Exalted is He who journeyed His slave by night from al-Masjid al-Haram (the Sacred Temple) to al-Masjid al-Aqsa (the Farthest Temple), whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing. (17:1)
The Isra from Mecca to Jerusalem is Surah’s opening theme, and, though it appears to deviate and meander disorientingly quickly away from that theme, the careful listener/reader will hear this theme repeated consistently throughout each successive line, an echo reverberating and expanding outward.
Because the surah takes the reading subject — you — from the Sacred Temple to the Farthest Temple, with each line.
The Farthest Temple is both the First and Second Temples, historically understood to have been destroyed by the Babylonians and Romans, respectively.
The verses describing the Temple are given here:
And We conveyed to the Children of Israel in the Book (K-T-B) that, “You will surely cause corruption in the earth twice, and you will surely reach great arrogance. So when the promise came for the first of them, We sent against you servants of Ours – those of great military might, and they entered the innermost parts of the homes, and was a promise fulfilled. Then We gave back to you a return victory over them. And We reinforced you with wealth and sons and made you more numerous in manpower. “If you do good, you do good for your nafs; and if you do evil then that is for it.” Then when the final promise came, to sadden your faces and to enter the Temple as they entered it the first time, and to destroy what they had taken over with destruction.
There are not two temples. There are two destructions, but not two temples. They are the same Temple: “to enter the Temple as they entered it the first time”. The temple was never destroyed: this is why Muhammed could journey to it. He did not journey to its ruins, but to the Temple. The Temple was never destroyed. Neither were its inhabitants, strictly speaking, destroyed.
The temple was not destroyed, but evil came and entered. “The innermost parts of their homes” were entered: that is to say, evil entered the homes, it entered the depths of the human.
That’s the nature of the catastrophe being described here: evil entering the homes, evil infecting human-as-city, infusing every house, like a foul pollution of hate. The Jews say the cause of the Second Temple’s destruction was sinat chinam, baseless hatred or hatred of Grace. This is correct, but only at the individual level, and only inasmuch as we recognize that the Temple continues to persist and that the twofold destructions are perpetuated over and over again against the Jersusalem of you, the self as City of Peace.
God doesn’t murder people for their deeds. There have been historical holocausts, genocides, mass murder: and no victim is to blame for these. There was never a “group sin” that caused God to strike down (historical) Jews in the past nor to destroy the Arabs with Mongol invasion. God never harmed a real city because of its people’s behaviour. The false God whispers this to the reader: the Demiurge of psychosis attempts to infuse itself between the houses of the signs of this ayat, a pollution of hatred attempts to descend within the sanctity of its words.
There was no hatred of grace that led to the Babylonians or Romans historically “punishing” the Jews, as some kind of Divine agents. Only baseless hatred, on the part of the aggressor, led to that.
No one is punished by Love. Love brings Life (Eternal Zoe), never death, never death.
Rather, the cruel trope of that destruction is misplaced and ironically individuated here: the verses refer to the individual alone, coming into being, growing within the Temple, then being infused with evil and cut down (while the Temple remains), then emerging stronger, then being lost a second time. A doubling of our own loss, a loss that impacts each and every one of us.
What remains of you during this process? The Temple remains. It is constant during the twin destructions. What maintains the Temple as a constant? The very event of Muhammed’s arrival in Isra. That is, the Temple remains a fixed point by virtue of its bidirectional relationship to the Cube/Kaba, a relationship referred to as Muhammed’s Isra.
Because the Cube came before the Temple, and then succeeds it. And the journey Muhammed takes from Cube to Temple is bijective: it is what sustains you throughout your twin destructions.
The twin destructions appear, outwardly, to be the punishment of God. But no: inwardly, they are ironies of a human’s journey, fed by a temporal forward-reverse mapping, a Muhammedean becoming/unbecoming back to the Cube.
How can it be an unbecoming? A reverse Isra? This is given by the verses:
The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them exalt Him. And there is not a thing except that it exalts [ Allah ] by His praise, but you do not understand their [way of] exalting. Indeed, He is ever Forbearing and Forgiving. (17:44)
The seven heavens are the Cube: its six sides and its interior (which in receptive mode is the earth, a plane of immanence, and in the mode of growth is all-things in exaltation of Divinity).
The double destruction/revival of the Temple, and its bidirectional cord back to the Cube: this is the journey of the soul, repeated again and again (repeated because destruction is doubled).
Note 2: The Islamic book of the dead, briefly
These transmigratory cycles/doublings have a particular (meta-)physics: the remainder of the surah is a physics lesson.
Given more time we could review it. Maybe next year. We briefly note: