ZAZAZA ENTER ZAZAZA
WORK DAYS OF GOD
Herbert W Morris D.D.circa 1883
LIGHT AND LIFE
Lars Olof Bjorn 1976
"By writing the 26 letters of the alphabet in a certain order one may put down almost any message (this book 'is written with the same letters' as the Encyclopaedia Britannica and Winnie the Pooh, only the order of the letters differs). In the same way Nature is able to convey with her language how a cell and a whole organism is to be constructed and how it is to function. Nature has succeeded better than we humans; for the genetic code there is only one universal language which is the same in a man, a bean plant and a bacterium."
"BY WRITING THE 26 LETTERS OF THE ALPHABET IN A CERTAIN ORDER
ONE MAY PUT DOWN ALMOST ANY MESSAGE"
"BY WRITING THE 26 LETTERS OF THE ALPHABET IN A CERTAIN ORDER
ONE MAY PUT DOWN ALMOST ANY MESSAGE"
HISTORY OF GOD
The God of the Mystics
"(The Book of Creation). There is no attempt to describe the creative process realistically; the account is unashamedly symbolic and shows God creating the world by means of language as though he were writing a book. But language has been entirely transformed and the message of creation is no longer clear. Each letter of the Hebrew alphabet is given a numerical value; by combining the letters with the sacred numbers, rearranging them in endless configurations, the mystic weaned his mind away from the normal connotations of words."
THERE IS NO ATTEMPT MADE TO DESCRIBE THE CREATIVE PROCESS REALISTICALLY
THE ACCOUNT IS SYMBOLIC AND SHOWS GOD CREATING THE WORLD BY MEANS OF LANGUAGE
AS THOUGH WRITING A BOOK BUT LANGUAGE ENTIRELY TRANSFORMED
THE MESSAGE OF CREATION IS CLEAR EACH LETTER OF
VALUE BY COMBINING THE LETTERS WITH THE SACRED NUMBERS
REARRANGING THEM IN ENDLESS CONFIGURATIONS
THE MYSTIC WEANED THE MIND AWAY FROM THE NORMAL CONNOTATIONS OF WORDS
FINGERPRINTS OF THE GODS
A QUEST FOR THE BEGINNING AND THE END
Graham Hancock 1995
Speaking to the Unborn
"It is understandable that a huge range of myths from all over the ancient world should describe geological catastrophes in graphic detail. Mankind survived the horror of the last Ice Age, and the most plausible source for our enduring traditions of flooding and freezing, massive volcanism and devastating earthquakes is in the tumultuous upheavals unleashed during the great meltdown of 15,000 to 8000 BC. The final retreat of the ice sheets, and the consequent 300-400 foot rise in global sea levels, took place only a few thousand years before the beginning of the historical period. It is therefore not surprising that all our early civilizations should have retained vivid memories of the vast cataclysms that had terrified their forefathers.
A message in the bottle of time"
'Of all the other stupendous inventions,' Galileo once remarked,
what sublimity of mind must have been his who conceived how to communicate his most secret thoughts to any other person, though very distant either in time or place, speaking with those who are in the Indies, speaking to those who are not yet born, nor shall be this thousand or ten thousand years? And with no greater difficulty than the various arrangements of two dozen little signs on paper? Let this be the seal of all the admirable inventions of men.3
If the 'precessional message' identified by scholars like Santillana, von Dechend and Jane Sellers is indeed a deliberate attempt at communication by some lost civilization of antiquity, how come it wasn't just written down and left for us to find? Wouldn't that have been easier than encoding it in myths? Perhaps.
"What one would look for, therefore, would be a universal language, the kind of language that would be comprehensible to any technologically advanced society in any epoch, even a thousand or ten thousand years into the future. Such languages are few and far between, but mathematics is one of them"
"WRITTEN IN THE ETERNAL LANGUAGE OF MATHEMATICS"
FAR YONDER SCRIBE
AND OFT TIMES SHADOWED SUBSTANCES WATCHED IN FINE AMAZE
ZED ALIZ ZED
SWIFT REPEAT SCATTER STAR DUST AMONGST THE LETTERS OF THEIR PROGRESS
THE SEARCH FOR THE SIGMA CODE
Cecil Balmond 1998
Cycles and Patterns
"The essence of mathematics is to look for patterns.
Our minds seem to be organised to search for relationships and sequences. We look for hidden orders.
These intuitions seem to be more important than the facts themselves, for there is always the thrill at finding something, a pattern, it is a discovery - what was unknown is now revealed. Imagine looking up at the stars and finding the zodiac!
Searching out patterns is a pure delight.
