our words make worlds

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

This event, an online seminar via Zoom, 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 comprises short talks by Cecilia Twinch and Rim Feriani, poetry readings, a round-table discussion, and an opportunity for questions.

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 and his writing can transform preconceptions of what it means to be human.

By entering the world of the imagination, where abstract ideas take on form and where sensory form is led back to its meaning, Ibn ‘Arabi brings together the invisible and visible realms in a constantly shifting interplay between the universal and the particular, the transcendent and the immanent. Much of his prose focuses on self-knowledge, while the allusive images in his poetry are above all expressions of the love affair between the divine and the human, the lover and the beloved.

Guest speakers

Cecilia Twinch 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. Ibn ‘Arabi’s writings provide a guide to a way of transformation, leading beyond the limitations of our personal beliefs to a certainty in the sacred wholeness of life, which transcends all boundaries of time and space yet is compassionately infused into everything that manifests in the world.

Cecilia studied Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge University and is a Senior Research Fellow of the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society. She has lectured and published on Ibn ‘Arabi and mysticism worldwide.

Rim Feriani examines the concept of the barzakh, often translated as isthmus, in the teachings of Ibn Arabi and its interrelationship with imagination. She will also discuss how the works of contemporary writers such as the internationally renowned author Tahar Ben Jelloun and the acclaimed Algerian author Assia Djebar are infused with mystical images that recall the imaginative world of Ibn Arabi.

Rim is Educational Director at The Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society. She previously lectured in Arabic language at King’s College, London and taught Arabic language and cultural studies in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Westminster, London.


Professor Nukhet Kardam who is professor Emerita at Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California, USA. Nukhet has worked as an international gender consultant with United Nations agencies, undertaking needs assessment studies and evaluations of women’s human rights programs and projects in Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan, among others.

Bharatwaj Iyer a PhD student at the Humanities and Social Sciences Department in the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay where his doctoral work is on Heidegger’s philosophy of history and the place of the Islamic philosophical tradition.

Antonella Leoni is an Italian artist living in Cairo. Her art combines techniques such as marbling and calligraphy with Islamic iconography and poetry. She is concerned with the importance of preserving Arabic Calligraphy and is working on an innovative program that focuses on how the arts may be developed as “art for therapy”.

Platform and registration

This seminar, jointly organised by the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society and Language Acts and Worldmaking, takes place on Zoom on Thursday 28 October 2021, 1700-1900 BST (London time).

For further information please visit the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society website.

To register, please visit the seminar Eventbrite page.