The Seal of the Wisdom of Prophethood in the Word of 'Isa (Jesus)
He was manifested from the water of Maryam
and the breath of Jibril in the form of man existing from clay.
The spirit was in an essence purified of nature
which it called prison.
For that reason, the spirit stayed in it
for more a thousand years in the designation of time.1
A spirit from Allah, no other.
For that reason, he revived the dead and formed the bird from clay.
Since his relation with his Lord is proven,
by it he has effective action in both the higher and lower worlds.
Allah purified his body, and made his spirit pure,
and He made him a model of taking-form.
Know that among the special qualities of the spirits (arwah) is whenever they touch anything life flows into it. This is why the Samiri 2 seized a handful of dust from the track of the messenger, who was Jibril, and he is the Spirit. The Samiri had knowledge of this matter. When he recognised that it was Jibril, he knew that life would flow into whatever he had walked on, so he took a handful of dust 3 from the track of the messenger or he filled his hand or the ends of his fingers,4 and threw it into the Calf. The Calf made a noise like the sound of a cow mooing. If it had been in another form, the name of that form's sound would have been ascribed to it - as grumbling to the camel, baa-ing to rams, bleating to sheep, and voice or articulation and speech to man.
That power from the life which flows in things is called lâhût. The nâsût is the locus on which the spirit is based. The nâsût may be called a spirit by what is based on it.
When the Trusty Ruh, who is Jibril, presented himself to Maryam, peace be upon her, in the form of a "handsome, well-built man",5 she imagined that he was a man wishing to have intercourse with her. She took refuge with Allah from him with all her being, with the whole of her existence, that Allah might save her from him since she knew that that was among the things which are not permitted. She was given a complete presence with Allah, and it is the meaning-without-form spirit. If Jibril had breathed into her at that moment in this state, 'Isa would have been born in such a manner that no one could tolerate him due to the harshness of his nature which was the state of his mother.
When he said to her, "I am only your Lord's messenger of your Lord so that He can give you a pure boy," she relaxed from that contraction (qabd) and her breast expanded. It was at that time that Jibril breathed 'Isa into her.
Jibril conveyed the word of Allah to Maryam as the Messenger coveyed the word of Allah to his community. 'Isa was "His word that He cast into Maryam, and a Spirit from Him."6 Then appetite filled Maryam. The body of 'Isa was created from the actual water of Maryam and from the imaginary water of Jibril which was infused in the moisture of that breath, since the breath of the living is moist because of the water content in it. So the body of 'Isa is from imaginary water and real water. He emerged in the form of a man in respect to his mother and inasmuch as Jibril had appeared in the form of a man, since taking-form only occurs in the human species according to the normal principle.
'Isa brought the dead to life because he is the Divine Spirit, and bringing to life belongs to Allah. The breath which 'Isa has is like the breath which Jibril has. The word belongs to Allah. The bringing the dead to life by 'Isa is an actual revival inasmuch as it was manifested from his breath as he was manifested from the form of his mother. His bringing to life is also imagined to be from him, but it actually belongs to Allah. He joined the two by the reality on which he is based even as we said that he is created from imaginary water and actual water. Bringing-to-life is ascribed to him by means of actualisation in one aspect, and by imagination in another aspect. In respect to actualisation, it is said of him that he brings the dead to life. In respect to imagination (tawahhum), it is said that he breathes into it and it becomes a bird by the leave of Allah.7 The agent is in the prepositional phrase "by Allah's permission", even though He did not breathe into it. It is also possible that the agent is the one who breathes into it. It became a bird as regards physical form. In the same way, 'Isa healed the blind and the lepers.
All was ascribed to 'Isa as being "by Allah's permission."8 "Permission" (idhn) is an indirect expression, as in His words, "By My permission" 9 and "by the permission of Allah". If the prepositional phrase is connected to breathing, the breather has leave in the breathing, and so it is a bird by the leave of Allah. If the breather breathed not by leave, then the taking form of the bird as a bird is not by the leave of Allah. The agent in that is then the verb "it becomes (yakûn)." If there had not been something real and something imaginary in the matter, then these forms would not have accepted these two aspects. Rather, it has these two aspects because the constitution of 'Isa accords that.
