Ramadan Reading: a Few Notes on the Fifth Juz

Note 1: Creation from a single soul (from Juz 4)

O people! be careful of (your duty to) your Lord, Who created you from a single soul and created its spouse of the same and spread from these two, many men and women (4:1)

This verse describes the procession of human generations as one of soul differentiation. This process (from 1 to 1+spouse to generations) is one that is dependent on two things: 1) the original spouse becoming apparent, where she was originally inherent to the Word and 2) on the fragmentation of the Names known by Adam into the ayat that we currently move through now, from Names into signs-as-shards within a broken symmetry  of the original Adamic Body (the word “Be!”) sublimated to form the world of difference we occupy now. That is, generations follow by virtue of the unitary word “Be”, differentiated (not broken up, but having a primordial differentiation emerge from him) and then broken up, sublimated into a multiplicity of words.

The succession is given in the verse.

First, we are all derived from a single Adamic soul. This soul is originally androgynous because it does not have a spouse, it is a unitary body.

But then it is given a spouse from itself: it becomes primordially differentiated (though not yet multiplicitous) according to the origin of sexuality.

This in and of itself does not constitute the fall/sublimation. Rather, Adam and his spouse are a primordial sexuality that necessarily succeeds the unity of the Word “Be!”, because the Word of Human Being is directed, containing a receptive (Feminine) essence that is garmented by providing (Masculine) borrowed bestowal and vice versa, a Feminine generative, (borrowed) creative function that provides and garments the horizon of Masculine gnosis. (We have said that these functions relate to the ultimate human precursor, the Muhammedean reality of Creation as slavery and messaging, with that precursory reality being the ultimate resemblance to the Tawhid of the Face of God. But that Tawhid is one of breathing that, at this key moment, utters the form of a Word-as-Adamic soul.)

The Masculine and Feminine becoming detached from each other as a unity, so they are often not face-to-face, no longer a unified, locked together Word existing in co-garmenting that totalizes reality, but, instead, Masculinity married to a Femininity of difference, married to primordial difference.

The primordial differentiation is the teaching of the Names. In a sense, when Adam is taught all the Names, this consciousness/gnosis is his spouse. Each Name is a perfect theophanic totalization/reflection of each other. Like Indra’s net, a perfect, symmetric network that runs through Adam, that constitutes Adam as creation reflecting perfectly on creation, Adam reflecting perfectly.

But then there is a shattering, a fall. From one Word, from the Masculine/Feminine co-garmenting contained within that one Word and, from that, into generations of words, of signs, of differential planes, of planes of immanence.

This is like the Tower of Babel: from primordial differentiation of the Names in clear theophanic illumination, to a shattering of the Names into various local languages, different sign regimes, each equipped with a darkness, an underbelly, a potential for hypocrisy or illusion or fascism in their potential arrangement. The job of the seeker is to reassemble or repair these signs, in whatever thrown sign-regime they happen to find themselves, in whatever generation they find themselves occupying.

And this is where generations enter the picture. From the human perspective, each human soul is derived from that original soul and its spouse but, by a process of bifurcation of ruh finds itself moving between different generations, across various fragmented assemblages of signs. The ruh breaks apart and moves into different bodies, occupying different forms of sign-complexes as potential for disclosure. But it also essentially mixes and can be combined with the ruh from preceding bodies, the self-as-ruh is an amalgam of bifurcating and reassembling ruhs.

[To belong to an ummah of a Prophet is to derive a lineage of one’s soul from that Prophet’s soul according to this process of bifurcation. We are now at the Seal of Prophecy and, hence, all Prophetic souls are contained (as traces) within our own, at one of two levels. Within the ummah of Islam, the Muhammedean Prophecy is to “stand as witness” for what “we” did: because there is Muhammedean witness occupying each believer. And more generally, the ruh soul of Adam is split into each of us and provides our own unique channel into the unseen. But parts can be combined and reconstituted: the human soul can be split at one level to yield successor generations (the soul as heart inhabiting a ruh), but, at a different order, can be thought of as the acquiring and reconstitution of fragments (into a skin or robe) through living (the soul as growing life acquiring baraka and inhabiting, beating through the qalb). This is what we mean when we say, for example, that there is an Ibrahimic function within us, or a Saul within us. We mean it quite literally. Another more modern philosophical way of putting it is that living is  a process of “passing through” different “micro-becomings”: from becoming-Ibrahim and becoming-Saul to becoming-Alice and becoming-Pharoah.]

