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Ibn al-'Arabi's Barzakh: The Concept of the Limit and the Relationship between God and the World. By SALMAN H. BASHIER. Albany: STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK PRESS, 2004. Pp. xii + 206. $45. A systematic analysis of one of the key terms in Ibn al-'Arabi's monistic theory of the unity of existence (wahdat al-wujud), set in a thorough description of the teachings of Plato as well as those of medieval Arabic thinkers, is central to this challenging book. The enigmatic term barzakh (translated by Bashier as "the Limit"), which is mentioned three times in the Qur'an and in some eschatological traditions, is used by the Andalusian mystic thinker Ibn al-'Arabi (d. 1240) to denote the concept of an immutable entity which separates the divine from creation and at the same time unites them. Bashier has recognized the importance of the concept of barzakh in Ibn al-'Arabi's mystical philosophy. By dedicating his book to this concept, he provides a necessary outlook on a subject which was far from being exhausted in previous research. He wishes to relate Ibn al-'Arabi's thought to Islamic theology and philosophy, in spite of the latter's proclaimed distance from and reservations about the rational philosophers. His argument in favor of comparing Ibn al-'Arabi's thought to that of the Islamic philosophers hits the mark. As he puts it, "why [should] a certain scholar ... establish his view concerning Ibn al-'Arabi's stand from the philosophical thought on the basis of some anecdote that depicts him tossing away a philosophy book, for instance, and not on the basis of his words in defense of philosophical activity. In a sense, this selective reading of Ibn al-'Arabi seems as rather taking him out of context?" (pp. 143-44).

July 1
American Oriental Society
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