The second juz ends with the story of Saul’s Kingship and David’s conquest.
Verses (2:246-249) concerns the prescription of jihad given earlier in the surah in verse (2:216).
To comprehend the enjoining of jihad is the self-referential essence of waging jihad.
These verses predicate upon that verse, on our reading of that verse, “unpacking” our reader’s reaction to finding God command us to jihad and, as a consequence, enter us into jihad and from Poverty of Saul to the Kingdom of Saul, from the tension of the People’s call to the release of their distillation.
Saul is sent as a King because the assembly wish to fight in the way of Allah. However, when he is given, and jihad is prescribed, most of the assembly turn away:
Have you not considered the leaders of the Children of Israel after [the time of] Moses when they said to a prophet of theirs, “Send to us a king, and we will fight in the way of Allah “? He said, “Would you perhaps refrain from fighting if fighting was prescribed for you?” They said, “And why should we not fight in the cause of Allah when we have been driven out from our homes and from our children?” But when fighting was prescribed for them, they turned away, except for a few of them. And Allah is Knowing of the wrongdoers. (2:246)
This concerns a particular moment in (trans-)history that each Muslim is tied to, as a successor generation of the Children of Israel. That earlier generation consists of souls that have become further fragmented and exist (as a multiplicity) within each believer.
Their voices are calling out to for Kingdom and jihad (of action, of reading the injunction to jihad) even as we read the injunction. The call of the leaders is a call of the “authorities” within our selfhood, a call of tension that anticipates the reading (and re-reading) the verse enjoining jihad (2:216):
Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you. (2:216)
That is, as we are reading through Al-Baqarah, the leaders within ourself are calling for a King prior to this verse being read, in anticipation of its being read (and re-read each cycle of reading, each month). They understand (in their anticipation) that a Perfect Proof (inhabitation) is necessary for jihad to occur, for pure action to take place, for any kind of reading of the world (including the reading of this verse) to take place.
This call is a tension in anticipation because it contains an element of group rejection and hypocrisy, an anticipation of the resulting ordeal of purification that will occur to aspects of our selfhood/ummah after we read and comprehend the enjoining (an anticipation of verse 2:249 within verses 2:246-7). And to wage jihad will be to find a group of our selfhood-as-ummah (or ummah-as-selfhood, it works both ways) falling away.
Importantly, the King that is sent to this ummah is poor, he is not initially rich. But during the course of the verse itself he is filled with knowledge (wealth is knowledge) and stature (height through the heavens).
And their prophet said to them, “Indeed, Allah has sent to you Saul as a king.” They said, “How can he have kingship over us while we are more worthy of kingship than him and he has not been given any measure of wealth?” He said, “Indeed, Allah has chosen him over you and has increased him abundantly in knowledge and stature. And Allah gives His sovereignty to whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing [in favor] and Knowing.” (2:247)
To enter into this verse is the transformation from poverty to sovereignty. To have sovereignty emerge from a particular, pure form of poverty as a reader. To make this ascent to Kingdom during the course of — by virtue of — this reading. What is the nature of this process?
Saul is the answer to the reader’s tension-in-anticipation of the verse’s felt impact. Saul is pure receptivity — or rather, he is accompanied by pure receptivity, pure poverty, the pure ability to reflect light shone down upon him. That is, he is accompanied by the poor girl, the beggar girl dressed in rags, is absolutely receptive, as a perfect mirror, to the Bestowal of Loving Light from above. When the poor girl is granted food from the Table, she is known by another name: the Bride of Prophecy, Sakina. By assuming this poor station, not one of poverty as ignorance (infidelity, promiscuity), but poverty as reception (fidelity, purity), his poor girl becomes transmuted into Sakina, the tranquility of Allah:
And their prophet said to them, “Indeed, a sign of his kingship is that the Ark will come to you in which is Sakina from your Lord and a remnant of what the family of Moses and the family of Aaron had left, carried by the angels. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.”
Self-reflexively, the Qur’an (and our perception/reading) at this point becomes an Ark that contains Sakina, that is Sakina. We are granted sovereignty in our reading, after our call an injunction to jihad/read. Saul becomes King over our ummah, by virtue of our position as absolute reception, poverty receiving completely, mirroring perfectly the Light of charity’s wealth, so that this wealth infuses the ayat, a felt descent of immanent Presence, Tranquility, Grace, Sakina.
This moment of perfect reading is not something we can cultivate through reading philosophy (or tafsir for that matter) — it is a felt effect that either hits you or does not (but will hit “everyone” at some point). “Allah bestows Sovereignty on whom He wills.”
(Instant Bestowal’s gonna get you, gonna knock you off your feet.)
Jihad is not possible without Sakina. Without the Wife of Prophecy present, all jihad — all sieges of cities, all transformations and ruptures of perception, all transformations of the human body, all forms of evolution — are open to the Satanic space of promiscuity and infidelity. The sign of the Ark borne by the diamond dialectic of the angels (the sign of correct, illuminated judgement, God’s Grace in speech) is the means by which we can successfully strive and struggle — in jihad — through the transformative potential of this cosmos of sign regimes, sign cities, sign selfhoods.
The predication or “unpacking” of the injuction thus takes the following form:
To read the injunction (like any encounter with the signs of God) is to move through a line of jihad: from anticipation (opening of the verse), to immanent encounter (opening of the signs to experience God’s Loving Grace within their deferral/submission), to conclusion (the effect/inscription of this reading upon ourselves as a transformative, bodily experience).
And this process is unpacked and opened up: there are Micro-Sauls and Micro-Assemblies operating according to this dynamic whenever the seeker chooses to Read by Allah’s Bestowal. The Tension is a call for Kingdom through jihad, answered by Prophecy (2:216-2:217). The Encounter is a Proof/Sakina, contained within the Ark of the ayat-complex we are reading as we move forward in reading/jihad/transformative perception. The Conclusion is distillation through Prayer into Victory.
The conclusion itself (anticipated all this time, but now confronted) is a bodily transformation of the ummah within (that automatically leads to the emergence of the David slaying Goliath function):
And when Saul went forth with the soldiers, he said, “Indeed, Allah will be testing you with a river. So whoever drinks from it is not of me, and whoever does not taste it is indeed of me, excepting one who takes [from it] in the hollow of his hand.” But they drank from it, except a [very] few of them. Then when he had crossed it along with those who believed with him, they said, “There is no power for us today against Goliath and his soldiers.” But those who were certain that they would meet Allah said, “How many a small company has overcome a large company by permission of Allah . And Allah is with the patient.”
This verse concerns the distillation of the ummah (within or without it doesn’t matter) by the King so crowned by Encounter.
The conclusion is necessary because it is the effect of the Presence upon us. Sakina was encountered by virtue of the poverty of Saul, by virtue of the purity of his reception, of his mirroring. So the light is encountered as Presence reflected. The poor girl of rags becomes the adorned Bride of Prophecy, Kingdom.
But it’s a double reflection at the point of conclusion, of final transformation/inscription/garment weaving/record. The river is a mirror, just as the bride is a mirror. How do we (the army of Saul) relate to this mirror? Those who drink directly from the river of reflection, of mirroring, without using their hand: they see only their reflection, consuming it or, rather, being consumed by their perceived Hallajian encounter with immanence of Sakina, declaring themselves to be the only thing seen in it. They short circuit the process with inevitable narcissism and are cast aside.
The ones “with” the King are those who mediate the reflective immanence with a second order deferral via the hand of prayer. Supplication — as a servant, as a soldier of the King — is essential as the mediating engagement with immanence. Otherwise we might confuse ourselves as “being” that which is reflected. And, furthermore, we would be unable to continue to negotiate a path to Victory that still demands adab and separation, still demands Prayer as a deference from reflection. From the Bride to her Father (the Harunic principle of submission and prayer) and Uncle (the Musaic principle of messaging and Victory) — again in ultimate resonance with the Face of God’s Bestowal/Contraction function.
Note 3: Abraham’s 4×7
And [mention] when Abraham said, “My Lord, show me how You give life to the dead.” [ Allah ] said, “Have you not believed?” He said, “Yes, but [I ask] only that my heart may be satisfied.” [ Allah ] said, “Take four birds and commit them to yourself. Then [after slaughtering them] put on each mountain a portion of them; then call them – they will come [flying] to you in haste. And know that Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.” (2:260)
The four birds are the four witnesses of the self: the nafs, the qalb, the ruh and the sirr. The dead are given life when these (currently) broken and disconnected aspects of the self are reconnected and synchronized. This is known as the witnessing (it occurs in the punishment for adultery, for example). Normally we cannot locate these four birds, but they are trained and incline to return to us: this is the return of life from a state of consciousness that is essentially dead.
