our words make worlds

Ibn ‘Arabi’s Creative Imagination: Crossing Borders to Discover the Meaning of Being Human

*NOTICE: It is with great regret we write that, owing to the Coronavirus/Covid-19 outbreak in the UK, this event has been cancelled. We are hoping to find an alternative date and will update this page as soon as possible*

An event exploring Ibn ‘Arabi’s creative imagination, jointly organised by the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society and Language Acts and Worldmaking. Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi (1165-1240) poet, philosopher and mystic, is one of the world’s most significant thinkers. He was born in Andalusia, Spain, at a time when there was much cultural interchange between Jews, Christians and Muslims. He travelled extensively, spending the second half of his life in what is now called the Middle East, although his ideas reached as far as China. While rooted in the widespread Islamic culture of his time, his thought transcends barriers of language, paradigm, culture and belief. Known as the Red Sulphur, his writing has the ability to transform preconceptions of what it means to be human.

This event explores how Ibn ‘Arabi’s creative imagination crosses philosophical, poetic, linguistic and artistic borders, and how his ideas continue to inspire contemporary poetry, film, art and music to this day. It also provides an opportunity for interactive discussion of short extracts from his writing. Previous knowledge of Ibn ‘Arabi’s work isn’t required, and all texts will be provided in English translations.

Cecilia gives an illustrated introduction to some of the main ideas in Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought through an overview of his life and works, with particular emphasis on the world of imagination.

Rim reads a selection of passages from Ibn ‘Arabi’s book The Fabulous Gryphon, in both Arabic and in English which demonstrate the concepts of imagination, spirituality and human potential. She will also discuss the close connection between Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought and contemporary artists and writers such as the internationally renowned artist Bill Viola and the acclaimed Algerian author Assia Djebar.

Cecilia Twinch is a Senior Research Fellow of the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society, Oxford. She studied Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge University. Besides working as a teacher, translator and editor, she has lectured on Ibn ‘Arabi and mysticism worldwide since 1990. She has had numerous articles published, many as chapters in Spanish books and journals. Her publications include an English translation from the Arabic, with Pablo Beneito, of Ibn ‘Arabi’s Contemplation of the Holy Mysteries and a new translation of Know yourself: An explanation of the oneness of being (Ibn ‘Arabi/Balyani).

Rim Feriani is a Lecturer in Arabic language at King’s College London. She has previously taught Arabic language and cultural studies at the University of Westminster where she completed her doctoral studies in 2016. In her thesis, Rim explored the symbolic and ontological aspects of the Sacred in the works of Assia Djebar, Tahar Ben Jelloun and Salman Rushdie. Her main research interests are Sufi philosophy and Islamic tradition, Maghrebian and Postcolonial literatures, and modern philosophical hermeneutics. Her publications include: ‘Sufi Symbols of the Sacred in L’Enfant de sable’ in: The Maghreb Review and ‘Reading Signs and Symbols with Abdelkhébir Khatibi: From the Body to the Text’ in: Abdelkébir Khatibi: Postcolonialism, Transnationalism and Culture in the Maghreb and Beyond.

Attendance at this event is free but registration is essential. Book tickets through eventbrite here. This event is wheelchair accessible with assistance (there are shallow steps at the Exchange Gallery entrance, reception can provide a ramp. See AccessAble map). For further information about access or any other queries, please email languageacts@kcl.ac.uk.