My heart has become able

by Muhyiddin ibn Arabi

English version by Maurice Gloton
Original Language Arabic

My heart has become able
To take on all forms.
It is a pasture for gazelles,
For monks an abbey.

It is a temple for idols
And for whoever circumambulates it, the Kaaba.
It is the tablets of the Torah
And also the leaves of the Koran.

I believe in the religion
Of Love
Whatever direction its caravans may take,
For love is my religion and my faith.

-- from Perfect Harmony: (Calligrapher's Notebooks) , by Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Of the many books and profound philosophical treatises written by the great ibn 'Arabi, these lines of poetry are probably his most famous.

This short verse says so much with its few words. Like the caravan it mentions, if we follow it we are led into wide open lands as yet undreamed of╔

This selection is an excerpt from Ibn ďArabi's long poem The Interpreter of Desires. The Interpreter of Desires is a multi-layered love poem that, like the Song of Songs in the Bible and many of the courtly love songs of the Troubadours, reveals itself to ultimately be an exploration of the soul's yearning for God. It is a tale of a holy pilgrimage to Mecca, in which the hero meets a young Persian woman of pure beauty named Nizham (Harmony). This encounter with such a perfect embodiment of harmony inspires an ardent quest that becomes a quest for the True Beloved, for God.

My heart has become able
To take on all forms.


The heart, in this sense, is not just how we feel love, it is the center of our awareness. It is like the mirror that reflects what we focus it on. In other words, the heart, the core of awareness, doesn't just feel, it takes on the form of what we love. This is why we ultimately become what we love and fixate on.

But a master doesn't fixate that love. When we profoundly open, we find everything -- everything -- reflected within the heart. Every person. Every creature. Every object. Every thought. We find all of existence reflected within the heart.

And each reflection is recognized as the Beloved. While we ourselves become formless.

It is a pasture for gazelles,
For monks an abbey.

It is a temple for idols
And for whoever circumambulates it, the Kaaba.
It is the tablets of the Torah
And also the leaves of the Koran.


Can such an awakened heart then reject any school of awakening?

I believe in the religion
Of Love
Whatever direction its caravans may take,
For love is my religion and my faith.


But, of course, one must understand what real religion is. It is not stone walls or steeples. It is not crosses or crescents. It is neither creeds nor rituals nor books. ...Though any one of those, properly approached, can open the door.

Like all true masters, ibn 'Arabi reminds us that the true religion is nothing less than -- Love.

And remember, the mystic's love is not just some nice philosophical ideal. It exists. It is experienced -- an overwhelming, blissful experience of wholeness, interconnectedness, and joy. Limited notions of the self are washed away, replaced by a warm, all-embracing vision of reality, where the heart has grown wide enough to recognize everyone and everything at rest within itself. Words fail, but that pulse of universal life does not.

That -- THAT is what religion is.



Recommended Books: Muhyiddin ibn Arabi

Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems Early Islamic Mysticism: Sufi, Quran, Miraj, Poetic and Theological Writings (Classics of Western Spirituality) The Mystics of Islam Perfect Harmony: (Calligrapher's Notebooks) Stations of Desire: Love Elegies from Ibn 'Arabi and New Poems
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My heart has become