Ramadan Reading: a Few Notes on the Tenth Juz

Note 1: Surat al-Anfal

This Surah concerns the punishment inflicted upon the Quraish of Mecca during the Battle of Badr. The name of the surah comes from its verses that detail how spoils of that war are to be distributed amongst the Muslim combatants.

We have written here before about the fact that no “physical”, biological blood was shed during this Battle, nor any of the acts of war waged by Prophecy. So this is taken as read here.

But what is the nature of this Surah? It is, in essence, a circuit model of consciousness whose meditation — whose reading — leads us to a situation in which Prophecy is absolutely victorious over us, the spoils of war are distributed and Allah’s gnosis of the heart is gained/released by the captives of war in according resonance with the eternally inceptive waveform of the Face.


By “us” I mean any multiplicity of voices across all the worlds. What might be called the nafs. In general, the nafs is a collective multitude of selves (that might indeed relate to group of biologically distinct entities in a context of single political/cultural conflict/interaction, or perhaps some more complicated and individual process involving selves running between centuries or macro-worlds, or one within a single biological entity in accord with a more commonplace understanding of the nafs as an individual ego, perhaps literary selves, dramatis personae, within a reading of a Shakespearean play and, most significantly, the selves-as-readers of the surah itself, each a possible role – a possible “head trip” relating to the verse, of denial or affirmation, love or hypocrisy, all the possible situations of “you” in the scripture).

The key moments of the circuit are briefly summarized.

Note 2: The necessity of Prophecy’s separation from the city of love.

The Surah begins with Prophecy leaving us, isolating a part of our selfhood, externalizing Prophecy from us in the past and in the present. In particular, rendering Prophecy external to the ayat of the Surah as they appear before us.

We begin our reading of the Surah in a Meccan state of existence.

And when they said: O Allah! if this is the truth from Thee, then rain upon us stones from heaven or inflict on us a painful punishment. But Allah was not going to punishment them while you were among them, nor is Allah going to punishment them while yet they ask for forgiveness. (8:32-33)

Prophecy is initially within that Southern city. Prophecy begins in the city of Love. Prophecy is amongst the city, like Light diffuses within a space. Apparently indivisible from its surroundings. There is therefore no punishment in this space, no active judgement (there is differentiation, but it is not active or lived through). There is only one hand, so to speak: the right and the left are unified.

In terms of the micro-reading, the Light of the Message is present within us, as we open this surah, as we begin this recitation, the Light is apparently inseparable because we appear as a unit. We open it in human love, we open it in a position of a unity called Mecca.

The city exists within the southern space of Love, of desire, of worship. Of the Kabaa, the Cube of Love. The danger of Love, when not balanced by righteousness and active judgement (punishment), is that it can become idolatrous: this is precisely what happened. Without guardianship, human love can be transmuted into its negative form: fascism. At its very root, fascism is hinderance, obstruction to the path’s unfolding by imaginary closed-loops of upon the fabric of language, monitored by the idols of marked signifiers:

And what have they that Allah should not punish them while they hinder from the Sacred Mosque and they are not guardians of it; its guardians are only those who guard, but most of them do not know. (8:34)

This hinderance to the Sacred Mosque demands a separation of the Light from its diffused environment — it demands the left to be separated from the right — it demands Prophecy leave the southern city and move left into the judgement of the Medinan caliphate.

Prophecy is always apparently present within “us” (this is why the Qur’an speaks to a “you” sometimes as to Prophecy, it is speaking to the Prophecy within you — this is why Muslims imitate unconsciously the physical habits and appearance of the Prophet, because the Muslim’s desire is to “become” Prophecy, to make Prophecy’s sunnah manifest in every aspect of their bodily existence). But we cannot say that “you” is “me”, because “I”, though ultimately a unit, have a composition in my station. Rather like the composition of protons and neutrons appear to be indivisible, but can be broken down further into compositions of quarks, the city of Mecca — the city of our loving selfhood — appears to have Light within its love (because all love would appear to be Divinely inspired) but, in fact, has an aspect of denial within its composition that is in diametric tension to the affirmation of that Light.