Suddenly the counters fall into place and a connection is found, not necessarily a geometric one, but a relationship between numbers, pictures of the mind, that were not obvious before. There is that excitement of finding order in something that was otherwise hidden.
And there is the knowledge that a huge unseen world lurks behind the facades we see of the numbers themselves."
NINETYNINE NAMES OF GOD GOD OF NAMES NINETYNINE
IN THE NAME OF GOD THE COMPASSIONATE THE MERCIFUL
Enduring Values for Humanity
Seyyed Hossein Nasr 2002
ONE GOD, MANY PROPHETS
The Unity of Truth
He begetteth not, nor is begotten, and none is like Him. Quran 112: v.1-41
GOD THE ONE
Page 3 (number omitted)
At the heart of Islam stands the reality of God, the One, the Absolute and the Infinite, the Infinitely Good and AllMerciful, the Onc Who is at once transcendent and immanent, greater than all we can conceive or imagine, yet, as the Quran, the sacred scripture of Islam, attests, closer to us than our jugular vein. The One God, known by His Arabic Name, Allah, is the central reality of Islam in all of its facets, and attestation to this oneness, which is called tawid, is the axis around which all that is Islamic revolves. Allah is beyond all duality and relationality, beyond the differences of gender and of all qualities that distinguish beings from each other in this world. Yet He is the source of all existence and all cosmic and human qualities as well as the End to Whom all things return.
To testify to this oneness lies at the heart of the credo of Islam, and the formula that expresses the truth of this oneness, La ilaha illa 'Llah, "There is no god but God," is the first of two testifications (shahadahs) by which a person bears witness to being a Muslim; the second is Muammadun rasal Allah, "Muhammad is the messenger of God." The oneness of God is tor Muslims not only the heart of their religion, but that of every authentic religion. It is a reassertion of the revelation of God to the Hebrew prophets and to Christ, whom Muslims also consider to be their prophets, the revelation of the truth that "The Lord is one," the reconfirmation of that timeless truth that is also stated in the Catholic creed, Credo in unum Deum, "I / Page 4 / I believe in one God." As the Quran states, "We have never sent a messenger before thee except that We revealed to him, saying, 'There is no god but I, so worship Me'"
The One God, or Allah, is neither male nor female. However, in the inner teachings of Islam His Essence is often referred to in feminine form and the Divinity is often mentioned as the Beloved, while the Face He has turned to the world as Creator and Sustainer is addressed in the masculine form. Both the male and the female are created by Him and the root of both femininity and masculinity are to be found in the Divine Nature, which transcends the duality between them. Furthermore, the Qualities of God, which are reflected throughout creation, are of a feminine as well as a masculine naturn, and the traditional Islamic understanding of the Divinity is not at all confined, as some think, to a purely patriarchal image.
The Quran, which is the verbatim Word of God for Muslims, to be compared to Christ himself in Christianity, reveals not only the Supreme Name of God as Allah, but also mentions other "beautiful Names" of God, considered by traditional sources to be ninety-nine in number, Names revealing different aspects of the Divinity. The Quran states, "To God belong the most beautiful Names (alasma' al-husna). Call on Him thereby" (7:180). These Names are divided into those of Perfection (Kamal), Majesty (Jalal), and Beauty (Jamal) the first relating to the / Page 5 / essential oneness of God Himself beyond all polarization and the last two to the masculine and feminine dimensions of reality in divinis (in the Divine Order). The Names of Majesty include the Just, the Majestic, the Reckoner, the Giver of Death, the Victorious, and the All-Powerful, and those of Beauty, the All-Merciful, the Forgiver, the Gentle, the Generous, the Beautiful, and Love. For Muslims the whole universe consists of the reflection in various combinations of the Divine Names, and human life is lived amid the polarizations and tensions as well as harmony of the cosmic and human qualities derived from these Names. God at once judges us according to His Justice and forgives us according to His Mercy. He is far beyond our reach, yet resides at the center of the heart of the faithful. He punishes the wicked, but also loves His creatures and forgives them.
The doctrine of God the One, as stated in the Quran, does not only emphasize utter transcendence, although there are powerful expressions of this truth such as Allahu akbar usually translated as "God is great," but meaning that God is greater than anything we can conceive of Him, which is also attested by the apophatic theology of both the Catholic and Orthodox churches as well as by traditional Judaism. The Quran also accentuates God's nearness to us, stating that He is closer to us than ourselves and that He is present everywhere, as when it states: "Whithersoever ye turn, there is the Face of God" (2:115). The traditional religious life of a Muslim is based on a rhythmic movement between the poles of transcendence and immanence, of rigor and compassion, of justice and fogiveness, of the fear of punishment and hope for mercy based on God's love for us. But the galaxy of Divine Names and the multiplicity of Divine Qualities reflected in the cosmos and within the being of men and women do not distract the Muslim for / Page 6 / one moment from the oneness of God, from that Sun before whose light all multiplicity perishes. Striving after the realization of that oneness, or tawhid, is the heart of Islamic life; and the measure of a successful religious life is the degree to which one is able to realize taw/;Jid) which means not only oneness, but also the integration of multiplicity into Unity.
Moreover, since there is no official sacerdotal authority in Islam like the magisterium in Roman Catholic Christianity, the authenticity of one's faith in Islam has by and large been determined by the testification of tawhid while the degree of inward realization of this truth has remained a matter to be decided by God and not by external authorities. This has been the general norm in Islamic history, but there have also been exceptions, and there are historical instances when a particular group or political authority has taken it upon itself to determine the authenticity or lack thereof of the belief in tawhid of a particular person or school. But there has never been an Inquisition in Islam, and there has been greater latitude in the acceptance of ideas, especially mystical and esoteric ones, than in most periods of the history of Western Christianity before the penetration of modernism into Christian theology itself.
Now, although Islam is based on the reality of God, the One, in His Absoluteness and Suchness, it also addresses humanity in its essential reality, in its suchness. Man, in the traditional sense of the term corresponding to insan in Arabic or homo in Greek and not solely the male, is seen in Islam not as a sinful being to whom the message of Heaven is sent to heal the wound of the original sin, but as a being who still carries his primordial nature (al-.fitrah) within himself, although he has forgotten that nature now buried deep under layers of negligence. As the Quran states:
"[God] created man in the best of stature (ahsan altaqwim)" (95:4) with an intelligence capable of knowing the One. The message of Islam is addressed to that primordial nature. It is a call for recollection, for the remembrance of a knowledge kneaded into the very substance of our being even bef)re our coming into this world. In a famous verse that defines the relationship between human beings and God, the Quran, in referring to the precosmic existence of man, states, "'Am I not your Lord?' They said: 'Yes, we bear witness'" (7: 172). The "they" refers to all the children of Adam, male and female, and the "yes" confirms the affirmation of God's Oneness by us in our pre-eternal ontological reality.
Men and women still bear the echo of this "yes" deep down within their souls, and the call of Islam is precisely to this primordial nature, which uttered the "yes" even before the creation of the heavens and the earth. The call of Islam therefore concerns, above all, the remembrance of a knowledge deeply embedded in our being, the confirmation of a knowledge that saves, hence the soteriological function of knowledge in Islam. Islam addresses the human being not primarily as will, but as intelligence. If the great sin in Christianity is disobedience, which has warped the will, the great sin in Islam is forgetfulness and the resulting inability of the intelligence to function in the way that God created it as the means to know the One. That is why the greatest sin in Islam and the only one God does not forgive is shirk, or taking a partner unto God, which means denying the Oneness of God, or tawhid.
This direct address from God, the One, to each human being in its primordial state requires total surrender to the Majesty of the Absolute, before whom ultimately nothing can in fact exist. In an ordinary sense it means the surrender / Page 8 / themelves to God, and in the highest sense it means the awareness of our nothingness before Him, for, as the Quran says, "All that dwells in the heavens and the earth perishes, yet there abideth the Face of thy Lord, Majestic, Splendid" (55:26-27). The very name of the religion, Islam, comes from this reality, for the Arabic word aL-islam means "surrender" as well as the peace that issues from our surrender to God. In fact, Islam is the only major religion, along with Buddhism (if we consider the name of the religion to come from Budd, the Divine Intellect, and not the Buddha), whose name is not related to a person or ethnic group, but to the central idea of the religion. Moreover, Islam considers all authentic religions to be based on this surrender, so that al-islam means not only the religion revealed through the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad, but all authentic religions as such. That is why in the Quran the prophet Abraham is also called muslim) that is, one who is in the state of al-islam.
True surrender is not, however, only concerned with our will. It must involve our whole being. A shallow understanding of surrender can lead to either a passive attitude, in which one does not strive in life as one should according to the promulgations of the religion, or to mistaking one's own imperfect understanding of Islam for the truth and performing acts that are against God's teachings while claiming that one is acting in surrender to God. Islam states that a person must be the perfect servant ('abd) of God in the sense of following His commands. But since God has given us many faculties, including free will and intelligence, our surrender must be complete and total, not limited to only certain faculties. It must involve the whole of our being. Otherwise, hidden thoughts and emotions as well as false ideas can combine with a fallacious sense of external / Page 9 / surrender of one's will to God to produce acts in the namc of religion that can have calamitous consequences.
