Muhyi al-Din Ibn al-`Arabi (d. 638/1240) and his devotees on the `Ama' ("Cloud") phenomenon.

 

Muhyi al-Din Ibn al-`Arabi (d. 638/1240) and his devotees on the `Ama' ("Theophanic Cloud") phenomenon. Some Annotated Translations  from the al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya and other writings.

Stephen Lambden UC Merced.

In progress - last revised  20-09-2020.

The  `Amā'-"Cloud" has been viewed by Ibn al-`Arabi as the condensation of the  "Breath of God, the All-Merciful"  which came to enable its inherent potencies to be realized. It came to posses, though it is distinct from, an indirect relationship with Aḥadiyya (an adjectival form of the Arabic,  aḥad =  "one"), meaning "Oneness", an unfathomable 'Oneness" beyond simple singularity,  multiplicity and number. When this Aḥadiyya oriented itself in terms of its theophanic outreach, it came in this theological context to express Wāḥidiyya (cf. the Arabic verb waḥada,  "to be alone, single, unique" and the word wāḥid meaning "one"). This may express  an inclusive  or an embracing "Oneness" of outreach capable of actualizing a link with the Beyond, with  realities below. A closely related theologically loaded word is the Arabic  Wāḥdāniyya meaning "Oneness, Singleness, Isolation, Incomparability.

After some years of thinking about the theological implications of `ama' - loosely, the "Cloud"  hiding God from the realms of lower being -  it seems to me that this word, rooted in a key Islamic tradition deriving from the Prophet Muhammad, has multiple implications. It can be viewed as an `Apophatic Horizon', a realm of Unknowing only indirectly glimpsed in awe. It  underlines the Impenetrability, Incomprehensibility and Isolatedness of the Primordial Godhead.

`Amā' is also the Pre-Existent Locus of timeless beginnings, when as a `Theophanic Cloud', the potentialities of Existence and Divine Knowability and Activity, become availabe to proto-humanity through the outpouring of Divine Grace. This Divine hubb, a love-generated "Grace" is, in Islamic terms, the  tajalli or the glorious, transfigured, Divine Self-Revelation known as the al-fayd al-aqdas, the "Most Holy Outpouring". These two perspectives of the primordial "Cloud"  express its hidden Apophatic Reality and its ultimate move towards approachability, God is the Unseen then the Seen or Indirectly Glimpsed.