What precedes this return is their fragmentation upon the mountains — described elsewhere in the Book as the awtaad (stabilizers or tent pegs) of reality (as a tent, as an Ark). There is a kind of particle-wave duality in operation with respect to the tent. The awtaad, as mountains, can also be considered as to form a 4-peak waveform, of crest to valley. The four witnesses are present in fragmentation at the of these waves. The return of the bird, the giving of life, is a movement from the valley upwards to meet the crest, four times over.
The witnessing or affirmation of this is an Angelic, Prophetic joy at the second level, the level of the qalb, the heart. A prophetic assurance, a half way mark of certainty between the visible and invisible: this is why it Abraham requests this sign as an assurance to his heart. The sign of the cosmology itself, by virtue of being a sign that we can hold in our hands, is Angelic and revelatory and (as we experience it right now) of the second level, of the qalbic level, looking down to the nafs and upwards to the next two crests (that are of the invisible, bodily space).
This is one particular cosmology of the soul. One of the important maps. The extraordinary thing is that two other cosmologies are juxtaposed with it in the next verse:
Those who spend their wealth in the Way of Allah are like a grain which grows seven ears, each carrying one hundred grains. Allah multiplies to whom he wills. Allah is Munificent, All-Knowing. (2:261)
7 is the circuit of life, of living: it is the meeting of East-West, the marriage of Prophecy to the Bride, the Adam-Eve complex, the Tree of Life. It is human psychology as a perturbation of adab, “separate” from the Divine Love. It consists of 2 triads, making up a Masculine little face and one Bride (Sakina). The upper triad is a movement from Logic on the left into Love on the right mediated by the Nur of Prophecy above. The lower triad is the Harunic-Musaic dialectic (prayer/submission/slavery on the left and messaging/victory on the right), with charity/spending as the driving mediator. The marriage between the Nur of Prophecy (the light immanently experience within our perceptive space of reading) is a conduction of Light through the 7 nodes of this “circuit”, from Logic to Love, Prophecy’s conduit to the Above channeled by charity/spending into the receptive space of the poor girl, transforming her into sovereignty, the Kingdom as Bride, necessarily framed, as in an Ark of ayat, by the Harunic-Musaic dialectic of slavery/messaging.
In contrast, 100 is the 10×10. 10 is the generative circuit of tawhid, a emanation-cosmology of the Face of God. The Face is a surface of Ultimate Love (1) but experienced by us in the Love as Bestowal/Contract (2 and 3), emanating downwards into the human form of the circuit of 7 to make 10.
Cosmologies are not meant to be worshipped as idols. They are lived maps of reading. In particular, their effective meditation is in the understanding that their reading/mapping is a map of how we should read/map them. They are reading. When we carry this understanding — that they predicate upon everything, including themselves — we enter into a space of infinite pleasure, this Divine mapping recursing upon itself so that “Allah multiplies”.
This recursive nature of the map of 10 is co-predication: self-anticipation and anticipation of the other. Within each movement of meditation upon these 10 nodes of the circuit is the anticipation/production/relation to the other 10 nodes. For example, the Face of God is present within each of the lower seven nodes as a felt relationship to Bestowal/Contract, to Breathing out of Love and Breathing in of Love. It is anticipated/resonated/related by the 6 little face in resonance, with the movement of qibla, as we have noted. Similarly for the Tawhid principle of ultimate unity, God beyond the Face of God: this is present as a relationship of continual striving to return from fragmentation across 10 to unity of the 1.
We are still talking about maps, about representation of a relationship to tawhid and to the self’s journey in tawhid, a representation that is framed by ayat complexes, by the symbolic space.
Now, anticipation/production/relation is a form of containment of signs within signs, of ayat within ayat.
Thus, when the circuit of 7+3 is run through in complete self-reference, we have each 10 contained within each 10 nodes of the meditation. 10×10 is 100 grains. 100 is thus complete crowning of tawhid-in-recitation by the map of tawhid-as-recitation.
This, in turn, is contained within the 7. Why? Because this entire structure of tawhid is built on human, lived, differentiated, fragmented language. “In a clear Arabic.” The tawhid of unity between the ineffable Lov bountiful e, the Face of God and the little face is spoken, signed, encountered by the 7th, by the Feminine human space of receptivity, of differentiated, linguistic poverty. But through this encounter of the 10×10 by the 7th, the poverty of our reception becomes and productive, creative. The field of the Qur’an as a field of wheat, from grain to harvest.
Everything I have just said is a creative meditation, my thinking through — in immanent living/reading creatively, in attempt to harvest. That is, my meditation is itself my attempt to “spend” in the way of Allah, to transmit the Intellect through the space of the 7 by speaking, my intrinsic poverty turned face-to-face in receptivity to Wealth, moving now (according to the jihadic line of Saul) outward to a jihad of speaking, of spending, of transmission, of marriage, of Kingdom.
Now, all this is anticipated in the life-from-death given by the 4 birds of the soul. Abraham’s four birds, fragmented as they are upon the waveform of the mountains/stabilizers/pegs of reality’s tent, anticipate (by physical virtue of 2:260 preceeding 2:261) the 7 and the 100.
Anticipation is containedness of ayat within ayat. So, still speaking in creativity, from the 7th position, for each bird to return, for each witness to be located, the 7-fold harvest must be made because this harvest constitutes their waveform of return. And within each harvest is the 100 of tawhid. Each of the four witnesses of the soul is a witness to tawhid (this is why, in the later verses concerning lashing for adultery, the lashing of the adulterer/adulteress is in reality the affirmation of tawhid).
The 7 contained within 4 movement is distinctly Abrahamic. These maps are contained within his book, within his revelation. He applies the technology upon his wife, Hajar, when sending her out with Ismail. Her saee, her search, replicated by pilgrims at Hajj, is a movement between two hills, seven times. In moving to and fro in search of water between the two hills, she/the pilgrim touches the crest of each hill four times. Seven contained within four. The human journey to life from death passes through four witnesses by virtue of the transmission of Light to poverty and consequent harvest of the field of the 7 into a crowning by 100.
Note 3: Charity and injury
Charity, in its purest form, is creativity, is the reconfiguration of ourselves to bestow and love and create in resonance with the Bestowal, Love and Creation of God. However, there is a form of creativity that is unconscious of this process — treating any form of wealth (be it actual financial wealth, wealth of a loving wife and kids, knowledge of Qur’anic recitation, Sufi tafsir) as if it is “ours to give”. Our bestowal is the distribution outward (in speech/creativity/action) of borrowed wealth. Love is given to us, passes through us — and we are commanded to share this, to pass it on to others — but it is not “ours”.
To remind others of “our” charity is to commit the blasphemy of a kind of self-dhikr: to behave as if what we bestow is somehow originating from us. This invalidates the very action of charity as bestowal by creating a “block” on the circuit of Love’s movement. It becomes hurt — adha — which is precisely the adha of the menstrual cycle (“It is hurt”): false blood. Not the real blood of Truth, but a “false alarm”, a turning away from the tilth of our (ultimate, immanent psychological) state of poverty, of receptivity.
Like the menstrual cycle itself (of 4×7), our reading of life, of living of life, our (creative, bestowing, generative) reading of the Qur’an of interaction with others and ourself will inevitably become subject to adha. We will become stuck and turned away from the field, momentarily. This is part of the waveform of reading.
However, when coupled with reminders of charity — with Satanic self-dhikr — when this aspect of ourself declares “There is nothing other than me” — then all our actions of reading are invalidated and the soul is shut off, a closed rock, from the dust of our nafs. Water washes it away. As we have said, the trapped soul within the rock, the true secret of our selfhood remains, however, subject to Mercy — only the dust of our multiple lives, becomings and journeys are washed away. They are washed away, ultimately, by this very process of Bestowal, of this effect of the Face of God, by the rain from the sky becoming the water of our existence that then, in arrogance, proclaims itself own unity, fixates on its finite capacity to create, rather than creating in certainty of deferral, creating through borrowed Love in slavery to the Pleasure:
From the certainty of the nafs in slavery of their borrowed bestowal, in spending that which has been transmitted down to them to seek that ultimate Bestower: by this process, fruit emerges from the ground, we ascend from the nafs of water to the fruit of the sirr, fully realised. We know who we are by even light rain, by even small and subtle Bestowal.
