Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri: When the tribe of Bani Quraiza was ready to accept Sad’s judgment, Allah’s Apostle sent for Sad who was near to him. Sad came, riding a donkey and when he came near, Allah’s Apostle said (to the Ansar), “Stand up for your leader.” Then Sad came and sat beside Allah’s Apostle who said to him. “These people are ready to accept your judgment.” Sad said, “I give the judgment that their warriors should be killed and their children and women should be taken as prisoners.” The Prophet then remarked, “O Sad! You have judged amongst them with (or similar to) the judgment of the King Allah.” (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 280)
A group of Sufis were discussing the lesser jihad and the necessity to kill in order to maintain the body of Islam when under threat, when all other options are exhausted. They were seeking the noble sunnah of Prophecy, external and practical, inner and metaphysical in the key battles waged during the Final Revelation: waiting in patience, exhausting all other possible peaceful avenues, only killing in self-defence and so on.
The Tailor, arriving on his donkey, raised his right hand and interrupted.
Let it be understood: Prophecy shed no physical blood. During the course of the Final Revelation, not a single drop of blood was spilt.
To say that physical blood was shed during the unfolding of Prophecy — that physical territory was conquered (in the same fashion that we understand conquest today), that men were massacred and women and children captured (in the same physical fashion that we understand massacres and capture today), etc — this is bid’ah (innovation that perverts the Truth of Islam), and, like all bid’ah, is in the Fire. (Of the North, where I’m standing right now: so I am not being judgmental, but, rather, am nothing more nor less than Judgement.)
I’ve said this before, but let me reiterate, because it is worth repeating, if repetition is the powerhouse of dhkr. Prophecy’s Truth is that the cosmos is pure symbolic Text, in which all signs have an ultimate Meaning determined by their deferral — submission in Love — to the Author of this Text.
Life is arrangement of signs within this Text.
Life can be inauthentic or “normal” — in which we arrange signs to construct our own meaning according to rules given to us by our cultural context — without being aware of “what” these signs really mean, what they really defer to. Without possessing the technology to unlock what they really refer to.
Or we can aim to follow the sunnah, an authentic life. The Truth of Prophetic Sunnah — is to be self-aware of our position as “true” subjects (not imaginary egos) passing through, inscribing, collecting, tracing, proving the signs in particular arrangements. To construct and arrange signs in such a way as to unlock this Light of self-reference, to unlock this Ultimate Meaning. Fundamentally, this is a metonymic understanding, not a metaphoric understanding. That is, the Prophetic space is one in which the Light of self-referential deferral is unlocked within signs in their interrelationships, interrelationships formed from our own subjective authentic, self-aware becoming (individuation, to borrow a Jungian term).
Now, importantly, in such a space, there is no physical, no mental, no interior, no exterior. All those things are types of metaphor — imaginary forms of understanding — signs set up as idols to say “the meaning of this ayah is such-and-such” — ayat used as idols, to which we force the dark material of other ayat to submit in shirk. I am employing such idolatry now, of course, but at least am attempting to marginalize my voodoo according to my Feminine fantasy of subordination to the Ultimate Understanding of Illuminated self-reference. (That is, I am right because I am speaking hand in hand with my Wife, in True Faith, hovering like a cloud between the first and second aeons of the Mi’raj.)
It therefore comes as a surprise to me that Sufis might claim there was an exterior, physical, actual battle that involved Prophecy — even if they concede that there is another significant, spiritual, interior aspect to these physical battles. For me, there is no interior and exterior in such a sense. For me, there is no physical and no spiritual in such a sense.
There is an interior and an exterior to all pure signage (and, in particular, to the narratives of Prophecy): but this is not in the sense of a dialectic of hidden meaning and a common, physically/socially obvious or applicable moral, astagfirullah! The interior and exterior of Prophetic unfolding is something much deeper: it is the way in which God’s Light “gets” into our heads, via an interplay of co-garmenting of breath. The interior, Feminine resemblance of God’s breath in withdrawal/hiding/occultation from us covered (or garmented by) the Masculine resemblance of God’s breath in fullness/revelation. And vice versa — the Feminine form of interior Light of one sign is channelled/transmitted into both an exterior, Masculine garment of Light and interior, second Feminine interior. By these mechanisms, each sign can transmit to each other sign (or signs form signs, same thing) — generating a hijabic, differentiated network of signage, formed of Light, formed of Loving co-garmenting. Loving predication — loving transmission of Truth from one sign to another. Something like Indra’s net, I suppose, if that has resonance for you. This network is what we call the universe. It is the true nature of the universe.
