But what is the Feminine, exactly? Shekhina/Sakina? But what is that? A feminine tranquility sent down to us? But what is it, exactly? A transcendence? A means of transcending a masculine symbology? Or alternatively, the creative embodiment of that symbolic existence?
I have restated my formulation repeatedly here, though after different fashions, lovingly enumerated. You think the people would have had enough of silly love songs. But I look around me and I see it isn’t so. And here I go again: the relationship between the Feminine, the Hijab and the Masculine now, mythopoetically first and then mathematically and then in co-garmenting of enumerations (the signs of my mathematics becoming mythopoeic distillation).
And at the same time, I can now reveal to you the meaning of exterior and interior in Sufism. Because, as we have said, there is no exterior/interior dialectic within the Shariah nor within Prophetic vision: Prophecy is to live within Symbolic space alone, to live the signs in absolute metonymy of illuminated intimation, not in metaphoric suggestion of an Imaginary external meaning. So to say, for example, that the verses regarding hijab have an internal, esoteric meaning and an external, pragmatically physical meaning is to play into a dialectic that is essentially sinful, in the sense of its distance from Prophetic sunnah.
A sister (clad in an amazing tabby catsuit) came to the Tailor’s shop to purchase a hijab.
The Tailor said:
My apologies for propagating further hijab-debate (which is continual, often terribly boring and I understand, coming as it does from a man, often irritating to the sisters).
I am confused by your request to purchase a hijab: for clearly you are in full hijab – I can only see your hands, left and right. The same for your mother and your sister. You have both style and flare and no further progress is necessary: you are already there. Unless you wish to realize the law into the physical plane, but there are of course a multiplicity of such authentic realizations. However that is a process of purr-chasing a pair of rose tinted spectacles to see how the law has played out in front if you, rather than buying new garments.
The sister said:
I understand and, to an extent, agree with the idea that speech/perception is the hijab and that the feminine is some form of human creativity that requires shelter of a righteous hijab. However, does this mean that there is no need left for the physical scalf? This would be pushing the metaphor a little too much, don’t you think so? As Sufism teaches us, shariah is both internal and external, after all.
The Tailor then replied:
Of course in Sufism, there is a particular sense of internal and external that I won’t dispute. And certainly, in non-Prophetic life, the internal/external dialectic is unavoidable.
But I would like to say that, in my view, there is no internal/external dialectic within Shariah. In this case, there is only a hijab of speech — it isn’t a metaphor in the Shariah, because metaphors are signs substituted for signs, and the Shariah (being Divine) is signs, standing alone (not substituted). The particular property of these legal signs is that they provide a resonance with the Real via their own self-reference (the rulings on hijab “refer” to the nature hijab-as-ruling). The Prophet as lawbringer is one who finds complete coincidence of what we see as internal and external, because his reality is Truth: there is no longer a (external) woman wearing a hijab, just there is no longer a (metaphoric, internal) Feminine Creative clothed a garment of Protective Righteous Language. There is now a (neither external nor internal) a woman wearing hijab (a paradoxical, exceptional hijab, that simultaneously hides and reveals through the actual shelter of hiding).
What does that mean for us, living our lives in external/internal dialectic? Speaking philosophically, it is nice to know that, following Hegel, there is an exceptional, middle term to that dialectic, and, following Lacan, it is the impossible female. And it is nice that we can wear that comfort through encountering her (according to some form of marriage).
Speaking practically, there is sin on us for not wearing an external hijab. The sin is not one of wearing, but of failing to live the signs according to the sunnah (the way of Prophecy).
Thus, there is also sin on us for wearing an internal hijab. To follow the sunnah requires us to escape the dialectic, locate the middle term of the impossible, exceptional feminine and be clothed then in the hijab of paradox.
Narrated ‘Ursa: The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with ‘Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years. (Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 88)
The Tailor: The Judaic tradition sets 12 as the legal age for a marriage. Aisha was married at 6 and consummated at 9. There is an argument that the former law and the latter instance are not child abuse, because our notion of childhood is cultural and historically situated. People grew up faster and died earlier in those days. Closer to home, in medieval Europe, it was quite common for peasants at least to get hitched around 14. To survive. There was less information to aquire and more disease going around. Alhumdulilah, in the contemporary West at least, we have an extended childhood these days (in some cases, running into the 20s and 30s!). Alhumdulilah, because childhood is close to paradise. But this extended childhood is more or less the result of factors like the industrial revolution, advances in medicine, colonial oppression etc. I hope that one day an extended childhood will be the norm, globally.
Let’s assume this is the case. So these particularly young ages did not raise any eyebrows in those days. But if it is the case, what is the significance of detailing these ages in holy narratives?
A true brother on the path said: “To follow the Shariah is to be a good Muslim. To study the Science of Tasawwuf (Sufism) is to become a true human being. The Shariah is a precondition to engaging with that Science. It’s like learning to walk before we can run.”
The Tailor thought:
But surely the Shariah, God’s most direct communication, is above any science, including the Science of the Body. And surely it is a communication sent to human beings, not to wild things. The Law is written for human beings alone. Therefore Science precedes the Law.
Prophetic becoming is a crowning line of flight from Mecca to Medina. From Love to Law.
To engage with this crowning of Love by Law: how can we engage with this crowning? By means of the Law itself! The Law encloses the Science, because its sole purpose is to define, self-reflexively, this crowning. The Real nature of the Shariah goes far beyond mundane (and ultimately Imaginary) socio-politics, in fact there is little to link them apart from a family resemblance. The Shariah is for the Cosmos itself: its nature is more akin to subatomic physics. It is precisely the Logic of Life. A logic and meta-logic is built into each article of law: their jurisdiction is the very act of attempting to read the Divine Communication, including the communication of Shariah. An act of reading that is, in essence, this crowning of the human being.
But we must become human first, before we read too deeply. Perhaps those who are not interested in reading, should simply be content to be humans, elevated above all creation anyway (who could ask for anything more?) in the knowledge that Life comes from Love and Love is the meaning of Life.
All lawyers, however, should be human. This is the first principle of the Verandah Vanguard. A wild man cannot study law, he will eat skin and not fruit. A wild man cannot judge, least possibly serious miscarriages of justice occur.