Ottomans and Ibn al-Arabi | by Ahmed Zildzic
This study is an attempt to examine in some detail the influence of the great Andalusian Sufi master Mu&y al-d!n Ibn al-‘Arab! and the ways in which his teachings and his followers were received among the Ottoman learned class, both those learned in religious sciences and Ottoman bureaucrats and administrators. Ibn ‘Arab!’s influence in general and the Ottoman Empire are such broad concepts in themselves that no study can claim any degree of exhaustiveness. The study of Ibn ‘Arab!’s trace in any society would be equivalent to the study of Sufism in its entirety. Inevitably, in this study both the temporal frame and textual corpus had to be narrowed down significantly in order to render the topic manageable. Given the bipartite definition of the term ‘learned’ in that it applies to both bureaucratic and religious officials, this study will focus on two types of textual evidence and through them show the degree to which Ibn ‘Arab! is embedded in the Ottoman intellectual milieu. The first text is an obscure millenarian treatise attributed to Ibn ‘Arab!, al-Shajara al-nu‘m!niyya f” al-dawla al-‘uthm!niyya, and the other textual corpus is a selection of fatwas on Ibn ‘Arab! delivered by the representatives of the highest judicial office of the Empire, shaykh al-islams.