Ibn al-‘Arabi and the Virtues of “Holy Envy” in Islam

  • Meena Sharify-Funk
Part of the Pathways for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue book series (PEID)


This chapter explores the subject of “holy envy” in Islam as arguably implicit in the thought of Muhyi al-Din Ibn al-‘Arabi (1165–1240 CE), a Sufi mystic and Muslim philosopher. In particular, it focuses on Ibn al-‘Arabi’s conception of the insan al-kamil, or the perfected human being, who is graced with the understanding that the essence of religion is inherently connected to the wonder of divine friendship (wilaya). Other concepts in Ibn al-‘Arabi’s thought that are analyzed such as tajalliyat Allah (the self-disclosure of God) and wahdat al-wujud (unity of being). Together, these concepts describe a universalism with profoundly inclusive implications, within which appreciation for differences surpasses mere toleration for differences or “deviations” from one’s own understanding of truth to become an authentic expression of spiritual belief and practice.


  1. Addas, Claude. 2000. Ibn ‘Arabi: The Voyage of No Return. Cambridge: The Islamic Texts Society.Google Scholar
  2. al-Jaza’iri, Emir ‘Abd al-Qadir. 2011. The God Conditioned by Belief. In Universal Dimensions of Islam: Studies in Comparative Religion, ed. Patrick Laude. Bloomington: World Wisdom.Google Scholar
  3. Chittick, William C. 1989. The Sufi Path of Knowledge: Ibn al-‘Arabi’s Metaphysics of Imagination. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  4. ———. 1994. Imaginal Worlds: Ibn ‘Arabi and the Problem of Religious Diversity. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  5. ———. 1998. The Self–Disclosure of God: Principles of Ibn al-‘Arabi’s Cosmology. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 2005. Ibn ‘Arabi: Heir to the Prophets. Oxford: Oneworld Publications.Google Scholar
  7. Chodkiewicz, Michel. 1993. Seal of the Saints: Prophethood and Sainthood in the Doctrine of Ibn ‘Arabi. Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society.Google Scholar
  8. Corbin, Henry. 1998. The Voyage and the Messenger: Iran and Philosophy. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.Google Scholar
  9. Hirtenstein, Stephen. 1999. The Unlimited Mercifier: The Spiritual Life and Thought of Ibn ‘Arabi. Oxford: Anqa Publishing.Google Scholar
  10. Ibn ‘Arabi, Muhyiddin. 1978. Tarjuman al-Ashwaq. Trans. Reynold A. Nicholson. London: Fletcher & Sons Ltd.Google Scholar
  11. ———. 1980. Kernel of the Kernel. Trans. Ismail Hakki Bursevi. Gloucestershire: Beshara Publications.Google Scholar
  12. Izutsu, Toshihiko. 1983. Sufism and Taoism: A Comparative Study of Key Philosophical Concepts. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  13. Mayer, Farhana. 2011. Spiritual Gems: The Mystical Qur’an Commentary Ascribed to Ja‘far al-Sadiq as Contained in Sulami’s Haqa’iq al-Tafsir from the text of Paul Nwyia. Louisville: Fons Vitae Publishers.Google Scholar
  14. Menocal, Maria Rosa. 2002. The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.Google Scholar
  15. Morrow, John Andrew. 2013. The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World. Kettering: Angelico Press/Sophia Perennis.Google Scholar
  16. Murata, Sachiko. 1992. The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic Thought. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  17. Rogers, Carl R. 1980. A Way of Being. New York: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  18. Schimmel, Annemarie. 1985. And Muhammad is His Messenger: The Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety. Lahore: Vanguard Books, Ltd.Google Scholar
  19. ———. 2004. The Empire of the Great Mughals: History, Art and Culture. London: Reaktion Books.Google Scholar
  20. Sells, Michael A. 1994. Mystical Languages of Unsaying. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  21. ———. 2000. Stations of Desire: Love Elegies from Ibn ‘Arabi and New Poems. Jerusalem: Ibis Publishers.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meena Sharify-Funk
    • 1
  1. 1.Religion and CultureWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada

Personalised recommendations