And God said, “Let there be light”: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided
the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day and the darkness He called Night:
and the evening and the morning were the first day.
(Genesis 1: 3–5)
Indeed your Lord is God who has created the heavens and the
earth in six days, and then He settled Himself upon the Throne.
He makes the night cover the day, pursuing it swiftly; and the
sun, the moon and the stars, subservient by His Command. Does
not the creation and the command belong to Him? Blessed be
God, Lord of all beings!
(Quran 7: 54)
The son of Adam wrongs me when he curses the time, for I am
Time. In My Hand is the Order. I cause the night and day to
turn, one upon the other.
Between Adhri¡åt and Bußrå a maid of fourteen rose to my sight
like a full moon.
She was exalted in majesty above time and transcended it in pride
(Tarjumån al-ashwåq XL: 1
- THE SEVEN DAYS OF THE HEART by Ibn Arabi
Prayers for the Nights and Days of the Week
1- The Prayers of Ibn Arabi
Ibn Arabi (1165–1240) has long been known as a great spiritual master. Author of over 350 works, he has exerted an unparalleled influence, not only on his immediate circle of friends and disciples, but on succeeding generations who have taken his teaching
as a superlative exposition of Unity (tawid). He views the world according to a fundamental harmony, in which all things are intricately interconnected and the human being is given a place of immeasurable dignity. His writings, which were set down in a
torrent of inspiration, are living documents, where meanings cascade from the page and no two readings are ever quite the same.
Striking to the heart of essential human questions, they illuminate and challenge our view of mankind and the world. His many works of prose and poetry are now becoming more accessible in translation in Western languages, and they possess the remarkable quality
of being able to speak to people of all walks of life and belief, across the apparent barrier of many centuries and differing cultures.
Despite this growing interest in his works, the prayers which are attributed to him remain little-known. By virtue of their intimate nature, they provide a precious glimpse into the real practice of the spiritual life in the Sufi tradition. This is the first time that any of
these prayers have been published in another language, although they have had wide circulation in the Arabic original.
This particular collection of prayers is one of the most celebrated and remarkable. It can be found under many variant titles: “Daily Prayers” (al-Awråd al-yawmiyya), “Prayers for the Week” (Awrådal-usbu, “Prayers for the Days and Nights” (Awråd al-ayyåm
wa’l-layål¨) or simply “Devotional Prayer” (Wird). The term wird (pl.|awråd) is difficult to translate into English: the Arabic root carries connotations of arriving, reaching, appearing or being received. For the nomads of the desert, the root primarily refers to a watering place or well, where travellers come to drink. In the
context of spiritual practice, the term wird itself is normally applied to private devotional prayers at specific times of day or night.
These are supererogatory acts, in addition to the five prayers prescribed for the Muslim community. They often consist of passages from the Quran or prayers upon the Prophet, which are commonly recited at public gatherings. There are several famous devotional prayers of this kind that have come from spiritual teachers. We may
mention the following Maghribi examples by Ibn Arabi’s contemporaries: the Prayer of Abd al-Salåm Ibn Mashish(d.1228), the Prayer of the Sea (izb al-ba¢r) of Abu al-Hasan ¡l¨ al-Shådhili (d.|1258), or the less well-known Prayer of Blessing (al-Íalåt almubåraka) of Abd al-Aziz al-Mahdawi (d.|1224). Part 1; Introduction – Part 2 prayer
Widely used for centuries in Sufi circles, the prayer known as “The Most Elevated Cycle” (al-Dawr al-a’la) or “The Prayer of Protection” (Hizb al-wiqaya), written by the great Sufi master Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi, has never before been available in English.
A Prayer for Spiritual Elevation and Protection by Ibn Arabi This book provides a lucid English translation and an edited Arabic text of this beautiful and powerful prayer. It includes a transliteration for those unable to read Arabic, who wish to recite the prayer in the original language. Showing the importance of Ibn ‘Arabi’s devotional teaching, the book explores the prayer’s contemporary life, properties and historical transmission. It gives full details of generations of well-known scholars and Sufi masters who have transmitted the prayer, providing an intimate and fascinating insight into Islamic history. Read here
Or ‘Umm ad-Dua’—the “Mother of Supplications”—was written by the great 20th century Sufi saint, Sultan al-Awliya Shaykh Abdallah al-Faiz ad-Daghestani (may Allah sanctify his secret):
Unlike the above, Ibn Arabi’s “Prayers for the Week” are neither devotional in any ordinary sense, nor do they appear to be intended as prayers for communal recitation. On the contrary, they seem to be more private and intimate affairs, where the requests
imply a high degree of understanding and self-knowledge. In reading them, one is immediately struck by the precision and depth of their formulation, which is consecrated primarily to the clarification and celebration of Union (tawid). They are founded upon the
detailed exposition of spiritual Union, expressing the most intimate of converse with the Divine Beloved, and situating the one who prays as the true adorer. Here the reciter and the one recited to are understood to be two sides of the same reality. What is recited
is that which “arrives in the heart” (wårid) and is “received” by the adorer, on the one hand, and the request that reaches the Real (al-Haqq) and is responded to, on the other. For the one who reads them, these prayers are as much educational as devotional.
2- The Divine Work: request and response
Whosoever is in the heavens and the earth is in request of Him; every day He is at work. Q. 55: 29.
For Ibn Arabi, this Quranic verse expresses a central issue of existence. At every moment each being, from the greatest galaxy to the smallest particle, is requesting and receiving its nourishment, physically and spiritually. In his comment on the verse, he
The [Divine] work is the request of those who ask. There is not a single existent that is not requesting [of] Him, the Exalted One, but they are according to different degrees in the asking.
Thus the Divine labour consists in constantly fulfilling the requests of created beings, from the highest to the lowest. God’s response is as inherently necessary as the asking of the creature. With the injunction: “Call upon Me and I shall answer you”, Q. 40: 60
God has promised to respond to the constant request of the creatures, and this in itself is a request: He asks the servants to call Him, while the servants ask Him to
respond. Thus both are asking and asked for (†ålib wa ma†l¬b).4
The response is equally mutual:
Whoever responds when he is called is responded to when he himself
calls. He responds when he calls Him, since he has responded to Him,
until he actualises the language of the Envoy of God.5
If someone responds to the call of God when He calls him by the
language of Revealed Law – and He does not call him except through
it – God responds to him [favourably] in whatever he has asked for. So
tell His faithful servants to “listen to God and His Envoy when they
call you …”, since neither He, glory to Him, nor His Envoy call you
except “towards that which brings you life”.6
Ultimately in reality, according to Ibn ¡Arab¨, it is always God
Himself who is being asked for, since there is no other than He.
However, from a limited point of view this quickly becomes
obscured by the innumerable forms of manifestation. Hence there
are different degrees of knowledge in the asking. Given that there
is always a Divine response to our request, it is essential to become
conscious of what is actually being asked for. In a highly illuminating passage, Ibn ¡Arab¨ describes this intimate moment-by-moment
consciousness in terms of Divine closeness. After commenting on
the Quranic verse, “I am close, I respond to the call of the caller
when he calls upon Me”,7
In respect of His attributing to Himself closeness in listening and responding, this is analogous to His describing Himself as being “closer”
to man “than his jugular vein”.8
Here He compares His closeness to His
servant with the closeness of man to his own self. When man asks himself to do something and then does it, there is no time-gap between the
asking and the response, which is simply listening. The moment of asking actually is the very moment of responding. So the closeness of God
in responding to His servant is [identical to] the closeness of the servant
in responding to his own self. Then [we can say that] what he asks of his
self in any state is akin to what he asks of his Lord as a specific need.9
The Awråd of Ibn ¡Arab¨ are a most wonderful example of the
possibility of theophanic prayer. Underlying the specific requests,
there is a primary aim: to see things as they are from the perspective of the Real. In this sense, the prayers are equally a form of
invocation or remembrance (dhikr). In reciting them, the servant
is not indulging in mere mechanical repetition, but consciously
6. K. al-¡Abådilah 76: 5. The verse quoted is Q. 8: 24.
7. Q. 2: 186.
8. Q. 50: 16.
9. Fut. IV: 255.
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acknowledging the Presence of God, opening up to the full force
of the Divine Revelation and savouring its manifold “tastes”. This
realisation of prayer becomes a mutual remembrance, as God says:
“Remember Me, and I shall remember You”.10
We have chosen to call these prayers “The Seven Days of the
Heart” to emphasise the intimacy of this relationship. They are
a dialogue with the Unseen, a private communion where only
one side of the discourse can be visible. We might compare this
to what happens in a telephone conversation: on the one side, we
can hear and see the speaker talking into the handset, while the
other party remains hidden, invisible and inaudible to any but the
person making the call. Likewise, the visible text of the prayers
is only one part of the conversation, and their recitation is to be
drawn into an intimate dialogue with God Himself, invoking Him
and being invoked, inviting Him and being invited. This is a returning to Reality, a “conversion” (tawba) that requires constant
reiteration. All spiritual traditions emphasise that this is not to be
achieved through the normal intellectual processes but only in the
deepest centre of the self, referred to as the heart (qalb). It is the
heart which is capable of acting as a mirror to the divine revelation,
“turning” or “being turned” (taqallub, from the same root as qalb)
according to the way He makes Himself known. The capacity of
the heart to “see” is precisely what transforms prayer from a repetitive act into meaningful conversation.
