Shaykh ibn al-‘Arabi (q.s.) on the Ahwal of Hunger

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Little eating is, next to silence, solitude and vigils, of great importance on the Sufi path.  Little eating is connected to little sleeping, just like little meeting with people is connected to little talking.  Hunger can be self-chosen: it is the hunger of the travellers on the Sufi path.  It can also be given and then it is, according to Shaykh ibn al-‘Arabi (q.s.) the hunger of the verifiers, those with self-realisation.  In this case they do not impose on themselves a regime of hunger, but their nutrition diminishes in a natural way.  Hunger has a spiritual state, hal and a spiritual station, maqam.

According to Shaykh ibn al-‘Arabi (q.s.), in his Hilyat al-Abdal, hal belonging to hunger of the travellers on the Sufi path is characterised by humility, submission, modesty, softness, the spirit of poverty, the absence of vanity, calm behaviour, and absence of ignoble thoughts.

The spiritual state belonging to hunger of the verifiers on the Sufi path is characterised by caution, purity, affability, distancing from the world, and transcendence in regard to the ordinary human qualities by means of the Divine and Lordly Power.

The spiritual station belonging to hunger is maqam as-swamadani.  The ordinary meaning of Swamad is next to “Lord” and “Eternal” and also, “the One Who Offers Support in regard to hunger and thirst”.  Shaykh ibn al-‘Arabi (q.s.) defined it as “Allah (s.w.t.) seen as the One Who Keeps with Him the treasures of everything”.  It is an elevated spiritual station, which is characterised by secrets, Divine Manifestations and spiritual states.

This is the use of hunger in regard to the obtaining of spiritual energy.  It has nothing to do with ordinary hunger.  The practice dealing with ordinary hunger has the reestablishment of the organic balance in view as well as physical well-being and nothing else.  According to Shaykh ibn al-‘Arabi (q.s.), hunger produces knowledge of Satan.


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