CREATION OF THE WORLD AND OF HUMAN BEINGS
" Since the One God is Infinite and Absolute as well as the Infinitely Good, He could not but create. His infinitude implies that He contains within Himself all possibilities, including that of negating Himself, and this possibility had to be realized in the form of creation. Moreover, as St. Augustine also stated, it is in the nature of the good to give of itself, and the Infinitely-Good could not but radiate the reality that constitutes the world and, in fact, all the worlds."
But creation or radiation implies separation, and it is this ontological separation from the Source of all goodness that constitutes evil. One might say that evil is nothing but separation from the Good and privation, although it is real on its own level, in a sense as real as our own existential level on which we find it. And yet the good belongs to the pole of being and evil to that of non being.
Throughout the history of Islam there have been numerous profound metaphysical and theological discussions concerning the question of evil, as there have been in other religions, especially Christianity. But in contrast to the modern West, in which many people have turned away trom God and religion because they could not understand how a God who is good could create a world in which there is evil, in the Islamic world this question of theodicy has hardly ever bothered the religious conscience of even the most intelligent people or turned them away from God. The emphasis of the Quran upon the reality of evil on the moral plane combined with the sapiential and theological explanations of this question have kept men and women confronted with this problem in the domain of faith. The strong emphasis in Islam on the Will of God has also played a role in resigning Muslims to the presence of evil in the world (which they must nevertheless combat to the extent possible), even when they cannot understand the causes involved.
In any case, God has created the world, in which there is imperfection and evil, but the world itself is considered by the Quran to be good, a view corresponding to that found in the book of Genesis. And creation has a purpose, for, as the Quran says, "O Lord, Thou didst not create this [the world] in vain" (8:190). The deepest purpose of creation is explained by a famous Hadith qudsi (a sacred saying of the / Page 11 / Prophet not part of the Quran in which God speaks in the first person through the mouth of the Prophet): "I was a hidden treasure. I loved to be known. Therefore, I created the creation so that I would be known." The purpose of creation therefore is God's love fix the knowledge of Himself realized through His central agent on earth, humanity. For a human being to know God is to fulfill the purpose of creation. Moreover, God loved to be known. Hence, the love of God and by God permeates the whole universe, and many Islamic mystics of Sufis over the ages have spoken of that love to which Dante refers at the end of the Divine Comedy when he speaks of "the love that moves the sun and the stars."
This sacred Hadith (Hadith qudsi) also speaks of God's being "a hidden treasure," which is a symbol of the truth that everything in the universe has its origin in the Divine Reality and is a manifestation of that Reality. everything in the total cosmos both visible and invisible is a theophany, or manifestation, of the Divine Names and Qualities and is drawn from the "treasury" of God. The Wisdom of God thus permeates the universe, and Muslims in fact see the cosmos as God's primordial revelation. everything in the universe, in reflecting God's Wisdom, also glorifies Him, fix, as the Quran says, "There is nothing but that it hymns His praise" (17:44). In fact, the very existence of beings is nothing but their invocation of God's Names, and the universe itself is nothing but the consequence of the breathing upon the archetypal realities of all beings in the Divine Intellect of the Breath of the Compassionate (nafas alRahman). It is through His Name al-Rahman, which means the Infinitely-Good and also Merciful, that the universe has come into being. It is significant to note that much of the Quran is devoted to the cosmos and the world / Page 12 / of nature, which play an integral rolc in the traditional life of Muslims. All Islamic rites are harmonized with natural phenomena, and in general Muslims view the world of creation as God's first revelation, before the Torah, the Gospels, the Quran, and other sacred scriptures were revealed. That is why in Islam, as in medieval Judaism and Christianity, the cosmos is seen as a book in which the "signs of God," the vestigia Dei of Christian authors, are to be read.
The Islamic understanding of anthropogenesis, the creation of human beings, resembles those of Judaism and Christianity in many ways, but also differs on certain significant issues. In fact, there are also important differences between Judaism and Christianity when it comes to the question of original sin. As for Adam's original creation, the Quran speaks of God creating Adam from clay and breathing His Spirit into him, "And I breathed into him My Spirit" (15:29). The Quran continues:
And when thy Lord said unto the angels: "Verily! I am about to place a vicegerent (khalifah) on earth," they said, "Wilt Thou place therein one who will bring corruption therein and will shed blood, while we, we hymn Thy praise and sanctity Thee?" He said: "Surely, I know that which ye know not."
