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The Origin of Time?
If we can not speak about the origin of the world in time, we can still ask about the origin of time in the world. As Ibn ‘Arabî pointed out, we can not ask when time began, because the word 'when' requires time to be defined beforehand. But we can ask how did time begin?
 In response to this cosmological question, Ibn ‘Arabî argues that both the natural and para-natural types of time have originated in the Universal Soul which has two forces: the active and intellective (quwwa ‘amaliyya and quwwa ‘ilmiyya). The active force is in charge of moving bodies and objects,[1] while the intellective force is capable of perceiving knowledge, or updating the soul's spiritual state. So physical time (i.e. that is associated with physical objects) is that in which bodies keep moving to preserve their existence, and spiritual time is that in which the human being's Heart perceives knowledge from his Lord [Ayyâm Al-Sha’n: 6]. Physical time, therefore, is originated from the active force of the Universal Soul, while spiritual time originates from its intellective force [Ayyâm Al-Sha’n: 7].
 On the other hand, since natural (or physical) time is a consequence of material motion in Nature, it is originated with the isotropic orb which is the first orb in Nature in which the first body was created (see section I.4 above). When this isotropic orb (al-falak al-atlas), was created and started to move, its motion defined natural time. But because this orb is isotropic-the same in all directions-it is not possible to measure time in this orb alone, because there was nothing to compare its motion to it. And when Allah created the second orb that includes the farthest stars (galaxies) that are appropriately called fixed stars, the (apparent) motion of those stars in this orb defined the day as the complete revolution of this orb: 'When Allah caused the higher orbs to move and He created days in the first orb (the isotropic orb) and defined it (the day) in the second orb which is the orb of the apparently fixed stars…' [Ayyâm Al-Sha’n: 6].
 However, as Ibn ‘Arabî says, the motion of the isotropic orb was actually determined from above; it started when the first degree of Gemini was matching the divine 'Foot' on the 'Pedestal' (kursî)[2] above the isotropic orb, and after one complete revolution, the first cosmic 'Day' of creation was done, and that was Sunday. Then the process of divine creation continued through Monday, Tuesday, … and so on until its initial completion on Saturday—and then it started over again [II.437.34]. Because this creative 'Day' was determined from above, it was not possible to know its duration [II.437.27]. It is true that we divide this day into 24 hours, but this is a mere convention. It is actually not possible to determine the length of this day because there is nothing else (in Nature) to compare its motion to, so we use this day to measure other relative 'days' of other orbs that are below the orb of fixed stars, and also the 'days' of the spiritual (and divine) orbs that are above this physical isotropic orb too. We shall devote Chapter III to explaining in more detail the seven Days of the cosmic 'Week' and how they are caused.

[1] When Ibn ‘Arabî uses this term 'in charge of moving' to describe the active force here, he has in mind his famous concept that the world (where bodies and objects move) is like a super-human (insân kabîr) [III.11.19], where all physical motions are due to this active force of the Universal Soul, and all noetic changes are due to Its intellective force.
[2] Based on the hadith 'the Pedestal (al-kursî) is the place of the two feet' [Kanz: 1683], Ibn ‘Arabî asserts that the 'foot' in question is the divine 'constancy' (thubût) and the 'two feet' that are ascribed to the All-Merciful, the most Glorious, refer to 'the foot of compulsion' (qadam al-jabr) and 'the foot of choice' (qadam al-ikhtiyâr) [III.432.23]. Ibn ‘Arabî showed that Allah's, the All-Merciful's, Word (in the Throne) is One (all mercy), but by the swaging (tadallî) of these two feet of compulsion and choice on the Pedestal, the Word divided into two, [II.438.27], and this distinction between compulsion and choice caused the emergence of the world of command (‘alam al-amr) and the world of creation (‘alam al-khalq), of the (divine) ban and the order, obedience and the disobedience, and the Garden and the Fire (Gehenna), but all this is from the same single divine root of Mercy that is the attribute of the All-Merciful Who 'mounted on the Throne' (al-rahmân ‘alâ al-‘arsh istawâ, 20:5) [IV 274.25]. Then Ibn ‘Arabî also relates this same distinction to the symbolism of the daytime and night, where he says that because the Word above the Pedestal is one, it is all daytime (light) there, but below the Pedestal it is daytime and night [III.202.31]. See also section II.13.

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