'Isa showed humility to the extent that he prescribed that his community "pay the jizya 10 tax with their their hands in a state of complete abasement," 11 and that if one of them were slapped on the cheek, he should offer the other cheek to the one who slapped him, and not rise up against him nor seek revenge. This came from his from his mother's side. Since the woman is lower, she has humility because she is subject to the man legally and physically.
The power to bring to life and heal that he had came to him the side of the breath of Jibril in the form of a man. 'Isa brought the dead to life by the form of man. If Jibril had not come in the form of man, but in another of the elemental forms of phenomenal beings from the animals, plants or minerals, 'Isa would not have been able to bring the dead to life without taking on that form for that moment and appearing in it. If Jibril had come in a luminous form beyond the elements and natural humours, since luminosity is part of his nature, 'Isa would not have been able to bring the dead to life unless he appeared in that form of non-elemental light, while still maintaining the human form in respect of his mother.
When he brought the dead to life, it was said that it was him and not him. The onlookers fell into bewilderment (hayra) just as the man of intellect becomes bewildered in his logical reflection when he sees an individual human being bringing the dead to life, as that is one of the divine qualities - bringing to life with speech, not mere bringing with animation.12 The beholder is bewildered because he sees the form of a man who possesses a divine effect. That led some of them to speak of that as "incarnation" and say that 'Isa was Allah since it was by Him that 'Isa brought the dead to life. Thus they are charged with disbelief (kufr) which is the veil because they veil Allah, who brings the dead to life, by the human form of 'Isa. Allah said, "They are unbelievers who say, 'Allah is the Messiah, the son of Maryam.'" 13 They fell into both error and disbelief at the end of all they said, not because they say that he is Allah nor by calling him the son of Maryam. But they made the attribution that Allah, insofar as He brought the dead to life, was contained in the human form of the nasut which is called the son of Maryam. There is no doubt that 'Isa was the son of Maryam. The hearer imagines that they have attributed divinity to the form, and so they make divinity the same as the form. That is not what they do. Rather, they make divine He-ness the subject in the human form which is the son of Maryam. They should differentiate between the form of 'Isa and the divine principle because they have made the form the same as the principle. Jibril was in the form of man who did not breathe and then he breathed. One differentiates between the form and the breath, and the breath from the form. The form existed without the breath - thus the breath is not part of its essential definition.
For that reason, differences occurred among the people of different [Christian] parties regarding 'Isa and what he was. Whoever looks at him in respect to his mortal human form, says that he is the son of Maryam. Whoever looks at him in respect to his mortal representational form relates him to Jibril. Whoever looks at him in respect to what was manifested from him of bringing the dead to life, relates him to Allah by the quality of the spirit, and says that he is the Spirit of Allah,14 that is, by Him life was manifested in whomever received his breath. Sometimes Allah is imagined to be the passive principle in 'Isa, and sometimes the angel is imagined in him, and sometimes mortal humanity is imagined in him. So the conception of everyone is based on what predominates that person. 'Isa is the Word of Allah, 15 the Spirit of Allah, 16 and the slave of Allah.17 That is something which no one else has in the sensory form.
Indeed, each person is attached to his father of form, not to the One who breathed his spirit into the human form. When Allah fashioned the human body as He said, "When I have shaped him," (15:29;38:72) then He breathed into Him, that was from His spirit. Thus in its being and source, the spirit is ascribed to Allah. That is not the case with 'Isa. The shaping of his body and mortal form is implied in the breath of the spirit. Others, as we mentioned, are not like that.
All existent things are the words of Allah which are inexhaustible 18 because they are from "kun" and "kun" is the word of Allah. Is the word ascribed to Him according to what He really is? His what-ness is not known. Or is it that Allah descends to the form of the one who says, "kun", and so the word "kun" is the reality of that form to which he descended or in which He is manifest? Some of the gnostics take one side and some take the other side, and some of them are bewildered in the business and do not know. This is a question which can only be recognised by taste (dhawq), as was the case with Abu Yazid al-Bistami when he breathed into the ant which he had killed and it returned to life. He knew in that action by Whom he had breathed, and that was an 'Isawian witnessing.
As for the revival of meaning by knowledge, that is the divine life, essential, eternal, sublime, and luminous, about which Allah said, "Is someone who was dead and whom We brought to life, supplying him with a light by which to walk among the people..." (6:123) Whoever gives life to a dead soul by the life of knowledge in a particular problem connected to knowledge of Allah, has brought him to life by it, and it is "a light for him by which he walks among the people, i.e. among his likes in form.
Were it not for Him and not for us,
that which is would not have been.
I worship Him in truth,
and Allah is our Master.
I am his source so know!
If you said, "man,"
Then do not be veiled by "man".
He has given you a proof.
So be Allah and be creation,
and you will be merciful by Allah.
Feed His creation through Him,
and you will be spirit and sweet scent.
We give Him what appeared by Him in us,
and He gave to us.
The command is apportioned between Him and us.
My heart was given life by the One who knew it
when He gave us sensory life.
At that time (before time),
we were beings, sources and times in Him.
That did not endure in us, but that gave us life.
Part of what proves what we mentioned concerning the breath (nafkh) of the spirit with the elemental form is that Allah has described Himself by the "breath of the All-Merciful". Everyone described by an attribute must follow the attribute and all that attribute demands of him. You realise that breath is necessary for the one who breathes. For that reason, the divine breath accepts the forms of the universe. It is like the primordial substance,19 which is not other than the source of nature.
The elements are one of the forms of nature, and what is above the elements and what issues from them are also part of the forms of nature. They are sublime spirits going right up to the seven heavens. As for the spirits of the seven heavens and their sources, they are elemental, so they issue from the vapour of the elements. The angels from every heaven are from the elements, so they are made from the elements, and there are no beings of nature above them. For this reason, Allah described them with dispute,20 i.e. the Highest Assembly, because nature has polarisation. Polarisation is that which is in the Divine Names, and they are ascriptions given by the "breath of the All-Merciful." Do you not see how the Essence is not subject to this principle, and that it is independent of the worlds? This is why the world appeared in the form of the One who brought it into being, and it is not other than the divine breath.
The divine breath ascends by what it has of heat, and descends by what it has of humidity and cold, and fixes itself and solidifies by what it has of dryness. Thus precipitation comes from cold and humidity. Do you not see that when the doctor wants to give someone a remedy, he looks at his water (urine) in a long-necked bottle? If he sees precipitation, he knows that the digestion is complete. He gives the remedy to speed progress. The precipitation is produced by his natural coldness and humidity.
Then Allah kneaded the clay of this human person with "His two hands." These are opposite to each other. Even though each of these two hands may be a right hand, the distinction between them is not hidden. They are only two in themselves - two hands because He only causes effects in nature according to what is in conformity with it. Nature consists of opposites, so He said "two hands".
Then He brought man into existence with two hands, and called him man (bashar).21 This refers to the direct contact (mubashara) of the two hands as befits the the Divine Presence. That arises from His concern for this human species. Then Allah said to the one who refused to prostrate himself before Adam, "What prevented you prostrating to what I created with My Own Hands? Were you overcome with arrogance (towards the one who is your like, made of the elements) or are you one of the exalted?" (38:75) meaning those who are above the elements. "You are not like that."
By the exalted,22 He means those who, by their essence, are above being elemental by their luminous constitution, even though they are part of nature. Man is only better than the other species by virtue of his being made of clay (bashar). He is the best species of all that was created from the elements by direct contact with the two hands. So in rank, man is above the terrestial and celestial angels, although the lofty angels are better than the human species according to a divine text.23
If anyone wishes to recognise the divine breath (nafas), let him recognise the universe, because "whoever knows himself knows his Lord" 24 who is manifest in him. The universe was manifested in the breath of the Merciful which Allah breathed from the Divine Names. They brought the manifestation of their effects into existence from the non-manifestation of their effects. He was generous to Himself by what He brought into existence in Himself. The first effect of the breath took place in that Presence. Then the command continued to descend 25 by breathing out from the universal to the last of what Allah brought into existence.
All is contained in the source of the breath,
like light is contained in the essence of darkness
at the end of the night before daylight.
Knowledge comes by proof at the end of the day
for the one who is sleepy.
He sees what I have said as a dream which indicates the breath,
And it gives him relief from every grief.
In the recitation of the Qur'an, it is, "He frowned."26
He has given a tajalli of Himself
to the one who came to fetch a firebrand.27
So Musa saw Him as a fire, while He is a light
for kings and seekers.
If you have recognise what I said,
then know that you are in a state of grief.28
If Musa had sought something else
(other than the brand),
he still would have seen Him in that,
and not the opposite.
When Allah establishes this 'Isawian word in the Station 29 so that we would know and he would be known, 'Isa will be asked about what was ascribed to him and whether or not it was true, even though Allah already knew whether or not that matter had taken place. Allah will say to him, "Did you say to people: 'Take me and my mother as gods, besides Allah'?"30
Adab demands a response to the one asking the question because when He gave him a tajalli in this station and form, wisdom necessitated the response in separation by the source of gatheredness. So he put disconnection first and said, "Glory be to You!" using the kaf (pronoun of the second person singular) which defines who is indicated by encounter and speech. "It is not mine," inasmuch as I belong to myself rather than You, 31 "to say what I have no right to," that is, what my he-ness rather than my essence necessitates. "If indeed I said it, You know it," because You are the Speaker, and whoever says something knows what he has said. You are the tongue by which I speak, as the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, reported to us in a divine transmission in which Allah said, "I am his tongue by which he speaks." He made His He-ness the same as the tongue of the speaker, but ascribed the speech to His slave.
Then the man of right action completed his response by saying, "You know what is in my self," and the speaker is Allah, "and I do not know what is in it," so this is in knowledge of the he-ness of 'Isa in respect of His He-ness, not in respect of the fact that 'Isa speaks and has an effect. "It is You", so He brought distinction and support to confirm the proof and dependence on Him, since Allah only knows the Unseen. So He separated and gathered, unified and made many, made wide and narrow.
To end his reply, 'Isa said, "I said to them nothing but what You ordered me to say." He negated to begin with,32 alluding to the fact the he has no existence. The statement required adab with the questioner. If he had not acted thus, he would have been described as lacking knowledge of the realities, but he certainly was not like that! Thus he said, "only what You ordered me," and it is You are the One who speaks on my tongue, and You are my tongue. Observe this divine polarity of the spirit! What is finer and more subtle than this!
ÔIsa said that he said, "Worship Allah." So he used the name of Allah because slaves differ in forms of worship and ShariÔa. So he did not specify one name rather than another name. Instead he used the name which joins all of them. Then he went on, "my Lord and your Lord." It is known that His relationship to one existent being by lordship (rubûbiya) is not the same as His relationship with another existent being. That is why he made a distinction when he said, "my Lord and your Lord," by two references one to the speaker and one to the one addressed. He said, "nothing but what You ordered me," and thus he affirmed that he is one who is commanded. The quality of being commanded is not other than slavedom, since one is only commanded when obedience is expected of one, even if one does not comply.
Since the command descends according to ranks, all that appears in a certain rank is coloured with what the reality of that rank gives it. The rank of the one commanded has a principle which appears in everyone who is commanded. The rank of the commander has a principle which appears in every command. Allah said, "Establish the prayer." He is the commander and the one who is subject to the obligation is the commanded. The slave says, "Forgive me!" so he commands and Allah is the commanded. What Allah demands of His slave by His command is the same as what the slave demands of Allah by his command. This is why every supplication is answered, and it must be answered, even if the answer is delayed, just as some who are under obligation delay the prayer. Whoever who is obligated to perform the prayer and does not pray it at its proper time, delays obedience and prays it at another time when he is able to perform it. There must be an answer, if only by intention.
Then he said, "I was a witness against them (and he did not say over himself with them as when he said, 'my Lord and your Lord') as long as I remained among them" because the Prophets are witnesses over their communities as long as they are in them. "But when You took me (i.e. raised me) back to You," and You veiled them from me and me from them, "You were the One Watching over them," no longer in my substance, but in their substance, since You are their eye which necessitates observation.
He wanted to make a distinction between him and his Lord so that it would be known that he was a slave and that Allah is Allah and He is his Lord. He referred to himself as a witness (shahid) and he referred to Allah as the Watcher (raqib). He mentioned "them" before himself when he said, "I was a witness against them as long as I remained among them," 33 preferring them in priority and with adab. He put "them" after Allah in relationship to Him when he said, "You were the One Watching over them" because of what the Lord merits in priority of rank.
Then know that Allah has the name the Watcher (Raqib) which 'Isa applied to Him, and He is the Witness in His words, "a witness against them," and "You are Witness of all things." (5:117) He referred to all things and "thing" is the most indefinite of things. He used the name, "The Witness," and Allah is the Witness over every witnessed thing according to what the reality of that witnessed things demands. He indicated that Allah was the Witness over the people of 'Isa when he said, "I was a witness against them as long as I remained among them." This is the witnessing of Allah in the substance of 'Isa, as it is confirmed that Allah is his tongue, hearing and sight.
Then he said something which is both 'Isawian and Muhammadan. As for its being 'Isawian, that is the speech of 'Isa by the transmission of Allah from him in His Book. As for its being Muhammadan, it happened that Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, stood in one place for an entire night reciting it without turning to anything else until dawn broke. It is, "If You punish them, they are Your slaves. If You forgive them, You are the Almighty, the All-Wise." 34 "They" is the pronoun of those who are absent as "he" is the pronoun of someone who is absent. as He said, "they are those who disbelieve," with the pronoun of those who are not present. Absence is their veil to what is meant by the witnessed one who is present. He said, "If you punish them," with the pronoun of the absent, and that absence is the source of the veil which hides them from the Real.
The Prophet mentioned them to Allah before the time when they are present 35 so that when the actual time came when they were present, the leaven would already have acted on the dough, and the dough might have had time to become equal to the leaven.36
Then by "they are Your slaves," he singled out the unity (tawhid) on which they are based. There is no submissiveness greater than the submissiveness of slaves because they have no freedom of action with themselves. They act according to what their master wishes of them when he has no partner in them. He said, "Your slaves," and singled out what was meant of the punishment which is their humiliation. There are none more lowly than them since they are slaves. Thus their essence necessitates that they be lowly, so You do not degrade them, for You do not degrade them with anything more lowly than the fact that they are slaves.
"If You forgive them," if You veil them from the punishment which they deserve because of their opposition if You put forgiveness on them, You veil them from the punishment and protect them from it, "You are the Almighty," the Protector, the Guardian. When Allah gives this name ('aziz) to one of His slaves, then Allah is called the Exalter (Mu'izz). This name is given to him by the 'Aziz, so he has strong protection from the revenge and punishment which the Avenger and Punisher desire for him. He also used distinction and dependence to confirm the proof, and so the ayat is the same sort of His words, "You are the Knower of the Unseen Worlds," and "You are the Watcher over them," and "You are the Almighty, the All-Wise." 37
The question from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and his supplication to his Lord in which he repeated the phrase for the entire night until dawn was a request for the answer. If he had heard the answer in the first questioning, he would not have repeated it. Allah showed him the judgements in detail by which they deserved punishment. As each instance was presented to him and specified, the Prophet said to Him, "If You punish them, they are Your slaves, and if You forgive them, You are the Almighty, the All-Wise." If he had seen in what was presented to him anything which would make it necessary that Allah had already decided and that His presence must be preferred, he would have invoked Allah against them rather than for them. So what they deserved is changed by what this ayat accords of submission to Allah and exposing themselves to His pardon.
