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Al Akbariyya (Sufi school)

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Al Akbariyya (Sufi school)

Ibn Arabi (Murcia July 28, 1165 – Damascus November 10, 1240)
Diagram of "Plain of Assembly"(Ard al-Hashr) on the Day of Judgment, from autograph manuscript of Futuhat al-Makkiyya, ca. 1238 (photo: after Futuhat al-Makkiyya, Cairo edition, 1911).

A branch of Sufi metaphysics based on Andalusian Sufi gnostic and philosopher Ibn Arabi's teaching. Al Akbariyya is a word derived from nickname of Ibn Arabi (1165–1240) who was known as Shaykh al-Akbar which meaning is the greatest Shaykh. As a definitive term Al Akbariyya it has never been used to indicate a Sufi group or society in history but especially in nowadays it is used for all historical or contemporary Sufi metaphysicians and Sufis influenced by Ibn Arabi's Sufi doctrine Wahdat al-Wujud. In this regard it is different from Al Akbariyya, a secret Sufi society founded by a Swedish Sufi 'Abdu l-Hadi Aguéli.

Wahdat al-Wujud

Wahdat al-Wajud (Arabic: وحدة الوجود Persian: وحدت وجود) the "Unity of Being" is a Sufi philosophy emphasizing that 'there is no true existence except the Ultimate Truth (God)'. Or in other phrasing that the only truth within the universe is God, and that all things exist within God only.

Ibn Arabi is most often characterized in Islamic texts as the originator of the doctrine of wahdat al-wujud, however, this expression is not found in his works and the first who employed this term was perhaps, in fact, the Andalusian mystical thinker Ibn Sabin. Actually Ibn Arabi's disciple and step son Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi was clearly expressed that term in his works and explained it by using philosophical terms.

See Sufi metaphysics

Al Akbariyya in Academic Circles

Europa and United States

In the 20th century there has been focused on Akbariyya School in academic circles and universities. Viewed in a historical context, increased government support for the study of the Muslim world and Islamic languages emerged in the United States after the Second World War. Many of the students attracted to Islam and religious studies during the 1970s in U.S.

The greatest growth in American scholarship on Sufism, then, has arisen from the work done by scholars trained during the 1970s. Alexander Knysh notes that “in the decades after World War Two the majority of Western experts in Sufism were no longer based in Europe, but in North America.” Henri Corbin (d.1978) and Fritz Meier (d. 1998) who were prominent among these experts, made important contributions to the study of Islamic mysticism. Another important names were Miguel Asin Palacios (d. 1944), Louis Massignon (d. 1962) made contributions to Ibn Arabi studies. While Palacios discovered some Akbarian elements in Dante's famous work Divine Comedy Louis Massignon studied on famous Sufi Al-Hallaj saying "Anal Hak" (I am the Truth) and because of that express he was executed.

Seyyed Hossein Nasr and his students and academic disciples, has come to play an important role in certain subfields of Sufi studies. The Influence of Nasr and other Traditionalist writers like Rene Guenon and Frithjof Schuon on Sufi studies could be seen on the interpretation of the works of Ibn Arabi and the Akbarian school by such scholars as Titus Burckhardt, Martin Lings, James Morris, William Chittick, and Sachiko Murata and others. These names are both mostly practitioners of Sufism and scholars studying Sufism.[1]


Historically viewed Turkey is a country where Ibn Arabi's most prominent disciple, successor and stepson Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi and other important commentators of Arabi's works lived on. Another important figure Dawūd al-Qayṣarī invited to Iznik by second Ottoman sultan, Orhan Ghazi to be director and teacher of the first Ottoman university (madrasa) was the disciple of Kamâl al-Dîn al-Qâshânî, himself a disciple of Sadr al-Dîn al-Qûnawî. This means that the official teaching itself was set in motion by a great master of the Akbarian school. Not only Sufis but Ottoman sultans, politicians and intellectuals had been deeply impressed by Ibn Arabi and his disciples and interpreters.[2] The last important and famous Sufi impressed by Ibn Arabi's doctrine was Seyyed Muhammad Nur al-Arabi but that effect continued to decrease until the Modern Era. In the 20th century the last important commentator of Fusûs was Ahmed Avni Konuk (d. 1938). He was a mawlawî and composer of Turkish music.

As to academic circles it couldn't be seen many studies on Sufism and especially Akbarian works until the first Ph.D. thesis in Tasawwuf department of Marmara University Theology Faculty, "Ibn 'Arabi's Ontology" titled in Turkish "Muhyiddin İbn Arabi'de Varlık ve Varlık Mertebeleri" completed by Prof.Dr.Mahmud Erol Kılıc in Marmara University in 1995. Fortunately academic studies on Akbarian metaphysic and philosophy began to rise after the studies of Akbarian Turkish scholars like Ph.D. Mustafa Tahralı and Mahmud Erol Kılıc. In terms of Akbarian studies the most import phase is to translation of Ibn Arabi's (Magnum Opus) "Futuhat-ı Makkiyya" to Turkish. A Turkish scholar Assist. Prof.Dr. Ekrem Demirli is still going on to translate that work. Another important aspect of this translation is that work will be the first translation to another language of Arabic book. Demirli had previously translated Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi's corpus to Turkish.

At last it should not be forgetten there are many Akbarian works in Ottoman Turkish Language waiting for scholars from all over the world to be studied on.

Some of Akbarian Sufis

There had and have been many Akbarian Sufis, metaphysicians and philosophers in history from all over the world. Ibn Arabi has never founded an order (tarika) [3] but declared and developed a Sufi metaphysics called Wahdat al-Wujud so those Sufis listed below was member of different order but they accepted same metaphysical point of view which was Wahdat al-Wujud..

