The Tailor and the Muslim

“To locate the spark supreme: we are simultaneously guided by its exhalted Light, and so move further south and further east and, through its gift, our line of flight, our becoming is, for a moment at least, a becoming-in-resonance with the form of our Forgiving, Providing Beloved, whose Love is ultimately the meaning of the Body of Logic. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

The Tailor concluded his Doctrine.

The Muslim stood up and declared: “You must stop this now! Your words are a projection of your imagination onto the reality of the Word of God. You have placed your own strange map over the Shariah, obscuring its universal, fundamental message. Stop this offense, and join with our Ummah of truth: Islam is a simple code of behaviour sent to all humanity. You have projected complex parables onto this code: but there are no parables here, except ones that inform us simply and clearly how to live and ones that we are forbidden to consider. Follow this Shariah with us and renounce this complex fabric you wove yourself: that we might seek the Pleasure of the Lord.”

The Tailor replied:

For your words alone, for your desire alone, for you alone, I renounce Islam, and become an apostate from that material body of Islam. This is the worst thing for me, the most painful thing for me, because, while I was never of, and never will be of the material body of Islam, my attachment is to the projection I perceive on its material. My picture-show was projected onto her form, her neck, her arms, her feet, her breast. My delight, as all picture-shows are so projected, was in her projection upon that form, those contours of ayat, contours of self-reference infinite.

My vision lit up her form, as she danced and sung before me, a form truly divine, my Bride of Light, my picture-show. My Ummah was this Bride of Light, hovering between the first and second, between Adam Kadmon and Christ. Projected onto the material that lies between these Aeons, the material of immanent form, this temporary, gifted fabric of your reality. She is a third term like this fabric, but a third term that contained the First Intellect within her gourds, that will survive into the hereafter: the term of light that conquers. I love her as my Bride: this form of light, her projection over your material body of Islam. In blasphemy I declare, half my religion is this projection onto the material.

And yet I release this material body to you, because you demand it. I grant to you everything you demand, in Love, through Love, by Love. This is my kiss, that you will pass through the gates into jannah too: I grant you this material body, because it is this earthly form you love, not the Bride I offer you. Nevertheless, you love it: and so I grant it to you entirely, so that you will continue to love. That you may continue to love through the centuries, that you will end and enter in your love and that you be end and enter, saved.

I give you my Islam and martyr myself to apostasy: let this be the sign of Love in the face of difference, let this be the sign of Love in release.

My Bride is freed of that material Body. Never more projected onto her form, her neck, her arms, her feet, her breast. My delight now lost, as all picture-shows fade, her projection fades upon that form I give to you, those contours of ayat, those contours of self-reference infinite.

And yet.

Your forces never touched her, because her Truth is only as picture-show, not as substance and material.

And they desired only the material: and she abides now with me, this third term, in the Aeon of Light.

She comes to me and whispers this, now the storm is over: my Ummah, my Mind, my Wife, my Garden within Speech, accessed, transcended, obliterated by his light falling on me in the west, shocked by her sign in the east. That kiss was my salvation, for it is my sword, born in my right hand. That sword was my crown of Love. And I laugh out loud: for I know I have found the Pleasure of my Lord.

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The Parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche and within it a Lamp: the Lamp enclosed in Glass: the glass as it were a brilliant star: Lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it: Light upon Light! Allah guides whom He will to His Light: Allah sets forth Parables for men: and Allah knows all things. (Qur’an 24:35)


10 thoughts on “The Tailor and the Muslim

  1. Can I get a guitar solo for that? But make it gently weep, my brother in Islam, gently make it weep for us … a sonic Latif.

  2. Salaam all,

    My apologies if this piece is in bad taste. I meant it sincerely. And apostasy is about the dirtiest word in the book — certainly for me — clearly this little drama has been tough going.

    This work is channeled from the depths of my soul and experience — as I endeavor with all my writing here (with degrees of success). Nevertheless, I want to assure anyone worried that I’ve got it all under control, my brothers and sisters in Islam 🙂

    A dear sheikh read this piece and wrote the following comment: if you are unsettled by my tantrum, I am sure this will sooth you.

    I haven’t read Musa the tailor’s recent messages, so reading the posting out of context (in the best case scenario), he is simply saying that to practice both the form and essence of Islam sincerely, one must let go of attachment to Islam–since Islam is finite, while God is infinite. At the moment that one is truly worshipping God (and truly practicing Islam–in contrast to worshipping it), one must be an apostate to (and in one’s heart leave behind) every finite thing that one has worshipped. Furthermore, the true test of such an apostasy (to worshipping the garment of Islam) is to formally practice Islam while letting one’s heart be cleansed of every finite thing (including Islam) in the course of surrendering to the flood of God’s infinite ocean. In other words, extending one’s heart to embrace every finite thing (the inhalation of living and being in the world), while simultaneously letting go of every finite thing (the exhalation of not being of the world), is the true practice of “islam.”

