Shams-i Tabriz

Minaret in Konya

Ibn ʿArabi and Shams-i Tabriz in Damascus:

One day we were immersed in a discussion as to how a hadith that resembles a verse in the Quran should be regarded as authentic.

He [Ibn ʿArabi] narrated a hadith and asked: “What verse in the Quran corresponds to this?” At that moment I saw that he was in an ecstatic state, and I wanted to bring him from that scattered state to an integrated state of consciousness, by saying something appropriate to his question.

So I said: “As for the hadith you stated, there is some difference of opinion regarding whether or not it is an authentic hadith, but where in the Quran is there a verse corresponding to the hadith, Scholars are like a single soul?”

He thought I was asking him a question! So he answered quickly with the verse: “Indeed the believers are brethren [to each other]. Your creation and resurrection is not but as a single soul.” Then he turned introspective and understood my intention, that it had not been to ask a question.

He said: “O my son, you lash with your words so fiercely!” In the beginning he would call me “son” and in the end he would call me “son”. Ibn ʿArabi would laugh gently at how his spiritual offspring were dealing with him.

(from the Maqalat of Shams translated by William Chittick)