The point for discussion here is: the real interiority and exteriority is a characterisation of the structural, cosmic properties of creation. And certainly Prophecy navigated and had complete regency over this creation in its true structure. This “true” interiority and exteriority are precedent to the imaginary physical/spiritual dialectic that we impose later upon Prophecy (in confusion). And Prophecy is precedent to imposition. There is an exterior and interior meaning to Prophecy’s actions, for example, but that meaning is all about transmission. Prophetic action — particularly seemingly violent actions — is transmission of Light via logical predication. He never used a sword of metal: he used a sword of syllogism. His battles consist of transformative actions of predication played out across the structure of the cosmos. Writing, speaking, acting (all the same thing) — in pure accordance with the principles of Love Transmission I just sketched: navigating, controlling a straight path through this network of Light.
So, this is the space in which all Prophetic action takes place. It is not a physical space. He never physically existed, because the physicality we encounter today — the physicality we create for ourselves today, when we go to war or the shops — is Imaginary. Prophecy’s revelation opened up the entire fabric of reality to be what it really is: a transmissive network of illuminated, submissive — theomorphic — interactions between signs. To say the Prophet physically, historically existed in the same way that George Bush or Queen Elizabeth I existed is bid’ah (I say it myself as a convenience, and am in the Fire when I do so.) But when he touched things — people or objects or geographies — they also entered into the Prophetic space and become nothing more nor less than what they really were: illuminated, submissive, theomorphic interactions between signs of Allah.
I can rephrase in an illocutionary fashion, attempting a small Prophetic military maneuver of my own. That is, I will simplify my point now in an attempt for a portion of my Feminine to form a Masculine shell and Secondary Feminine interior for your wardrobe (offering two daughters for the price of one here!)
Take a concrete example. The massacre of the Banu Qurayza. This was a Jewish tribe that was on the wrong side of previous battles. There are a number of hadith that lead up to the point at which Prophecy chases this tribe into their stronghold, besieges them there, and orders the massacre of all the men and the enslavement of the women and little ones. It’s pretty painful stuff to read with a “literal” understanding, because who here really would like to imagine Prophecy spilling the blood of a large group of men in a massacre?
And so we Muslims tend to try to apologise for it — oh, many converted — if the Prophet didn’t act at the time, the tribe would have rebelled, more lives would have been lost and possibly the religion be under threat — it was Allah’s hand that massacred, the massacre was an unfolding of the Al-Haqq and so we cannot question — there were no prisons then to put traitors in jail — America does much worse today — no, see, the Prophet gave them chances upon chances before making decision …
Hey, relax! Because it never “really happened”. In fact, to act as if this “really” took place is shirk, so, uh, maybe don’t relax just yet … No blood was shed, no children “really” enslaved and no massacre “really” took place, astagfirullah.
Prophecy’s revelation is like a giant bomb that turned reality — anything Prophecy perceived, touched, tasted, acted upon — into a kind of paper. Into this network of transmission I described above. Into pure text, devoid of imaginary fantasy. Pure truth of the Mind’s transmission. The metaphor is like those films (Mary Poppins or Roger Rabbit) in which a character moves from our “reality” (actually an Imaginary construct) into a cartoon land of pure symbolism. No doubt there “was” a Banu Qurayza, but the moment they were even seen/perceived/apprehended by Prophecy, they turned into paper dolls: or more accurately, their reality as theomorphic signage was exposed and the only thing that went on between Prophecy and that tribe was pure transmission of light. The exterior and interior were involved in that transmission (they are in all transmission) — but I guarantee you there was no blood shed — because “physical blood” is an Imaginary construct. All matter fades away during Prophetic revelation.
After his death, things return back to “normal” and paper fades back into an Imaginary complex of worshipped idolatry of ayat fixed so as to prevent transmission.
