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Mohyiddīn Ibn Arabī – The Caller and the Call

‘Bilal giving Adhan from Ka’aba’,

Ottoman miniature from the 16th Century.

(Bilal ibn Ribah was an African slave who was emancipated when Abu Bakr paid his ransom upon Muhammad’s instruction. He was appointed by Muhammad as the first official muezzin. This image depicts him atop the Kaaba in January 630, when he became the first Muslim to proclaim Adhan in Mecca.)


Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA is a follow-up from the post devoted to Professor Hans Yohanan Lewy about ‘The Caller and the Call’  and in which we announced today’s post with excerpts from Mohyiddīn Ibn Arabī who gives a thorough explanation of ‘the Caller and the Call‘, in an Islamic perspective, in chapters 68 and 69 of the ‘Futuhat al-Makkiyya’, ‘On the Mysteries of Purification and Formal Prayer’, translated into English by Aisha Bewley from the original Arabic, for Kazi Publications in 2009. Hearing the Adhan can be a unique experience and to fully encompass its presence and action, it must be heard. The following texts only give hints, a taste…As sustained practice fosters spiritual blossoming: So, ”Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 13:9)



‘Adhān, (Arabic: “announcement”), the Muslim call to Friday public worship (jumʿah) and to the five daily hours of prayer. It is proclaimed by the muezzin, a servant of the mosque chosen for good character, as he stands at the door or side of a small mosque or in the minaret of a large one. The adhān was originally a simple “Come to prayer,” but, according to tradition, Muhammad consulted his followers with a view to investing the call with greater dignity. The matter was settled when ʿAbd Allāh ibn Zayd dreamed that the faithful should be summoned by a crier. The standard adhān can be translated as:

“Allāh is most great. I testify that there is no god but Allāh. I testify that Muhammad is the prophet of Allāh. Come to prayer. Come to salvation. Allāh is most great. There is no god but Allāh.

The first phrase is proclaimed four times, the final phrase once, and the others twice, the worshipers making a set response to each phrase. Shiʿis often add the phrase “I testify that ʿAlī is the vice-regent of Allāh” to the recitation of the adhān.’ The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica and Adam Zeidan.


 Excerpts from

‘On the Mysteries of Formal Prayer’

10.1.1. In The Divine Law, The Call To Formal Prayer Announces That The Time Of Formal Prayer Has Come

The call to formal prayer is the notification of the arrival of the time of formal prayer and the call to gather together for the formal prayer in the mosque. The declaration to perform the formal prayer (iqama) is the call for divine Conversation.’


10.1.2. The Reality Of The Call To Formal Prayer Is Announcing Divine Theophany

The inner interpretation in that is that the call to formal prayer is the notification of divine Self-disclosure so that the essences can purify themselves in order to see Him. The declaration to perform the formal prayer is to stand up for His Self-disclosure when the day arrives when people stand up for the Lord of the worlds.


10.2.1. The Description Of the Call to formal Prayer

There are four description of the call to formal prayer. The first description is the double saying: “God is Greater”(allahu akbar, called the takbir), fourfold bearing witness to the Oneness of God (called the shahada), and the rest of it is double. Some people of this opinion think that the bearing witness is first double in a low voice and then double a second time in high voice. This call to formal prayers is the call to formal prayer of the people of Medina.

The second description is the first recitation of “God is Greater” (allahu akbar, takbir) four times, the fourfold bearing witness (shahada), and the rest of the call to formal prayer double. This is the call to formal prayer of the people of Mecca. The third is the first recitation of “God is Greater” four times and the rest of the call to formal prayer double. This is the call to formal prayer of the people of Kufa. The fourth is the first recitation of “God is Greater”,  four times, the bearing of the witness of the Oneness of God three times, and the two “Come to…” three times. One begins with the shahada and continues to: “Come to success” and then repeats it again this way three times. These four statements are recited in order three times. This is the call to the formal prayer of the people of Basra.’


10.2.2 Aspects Of Interpretation In The Different Calls To Formal Prayer

The inner interpretation in that is that doubling the recitation of ‘God is Greater’ is for the Great and Greater. Reciting it four times is for the Great and Greater, and whoever makes himself great in himself and in the senses, legitimately, and illegitimately. Doing the bearing witness four times is for The First and The last, The Manifest and the Hidden. Doubling what remains is for you and for God Almighty. Repeating the four statements three times in order (and, as we said: it is the school of the people of Basra), is that the first time is the notification of the visible world, the second is the notification of the angelic world (malakut). According to Abu Talib Al-Makki, the second is for the world of malakut and the third is for the world of the jabarut.’


