The Surah’s overall form concerns a relationship to the Umm Kitbab, the Mother of the Book. The Mother of the Book is experienced as verses “precise” in Meaning (3:7) that, in metonymy of revelation, generate verses of “resemblance” (mutashabihatun) over which “interpretation” (tawil) is forbidden.
Interpretation is the enforcement of a valuative semantics over the signs of resemblance. Understanding is a tie of kinship back to the Womb. The signs of resemblance, formed within the Womb of the Umm Kitab, are not to be interpreted but, rather, taken in remembrance (dhikr) by the people who possess understanding, who possess a line of kinship back to the Womb. Who themselves possess, by virtue of their remembrance of the Divine, a speech/perception/reading that is in a metonymic, evolutionary, dynamic relationship of growth and emergence to those precise verses of the Umm Kitab. Rather than a semantics of tawil, a metonymy of kinship back to Truth’s origin.
As we have observed, this metonymy of kinship to is one to a (m)Other, an Absence, a Withdrawal, a Contraction of Love. Our encounter/arrangement/living of signs are in love, deferral, resemblance (indication) by virtue of the Breath being felt as withdrawn from us. The Face of God, as a function of Bestowal/Withholding is everywhere we turn. Everything we encounter is a resemblance to Bestowal or Withholding/felt Absence.
This surah concerns the resemblance of sign encounters (life) to the felt effect of Witholding/Absence/Otherness/Womb. This resemblance takes the primary form of martyrdom/submission/deferral to that Beloved Otherness that we cannot situate in speech, but from which understanding derives. This is the reason why the surah moves from verses concerning jihad of the Muslims at the Battle of Badr to the story of the birth of Mary (the human archetype of the Womb) to the birth of Jesus and then into questions of belief and disbelief, focusing then on death/martyrdom (potentially of the Messenger, potentially of all souls) in the way of Allah.
Note 2: Descendants and houses of Prophets
Surely Allah chose Adam and Nuh and the descendants of Ibrahim and the descendants of Imran above the nations. Offspring one of the other; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing. (3:33-34)
The privilege of these Prophets and their houses is they constitute a fourfold cycle of relationship to the Womb, to the felt “transcendent” Otherness of the Love to which all signs derive in their inability to express it.
At the micro level of signage and predication, ultimately, all the verses of this surah — and these verses in particular — are meta-references to their (and all signs’) intrinsic derivation/resemblance/birth from the Umm Kitab according to a fourfold cycle of Womb, formation of man, journey, submission (martyrdom) and return again to the Womb. A movement from the Womb and back again to it: downward and upward transmission as the cycle of the soul-as-signification.
Our souls are signed, so this micro-metaphysics of predication operates over — in a molar, collective fashion — over the dusty fragments of our own life journey as well.
As the hadiths indicate, the Womb of Understanding gives birth to the original man (Adam) by God’s word “Be”. Noah/Nuh is the victorious journey of the Ark above the waters of Love. Abraham/Ibrahim is the martyred submission of the korban (crowned by the fire of Judgement). Imran’s house gives birth to the sign of the Womb that, in turn, repeats, in likeness to Adam, the body of the Christ.
Each of these prophets and houses are contained within the successive generation. They thus ground our journey, because we are what has followed from the House of Ibrahim. Their grounding is the function of
- Adam/Christ: the Womb’s birthing of man by the Design of God, the inner containment of orbic transmission that runs through the body of the original man, the orbic transmission as the unbroken, complete tie of kinship, the successive broken throwing out into the journey.
- Nuh: out of the womb, the outer production of orbic transmission in broken space, transmission as an exterior, the Prophetic journey across the waters, where Grace is intensified within the Arks as security and protection of transmission in broken space.
- The House of Ibrahim: the establishment and purpose of transmission — to form sentences, to transmit via a process of predication, of signage, of speech that submits to the One.
- The function of House of Imran: the entire process predication (Womb, containment, exterior journey, submission) as itself the tie of kinship from, and back to, the Womb of the cycle. The entire process as one of restitution of the signs to bring about the return of the Adamic likeness. The Womb (as antecedent or successive Womb of Mary) is present within each of Prophetic orb of the whole cycle because each Prophetic function is, after all, a sign/predicate that has an inner Womb and an outer resemblance. Each Prophetic orb is different in its self-consideration, its self-predication over this Womb. But the Womb is silent and implicit until the House of Imran is generated, where it becomes the predication of what was implicit all this while, in the production of the Marianic function, the function of Isa’s “Be”.
