Y’know, a lot of folk are wondering what’s to become of the ummah: where the hope lies, how the body of our deen might be arise from the ashes of past indignities, external colonization, internal failures. Thinking that recent events might even signal a victorious vector of acceleration toward our greater renaissance, an epiphany of the Caliphate’s return.
Soon we will become emptied, ourselves outwards from this Blessed Makom and go forth and perform works, inshallah, that will become components of a vector of Victory. Soon jummah will be over and the week will commence again. But while we stand upright at this Makom, my friends, space filled with Love, our selfhood about to extend, angels smiting the backs like dough, kneaded, as we stand reciting in, directed out absolutely in Sanctified and Supported Salat — speaking from beneath the laden boughs of Tranquility, that vector is frozen and may be apprehended in apprehension of Her Most Fearful Knowledge, and our temporal revolutions are perceived by our Godspell as a crack, traced in a living ice, a crystal’s molecular pre-destiny, crystalized according to the Grace of His Glorious Mercy.
And so, at this moment, at this fixed point of our worship’s recursion, I ask you a series of questions. A renaissance of what, exactly? A victory? But what is victory? What constitutes our renaissance here? What is the Caliphate? What is a King? What is indignity? For that matter, what, friends, is Islam?
I may ask you these questions, and grant you a flock of answers, if you have ears to hear and eyes to see … and the crook to shepherd.
Once upon a time there was a rich merchant who lived in Baghdad. He had a substantial house, large and small properties and dhows which sailed to the Indies with rich cargoes. He had gained these things partly through inheritance, partly through the benevolent advice and direction of the King of the West, as the Sultan of Cordoba was called at that time.
Then something went wrong. A cruel oppressor seized the land and houses. Ships which had gone to the the Indies foundered in typhoons, disaster struck his house and his fmaily. Even his close friends seemed to have lost their power to be in a true harmony with him, although both he and they wanted to have the right kind of social relationship.
The merchant decided to journey to Spain to see his former patron, and he set off across the Western Desert. On the way one accident after another overtook him. His donkey died; he was captured by bandits and sold into slavery, from which he escaped only with the greatest difficulty; his face was tanned by the sun until it was like leather; rough villagers drove him away from their doors. Here and there a dervish gave him a morsel of food and a rag to cover himself. Sometimes he was able to scoop a little fresh water from a pool, but more often than not it was brackish.
Ultimately he reached the entrance of the palace of the King of the West.
Even here he had the greatest difficulty in gaining entry. Soldiers pushed him away with the hafts of their spears. chamberlains refused to talk to him. He was put to work as a minor employee at the Court until he could earn enough to buy a dress suitable to wear when applying to the Master of Ceremonies for admission to the Royal Presaence.
But he remembered that he was near to the presence of the king, and the recollection of the Sultan’s kindness to him long ago was still in his mind. Because, however, he had been so long in his state of poverty and distress, his manners had suffered, and the Master of Ceremonies decided that he would have to take a course in behaviour and self-discipline before he could allow him to be presented at Court.
All this the merchant endured until, three years after he quit Baghdad, he was shown into the sudience hall. The king recognized him at once, asked him how he was, and bade him sit in a place of honour beside him.
“Your Majesty,” said the merchant, “I have suffered most terribly these past years. My lands were usurped, my patrimony expropriated, my ships were lost and with them all my capital. For three years I have battled against hunger, bandits, the desert, people whose language I did not understand. Here I am, to throw myself upon Your Majesty’s mercy.”
The king turned to the chamberlain. “Give him a hundred sheep, make him a royal shepherd, send him up yonder mountain, and let him get on with his work.”
Slightly subdued because the king’s generosity seemed less than he had hoped for, the merchant withdrew, after the customary salutation.
No sooner had he reached the scanty pasturage with his sheep than a plague struck them, and they all died. He returned to the court.
“How are your sheep?” asked the king.
“Your Majesty, they died as soon as I got them to their pasture.”
The king made a sign and decreed: “Give this man fifty sheep,and let him tend them until further notice.”
Feeling ashamed and distraught, the shepherd took the fifty animals to the moutainside. They started to nibble the grass well enough, but suddenly a couple of wild dogs appeared and chased them over a precipice and they were all killed. The merchant, greatly sorrowing, returned to the king and told him his story.
“Very well,” said the king, “you may now take twenty-five sheep and continue as before.”
With almost no hope left in his heart, and feeling distraught beyond measure because he did not feel himself to be a shepherd in any sense of the word, the merchant took his sheep to their pasture. As soon as he got them there he found that the ewes all gave birth to twins, nearly doubling his flock. Then, again, twins were born. These new sheep were fat and well-fleeced and made excellent eating. The merchant found that, by selling some of the sheep and buying others, the ones which he bought, at first so skimpy and small, grew strong and healthy, and resembled the amazing new breed which he was rearing. After three years he was able to return to court, splendidly attired, with his report of the way in which the sheep had prospered during his stewardship. He was immediately admitted to the presence of the king.
“Are you now a successful shepherd?” the monarch asked. “Yes indeed, Your Majesty. In an incomprehensible way my luck turned and I can say that nothing has gone wrong–although I still have little taste for raising sheep.”
“Very well,” said the king. “Yonder is the kingdom of Seville, whose throne is in my gift. Go, and let it be known that I make you king of Seville.” And he touched him on the shoulder with the ceremonial axe.
The merchant could not restrain himself and burst out: “But why did you not make me a king when I first came to you? Were you testing my patience, already stretched almost to the breaking point? Or was this to teach me something?”
The king laughed. “Let us just say that, on the day when you took the hundred sheep up the mountain and lost them, had you taken control of the kingdom of Seville, there would not have been one stone standing on top of another there today.”
This is a story of patience. This story’s meaning boils down to: “good things come to those who wait”. But that’s just a sentence, and can be treated in a number of ways. It should not be treated as a moral: there is no morality here. Patience, sabr, is not a “virtue” — it is an existential condition, the existential condition. Sabr is recitation, it is life. And it unlocks success/victory. The victory derives from reciting victory, victory’s a functor over the transformation that is sabrexistence. Dig?
Let me break it down further.
The Merchant is you, recently born from the Womb, Ar-Rahm. The ties of kinship — inheritance, the signs and archetypes of truth run through you into you as the umbilical cord. You are born into Baghdad, the city of the East, of Prophecy. Because the Womb’s rays of deferred light are transmitted onto the face of Prophecy.
In other words, you are born a Muslim, given the Qu’ran.
But do you understand it? Do you read it? Have you experienced it? She nourishes you, but are you conscious of it?
He’s still an infant, counseled and nourished by her. But he is not conscious. He does not possess understanding. He has no Victory, because Victory is in the legs and the legs have yet to emerge from his primordial body.
And all of that previous paragraph constitutes a thought experiment, a piece of word play. In discussing existence, the paragraph is discursively situated, located within the Western frame of language. Because the West is the space of speech, absolute differentiation, and it captures everything because there is nothing for us outside of language, outside of signage. And so the signage of the West counsels the Merchant of existence, because counseling by definition is linguistic.
This poses a problem still. We’re in Medina, but unaware of ourselves, undeveloped, pre-Prophetic in the City of Prophecy. We’re given the Qur’an, we are in the space of Prophecy but as infants we are unable to process, we are overwhelmed and overloaded. The reactor goes nuclear and all is lost.
That overloading constitutes the journey “West”, because the Western space is signification. It breaks apart the observation of differential capture, dig? We’re born into the elevated city of Prophecy but we don’t know what that means, it’s a conduit to the Womb but we recognize our Western linguistic position and then … phit! … we’re journeying West, that recognition was the journey West, and so we loose it, we forget it. Too much of us was left behind and we can do nothing but attempt to recover it through Victory according to the Shariah of Law, according to the Kingdom of the West.
And the first movement to recovery involves a second order reflection on loss — or, rather, descent.
For the court of the King is the court of Lahut, the realm of Emanation, the fourth, undifferentiated realm of Honey. It is encased in a hard shell, the court itself the sweet kernel of honey, but it is protected by guards and difficulty, like a seed with sweetness inside. That court of Lahut is our conduit to the Logos.
The second order reflection begins the moment we enter into adab. Adab, manners, distance: these are things we have forgotten. In an ironic sense, lacking God consciousness, we treat all things as equal, we become secular Hallajians, all is God, there is no distance. But adab is distance, discerning, the symbolic differentiation of our selfhood, our existence, from the Love. It’s ironic, because Love is Unitary, but is approached in dialectic distancing, manner, separation and measure from the Other, the Beloved. I perceive Her above others, so I love. And that love is what will allow me to relate to the four levels, to taste of that kernel.
Love is the right kind of separation, measure, distance in a Western space of differentiation. With this, though our existence remains Symbolic, we are admitted into the court, into Lahut.
