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Islam


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©  Wim van den Dungen
Antwerp, 2017.

Salvation is the outcome of an accomplished evolution towards Allâh, The God of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus & Muhammad, peace with him. The act of bearing witness to Allâh's unity makes one submit to Allâh ("Allâh" or "The God"). He is omniscient, omnipotent & all-just. He created human freedom. Although He already knows everything we will do, He nevertheless makes humanity accountable for its choices. He is incomprehensible. Only His Revelations allow humanity to spiritually evolve. Only he who submits to Allâh AND acknowledges that Muhammad is His Prophet, is a Muslim.

In the "hadîth" of the Divine Messenger Gabriel, the archangel asks Muhammad about submission ("Islam"), faith ("îmân"), doing what is beautiful ("ihsân") and the hour & marks of the Last Day. Humanity ought to do the correct thing and submit to Allâh, "The God". There is only a single true & worthy object of service. No second is necessary. No god ("ilâh") but only & always Allâh (i.e. the first pillar or "shahada", to bear witness that "there is no god only The God"). Without Divine Revelation it is impossible to understand Allâh. The Qur'ân is Allâh's Word and Muhammad is His Prophet.

The 99 Names of Allâh tell us what Allâh is not (His essence), what He is (His attributes) and how He interrelates with the universe (His acts). The God is pure & free of something else ("tanzîh"), as expressed by the Divine Name "bâtin" (Inward, Unmanifest). Nevertheless, Allâh is similar with His creatures ("tashbîh"), as revealed by "zâhir" (Outward, Manifest).

THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF SPIRITUALITY :
SUBMIT TO ALLÂH
THE HARMONY OF 99 DIVINE NAMES

The God is the Real. Hence, everything other than The God is unreal, vanishing, nothing. Insofar as the Real is Inward, the outward is unreal. The outward universe is real insofar as The God is Outward in His signs. The universe is real through The God's realness and one through His oneness. The God's distance & nearness are the two poles of the assertion of the unity of The God ("tawhîd"). Asserting the unity of the bi-polarity of Allâh is reached when every event is understood in terms of both perspectives simultaneously. In every event The God's nearness & distance, at once similarity & difference is revealed (cf. in His signs "ayat").

The religious ethics of Islam is wholly turned towards "tawhîd", or Divine unity. In all actions one should consider the will of Allâh and His signs. The God's mercy takes precedence over His wrath. To do what is right & beautiful ("ihsân") is the way of Islam that is drawn from the Qur'ân and the "Sunna" (the community of the Prophet or additional sources describing the custom of the Prophet as reported in the accounts of his sayings & activities, the "hadîths"). Only The God is Real and the Real is good. Hence, the unreal is evil, the absence of the Real, in itself inexistent. Evil pertains to everything other than The God.

Iblîs (Satan) does not seem to play an independent role. He has no cosmic dimension and is not out of control. Islam affirms Divine Unity ("tawhîd") & acknowledges bi-polarity. Iblîs represents error & misguidance with respect to humanity. Iblîs is convinced that he is better than Adam. But, he does The God's work and sets up a contrast between wrong & right. Without Iblîs, humanity (like the angels) would have no choices. Nothing is absolutely other than Allâh. So creatures are evil when they are other than Allâh, and deny The God His monarchy. All creatures are mixtures of good & evil and only The God is absolutely good. Human beings have been placed on Earth to prove themselves. Will the bargain Iblîs made with The God (not to be taken into account until the Last Day) prove he was right not to prostrate before Adam ?

Although The God has measured things out and knows all things even before they occur, human effort remains meaningful. Only Allâh is truly free. By freeing themselves up for The God, humans become free from everything else. No human can be free of The God. Humans may reflect the attributes of The God, put them into effect through them. If The God can do whatever He desires, so -in respect to The God's nearness- can humans do whatever they desire.

Sub-traditions : Sunnites, Shiites, Sufism.

Criticism of Islam :

§ 1/+ It goes without saying the life of Muhammad (ca.570 C.E. - 6 VI 632 C.E.) was extraordinary. Only recently, now that the grip of Roman Catholicism on Western learning has -under the pressure of persistent intellectual refusals- been released, have more reliable (unbiased) historical data become available. Everybody interested in history, discovering the many false images produced by the Christian story about Muhammad, may nowadays find this amazing story in popular books (Armstrong, 1991, 1993). Unlike Moses, Zoroaster, Krishna, Gautama or Jesus (founding fathers remaining legendary or shrouded in forgery & deceit), a lot of his life as a historical person is known, although according to some the entire biography is a conjectural exegesis of a few passages of the Qur'ân, devised & elaborated by later generations of believers (cf. Lammens & Caetani, 1915).

"The traditional accounts of the life of Muhammad and the story of the origin and rise of Islam, including the compilation of the Koran are based exclusively on Muslim sources, particularly the Muslim biographies of Muhammad, and the Hadith, that is the Muslim traditions." -
Ibn Warraq (edit) : The Origins of the Koran, Prometheus - New York, 1998, introduction, p.18.


§ 2/+ The way Muhammad received his revelations differs from Judaism & Christianity. After his death, other types of problems with the founding text came to the fore. Moses & Jesus left us nothing (moreover, their physical existence is even under dispute). And how wide is the gap between the oral Torah & its first redaction ? Nobody knows. Moreover, Muhammad did not receive his visions all at once (unlike Moses). Nevertheless, an authentic primitive tradition (recorded in the late eighth century) has to be distinguished from a forged one (made to rebut the first).

"Upon the bare canvas of verses of the Koran that need explanation, the traditionalists have embroidered with great boldness scenes suitable to the desires and ideals of their particular group (...)." -
Hurgronje, S. : Mohammedanism, New York, 1916, p.24.

In the pre-canonical phase of the redaction of the Qur'ân, three textual levels have to be distinguished: 

  1. the texts of the "al-Qurra", a class of men in Medina who lived near the Prophet and had a fairly complete knowledge of the revelations and the rules of life (Caetani, 1915). Possibly they memorized most of their knowledge but also recorded parts of it (when memory failed). It is not unlikely that independent collections of sûra's existed before the first redaction under Abu Bakr ;

  2. the independent texts on "pieces of papyrus, flat stones, palm leaves, shoulder blades and ribs of animals, pieces of leather and wooden boards, as well as from the hearts of men" mentioned by the young Zaid ibn Thabit (why mistrust him ?) ;

  3. the private, first redaction of senior Zaid ibn Thabit : a codex of what he had collected on sheets or leaves made under Abu Bakr, caliph between 632 & 634, called into being because so many who knew the Qur'ân by heart were killed during the Battle of Yamâma and given to the second caliph 'Umar when Abu Bakr died in 634 and upon 'Umar's death to his daughter Hafsa. This first redaction is considered by some scholars as invented to take the second redaction as near as possible to Muhammad's death (cf. Adams, 1987), whereas others claim "it is unlikely that those who died in the Battle of Yamâma, being new converts, knew any of the Koran by heart" (Ibn Warraq : Op.cit., p.11).

