Ibn 'Arabî's "hagiographical" work, the Ruh al-Quds fî munâsahat al-nafs is a masterpeice. In his introduction there is a vicious attack on contemporary Sufism, mentioning the adoption of Sufi dress, the khânaqâh system, and a twice-iterated "ban" on the Sufi practice of samâ'. However, self-criticism by "Sufi" authors is in no sense a new genre initiated by Ibn 'Arabî. Indeed, the Shaykh tells us here that al-Qushayrî "most severely rebukes them at the beginning of his Risâla". It remains to be seen then, what positive contribution Ibn 'Arabî offers in his criticisms and in particular: if companionship is now "flattery-based", how is it that in this corrupt age, Ibn 'Arabî himself manages to form over fifty meaningful companionships of which, moreover, he has recorded some but "kept quiet" concerning most?
The work is naturally divided into three sections of roughly equal length by those biographical accounts. More fundamentally, however, as we shall see, there is a thematic division corresponding to the classic Sufi itinerary of mi'râj (ascent), pp. 31-88; the ruju' (return), pp. 139-176; and the divine sphere (mushâhada) where these multiple mi'râjs and ruju's actually take place, pp. 88-139.
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