The Philosopher & the Wali

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Shaykh al-Akbar ibn ‘Arabi (q.s.) wrote the following in his Futuhat al-Makkiyyah:

In the year 586 AH, there came to us a philosopher who denied prophecy in the manner that is affirmed by the Muslims.  He also denied the preternatural phenomena of the prophets and claimed that realities cannot be changed or substituted.  The time in which this took place was in the cold season of winter, and in front of us stood a huge manqal [a large container that contains live coal] that kindled a fire.  The denier and disbeliever said, “The common folk say ‘Ibrahim was thrown in the fire yet it did not burn him,’ though fire, by its intrinsic physical nature, is burning.  The fire mentioned in the story of Ibrahim found in the Qur'an refers only to the anger and rage of Nimrod; the fire of anger.”

After he finished speaking, one of those present [Shaykh ibn ‘Arabi (q.s.) here referring to himself] said to him, “What if I were to demonstrate to you the Truthfulness of Allah in the apparent meaning of what He Said regarding the fire not burning Ibrahim, and that Allah Made it a coolness and tranquility for him?  What if I were to [demonstrate this to you] by being in the same position as Ibrahim in defense of him?”

The denier said, “That will not happen.”

He [Shaykh ibn 'Arabi (q.s.)] said to him, “Is this not a burning fire?”

“Yes,” replied the denier.

He [Shaykh ibn 'Arabi (q.s.)] said, “You see it yourself.”  Then, a live coal from the manqal was tossed onto the lap of the denier and it remained on his clothes for a period long enough for him to touch it with his own hand.  After seeing that it did not burn him, he, utterly astonished, returned the fire to the manqal.  It was then said to him by the man [Shaykh ibn ‘Arabi (q.s.)], “Bring your hand close to it [the manqal] as well.”  When the denier brought his hand close, it burnt him.  The man [Shaykh ibn ‘Arabi (q.s.)] said to him, “This is how the Command was; it (the fire) is under Command; it burns by Command and stops burning by Command, and Allah Does as He Wills!”  The denier immediately embraced Islam.


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