Our soul consists of fragments the house of Imran and, consequently, all the fragments of the previous prophets and houses are the function (above us) of everything we do in life.
When a woman of Imran said: My Lord! surely I vow to Thee what is in my womb, to be devoted (to Thy service); accept therefore from me, surely Thou art the Hearing, the Knowing. So when she brought forth, she said: My Lord! Surely I have brought it forth a female– and Allah knew best what she brought forth– and the male is not like the female, and I have named it Mariam, and I commend her and her offspring into Thy protection from the accursed Shaitan. (3:35-36)
3: Covenant of the Prophets
And when Allah made a covenant through the prophets: Certainly what I have given you of Book and wisdom– then an messenger comes to you verifying that which is with you, you must believe in him, and you must aid him. He said: Do you affirm and accept My compact in this? They said: We do affirm. He said: Then bear witness, and I (too) am of the bearers of witness with you. (3:81)
All the Prophets know of the existence of the Final Messenger and bear witness to his delivery of this message. His message is perfectly anticipated within the signs of their preceding books.
4: The rope of Allah
And hold fast to the rope of Allah all together and be not disunited, and remember the favor of Allah on you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts so by His favor you became brethren; and you were on the brink of a pit of fire, then He saved you from it, thus does Allah make clear to you His communications that you may follow the right way.
The rope of Allah is the tie of kinship, the bidirectional conduit of Understanding that is maintained by recognizing (according to the function of Abraham) the implicit deferral to the Beloved Other in all speech, in all perception, in all things within creation.
5: People granted scripture
There are a number of verses in this surah relating to people who are granted the Book and turn on their heels or horde their wealth (of this gift) according to a form of hypocrisy. It is important to understand that this property of disbelief is a constant threat in relation to all reading of life and, in particular, to the reading of the Qur’an and these verses themselves: the danger of being given the signs (in Bestowal) but not recognizing in submission to Allah the intrinsically submissive property of the signs, by not feeling the signs’ intrinisic deferral to the inexpressible Beloved, by not reading according to a completely loving, completely desirous metonymy of kinship. By not submitting, though holding the key to submission in our hands.
By refusing the martyrdom that follows from this reading, fearing the death-into-Love that is the ultimate desired goal of the recitation (and of life), we become these people of scripture. It is a false attempt to halt the metonymy of the recitation, an attempt to interpret rather than to perceive/life through/be born into the fourfold cycle of birth-victory-submission-death/return. (3:144-3:158)
O you who believe! be not like those who disbelieve and say of their brethren when they travel in the earth or engage in fighting: Had they been with us, they would not have died and they would not have been slain; so Allah makes this to be an intense regret in their hearts; and Allah gives life and causes death and Allah sees what you do. And if you are slain in the way of Allah or you die, certainly forgiveness from Allah and mercy is better than what they amass. And whether you die or are killed, unto Allah you will be gathered. (3:156-158)
O you who have believed, do not take as intimates those other than yourselves, for they will not spare you [any] ruin. They wish you would have hardship. Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, and what their breasts conceal is greater. We have certainly made clear to you the signs, if you will use reason. Here you are loving them but they are not loving you, while you believe in the Scripture – all of it. And when they meet you, they say, “We believe.” But when they are alone, they bite their fingertips at you in rage. Say, “Die in your rage. Indeed, Allah is Knowing of that within the breasts.” (3:118-119)
A friend (either external or internal) is someone who is met face-to-face in communication/transmission, mutual soul reflection.
The hypocrites (those given the scripture, but lacking the Abrahamic function) claim belief but are in a state of anger and hatred. Why? Because anger and hatred derive from a failure to submit in Love, to perceive/read in Love. They are not of “you” who holds the rope and ties of kinship — they are not “your” people.
Nevertheless, “you” love them, because “you” are an Abrahamic function of reading and bestow love to all. But it is commanded that the believer does not take the hypocrite as a friend, because they do not reflect love, because it is not possible to know who “you” are by staring into their face. They do not mirror in mutual submission to Love, in love with you.
It might seem harsh that God commands “you” to say “die in your rage”. But this is commanded to be said still in the mode of love. It is Abrahamic love because it can (even at the human level) tolerate the fire of this judgement while still being consumed, martyred itself, into Love. And those Others certainly will, eventually, pass away in rage, dissipating by virtue of the call to jihad (following our commentary on Saul).