The weakest state is one that does not implement the shariah for zina, the weakest state is one that cannot produce four witnesses for acts of adultery. Because four witnesses can always be found, for the strongest states.
Before we proceed, let it be known: the Tailor has adultery within himself. I provide four witnesses against these acts, and call upon He-Who-is-Without-Sin to cast the first stone. I have responsibility for this. I do not have responsibility for this. What was it, all along, that I was seeking? I am seeking nothing more than sexual, physical pleasure. And I am now seized by absolute desire, with all-consuming want, with the madness of need for her body. But pursuit of this need has led me into adultery. My forces — my rulers — are charged solely with her capture and they launch into pursuit. But she evaded their capture and hid herself, beoming a tree, and they turn, instead, onto nothing more than mere painted facsimile. So now I am trapped, and that need denied because their capture denies my body: until the punishment came down upon them and until the punishment releases me back into pleasure, to her Reality at last. By the Grace of that Light: for that was her name all along.
Surat An Nur (“The Light”) contains one of the most beautifully mysterious and esoteric verses describing our relationship to God (24:35). For the modern reader, a confronting aspect of the surah is that, immediately prior to this, it outlines the shariah for treatment of adultery and for visiting houses. This is confronting on two accounts: first, the punishment is harsh and seemingly devoid of love or mercy (for adulterers and for those who falsely accuse), which is uncomfortable for those whose intuitions are that God is infinitely merciful; second, even if you accept a harsh God, the verses on adultery and hospitality seem quite disjoint from those that follow — which involve both the verses on the Light of God and peculiar rulings concerning the permissibility of movement between houses. Our intuition often dictates that the perfect revelation should hold perfect coherence. Moving from the fine grained granularity of social shariah and interpersonal sexual relations to the cosmic, personal order of God and Creation is the nature of the Qur’an: but in this instance (adultery, houses, light, houses again) it appears to be just plain weird.
Believers are often quite defensive when it comes to both points. There is no need to be defensive. Because the punishment is perfectly harsh and mercy is withheld therein, but no “physical” flesh is bruised by the punishment. It is a punishment of the body, but not the material body you normally consider. And because the surah is perfectly coherent. There is no rapid movements between graularities of society and the personal: they are one and the same thing. Because, in this absolutely vital sense, the whole surah is about you and you alone.
Punishment, like true prayer, concerns the Real body, not the illusory body of matter. The lashes are for the Real body of my self, not the illusory, biologically/historically/socially situated arms and legs I normally consider as my body. The illusory body is separated from my being, presupposing a selfhood that is somehow interior to or distinguished from, while the Real body is my being as pure surface, over which my selfhood is ultimately constitutive.
The Real body I am talking about almost feels like a metaphor for spiritual understanding. When I “get” what the functions of punishment/lashings apply to (to myself, situated as a man, reciting the surah) — when I apprehend the signs of this shariah in Truth, then I come to understand that the punishment concerns the aspect of myself that is adulterous to the Truth, only then do I undergo the 100 lashes. And through undergoing them, I am purified.
But the emphasis on “almost” a metaphor: because I contend that this understanding is something that physically transforms (or, in fact, reveals the totality of the Body’s reality of the Body to the subject by, at the same time, as moving subjectivity into ultimate confluence with the Body’s surface of transformation). It is a physical, corporeal understanding in the first instance — embodied Wisdom — reflected Light emerging from the signs placed upon the surface of the Gifted Body.
[Sidenote: Relating this to what we have said about women … as we have said, this embodied Wisdom in emergence/descent to us is the Feminine Tranquility. But, getting deeper, zooming in upon the reflection of Light, we observe that by the agency of the secondary hidden Feminine, embodied understanding, ultimate secret Wisdom occurs when — to express this using the Symbolism of the outer Feminine – the Body itself constitutes as a totality the mapping into the secret realm, hidden between the signs.]
I could go a little bit further … First let me assert that the body of the Islamic ummah is not a social state, but is a state of being: a state of selfhood. It is a state of self that contains within it a multiplicity of different voices. This is “you”, what you normally think of as your individual “self”.