In this first, pre-canonical phase, all textual elements are in "scripta defectiva" meaning the consonantal text was unpointed, blurring the distinction between letters and making several others indistinguishable. The 'Uthman collection was meant to standardize the text, changing it into a "scripta plena" (a fully voweled and pointed text). The implications of this are wide. 

"It must be emphasized that far from there being a single text passed down inviolate from the time of 'Uthman's commission, literally thousands of variant readings of particular verses were known in the first three (Muslim) centuries. These variants affected even the 'Uthmanic codex, making it difficult to know what is true form may have been." -
Adams, C.J. : "Quran : The Text and Its History", in Eleade, M. (edit) : Encyclopedia of Religion, Macmillan - New York, 1987, p.157-76, my italics.

  • the official, canonical collection or second redaction of Zaid ibn Thabit completed between 650 and 'Uthman's death in 656. This collection was sent to Kufa, Basra & Damascus, and all other versions were ordered to be destroyed ! The collection of Ibn Mas'ud of Kufa survived (he was indignant that the text was established by someone like Zaid !), as did many others !! In fact, scholars like Jeffery (1937) listed fifteen primary codices, and a large number of secondary ones. The "official" text of modern Islam is based on Asim of Kufa through Hafs (cf. Egyptian edition of 1924).

"There are no compelling reasons for accepting the 'Uthmanic story and not the Abu Bakr one ..." - Ibn Warraq : Op.cit., p.13.

Many translations of the Recitation are possible and differences often occur. In view of the presence of authentic textual traditions before the official redaction, and the probability of collections before the one made by Zaid under Abu Bakr, it is clear we may not possess all the texts of the Qur'ân, whereas interpolation can not be absolutely excluded. If Muhammad wanted a collection of the various, independent revelations he would have ordered its redaction himself. There is no tradition regarding this (only his permission to write something down when memory fails). This does not mean the text we have is untrustworthy, but to consider it as complete and of inviolate origin (as fundamentalists do) runs against its historical criticism and fails reason. Perhaps the best summary of this matter was formulated by Ibn'Arabî who claimed the Perfect(ed) Human is a "Qur'ân" ... The authenticity of a sûra is hence related to the mystical experience which underlies its revelation and ritual recitation is precisely the return of consciousness to this eternal event. This interpretation does run against the political, social & legal aspects of the Islam state.

"... the Prophet, who was more probably an unlettered man, had never thought of writing a book, or of gathering together, in a complete code, the scattered verses which he had recited to his friends, in some circumstances of his life ..."
Mingana, A. & Smith, A. : Leaves from Three Ancient Qurâns Possibly Pre-'Othmânic with a List of their Variants, Cambridge, 1914, introduction, pp.xi-xxxii.

§ 3 /- However, as soon as Muhammad died, important organizational problems rose. It was unclear who the rightful successor ("khalîfa") of the prophet was ("khalifah rasul Allâh" or "successor of the Messenger of The God"). Would the emergent Arab culture relapse into its former ancestral tribal and polytheist consciousness ? A central focal point seemed necessary. 

"Canonization and stabilization of the text of the Koran go hand in hand with the formation of the community, according to Wansbrough. A final fixed text of the scripture was not required, nor was it totally feasible, before political power was firmly controlled ; thus the end of the second/eighth century becomes a likely historical moment for the gathering together of oral tradition and liturgical elements leading to the emergence of the fixed canon of scripture and the emergence of the actual concept 'Islam'."
Rippin, A.  : "Literary analysis of Koran, Tafsir, and Sira : The Methodologies of John Wansbrough", in Martin, R.C. (edit) : Approaches to Islam in Religious Studies, University of Arizona Press - Tucson, 1985, p.155.

Those who's interests had been purely political, argued the death of Muhammad meant the end of their allegiance with the community of Allâh. This shows the historical community was not the unity of Allâh Muhammad had projected it to be (the rejection of hypocrisy is often repeated in the Qur'ân). But most of the Muslims gathered around Abu Bakr, the first calyph, or successor of Muhammad as spiritual leader of the Islam. He was very clear about his authority, claiming no Divine status, nor human excellence (cf. Ibn Ishaak's account in 1017). But only two years later he died and was succeeded by 'Umar & 'Uthman.

In 656 (only 24 years later), 'Ali became the last of the founding calyphs of Islam after Muhammad. 'Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law who married Fatima, Muhammad's only daughter, stressed the leader should in all cases care for his people. But 'Ali never quite received the allegiance of all Muslims. He had to wage increasingly unsuccessful wars to maintain himself in power. He was murdered in 661, and Mu'awiyah, his chief opponent, became caliph. 'Ali's second son, Al-Husain, later refused to recognize the legitimacy of Mu'awiyah's son and successor as caliph, Yazid. This eventually led to the schism between Sunnites and Shiites (the later party of 'Ali). The first four calyphs, so-called rightly guided, had more or less assured the unity of the community which had also been very important to the Prophet. After 'Ali, this was broken in two : a conservative majority and a more ecstatic minority (comparable to the schism between Roman orthodoxy and Orthodox pneumatism).

The community of the direct followers of the Prophet considered they were guardians of the orthodox core or spiritual "sunna" (the habitual practices) of the Prophet. These Sunnites were in the majority. What originally seemed a unity was breached when this dynasty of Omayyad (initiated by Mu'awiyah) ruling the Empire of the Caliphate (AD 661 - 750) was rejected by the Shiites. These followers of 'Ali claimed only the direct relatives of 'Ali could inherit the caliphate. The Shiites stressed (not unlike the Zoroastrians) inspired leadership ("imam") and actually venerated Husain, the second son of 'Ali. As a result a fundamental division rose between the orthodox majority (following the "sunna" of the Prophet) and the growing opposition, condemned for heresy. At present 60 to 80 million people (or 10% of Islam) are Shiites.

