Indications from Signs was originally published in 1979 by Iqra Communications.
The Underlying Structure of the Qur'an
The Qur'an complexifies internally through five phases.
1. SUKUT silences. The Message is punctuated with breaks, silences, without which the meaning would not be clear.
2. HURUF letters. The Qur'an in its totality is letters. The means by which they are patterned is listed below. But letters also appear in the isolated form at the beginnings of certain units of the Qur'an. These letters are called al-muqatta'at.
3. KALAM words. The first level of meanings in the mulk the outward realm of manifestation. Words have inner structures of their own.
4. AYATS signs. These constructions of word-patterning are the basic meaning clusters of the Book, the second level of meanings in the mulk. They have an inner structure of arrangement grammar.
5. SURATS forms. These are the large units, united by thematic content. There are 114 surats, or 113 which open with the 'Bismillah'.
Silence. The Qur'an comes out of silence and returns into silence. It is a recited Book. A Reading. It is dynamic, and thus it emerges from its opposite, stillness. Existence is delineated as possessing three realms. More correctly, we might say that there are two realms and they are divided by a barzakh, an interspace, which separates them. This we would say that existence is: mulk/malakut. Visible kingdom/hidden kingdom or branch/root. The barzakh which makes possible the distinguishing of the two realms is the jabarut, the realm of power, the zone of lights. The lights spill out on both the kingdoms, but the division between the two has been set up as the fundamental reality of existence. It is when these two opposites meet in a centric equality that in the realm of cognition there is annihilation of the experiencing locus. If the opposites meet in equal stasis, they are annihilated, that is, if the outward and inward collide at mid-point, there is no inner and no outer, and so one with all the opposites.
So the silence is both the continuum void out of which words and letters come and it is the zone within which sound resonates and to which the sounds return. It is the space within which the time of letters manifests. Or you could equally say it is the time within which the space of letters manifests. Silence 'lasts' but it also 'pervades'.
Letters. The root of the word in arabic means the cutting edge of a sword. It also means an edge, a rim, brink. The letters are actions. The letters cut the undifferentiated stillness. They are the first indicators of discrimination. They are edges, rims, brinks. they de-lineate. Make forms. They are therefore both the means to the deep coding of all animate forms and all inanimate forms. Letter capacity is a vast repository from a basic limited source. The co-ordination between these limited elements and the creational process is the foundation of Islamic cosmologies. We will discover that the whole creational process is itself coded meanings, and that the decoding of the meanings is not an addition to creation but simply a voicing of the creational realities. It is the height of ignorance to imagine that man is 'discovering' anything, or laying bare secrets, or solving mysteries. There is only ignorance and knowledge. Knowledges are voices. The throat is the organ of speech along with the box of speech, mouth, tongue, palate and teeth. The universe is man's separation. He is its gatheredness. So when he 'declares' the creational realities, he is merely voicing the various separatenesses in meaning patterns, which is what we call speech. He was made for this, the voice which speaks only speaks this, and it is all praise of the Creator of this one unified cosmos. The letters of speech are not other than the creational letters of the differentiation in basic elements, and organisms.
Necessary for letters are prior intention to declare the letter, and the physical organ of speech without defect, i.e. glottis, tongue, etc. The first implies intellectual capacity of differentiation by the speaker-locus and, the second, physical capacity to differentiate in the speaker-locus. Thirdly, breath is necessary. The two prior capacities in turn are dependent on life-breath to speak. The living speak. The dead are silent.
Speech is action. Mulk is the realm of speech. Mulk is the realm of action. Malakut is the realm of visions. Thus malakut is the realm of knowledges. Man himself is a barzakh. Man is the barzakh of all the mulk before the meanings of the malakut. Man's sensory faces are the world and his meanings face the malakut. Words are the ambassadors crossing from one kingdom to another.
Letters form a complete mapping of the vocal organ, the organ of speech. The letters of the alphabet are therefore placed along the organ at the points of impact where glottis contracts, tongue touches, lips move, and breath is aspirated. Kafir semiotics cannot recognise the 'fittingness' of vocal organ to letter by which speech is possible. If examined there is absolutely nothing 'accidental' about speech. According to the Qur'an it is precisely speech which marks out man over all other creatures. We may say that every creature 'expresses', but there is in this articulation of man the key to his meaning. Without the biological patterning of the vocal organ, speech would not have been possible. To see speech as either an improvisation or an invention is nonsense. They are not two but one.
Kalimat words, is derived from a root indicating speech, importance, authority, ascendancy, and its core meaning is to wound, cut or slash.
Here we see clearly the astonishing relationship between the arabic mode and the Qur'anic expression. The Qur'an was not 'made from Arabic'. but rather arabic can be seen to be made for the Qur'an. It is designed precisely to contain the message, and is the perfect vehicle for it. We have already reached a significant pattern of definitions, setting letter and word in dynamic interplay. Letters are the blade of the sword and with it words cut. This 'cut' is the intervention, the incision of discrimination. It is the act of separation itself. It is the instrument of the experiencing locus of the self to separate in order to dominate, control and ascend over the terrain of existence. Words separate silence joins. Equally, Sidi 'Ali al-Jamal points out that many words can be gathered into one word, and one word can be divided into many.
Words are divided basically into three functions and are also constructed on a triple letter principle. The three functions are:
The construction principle is very significant for our grasp of the underlying nature and capacity of arabic. It is that the basic vocabulary is made of words built on 'trilateral' roots, that is, three-letter roots. From that root all the grammatical constructs are built according to basic consistent rules. Significantly this initial root has a core meaning and it spreads out into its variants which is many cases arrive at the opposite of the initial meaning of the core cluster. So one roots holds in its own opposite.
Cosmologically this triple-built root has significance, since it is with these words that the meaning realm dominates the sensory, and these words are based on the triple which is the order of the heavens of existence, the three realms of mulk, malakut and jabarut. We have indicated that these can be seen as a dual with an interspace of light, the jabarut, but they compose nevertheless three realities on which all existence is based. We find in the letter-unit an assignation which places each letter in one of the three realms, or spanning more than one of them.
It is by this system that through arabic and arabic and Qur'anic arabic must be considered synonymous since Qur'an is its matrix and foundation we find that we may construct a cosmology with letters, and with words apprehend a direct explication, or unfolding, of how man and cosmos interact. It is impossible with arabic as the vehicle of expression to have the sick fantasy of man as alien to creation, or separate from it or anything other than its crown and completion, and all this before leaving the zone in which letters and individual words appear prior to their elevation to the complexity of grammatical build-up.
The noun. Noun identifies the object, either as thing or possessor of quality. Nouns are the indices of naming. This is considered the primary element of language itself, and is elevated over every other speech capacity. Nevertheless the root form is often from the verb (third person, singular) so we must conclude that objects are actually themselves dynamics, they are embodied actions, stabiles of energy. A verb-centred language implies cognition of existence as in movement and change rather than in stillness and stasis. The capacity to identify, to name the object, if separated from this wisdom becomes a deep alteration of the grammatical reality on which the statements are made.
The view of mind and body as irreconcilable opposites in english is based on the exaltation of nouns over verbs and is not compatible with arabic where the nouns derive from verbal roots. Naturally, not all words arrive at a verb-root. Sun and moon are roots indicating their own reality. What we do find in the language is, however, that the roots are all connected to existential reality. Again and again the root implicates the vital elements of existence. The sword, the camel, and the desert provide root after root. So, when we come to mind we do not find any word for it in arabic. Instead we come closest to it with the root LUBB, meaning core the core of a fruit. This gives us an immediately clear and sophisticated concept of the centre of man's being, his consciousness not as a repository of information, or a memory bank, but rather as some seed-source which already contains within it the total reality of the organism, and that would imply cognitively, the cosmos.
If you wanted you could say that nouns are passive, verbs are active, and prepositions are the barzakh dividing them.
Qur'an is categoric in declaring that Allah taught Adam, primal man, all the names, or if you like, all the words. This implies that he found from within himself the capacity to decode what was outside himself. The evolutionist diction of a simian intelligence beginning with grunt identification and moving on to complexified coding is not tenable. the evidence clear demonstrates that the more primitive the language the more sophisticated and complex the communications web within it. Indeed we can now see from our present position of barbarism that language decays rather than develops. Arabic, being the oldest in the semitic group, is an ancient language it may even be the mother tongue of the human species, but only Allah knows.
