Learning from the natural world: Ibn ‘Arabi on the wisdom of the animals, plants and minerals

August 31, 2018 (11am – 12.30pm)

Venue: Room 321, Level 3, Sidney Myer Asia Centre, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia

Event Description

In the vision of the Islamic mystics, the world, and everything in it, is a manifestation of the divine, and as such is alive with meaning. “Even worms in their movement are rushing with a message to those who can understand it,” writes the 12th century Andalusian master, Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi. This talk will explore some of Ibn ‘Arabi’s highly original – and currently relevant – writings on our relationship to the natural world.

Dr Jane Clark will explain that on the one hand Ibn ‘Arabi fully endorses the Qur’anic understanding that human beings have a special place in the order of creation, and in fact, he himself developed one of the most complete expositions on the ‘realised human being’ (al-insān al-kāmal) as the representative of the divine on earth. But at the same time, he advises us not to underestimate the spiritual status of the other realms of creation, and to be humble enough to listen to what they can teach us. Ibn ‘Arabi, one of the most influential and prolific writers within the Islamic mystical / philosophical tradition, maintains that by acknowledging the spiritual reality of these other communities – who he refers to as “non-human masters” – we an come to a fuller understanding of the nature of humanity, and avoid falling into false beliefs about ourselves and our role in the world.

Enquiries: asia-institute@unimelb.edu.au

Bookings not required.


Dr Jane Clark is a Senior Research Fellow of the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society, Specialist Support Tutor for University of Oxford and Editor of Beshara Magazine. She has taught various courses on the teachings of Ibn ‘Arabi (2008-12), mystical Islamic poetry (2010-16), day schools in the series, Approaches to Mysticism (2010-16) and forthcoming, Attar’s Conference of the Birds (2018) at Oxford University. She has also presented various lectures and courses including week-long seminars on Ibn ‘Arabi’s, Fusūs al ḥikam (2017) and Rūh al-quds (2013). She has written and published widely on Islamic Mysticism.

Course / Event location

Room 321, Level 3, Sidney Myer Asia Centre, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia

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