The Prophet's direct successors, the Rashidun (or so-called Perfect Caliphate) and Mu'awiyah effected the expansion of the Islamic state beyond Arabia into Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Iran, and Armenia and, with it, the development of an elite class of Arab soldiers. They were also responsible for the adoption of an authoritative reading of the official Qur'ân, which strengthened the Sunnite Muslim community and encouraged religious scholarship.

After Ali's murder in 661, Mu'awiyah -the governor of Syria during the early Arab conquests, a kinsman of 'Uthman, and a member of the Quraysh lineage of the Prophet- proclaimed himself caliph and established his capital in Damascus. From there he conquered Muslim enemies to the east, south, and west and fought the Byzantines to the north ! He is considered by some as the architect of the Islamic empire and a political genius. Under his governorship Syria became the most prosperous province of the caliphate. Mu'awiyah created a professional army and won the undying loyalty of his troops (like Alexander the Great, he paid them their generous salaries on time). Heir to Syrian shipyards built by the Byzantines, he established the caliphate's first navy. He also conceived and established an efficient government. By 732, the dynasty he founded had conquered Spain and Tours in France and stretched in the east to Samarkand and Kabul. It exceeded the greatest boundaries of the Roman Empire !

The Omayyads followed the traditions set by the Hellenistic monarchs and the Romans. The conqueror's (Muslim) law applied only to those of the same faith or nationality as the conquerors. During the 89 years of Umayyad rule, most Syrians became Muslims, and the Arabic language replaced Aramaic. The Omayyads minted coins, built hospitals, and constructed underground canals to bring water to the towns. Foreign trade expanded, and educated Jews and Christians, many of them Greek, found employment in the caliphal courts, where they studied and practiced medicine, alchemy, and philosophy. Hellenistic learning thus penetrated the Muslim spirit, enabling its apology (cf. the late, hesitant rise of Arab philosophy).

These early Muslims encountered Zoroastrism in Persia, monophysite Christianity in Syria & Asia Minor (especially in Anatolia), Lunar Hermetism in Harran, Nestorian Christianity in the Euphrate region, Buddhism & Hinduism in Nordwest India, fertility cults in North Africa,  and Roman Catholicism in Spain. All these religions influenced Islam, especially its mystical current (Sufism). They were multi-culturalists, not mono-cultural. Islam was their common denominator, fostering the study of the Qur'ân by the intellectual elite and triggering philosophy.

§ 4/- A century after Muhammad's death, Islam was not considered to be a religion for all of humanity. Only Arabs could convert. But, the other religions "of the book" ("ahl al-kitâb") received freedom to practice and were protected minorities ("dzimmî"). Moreover, especially after the period of the "ar-râsjidun" (the so-called rightly guided successors), when all of Muhammad's companions had died, one argued the text of the official Qur'ân could not be understood properly without the oral tradition or "hadîth's" (the stories about the "sunna" of the Prophet). Instead of the direct relationship with The God, intermediaries were put in place.

So the "Sharî'ah" or sacred codex was written down (9th - 10th century), based on :

(1) The Qur'ân
(2) The "Sunna" (the way) of the Prophet as recorded in the Tradition (the "hadîth") ;
(3) The "Ijma'", or universal agreement, which probably has been the most important factor in defining what the Qur'ân and the way mean but which itself has remained the least clearly formulated religious institution of Islam. Its full nature and implications have never been really analyzed either in Medieval Islam or by modern scholarship. And this is the more surprising, as this notion is pivotal. Far from working as unique standard, "Ijma'" came to operate as a principle of toleration of different traditions within Islam ;
(4) "Qiyas", or analogical reasoning, is the genuine basis of interpretation and thought ("ijtihad") in Islam. It is this which makes progressive "Ijma'" possible. Its earlier form was personal thought and opinion, criticized by traditional authorities as "arbitrary."

There are four sciences known as the "sciences of the Sharî'ah" : the prophetic Tradition ("hadîth'), the Qur'ânic exegesis ("tafsir"), theology ("kalam"), and law ("fiqh"). As a result of increased exposure to other religious systems, a cleavage occurred between the law and the doctrine, and the former, which ideally presupposed the latter as its base, came not only to be an independent discipline but to claim for itself the title of the science of the Shari'ah par excellence and was even identified with the Shari'ah itself. Thus "fiqh", which originally meant an understanding of the entire range of the faith, came to be applied to law alone.

Later, several new disciplines focused one the more philosophical aspects of these scriptures and these fractions often disagreed. Heresy became a fact of Islamic life. Although the Islam stresses the importance of a political organization in accord with the laws of Allâh, i.e. unity, it lacked the necessary tools to realize this : no canon, no centralized authority and many fractions and sects fighting each other for supremacy. Hardly a spiritual example of peace.

Even today in our secularized societies this remains a problem. In France, Islam was recently not represented in the national council for religions because it remained unclear who represented the community as a whole. The same happened in Belgium, were untill 1999 Islam could not benefit from the official support offered to Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism & Orthodox faith.

"According to general belief, ahâdîth were orally transmitted at least for one hundred years. (...) On the authenticity of this statement, there are differences of opinion among orientalists. Muir accepts it with the remark that there are no authentic remains of any such compilation of an earlier date than the middle of the 2nd century of the Hijrah. While Guillaume in referring to this statement says, 'The hâdîth must be regarded as an invention', Ruth also refers to Guillaume and some other scholars who doubt the trustworthiness of the report." - Azami, M.M. : Studies in Early Hadîth Literature, American Trust Publications - Washington, 1992, chapter II, pp.18-19.

§ 5/+ It seems strange political matters like succession, power & territory played such an important role after the Prophet of Allâh died. This makes Western scholars prudent enough not to blundly accept as genuine all (oral) stories in circulation after 632. Furthermore, it discredits any attempt to sanctify them. The Recitation ended when Muhammad died and the Muslims did not regress by reconstituting the tribal mosaic and its worship of the 360 gods. During Muhammad's lifetime they believed he was a very evolved human, perhaps the archetype of the emerging Arab spiritual state of mind able to confront & transcend all former revelations. Later, he alone was a Perfect Man and the "seal of the prophets". Apparently, the language Muhammad used guaranteed the survival of a Pan-Arabic cultural form. In the light of this achievement, all conflicts between the political fractions seem irrelevant. But what about the
Qur'ân mentioning :

"Ha Mim By the clear book. We have made it an Arabic Koran so that you would understand it. The mother of the book is with Us. It is indeed sublime and wise."
(43:1-3)


§ 6/- Although a balance between Allâh's nearness and remoteness is present, the orthodox "sunna" was opposed to immanent representations of Allâh. Especially the elocutions of certain Sufi mystics (calling themselves the incarnation of Allâh) always caused violent Sunnite reactions. The fact immanence is part of the message of the 99 Names, was seen by some Shiites as reason to believe in the incarnation of a "Madhi" or a Messiah (in the form of an Imam).