Being taught language is very different from discovering it. One could see a mithal in the growth of the child and the tremendous leaps in cognitive capacity in early years which allows the child to move from subject/object identification, through verb commands to whole sentences, and then on to a vastly speeded-up intake of vocabulary and grammatical constructs, with the learning of language in the Adamic era. What is important to grasp is the capacity to grasp! Language is already 'there' given the genetic capacity of the organism. This means not only the intelligence, but the complete skill capacity of the organism, including its vocal organ. We are convinced of the dolphin's intelligence but we are forced to recognise a divide between all other communication forms and man's. It is inauthentic to choose to forget it while formulating fictions on the birth of language to fit an already outmoded imperial evolutionism whose only current function is to provide background justification for the tyranny of modern life.
What must be recognised in a unified way is man as a complete, whole organism, who is in himself the 'summing up' of creation. His crowing glory is his reflective capacity, the exploration of which will, Allah willing, form the theme of this work. Inside himself he finds the whole cosmos, not in metaphor but in reality, nut just in meaning but also in the sensory. he is container/contained. He is contained by the universal plenum, but he also contains it in his own plenum. The cosmos is his outward and he is its inward. It is his sensory and he is its meaning. the mineral world is within him, the whole animal kingdom is within him, he gathers and unifies the cosmic multiplicity. Without language this reality could not be known by man. Language is not, after all, a skill. It is an essential element of the total organism, for man finds that he is a speech creature. Man-walking is man-talking. Man-knowing is man-speaking. In Qur'anic language we say that man is both a qur'an and a furqan, both one who gathers and one who separates. What does this mean? It means that opposite speech is silence. Outwardly they are different, inwardly they are the same. Therefore, speech is dependent on its opposite. So, there could not be speech without intelligent silence. If man could not reflect he would be unable to discriminate. But he is reflective/discriminating, for these are dependent opposites, and one cannot exist without the other. To separate language from man so that man could be conceived of as existing without it, as arriving at it, or departing from it, is as absurd as to imagine man without a hot liver. The study of language as thing-in-itself is a kind of psychosis that comes from the same era that could study beheaded dogs and fail to see that the experiment had been done not on a dog's head, but a dogless head. What could be said about the cerebral meat of the dog could not in any true way be attributed to the dog and dogginess.
We are forced, therefore, to conceive of language as part of a biological and ecological nexus which consists of man-in-cosmos expressing cosmos and himself, or reality if you like, with vocables through the organ with which he has been gifted precisely for this purpose. Meaning, and therefore cognition, are in this process from the beginning, and it does not impose itself or impinge on the process at some given point of 'development'. The throat and voice-box are built-in elements of reality, and the vocables are not in any conceivable way separate from this biological reality that includes the cortex which both stores and decodes the speech signals.
This other view of language-as-a-thing-in-itself apart from being unable to survive without some deluded humans becoming involved with the thing-in-itself through their own particular, if limited, brain capacity and speech faculties, has to be seen as the product of a society which had absolutely no concept of inwardness or gatheredness we will return to this term and attempted to make sense of existence only with what was outward. The crudity of this world view is only surpassed by the crudity of the social patterns of tyranny to which it has given rise. The barrenness of these theories of language and semiotics is merely the result of the intellectual intention behind them, which never was to discover 'the source' of language, a fruitless and romantic task, but rather to find out exactly how language could be reduced to a system in order to have complete political control over the unfortunate speech-maker, man. It is not accidental that much of the work done on 'language' involved the study of the living language of the remaining American Indian peoples who had stubbornly held to their own 'tongue' as part of their whole political reality. It was just that which had to be removed from them if they were to be subverted from their way and made to absorb the imperial separationist culture of the dominant group. Through this study and its method, these so-called scholars were able to remove the language from the life-cycle in which it functioned and surgically detach it from its people, so that they 'lost their tongue' and therefore their voice, and awoke to find their language in the textbooks of the linguists, their life-process in the anthropological museum, and that, socially denuded, the only resort was to cover themselves with the words and habits of the conquering overgroup.
So, now, the forces of the dominant culture are desperately attempting to devalue the Qur'an by linguistic studies in which the Qur'an is reduced to a study-object instead of being used, as it was intended, simply as a decoder of the states and events and realities of existence which all indicate the One.
Just as the letters are split into a basic dual opposition, so too with words. In the Qur'an there is to be found a core vocabulary of opposites without which it is not possible to grasp the meanings of the revelation. These words have a rich texture, each term taking its dull definition from the different points of reference it indicates throughout the book. Each term's meaning takes on a further layer of meaning with each ayat in which it appears. For example, the term bid'a innovation as a Qur'anic term indicates the Creator's introduction of something new, while to the elitist scholars who invented the 'religion' of Islam, bidÔa came to mean a proscribed human innovation in their strict and redefined 'religion'. Thus they were committing shirk association of themselves as guardians of Islam, with Allah, the giver of Islam to the people. In Qur'an bid'a is defined by Allah and in priestly pseudo-Islam it is defined by the mullahs.
Qur'anic vocabulary is a science in itself. For the moment it is enough to recognise that there is an underlying tension of opposites which forms the point counterpoint patterning on which the great spiritual teaching of Unity is erected. Some of these key terms are:
dunya . . . . . . akhira
this world . . . . . . next world
nar . . . . . . . . jinna
fire . . . . . . . . . . . garden
mashriq . . . . maghrib
east . . . . . . . . . . . .west
kufr . . . . . . . . iman
rejection . . . . . . acceptance
dhulm . . . . . . . nur
darkness . . . . . . . . . light
jahl . . . . . . . . . hilm
ignorance . . . . . . .serenity
ard . . . . . .samawat
earth . . . . . . . . .heavens
kafaru . . . . . . . amanu
rejectors . . . . . . . acceptors
It could be considered that the qualitative jump from word to sign is greater than that from letter to world but it must not be forgotten that 'grasp' of sign significance is more readily taken in than awareness of the significance of letters as such. The event of the Qur'an makes a categoric displacement of the supremacy of number as a basic-unit system for civilised and free men and women. Indeed number is directly and continually seen as magic, manipulative magic. Language is the guarantee of human autonomy, the departure point of the Adamic species, the means to self/cosmos knowledge. Further, Qur'an by its character the Recitation sets spoken language over written language. The notorious to the priest-class 'ulama', that is the hadith of the Messenger, 'We are an unlettered community, we do not write and we do not calculate,' is not a stubborn rejection of knowledge, but much more profoundly a wise confirmation of the key to wisdom being embedded in the act of articulate speech rather than in any form of static record system using either form of language, the biological and primary language of experience or the abstract and secondary language of number and symbol. Incidentally, it should never be considered that number is a cerebral and less associative system than letter since number itself is nature based and nature dependent.
From our point of view we might even say that number as system is more simian than human. Decimal based systems are capable of being seen simply as a poeticisation of the discovery of our fingers and toes. Indeed, modern binary systems could be considered a regression in awareness to dual limb function. There is a certain social agitation in decimal societies, now we are beginning to recognise a certain autistic withdrawal in binary systems groups in technological societies.
With the jump from word to ayat we move to the realm of syntax and grammatical formulation. This fascination with the sudden branching out from limited letter to seemingly limitless sentence structure has left the kafir linguists with their pathetic tree diagrams and their hopeless attempts to reduce spoken language to logic disciplines. Again the existential nature of the ayat has been blindly overlooked. Just as we found the whole alphabet displayed in the mapping of the throat and vocal organs, so we discover when signs are examined nothing less than the key to cognition itself from the simplest sensory act of decoding to the gnostic encounter with the Real.
The Qur'an as the ultimate decoding grid of existence is bound by this inner coherence to embody the creational principles even in the manner and materials of its coming into existence. So, in it the Real addresses the Messenger with the words: 'Truly We have sent down on you clear signsÉ' Here the experience of supreme understanding of existence is described as a sending down of clear signs. However, this permits us to say that the act of cognition itself is a receiving and decoding of signs. 'In the heavens and the earth are signs for the acceptors.' The sign is not the thing in itself. The sign is there to-be-cognised. Sign is a dynamic mode of apprending the thing while recognising its thingness. Sign is the mode which recognises thing and meaning, not as two but one, and at the same time. It is the thing apprehended, we repeat, by a mode of cognition which grasps meaning and object in one direct experience. It is not tagging. Naming indicates. Recognising signs is a transformative process of rendering dynamic the form-universe. Look again at the ayats defining this term. AYATS signs. 'In the heaven and the earth (opposites, the foundational of creational energy) are signs for the acceptors. And in your creation, and all the beasts that He has scattered on the earth are signs for a people. And the difference of night and day (the bi-polar basis of organic life) and the provision that Allah sends from the sky thus bringing to life the earth after its death (things merging from their opposite), and the change of the winds, are signs for a people of intellect. These are signs of Allah which We write out for you with truth. Then what account after Allah and His signs will they accept?'
What is at issue is not some emotional or conceptual decision about the existence of godhood. The whole matter is one of capacity to recognise at a certain level of direct experience. The signs are meeting-points between the outer creation and the inner cognising creation of the human being in the events which give meaning to the whole creational order. If you like you could say that the sign is a meeting-point. It is both change and dynamic oppositions that are indicated by the signs. These signs are 'natluha' written out from the root LWH, which is a tablet for inscription. So time/space is a writing board on which signs are written. They must be read and decoded. All creational reality is sensory recognisable as meanings. The sign is the recognition point, the ignition point of understanding. It has to be restated several ways to break through the intellect trained only to separation, and not able both to separate and join. 'Then what account after Allah and His signs will they accept?' If mankind cannot 'read creation', or read existence, then what account will they read and accept? In other words, what is the point of human creatures inventing a narration which explains existence, when creational realities already are a linear read-out of how-it-is? We understand the Qur'an the book of existence by the Qur'an. We understand therefore creation by reading creation. What must be acquired is the capacity to recognise the signs. It is this science that is the highest science, and in its highest form it is gnosis. That is ultimate cognition, highest form it is gnosis. That is ultimate cognition, or cognition which encounters the Highest Sign, for Allah is His own sign over Himself. The essence of Allah is His own sign over Himself. The essence of existence indicates the Real. The highest knowledge is the highest indication, as we will discover. For knowledge of the Real involves another crossing over of the act of knowledge, another leap, a move confirming lack of association. At this stage the subject blurs into incoherence and intelligence mumbles, not through lack of intellect but because the intellect is bedazzled by meanings that become finer and finer. Our understanding will take us out from silence to the full open statement of the surat or form and back until it can only say letters, and from there is silence again, but in the end the silence is different. The silence of the end is not the silence of the beginning. Between lie the great statements of knowledge.
From a Qur'anic viewpoint a society that does not draw its knowledge patterning directly from observed human experience which transformatively reads cosmic and personal signs is trapped in an illusory and deceptive system of control over people. Statist, or we may say Pharaonic, control is dependent on an invented, one might even say an improvised, system of signs, hermeneutically coded so that they cannot be apprehended without initiation. This secret coding of meanings implies that the codifiers dominate and manipulate existence. The social goals of such a society a society of kufr, of rejection of signs must be tyrannical for although they offer man control over nature, the price in the end must be the surrender of man's nature to that very control. It is inevitable that this manipulative process must extend itself to the life process itself. 'They will alter creation,' it says in the Qur'an. You do not 'alter' the creational reality until you interfere in the life process itself, and genetic engineering is precisely this intrusion into a cosmic organism that was working perfectly well without need of interference. The concept of existence as incomplete, as unfinished, as needing assistance, far from being a sophisticated and 'advanced' view of life is recognisable as the deepest ignorance and darkest social arrogance. The improvements that the kafir society have forced upon the human race have one by one proved lamentable and, in their repercussions, often disastrous to the biosphere, let alone to the solitary individual whose whole life experience is reduced to the helpless slavery of the pharaonic social project the never to be finished pyramid of the production process.
This political totalitarianism imposed on modern man finds its ideological base in the pseudo-scientific method and vocabulary. The scientific model that 'describes' reality is, by the scientists themselves, now openly admitted to be a fiction, but, they claim, a working fiction that will do until another model that is more 'elegant', that is to say, more persuasive and effective, comes along. It must never be forgotten that between the scientific discourse and the popular indoctrination there is a cynical gap. That is to say, while the scientists, chez eux, happily admit the fictional basis of their studies, the mass-educated students and populace wriggle under the authority of science, its crude simplification, its didactic orders, its changing medical framework which reveals today's cure as tomorrow's cancer-inducing agent. While they are spellbound by the 'scientific fact', the experts avoid all critical confrontation behind the ever-changing 'scientific model'. It is clear, therefore, that far from being a matter of 'putting the clock back' or being medievalist, the Qur'anic teaching calls to an enlightened view of cosmic and cognitive realities. A Qur'anic science would create a completely new framework and a new cognitive experience as it already has done in the past. There are much higher social and personal goals possible within the framework of the knowledge patternings of the Qur'an than in the primitive improvisational amoebic jelly of scientific 'laws'.
The barrenness of the scientist's lifestyle, the bleak emptiness of his biographic outline make it clear that his bird's-claw scratching at the surface of knowledge has given him little more from life than the son of Adam gained when the crow taught him to dig the earth to hide the corpse of his murdered brother. The scientist as human being, despite massive propaganda, fails to ignite the human imagination. Newton is a dull historical product. Berthold Brecht, the great german playwright, planned a study of Einstein in which he was to be portrayed by the dumb clown, Harpo Marx.
The unified patterning theory of Islamic Science belongs to existence, not to a hastily improvised mathematical oratorio. It was from this direct cosmic material that Ibn Sina and Al-Jabir worked. There has never been a study of the scientists who examined existence using a Qur'anic framework, because by the time the unfortunate arabs had realised these men were great scientists, they were already worshipping at the shrine of reductive western scientism and had fallen into open shirk association of the creational process of the Divine with their own paltry projects.
Once studies begin on the work already achieved based on the parameters of knowledge laid down in the Qur'an, man may well embark on a completely new course of knowledge, action and discovery, for in this Qur'anic method, the discovery and the discoverer are not separate. They cannot be. When Heisenberg and his 'magicians' sketched their new physics, people thought the breakthrough had come. The experiment, it was said, was only valid from 'the viewpoint' of the experimenter. The observation held validity from 'that viewpoint of observation only', thus it seemed as if the two had been united in one concept. But it was the most dazzling deception. There is absolutely no real way in which mathematical formulae can 'include' the formulator. From the existential position of the observer, the much vaunted 'precision' of the scientists my hold for what he describes, but how can he himself be 'described' mathematically? How is there possible any mathematical coding for lived experience? Only language can deal with human experience, and that only by access to one of language's two indicative capacities as we will shortly see. Without recourse to this, the highest function of language, there is no way that inward human perception and cognition can be communicated, and that is only by indications from signs. So the coded magical formula of the scientist is a lie wrapped within a enigma. Not one of their soundings has hit the rock of existence.
The delusion that one arrives at knowledge by gnawing endlessly at the basic elements of existence with questioning and doubt is shown up as the neurotic antic of people for whom ordinary existence is unbearable. Underneath the apparently 'scientific' questioning is the simple torment of a sick person who finds the sheer givenness of existence intolerable. Here is the Qur'anic indication of this condition followed by its underlying reality:
And when Musa said to his people,
'Allah commands you to sacrifice a cow,'
They said, 'Are you making a mockery of us?'
He said, 'I seek refuge with Allah
from being one of the ignorant.'
They said, 'Call on your Lord for us
to make clear to us what she is.'
He said, 'He says she is a cow,
not old and not a virgin
So do as you are commanded.'
They said, 'Call on your Lord for us
to make clear to us what her colour is.'
He said, 'He says she is a saffron cow,
brilliant her colour
Giving joy to the onlooker.'
They said, 'Call on your Lord for us
to make to us what she is
all cows resemble each other to us
then we will, if Allah wills, be guided.'
He said, 'He says she is cow
not broken in to plow the earth
or water the ploughland
Flawless, no fault in her.
They said, 'Now you have come with the truth.'
Then they sacrificed her.
But they almost did not.
And when you killed a self
and were in contention about it
Allah brought out what you were hiding
and We said, 'Strike it with part of it!'
Allah gives life to the dead
and shows you His signs
so you might use your intellect. (2:66/72)
There are so many remarkable elements in this key picture of the human intellect gone mad. In it one cannot fail to see the demented parade of biologists and zoologists over the last hundred years, roaming the earth, desperately cataloguing the creatures of the earth, apparently in this deep search for knowledge when all the time they were part of a concerted movement to conquer new territories and control the natural order. What knowledge was arrived at? What use is linear information about a complex whole where the meaning itself lies embedded so that once removed, the living organism that took its place in a vastly complex and ordered existence is now a labelled object devoid of its identity by being robbed of its setting, trapped in an iron cage in some distant place in an alien climate stated at by lonely autistic children from the desolate cage of their enlightened education? The unending flow of unwanted and unassimilated data lies dormant in the archives of the barren temples of the 'university' and the library. How many millions of frogs have been sacrificed on the altar of this ludicrous idol, modern science? How many monkeys have been tortured in experiments, their brains implanted with electrodes to find more sophisticated ways of torturing man himself? These questions are not asked out of the simple compassion of every human being who is not convinced by the great sham of science which rests on these squalid foundations in the modern world's abominable schoolrooms, but rather they are asked out of the sober recognition that men genuinely believe in the knowledge process that flows from the universities and schools of the world today. The ordinary man and woman in the 'advanced society' of the dominant culture is nevertheless the most ignorant human being who has ever walked the face of the planet. From the cradle to the grave all the natural processes of life have been taken out of their hands, indeed, from birth itself to death. They have no self knowledge, they have no body knowledge, they cannot deliver their children or bury their dead. All the social processes have been taken from them. They are policed by an elite group over which they have no control. They are fought against and for by an elitist technological military over which they have no control or capacity to command. They are governed by a process which is utterly spurious and which leaves them helpless, passive and blind as to social goal, and empty as to private purpose. Yet all the time the rhetoric of the dominant culture informs them that they are the people, that they are sovereign, and that the decisions are from them and by them.
Schizophrenia split identity was the insanity of the industrial culture. Autism is the insanity of the current culture that is, the human creature has been reduced to an automaton, to a totally conditioned machine. The autistic child echoes back to the parents their heartless abdication of their own humanity, the numbness of their feelings and the deadness of their own inwardness. The parents, who have become like the automatic process they live by and worship, find that their own offspring, their hidden secret, has from within its deep infantile awareness opted to behave like the machine the parents worship in one last desperate bid for recognition. For without recognition there is no making sense of the cognitive process itself on which life is founded. Thus self-ignorance is cosmic ignorance, for the cosmos is the separation of the human creature, and the human creature is the gatheredness of the cosmic multiplicity.
So it is we find in this extraordinary passage of the Qur'an, that following the neurotic avoidance of the cognitive transaction comes the key to its cure. Man kills man by his stubborn ignorance. Man hides his destructive drives it does not seem that the autistic parents are the authors of the autistic syndrome in their child. The Creator says, 'Strike it with part of it!' Strike the dead body with part of that body, not with interference from outside. The whole organism is complete in itself. Self-function is cosmic function. This gives life to the dead. In other words, there is within the human creature a means to sanity and life and health. Strike the self with a part of the self. Strike the cognitive faculty from within the zone of cognition. This will bring the self back to life. This gives awakening. Ordinary cognition is dream cognition. Ordinary cognition is trance-state. Ordinary cognition cannot see the deception of the magicians of Pharaoh. It must be transformed by it, or rather, by part of it, that part of it which sees itself as seeing. This process of striking it with part of it is 'so you might use your intellect.'
The passage of Qur'an continues:
'Then your hearts hardened after that
they were like stones
or of a more intense hardness.
And among stones there is one rivers gush from
And among them is one that splits open
and water pours out
And among them is one that falls down
from fear of Allah
Allah is not unmindful of what you do.'
Here is clearly indicated the different effects that different modes of cognition and behaviour imprint on the experiencing self. Those whose questioning persists without genuine desire for knowledge but rather based on a neurotic inability to read the existent signs, find their hearts have grown hard. Yet the human heart can become a source of knowledge, gushing with the waters of life. The human heart can be overwhelmed with genuine recognition of the cosmic reality and its hidden secret and 'fall down from fear of Allah'. These are the tremendous capacities of the human creature, negative and positive. How limited is the product of the dominant culture! How outwardly broad and how inwardly narrow! How outwardly open and how inwardly closed! How outwardly bright and how inwardly dark!
A few ayats later Qur'an continues:
'And among them are unlettered ones
they do not know the Book
except by made-up claims.
They only have thoughts.
to those who write the Book with their own hands
then say, 'This is from Allah,'
to sell it for a paltry price!
Desolation to them for what
their hands have written!
Desolation to them for what they have earned!'
Here the revelation denounces those who, without being taught, invent a Book of knowledge, a system of wisdom, a cosmology, a world-view. 'They only have thoughts,' says the Qur'an in a magisterial dismissal of a cosmology based on speculation, which is the method of ignorance, over and against vision, the faculty of recognition. They claim reality for what is no more than a fiction. The symbolic, invented language, the elitist vocabulary, the social exaltation of the ones who put forward the magical message none of these things can hide the underlying situation that their world-view is, when translated into simple language, an empty fiction covering a profound ignorance of the underlying principles on which creation works. Existence is not difficult to understand. There is no mystery of life. It is all laid out plainly for mankind to see and to recognise. The science of knowledge, which is grounded not on 'thoughts', but on vision, has always been available to the human race through the transmitted teachings of the Messengers. This science we discover from the beginning of man's recorded history. The one science that has come down to us, the transmitted science of direct inner perception devoid of sensory veiling, is to be found in the original teachings of the Tao. It is to be found in the uniquely encoded messages of the Ch'an masters extracting the teachings in their purity from a source over two thousand years before them. It is in the whole record of the gnostics of Islam, from the Companions who lived fourteen hundred years ago, the People of the Suffa, to the great sufic teachers, Imam Junayd, Moulay 'Abdalqadir al-Jilani, Naqshbandi, Shadhili, and Darqawi.
From the beginning, alongside this teaching can be traced a record of its suppression, sometimes by political tyrants who believed in nothing, and often from people who wished to keep this knowledge dead so that they could rule by concepts and ritual and what we now call 'religion'. But this teaching is not 'religion', it is pre-religious. It is the Way of 'the Hanif,' the ancient Way of Ibrahim. It precedes structured religious system. It is pre-priesthood, pre-scholarship, and when it emerges it can be seen for what it is a brute-wisdom, a naked-enlightenment, the shock encounter with how-it-is. Its outer framework is free acceptance of moral prerogatives, the agreement in contract with existence to live within a moral boundary as the body itself is bounded. It accepts outer form, for the form itself is the secret of the Real. 'Wherever you turn, there is the face of Allah.' Thus we find embedded in the Qur'anic confrontation a challenge to look directly at existence. It explains itself to us. Or rather He, the Real, glory to Him, explains Himself to us by Himself through the indications of His power in the creational realities. We do not need the priests, the hierophants, the magicians, to placate the dangerous power of creation, or to control it, or to give us the illusion that they can control it. We do not need to hand over our living and our dying to the holy men of science who take existence out of our hands and makes us slaves of their magical and pointless production activity. If we follow the magicians, we are led into a goal-less life. The goal has been indicated to us in the Book and the key to that goal is openly there in the signs that are on the horizon the cosmic signs and in the self, the inner signs. The goal is One. And there is only the One.
The Message itself is delivered in clear signs. We note two levels of recognition. We are ordered by the Qur'an to a cognitive exchange with the creational process that is in itself twofold, and to a cognitive exchange with the Book itself, which is also twofold. It is both these dual capacities that make up the full arena of cognitive experience for the human being. From this it is axiomatic that in the full knowledge transaction there is both an engagement with the cosmic reality and with an intellective experience. Yet if we reduce these essential elements to two, as in the precious statement, it does not define the richly textured quadruple gnosis which is laid down by the Qur'an. One of the elements that proves impossible to so-called philosophers is that in the science of gnosis, and therefore cognition, it is necessary to say two things at the same time. It may sometimes be essential that these things are contradictory, and the labelling of these as paradox, far from clearing up the matter, somehow manages to obscure it once and for all by denying the very cognitive experience required, and restoring the subject to his original imperial position of 'observer', which position is precisely what the dual concept was designed to destroy. A philosophically based book on existential gnostic encounter is by definition a falsification, a translation of a multi-dimensional experience into a one-dimensional concept. It is less adequate than the drawing of a sculpture. It is as inadequate as the drawing of a dramatic event. The more 'precise' the scientific analyst becomes, the more his subject eludes him. Let us re-phrase the earlier statement. It is axiomatic that in the full knowledge transaction there is both an engagement with the self/cosmos opposition on the one hand and, on the other, with two opposing intellective moves. If we are to arrive at a clear understanding of the knowledge process, it follows that we must grasp this double dual function of the experiencing self. To do so each will be examined separately, then paired with its opposite. Finally the two duals will be placed in turn opposite each other.
COSMOS THE BIG MAN
The first statement has to be an impatient reminder that from the Qur'anic point of view the cosmos cannot be considered apart from the opposite reality which is man. Thus, in beginning with the one, let us retain this impatience to fling all the cosmic delineation against the self definition. They hit, collide, make war, one on the other. Each tells the other's secrets. Each is the other's definition and yet there are two views. The cosmos exists. It has, in ordinary experience, 'thereness'. From that same point of view, man exists, has thereness. We are dealing with paired opposites. What does Qur'an tell us about the meta-galactic reality of the universal?
'Allah created the heavens and the earth with the Real. In that is a sign for the acceptors!' (39:44)
'He has created the heavens and the earth with the Real. He makes night to follow day and He makes day to follow night, and He constrains the sun and the moon to give service, each running on for an appointed term. Is not He the Powerful, the Forgiver?' (39:5)
'And We created not the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in play. We only created them with the Real, but most of them do not know.' (44:38/39)
'And Allah has created the heavens and the earth with the real, and that every self may be repaid what it has earned. And they will not be wronged.' (45:22)
'He created the heavens and the earth with the Real, and He created you, and He formed you and made your forms beautiful, and to Him is the journeying.' (64:3)
'He has created the heavens without supports that you can see and has set on the earth firm hills that do not shake with you, and He scattered through it beasts of all kinds, and we send down rain from the sky and we make every noble pair to grow there.' (31:10)
'Have they not observed the sky above them, how We have made it and beautified it, and there are no flaws in it?' (50:6)
'And He has raised the skies and He has set up the balance that you exceed not the balance.' (55:6/7)
'Who has created seven heavens in harmony. You can see no fault in the Merciful's creation: then look again: can you see any faults? Then look again and yet again, your sight will return to you weakened and made dim.' (67:3/4)
'Have not those who reject known that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them, and We made every living thing of water? Will they not then accept? And We have placed on the earth firm hills that will not quake with them, and we have placed in them ravines for them to pass through that they may receive guidance. And We have made the heavens like a well-guarded canopy. Yet they turn away from its signs. And it is He who created the night and the day and the sun and the moon. They float, each in an orbit. We granted no man before you deathlessness: what, if you die, can they be deathless? Every self must taste death, and We try you will evil and with good as ordeal. To Us you will be returned.' (21:30/35)
'The creation of the heavens and the earth is certainly greater than the creation of mankind but most of mankind do not know.' (40:57)
And this sublime passage indicating the Unity underlying the phenomenal world of multiplicity.
'Allah is the splitter of the grain
and the date-stone.
He draws out the living from the dead
and He is the
drawer-out of the dead from the living.
That is Allah
so how can you disguise with falsehood?
He is the splitter of the first morning light,
He is the Maker of night as a time for stillness.
and the sun and the moon for reckoning.
That is the measure of the decree of
Hard of Access, Inestimably Precious
He is the one who made for you
so you can be guided by them
on the pitch darkness of dry land and sea
We have made the signs distinct
for a people who know.
He is the One who brought you into being from one self
then a place of residence,
then a place of lodging
We have made the signs distinct
for a people who understand.
He is the One who sent down from heaven water then by it We brought out the sprouting shoots of everything, then from it We brought out young greenness, then from it We bring out close-packed grain, and from the date-palm, from its branching spathes, date-clusters hanging near at hand, and shaded gardens of grapevines and olives and pomegranates resembling each other and not resembling each other.
Look at their fruits when they bear and ripen!
In that are signs for a people who accept.
They make the jinn into idol-associates with Allah,
yet He created them.
They rend reality by falsely ascribing to Him
sons and daughters
without any knowledge.
Glory be to Him!
May He be exalted beyond what they attribute!
The Unique Originator of the heavens
and the earth
how can He have a son
when he has no wife?
He created all things
and He is
of all things
That is Allah, your Lord.
There is no god but He.
Creator of all things
so worship Him
over all things
Eyesight does not attain Him
but He attains eyesight.
the Subtly Pervading
The Totally Aware.' (6:95/103)
It is so vastly refreshing to come on the lucid teachings of Tawhid, or Unity, after the tortured theoretics of christian fantasy on the one hand and the aristotelian mechanics of post-greek philosophy on the other, let alone the mutant child of their union: western thought. There is absolutely no need or question of a god-concept to 'explain' existence. There is no primitive 'architect' moulding cosmic clay with giant hands, no Blakean Ancient leaning over us from some empyrean heights to which Blakean insanity can attain, but rather we enter the pure realm of intellectual reflection and profound meditation. Qur'an is utterly devoid of any mythic dimension, an element one finds so suffocating in Hindu texts. Unless born in the jungle, it is very difficult to grasp that pantheon of elephants and monkeys as pure meaning it all remains hopelessly exotic, not to say humid.
Qur'an is pure crystalline translation of perceptions and cognitions. It is to the cosmos itself you are required to look. We are told that the universal existence of the cosmos is created 'with the Real', not that it is the Real. The christian polemicists deliberately distorted the writings of Ibn al-'Arabi, the great sufi of Andalusia, and made out that he was pantheist in order to discredit him not only with a possible western audience, but also with the Muslims themselves who had not read him. Tawhid which Ibn al-'Arabi expounds is not pantheistic, nor is it pantheistic-monism. All this classification is merely a political ruse to situate Islamic thought within the context of aristotelian categories and, this, of materialist western philosophy.
What is stated again and again in the ayats above and more within the text of the Qur'an, is that Allah created the heavens and the earth with the Real. The Universe is not illusion it is created 'with the Real'. One ayat already quoted says: 'Wherever you turn there is the face of Allah' Not there is Allah, but the face, and the face is the source of a creature, its identity. If we look at the face of a person, we are looking at 'him' in his wholeness. It is the essence of it. It also says elsewhere in the Qur'an, 'Allah surrounds every thing.' Yet again, we find in the above statement: 'Eyesight does not attain Him/but He attains eyesight.' Then the text refers to two divine attributes: 'He is/Al-Latif the Subtly Pervading, Gently Gracious/Al-Khabir the Totally Aware.''
Hence is a vast immeasurably great universal arena of space/time. Across it swirls a sea of galactic matter stars, planets, moons, asteroids, dust. Constellations move in their orbits, swim in patterings over tremendous distances. In the long view we see the canopy of stars and, when we see it, that seeing is inseparable from a cognition that cannot be denied. When we look on the stars of the night sky, we are gazing on beauty. Where we confront the sensory in the macrocosm immediately we confront meaning. The Universe is beautiful, we are beauty-cognisers. When we look from the galactic to the global, we find another patterning. Here everything fits together, is inter-related. There are mountains, but we are able to walk them. There are ravines, through which we may pass. There are green fields, where varied plants grow and fecundate and bear fruit. There are oceans with currents in them swim the great ocean creatures and on them sails man. From the air with its migrating birds, we get nourishment, from the sea, and from the earth. Every creature is fed and provided for, every living thing is from one source, water, and yet each is different, be it plant or animal. Man is not outside the cosmic sea, an objective observer. Man is swimming in it, immersed in it, of it, cell by cell, particle by particle. He is an in-time creature. He will die as all living things die. Here is the first vital and base-line knowledge on which all understanding of existence has to be founded. Since we are in cosmic space, we are in cosmic time. This means that not only are we 'in' our space but we are 'in' our time. The cellular reality will fulfil itself. There is no outward reality impinging on or arbitrarily interfering with its existence, for it and that reality are one cosmic in-time field. Thus all the futile western arguments about pre-destination are non-Islamic. We are utterly determined. This is our freedom. We will do whatever we do, and that is all we possibly could do. Our much vaunted illusory choices are only our acts of freely confirming the cellular reality on which we were created. If you say we are utterly free, it is true. If you say we are utterly determined, it is also true. Far from inhibiting action, it is precisely our predetermined situation that activates our organism to realise its myriad possibilities. But the possible is from the same source as the actual and is merely a shadow of what is. All this we call 'the man within the boat'. Man as contained, contained, that is, within the cosmic ocean.
Allah is not 'above' or 'beneath' or 'within' or 'without'. He is not 'fused' or 'joined' nor 'interpenetrating', nor is He 'outside' the cosmic reality. Tawhid does not permit any statement about Allah that associates Him with the very reality which permits us even to talk about Him, let alone ourselves. The approach is made differently. We prefer to say: 'If it were not for the creation, we would not have known the Creator.' We start by confirming that He is the Creator of the Universal situation, both macrocosmically and in the microcosm. The secret of the least particle of the universal dust is the secret of the Universe itself. In the intoxicating vision of the Qur'an: 'Allah is the splitter of the grain and the date-stone.' And He who is the dynamic of all life in the organic is also the same One who sustains the cosmic reality. Thus the Sufis say that the Universe is The Big Man. It is one organism. All its parts are inter-related and inter-dependent. It is structured and consistent. It is orbital and patterned, even its so-called chaos and violence are only such if 'interpreted,' just as bodily discharges, far from being malfunctions of the organism, are the vitally necessary steps in a particular pattern of readjustment and renewal. So, also, the cosmos is hierarchical and structured. Just as it has powerful outward elements that dominate others, so it has inward elements that are ranged one over the other. Just as the organism of man is governed by his heart and it is the crown of his being and its core, so in the Universe it is man that is intended.
It is a magical deception to say that the earth is not at the centre of the Universe and that man is not at the centre of the earth in importance. To displace man as the khalif of the earth is to lie about his biological condition, and to displace the Earth as the centre of the Universe is to lie about man on the earth. It is sheep deception and intimidation to displace man from his centrality to existence. They will say, 'But it is a scientific fact.' Indeed. But that, in turn, is sheer fiction unless you are yourself split, psychotic, cut-off from the reality of lived experience and the beauty and hereness of life. Existentially, you are at the heart of life. You are the centre of the world and its capital. Therefore, your Earth is the centre of the cosmos itself. And this is true for every cognitive organism in its reality. No, it is true for every grain of sand in the desert or particle of dust in the cosmic sea. Science displaces man from centrality and, therefore, reality of experience, but life itself can always restore man to that place whenever he stops guessing and speculating and looks with his eyes, and reflects openly on his in-time existence. The day you die is the End of the World and it was 'at hand'! Your death is the Reckoning just as your birth in six embryonic stages is the 'six-day' creation of the cosmos. For if the Universe is the Big Man, man is the Little Universe.
MAN - THE LITTLE UNIVERSE
'He it is who created you from dust, then from a drop, then from a clot, then brings you out as a child, then you attain full strength, and afterwards you become old men though some among you die before and you reach an appointed term, in order that you understand. It is He who brings life and death. When he commands a matter He only says to it, 'Be!' and it is.' (40:67)
'And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and colours. In these certainly are signs for men of knowledge.' (30:22)
'Has there come upon many any period of time in which he was a thing unremembered? We created him from a drop of thickened fluid to test him: so We make him hearing, knowing. We have shown him the way, whether he be grateful or ungrateful.' (76:1/3)
'Allah does not wrong mankind in anything but mankind wrong themselves.' (10:44)
'And in the earth are signs for those whose trust is certain. And in yourselves. Can you then not see?' (51:20/21)
In looking at the cosmos, we were forced to take up a position which was man-in-it cosmos. The cogniser in the cosmos was the only genuine way of apprehending the galactic situation. Equally when man is examined it is clear that there is no such thing as 'man' in the western humanist sense, which is far from being a sense a fantasy Man. Man does not exist in himself, as himself not, that is, unless we are able to take in man in his true context, which is the Universe.
'And when your Lord said to the angels,
"I am placing a Khalif on the earth."
They said, "Are you placing on it
one who will corrupt it and shed blood
while we give glory with Your Praise
and proclaim Your Purity?"
He said, "I know what you do not know."' (2:30)
Man is defined by being khalif, which means 'one who stands in for', that is, 'one who stands in for a ruler in his absence'. In what sense can one say that the ruler is absent? Only in terms of the phenomenal. Only in terms of existence. It cannot be said in terms of the hidden, or the Unseen itself. In the realm of creation Allah is hidden, or we may say 'absent'. As the sufis put it, 'When the world appears, Allah disappears. When Allah appears, the world must disappear.' This again is where the sufis are misunderstood by the ignorant academics and kafirs. Always they are referring to cognition. If you can cognise the solid world, you cannot cognise the hidden. If you dwell in the sensory you leave the meaning. If you dwell in the meaning you leave the sensory. If you bring the two to complete middle balance, each is annihilated, for the opposites annihilate each other on meeting. This station is called fana fi'llah, annihilation in Allah. But Allah is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. Of the seen and the Unseen. Thus, for man to be khalif, he must fulfil his cognitive capacity completely. He must stand between the visible and the invisible, between heaven and earth, if he is truly to be the representative, the substitute for the One who is exalted by disconnection and embedded in a connection without fusion or incarnation or relation. Such a man must straddle the two worlds. Separation will not veil him from gatheredness and gatheredness will not veil him from separation. He is an interspace between the two worlds, a barzakh. Such a man 'swallows up' the universe. He recognises the cosmic situation by reflection, by watching. He recognises it by his clear contemplation of it. Thought must cease for reflection of the cosmic existence to take place. For thought is language, and language, like colour, is multiplicity and limitation. It is difference, or let us say, differences. To arrive at pure cognition is to arrive at a seeing which has not got 'two in the glance' that is, multiplicity. As Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib says, 'to see the Creator, no second face!' His regard does not impose on existence anything, neither thought nor 'feeling'. He looks at what-is. And what-is, is It without thing-ness. He, the absent pronoun, is contemplated in the present. Thus cognition moves to the second term, You the pronoun of Presence. You are before the Real. This looking will look on existence as perfect, for the Real is perfect. Is says in the Qur'an that there is no flaw in the creation. All the neurotic analyses, all the fevered attempts to rip up the earth, to dredge the oceans, to pierce the heavens, all the infantile sure of exploration which is only curiosity and curiosity is ignorance all that is abated before the glance of pure contemplation. It is this regard that defines man. Gazing on the signs which speak for themselves. He must look until that looking takes him inevitably in towards the source of the matter. And what is the source of the matter? Is it not the human creature for whom all this was created? Are you not the source of your looking? And does your looking not take in a cosmic reality? Thus all this outward existence only exists by your recognition of it. Again, this is not mind-only doctrine that is a deliberate perversion of what we have just acknowledged. There is a unified field. You cannot conceive of the looker in a cosmic void. You cannot conceive of a cosmic void without a looker. The creational reality is one. Its reality is One, the One, without partner. Then if there are not two in the glance, who is looking? Who is looking? Who or what is the human cogniser? From where is his whereness nowhere? The innermost search, or rather research, takes place when the watcher is able to grasp that he cannot watch. That he never watched. That from the beginning he has been watched. The watcher is One. But the concept which alters the location of the watcher is not the doctrine of unitive cognition. For it is locus itself that is the secret of cognition. We have confirmed there is no mystery in the universe of life. A mystery is something hidden to knowledge, unknowable. Knowledge is not like that. It is secret. But the secret, while it cannot be divulged, can be known. Is known. Has been known since man walked the earth. Will be known until man's end and therefore by that token, the world's. We could say by that sign.
This subject is not 'mysticism', which is a christian hobby, but rather it is the field of cognition itself. It is the zone of definition of the human creature. This process of contemplation that arrives at a point of inward vision in which the contemplator finds himself with the whole cosmos within his view is called 'the ocean within the boat'. But arrival at the source is not possible until the whole Universe has been rolled up and become non-existent. When, and we repeat, the Universe disappears, it follows that the self, the self/watcher/locus, disappears. Then who is the watcher?
This gnostic dislocation, for want of a better word, is the door to illumination and that is unification. After that the child has become a man. A new experience of cognition takes places, a new condition is entered into, so that the gnostic experiences existence as differently in cognition from the blind adult as the man does from the child. This deep reflective practice and its fulfilment require another self up to the penultimate moment. That other self must serve as a mirror in which the seeker may contemplate his or her self. There is no avoidance of this contract and it has always existed in the circles where this art has been practised both in the east and the west. The exception does not disprove the rule. Not all the prophets were without such a guide. Musa, and also Sulayman, depended on the one who had been given 'direct knowledge', popularly named al-Khidr, but not 'Isa (Jesus) and not the Master of knowledge, Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
This knowledge does not have a dogmatic framework and this is its offence to the priesthood class who depend for their survival on an information (book) learning which they have and the populace do not. By it they tyrannise and rule, while by gnostic knowledge the human being releases and guides. It is not situated within a mythic framework or a belief framework. It does not demand a religion, thus it dispenses with elitist priesthoods and book based learning. It is utterly existential, and it is also moral, an this is not the same as religiosity, the morality of the gnostic is grounded on inner decision and commitment. It cannot be imposed. It will be said that the need for a guide has been confirmed, and surely that is precisely the admission of an elitist group. The sufis have always said that elitism is in the inward, recognised inwardly, but hidden outwardly. The king of the outward must appear. The king of the inner must be hidden, hidden, that is, to the majority of men.
The one who has unified in direct knowledge by vision is the khalif, the interspace between the two seas. Such a one is called the perfect man, by perfect is meant, in gnosis. When ignorant and dogmatic religionists say 'no one can be perfect,' it is always strident but it is never proven. The gnostics among the people of their art must and do demonstrate the reality of their witnessing. The proof, and it is the ultimate and foundational proof, is nevertheless from themselves, on themselves, and it is this inner discovery which makes them safe and sound from both the opinion of the world and essentially from the once treacherous opinion they had of themselves. Qur'an gives us three degrees of cognition in the vocabulary when it indicates: the muslim: the mu'min: the muhsin. This would be defined as the one who takes knowledge outwardly by assurance and information on trust: the one who verifies the teaching by inward awakening and confirmation: the one who has knowledge of the experiencing locus. These are the men of three kingdoms: Islam, Imam, Ihsan. Islam is the life-transaction the deen which is affirmation of the One and the Messengership of Muhammad: five daily sets of prostrations: one monthly fast per year: one annual tax given out from one's wealth: to stand on the plain of 'Arafat, i.e. the Plain of Recognition. Iman is the interiorisation of the cosmic landscape going from the creational realities in event to a personal cosmic landscape in vision. This entails acceptance of the Unity, the Books, the Messengers, the Angels, the Last Day, the Balance, and the Decree. All these explain and interpret the meanings of the dual nature of existence and its unitary secret. Ihsan is the definition of gnosis: that you worship Allah as if you saw Him and while you do not see Him, you know that He sees you, i.e. you achieve the gnostic dislocation.
These three zones of experience make up the deen of the Real. It must be seen that these do not invent a mythic narrative, nor do they obligate to symbolic non-functional ritual. The worship is naked and original structuring of the human experience of awe before the encounter with how-it-is. You stand, you bow, you prostrate. The direction of bowing and prostrating is to confirm one position 'on behalf of all,' its direction is simply a further confirmation that this teaching is the Ancient Way, for one turns to the House built by Ibrahim as a House for Allah, the Unconditioned. The rites of worship are not transactional magic. There is no sacrifice, no shaman, no dance, no robes.
Equally, when one comes to Iman, one is confronted with the interior landscape of the human creature and the gnostic situation. The Real is One. The science has been flowing continuously from the beginning by revelation or inner opening directly from the Divine. Therefore there have been messengers. Angels are the Light energies by which all creational processes take place from the crystalline to the organic. They are not a primitively explanatory 'extra' to the chromosomic process, they are the triggers of the processes, they are the impulses that move the cell and the stars. The Last Day is your last day, your cosmic condition as an in-time creature. The Balance in which you are 'weighed' is that same balance on which the visible world is set-up in the sensory, recognised to be operating also at the level of the meanings, and the two are one. The Decree is the core of gnostic illumination. It is only from the perspective of ignorance and speculation that man dwells in the child-sphere of freedom. The child thinks it is free while it is utterly conditioned. Knowing you are conditioned is to be utterly conditioned, and released.
Ihsan we have explained at length in what preceded. It is the goal and culmination of the two necessary elements of awareness in the human being who accepts mortality. It could also be described as being three decrees of certainty. Here again the terminology is Qur'anic. ‘Ilm al-yaqeen: 'ayn al-yaqeen: haqq al-yaqeen. Knowledge of certainty: source of certainty: truth of certainty.
If you like, you could say that knowledge spans the three realms of existence: that is the dual reality of the creational process, visible and invisible, and its interspace of lights. Mulk, malakut, jabarut. That is, the Visible Kingdom, the Invisible Kingdom, and the Light Kingdom.
In another terminology, derived from Al-Hallaj, about whom much spurious invention has been put abroad by confused catholic scholars, there is a very valuable triad: nasut: lahut: rahamut. This is perhaps of all these the most sophisticated for our use since it contains our two opposites: king and kingdom: man and cosmos: observer and observed. Nasut is the man/cosmos as experiencing zone. Lahut is the cosmic man as experiencing zone. Rahamut is the plenum of lights when there is only Light. We commend this terminology for it holds the dual opposites in one term.
When modern people read the Qur'an they must read it as a book meant for them and not for some desert group fourteen hundred years ago. This is not an empathetic plea such as the christians make all the time about the hotch-potch Bible. It is simply that the Book is meant to make plain the cosmic situation and nothing else. Its stories of ancient peoples are not mythic and it is certainly not historic. It is defining and redefining all the time the condition of human creatures trapped in their in-timeness and flung into perpetual struggle in a struggle which they cannot understand and then later stubbornly refuse to understand. It does so by close-up and long shot. The long view is in the retelling of the conflicts of the ancient peoples. The close view is in a vivid interpretation of events within the Messenger's own community. But, and this is most important, it is not necessary to 'know the story' to understand the Book. It is a self-explanatory book, complete in itself, clear in all its passages, inter-connected, repeating its own vital elements so that there is no doubt. Properly speaking there can be no commentaries on the Qur'an. It comments on itself. Or let us say, and here is the key to the Qur'an, the Qur'an opens itself up to the one who has opened his own faculty of recognition. Once the seeker has arrived at direct witnessing of the Real, then that person is able to show the meanings for the people of his time and for himself. The Qur'an is alive in his hands, whether he contemplates a surat, an ayat, a word or a letter, or stops with its stillness.
This brings us to the next pair of opposites. For having said that a certain type of intellect is able to interpret and illuminate the Qur'an, it must also be confirmed that it contains certain statements which do not need or invite interpretation in the sense that others do and can. These are ayats of shari‘at, of law, which indicate with clarity how to judge certain moral matters in a way that has justice and which also holds the human community to compassion in their social transactions.
INFORMATION AND CODED IMAGE
'He is the One who sent down on you the Book from Him
Some signs are straightforward
they are the Mother of the Book.
Others are hazy.
As for those with swerving-aside in their hearts,
they follow what is hazy in it
desiring its interpretation.
But no one knows its interpretation
The deeply-rooted in knowledge say,
"We accept it. It is all from our Lord."
But no one remembers except the possessors
of innermost core.' (3:7)
Here two types of ayats are indicated. Mahkamât and mutashâbihât. It is quite definite in defining itself as a Book with clear and unclear signs. With judgement-based signs and likeness-based signs. In another passage mutashâbihât is contrasted with mathânî. This gives us the dyad self-consistent and paired.
What is judgement-based is simply what is laid down as legal foundations for a sane submitting society, submitting, that is, to the basic and fundamental laws on which existence functions. By extension also we may say that the judgement-based signs are those which give the clear doctrines on the unity of Allah on which the whole Qur'anic viewpoint is dependent. Basic understanding about how-it-is is founded on clear information indicating the creational order as pointing directly to the meaning realm without impositions. Everything, in simple words, in existence makes senses. Likeness-based signs are those which teach by mithal by likenesses and metaphors and narrative pictures. It also carries with it the meaning of 'consistent with itself'. So each part of the Book makes plain each other part of the Book without lacunae or contradictions. The last term mathani means paired. It also means many times repeated. But here it indicates that it is a Book which has paired the dyads on which the creational order is set up: light/dark: life/death: this world/next world: muslim/kafir, and so on in a tremendous series of opposites which form the warp of the Book as these interlocking, self-consistent mithals form the woof, and of these double elements the revelation is woven into words.
Here we discern two modes of intellection. The first is the simple process of definitive thinking, but the second is of a completely different nature. We may say that it involves another faculty of intellect. Significantly, in the first set of elements, words are meant to mean what they say while in the second, it is precisely the opposite. Further, in the first set, analysis can be made of meanings within the terms of reference. With the mithal you cannot pierce the meaning by extension and development of the basic image. It has to be seen into. Reading mithals is not like meaning 'facts', for they are facts but while the first are linear and static, the second are three-dimensional and mobile. The first is pinned down, the second must fly free. Some people lack the first faculty, others the second. The first can be acquired, the second is a gift.
Look how clearly the different modes of intellection are laid out in the passage above. There are people who are attracted to the metaphoric and secret and want to abstract it from its foundation in ordinary solid existence. They are occultists, batini, in traditional language. Since it is not the realm of proofs, in the end, each has his own private interpretation and no one can say him nay. Thus this path leads to division and darkness, for only Allah knows the full significance of these indications. This does not mean we cannot know them, but we cannot give a definitive reading of them, for their meanings do not end. Another group simply accepts with humility and conviction that these statements are from Allah, and, by this, they increase in awe of Allah's knowledge and power. There is, however, a third group and they remember this also means invoke and they are the people of innermost-core, Lubb. They are the people of gnosis, for it is the gnostic who has reached into the centre of his being and found the seed-core which contains his own plenum, the cosmic reality. Their knowing is invoking. Their knowing is remembering. It is a qualitative leap. One may pass from the second to the third group but never from the first to the third. This confirms to us that the opposites are shari'at and haqiqat road and reality social obligation opposite inward knowledge. The occultists float in a realm without moral or social obligations and are thus violent and dictatorial in their character.
We conclude, therefore, that this second type of knowing, the mithalic, is a necessary component of human knowledge and without it man is as incomplete as we normally consider him to be without what we term the abstract faculty which is the capacity to recognise the first set of patternings based on ordinary existence. We may say, further, that this mithalic knowledge is higher and more necessary while at the same time it is not an alternative, depending as it does on shar'ic understanding and thus rational capacity.
So we return to our quadrant pattern which in itself makes up the complete knowledge system of the human creature. This gives us the man/cosmos opposition and the pairs/meanings interconnected opposition. To expand we have a self which is the gatheredness of the cosmos: we have a cosmos which is the separation of the self. That is one reality viewed two ways. We have a realm of creational opposites in dynamic conflict and changing dominance: we have a world of many metaphors indicating meanings and all these are mutually confirming and consistent. Thus, while the thing is itself and opposite another, in one mode, it is identical with its opposite in another. This gives us oppositions in the sensory and unification in the meaning.
Now, when we place these four elements so that they align as one pattern, the quadrant form we get is two pairs of 'opposite' identicals, as it were, two sets of dynamic contradiction and tension, each holding the other's secret, neither complete without the other's reality. And each opposite is sustained by its availability to the other. In short, without man-in-cosmos (who is cosmos-in-man), we cannot have creational-opposites (which are harmonic metaphors), and vice versa.
This is the arena of knowledge, the zone of intellection, the kingdom of knowledges covering the three realms, the visible, the invisible, and the dividing realm itself, which is Light. For without light the form cannot be separated from the non-form, the visible from the invisible. We have come to see the nasut/lahut as a living reality is existence, and the / is the rahamut. These three realms indicate the Real, for the Real cannot be associated with any form in this realm of the hidden, nor any realm. And this is tawhid. And there you are.
The last structural element in the Qur'an is the surat. Thus it is the largest and last mode of experience before we are able to view the Book in its wholeness. It follows from this that it is the highest mode of complexity and the last mode of meaning. Each surat is a complete meaning unit in itself, a whole organism. The word means form. So the last phase of intellection which we may possess is knowledge of the forms after that is the totality, the manifest Book it in its turn implies and points to the hidden Book the 'Mother of the Book'. The Message from the Real.
Now the surats divide clearly down the middle into two sets. So important is this grouping to us, we find that the earliest communities incorporated this division into the written text. Thus. at the opening of every surat we find the name of the surat followed by either: Makkan surat or Madinan surat. This permits us to say: every surat has a name and every surat is either Makkan or Madinan. We may note here the enormous significance given to the letter M mim in Islam, for from it comes the Messenger Muhammad, blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, Makkah where the House of Allah is, Madinah the home of the first community of Islam as well as muslim, mu'min, and muhsin. Shaykh al-Akbar notes of the letter mim: Its point of articulation is from the two lips. Its element earth. Its number 44. Its zone - the Seen, the Mulk, the Jabarut. Its power man.
The surats are named. The forms are named. This is the Adamic condition which is the sign of knowledge. The first chapter is called the Opening, or the Victory. The next chapter which is, properly speaking, the beginning of the Qur'an and its message, is called The Cow, referring to the cow which the jews made the issue of their cunning and debate in avoidance of the clear message that had come to them. This first great chapter, which is also called 'the little Qur'an' takes as its core, therefore, the capacity of man to reject the deep and meaningful message of life by replacing it with superficial complexity disguised as wisdom, or to be more exact, the capacity of man to impose on existence and project onto it an interface of concept and analysis rather than direct-reading of it by it, for it (you) is (are) self-explanatory.
The final sura is Mankind an-Naas. The first world of the Qur'an is BISMILLAH in the Name of Allah. Its last word is NAAS mankind. And between these two lies the Message from Allah to his khalif, man.
In this final division of opposites Makkah/Madinah, we recognise the most profound series of opposites. It stands for haqiqat/shari'at, for Makkah is the place of the House of Allah with its special rites which all indicate the sublime Reality which cannot be associated with any person or place or angel. It is the place of these knowledges. Madinah is the home of the Messenger in his last years, the place where the community of Islam began, the place of the foundation of the shari'at and its pure practice.
It stands for individual/community. Makkah is the place of the human creature standing alone before the House of Allah while Madinah is the place of the muslim community in all its richness of human exchange. These permit us to draw from this the ultimate division and to say that the dyad stands for inward/outward, for this follows from what has already been said. Makkah is pure inwardness, it is the place of the Cave of Hira where the Messenger received the first revelation, while Madinah itself means the City and therefore the outward project without which the true glory of the Creator can never be discovered. Madinah is outwardness. The twin cities are the indicators of the contrary Names of Allah adh-Dhahir and al-Batin the Outwardly Manifest and the Inwardly Hidden. True Islam is based on the right balance between the two. You dwell in Madinah, but you must take the journey to Makkah. Madinah is over Makkah by being the domain of life and on-going existence, Makkah is over Madinah by being the place of meaning without which there would never have been and cannot be a Madinah. Again we see that in confirming the truth about Allah we are forced to make a double statement in the world of forms. Islam is based on Makkah/Madinah as life is based on inward/outward.
So the forms of existence like the forms of the Books are either outward or inward, and these are opposites. And while the opposites are opposites in shari'at they are the same in haqiqat. This everything from the lowest to the highest is set up in opposites, and everything from the highest to the lowest only indicates one reality a reality that is reached by these contraries and these contrary names.
Letters, signs, forms, all have been set up in opposites, mathani. And their secret is Tawhid. There is the Unity. It is not even one Book for it has its own opposite, the Mother of the Book in the Unseen. It is Allah who is the One. The First without beginning and the Last without end.
So we return from the forms through the signs to the letters. And from the letters we fall into the silence from which they emerged. One of the great sufis said: "We go from non-existence to non-existence. Tomorrow you will taste annihilation." "Everything is in annihilation," says the Qur'an, except the face of Allah.'
One mode of knowledge disappears and another mode appears, but that mode had never been hidden, had never been limited. When the truth comes the lie has to disappear, says the Qur'an. It is the gnosis which lays bare the reality which has always been and will always be. Allah goes-on. He is Ever-continuing.
You will never know, Your station is ignorance. Your condition is darkness. When death comes the certain comes. That will be your certainty, Once the experiencing self is dead, the Real who was/is always present/absent that is, the Living, is recognised, but not by you, for you are pulverised and destroyed as locus and as named. When your form disintegrates, and your signs vanish, and your letters fade, and you are enveloped in the great Sukun then the Book of the Books appears before you, and the Pen and the Tablet of all the forms, and you read from where He reads in the non-spatial as you once read from where he read-out in the spatial the last great message of Makkah/Madinah.
'Read in the name of your Lord '
And what shall you read if it is not your life?
And what can you know if it is not your Lord?
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