The angels were then asked by God to prostrate before Adam, and all did so except Iblis, that is, the Devil or Satan, who refused because of pride. God placed Adam and his / Page 13 / wife in paradise and permitted them to eat of the fruits there, except the fruit of the forbidden tree. But Satan "caused them to deflect therefrom," and the Fall ensued. But a revelation was sent to Adam. He repented and became the first prophet as well as the father of humanity.
The Quranic account contains all the main features of the sacred anthropology of Islam and its view of the nature of men and women. First of all, God chose the human being as His vicegerent (khalifah) on earth, which means that He has given human beings power to dominate the earth, but on the condition that they remain obedient to God, that is, being God's servant, or 'abd Allah. There are numerous Quranic references to this truth. The two primary features of being human are servanthood and vicegerency: being passive toward Heaven in submission to God's Will, on the one hand, and being active as God's agent and doing His Will in the world, on the other. Moreover, Adam was taught all the names, which means that God has placed within human nature an intelligence that is central and the means by which he can know all things. It also means that human beings themselves are the theophany, or visible manifestation, of all of God's Names. There is in principle no limit to human intelligence in knowing the nature of things (the question of knowing the Divine Essence is a different matter) unless there is an obstacle that prevents it from functioning correctly. That is why Muslims believe that any normal and wholesome intelligence will be naturally led to the confirmation of Divine Oneness and are at a loss when rationalist skeptics from the West refuse to accept the One (most Muslims are unaware of the obstacles in the soul of such a skeptic that reduce the intelligence to analytical reason and prevent it from flmctioning in its fullness). Adam, the prototype of humanity, is superior to the angels by virtue of his knowledge of the names of all things / Page 14 / as by being the reflection of all the Divine Names and Qualities.
As for Iblis, his rebellion comes from pride in considering his nature, which was made of fire, superior to that of Adam, who was made of clay. He refused to prostrate himself before Adam, because fire is a more noble clement than earth or clay. He could not see the effect of the Spirit that God had breathed into Adam. Satan was therefore the first to misuse analogy, to try to replace intelligence with ordinary logical reasoning. His fall was thus also connected to the domain of knowledge. The lack of total knowledge on his part created the sense of pride, which in Islam, as in Christianity, is the source of all other vices.
The Quran mentions Adam's wife, but not her name. Hadith sources however confirm that her name was Hawwa', or Eve. In fact, the Islamic names for the first parents of humanity, Adam and Hawwa', are the same as in Judaism and Christianity. The Quran, however, does not mention how she was created. Some traditional commentators have repeated the biblical account of her creation from Adam's rib, while other authorities have mentioned that she was created from the same clay from which God created Adam. It is important to note for the Islamic understanding of womanhood and women's roles in both religious and social life that, in contrast to the biblical story, Eve did not tempt Adam to eat the forbidden fruit. Rather, they were tempted together by Iblis and therfore Eve was not the cause of Adam's expulsion from paradise. He was also responsible; they shared in performing the act that led to their fall, and therefore both men and women are faced equally with its consequences. As far as the forbidden fruit is concerned, again, the Quran does not mention it explicitly, but according to traditional commentaries it was not an apple, as believed by Christians and Jews, but wheat.
The creation of human beings complements the creation of the cosmos and adds to the created order a central being
It might be said that from the Islamic point of view creation and revelation are inseparable, and that there are in fact three grand revelations: the cosmos, the human state, and religions-all three of which Islam sees as "books." There is, first of all, the cosmic book to be read and deciphered. Then there is the inner book of the soul, which we carry within ourselves. And finally there are sacred scriptures, which have been sent by God through His Mercy to guide humanity throughout the ages and which are the foundations of various religions and keys for reading the other two books, that of the cosmos and that of the soul.
MANY REVELATIONS, MANY PROPHETS
In the Islamic perspective, the oneness of God has as its consequence not the uniqueness of prophecy, but its multiplicity, since God as the Infinite created a world in which / Page 16 / there is multiplicity and this includes, of course, the human order. For Islam, revelation and prophecy are both necessary and universal. Humanity, according to the Quran, was created trom a single soul, but then diversified into races and tribes, tor, as the Quran states, "He created you
Religion (din), revelation (wahy), and prophecy (nubuwwah) have a clear meaning in the context of the Islamic worldview and therdore need to be carefully defined in the modern context, where all of these terms have become ambiguous in ordinary discourse. The closest word to the English term "religion" in Arabic is din, which is said by many to have been derived tram the root meaning "to obey, submit, and humble oneself before God." Al-din means religion in the vastest sense as the sacred norm into which the whole of life is to be molded. It is the total way of life grounded in teachings that have issued from God.