§ 7/+ It can not be repeated enough that without Islamic scholarship, i.e. an Arab translation & adaptation of Hellenism,
the European Renaissance as we know it would not have happened. Hence, our modernity is rooted in the spirit of abstract (& Arabesk) inquiries into the nature of knowledge & being, both theoretical as practical. This historical fact should perhaps be put more to the fore in our common schoolbooks.

§ 8/- Nevertheless, although abstract Islamic sciences reached a formidable peak and allowed for the development of more than one science (astronomy, mathematics, irrigation, architecture, music, philology etc.), the social, juridical & political situation of woman in Islam did not improve, and atrocities did not end (slavery, severing limbs, stoning, whipping). On the contrary, compared with the position of women in the Codex of Hammurabi (a "heathen" ruler who lived some twenty-four hundred years before Muhammad), the Islamic laws regarding women are in many respect inferior, whereas the way they are treated goes from isolation to being objects of male barbarism. In general, a certain freedom experienced by women in pre-Islamic Arabia was taken away by Islamic regulations. Saying woman are not equal but complementary to men is not a valid excluse for making them a degree lower than men.

The majority of Islamic exegetes and jurisprudents (especially the modern ones) claim Islam elevated the position of women. However, ...

" ... despite all such self-deceiving, dogmatic and not infrequently biased rhetorical statements, the social standing of woman was demoted by Islam. Even today she is still humiliated, abased, mistreated and ignored." -
Hekmat, A. : Women and the Koran, Prometheus - New York, 1997, p.10.

An example of unjust barbarism is the contradiction existing between Muslim practice and the Qur'ân concering adultery. The problems are difficult to discard, even for exegetes & jurists. For the whole thing is extremely practical and hence exemplaric for the way the male elite has envisioned woman. The Qur'ân clearly states adultery should be punished in public with a hundred stripes (24:2). As a function of the strength & subjective punishing zeal of the executioner this leads to slight or permanent mutilations, external & internal injuries or death. Both man & woman have to be punished likewise. It is said Muhammad introduced stoning, as once he ordered a hole to be dug for Ghamdiya, an Arab woman accused of adultery. For a man, such a special condition does not exist (as the Prophet did not order this hole to be dug in the case of Maiz). Hence, in some Islamic countries this obvious cruelty is practiced ! Moreover, (local) Islamic law stipulates that if an adulter is able to run to safety during stoning, the process of execution must stop and his confession is nullified. A woman, buried up to her waist, could never escape. This image says it all. Critics argue : 

" ... Muhammad did not bring progress to the Arabian peninsula, but instead was the impetus for a social and cultural reversal. His laws of divorce, just like his other tenets regarding polygamy, marriage contracts, concubinage, slavery, wife beating, adultery, punishment, stoning, veiling and seclusion are cruel, humiliating and inhuman. It should be clear by now that Muhammad's ordinances, believed to be sent by Allah, are virtually incompatible with any concept of a compassionate god." -
Hekmat, A. : Women and the Koran, Prometheus - New York, 1997, p.250.

Are these barbaric laws not an extra-Islamic proof the Qur'ân could have been interpolated ? Can a message of universal peace, respect for others & the injunction not to make fools of other believers (49:11) be reconciled with loathsome discriminations between man and woman like the one above ? And there are many more problems, as anybody who reads the Book will notice. Surely the power of the male elite can explain this. Also, are the traditions about Muhammed correct ? If so, then clearly this Prophet has no real respect for more than half of humanity, contradicting other reports about his high morality. Women are not part of a man's possessions, neither are they cattle. If a man is allowed to slap his wife (4:34), but she is not, then the laws based on the Qur'ân are unacceptable in the context of the universal declaration on human rights. Only interpolation allows us to do away with these problems, whereas nobody is able to actually verify the traditions given by the 70 Companions, for all valid chains of authority, given the schism within Islam, are broken (cf. the doubtful lineage from Peter to First Clement in Roman Catholicism).

Moreover, the famous imam Malik Ibn Anas (born in Medina in the 8th century C.E.) never stopped saying he did not record any of the Hadith they recounted because he saw they were dealing in matters for which they were not qualified. He did not point to his own qualifications, but tried to make clear only The God knows and we do not.

"After having tried to set straight the historical record - the line of transmitters and witnesses who gave their account of a troubled historical epoch - I can only advise redoubled vigilance when, taking the sacred as an argument, someone hurls at the believer as basic truth a political axiom so terrible and which such grave historical consequences as the one we have been investigating. Nevertheless, we will see that this 'misogynistic' Hadith, although it is exemplary, is not a unique case." -
Mernissi, F. : The Veil and the Male Elite, Perseus - Massachusetts, 1991, p.61. (She is talking about the Hadith that states : "Those who entrust their affairs to a woman will never know prosperity !")

§ 9/+ The social assimilation of the message of harmony of the Qur'ân was clearly not fully understood by the close Companions of the Prophet. Traditions explain how, before he died, Muhammad was worried the religion of the Arabs would relapse into its former state of polytheism. He knew his people. The emergence of a male elite, introducing a "codex" (and a written Qur'ân), is illustrative of a movement away from the individual piety of every believer to the advantage of a spirito-communal attitude with its justifications and regulations. If this had been the vision of the Prophet, he would have had plenty of time to erect the foundations of such an orthodoxy. But he did not. His life itself was not an origin of justice & truth, only The God was & is. In fact, were authoritative human mediators next to the Prophet ever mentioned in the Revelation ? Many traditions as well as some parts of the Qur'ân are in contradiction with the essential message of unity, peace, harmony and just equilibrium given by Allâh to humanity in that same Qur'ân. So, the notion of tradition as an interpretative tool to fashion a community should be criticized. This means the essential verses (as the Recital puts it) have to be distinguished from the analogical ones. In fact, religion does never coerce but is meant to trigger an individual submitting to the Most High and working out a set of choices made on the basis of the depth of this spiritual experience with and through the Recital. This is the Sufi approach which has been called heretical by jurists & theologians. 

"Do not write from me anything except the Qur'ân and whoever has written anything from me other than the Qur'ân should erase it." -
transmitted by Abû Sa'îd al-Khudrî - this hadîth is considered by fundamentalist scholars to be disputable, of course ...