When you hear a brother step up and give a hutba about the ummah being a body, where if one part is in pain or diseased, the rest of the body feels it — he is speaking the Truth — because he is really talking about himself and his journey and his state. Your self-as-ummah (your nation-of-one) contains Prophecy, an Umar, and Aisha, an Ali, a Fatimah, etc, a first generation of believers who received the habits of recitation, constitute a bodily memory and physical witnessing of transmission, together with later generations who then receive these transmissions.
This mass of different archetypes is contained within the psyche of everyone who was born after the Final Revelation. The generations and their relationships (and the events they participated in) are all there “now” inside you. The Battle of Badr: it’s going on right now. The Hijrah: right now. Aisha being suspected of adultery: now. First contact with the angel in the cave: now. To deny this immediate accessibility to revelation’s unfolding is — in my reading — to be like those groups mentioned in the Qur’an who dismiss the Prophetic narrations as “stories of former people” (46:17). Fundamentally, the revelation is given to you and governs everything going on inside you.
This body of archetypes and generations constitutes the ummah of you — and can form a caliphate of Medina, if you fully implement the shariah to govern it.
The woman and the man guilty of illegal sexual intercourse, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment. (Qur’an 24:2)
Thus, in the first instance, the lashings are similar to prayer. Symbolic understanding, leading to corporeal change (change across ummah/body of “you”.
The lashings of Surat An Nur are symbolic. Each and every day, to a lesser or greater degree, we can locate an adulterous masculine and feminine aspect of ourselves, within the city of our body.
This form of adultery occurs whenever we desire illusion. That is the meaning of Lilith, the adultress: she is the feminine of illusion. Prostitution is a work of pure fiction, haram mimeses and simulation. “Let’s pretend.” Illusory games of multiplicity, the illusion of choice, of deviation. And Samael/Iblis is her consort: the reverse of Prophecy, the prince of darkness. Adultery in the verse is to be both adulterer/Samael and adultress/Lilith at once (for example, to suffer from a God complex and an infinitely promiscuous creativity simultaneously).
The self-reflexive example, of course, the illuminated reading here is that we can have this form of adultery manifest itself in our reading of this particular verse of the Qur’an, such as if we were to claim that the the sign of lashes is to be implemented in “actual” society, and that actual society has a reality outside of our own individual body. But adultery as a totalizing function is also illusion at all levels and, its physical function is key here: it fouls the body of truth with a retreat into illusion, an illusory escape of the body — paradoxically in setting up a false body with a false consort of matter.
We need to disengage with these aspects of ourself, we need to eject these aspects of our psyche/ummah from the caliphate, not to deny pleasure — but to affirm pleasure, because the pleasure of truth requires a Real body, and adultery is the establishment of false bodies of Samael/Lilith.
How to disengage? By the fire of judgement. Disengagement is done through “not having pity”, through being entirely left-handed about the affair, and burning them out with the fires of judgement/logic, transmitted through via a regulatory principle that we might call “righteousness”: the 100, the conduit through which Prophecy enters our subjective space of perception. Full burning, withholding the right handed waters of mercy. This adulterous/wayward aspect(s) are disciplined.
The discipline both demands witnesses and prescribes witnessing. Why? (Speaking from the Kingdom’s perspective), we need to record the adultery in our belief, to turn it from something negative into a positive “lesson”, an adornment in the autobiography we are writing for ourselves. But there is something more that can be said about witnesses, something vital.
I’ve implied that the self is an ummah, and the Shariah’s rulings regarding adultery, concern aspects of that self. That through lashing the inner adulteress/adulterer, the self-as-ummah is able to ascend.
What is this self? Who says this, who is the “I” who writes this? And why exactly is adultery something to be punished — even if adultery means infidelity to God or Truth, why should it be punished?
The answer to these questions lies in their inseperability: you will only know who this “I” is through the purging of adultery — the punishment of adultery demands witnesses, and the witnesses are who “you” are. Infidelity, in other words, is the means by which “you” deny yourself.
I want to know this secret. And I will come to know it, by reading the Surah and suffering this punishment for my infidelities. This is happening to me now.
Who is this “I”? They are the four witnesses of the punishment. In punishment, they are found and, through punishment, I will know what the “I” is.
I hear myself telling myself: there are four selves that comprise “me”.
The four upper selves are the four witnesses in the surah. The witnesses are four aspects of the self that witness adultery that takes place within. They always witness this, the perfect surveillance, but cannot obviously be found. (There are, of course, other cosmologies of the self, involving three, five and seven levels … but no problem, I’m kind of sure I could relate them if necessary. But sometimes it can be more productive to reconstruct from first principles.) They correspond to the four rivers/realms that flow under the Lote tree: moving from water upwards,
1) There is a self-of-life/action that moves through the day-to-day space of signs, assembling them, configuring them, weaving a life for itself through Time (movement toward the Beloved). This is often what we normally identify with as ourselves. It is a multiplicity of different voices, drives, personalities, moods. I could call it the nafs.
2) Then there is the self-of-regulation/forms that exists in the space of forms and models of our realities. It is “responsible” for the self-of-life, inasmuch as it reflects, records and provides the form for the nature of that self. It is also the self that can receive Divine inspiration/perception in the sense I was talking about earlier — because its space is a self-reflective space, the space of the “meaning” of the signs woven by the self below. This self is self-aware, to put it simply, self-aware of its formation. Self-awareness is Divine inspiration because it is an awareness that the action that a form that intimates a Divine meaning: a heatfelt grasp of the fact that the meaning of all signs, all formed things, is deferral and submission to the Beloved (heartfelt because it is a grasp that itself defers and submits within). I could call this qalb.
In Surah Al Nur, the “houses” referred to in that Surah constitute this self or, rather, its possibilities of form: a house is a form, a model, a container — its exteriority is the self-of-life/action.
As for its interior, we move upwards to locate the inhabitants …
3) There is the self-as-spirit (I could call it ruh), that which exists “above” the self-of-regulation and, in fact (here is where I almost sound like I am pronouncing upon reincarnation), “migrates” between selves-of-regulation. The entrance is not random and free (unlike the “becomings” of the philosophers I mentioned) — but is conducted according to the shariah of Surah Al Nur itself : there are, after all, a a number of laws laid down there relating to movement between houses, most importantly that permission must be granted, the greeting of peace should be made).
Philosophers like Deleuze and Bergson spoke of human identity in relation to “becoming”. There are any number of “becomings” that I pass through every day — for example, “becoming” a teacher (to my students), “becoming” a shopper (at the supermarket), “becoming” carnivore (when eating a sandwich for lunch) — these are all situations in which “I” am displaced into a particular form or frame. This is the same for everyone. Deleuze indicates that the nature of these “roles” is free, ranging of fiction and fact — he recommended that everyone “become” Alice, from Alice in Wonderland, for example, in order to deal with the relativities of the world as her feminine archetype.
That said, along the Woolen path, I’ve experienced a number of “becomings” that I would constitute in the same fashion — an experience of being “displaced” momentarily in the “frame” or form of other “people” — but that involve a historical past. I might go so far as to admit to you (though never publically!) that some of these experiences were important and valuable enough for me to start writing this book. I’d therefore hesitate to call it past life recall in the New Age sense, but actually this isn’t far off from that — maybe more like a conduit or flow of some aspect of the soul, connecting one “self” to another “self”, one house to another house.
There are small movements between houses that go on all the time. And then there are major ones. To successfully “convert” from one religion to another (or one culture to another, or one life to another) is to have this self-as-soul move from one house to another, from one form to another form. The implications of what I believe go a bit further though: there are of course an infinite number of houses that can be entered, and (I believe) entrance is atemporal and ahistorical/afactual — so it is possible to enter houses of all manners, “past” and “future”. This “entering” is what Deleuze calls “becoming”: we can “become” all kinds of things, all kinds of forms — from Caesar to Aisha, from a wolf to Alice, from a WWI solider in the trenches to the form of Prophecy itself. This becoming is key to my grasping of what Jungian call archetypes: Aisha and Fatima, Musa and Harun are not “just” symbols that “represent” an aspect of our consciousness, they are houses that we can inhabit and “become”/pass through — this passing through is what constitutes grasping or understanding these archetypes.