Transmission is essentially mysterious — and jihadic transmission is indeed “violent” in the sense that it is transmission that transforms. And transformation is often violent : there is a violence to a caterpillar’s transformation into a butterfly, there is violence to the transformation of wine into blood in the Catholic Eucharist. But no physical blood is spilt in jihadic transmission. Importantly, the interior Feminine Sakina follows through all jihadic transmission as the possible Impossibility of Light forming Truth through the veil of matter:
Allah’s Good Pleasure was on the Believers when they swore Fealty to you under the Tree: He knew what was in their hearts, and He sent down Sakina to them; and He rewarded them with a speedy Victory.” (Qur’an 48:18)
And their Prophet said to them: “A Sign of his authority is that there shall come to you the Ark of the covenant, with therein of Sakina from your Lord, and the relics left by the family of Moses and the family of Aaron, carried by angels. In this is a symbol for you if you indeed have faith. (Qur’an 2:248)
And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men. And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, wherefore has the YHWH smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the YHWH out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it comes among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies. (1 Samuel 4:2-3)
To imagine Prophecy actually physically spilling blood is a minor blasphemy along the same line as questioning whether the wine “really” turns into the blood of Christ in the priest’s mouth. Of course it does! Because the Eucharist is a miniature jihad: a Light transmission that transforms. It’s meaning is transformation: Imaginary physics has nothing to do with it — and to involve physics and chemistry into the Eucharist is therefore a minor blasphemy (because it blocks the Christian ayat from submission via literalist/scientific idolatry).
A final way of putting this. Say: okay, let’s play the imaginary game and in blasphemy (and absolute nonsense) declare — there was physical blood, like there is physical today, during the historically situated (or historically evasive) life of the Prophet (pbuh). And again, in blasphemy imagine what it would have been like to go to the contentious events surrounding the Banu Qurayza? What we would have seen, moving backwards in this blasphemous time machine?
Rather than saying everyone got massacred, we would have seen a group of converted Jews writing a “mystical”/spiritual description of the events of their tribe’s total conversion. Not one was physically harmed because they all converted and became the scribes and narrators of that historical moment. As time travellers, we would see these ecstatic Jews declaring in drunken madness (in full comprehension of the shariah, though probably admittedly bad taste) that their “women and children were enslaved”. Following their Divinely black-humoured Judaic tropes, they describe the exact nature of Jihad and Prophecy according to their own indigenous mysticism — the Feminine was enslaved (captured in secondary procession of logical predication, enraptured now within the mantle of the Seal of Prophecy’s garment). We would have seen that the men of his tribe were indeed “massacred”, again following a black-humoured mystical trope: they converted and ascended — discarded their attachment to the “matter” of their traditions and religion, and moved purely into a Judaism of Light, which is none other than the Islam of Light, separated from the dead body of religious tradition. The kind of thing that each of us must do today — allow our city of religious tradition to be besieged (yes, violently, transformatively) by Prophecy, our masculinity discarded, our Feminine re-couched in secondary venter of Prophecy’s garment (and vice versa). To ascend into the network of Light, the matter left behind.
No one died. They all converted — and realised the true illuminated meaning of their Divine law in Deuteronomy:
If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When YHWH your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the YHWH your God gives you from your enemies.
(The symbolic function of Sad’s donkey is not lost on us either, but we defer the minutiae of hadith exegesis today, as perhaps larger things are at stake, demanding my broader, more violent gesture.)
Let’s say that the hadith narrations concerning these events are the outcome this form of either written or oral documentation. These Jews, when telling others of what came to pass, never employed any other signs/ayat to describe their total conversion (in which no blood was spilt), because they were — from our “normal” perspective today — driven mad by Prophecy’s seige of transmission, drunk on the Illumination of the Shariah, the Light of their Judaism inherent and awoken by Prophecy.
Or more accurately, from my perspective, rendered utterly sublime, Martyred through Divine Shariah into a state of pure Victory.
Now, what I just described is a fantasy. It is blasphemy and factually incorrect. But just as factually incorrect as claiming Prophecy spilt blood. Because both stories assume that we could go back in time and look at events and see them unfolding in the same way as events unfold in our false, non-paper-based Imaginary lives today.
But perhaps that second fantasy might be helpful — it is closer to the Truth at least, in the sense that it is self-reflexive upon the nature of transmission-as-jihad. If you must keep a fantasy in mind regarding prophecy, it is better to take the second one rather than the genocidal picture that we find Muslims today attempting to defend — at least keeping the second one in mind can serve as a meditation to permit this transmission to transform the Banu Qurayza of your (little) skull.
Ultimately though, it is important to discard these fantasies and simply participate in this lesser jihad of Light transmission. It’s prescribed after all, even though we hate it.