Regarding the critical study of the historical authenticity of the Qur'ân, two important questions have to be asked :

(1) Is the redaction of today's Qur'ân the historical text ? Yes, but with some reservations.
(2) Is the text of the Book influenced by anterior sources and how much ? Yes, considerably influenced by Judaic, Christian & Eastern religious sects. Islam is Abrahamic and claims universal humanity on the basis of the biblical founding myth recorded in Genesis.

(1) the historical text :

The historical text is lost. It is claimed the recension of 'Uthman (ca. 650 C.E.) has been handed down relatively unaltered. However, just as had been the case in Christianity, a large and compact body of traditions & legends, true or false, genuine or spurious, saw the light immediately after the death of Muhammad (in 632 CE). Islamic orthodoxy became necessary in the centuries after the initial political conflicts, permanent inner divisions and imperialism (initiated by Mu'awiyah) had been consolidated and it saw the light with the intolerant kaliph Mutawakkil (847 - 861).

(2) the originality :

Critical comparative studies of the Qur'ân prove many of its themes, as well as the stories about the Hebrew prophets largely came from the Jews of Arabia (cf. the Bani Quraiza, Qainunqa'a, Nadhir near Medina), whereas parts of the sections on Jesus & Mary were influenced by certain Christian opinions circulating at the time of Muhammad (spurious data of so-called heretical sects like the Gnostics of Basilides and Marcionites or of plain domestical origin - cf. his Coptic handmaiden Mary).

In the Book, Muhammad confused Miriam, the sister of Moses, with Mary, the mother of Jesus and he makes the fertility of Egypt depend on rain instead of the inundations of the Nile (12:49). Furthermore, the content of certain passages is at times purely for the sake of rhyme. Instead of the usual seven angels around the Throne, sometimes eight are introduced in order to assure that "thamaniyah" happens to fall in with the rhyme (69:17). This shows its underlying poetical (recitatoric) intention (cf. the use of rhyme in the Pâli-canon to aid memorization).

The Book claims Christ announced to his followers to expect a prophet named Ahmed ("the praised one"). His followers fancied the word "Paraklete" meant "Periclete" (praised, celebrated) etc. Apparently, the Christians around Muhammad did not know the book of Revelations, nor the role of the Holy Spirit in Christian theology. The tales of Christ's childhood were taken from the non-canonical (i.e. heretical & fabulous) literature of Early Christianity (with its variety of non-centrist, gnostical sects depending heavily on the gift of prophesy).

Moreover, some koranic verses have without doubt been taken from poems anterior to Muhammad. Passages from the Sabaa Mu'allaqat of Imra'ul Qays appear in the Recital. The story goes it was the custom of the time for poets to hang up their compositions upon the Ka'aba and it is known the seven Mu'allaqat were exposed. Fatima (the daughter of the prophet) was repeating a verse and was overheard by the daughter of Imra'ul Qays, who said : "O that's what your father has taken from one of my father's poems, and calls it something that has come down to him out of heaven.", a story told amongst Arabs until today. Moreover, before the time of Muhammad, at Mecca, Medina & Tayif, the Hanefites had stressed the unity of The God and abandoned their idols. Their influence upon the Prophet is beyond doubt (especially Zaid ibn Amr).

Arabian and Greek historians tell us that previous and during his life, many parts of the peninsula were ruled by Persian kings. Undoubtedly, many of the Eastern descriptions of the garden of paradise were overheard and known by the Prophet, as well as the "balance" of judgment (of Ancient Egyptian origin via the so-called The Testament of Abraham, originally written in Egypt). Traditions tells us how often Muhammad conversed with people of every nation in their own tongue ...

The principle of the Book is the radical dogmatic articulation of monotheism hand in hand with the idea that The God sent many messengers with His messages (or clear communications) before Muhammad.

The first part of the "declaration of unity" can also be found in the Torah and even in the Amarna religion. Was the idea of the multiplicity of communications (sealed by Muhammad) developed properly ? Indeed, nothing is said about the scriptures of the Hindus (Vedas), Buddhists (Tripitaka), Ancient Egyptians (Pyramid Texts) or Assyrians (to name but a few of the great & pre-Arabic religions). If one concludes these religions were unknown to Muhammad, then he too had his limitations and reflected what he knew through the forms of his own mind & senses (cf. the Sufi dictum : water takes the color of the glass). He never got in touch with the Ancient Egyptian quest for the Great One Alone, nor with the monotheistic monuments of enlightened Brahmanism or the teachings of the historical Buddha. 

Some scholars conclude the Koran was filtered by the mind of its Prophet (cf. the koranic distinction between the Prophet as a human being and Gabriel as "rasul karim Allâh"). 

These and other examples (like the verses on adultery, beating women, the status of men, slavery etc.) have been thoroughly criticized by contemporary scholarship. Changes (interpolations) very probably occured as soon as the text was canonized. Were some sûra's eliminated and others added ? Very probably so.

On the one hand, if the text is read (if possible in Arabic) with these critical considerations in mind, then surely the poetical & spiritual intensity of the majority of remaining verses is tremendous and must rest upon historical foundations. On the other hand, if the reader is versed in the literary traditions of the Ancient Egyptians, Jews, Greeks & Christians, nothing new is learned and many questions emerge. Furthermore, the exercise of finding such doubtful verses, when carefully done, will prove unending.

Recent history shows modern fundamentalism will continue to stipulate wife beating is -at times and sporadically- allowed, because women, in view of their natural inclination toward certain behaviors as feminine kind of creatures, provoke and need this kind of punitive action or attitude. They will insist marriage gives the husband a degree above his wife and defend the idea that -in a righteous Islamic world-state- the laws regulating inheritance are to be taken as absolute and imperative ...

Likewise, they will continue to argue that in Islam, not the rule of the majority applies (which is as putting the ignorant in the middle), but the way of consultation of the community of scholars and pious men (cf. the Platonic "philosopher-king"). As, on the basis of what we know of the Recital itself, it can not be absolutely disproved they are wrong (criteria to establish the distinction between "essential" and "analogical" are not given), the argument is unending (circular).

Although the greater portion of the Recital indeed bears the mark of sublime spirito-revelatoric poetry (albeit old forms & themes in a new language), the perfection of the extant copy cannot be said to be absolute enough to allow it to completely organize people's existences and freedoms of choice in the 21th century. For if public corporal punishments (remniscent of the European Middle Ages), "modern" slavery and the constant humiliation of women can be made part of Islamic state policy on the basis of a few, probably interpolated koranic verses, then what more has to be said ? For more arguments and a study of the Recital see also : A Colorful Recital.

Clearly Sufism is the flower of Islam. Only in this mystic discipline has the distinction dawned between, on the one hand, the inner Muslim message of the Recital or Qur'ân and, on the other hand, outer Islamic traditions (after the prophet died). Sometimes this happened at the expense of the lives of spiritual Muslim giants (killed after being persecuted by fanatic and dogmatic theologians & jurists). 

Doing the beautiful implies returning to Allâh and serving Him. All the rest follows. 

A wonderful example of the spirit of peace & beauty -so typical for Muslim mysticism- is the work of Ibn'Arabî, the greatest Sufi theoretician ever. Please also consult my Articles on Sufi themes for a summary of the work of the other giant of Muslim mysticism : Al-Junayd of Bagdad.

For an introduction to the critical radaction of the Koran, click here.


the Greatest Shaikh


Abû Bakr Muhammad ibn al-'Arabî was born in 1165 in Murcia, the southeast of Spain (July 28). He was a celebrated Muslim mystic-philosopher who gave the esoteric, mystical dimension of Islamic thought its first full-fledged philosophic expression. His major works are the monumental al-Futuhat al-Makkiyah ("The Meccan Revelations") and Fusus al-hikam ("The Bezels of Wisdom" - 1229). At the age of eight he went to Seville and grew to adolescence, belonging to a noble, rich family (his maternal uncle was ruler of Tlemcen in Algeria). 

At that time he married for the first time. His first wife would influence him in his choice for Sufism. His visionary capacities became obvious when he fell gravely ill. His father was reciting the sûra intoned for the dying while the young man entered into the imaginal world and confronted demons (repulsed by an invincible force giving itself the Name of the sûra in question). These kinds of experiences were soon repeated. Approaching the age of twenty he became aware of his entrance upon the spiritual path and his initiation into mystical life. He encountered innumerable living & dead spiritual masters, the Sufi Shaikhs (teachers), gathering at mystic conferences, sessions of instructions and discussion. For him the miraculous was daily business. He spent his life in study, writing and teaching. He was on familiar terms with several local kings. He died in 1240 on the 16th of November in Damascus at the age of 75.

The literary career of Ibn'Arabî, also called : "The Greatest Master", "The Animator of the Religion", "Doctor Maximus", "The Son of Plato" or "The Platonist" is enormous. Yahia (1964) in his two-volume history & classification of his works estimates that he wrote 700 books, treatises & collections of poetry of which 400 are extant. Some works are impressive. The Futûhât al-makkiyya, a vast encyclopedia of the Islamic sciences within the context of unity (cf. "tawhîd"), includes 560 chapters and ca.17.000 pages in the critical edition. The texts of this major mystic philosopher are all of an "extremely high level of sophistication" (Chittick, 1989).

"It is a voluminous work ; its five hundred and sixty chapters in the Cairo edition (1911) take up some three thousand pages in quarto. And it is well known that an Arabic text at least doubles in length when translated into a European language. And yet Ibn'Arabî confesses : 'Despite the length and scope of this book, despite the large number of sections and chapters, I have not exhausted a single one of the ideas or doctrines put forward concerning the Sûfî method. How, a forteriori, can I have exhausted the entire subject ? I have confined myself to a brief clarification of some small part of the fundamental principles on which the method is based, in an abridged style, holding a middle course between vague allusion and clear, complete exposition." -
Corbin, H. : Alone with the Alone, Princeton University Press - New Jersey, 1997, p.75.

the Absolute in its absoluteness

In the terminology of the Greatest Shaikh (GS) the Absolute is not determinated. This is also the most adequate definition of being. The being of the Absolute, i.e. Being qua Being or absolute existence is beyond any possible confirmation or denial. The question : "What is the Absolute ?" is hence pointless. The being of the Absolute is nothing other than pure and simple, sheer being in so far as it is Being. It is conditioned neither by non-determination or determination. It can not be qualified by any property or name. There is not a shadow of multiplicity in it (cf. al-Qâshânî on "dhât", essence). The essence is hence "nondual".

The Absolute in its absoluteness, i.e. sheer being or transcendence is not to be associated with creation and anything within it, for the Absolute in its absoluteness has no interest in the world and maintains no relationship whatsoever with it (the Essence is therefore a "Deus absconditus"). It remains unknowable and because one cannot talk at all without conceptual designations, the GS calls the Absolute "haqq", which means "truth" or "the real". The Essence is for ever curtained, drapped with veils and nobody lifts the Final Veil except sheer being itself.

The Absolute in its absoluteness is One, primordial, unconditional, simple, unmixed, sheer being.

the Sigh of the Absolute and Mercy

In this Absolute stillness, in this Essence, the GS beholds a passionate Sigh ("hanîn") showing how the Absolute yearns to manifest in beings, in order to be revealed for and by them. So the Absolute manifests Himself to Himself in His Names which aspire toward their manifestation. This is the "Most Holy Emanation" or "Essential Self-manifestation" or the appearence of the Absolute under the form of His Names apt to receive existence.

As soon as the essence Self-manifests within itself, another "Level" is introduced. Here the "eternal being" ("qadîm") is distinguished from anything other than the essence of being. However, between sheer being and the existent beings stand the eternal forms of things as they exist in the Divine Consciousness. In this Consciousness, the Divine Names denote the perfections of being but they have no independent existence, they are nonexistent entities.

The first of the Divine Names is "the One" and "the Unique" ("al-wâhid" & "al-ahad"), denoting the Essence of sheer being ("Real wujûd"), without any relationships whatsoever (or the object of a radical apophatism).The Names are the ontological possibilities contained in the Absolute, and are called "the hidden treasure". This "Self-manifestation" is the emergence of Divine Consciousness out of the Absolute One/Unique. The greatest and all-comprehensive of these infinite number of Divine Names (each of the 99 Names is in fact the "mother" of an infinite number of variations) is "al-Rahmân" or Mercy,  gathering together all the Names into their Divine Oneness called "Allâh" (in this capacity the "Merciful" is synonymous with "Allâh"). Divine Immanence is the "Breath of the Merciful", who because of the intense inner compression of the Being of His Divine Consciousness makes their existence gush forth.