The Merchant has returned back to the Womb, but via his journey West, so it has become a second order reunion. And so there’s a catch: a second order descent, one captured in words, in the symbols of the West. (And here the story reflects our reading of the story, because here we are, reading it: entering the court via its symbols, relating to Lahut — at this elevated stage in our reading! — via our feeble understanding, a symbolic, vacated understanding.)
This is what happens. We reach Lahut in speech, and so are given it’s full Truth. 100 sheep: 100 being one of the ages of Sarah, Abraham’s wife at her moment of completion, 10×10, full transmission to all Names. The Qaf.
Sarah’s life was one hundred year [singular], twenty year and seven years [plural]: the years of Sarah’s life. (Genesis 23:1)
But the 100 sheep are Sarah’s age encapsulated, a crystal code. And we cannot handle it. That is not to say we are at fault. Rather, the code must run its course downward, extend out, fill us with her Laugh, so that the Child will be born in His Perfect form.
And his wife, standing, Laughed; whereupon We gave her the glad tiding of Isaac and, after Isaac, of Jacob. (Qur’an 11:71)
After all, as it is written in the Songs of David:
When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men. (Psalm 68:18)
Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?
This descent is what is described the Sarahaic code, transmitted downward.
The code, the kernel, the court itself is passed to us via intoxication. A state of intoxication, divine song, divination.
And so the Merchant is in Jabarut, the realm of Wine, of reflection upon reflection. That space I am in right now, when I reflect upon how this story is reflecting my existence. And the 100 here is reflected here, in reflection upon the Jabarut itself: the Metamodel is the Metamodel is the Metamodel.
But it cannot contain her honey.
She bifurcates within Jabarut, because as we have described before in relation to Hajar’s sa’ee, it is via oscillation between the two poles of Marwah and Safa that the light moves between four realms, that the seed grows through the earth, that Sarah’s Laugh becomes the Son of Mind (Issac), then the Son of Body (Jacob). Why? Because Metamodel’s yield a multiplicity of models, so the laugh replicates outward, like a fractal. Sarah’s static infinity.
The bifurcation: 100 becomes split into the jubilee, into 50.
And the models are Malakut, the realm of the angels, of milk. Of forms, of regimes, of kingdoms. Individual kingdoms, each one. But these form signs are a trace of the Truth of her 100, the tracts of Grace upon the geography of our plateau-games, our individual worlds, roles, social, spiritual, religious, historical, mathematical function.
But the Mercy pushes this construction down to the lives we live, the actions we commit, the emotions we feel, the images we see, the input/output of our machinery. Mercy pushes this construction of the 50 down into the realm of Nasut, of water, of life, of path, journey, nafs.
The 50 bifurcates to 25.
And so the Merchant lives, unfrozen, leaving the Mosque, an activated agent, turned on to the whole picture, because the bifurcation is a breadcrumb trail back up, a conduit that allows him to perceive all his previous lives, allows him a renaissance of the Body’s True science (like gazing through a microscope at the cells within his own Blood).
And that’s where Victory emerges, where the feet of the infant have grown. Unto us a Son is Risen. 25 becomes 50, 50 becomes 100 via birth, foreign replacement/exchange and storage.
That gazing back is the multiplication. Being fruitful, multiplying by following the trail back, but recollecting and adding to the formation by bringing back the Love experienced in that outermost realm, in the outermost realm of our daily experiential input/output processing. The data collection/storage function.
The Merchant becomes aware of his own breath. He becomes aware that he is breath, the ruh in descent/ascent, in collection/storage.
He returns back to the Prophetic, to rule over the Medina-interior/Seville-exterior. The Caliphate becomes (re-)established and his soul fragments return, welcomed.
And those who were settled in al Medina and the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what the emigrants were given but give preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful. And those who came after them, saying, “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts resentment toward those who have believed. Our Lord, indeed You are Kind and Merciful.” (59:9-10)
There are precursor souls within the city of al Medina. These are the good souls of generations past: our ancestors, historically, religiously, in lineage of becoming, all of true faith. And there are souls that migrate into that city, as successors, bringing in external wealth acquired from their journey. These are the good souls of future generations: our descendants of true faith, sharing their wealth of experience with their precursors. Al Medina welcomes in the souls on their journey, the precursor selves giving over what they have, though they are poor, unadorned. They give over themselves by being precursors in the transmission.
Thus Islam is realised. Thus the Shariah will be implemented, lived, with each breath in, each breath out.
Let’s pray for Victory and Success on the Believers, that Kingdom of the Son to be granted upon us, through Love, in breath.