Our ruh passes into a particular vessel of life, into a particular generation of language and reconstitutes broken fragments to recreate Divine speech through productive marriage to the language, turning it into a local plane of immanence. Through life’s lived (qalbic) marriage to local differentiation (to a local feminine, no longer to the primordial “total” differentiation/spouse of Adam), we are able to reconstitute some of that original body, let some of it arise from its sublimated state.

What happens is that the ruh gets stronger, it grows in perfection, the ruhanic speech becomes more more pronounced (the Names emerge again) and divine through each particular generational marriage. The ruh begins small and difficult to discern but becomes more refined and perfected as it travels between the generations. This strengthening to perfection is what makes up an inheritance, what makes for acquired wealth. The ruh is actually true physicality (“real corporeality”), while the forms (houses, sign regimes, bodies) it occupies are entirely incorporeal and linguistic.

The individual ruh’s journey to perfection takes generations to build up, and necessarily involves (re-)combination with other individual ruhs in tandem with the correction of the fragmented signs, the turning of signs upward to release their inherent light and reconstitute Names. That is, the individual ruh is perfected as the qalb of each generation become strengthened. The strengthening of the qalb at a particular generation is what releases and perfects the ruh that then journeys on.

This happens most obviously in the (incoporeal, linguistic, social) nature of  falling in love with a partner. If that that (socially situated) love is real, it is because its true is a recognition of a precedent soul fragment/archetype bond: of both ruhs having been together in a previous house, within a situation of marriage (there is more we can say about the sexuality of souls themselves, but we leave that for the moment and essentially speak from a masculine perspective).

The generations of humanity move between fragmented languages, while the soul’s journey is one of fragment acquisition/reconstitution.

Note 2: General observation on the rulings concerning rights of marriage and inheritance

As a consequence of what we have noted, when the rulings concerning both marriage and inheritance are considered in the rest of the surah, it is important to understand that they concern how this primordial sexuality (marriage, face-to-face co-garmenting and divorce, disconnection) now runs throughout the differentiated space of the ayat/signs. How the Word’s sexuality works now it has become split into words.

So inheritance and marriage are about signs, differentiated words from the Word as well as about souls, bifurcated and combined genealogies of humanity from the original unity. Inheritance in the sense of both sign-bifurcation and what is inherited/acquired, combined through that bifurcation.

The verses (there are many and they are complicated here) provide an Algebra of Sexuality and Inheritance that governs all combination, derivation, predication and generation of signs … and souls.

Note 3: Wombs (from Juz 4)

Be careful of Allah, by Whom you demand one of another (your rights), and to the Wombs; surely Allah ever watches over you. (4:1)

The Wombs are the fragmented, immanent resemblance with the Womb that brought forth Adam (as in the hadith mentioned in the previous Juz commentary), now replicated in multiplicity throughout differentiated space. The Wombs (in plural) here are the essential aspect of the words. Not essence in the sense of a deeper hidden static Wisdom within words, but in the sense of a dynamic, generative, immanently creative Wisdom potential that is present in every sign. That is, the Wombs are an generative containment within the orbic nature of the signs as predication/capture and functionality/generation.

There is a (micro) Womb present within every sign that we are confronted by: this is its generative potential that provides our tie of kinship if we configure the signs against others in such a way as to give birth to Wisdom in transmission of explicit predication, of explicit machinic assemblage. This is a tie of kinship/family resemblance to the macro Womb, and so something to be feared.

Note 4: Prohibitions on marriage

And marry not women whom your fathers married – except what is past: It was shameful and odious – an abominable custom indeed. (4:22)

This is a taboo that plays on the laws of genetics to make a meta-genetic point (a point about the language of genetics). It operates on a number of levels. One of these levels is that it provides a blasphemy because it fails in resonance. Each marriage is, by definition of marriage, in cyclical resonance with the Face of God.

The nature of this marriage, remember, is not one of two opposites coming together as concepts. The Feminine is receptive immanence of our entire view of the cosmos, it is the cosmos, the field of signs. The Feminine is the impossibility of that which is behind the hijab of language, and is the hijab of language. The Feminine — a Wife — is a language (the impossible potential of the language to be felt as Truth, when configured in self-reflexive, face-to-face, contained marriage with the Husband, the Nur of Prophecy, containing his light and generating from it by virtue the fact that the differentiated nature of speech can capture and hold the light of the Names, albeit in a fragmented capacity.) It is only when this face-to-face aspect of marriage is in alignment that the Bride runs through the field of language, that the Feminine receptivity of language becomes the Bride, the transcendence of immanence, the escape through the misprison of language. Otherwise she is “just” woman.

Now, the process of marriage is productive and, in particular, as long as it is sustained, produces good from its moments of resonating/synchronization (Nur running through the conduits of the little face of our predecessor, providing for fertile Bride(s), producing harvest).

In terms of genealogies, that production (that of our father and one of his wives) has also led (in replication of the Adamic bifurcation) to a further differentiation that has yielded “us” as successor. But in doing so, the paradigm shifts, the  nature of the crystallization changes, the language-shell (or metamodel) of life is transformed. We are no longer speaking the same language as our preceding father. This language is both the hijab and the reality of the preceding father’s wives. Each generation — generation itself — involves a transmutation of the metamodel, a reconfiguration of language. No one generation speaks the same language as its previous. What is preserved between generations is an aspect of the soul that is the “aquisition” of good things, those moments at which signs were correctly arranged/inscribed and harvested reconstitution was effected. What is preserved between the different languages of the generations is that which is to be “inherited”.

So the law here is more a law of physics: it is an impossibility for us to be a descendent of a father and be married to his wives.

To attempt this would be something like backward time travel, which would necessarily also involve reversing the bounty and harvest that was acquired, folding back those moments of resonance, discarding the baraka of inheritance in order to reach a previous state of linguistic space, a previous way of living that was only lived through purely for the purpose of generating baraka and pushing things forward.

That is what cosmic incest constitutes: falling back to attempt to marry our father’s language, when that language was established purely as the precursory generative function of baraka/inheritance for us (and our brothers and sisters)  in the here and now.

The most obvious example would be those people who believe they can achieve a religious grace by empty mimicry of the physical habits, laws and lives of the earliest generation. They are trying to marry themselves to their predecessor’s wives.

But this kind of transhistoricism runs across a great many things we do. It does not, however, negate experienced, felt, real chains of transmission between generations, which are lines of baraka and inheritance that are getting bigger every day as we all move collectively towards the return of the Christ and the end of days.

Note 5: Maintenance of women

Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded.

This does not mean there is a superiority within the sexuality of the text (just as there is no superiority within biological sexuality). Rather, it is a definition of sexuality: maintenance is Masculine in spending (transmission) of property (light). Women, in configuration to this definition of the Masculine, are fidelity and in their essentially impossibility, the guards of the Unseen reality, that which we cannot speak of, that which “is behind” the text is known through women because women are immanence in text! The Muslim Feminine Wife is impossible because she, as speech/text, is both the hijab of reality and reality itself.

This is what occurs when the Masculine and Feminine are face-to-face. The speech/text can also become wayward, and the verse considers that situation in a harsh sounding fashion that we have already spoken about at length.

Note 6: Punishment of Faces

O you who have been given the Book! believe that which We have revealed, verifying what you have, before We destroy faces then turn them on their backs, or curse them as We cursed the violaters of the Sabbath, and the command of Allah shall be executed. (4:47)

This refers to every single soul of humanity, because we have all been given the Book, we are all people of the Book now, by virtue of the soul bifurcation we spoke about earlier. To believe is to have trust, because there is no love without trust. When this trust is not maintained, the faces are destroyed, because a human is nothing more a little face that configures signs in resonance or dissonance with the Greater Face. The Greater Face is a continual affirmation of Tawhid, a continous trust, a unity of Love. When the little face is unable to maintain resonance with that affirmation, trust, belief, it fails in unity and is destroyed — as a crystallization it fails and its component nodes dissipate into the fabric of reality.