Allâh and the Unity of the Divine Names

It is impossible to call the Absolute in its absoluteness the Unity of all the Divine Names or "Allâh" (translated as "The God"). So within the "worlds of absolute mystery" (or the worlds of "potentiality"), two Presences ("hadrah") or ontological dimensions of the Self-manifestation of the Absolute ("tajallî") emerge :

(1) the Absolute in its absoluteness : the One (or unity of essence), the Unique, the Real, ineffable, inconceivable, truth ;
(2) the Absolute as Divine Consciousness : the permanent, nonexistent fixed entities and their relationships : the archetypes of all possible things in Allâh's Knowledge, the Divine Names & their Oneness (or unity of multiplicity) called "Allâh".

So there is a theologico-ontological distinction to be made between "Allâh" and the Absolute, because the latter is unknowable, unconceivable & inapproachable, the Mystery of mysteries, whereas the former is the Absolute assuming the form of He which never ceases to change and transform Himself, the Lord of the Lords, the Lord of the Worlds, manifesting the Unity of all the Divine Names (each Name being a relationship between the Absolute & the worlds and relationships are not entities).

Does the ordinary Sunnite formula "creatio ex nihilo" hold true in the thought of the GS ? This dictum begs for the guarantee that the Absolute is absolutely unlike His creation. Hence, creation can not be part of the Absolute. Creation is therefore fashioned by the Absolute "out of nothing". This interpretation stresses the importance of the Real's remoteness ("tanzîh") and breaks away from the balanced approach of the Folk & Friends of Allâh (the Realizers, the Gnostics) for did the Real not reveal (read also re-veil) to us : "Wherever You turn, there is the face of God." (2:115) ? This purely rational approach (intimately related with radical, syllogistic & nominalistic apophatism) introduces a schism in being and ends up with a dualistic, legalistic & authoritarian vision on existence (the unending slavery of the existent entities versus the Kingly Being of the Absolute).

Instead, the notion that nothing creates nothing ("ex nihilo nihil fit") is more suited for a philosophical mysticism in harmony with the truth of unveiling & disclosure. The gnostics see with their two eyes open : reason & imagination. For the Absolute is both Transcendent & Immanent, and hence IS The All. Absolute nothingness can never be found. So insofar as the Absolute is concerned there is only a single reality, namely the One Thing, i.e. the essence of the Absolute in its absoluteness. Hence, at the Level of the Absolute (the essence of being or sheer being), the Absolute equals absolute existence. Should it be repeated that sheer being is absolutely independent from everything other that itself ? 

Nevertheless (and here perplexity & bewilderment enter), insofar as creation is concerned, there is an infinity of realities, namely all possible things. They are not a different kind of being but only another modality of the same being that makes up the sheer being of the Absolute. Because there is only being and no absolute nonexistence but only the relative nonexistence (of possible being) there are no loci for the absence of being. So how could the Absolute have created the cosmos "out of nothing" ? He makes the cosmos "out of something" and that something is nothing but His sheer being, disclosing & unveiling through all possible being, prefigured in His unknowable & inaccessible essence. 

Sunnite theology versus idolatry

It is clear that if all possible things are in fact Self-manifestations of the One necessary Being (the Absolute) no real idolatry is possible. Moreover, in theory there is nothing wrong in it because the idols are properly the diversity of the Names, i.e. so many forms assumed by the Divine Names. So the idols are sacred in themselves like all the other things. To tell the idolaters to stop worshipping the Absolute in its determinations and to worship the Absolute alone amounts exactly to the same thing as telling those who already worship the Absolute in a particular form to stop worshipping It and to resort to the worship of the Absolute (for Himself - cf. al-Qâshâni) ! 

However, in practice there lies a great danger in idolatery in so far as the worshipper is not conscious of the fact that the idol worshipped is a Self-manifestation of the One Absolute. In this case s/he is deceived by the imagination (which is almost inevitable) and divinity is ascribed to the idol considered as a "god" independent of the Absolute. This latter position is nearness ("tashbîh") completely divorced from "tanzîh", remoteness. It leads to the "shirk", inventing a necessary being besides sheer being, associating others with the Absolute. This, as the GS explains, is not really possible for it is impossible to worship others, for sheer being is One. Those who commit this "cardinal sin" do so because they fail to recognize that the Name, through which they themselves are a Self-disclosure of the Absolute, is but one possible Divine Name of the Absolute, who Self-discloses an infinite number of Names.

"The 'knower' knows who (really) is the object of his worship ; he knows also the particular form in which the object of his worship appears (to him) (...) the 'lower' people are those who imagine a divine nature in every object of their worship. If it were not for this (wrong) imagination, nobody would worship stones and other similar things. (...) The 'higher' people, on the contrary, are not victims of this kind of deceitful imagination. (In the presence of each idol) they tell themselves, 'This is a concrete form of theophany, and, as such, it deserves veneration'. Thus they do not confine (theophany) to this single instance (i.e. they look upon everything as a particular form of theophany)." - Ibn'Arabî : Fûsus al-Hikam, pp.55/72 (translated by Toshihiko Izutsu, 1984).

Both "tashbih" (confirming the attributes of the Absolute) and its opposite, "ta'til" (divesting the Absolute of all attributes) or "tanzih" (keeping God pure), are regarded as sins in Islamic theology. Both were avoided by many theologians. The major reason for the fear of "tashbih" is that it can easily lead to paganism and idolatry, while "tanzih" may lead to atheism. The harmonious combination of both is called by the GS "qur'ân" and the Perfect Man who realizes this is called "a qur'ân" ! I

Radical Transcendentalism
the One
"be a Qur'ân" Radical Immanentism
the Many
the Absolute is radically remote and absolutely different from the worlds harmonious combination of remoteness & nearness the Absolute is radically near and absolutely identical with the worlds
the radical theologians :
Self-manifestation is a problem
the right attitude of the Perfect Man the idolaters :
Divine Unity is a problem

the God created in the faiths

"The God who is in a faith is the God whose form the heart contains, who discloses Himself to the heart in such a way that the heart recognizes Him. Thus the eye sees only the God of the faith." (Fûsus, I, 121, II, 146-147, translated by Corbin, 1969). 

The heart of the gnostics ("ârif") is colored in every instant by the color or modality of the form in which the Divine Being is epiphanized to him (her). So to each believer, the Absolute is He who is disclosed to him in the form of his faith. If He would manifest in a different form, the believer would reject Him, and that is why the dogmatic faiths (those who impose a common spiritual denominator) combat one another. So one's faith reveals the measure of the capacity of one's heart, explaining why there are many different faiths. The gnostic possesses a true "science of religions", and his "ecumenism" reveals to him the form in which he himself is known to Him who evoked his being (cf. the Divine Names and their traces, the possible things).