The self-of-soul/spirit moves between houses of the lower self, between forms, between lives. Transmigration of the spirit obeys this cosmic shariah. Some of which need permission, some of which have a “use” for you but are uninhabited:
O you who believe! Enter not houses other than your own, until you have asked permission and greeted those in them, that is better for you, in order that you may remember. And if you find no one therein, still, enter not until permission has been given. And if you are asked to go back, go back, for it is purer for you, and Allâh is All-Knower of what you do. There is no sin on you that you enter houses, you have any interest in them. And Allâh has knowledge of what you reveal and what you conceal. (Qur’an 24:27-29)
To require permission is a kind of symbiotic reincarnation/regneration of the upper self that enters into the “you” of a house that already exists. It is important to greet and salute, to be in harmony. This is a law of physics more than a law of manners (but it is certainly a law of adab). We share houses sometimes, we “eat” from houses of brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers:
There is no restriction on the blind, nor any restriction on the lame, nor any restriction on the sick, nor on yourselves, if you eat from your houses, or the houses of your fathers, or the houses of your mothers, or the houses of your brothers, or the houses of your sisters, or the houses of your father’s brothers, or the houses of your father’s sisters, or the houses of your mother’s brothers, or the houses of your mother’s sisters, or (from that) whereof you hold keys, or of a friend. No sin on you whether you eat together or apart. But when you enter the houses, greet one another with a greeting from Allah blessed and good. Thus Allah makes clear the signs to you that you may understand. (Qur’an 24:61)
We share certain archetypes in synchronicity with others, we consume food within the houses of precursor spirits, related spirits, compatible spirits along the bifircations and fragmentation of the single self (and, later, for our times today, the Muhammedean self, as distinguished from the Muhammedean form/archetype).
Permission to enter and lineages of compatibility and soul-ancestry are essential to govern this transmigration, because it is not a lesser jihadic line of flight (the incorporeal transformations between forms, between houses, between the self-as-regulatory systems of signification) but, rather is a bodily greater jihadic transformation — the transformation into the ultimate realisation of the body, into direct contact with the the Perfect Body because, though in totality it remains sublimated, it can still be comprehended as the higher self, the secret self.
4) There is a secret self. I think in other cosmologies it gets broken down further into upper and lower levels. This aspect of the self is direct linkage to the original Adamic form, both (androgynous — b/c it is undifferentiated though still married, original) Adam and the Tree of Life, so to speak. The Logos that remains sublimated and differentiated below, but here is undifferentiated. What Christian Gnostics and the Hermeticists call the Logos — and what the Sufis sometimes call Insan Kamil. Ourselves as Al-Haq, to be Hallajian. (Not ourselves as God, I should add hastily, God transcends all this, but it is the closest the “me” can get to God.) It is our primordial form that “is” Creation/Real itself. It is the self existing in an undifferentiated state.
This undifferentiated state is one of nakedness — of discarding of garments. The original form of the human, before eating from the tree and given the “garments of skin” in the Torah.
The Surah appears to provide regulatory forms fro how this higher self relates to the lower selves (just as it provides a shariah for migration of the soul between the houses of the self-as-form).
O you who believe! Let your legal slaves and slave-girls, and those among you who have not come to the age of puberty ask your permission (before they come to your presence) on three occasions; before Fajr (morning) prayer, and while you put off your clothes for the noonday (rest), and after the ‘Ishâ’ (night) prayer. Three times are of privacy for you, other than these times there is no sin on you or on them to move about, attending (helping) you each other. Thus Allâh makes clear the signs to you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. (Qur’an 24:58)
This prescription informs us that our “slaves” and “slave-girls” and ungendered children (selves of breath) must ask permission/have restricted access at three points in the day/cycles of life to come near this higher “you”. The next verse tells us that when children become gendered (breath becomes formed and gendered via houses and external action), they must always ask permission “as those before them” asked permission to gain entrance:
And when the children among you come to puberty, then let them ask for permission, as those senior to them. Thus Allah makes clear His signs for you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. (Qur’an 24:58)
In this way, to realise all four witnesses is to ascend from each self until we attain complete, undifferentiated, Real body of the Logos connection. To produce the witnesses is to receive the lashing and this is the elimination of the false body and the recollection of the Real body.
