Al-Tanazzulat Al-Mawsiliyya.

Day Number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Arabic Day Names al-ahad al-ithnayn al-thulatha’ al-arba‘a al-khamis al-jum‘a al-sabt
English Day Names Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Divine Attributes Hearing Living Seeing Willing Ability Knowing Speaking
Prophets Names Idris Adam Aaron Jesus Moses Joseph Abraham
Arabic 'Planet' Names al-shams al-qamar al-marrikh al-katib al-mushtari al-zuhara kaywan
English Planet Names Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus Saturn
Creating divine Name al-Nur al-Mubin al-Qahir al-Muhsi al-‘Alim al-Musawwir al-Rabb
Prayer Imam Ma’mum ‘Isha ‘Asr Zuhr Maghrib Subh
Constellation-Arabic Simak Iklil ‘Awwa Zabana Sirfa Ghafr Khirtan
Constellation-English Arcturus Corona Bootes Librae Virginis Cover Mane
The Heaven fourth first fifth second sixth third seventh
Earthly Region/Level fourth seventh third sixth second fifth first
Arabic Letter Nun-(?) Dal-(?) Lam-(?) ?a’-(?) Dad- (?) Ra’- (?) Ya’- (?)


[1] For details about the concepts of sainthood (walaya) and prophethood (nubuwwa) and the hierarchy of awliya’, see: Chodkiewicz, M. (1993) The Seal of the Saints: Prophethood and Sainthood in the Doctrine of Ibn Arabi, Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society.

[2] Mudawi Al-Kulum is the name of the Single Pole that is the spirit of Prophet Muhammad even before creating mankind when Adam was still 'between water and soil', and to this spirit different manifestations in the world where the 'Pole of Time' is his perfect manifestation, but he is also manifested in the 'Solitary Ones (al-Afrad)' and in the 'Seal of Sainthood', both the Muhammadean Sainthood (who is Ibn al-Arabi himself) and General Sainthood (who is Jesus) [I.151.26]. And he was called Mudawi Al-Kulum because he is so kind and polite with his friends; when he wants to draw the attention of one of them to a specific issue, he kindly hides that from others in guard for him just as Jacob asked Joseph to keep his vision secret and not to tell it to his brothers [I.153.19].

Please note that some contents are translated Semi-Automatically!