Quora answer: What connection is there between Maimonides and Rumi?

Apr 07 2013

This connection via Ibn al Arabi is very tenuous.


Comment by AJ Artemel
The connection between Ibn al Arabi and Rumi is most likely factual, and there is little doubt that there were strong connections between the Sufi and Kabbalah communities in Spain. Even if al Arabi and Maimonides never met, they would certainly have been familiar with each others’ ideas.


My answer:

This is untrue, in my opinion. It is very unlikely that they either met or had influence on each other. What they did have in common was Greek Philosophy, which Ibn al-Arabi was doing his best to avoid and which Maimonides was trying to explain as a philosopher himself. Cabala is basically an imitation of Muslim alchemy which is interpreted philosophically and theologically. It gives these esoteric Jews the equivalent of the attributes of Allah, basically giving 10 attributes instead of 100. The Zohar is a forgery that was so convincing that Jewish scholars did not figure it out for a very long time, until it had already completely permeated their thought and was impossible to abandon. Sufism and Kaballah are really very different from each other. Kaballah is a structuralist view of the relations of the attributes of God to each other and to the Hebrew alphabet. Arab alchemy is based on the number equivalents of the letters, and how the words transform into each other via their numerical weights mediated by the number 17 which was a sacred number in ancient Egypt. Sufism is not a structuralism at all but is a practice that takes one into altered states and stations vis a vis ones Lord. Kaballah is an esoteric way of interpreting the Hebrew Bible based on numbers of letters. This was practiced by the Muslims as well in relation to Quran, but although the Sufis would refer to this practice in their own writings taking it over from the culture to make their spiritual points, it was not a central thing in Sufism at all. So I suggest more study of Sufism and Kaballah. I am not saying they are not interesting to compare, but they only superficially look the same and are essentially different ones finds when one studies them at sufficient depth.

Ibn al-Arabi and Maimonids moved in very different circles during their lives in spite of the fact that they lived at the same time and both went east.

Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn (موسى بن ميمون) in Arabic, or Rambam (רמב”ם – Hebrew acronym for “Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon”), was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages. He was born in Córdoba, Spain on Passover Eve, 1135, and died in Egypt (or Tiberias) on 20th Tevet, December 12, 1204.[6] He was a rabbi, physician and philosopher in Morocco and Egypt. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maimonides

Ibn ʿArabī (Arabic: ابن عربي‎) (Murcia July 28, 1165 – Damascus November 10, 1240) was an Andalusian Moorish Sufi mystic and philosopher. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibn_Arabi

However, here is an excellent counter point to my position on this issue http://www.tomblock.com/published/shalom_jewishsufi2.php

But it is easy to read back things into history that were probably not there.

To support my point I quote:

Mystical languages of unsaying By Michael Anthony Sells


See 256 and 257 for the rest of the quote. It won’t upload for some reason.

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