Other Expressions of Time:
In addition to the common words such as time (zaman, zamân), moment (waqt), day (yawm), daytime (nahâr) night (layl), eternity (azal/abad) and the age (dahr), which we have discussed above, along with the related terms for week (usbû‘), month (shahr) and year (sana), which we shall discuss in Chapter III, there are other time expressions occasionally used by Ibn ‘Arabî with slightly different and more specific technical meanings than in their usage by other Muslim scholars and theologians. We want to end this chapter by looking at some of these other temporal terms for the purpose of completion, although we may not need to refer to these technical terms in the rest of this book. In particular, some of these expressions became important in later forms of Islamic thought which tried to elaborate and integrate Ibn ‘Arabî's ideas, in various ways, with the conceptual schemas of both kalam theology and Avicennan philosophy.
· Al-sarmad: this is another word for eternity, other than al-azal, al-abad and al-dahr. Unlike kalam theologians, Ibn ‘Arabî does not use this word often. Sarmad means 'absolute eternity', i.e. it includes both eternity without beginning (azal) and also without end (abad). It is most widely used as an adjective, sarmadî, meaning 'everlasting', and this is how it is used in a very pertinent discussion of time in the Qur’an (28:71-72). Ibn ‘Arabî normally used it [I.164.2, I.169.26, II.675.14, IV.29.27] in a similar manner.
· Matâ: literally this word means 'when?', and refers to the relation of a thing or event to time, or to other events. It is used to inquire about the time or occurrence of an event in relation to others. Ibn ‘Arabî affirms that the thought of time comes about due to this kind of inquiry: 'So for example if one asks: when (matâ) did Zayd come? Then the answer may be “(he came) when (hîna) the Sun rose”.' [III.546.28].
· Al-hîn: this is a (relatively short) duration of time [II.201.36, II.263.25]; it is also commonly used to refer to a specific future or past time [II.201.36], usually in answer to 'when', as in the previous example: '(he came) when (hîna) the Sun rose' [III.546.28].