This pre-eminence of the Creative Feminine as epiphany of divine Beauty was expressed in admirable paradoxes she was apprehended on the metaphysical plane of eternal birth and on the plane of second birth, the birth which by modeling the mystic’s being on this preeminent Image, causes the supreme secret of spiritual life to flower within him. Sometimes Ibn ‘Arabi seizes upon simple lexicographical or grammatical facts, which for him are not inoffensive matters of language but disclose a higher metaphysical reality, and treats them with the methods of a highly personal philology, which may well baffle a philologist but are eminently suited to the detection of symbols.

In a hadith of the prophet, he notes a grave breach of grammatical convention: in disregard of a fundamental rule of agreement the feminine outweighs the masculine in the sentence. This is the point of departure for remarks which were to be amplified by the commentators. Ibn ‘Arabi points out that in Arabic all terms indicating origin and cause are feminine. Thus we may assume that if the sentence attributed to the Prophet is grammatically incorrect, it is because the Prophet wished to suggest that the Feminine is the origin of all things. And indeed the origin or source of anything is designated in Arabic by the word umm, “mother.” This is the most striking case in which a lexicographical fact discloses a higher metaphysical reality.

–Henry Corbin (Alone with the Alone)