These teachings reach humanity through revelation. which means the direct conveying of a message from Heaven (revelation being understood apart from all the psychological entanglements it has acquired in much of modern Western religious thought). Revelation, moreover, must not be confused with inspiration (ilham) which is possible for all human beings.
Islam sees revelation not as incarnation in the Hindu or Christian sense, but as the descent of the Word of God in the form of sacred scripture to a prophet. In fact, the Quran uses the term "Book" (kitab) not only for the Quran, but also fc)r all other sacred books and the totality of revelations. The Quran considers all revelations to be contained in that "archetypal book," or Umm al-kitab (literally, "the Mother Book"), and the sacred scriptures to be related in conveying the same basic message of the primordial religion of unity in different languages and contexts. As the Quran states, "We never sent a messenger save with the language of his people" (14:4). Even when the Quran states that "the religion with God is al-islam" (3: 19) or similar statements, al-islam refers to that universal surrender to the One and that primordial religion contained in the heart of all heavenly inspired religions, not just to Islam in its more particular sense. There is, moreover, a criterion of truth and falsehood as far as religions are concerned, and the Quran's confirmation of the universality of revelation does not mean that everything that has passed as religion yesterday or does so today is authentic. Throughout history there have been false prophets and religions, to which Christ also referred, as well as religions that have decayed or deviated from their original form.
Islam sees itself as heir to this long chain of prophets going back to Adam and believes all of them, considered to be 124,000 according to tradition, to be also its own. It / Page 18 / does not believe, however, that it has inherited their teachings through temporal and historical transmission, for a prophet owes nothing to anyone and receives everything from Heaven, but it does believe that its message bears the finality of a seal. Islam sees itself as at once the primordial religion, a return to the original religion of oneness, and the final religion; the Quran itself calls the Prophet of Islam the "Seal of Prophets." And, in fact, fourteen hundred years of history have confirmed Islam's claim, for during all that time there has not been another plenary manifestation of the Truth like the ones that brought about the births of Buddhism and Christianity, not to speak of the earlier major religions. The two characteristics of primordiality and finality have bestowed upon Islam its trait of universality and the capability to absorb intellectually and culturally so much that came before it. It has also made spiritually alive the prophetic presences that preceded it, so that, for example, such figures as Abraham, Moses, and Christ play a much greater role in the spiritual universe of Islam than Abraham and Moses do in the Christian universe.
While speaking of the finality of the Islamic revelation for this cycle of human history, which will last until the eschatological events at the end of historic time, something must be said, from the Islamic point of view, about the "order" and "economy" of revelation. Muslims believe that each revelation takes place through the Divine Will, but also on the basis of a spiritual economy and is not by any means ad hoc. Each revelation fulfills a major fimction in human history seen from the religious point of view. For example, around the sixth to fifth century B.C. which also marks the transition from mythological time to historic time, a qualitative change took place in the march of time, which for Islam, as for Hinduism, is not simply linear. This / Page19 / is the period when the myths of Homer and Hesiod recede as Greek history flowers and the stories of mythical Persian dynasties are left behind as the Persian Empire takes shape. From the human point of view, this qualitative change in the terrestrial life of humanity required new dispensations from Heaven, and from the metaphysical perspective, these new dispensations themselves marked the new chapter that was to begin in human history.
This period, which philosophers such as Karl Jaspers have called the Axial Age, was witness to the appearance of Confucius and Lao-Tze in China and the new crystallization of the primal Chinese tradition into Confucianism and Taoism, and the appearance of Shintoism in Japan and the beginning of the terrestrial life of the solar emperors, who marked the beginning of historical Japanese civilization. This age was also witness to the life of the Buddha, whose teaching spread throughout India and Tibet and soon transforfmed the religious life of East and Southeast Asia. At nearly the same time, we see the rise of Zoroaster, who established Zoroastrianism in Persia and whose teachings greatly influenced later religious life in western Asia. Finally, around the same time we have the rise of Pythagoras and
One would think that the cycle of revelation would have been terminated in the Axial Age. But the decadence of the / Page 20 /
This latter situation, added to the inner weakness of Zoroastrianism in the Persian Empire and certain other religions elsewhere, created another vacuum to be filled, this time by a new Semitic religion-Islam. Islam, like Judaism, remained faithful to its Semitic origin, but, like Christianity, was not confined to a particular ethnic group. Islam thus came to reassert the full doctrine of Divine Oneness on a universal scale after the Axial Age and the appearance of Christianity, placing in a sense the last golden brick in that golden wall that is revelation. With it, the structure of the wall became complete, and, as far as Muslims are concerned, although small religious movements may take place here and there, there is to be no plenary revelation after Islam according to the Divine Providence and the spiritual economy of God's plans for present-day humanity. When asked how they know such a truth, Muslims point to the Quran itself and the f:act that no previous revelation had ever made such an explicit claim. Being the final religion of this cycle, Islam is not only closely related to its sister / Page 21 / monotheisms, Judaism and Christianity, but also possesses an inward link to the religions of the Axial Age as well as to Hinduism. It is this link that made it easier for Islam than for Christianity to incorporate so much of the wisdom Hinduism and of the religions of the Axial Age, from Buddhism and Pythagoreanism to Zoroastrianism and even later to Confucianism, within its sapiential perspective.
