The largest surah in the Quran is, of course, the second in order, Al-Baqarah, containing many important commandments of the shariah, fasting and hajj and narrations relating the preceeding prophets to the Seal of the Prophets. It also contains the verse of the throne.
In particular, the surah narrates key two incidents in the relationship between Moses and the Israelites: their fall into idolatry and the cryptic commandment to sacrifice a “perfect” cow (found in Numbers 19 of the Torah). In the Qur’an, the Israelites are reluctant to sacrifice the cow at first, and proceed through three questions before they are satisfied with the “Truth” of what Moses speaks. Once satisfied, they sacrifice they cow, which is then used to awaken a murdered man from the grave.
The entire second surah is named Al-Baqarah — “The Cow” — not after the story of the Golden Calf, but after this perfect cow.
The question is — why is this Cow so important? What is it, precisely? And why does Israel require three moments of elucidation before they decide that Musa speaks the truth?
We can answer in three ways, of increasing detail.
First, we can say that Musa instructed Israel to sacrifice a Pefect, Yellow Cow to “clean up” the damage that was done by the worship of the golden calf. But to say this is simply to lay the signs before you: their Truth in relationship to you is not yet apparent.
In a second attempt, we might clarify and say: the Yellow Cow is exactly the Surah itself. Al-Baqarah is al-Baqarah. Its reading is its sacrifice. This does begin to involve you more — after all, reading is conducted by a reading subject. But, as the caterpillar inquired of Alice, who are you?
A third clarification is necessary.
While we follow a Slave who was just a man, he was also a Messenger, perfect and beautiful in all human attributes. Privileged above the rest of humanity as the Light for us all. And so we follow by striving to attain some of that beauty, if we are guided.
But precisely how does this Light engage with us? How are we meant to engage with the Light? Through sacrifice, through three stages of reading, though this leads us almost to sin, and, ultimately, to the Absolute Forgiveness of Love’s conclusion.
We are asked to sacrifice a cow, perfect and beautiful, a hue like the sun at Duhur. Perfectly yellow. Neither young nor old. A yellow cow, that had neither been enslaved to the earth of speech and differentiation, nor by the waters of human adoration (and hence, still strong with the fire of judgement). A Prophetic Light.
And the cow was raised up in offering, and the offering was accepted, despite the cosmic audacity of our page turning.
Through this, the sin of apostasy was washed away. Thus, the death-cult of the golden calf, the danger faced by the Priest-Brother, the earthly Daughter’s Father, was cleansed from her.
The Husband’s ascension resolves all identity problems the daughter might (incorrectly) ascribe to her father.
What kind of sacrifice might the Yellow Husband be subject to? What form does it take? Sacrifice is ascension. It is Light’s ascension. But what is Light’s ascension? It is unfolding through Love, in Love, to Love, and Love is Time, so it is a becoming through Time, a logical, enunciated proof conducted upon the fabric of differentiated reality, an ultimate witnessing of and submission to Truth. That which is Light, untouched by water and earth, moves now to plough the earth and enter into water. This ascension then, when traced, is the Qur’an itself.
The Yellow Cow’s sacrifice is the living through, the inhabitation of that Proof we are reading every night this month. And the Husband’s inhabitation provides the means by which we can know ourselves.
Rephrasing this by returning to the Sufi notion of a polished mirror. When we speak of the Light of Prophecy reflected in our mirror, we must not forget that the Husband is also a mirror that reflects the Bride, her thoughts, her dreams, her expectations, her fears and desires.
The mirrors reflect each other in order for recognition to take place, and through this, Divine gnosis. Their recognition follows three phases:
- First, she is touched by his Light. “They said: Call on your Lord for our sake to make it plain to us what she is. Musa said: He says, Surely she is a cow neither advanced in age nor too young, of middle age between that; do therefore what you are commanded.” (2:68)
- Second, she comprehends that his Light shines upon herself as a beholder, illuminating all of herself, giving delight to herself as a subject. “They said: Call on your Lord for our sake to make it plain to us what her color is. Musa said: He says, Surely she is a yellow cow; her color is intensely yellow, giving delight to the beholders.” (2:69)
- Third, she understands that his Light is, in fact, an comprehension of her comprehension of his Light. That Light is not simply a irreducible fullness, but, in fact, contains within it, coded within it, herself as a differentiated field, and their marriage as a movement in Time. These are coded as signs within the Light by means of its position in relation to the Divine and the human: it has yet to be touched by earth and water, so they are coded within it as potentials, of simultaneous movement westward toward a sacrifice by earth and a southern movement in Time towards the water of Love. We have said before that the covariant aspects of these dual movements (from the bride’s perspective) constitute exactly the logical nature of the subject’s journey-as-proof. That is, the Light comprehends the exact nature of the subject’s ability to comprehend (self-reflexively, this ayat of Light anticipates exactly all comprehension of it, including the one I am giving right now — it has coded this up within the signs of the cow, the water and the earth). Importantly, it is the bride’s comprehension of the Light’s comprehension of her comprehension that is key to her knowing herself through him. For perfect mirroring to take place. “They said: Call on your Lord for our sake to make it plain to us what she is, for surely to us the cows are all alike, and if Allah please we shall surely be guided aright. Musa said: He says, Surely she is a cow not made submissive that she should plough the land, nor does she irrigate the tilth; sound, without a blemish in her. They said: Now you have brought the truth; so they sacrificed her, though they had not the mind to do.” (2:70-71)
Thus, the dark mirror of the Bride must reflect the Husband reflecting her reflection of the Husband, for recognition to take place. She sees herself in him and he sees himself in her. And, in quite a literal sense, via Love-as Time/Proof/Communication, her earth is raised up toward her husband’s Light. And she becomes the Qur’an and the husband and wife’s recognition is one of correct reading.
Because the Lamp is a Reading Lamp, after all.
This kind of process happens in ordinary communication, but because his is a Divine Light, a mirror that shines, the communication act itself becomes the access point for immediately experiencing the Divine by, taking on the prophetic ascension, however momentarily: Being touched by the sacrificed Cow.
Thus we have the understanding of verses (2:72-73): it was through sacrifice, this crowning of the Yellow by water and earth, by reading-as-recognition, that the dead man was awoken, and what was hidden was revealed. We were disputing what the crime was committed in his death, as he vanished before us. But through that yellow ascension, the subject of annihilation was remade. From death, life.
Those who are born think they know who they are. Those who are annihilated forget who they are. But we only truly know who we are only through this purification. The Divine blessing of human recognition.
Our hearts are made of stone.
When commanded to sacrifice the cow, we insisted on a proof, because we exist in Time, and are people of law. When we read one verse, we ask for elucidation, when we should obey immediately. What I am writing now is precisely such a request for clarification about the nature of the cow. But by the Mercy, we obtain our elucidation, though we are close to disobedience. The fabric of reality, our sacrificial movement upon it through Time, the Qur’an itself, is nothing if not forgiveness through Prophetic elucidation. And at the end, God is the most forgiving: our journey’s nature is one of forgiveness, the greatest manifestation, the Temporal manifestation, the inscribed manifestation, the spoken manifestation of Love.
Our hearts are made of stone. But, for the chosen, stones may have rivers flow forth from them, or provide water when split. And from this our tribes are sustained, though they are sometimes wayward.
The sins are absolved by the Cow’s sacrifice, and the waters flow from within the stones.