Since [prayer] is a secret intimate converse, it is thus an invocation
or remembrance (dhikr). And whoever remembers God finds himself
sitting with God and God sits with him, according to the Divine tradition: “I sit with whosoever remembers Me.” Whoever finds himself
sitting with the One he remembers, and is capable of inner vision, sees
his “sitting-companion”. This is witnessing (mushåhada) and vision
(ru¤ya). If he does not have this inner capacity, he will not see Him.
It is from this actuality or absence of vision in the prayer, that the one
who prays will know his own spiritual degree.11
10. Q. 2: 152.
11. Fuß¬ß al-±ikam, Chapter of Muhammad, p. 223; Wisdom, p. 128; Bezels, p. 280.
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3 The three worlds and the three persons
Throughout the prayers there are references to two fundamental
aspects of existence: on the one hand, the visible or witnessed
(shuh¬d) realm, the world of Creation (khalq) and of the Kingdom
(mulk); on the other, the invisible or unseen (ghayb) realm, the
world of Command (amr) and of Kingship (malak¬t).12 These
correspond to “day” and “night”, respectively.13 Between the two
realms, in Ibn ¡Arab¨’s teaching, there lies an isthmus (barzakh) or
threshold which both joins them together and keeps them separate:
it is the place where meanings take on form and forms are given
meaning. He calls it the world of Compelling Power (jabar¬t) or
Imagination (khayål). It is a realm where the Magnificence of the
Divine Presence is witnessed by virtue of inner sight, and where
the one who prays is invited for converse. Real prayer takes place
in this isthmus between the visible and invisible worlds.
These two realms can equally be viewed as that which is present
to us here and now (shuh¬d), as opposed to that which is absent
from us (ghayb). Ibn ¡Arab¨ defines the unseen or absent (ghayb) as
“that of you which God has concealed from you, though not from
Himself, and thus it indicates Him”. The third person (he) denotes
someone who is not here, while the first and second persons (I and
you) refer to those present and visible.14 The contemplation of
this distinction opens up a different realm. To enter into converse
with God is to step from apparent absence into His Presence. This
renders the absent One (“He”) into the One present (“You”), so
that He may be addressed. At the same time there is always that
12. Although the terms express different relationships, they can be taken as
generally synonymous. See Fut. II: 129 for the definition of malak¬t as “the world of
meanings and the Unseen” and the mulk as “the world of witnessing”.
13. See Chapter 69 of the Fut¬¢åt al-Makkiyya, translated by Chittick, SDG,
14. The Arabic language, unlike English, reflects this polarity of present–absent.
In English “I” and “you” do not appear to be semantically related, but there is a clear
correlation through the shared letters alif and n¬n, between the Arabic ana (I) and
anta, anti (you).
01 SD Introduction.indd 6 18/01/2008 18:51:47
aspect of “Him” which remains unseen and eludes “my” comprehension, for He is too Majestic to be encompassed. Nonetheless,
within the ultimate mystery of Union, the “You” who listens is not
other than the “I” who speaks. God is thus simultaneously present
and absent, I/You and He. As Ibn ¡Arab¨ says: “… and amongst
them [the Divine Names and Attributes] are the personal pronouns
of the first, second and third persons.”15
We may speak, in fact, of three worlds, Kingdom (mulk),
Kingship (malak¬t) and Compelling Power (jabar¬t), which in a
certain sense correspond to the three persons. From our perspective, the “I” refers to the Kingdom, that which is present to me
and as me, while the “He” refers to the Kingship, the realm of the
invisible. The “You” is then a bridge between the two, an isthmus,
in the same way as the realm of Divine Power (jabar¬t) separates
and unites the two worlds.
“He” (in Arabic H¬), the third person singular, denotes “the
Unseen which cannot be contemplated. He is neither manifest
nor a place of manifestation, but He is the Sought which the
tongue seeks to elucidate.”16 It refers directly to the Essence
Itself, without in any way qualifying It, even as unqualifiable.
Although indicated as “unseen” or “absent”, this He-ness or Ipseity
(huwiyya) runs through everything: “Nothing becomes manifest in
the adorer and the adored except His Ipseity … He alone adores
and is adored.”17 Many formulations in the Awråd are based upon
this recognition. For example: “O You, who is the Unlimited ‘He’,
while I am the limited ‘He’! O ‘He’, apart from whom there is no
15. Fut. IV: 196. In Arabic the first person is called the “speaker” (mutakallim), the
third is the “absent” (ghå¤ib) and the second is the “addressed” (mukhå†ab).