Paradoxically, the insistence of Islam upon God as the One and the Absolute has had as its concomitant the acceptance of multiplicity of prophets and revelations, and no sacred scripture is more universalist in its understanding of religion than the Quran, whose perspective concerning the universality of revelation may be called "vertical triumphalism." In contrast, in Christianity, because of the emphasis on the Triune God, God the One is seen more in terms of the relationality of the three Hypostases, what onc might call "Divine Relativity"; the vision of the manifestation of the Divine then became confined to the unique Son and Incarnation, in whom the light of all previous prophets was absorbed. In Christianity the vision is that of the Triune God and a unique message of salvation and savior, hence extra ecclesiam nulla salus (no salvation outside the church), whereas in Islam there is the One God and many prophets. Here is to be found the major difference between how Muslims have viewed Jews and Christians over the centuries and how Christians have regarded Jews and Muslims as well as followers of other religions. For Muslims, the Quran completes the message of previous sacred texts without in any way denigrating their significance. In fact, the Torah and the Gospels are mentioned by name as sacred scriptures along with the Quran in the text of the Quran. Likewise, although the Prophet terminates the long chain of prophecy, the earlier prophets lose none / Page 22 / of their spiritual significance. Rather, they appear in the Islamic firmament as stars, while the Prophet is like the moon in that Islamic sky.
The sacred scripture of Islam, known in Arabic by many names, of which the most famous is al-Qur'an, "the Recitation," is considered by all Muslims, no matter to which school they belong, as the verbatim revelation of God's Word made to descend into the heart, soul, and mind of the Prophet of Islam through the agency of the archangel of revelation, Gabriel, or Jibra'il in Arabic. Both the words and meaning of the text are considered to be sacred, as is everything else connected with it, such as the chanting of its verses or the calligraphy of its phrases. Muslims are born with verses of the Book, which Muslims call the Noble Quran, read into their ears, live throughout their lives hearing its verses and also repeating certain of its chapters during daily prayers, are married with the accompaniment of Quranic recitations, and die hearing it chanted beside them.
To fully understand the significance of the Quran, a Westerner with a Christian background should realize that, although the Quran can in a sense be compared to the Old and New Testaments, a more profound comparison would be with Christ himself In Christianity both the spirit and body of Christ are sacred, and he is considered the Word of God. The Quran is likewise fcr Muslims the Word of God (kalimat Allah), and both its inner meaning, or spirit, and its body, or outer fcmn, the text in the Arabic language in which it was revealed, are sacred to Muslims. Arabic is the sacred language of Islam and Quranic Arabic plays a role in Islam analogous to the role of the body of Christ in Christianity. Moreover, as Christians consume bread and wine as symbols of the flesh and blood of Christ, Muslims pronounce, using the same organ of the body, that is, the mouth, the Word of God in the daily prayers. The rationalist and agnostic methods of higher criticism applied by certain Western scholars to the text of the Quran, which was not compiled over a long period of time like the Old and the New Testaments, is as painful and as much a blasphemy to Muslims as it would be to believing Christians if some Muslim archeologists claimed to have discovered some physical remain of Christ and were using DNA analysis to determine whether he was born miraculously or was the son of Joseph.
In any case, for Muslims themselves, Sunni and Shi 'ite alike, there is but a single text of the Quran consisting of 114 chapters of over 6,000 verses revealed to the Prophet of Islam in Mecca and Medina over the twenty-three years of his prophetic mission. As verses were received and then uttered by him, they would be memorized by companions, who were Arabs with prodigious memories. The verses were also written down by scribes. The order of the chapters of the Quran was also given by the Prophet through Divine command. During the caliphate of the third caliph, 'Uthman, some twenty years after the death of the Prophet, as many of those who had memorized the Quran were dying in various battles, the complete text of the Quran was copied in several manuscripts and sent to the four corners of the Islamic world. Later copies are based on this early definitive collection.