Note 7: Punishment of Faces

Those who reject our Signs, We shall soon cast into the Fire: as often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for fresh skins, that they may taste the penalty: for Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise. (4:56)

This is a description of the process of denial. To deny is to “live through” a configuration of signs, a self-inscription of ayat, that fails to unlock its potential light in realisation and understanding of what its meaning is (its meaning is submission). This self-inscription, lived autobiography constitutes a “life” and is called a Robe of Days or a “skin”. When Adam and Eve ate from the Tree and fell into this space of Judgement, they became naked and God equipped them with garments of “skin”. Before this they occupied a plane where such skin (of differentiation) did not have any meaning. The went from unity to fragmented lives of garmenting, of weaving garments, of growing skin.

The best skin, the best garment is one that believes in the signs — that has trust, security, belief — in the signs all around us: this belief is self-awareness of what the signs refer to, as we individually configure them to form the skin itself.

In contrast, denial is a particular archetype that runs throughout Time, throughout the Differentiation of Fiery Judgement and “lives through” multiple skins that burn away. They are robes that are tattered and faulty, so fall away. The skins of deniers thus act as shells for denial to pass through.

Note 8: Death to those who do not emigrate

They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they emigrate in Allah’s way; but if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper. (4:89)

To emigrate from the established city is to construct a line of flight out from a regime and deterritorialize consciousness in resonance with the Face. To cast aside cultural attachment (at whatever level they might be) and to free ourself into a flight outwards to Love. To turn back on this is to cease to be a Friend of Design. The sword of Prophecy strikes that aspect of doubt by (eventually) laying siege to the city itself.

Thus there are two ways of deterritorializing in resonance: one of emigration out to Love and the other is being besieged until denial is dissipated. These two forms of affirmation and denial, friendship and seizure run throughout our relationship to Prophecy and through that, to God. Because we’ve all got idols in our city that we must leave behind, but with aspects of ourselfhood returning back …

Note 9: Military prayer tactics

And when you are among them and keep up the prayer for them, let a party of them stand up with you, and let them take their arms; then when they have prostrated themselves let them go to your rear, and let another party who have not prayed come forward and pray with you, and let them take their precautions and their arms; (for) those who disbelieve desire that you may be careless of your arms and your luggage, so that they may then turn upon you with a sudden united attack, and there is no blame on you, if you are annoyed with rain or if you are sick, that you lay down your arms, and take your precautions; surely Allah has prepared a disgraceful chastisement for the unbelievers. (4:102)

This is a defensive military tactic to ensure maintenance of submission. The submissive self needs to be guarded from disbelief. This is achieved by a particular cyclic configuration of moving forward, submission, moving back and guarding, in alternation with other soldiers. This cycle should never end: it proceeds until the end of days. In a state of jihad (incorporeal transformations, violent linguistic power redistribution), in a state of power, the power itself, the forces and weaponry of jihad (incorporeal transformations) are the very material that can be rendered submissive — never permanently, but, rather, in alternation with other forces and weaponry.

Through this cycle and rhythm, of submission (the love) and defense (the loving shield), we can maintain love. In a Babylonian state, we cannot afford to love in permanent bestowal/reception (we cannot be locked continuously to the felt presence of Truth within the Quran or life in general) but, instead, must enter cycles of upholding weaponry of differentiated space, of jihad and felt presence. Of tafsir and comprehension. Of what I am writing now and what I will get from it.

The verse itself, when recited, produces this particular military configuration when read according to this tafsir, self-referentially ensuring the physical comprehension of submission. In this way, it is a military-prayer machine that alternates between the non-corporeal space of jihad (because jihad is purely linguistic) and the corporeal space of submission (because submission is always bodily). It is a self-referential symbolic-to-real machine.


4 thoughts on “Ramadan Reading: a Few Notes on the Fifth Juz

  1. We are all derived from a single Adamic soul.

    Not to want to be pedantic, but you give the translation of the ayah in question as ‘created you from a single soul ‘ and not ‘derived you from a single soul’.