Note 4: Bestowal and usury
[Charity is] for the poor who have been restricted for the cause of Allah , unable to move about in the land. An ignorant [person] would think them self-sufficient because of their restraint, but you will know them by their [characteristic] sign. They do not ask people persistently [or at all]. And whatever you spend of good – indeed, Allah is Knowing of it. (2:273)
There is a state of poverty (within ourselves or in the Others) in which movement is restricted by virtue of Love. This state of poverty is one of pure reception. When it is recognized then charity can take place. Recognition through the Others, intersubjective recognition is key to movement, to journeying, to creating, to bestowing.
Those who consume interest cannot stand [on the Day of Resurrection] except as one stands who is being beaten by Satan into insanity. That is because they say, “Trade is [just] like interest.” But Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden interest. So whoever has received an admonition from his Lord and desists may have what is past, and his affair rests with Allah . But whoever returns to [dealing in interest or usury] – those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide eternally therein. (2:275)
Usury is a great sin and blasphemy because it assumes that debts owed, that charity given, derives from the Demiurge of the self, rather than a finite human bestowal that is borrowed from the greater Bestowal of the Face of God. The consumption, the “swallowing down” of usury is to consume the food of the denier, food in which Love becomes locked, veiled and sealed in a fixated loop of self-affirmation.
Trade is permitted because wealth, gnosis, creativity, sharing is the means by which He is Becomes Known: by His Bestowal, our bestowal. Usury is an obstacle in this path: but a false obstacle, one that in falsity is absolutely transient, like the wink of an eye.
Note 5: Witnesses, contracts and debts
The surah completes its meditation on Bestowal (in many ways, the entire Qur’an is a self-meditation on Bestowal) by describing the shariah, the laws of nature with respect to earning wages, capital and debt.
One verse is particularly key to the textual, linguistic nature of both the Bestowal (into our textual cosmos) and on the meditation itself (seeking the Face within self-aware textuality):
When we contract a debt for a fixed period (lifespan), it is to be inscribed. The scribe is within: tracing our contract to the Bestower in self-awareness. Some are ignorant: but then they are entrusted with a guardian who will recite this debt on their behalf. There are guardians for all of humanity: these are the People of the Tradition.
The two witnesses are the diamond dialectic of slavery and messaging, of prayer and victory: they exist on either side of the Ark of the Covenant (the Ark of Debt/Contract), they are the witnesses for the contract/covenant. Equivalently, there is one man (the Nur of Prophecy) and two women. The two women are the upper and lower aspects of Sakina, of the Bride of Prophecy: she is now two sisters. The lower sister is further from her husband, while the upper sister is closer to her husband. The upper is “contained” within the lower. Both sisters “are” differentiation, speech, perception, reality. The impossibility of the feminine (because they are immanent as language). However, the lower is the feminine as receptive differentiation and judgement, while the upper is the feminine as received light in differentiation and mercy. The lower is thus harsher and more “of this world” than the upper, who is softer. The softer reminds the harsher of the debt, which is nothing more than a debt of love. Their function is of course dependent on the light being received in the first place: hence their husband, the male witness.
These witnesses will not decline when called upon. Because they are of us.
Note 6: A final resonance
The whole of Al Baqarah is a resonance of the little face/bride (slavery/messaging, immanent reception/creativity) with the Greater Face’s Bestowal/Concealing function. However, the reminder is one that the resonance is not simply self-affirmation or even a naive mystical understanding of ego-loss. Tawhid is not God identification. We cannot claim that we are the ultimate bestowers and concealers, but, rather, we are bestowing and concealing according to a borrowed Love. To testify to Tawhid is to affirm our fixed debt, to resonate is to confirm resonance.
From heaven to earth, from transcendence to immanence, across all circuits of journeys, this resonance is present everywhere and is (in her reminding her sister) predicated upon itself in the final verses of the surah:
It is our nature to submit, to recite, to give our testimony. Within our very essence, the witnesses of our soul constantly affirm and testify to Tawhid. To conceal or withhold testimony is to blaspheme because only Allah conceals (withdraws).
Ultimately the wages we earn according to the trade in our debts are what constitutes the fabric of the garment that we call our selfhood-in-journey, our selfhood as testimony, as inscription, as book of deeds. And the final prayer is that this process itself, this very process of inscription, is acknowledged to be also formed in debt (burden) to the borrowed Love of Bestowal: