The essential nature of Muhammed’s relation to Allah lies within the shahada, recited by Muslims at the end of every prayer.
There is no ilah other than Allah and Muhammed is the slave and messenger of Allah.
1) There is no ilah other than Allah.
Let’s think about the worship of ilah other than Allah: idolatrous worship. To worship in such a way is to defer significance from the subject to the object of worship. To worship is to distinguish, to identify an object. An ilah is that which is raised above, distinguished, identified, allowing significance to be passed to it. An ilah is something that does not defer its meaning, does not worship, but, rather, is identified, possesses an identity, in and of itself.
Common sense — our underlying assumptions about reality — suggests that there are many objects in life that can be identified, that possess identity. There are many things that have a meaning inasmuch as we can apprehend them, inasmuch as we can identify them and pass significance into them. I look at a rose in my garden, and identify it as a rose, as an object that has a particular significance and meaning to me (its colour, the quality of its bloom, the need for me to purchase more fertilizer, its individual beauty). Thus, common sense leads us quite quickly to idolatry.
The shahda informs us that common sense is flawed. To identify any object, to identify anything, to apprehend anything is to worship it as an ilah. But there is nothing that can be distinguished, nothing that can be identified, nothing that can be worshipped, apart from Allah. Ultimately, there are no objects in life. There is nothing apart from Allah.
Does this mean the universe is Allah? If we are conceiving of the universe here as a set of objects, of identities, as a multiplicity of ilahs — roses, books, stars and planets, Hamlet, the music of Bach, Apple computers — then no. Because that conception is an illusion: there are no identities other than that of Allah. Illusion is apprehension of something as a subject apprehends an object. That form of apprehension is the precondition for common sense belief in the universe. So the universe, in that form of conception, is ultimately Imaginary.
And from this perspective, the human subject is also a kind of illusion. Because we apprehend ourselves as objects — as false idols that we imbue with identity and self-contained meaning (our worklife, our memories, our desires, our families, our wealth, our poverty). This is Imaginary too: that kind of subjectivity is also the apprehension of an object, of an identity. “We” are an illusion. Or more accurately, our selfhood is a non-identity.
Furthermore, to say that there is no other ilah apart from Allah entails the impossiblity of the whole process of apprehension, the illusion of a common sense picture of the subject apprehending and identifying an object. To speak of a single identified object is to speak of a sole subject of apprehension. Which is to speak only of apprehending, of self-identification: “I am that I am”. No worshipper can identify Allah, can see Allah, because that worshipper would himself be a object, an identifier in that privilege, and such a a privileged worshipper cannot exist. Any worship can only be Allah worshipping, knowing, identifying Hu, proclaiming the existence and unity of Hu.
2) Muhammed is the slave and messenger of Allah.
Nevertheless, there are angels. They exist. And there are souls. They exist. And there are prophets and messengers. And, prior to all these things, there is Muhammed.
But if there is nothing identified, nothing “really” existing, no object, apart from Allah, then the question is: how can these other things be said to exist?
They exist, not as an illusion of a false ilah, and not “as God”, not as an object of apprehension. These things are not identities, but effectively function as identities. They are a sedimented crystallization of the Mercy that is Allah, in tension with the impossible border of the nothing that is apart from Allah. They are condensation of an impossible vapour. I’ll explain in a second.
The Human soul — the “Real” creation, the cosmos as a space of Divine ayat that we have spent so much time discussing from the psychological perspective — this space does possess an existence, of course, but not one of identities and relations. It doesn’t, in fact, contain any objects.
Divine Love “is”: that which “is”, is Divine Love. God’s unity of subject/object/apprehension is Love. The Love is total to all that “is”, to the identity. There is no exception to this Love. Including the impossible: there is nothing that is exempt from the Love. Allah is subject to Allah’s Love. There is no exemption to Allah: nothing is apart from Allah in identity. Love then lies in tension with this nothing: Allah loves totally, including this nothing apart from Hu. We call this a tension because it is precisely Hu’s Love in impossible relation to the impossibility of apartness, to the impossibility of an Other identity.
Loving that which does not exist — loving a nothing, loving an impossible apartness — is a special case of love, when the subject is, in reality, the only identity. It is not to be compared to the way in which we, as human subjects, objectify another object in affection and desire. It is different from the way in which we might desire something impossible, something inexpressible, outside or transcendent to our reality. But perhaps something like that, in reverse.
The Love becomes directed in relation to the impossible nothing. The Divine subject Loves the nothing and so the nothing takes on the role of an impossible object. It remains impossible: so how can it be distinguished as a separate object? It becomes distinguished by the form of a Seal.
The impossibility of exception — begins to be marked as an event horizon to the black hole of nothingness — by a binary interplay of directions of Love. Two directions of Love constitute a borderline to the nothing that is apart from Allah. They are Slavery and Messaging.
Messaging, from the Love’s perspective, is a Love that asserts itself, asserts its Tawhid, to the nothing. Slavery, from the Love’s perspective, is a Love that demands love in reciprocation. Messaging and Slavery are the nature of the Tawhid itself, of God’s worshiping/appreciating/proclaiming God. They are not directions in this general form. But in the specific form of Love appreciating the impossible exception of nothing, they become directed: Slavery is Love being received from the black hole of nothing, Messaging is Love descending into the black hole of nothing. As the nothing is a black hole, nothing is coming from it, in fact, but, rather, the (now binary) tension of Love to nothing gives it the appearance of an identity that consumes/accepts and reciprocates/worships Love.
The dialectic of Slavery and Messaging form the four worlds, the seven heavens, the angels, the souls, our imaginary reality. They are arrows, not identities. Directions. They are multiplicitous inasmuch as a binary dialectic can encode anything and everything, and so these two directions — form the nature of human reality — offering Love and hearing Love — that become shattered into the essence of the ayat of the cosmos. They form a space in which there are no real objects (because objects are impossible), there are only pure differences in Temporal, unfolding interplay, modes of slavery and messaging, wrapping each other in negotiation, forming categories of understanding that seem fixed in relation to each other, but are, in fact, directed arrows of Love in transformation/morphism of categories of arrows. They form the cosmos at all levels.
These two directions — Slavery and Messaging — are the essence of what Muhammed is. In this sense, he exists before the creation, before the body of Christ becomes the vine of the Real, as a precondition to the theomorphic unfoldings of the messengers and prophets and their families and companions divide, as a precondition to their recombination and balance to form the souls’ progress through to the finality of resolution and second life.
Muhammed exists: and it is his being that constitutes the possibility of the cosmos itself (in a way that precedes but complements our earlier — Gospel — assertion that the cosmos itself is the sublimated body of Adam Kadmon/Christ).
Muhammed is, in essence, the directioned/splitting of Love in tension with the impossibility of an exception to the “no ilah”. In this way, the second part of the shahada almost contracts the first part, in glorious, perfect anomaly.
We note that this entire piece is, itself, a mythopoeic fantasy, an impossible “God’s eye” view of the creation. How can we speak this way about God’s relation to the impossible, if our speech itself is illusory result of the tension that ensures from that relationship? We freely admit that our work is merely signs arranged in relation to one another — in our new understanding, they are fundamentally identityless arrows that stand in morphism/transformation to each other — but have particular directions of Slavery and Messaging. The two directions, as they figure within our fantasy of signs — the modes of Love that they manifest in their recitation/unfolding/morphism. The directions of these arrows reverse, from our psychological perspective — we are in slavery via the non-identified differentiation of our ayat, worshipping the only actual identity by negating ourselves to the Love that we feel and locate via the messages of intimation to that which evads us within our space of ayat. And in reversal, we ourselves are creating something in reciting Shahada — creating an image of creation, self-referentially (that’s how the Light gets in). Each Shahada is a creation of a universe, in microcosm. This happens by virtue of the directions, which are primordial, if you like, transcendent almost, foundational: when we recover these directions within the symbolic soup of non-identity and difference, then we are given a feel for the “Real” situation. That feeling is called Iman.