Where is God in all of this? God transcends these selves, though the Light of God travels through these four realms, creating them and guiding the selves therein: an oil of Love (not of east or west — asexual, undifferentiated — nor of fire, but a glowing Love) contained within a Lamp, contained within a glass that appears to ordinary perception as a single star, this star contained within a niche. The niche is the crack in every sign we encounter, the crack that lets the light through, lets the clue to Divinity in. Each of these realms brings us to God, because Light runs through and creates each.
But before we can even begin to move through these realms to encounter God, we need to know ourselves, to know the four selves, to “find” the four witnesses. Finding four witnesses is essential to eliminate the adultery of illusion from our city.
Four witnesses above are witness to adultery, because it happens within the order of the lowest self, in denial of the witnesses: their presence, however, provides the instigation of the punishment of adultery.
The 24th Surah is a method of purification of selfhood through all its realities: and an entrance into boundless pleasure across all its levels.
Concerning the punishment of adulterer/adulteress. This punishment is to be lived through again and again (it is not a rare piece of shariah set up to warn people away from infidelity — it is a punishment to be implemented almost every day!). My ummah is unruly and it is often adulterous in our relationship to the Truth. And this adultery is absolutely sexual: it is not a metaphoric adultery we are discussing.
“You” in Truth never commit adultery: nevertheless, there is adultery played out upon your body. You are above the adulterer and adulteress. When a celebrity admits to infidelity, they state a nonsense, because to say “I am guilty” is to deny the truth of their perfect selfhood and, in fact, is a form of adultery itself. Rather, they should reflect upon the adulterer and adulteress within themselves, immediately bear witness to their punishment.
The strict punishment is forms the realignment of these archetypes — only through the strict left handed line does reorientation occur.
The four witnesses are the four levels of the selfhood. They are the four you’s. Adultery is always possible to prosecute: there are always four witnesses that can be called upon, if you can find them (and you must find them to be freed of adultery).
Is this a self-flagelatory, anti-sexual Qur’an? No: the Truth offers boundless pleasure, infinite sexuality, the perfect, fullest manifestation of your innermost desires, desires that run so deep that you don’t recognize them until the Truth comes to you. The Truth has been established to meet every intimate thought, to meet you naked, to take your body through boundless pleasure, with infinite sexuality, infinite cycles of pleasure. If your ummah is physically a male or physically a female (and I say this in reflection of you both), then this is the promise of God.
But the adulterer is to run away from the the Truth: to desire only a female of matter, a female of illusion. The adulteress is illusion (hence no skin is bruised): and illusion is matter. And the adulterer is that which leads us away from the four levels of selfhood and says (in tawhid of matter, hence his fallen Angelic status): “This is what it is, there is nothing else apart from this.” In their fornication, they form a closed loop — that is sexual but purely illusory and is not pleasure in the Real sense — it is not even sex as the pleasure is not Real, it is not bodily, it is all “fantasy”. (Hence the Christ’s statement “if the eye offends …” )
This act of fornication occurs again and again, and there are always four witnesses to testify.
But, vice versa, there are falsities imposed upon the Wife of Truth: then eliminate these falsities, because they are not witnessed. They should be eliminated precisely because having no witnesses defines them to be falsities. If your four higher selves cannot observe the thing “you” claim to hold over you, then the “you” is telling a lie at the expense of the Wife of Truth.
The punishment for the adulterer and adulteress — for the desire of illusion and turning away from unlimited pleasure — is 100 lashes. 100 is the whip itself, the rope and cord of Divine connection, but now not stayed by mercy, but this laying down of the rope, so judgement renders us aligned, so the witnesses become apparent and we are opened up to Real pleasure.
Then it concerns accusations between husbands against wives and vice versa. These verses concern what goes wrong when there is an inability to connect with your mate, because your mate turns out not to reflect you in the Divine sense: again, four witnesses are now called, but from the masculine order or feminine order (peak or crest of the four waveforms).
And had it not been for the Grace of Allâh and His Mercy on you. And that Allâh is the One Who accepts repentance, the All-Wise. (Qur’an 24:10)
God (24:10) returns again and again, permitting these cycles of purification. The “flogging” is exactly the dhkr, under the microscope so that it at first seems beyond recognition, so that the letters of God’s name come together to brand upon the slave’s form in reflection. To breath life into our clay.
And then the Surah goes on, another cycle of purification. (It is good for a group amongst you to come forward, as this will purify your ummah’s becoming through these cycles.)
Adultery is an inward falsity, while slander is an outward. Slander does not have 4 witnesses, so it comes from a state “no-self”, nonsituated, selfless slander, groundless with respect to your true nature. Slander instead “receives it (words) on your tounges” (24:15). It is the mouthing of random speech without Truth … slander is the madness of free text. It is the madness of unabated media transmission. It therefore mirrors the inner closed loop of adultery, but this time it targets the True Spouse. Its punishment is 80 lashes, because 80 means means “mouth”. The lashes here apply to the mouth, to render speech purified.
Dhkir, remember, is when all these things (these maps) dissolve into one unity: the True Spouse, the four you’s, harmonize to form the True slave in relation to their True Master. To make you truly human, truly happy, truly satisfied and satiated. And then to die another day.
The lashings of Surah also Really physical, make no mistake — because we are talking about the Real body here. Your body, my body. To “purge” ourselves of adultery to the Light of Prophecy … These archetypes are not just metaphors, they are the real stuff — so purging/subjugation is (mercilessly) physical. More physical than any medical procedure. Fundamentally, the lashings will be felt by the subject’s body as an inscription of judgement/shariah/Truth-as-Law that brand it chaste to Divinity. In this sense, they are a second kind of circumcision.
Returning to the perspective of our “normal” view of reality, there “was” never any “blood” shed in jihad waged by Prophecy. And, likewise, there is never any flesh “bruised” from the pitiless lashings obliged by Islamic Shariah laid down in Surah An Nur. Because the body we speak about normally isn’t the body I am on about.
If you were to have a “normal” view of reality and came across the adulterer and adultress of Surah An Nur being punished, you would not recognize this as lashing: because you’d effectively be observing the “interior” of the Prophetic experience from an exterior perspective. Such a thing is impossible, so isn’t describable in any kind of “normal” way. For example, the adulterer and adulteress would be lashed 100 times, but you would not recognize it to be such, unless you ascend into your four witnesses.
A side note: I’m not denying the “ordinary” political/social ummah, genuine exterior social interaction between believers, nor that ummah’s relationship to the text of the Qur’an, but its relationship clearly cannot be direct transmission to Prophetic understanding, but instead must be one of cultural self-reflection and deconstructive archeology. There is a relationship between the two: the bigger ummah only becomes identical with the smaller at the end of days, and intermediate ummahs of shared archetypical becoming/reflection also form from time to time, as in successful “exterior” marriages, etc.
The two perspectives — or at least, the relationship between “my” ummah and “your” ummah — come together when we realise that what we call the “self” is in fact a collective of fragments of recycled — dare I say reincarnated — souls, all broken apart from a single original source soul. We are all effectively bifircations of the nafsin wahidah, the single soul (bringing it back to Adam and Eve again)
O mankind! Revere your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single nafs, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered countless men and women; reverence to God, through whom you demand your mutual, and the wombs: for God ever watches over you. (Qur’an 4:1)
In this way, “my” ummah contains a fragment of Prophecy, of Umar, of Ali, of the first and successive generations — just as “yours” does. These soul fragments exist within us and we manifest them at different levels in our journey to achieve balance and maintain a perfect ummah, to establish a city of safety. We manifest them by “becoming” them to varying degrees: specifically by “becoming” or realising the Muhammedean reality, by awakening the Imam Mubeem internal.