16. Fut. II: 128.
17. Fut. IV: 102. See also Fut. II: 529.
18. See Sunday Eve prayer, p. 25. In one astonishing short poem in the Fut¬¢åt,
Ibn ¡Arab¨ manages to convey the sheer perplexity of the three persons. See Fut. I: 497,
translated by R. Austin in Prayer & Contemplation, p. 16. See also M. Chodkiewicz,
An Ocean Without Shore, p. 36.
01 SD Introduction.indd 7 18/01/2008 18:51:47
There are various ways in which God is addressed in the Awråd:
sometimes as “lord” (rabb), sometimes as “master” (sayyid), sometimes by a particular Divine Name, whose special quality is thus
invoked. By far the most common are ilåh¨ (translated as “O my
God”) and allåhumma (“O God”). These are not simply used for
stylistic variation, but are a precise mode of address. The first
establishes a relationship between the degree of divinity (ul¬hiyya)
and one over whom divinity is exercised (ma¤l¬h). Like the Name
Lord (rabb), ilåh requires an apparent “other”, a creature over
whom He can be God (hence the use of “my God”). The Quran,
for example, speaks of the “God of mankind” (ilåh al-nås). The
second, allåhumma, is an invocational form of the Name Allåh.
This denotes the absolute transcendent divinity (ul¬ha), by which
none other than He can be qualified. Nor is He to be qualified as
the Allåh of someone, since the Name Allåh unites all the Names
and rejects such a specific relationship.19
4 The structure of the Awråd
At first sight it might seem as if the prayers have been arranged
somewhat simply: fourteen prayers, one for each night and day
of the week. Is there perhaps a deeper structure? While there
is no explicit explanation as to why the individual prayers have
been set out in this way, we can find many clues in other parts of
Ibn ¡Arab¨’s work which enable us to discern a most remarkable
First of all, Ibn ¡Arab¨ considers the weekly cycle as sacred. It is
a Divine Sign, which points to the reality of Being. The seven days
and nights express aspects of Being or spiritual realities, which,
when taken together, form a complete whole and encompass all of
existence. As we shall see, the seven days have a subtle relationship
with seven prophets.
19. These two modes of address might be compared with the Biblical Hebrew
words, eloha and elohim, which are often translated as “God” and “the Lord God”,
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The number 14 itself is charged with significance. In relation to
the 28-day lunar cycle, 14 represents the full moon, and is thus a
symbol of the most complete beauty, wherein the light of the sun
is reflected. It stands for the perfect human soul (nafs kåmila), who
is fully receptive to the action of the Divine Spirit. In the Arabic
language, true beauty is symbolised as “a young maid of fourteen”.
In his commentary on the fortieth poem of the Tarjumån al-ashwåq,
Ibn ¡Arab¨ explains another meaning in attributing 14 to a young
woman: “The attribute of perfection is related to her, so the most
perfect of the numbers is given to her, which is the number 4, and
that is also 10 (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10). From it comes 14 (4 + 10). The
number 4 thus contains 3 and 2 and 1, as well as also containing
the number 10.”20 In mathematical terms, the numbers 4 and 14 are
both divisors of 28, which was known to the Greeks as the second
perfect number (being the sum of its divisors: 1 + 2 + 4 + 7 + 14).
We may also view 14 as a doubling of 7: this recalls the 7
verses of the Fåti¢a which are known as the “seven repeated”
(sab¡ mathån¨), or the seven heavens and seven earths of Islamic
cosmology, which include all the worlds of manifestation from
the highest to the lowest. The number 7 itself underpins a major
part of Ibn ¡Arab¨’s teaching and can be found in texts relating to
the spiritual ascension, the spiritual “climes” or regions and to the
5 The seven days and seven nights
The seven days of the week are an ancient symbol of the complete
cycle of creation. In both the Biblical and Quranic accounts there
are six days of Divine action followed by one day of repose and rest.
The association of the seven days with the seven major planets of
our solar system has permeated Western languages. Whilst Hebrew
20. Dhakhå¤ir al-a¡låq, p. 443. He is alluding also to the Pythagorean doctrine
of the tetraktys or tetrahedron: this is the first three-dimensional form which fits
perfectly within a sphere, its 4 faces, 6 edges and 4 vertices making a sum of 14. The
Pythagoreans specifically associated the number 4 with harmony.
01 SD Introduction.indd 9 18/01/2008 18:51:47
and Arabic have retained a basic numerical system, European
languages have called each day directly after a planet:
the prayers: translation and notes
The opening prayer 23
Sunday: eve & morning 25
Monday: eve & morning 33
Tuesday: eve & morning 39
Wednesday: eve & morning 43
Thursday: eve & morning 49
Friday: eve & morning 57
Saturday: eve & morning 65
Notes to the prayers 73