The Prophet related that when Allah loves the voice of His slave when he makes supplication to Him, He delays the answer to his supplication so that the slave will repeat the supplication. This comes from His love for the slave, not because He has turned away from him. For that reason, the Prophet mentioned the name of the Wise, and the Wise is the one who puts everything in its proper place, and who does not turn away from the qualities which their realities necessitate and demand; so the Wise is the One who knows the order of things.
When the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, kept repeating this ayat, he was in possession of a great knowledge from Allah. If anyone recites it, let him recite it in that manner.38 Otherwise, it is better that he remain silent. When Allah lets the slave articulate any request, He does so when He wants to answer it and grant his need. Let no one be slow in whatever has been guaranteed to him, but let him persevere as the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, perserved with this ayat in all his states, so that he either hears with His ear, or with hearing, whichever you like. How else will Allah make you hear the answer? If He permits the question on your tongue, He will let you hear the answer with your ear. If He permits the meaning to you, He will let you hear the answer by your hearing.
1. As he was born 555 years before the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and is still alive, waiting to descend.
2. The story is found is the Qur'an 20:75-95, where the Samiri convinces the tribe of Israel to cast their ornaments into the fire out of which he brought the figure of a Calf which lowed, and which they worshipped. He told Musa, "I beheld what they did not behold, and I seized a handful of dust from the messenger's track and cast it into the thing."
3. With dad, qabda.
4. With sad, qabsa.
5. Qur'an 19:17.
6. Qur'an 4:171, "The Messiah, 'Isa son of Maryam, was only the Messenger of Allah and His Word, which He cast into Maryam, and a Spirit from Him."
7. ref. Qur'an 3:49; 5:110.
10. The tax paid by the People of the Book to the Muslims.
12. i.e. the dead person can speak and answer him. This not simply causing the dead limbs to move of their own accord.
13. Qur'an 5:17, 5:72.
14. Ruh Allah.
15. See Qur'an 3:45, 4:171.
16. Qur'an 14:171.
17. Qur'an 19:30.
18. See Qur'an 18:109, "Say: 'If all the sea was ink to write down the Words of my Lord, it would run out long before the Words of my Lord ran out,' even if We were to bring the same amount of ink again."
19. Al-jawhar al-hayulani.
20. Qur'an 38:69, "I had no knowledge of the Highest Assembly when they disputed." It can also mean mutual rivalry.
21. Qur'an 15:28, "I am creating a mortal (bashar)."
22. "The exalted" are the angels who wander in love and those who are near, like Jibril and the angels of the Throne.
23. "Or are you one of the exalted?" 38:75.
24. As the Prophet said.
25. See Qur'an 65:12, "It is Allah who created the seven heavens and of earth their like, the Command descending down through all of them."
26. Sura 80.
27. Musa in Qur'an 20:10; 27:7. Refers to empirical knowledge, but he found unveiling in the form of the Burning Bush.
28. By standing behind the veil or seeking other-than-Him.
29. On the Last Day.
30. Qur'an 5:116.
31. To slaveness rather than lordship.
32. (ma qulta = I did not say).
33. Literally in the Arabic, "I was against them a witness."
34. This is the end of what 'Isa said in this verse.
35. On the Day of Gathering.
36. According to the commentator, the leaven is the predisposition for the arrival in the presence of Allah. The dough is the clay of his substance.
37. All used in this verse.
38. i.e. with knowledge, weeping, and maintaining adab.
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