It is said in Islam that God gives to each prophet a miracle corresponding to what was important in his time. Since magic was so significant in Egypt, God gave Moses the power to turn his staff into a serpent. Since medicine was such an important art at the time of Christ, God gave him the miracle of raising the dead to life. And since poetic eloquence was the most prized of all virtues for pre- Islamic Arabs, God revealed through the Prophet by far the most eloquent of all Arabic works. In fact, the greatest miracle of
The Quran has many names, each revealing an aspect of its reality. It is al-Qur'an, or "recitation," which also means "gathering" or "concentration." It is al-Furqan, or "discernment," because it provides the criteria for discerning between truth and t:llsehood, goodness and evil, beauty and ugliness. It is Umm al-kitab, the archetypal book con taining the root of all knowledge, and it is al-Huda, the' guide tor the journey of men and women toward God. For Muslims, the Quran is the source of all knowledge both outward and inward, the foundation of the Law, the final guide tor ethical behavior, and a net with which the Divine Fisherman ensnares the human soul and brings it back to Unity.
The Quran contains several grand themes. First of all, it deals with the nature of reality, with the Divine Reality and Its relation to the realm of relativity. Second, the Quran says much about the natural world, and in a sense the Islamic sector of the cosmos participates in the Quranic revelation. Then the Quran contains many pages on sacred history, but the episodes of this history are recounted more tor their significance as lessons tor the inner lite of the soul than as historical accounts of ages past. Sacred history in the Quran contains, above all, moral and spiritual lessons tor us here and now.
The Quran also deals with laws for the individual and society and is the most important source of Islamic Law, or the Shariah. Furthermore, the Quran comes back again / Page 26 / and again to the question of ethics, of good and evil, of the significance of living a virtuous life. Finally, the Quran speaks, especially in its last chapters, in majestic language about eschatological events, about the end of this world, about the Day of Judgment, paradise, purgatory, and hell. The language of the Quran, especially in dealing with eschatological realities, is concrete and symbolic, not abstract, or descriptive in the ordinary sense, which would in any case be impossible when one is dealing with realities our earthly imaginations cannot grasp. This trait has caused many outsiders to criticize the Quran or its sensuous description of the delights of paradise as if they were simply a sublimation of earthly joys and pleasures. In reality every joy and delight here below, especially sexuality, which is sacred for Islam, is the reflection of a paradisal prototype, not vice versa.
According to the Prophet and many of the earliest authorities such as 'Ali and Ja'far al-Sadiq, the Quran has many levels of meaning, of which the highest is known to God alone. In the same way that God is both the Outward (al-Zahir) and the Inward (al-Batin), His Book also has an outward and an inward dimension or, in fact, several levels of inner meaning. Throughout Islamic history, Quranic commentaries have been written from both points of view, the outward and the inward. The first is called tafsir and
The chapters (surahs) and verses (ayahs) of the Quran are both the path and the guidepost in the Muslim's earthly journey. The root of everything Islamic, from metaphysics / Page 27 / and theology to law and ethics to the sciences and arts, is to be found in it. Every movement that has begun in Islamic history, whether religious, intellectual, social, or political, has sought legitimization in the Quran, and the permanent flow of the daily life of traditional Muslims unaffected by such movements has also been marked in the deepest sense by the presence of the Quran. Jurists have sought to interpret its legal verses and Sufis its inner meaning. Philosophers have drawn from its philosophical utterances and theologians have debated its assertions about the nature of
Enduring Values for Humanity
Seyyed Hossein Nasr 2002
ONE GOD, MANY PROPHETS
The Unity of Truth and the Multipliciry of Revelations
Say: He, God, is One, God the Self-Sufficient Besought of all.
He begetteth not, nor is begotten, and none is like Him. Quran 112: v.1-41
"To every people [We have sent] a messenger"
"We have appointed a Divine Law and a way. Had God willed, He could have made you one community. But that He may try you by that which He hath given you. So vie with one another in good works. Unto God ye will all return, and He will then inform you concerning that wherein ye differed" (5 :48). According to these and other verses, not only is the multiplicity of religions necessary, but it is also a reflection of the richness of the Divine Nature and is willed by God."
HUMANKIND OF THE DUST OF THE UNIVERSE
BREATHED INTO THEIR NOSTRILS
THE BREATH OF LIFE
HUMANS BECAME LIVING SOULS
PERFECT DIVINE LOVE PUREST LIVING LIGHT THAT LIGHT LIVING PUREST LOVE DIVINE PERFECT