© Wim van den Dungen
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
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
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
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 &
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:
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 ;
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 ?) ;
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.
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
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
"... 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,
§ 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,
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
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
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,
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
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
§ 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,
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
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
§ 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
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 :
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
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
The first part of the "declaration of
unity" can also be found in the Torah and even in the
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
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 :
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 &
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
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
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
The Absolute in its absoluteness is One, primordial, unconditional, simple, unmixed, sheer
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
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
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 &
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) !
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.
'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,
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
"be a Qur'ân"
Absolute is radically remote and absolutely different from the worlds
combination of remoteness & nearness
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
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.
Unity of Essence
in its absoluteness
|the Divine Names :
their Unity of Multiplicity as
Lord of the Worlds &
Lord of the Lords
|the gushing forth of the ante-creational
Divine consciousness of the unity of all possible Divine Names
|the Perfect Man :
the full realization of the harmony of the totality of Names
|the knowledge of one's own specific,
true, immortal & eternal form
||a perfect expression of a specific Divine
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 :
Types of existences
sheer being in
hat can not be found :
the One Thing
unity of essence
|Divine Names :
the perfections of being &
the oneness of multiplicity
in Allâh's Knowledge
||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.
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
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