Mapping the Unseen: Ibn al-‘Arabi’s Maps in al-Futūḥāt al-makkiyya

Karjoo-Ravary, Ali

This article examines a series of sequential cosmological and eschatological maps drawn by Ibn al-ʿArabī (d. 638/1240) in his second recension of al-Futūḥāt al-Makkiyya (Türk ve İslam Eserleri Müzesi 1845+). These images, drawn from the visual language of the rational sciences, map the images of revelation into the cosmology of the day so as to show the vastness of God's cosmos and the limits of the intellect. Ibn al-ʿArabī, aware of the limits of his medium, explicitly states that these should be a "single composition." He uses visual cues to mark shifts of perspective, helping the reader visualize the interconnections that bind together this multidimensional representation of the cosmos. By considering their placement and their relation to the narrative, I also argue that the final two maps are a representation of two eyes, identifying the cosmos and the reader as reflections of God, a contemplative use that is lost in their transmission history.


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Journal of Sufi Studies

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August 2, 2022


The PDF associated with this record was updated to the final published version on May 12, 2023.