10.3.2. It is The Duty Of The Human Being to Call Himself And Others To God After The Divine Law Is Established

‘The inner interpretation in that is it is the duty of everyone to call himself and others to obey God after the divine law is set forth. The Messenger of God said to Malik ibn-Huwayrith and his companion, “When you are on a journey, recite the call to formal prayer and the declaration to perform the formal prayer.” This is a tradition. The human being has been travelling with his breaths ever since the day when God created him. He is travelling in this world and the next. It is not valid that he should ever be stationary. Had he  remained stationary for more than one single breath, the action of the divinity regarding this world would have been invalidated. God-Glory be to him!-is engaged in some affair in creation at every breath. It is His effects in each existent source with a special quality. God has made us see it, both fine and great. How precious and mighty with God is the one who possesses this! Whoever misses guarding and watching his breaths in this world and the world to come has certainly missed a great blessing.’


10.5.4. Calling to God in State and Word

The caller may call by his state of purity, and this is more excellent, or he may call by that which he does not possess in his state. This is also good in every aspect as Hasan ibn-Abi-l-Hasan al-Basri said. He was one of the people on the sublime path of God. They say that had one of them not warned another in order to warn himself, none of them would ever have warned anyone. Someone who does a reprehensible action must forbid the reprehensible. If he does not do so, he has two wrong actions. Know that! This is the interpretation of the third precondition.’



2. 2.3. The Gnostic is the Master of the Moment

The gnostic is the one who is constant in his formal prayer, and in his intimate conversation in the presence of his Lord in all his movements and stillnesses. He has no specified or unspecified moment. He is the master of the moment. Whoever does not witness this, acts according to whatever reminder his Lord grants him of presence with Him.

However, since the gnostic, who is constantly present, does not differentiate between moments (because he experiences increase and overflowing favor in them, both in what is obligatory of that presence and what is voluntary from himself) he is imperfect in his station and perfect in his state, because he is accompanied by constant presence. Presence in states is not presence from a particular cause. Presence from a particular cause belongs to the perfect human being.

The first of the people of presence (the gnostic who does differentiate between moments) does not distinguish between reasons because he is utterly submersed in the state. It is like an unknown pleasure which a person experiences when he does not know what has caused it. The second of the people of presence is perfect and constantly present by virtue of causes. It is like the one who experiences pleasure by what the pleasure actually is. He always enjoys the pleasure in relishing knowledge, intercourse or anything which agrees with his predisposition. The one who has a taste of that knows the distinction and difference between them. The names of God Almighty vary in the hearts of the ‘Friends of God’ (saints, awliya) according to the varieties of gnoses which occur with signs and breaths. In each and every breath and time he discovers a knowledge which he did not have regarding his Lord. This is the result of what that breath and time grant him from the self-disclosure of that particular name.’


2.2.4. The Moment Of The Gnostics In Their Spiritual Prayers

Since we have divided the moments into pure and shared, know then that ‘the moment’ in his path is what you have in your state, whatever that may be-good or evil, recognition or ignorance. It is not dependent. It is like that with moments of time according to what God causes to happen in them in respect to each person.

The pure moment is every name which comes to you free of any partner in its authority. The shared moment is every name which has two or more aspects. The first category is like ‘The Living’. It belongs purely to life. Similarly, ‘The Knower’ belongs purely to knowledge. The second category is shared as the moment is shared. This is like ‘The Wise’. One of its aspects is related to the Knower, and another is related to the Manager. The Wise makes two judgement: a judgement about the proper places of things and a judgement about putting them in their actual places. There are many people with knowledge who do not put a thing in its proper place, and there are many people who put things in their places out of mere conformity rather than due to knowledge.

The Wise is the one who knows the places of things and puts them into their places according to his insight. Whoever has wisdom as his moment is a shared moment. Whoever is in a name which can only indicate one matter-like ‘The Powerful’ and names like that-is in a pure moment. These are the inner moments of the gnostics in their formal prayers. It is like their outer moments in the formal prayers which their bodies perform.’


Notes: About malakut & jabarut


Bilal giving the first Adhan

from the movie ‘The Message’


About ‘On the Mysteries of Purification and Formal Prayer’, translated into English by Aisha Bewley from the original Arabic, for Kazi Publications in 2009: 🌿 Link to Dr. Eric Winkel ‘nineteen volumes project’ to publish a complete English translation of the ‘al-Futuhat al-Makkiyah’:ḥat-al-makkiyah-books-5-6
Mohyiddīn Ibn Arabī – The Caller and the Call

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