Some Akbarian Sufis listed below:

  1. Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi (d. 1274) - student and stepson of Ibn ‘Arabī. Lived in Konya the same time as Mawlānā Jalāl-ad-Dīn Rumi
  2. Mu'ayyid al-Dīn al-Jandī (d. 1291?)
  3. Ismā‘īl bin Sawdakīn
  4. ‘Afīf al-Dīn al-Tilimsānī
  5. Fakhr-al-Din Iraqi (1213–1289)
  6. Aziz al-Nasafi (d.1300?)
  7. Sa'd al-Din Sa'îd Farghani (d. 1300)
  8. Mahmud Shabistari (1288–1340)
  9. ‘Abd al-Razzāq al-Kāshānī (d. ca. 1335)
  10. Dawūd al-Qayṣarī (d. 1351)
  11. Ḥaydar Āmūlī (d. 1385)
  12. Abd-al-karim Jili (d. 1428)
  13. Molla Fanārī (1350–1431)
  14. Shah Ni'matullah Wali (1330–1431)
  15. Abdurrahman Jami (1414–1492)
  16. Idris Bitlisi (d. 926/1520)
  17. Bâli Efendi of Sophia (d. 960/1552):
  18. Abdulwahhab al-Sha'rani(1493–1565)
  19. Mulla Sadra (1571–1641)
  20. Abdulaziz al-Dabbagh (d.1717)
  21. Abdulgani Nablusi (1641–1731)
  22. Ismâil Hakki Bursevî (1652–1725)
  23. Shah Waliullah al-Dahlawi(1703–1762)
  24. Ahmad ibn Ajiba (1747–1809)
  25. Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza'iri (1808–1883)
  26. Seyyed Muhammad Nur al-Arabi (1813–1887)
  27. Ahmad al-Alawi (1869–1934)
  28. Abd al-Wahid Yahya (1886–1951)
  29. Mustafa 'Abd al-'Aziz (1911–1974)
  30. Abdel-Halim Mahmoud (1910–1978)
  31. Shamsuddin Effendi (c.a 1900–1986?)
  32. Isa Nur al-Din Ahmad al-Shadhili al Darquwi al- `Alawi al-Maryami (1907–1998)
  33. Javad Nurbakhsh (1926–2008)
  34. Badruddin Yahya Effendi (1952-2012)

Reading list about Akbariyya Doctrine

  • Masataka Takeshita : Ibn 'Arabi's Theory of the Perfect Man and Its Place in the History of Islamic Thought, Tokyo: Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, 1987
  • William C. Chittick :Ibn 'Arabi's Imaginal Worlds: Creativity of Imagination and the Problem of Religious Diversity
  • _____________ : The Sufi Path of Knowledge: Ibn al-'Arabi's Metaphysics of Imagination
  • ______________ : Ibn 'Arabi - Heir to the Prophets.
  • ______________ : Imaginal Worlds.
  • ______________ : The Self-Disclosure of God
  • Stephen Hirtenstein: The Unlimited Mercifier: The Spiritual Life and Thought of Ibn 'Arabi
  • _____________ : Prayer and Contemplation: The Principles of Spiritual Life according to Ibn 'Arabi.
  • Henry Corbin : Creative Imagination of the Sufism of Ibn 'Arabi
  • ______________ : Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn 'Arabi.
  • Claude Addas : Looking for the Red Sulphur: The Story of the Life of Ibn 'Arabi
  • ___________________: The Voyage of No Return
  • Michel Chodkiewicz: An Ocean without Shore -Ibn 'Arabi, The Book and the Law.
  • ___________________: The Seal of the Saints
  • ___________________: The Spiritual Writings of Amir Abd al-Kader
  • Peter Coates : Ibn 'Arabi and Modern Thought - The History of Taking Metaphysics Seriously
  • Alexander D. Knysh : Ibn 'Arabi in the later Islamic Tradition
  • Titus Burckhardt : Mystical Astrology According to Ibn 'Arabi
  • __________________ : Universal Man by Abd al-Karim al-Jili translated with commentary
  • Michael Sells : Mystical Languages of Unsaying
  • Ronald L. Nettler : Sufi Metaphysics and Qur'anic Prophets: Ibn 'Arabi's thought and method in the Fusûs al-Hikam
  • Toshihiko Izutsu : Sufism and Taoism, Comparative work between Lao Tzu and Ibn Arabi's doctrines.
  • Caner K. Dagli: The Ringstones of Wisdom (Fusús al-hikam)translation, introduction & glosses by Caner K. Dagli.
  • E.A.Afifi : Ibn Arabi: Life and Works,
  • Mohamed Haj Yousef : Ibn 'Arabi – Time and Cosmology
  • Pablo Beneito : La taberna de las luces, Ibn Arabi, Shusteri and other Sufis' poems translated to Spanish. Editora Regional de Murcia, 2004

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ The Academic Study of Sufism at American Universities
  2. ^ Mustafa Tahrali, A General Outline of the Influence of Ibn 'Arabi on the Ottoman Era
  3. ^ Michel Chodkiewicz, The Diffusion of Ibn 'Arabi's Doctrine


  • Ekberilik (Vikipedi)

External links


  • The Academic Study of Sufism at American Universities
  • Sufism and Akbarian Tradition
  • Practical Sufism: An Akbarian Foundation for a Liberal Theology of Difference by Vincent Cornell
  • Early Bestsellers in Akbarian Tradition
  • A French Sufi-Akbarian Order
  • A General Outline of the Influence of Ibn 'Arabi on the Ottoman Era
  • The Self and Other
  • The Reflection of the Wahdat al Wujud
  • Akbarian Turn


  • James Morris - Whosoever knows himself (Youtube video)
  • William Chittick (Symposium-Youtube video)
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