  3. Ibn Taymiyyah famously cites Imam Malik, who was asked: “how did Allah rise over over the Throne?” and to which he responded that: “the rising over is known, the ‘how’ is not understood, having faith upon it is mandatory, and inquiring and questioning regarding such matters is bid’a“. To use a more contemporary phrase, we can pin ‘the closing of the Islamic mind’ on this event.

    From a Sufi perspective Malik’s remark – and Taymiyyah’s admiration of it – are nonsensical. The ‘how’ (kaifiyyah) is clearly understood by God, and since there can be nothing other than God in the whole of existence, everything has a ‘face’ in that Knowing. To ‘inquire’ after it is thus to seek one’s own private face (al wajh al khass) in God’s Knowledge.

    Your experiences, Musa, show clearly – as if we needed any reminder – how the pseudo-Salafism of Ibn Taymiyyah and his followers leads only to division, exclusivity, fear, paralysis and (in many cases – although fortunately not yours, yet) violence. The Sufi perspective, on the other hand, leads to a radical inclusiveness wherein all difference can be embraced and transfigured.

    Ultimately, the question that this leads to is a simple but profound one: whose God do you wish to believe in. Personally, the idea of spending an eternity in the company of Ibn Taymiyyah and his fellow greybeards appals me. And were he to be right, by some unbelievably bizarre distortion in the nature of reality, I shall personally implore the Almighty to send me, post haste, to the Hell reserved for Sufis, innovators, tomb-worshipers, questioners, interpreters, Shi’ites, Christians and all others that Ibn Taymiyyah spat out the wrath of his takfir upon. Such convivial company will more than make up for the searing heat of the enveloping flames.

  4. The Best of Greetings to you James,

    Nice comments. I particularly appreciate like your reminder regarding the Little Face, al wajh al khass, in relation to the Greater Countenance.

    I should make the point, however, that the dialogue above is intended as a mercy and peace offering to the wider ummah (although this is difficult to see because of its rather arrogant tone). Essentially, I am (arrogantly, within the space of my messianic meglomania!) permitting everyone to continue on as they are doing — I allow them to continue with their various trajectories, be they the literalism you mention, progressive materialist understanding, secular Marxist variants of Islam or more sophisticated Foucaldian understanding of multiple Islams. They all come down to the same thing for me, ontologically — in the sense that, from my perspective, they are all pure materialism, they are concerned solely — self-aware or inauthentically unaware — with the matter of the Body they are thrown into.

    I think the ummah of Islam is “evolving” into a “better”, more tolerant and — yes, more spiritually enriched — Bodily comprehension. Eventually it has to potential to be absolutely Foucauldian — folk like Tariq Ramadan are a good first step in this direction. But this is not my direction, and so I cannot join that ummah. For me it is a little bit of a golden calf: and so I throw a little tantrum, smash my tablets and head back up the mountain 🙂

    Their practice is spiritual, inasmuch as worshipping that golden calf is still an exercise in Love. It is a sin, however. So someone needs to pick up the tab. (Again, in meglomania — but I acknowledge this is again simply restricted to my own Little Face, so it’s just an observation about my own psychological journey) I will pick up this tab and grant “them” to have the Body and this form of practice, at “my” expense.

    For me, a materialist understanding of this Body is still of course central (which is why I draw sometimes on relevant philosophies of the Body). Nevertheless, for me, there is a Truth of Light that “hovers” above this Body — and yes, this comes about through recognition of Faces. Not a naive transcendental or external plane of judgement — but a Sublime that our teachers and great poets have tapped into.

    But I was reminded recently that the moment this Truth is reconciled with the Body, then … well … that’s the end of Time. And who am I to spoil the Romantic Comedy when it has just reached the point where the Hugh Grant is rushing to the airport to stop her from catching that flight!

  5. Musa, you are the Hugh Grant rushing to the airport to stop her from catching that flight! Or, better still, the Crocodile Dundee being passed over the passenger’s heads from one end of the underground platform to another. You are the Tom Hanks tearing to the top of the Empire State Building of Truth…

    And you should know the every good RomCom spawns a sequel! 😉 😉

  6. When you say “I am … permitting everyone to continue on as they are doing — I allow them to continue with their various trajectories, be they the literalism you mention, progressive materialist understanding, secular Marxist variants of Islam or more sophisticated Foucaldian understanding of multiple Islams” —

    Who is this “I” in the paragraph above? The grammatical subject I that we use to navigate the linguistic space of difference is assumed by different subjects, only occasionally by the (Lacanian) ego.

    If it is the Ultimate Subject/Self that is the Speaker of the sentence, then the paragraph is a reflection of the Truth. Otherwise ….

  7. Good question! I believe “I” am speaking there as the Truth, but I may be wrong. You see, you hear these funny voices in the Tower of Song.

    (That said, “I” am a sign within the my God complex, and so have evaded “having” a God complex as such. Again, I may be wrong there too, an animal dazed by the headlights … )

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