To know one's eternal Divine Name is to know one's individuality as it results from the revelation of the Divine Being revealing Himself to Himself before Creation (cf. the "most holy emanation" and Junayd's notion "to become that what one was before one became"). When a human "returns to his Lord", he returns to the Absolute in the form of one of His Names. To deny every individual his or her Lord is nothing less than to deny one's "Angel". When this happens a man confounds his Lord with the infinite number of Divine Names, and so one particular Self-manifestation of the Absolute is imposed upon all other Divine Names (each having its faith & Lord). Having lost this bond with a specific Divine Name (and hence having lost his knowledge of himself) one may come under the sway of a spiritual imperialism which imposed a universal, i.e. the "same" Lord instead of each man his Lord. This is the God created in the faiths.

This highly individualized notion (typical for grand mystical philosophy) does not lead to polytheism, for each Lord is one Divine Name of a totality & a oneness (the unity of multiplicity) called "Allâh", the Lord of the Lords, the Lord of the Worlds. So the GS can not be called a polytheist or a pantheist. If he needs to be characterized, we could call him a pan-en-theist monist (like Spinoza & qabalists like Isaac Luria), preserving simultaneously unity & plurality.

Divine Names Presences of Self-manifestation Features Epistemic status Ontic status
One
Real
Unity of Essence
the Absolute
in its absoluteness
no identity
no contradiction
unknowable ante-creational
absolute existence
necessary being
the Merciful
The God
"Allâh"
the Divine Names :
their Unity of Multiplicity as
Lord of the Worlds &
Lord of the Lords
the gushing forth of the ante-creational "coincidentio oppositorum"
Divine consciousness of the unity of all possible Divine Names
the Perfect Man :
the full realization of the harmony of the totality of Names
ante-creational
relative nonexistence
possible being
nonmanifest being
the Lord my Lord
my faith
the knowledge of one's own specific, true, immortal & eternal form a perfect expression of a specific Divine Name creational
existent entities
manifest being

To become what one was before one became.

In this short text we focused on Ibn'Arabî's views on the Absolute, Allâh, the "God created in the faiths" & "our" Lord. To find out what he has to say about these pivotal subjects is not easy. Is his work not a consequent arabesque, and so does it not try -in vain- to contain as many as possible of perspectives on a given subject without loosing overall unity and without sidetracking the all-comprehensive station, which is the Station of No Station, by limiting oneself to a finite number of approaches (which is irrational, for no two moments are the same and no two things are identical) ? The GS always invites his readers to make up their own minds about the matter at hand.

"Too often, in the case of studying Ibn al-'Arabî, 'getting to the point' is to kill. To get to the point is to bring about closure, but there is no closure, only disclosure. Ibn al-'Arabî has no specific point to which he wants to get. He is simply flowing along with the infinitely diverse self-disclosures of God, and he is suggesting to us that we leave aside our artificialities and recognize that we are flowing along with him. There is 'no point', because there is no end." - Chittick, W.C. : The Self-Disclosure of God, State University of New York Press - New York, 1998, p.xi.

Some of the more structural paradoxes and contradictions emerging in his writings can be tackled by considering that in Sufu metaphysics the Avicennan distinction between necessary, possible & impossible relations of things to being goes hand in hand with the important division of being into existence and absolute & relative nonexistence.

Consider the following matrix :

Avicennean categories Definition Types of existences On Things
necessary sheer being in itself
hat can not be found : the Real
absolute existence
One Alone
the One Thing
unity of essence
possible neither necessary
or impossible
relative
nonexistence
Divine Names :
the perfections of being &
the oneness of multiplicity
fixed entities
in Allâh's Knowledge
existent entities
"in" being
impossible no being that can not be found absolute nonexistence is not no-thing that never exists

I) Necessary Being

Being, although diverse, is One for all diversity is but a multiplication of Essential Unity (1 x 1 = 1). So there is no absence in being. It is not possible for being not to be. This is called "necessary being" or "Essence", the Absolute in absoluteness or sheer being. It is unknowable and remains always veiled. It is absolutely independent of anything besides its own essential being. From the view of sheer being, everything exists in an absolutely absolute way. In this one-fold, simple absolute existence no divisions are reckoned. Sheer being is only for itself to be in and so allows for no reflections either.

II) Impossible Being

That which is not found and which has no reality and hence cannot exist is called "impossible being". Impossible being or nonexistent being is never absolute for there is only one Absolute and that is sheer being.

III) Possible Being

All beings that are not necessary and not impossible are possible. The possible things stand between sheer being (necessary) and absolute  nonexistence (impossible). Taken by themselves we do not know whether they will be given "existence" or not. All possible being can therefore also called "relative nonexistence".

Is the veil of sheer being like the purest diamond hit with light from all possible directions ? No distinctions and no forms seem to exist, and no structures are discerned. Nevertheless, an infinite number of Divine Names are prefigured in the Essence of the Absolute. This axiom is the foundation of theoretical Sufism for it allows for the "unity of being" without eliminating all possible diversity and a beautiful understanding of creation. For if nothing is prefigured in His Essence, how come that His face is everywhere ? Moreover, if the possibility of Self-disclosure is not part of the Essence of being, the whole possibility of confirming His attributes has to be aborted together with all possible theology. This is absurd.

All other beings besides sheer being are a forteriori unnecessary. For as soon as one tries to leave the realm of the One Necessary Being one is forced to acknowledge that irrespective of how the Absolute is revealed, unveiled, disclosed or named, the Absolute in its absoluteness can not be compared with our meaning of that revelation, unveiling, disclosure or naming.

Whatever we say, there is always a higher level. This notion of The God's absolute hierarchy is implied in the verse : "There is no god, only The God (i.e. "Allâh")".

If the Absolute is the One Necessary Being and also Absolute Existence, then all beings beside sheer being share nonexistence. However, absolute nonexistence is not, for there is no absolute except The Absolute. Nothing except sheer being has any claim to any sort of reality or existence. Even the Divine Names and their traces (the fixed & the existent entities) are realities which are part of sheer being disclosing its absolute modalities or relationships focused on the interactions between itself and creation. Hence, the hidden treasure (all possible Divine Names) is bound to be found.

The possible, relative nonexistent realities are :

(1) the Divine Names : the abstract relationships between the Absolute and His creation and the abstract relationships between the Divine attributes themselves ;
(2) the fixed (nonexistent) entities : the abstract traces or properties, capable of manifesting the characteristics of the Divine Level of the Names ;
(3) the existent entities : the factual beings existing in manifested form.


                 


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initiated : 6 IV 2000 - last update : 31 XII 2012 - version n°48