    A bowl or a jug is created from clay, whilst – as my computer’s dictionary tells me – “Marx derived his philosophy of History from Hegel”.

    The point of this apparent hair-splitting on my part – apart, that is, from the fact that I once again using your blog as a displacement activity, to avoid finishing a piece of work! ;-( – is that the Qur’an is telling us here that we’re still connected by virtue of each having been created from that single soul. Nor does this verse suggests that this ‘creation’ happens by splitting. A reflection is ‘created’ when we stand in front of a mirror, and could be considered as the creation of a single soul, us. A second reflection is created when a second mirror is introduced, but the soul hasn’t been divided.

    But why all this fuss about ‘derivation’ and ‘splitting’? Well, because if we go on to apply this to ‘signs’ – as Tailorite Hermeneutics invites us to – we don’t necessarily have to see the bifurcation of signs as a ‘fragmentation’ of this original unity. I’m not fragmented by being simultaneously reflected in several mirrors – even in a ‘house of mirrors’ where each distorts my image in different ways, making me tall or fat, ghoulish or… well, maybe not quite beautiful! 😉

    This is really at the heart of Ibn al-‘Arabi’s conception of the ‘immutable essences’ (al ayan al thabitah) where each thing – each sign – is a reflection of the One Being in its huwwiyah, yet does not fragment the One Being in its distinctive particularity, its mahiyyah.

    Each word is a reverberation of “I AM” in its essence, even if in its designation it is a distinction – an affirmation of one particularity, and by virtue of that affirmation, a denial of other particularities.

    The Biblical story of the Tower of Babel is, then, a tale of the consequences of forgetting the huwiyyah of the word – which is what allows for understanding, and to be understood – giving rise to a multiplicity of mutually incomprehensible significations. “No one generation speaks the same language as its previous” because its signs are considered to be self-standing, not to be unique reflections of a single reality.

    This is really where Pierce’s triune semiology demonstrates its superiority over Saussure’s subject-object duality of signifier and signified. For Pierce “all structures possess an inexhaustible indeterminacy, which is always more than any of their individual instances” – this is their huwiyyah, in the Shaykh al-Akbar’s terminology. Then there is the difference, or idividuality, of the sign – its mahiyyah. And thirdly there is an interpretant, who can relate one to the other, which is how meaning can come into existence. For the Shaykh this is al insan al kamil – ‘man’ as the ‘isthsmus’ between indeterminancy and the determined.

    1. Peace James,

      Thanks as always for your comments — and for going over these rough notes with your careful eye! I will try to answer you in more detail after I’ve finished my next set of notes (I am a bit late with the juzes and hope to get on top of this tonight).

      But very briefly, I agree with you ostensibly on all points. The difference is merely one of perspective: I am writing all of this from within the psychological space after the fall of the Tower of Babel. Your understanding of ibn Arabi is, for me, exactly how words operate in the original Adamic space. But I am interested in documenting the process of a people (both “me” and the “Muslim ummah” as a body, specifically) who occupy a life post-fitnah, who move through a fabric of broken, fragmented Names and movements between different sign-regimes, different localized languages within the cosmic totality of language.

      I could, alternatively, write from the perspective of the insan kamil, in which case I would certainly not be talking of any fragmentation. It would be, if you like, a kind of “objective” account with respect to the Names. But the reading I am giving here is entirely “subjective” with respect to a self that lives in the aftermath of the Tower fitnah. I acknowledge though, that the goal of the journey is to move from this subjective account into (regaining) the objective, but whenever I speak of this, I like to phrase it within the language of the subjective journey “bootstrapping” this return process.


  2. … though just re-reading, I see what you mean about the confusion between what I’d like to think of as “primordial differentiation” and the “fragmentation” of our local differentiated, post-Babel life. And I don’t think I meant to say that souls are, as such fragmenting each generation at all, but rather that bifurcation ties us back along the path, but reconstitution of the fragments (towards an Adamic knowledge of the Names) is what makes up inheritance. Anyhow, I’ve tweaked it a bit … might try to respond more sensibly about the ibn Arabic semiotics point later!


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