There is denial in love and this denial necessitates the active differentiation of the love, the northern exodus of Prophecy out of human love into judgement, into an active judgement whose precursory nature anticipates the punishment of Medinan forces under Prophecy’s command. Why is the circuit so established? Because all reading — and, in particular, this Surah that predicates upon all reading — is such a circuit, a linguistic mandala that moves north and then wages war south in cycles of gnosis.

God’s ayat, God’s Love — God’s creation — linguistically situated. The cosmos is born of Love — just as this surah and our initial stance in relation to its reading are both born of Love — but both are linguistic affairs, situated within a (premature) space of differentiation (of affirmation and denial).

And when those who disbelieved devised plans against you that they might confine you or slay you or drive you away; and they devised plans and Allah too had arranged a plan; and Allah is the best of planners. And when Our communications are recited to them, they say: We have heard indeed; if we pleased we could say the like of it; this is nothing but the stories of the ancients.(8:32)

Human love is derived directly from Divine Love — but is not perfected in its original form — it is premature in that it is not yet born, does not resemble or reflect Divine Love in reciprocity, in resonance. It is a premature infancy of desire that, while divine in origin, by virtue of its immanently linguistic situation, has denial and differentiation implicit. This denial and differentiation mean that Divine Love cannot be contained by that city: the city is open to siege, it will shatter by virtue of its denial, its weakness.

The process of this surah, the process of its reading, the circuit of our becoming (at any level) is the crowning of this love by judgement, righteousness, strength of the hands over the weakness … leading to victory in Gnosis.

And the first step in this process is for Prophecy to be separated from what it appears to be immanent to: the space of love, leaving only denial and idolatry present.

This distills “us” into two parties who then, in negotiation, in distinction, wage war against the very nature of reading (including the reading of this surah).

… if you believe in Allah and in that which We revealed to Our servant, on the day of distinction, the day on which the two parties met; and Allah has power over all things. (8:41)

Note 3: Angels in battle.

The two parties have their own separate problems. The Meccan problem we have just discussed. But the distilled Medinan aspects of the human self are in a space of judgement — and judgement is a zone of pure difference that can lead to hypocrisy (as we have defined it, one of worship of difference, one of pure immanent materialism). The Medians are in need of wealth (the transcendent spoils of war) to heal themselves from this problem of hypocrisy.

By the Medinan judgement, hypocrites (within the space of judgement) and disbelievers (from the side of love) are killed. Their deaths are symmetric in kind, both of displacement of their language games: the rupture of their assumptions of reality, a Prophetic speech-act that transforms their paradigms, severing their “necks” from the their “faces”. This is necessarily Angelic, because Angels occupy the upper realms of metamodelling: Angelic transformations. Angels are entities that reside within these realms and Angelic punishment is essentially a form of model transformation that displaces and dislocates the fascist subjectivities constituted by the sign regimes of a particular model.

And had you seen when the angels will cause to die those who disbelieve, smiting their faces and their backs, and (saying): Taste the punishment of burning. (8:50)

Using a machinic metaphor, we can think of the subjectivities of a sign regime — the roles “we” play in life — as machines that attach to the necks of other machinic assemblages to constitute societies, systems, families, domains of knowledge, literature, etc. The faces and backs of these machinic subjectivities are the transmissive and receptive conduits, permitting lego-like assemblage. The angelic punishment over the faces and backs is their correction. And their correction produces wealth.

Note 4: Distribution of the Spoils of War
At first, it is made clear that nothing goes to combatants other than the Prophecy:
They ask you about the spoils of war. Say: The spoils of war are for Allah and the Messenger. So be careful of Allah and set aright matters of your difference, and obey Allah and His Messenger if you are believers.
Those only are believers whose hearts become full of fear when Allah is mentioned, and when His communications are recited to them they increase them in faith, and in their Lord do they trust.(8:1-2)

It is curious that these first verses are weakened later, permitting 4/5ths to the spoils to be given to the “you” of the following verse:
And know that whatever you gain of the spoils of war, a fifth of it is for Allah and for the Messenger and for the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, if you believe in Allah and in that which We revealed to Our servant, on the day of distinction, the day on which the two parties met; and Allah has power over all things. (8:41)

A further qualification follows:

Eat then of the lawful and good (things) which you have acquired as spoils of war, and be careful of Allah; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Had not an ordainment from Allah preceded, surely have touched you for what you took: a punishment great. (8:68-69)

This appears to clarify things. The Muslim jihadists took something they should have not, unaware perhaps of verses 1-2. Allah’s ordinance alone permits them to consume that taken capital, absolving them of a potential sin. So while the followers (those positive aspects of selfhood that survives the process of distillation and that aid’s Prophecy’s attack) are permitted to consume the wealth — a Medinan consumption — 1/5th (meaning all in the sense that Prophecy always totalizes, even by virtue of an upper secret fraction, one above the fourth) is to be taken as a Fadakian allowance, for the secret space of the Prophecy (accessed via strangers/strangeness and the poor/poverty).

But what is this wealth? Briefly, it is the potential for Divine Gnosis that arises from God’s knowing what is in “our” (captive) hearts.

Note 5: The Captives of the Nabi

O Prophet! say to whoever is in your hands of the captives: If Allah knows anything good in your hearts, He will give to you better than that which has been taken from you and will forgive you, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (8:70)

This verse speaks to the those who have fallen into the hands of Prophecy during war: the preceding verse insists that this is permitted only when Prophecy has completely triumphed over the land, subduing it. So the land has become a plane of immanence and Judgement has crowned Love.

The war of reading — reading everything but, particularly, this surah — is one in which the Prophecy is now victorious. Once we get to this point in the surah, we are now captives to Prophecy. His hands (the hands of the perfect body) are strength into which the captives are placed.

This position of captivation to Prophecy is different from Slavery to Allah. It is a psycho-physiological relationship to the hands of the form of Prophecy. The hands of Prophecy are strength, the strength of the Message as it is inscribed upon us: when positioned within this strength, pinned down, so to speak, by the Revelation, the upward circuit to Gnosis (the circuit we have been describing) is ready to be completed and Gnosis will be channeled back down into us.

How? Because the condition is that “If Allah knows in your hearts any good He will give you better than what was taken from you”. The heart (qalb) is the second order aspect of the self, above the nafs.

Allah knows everything: the qalb contains the ruh, the spirit and breath of God. The journeying aspect of the self, that moves between the qalb like a stranger between houses. Hearts are either stone or open, as we have seen in earlier surahs. In a sense, Allah’s Gnosis is that ruh: Allah’s knowledge, or the conduit, the connection back to Allah, is the ruh that is known within the heart. Allah knowing Allah’s knowing. So the condition is one in which the captives of Prophecy are granted release from their model, their context, their qalbic position that grounded their nafs — released from their languages — and only the good that was aquired is preserved, the qalbic Gnosis earned — traced — by the ruh’s witnessing. That earning is the wealth of the captive. Wealth is what was rendered good by virtue of the Angelic smiting of the face and back of the transmissive and receptive aspects of the self: it is what self-knowledge the nafs generated, what archetypes of the heart became inscribed and preserved, what repair was done to universe by that individual aspect

Now the wealth (the trace of the ruh) is unlocked and released, the captive is given something better than what was taken away. The process of bestowal and withdrawal (giving and taking away) is cyclical with respect to all the surahs (because we re-read them and this battle is repeated whenever we read a surah) — and also in life (because reading life is no different). So what is that which is better? It is these cycles of reading, the ruh’s re-entry into the heart, the process of the battle occurring again, with more wealth generated through re-reading, the repeated withdrawal, the repeated bestowal from above. These cycles of bestowal and withdrawal are exactly the felt effect of the Face of God: they are the self in immanent resonance with the Reality of that Face.

And so the battle continues on according to this resonance, each time with new repair and gained Gnosis, gained repair, a perfected qalbic trace by the ruh’s progress.

The ruh’s progress has a bit more to it. The wealth is important for “subsidiary” selfhoods that exist to expedite this. It is consumed by them to create the Medinan caliphate that we might call the city of the upper self. But within this is the inner, secret, space of Fadak, where the ties of kinship — the tie to the Womb — the immediate, direct tie of Gnosis, this conduit we speak about — is maintained.

As we have said elsewhere, that is a Prophetic space of perfection that is not temporal. It is effectively a 5th “aeon” to the other 4, not so much “above” them as “beside” them or “in between” them. Another way of putting it is that it is here all the time, within our first level, located in front of you, everywhere, a 5th hiding between the lines. All spoils are for Prophecy (because the space of Prophecy is beside you, everywhere), and, at the same time, a fifth is allocated. This 1/5th is not corrective so much as immediate in relation to the Womb of Gnosis:

And those who accept Faith subsequently, and adopt exile, and fight for the Faith in your company,- they are of you. But kindred by the womb have prior rights against each other in the Book of Allah. Verily Allah is well-acquainted with all things. (8:75)

By “us” I mean any multiplicity of voices across all the worlds. What might be called the nafs. In general, the nafs is a collective multitude of selves (that might indeed relate to group of biologically distinct entities in a context of single political/cultural conflict/interaction, or perhaps some more complicated and individual process involving selves running between centuries or macro-worlds, or one within a single biological entity in accord with a more commonplace understanding of the nafs as an individual ego, or perhaps literary selves, dramatis personae, within a reading of a Shakespearean play).

The key moments of the circuit are briefly summarized.

Note 2: The necessity of Prophecy’s separation from the city of love.

The Surah begins with Prophecy leaving us, isolating a part of our selfhood, externalizing Prophecy from us in the past and in the present. In particular, rendering Prophecy external to the ayat of the Surah as they appear before us. We begin our reading of the Surah in a Meccan state of existence.

And when they said: O Allah! if this is the truth from Thee, then rain upon us stones from heaven or inflict on us a painful punishment. But Allah was not going to punishment them while you were among them, nor is Allah going to punishment them while yet they ask for forgiveness. (8:32-33)

Prophecy is initially within that Southern city. Prophecy begins in the city of Love. Prophecy is amongst the city, like Light defuses within a space. Apparently indivisible from its surroundings. There is therefore no punishment in this space, not active judgement (there is differentiation, but it is not active or lived through). There is only one hand, so to speak: the right and the left are unified.

In terms of the micro-reading, the Light of the Message is present within us, as we open this surah, as we begin this recitation, inseparable. We open it in love, we open it in a position of Mecca.

The city exists within the southern space of Love, of desire, of worship. Of the Kabaa, the Cube of Love. The danger of Love, when not balanced by righteousness and active judgement (punishment), is that it can become idolatrous: this is precisely what happened. Without guardianship, human love can be transmuted into its negative form: fascism. At its very root, fascism is hinderance, obstruction to the path’s unfolding by imaginary closed-loops of upon the fabric of language, monitored by the idols of marked signifiers:

And what have they that Allah should not punish them while they hinder from the Sacred Mosque and they are not guardians of it; its guardians are only those who guard, but most of them do not know. (8:34)

This hinderance to the Sacred Mosque demands a separation of the Light from its defused environment — it demands the left to be separated from the right — it demands Prophecy leave the southern city and move left into the judgement of the Medinan caliphate.

Prophecy is always apparently present within “us” (this is why the Qur’an speaks to a “you” sometimes as to Prophecy, it is speaking to the Prophecy within you — this is why Muslims imitate unconsciously the physical habits and appearance of the Prophet, because the Muslim’s desire is to “become” Prophecy, to make Prophecy’s sunnah manifest in every aspect of their bodily existence). Rather like the composition of protons and neutrons appear to be indivisible, but can be broken down further into compositions of quarks, the city of Mecca — the city of our loving selfhood — appears to have Light within its love (because all love would appear to be Divinely inspired) but, in fact, has an aspect of denial within its composition that is in diametric tension to the affirmation of that Light.

There is denial in love and this denial necessitates the active differentiation of the love, the northern exodus of Prophecy out of human love into judgement, into an active judgement whose precursory nature anticipates the punishment of Medinan forces under Prophecy’s command. Why is the circuit so established? Because all reading — and, in particular, this Surah that predicates upon all reading — is such a circuit, a linguistic mandala that moves north and then wages war south in cycles of gnosis.

God’s ayat, God’s Love — God’s creation — linguistically situated. The cosmos is born of Love — just as this surah and our initial stance in relation to its reading are both born of Love — but both are linguistic affairs, situated within a (premature) space of differentiation (of affirmation and denial).

And when those who disbelieved devised plans against you that they might confine you or slay you or drive you away; and they devised plans and Allah too had arranged a plan; and Allah is the best of planners. And when Our communications are recited to them, they say: We have heard indeed; if we pleased we could say the like of it; this is nothing but the stories of the ancients.(8:32)

Human love is derived directly from Divine Love — but is not perfected in its original form — it is premature in that it is not yet born, does not resemble or reflect Divine Love in reciprocity, in resonance. It is a premature infancy of desire that, while divine in origin, by virtue of its immanently linguistic situation, has denial and differentiation implicit. This denial and differentiation mean that Divine Love cannot be contained by that city: the city is open to siege, it will shatter by virtue of its denial, its weakness.

The process of this surah, the process of its reading, the circuit of our becoming (at any level) is the crowning of this love by judgement, righteousness, strength of the hands over the weakness … leading to victory in Gnosis.

And the first step in this process is for Prophecy to be separated from what it appears to be immanent to: the space of love, leaving only denial and idolatry present.

This distills “us” into two parties who then, in negotiation, in distinction, wage war against the very nature of reading (including the reading of this surah).

… if you believe in Allah and in that which We revealed to Our servant, on the day of distinction, the day on which the two parties met; and Allah has power over all things. (8:41)

Note 3: Angels in battle.

The two parties have their own separate problems. The Meccan problem we have just discussed. But the distilled Medinan aspects of the human self are in a space of judgement — and judgement is a zone of pure difference that can lead to hypocrisy (as we have defined it, one of worship of difference, one of pure immanent materialism). The Medians are in need of wealth (the transcendent spoils of war) to heal themselves from this problem of hypocrisy.

By the Medinan judgement, hypocrites (within the space of judgement) and disbelievers (from the side of love) are killed. Their deaths are symmetric in kind, both of displacement of their language games: the rupture of their assumptions of reality, a Prophetic speech-act that transforms their paradigms, severing their “necks” from the their “faces”. This is necessarily Angelic, because Angels occupy the upper realms of metamodelling: Angelic transformations. Angels are entities that reside within these realms and Angelic punishment is essentially a form of model transformation that displaces and dislocates the fascist subjectivities constituted by the sign regimes of a particular model.

And had you seen when the angels will cause to die those who disbelieve, smiting their faces and their backs, and (saying): Taste the punishment of burning. (8:50)

Using a machinic metaphor, we can think of the subjectivities of a sign regime — the roles “we” play in life — as machines that attach to the necks of other machinic assemblages to constitute societies, systems, families, domains of knowledge, literature, etc. The faces and backs of these machinic subjectivities are the transmissive and receptive conduits, permitting lego-like assemblage. The angelic punishment over the faces and backs is their correction. And their correction produces wealth.

Note 4: Distribution of the Spoils of War
At first, it is made clear that nothing goes to combatants other than the Prophecy:
They ask you about the spoils of war. Say: The spoils of war are for Allah and the Messenger. So be careful of Allah and set aright matters of your difference, and obey Allah and His Messenger if you are believers.
Those only are believers whose hearts become full of fear when Allah is mentioned, and when His communications are recited to them they increase them in faith, and in their Lord do they trust.(8:1-2)

It is curious that these first verses are weakened later, permitting 4/5ths to the spoils to be given to the “you” of the following verse:
And know that whatever you gain of the spoils of war, a fifth of it is for Allah and for the Messenger and for the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, if you believe in Allah and in that which We revealed to Our servant, on the day of distinction, the day on which the two parties met; and Allah has power over all things. (8:41)

A further qualification follows:

Eat then of the lawful and good (things) which you have acquired as spoils of war, and be careful of Allah; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Had not an ordainment from Allah preceded, surely have touched you for what you took: a punishment great. (8:68-69)

This appears to clarify things. The Muslim jihadists took something they should have not, unaware perhaps of verses 1-2. Allah’s ordinance alone permits them to consume that taken capital, absolving them of a potential sin. So while the followers (those positive aspects of selfhood that survives the process of distillation and that aid’s Prophecy’s attack) are permitted to consume the wealth — a Medinan consumption — 1/5th (meaning all in the sense that Prophecy always totalizes, even by virtue of an upper secret fraction, one above the fourth) is to be taken as a Fadakian allowance, for the secret space of the Prophecy (accessed via strangers/strangeness and the poor/poverty).

But what is this wealth? Briefly, it is the potential for Divine Gnosis that arises from God’s knowing what is in “our” (captive) hearts.

Note 5: The Captives of the Nabi

O Prophet! say to whoever is in your hands of the captives: If Allah knows anything good in your hearts, He will give to you better than that which has been taken from you and will forgive you, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (8:70)

This verse speaks to the those who have fallen into the hands of Prophecy during war: the preceding verse insists that this is permitted only when Prophecy has completely triumphed over the land, subduing it. So the land has become a plane of immanence and Judgement has crowned Love.

The war of reading — reading everything but, particularly, this surah — is one in which the Prophecy is now victorious. Once we get to this point in the surah, we are now captives to Prophecy. His hands (the hands of the perfect body) are strength into which the captives are placed.

This position of captivation to Prophecy is different from Slavery to Allah. It is a psycho-physiological relationship to the hands of the form of Prophecy. The hands of Prophecy are strength, the strength of the Message as it is inscribed upon us: when positioned within this strength, pinned down, so to speak, by the Revelation, the upward circuit to Gnosis (the circuit we have been describing) is ready to be completed and Gnosis will be channeled back down into us.

How? Because the condition is that “If Allah knows in your hearts any good He will give you better than what was taken from you”. The heart (qalb) is the second order aspect of the self, above the nafs.

Allah knows everything: the qalb contains the ruh, the spirit and breath of God. The journeying aspect of the self, that moves between the qalb like a stranger between houses. Hearts are either stone or open, as we have seen in earlier surahs. In a sense, Allah’s Gnosis is that ruh: Allah’s knowledge, or the conduit, the connection back to Allah, is the ruh that is known within the heart. Allah knowing Allah’s knowing. So the condition is one in which the captives of Prophecy are granted release from their model, their context, their qalbic position that grounded their nafs — released from their languages — and only the good that was aquired is preserved, the qalbic Gnosis earned — traced — by the ruh’s witnessing. That earning is the wealth of the captive. Wealth is what was rendered good by virtue of the Angelic smiting of the face and back of the transmissive and receptive aspects of the self: it is what self-knowledge the nafs generated, what archetypes of the heart became inscribed and preserved, what repair was done to universe by that individual aspect

Now the wealth (the trace of the ruh) is unlocked and released, the captive is given something better than what was taken away. The process of bestowal and withdrawal (giving and taking away) is cyclical with respect to all the surahs (because we re-read them and this battle is repeated whenever we read a surah) — and also in life (because reading life is no different). So what is that which is better? It is these cycles of reading, the ruh’s re-entry into the heart, the process of the battle occurring again, with more wealth generated through re-reading, the repeated withdrawal, the repeated bestowal from above. These cycles of bestowal and withdrawal are exactly the felt effect of the Face of God: they are the self in immanent resonance with the Reality of that Face.

And so the battle continues on according to this resonance, each time with new repair and gained Gnosis, gained repair, a perfected qalbic trace by the ruh’s progress.

The ruh’s progress has a bit more to it. The wealth is important for “subsidiary” selfhoods that exist to expedite this. It is consumed by them to create the Medinan caliphate that we might call the city of the upper self. But within this is the inner, secret, space of Fadak, where the ties of kinship — the tie to the Womb — the immediate, direct tie of Gnosis, this conduit we speak about — is maintained.

As we have said elsewhere, that is a Prophetic space of perfection that is not temporal. It is effectively a 5th “aeon” to the other 4, not so much “above” them as “beside” them or “in between” them. Another way of putting it is that it is here all the time, within our first level, located in front of you, everywhere, a 5th hiding between the lines. All spoils are for Prophecy (because the space of Prophecy is beside you, everywhere), and, at the same time, a fifth is allocated. This 1/5th is not corrective so much as immediate in relation to the Womb of Gnosis:

And those who accept Faith subsequently, and adopt exile, and fight for the Faith in your company,- they are of you. But kindred by the womb have prior rights against each other in the Book of Allah. Verily Allah is well-acquainted with all things. (8:75)

By “us” I mean any multiplicity of voices across all the worlds. What might be called the nafs. In general, the nafs is a collective multitude of selves (that might indeed relate to group of biologically distinct entities in a context of single political/cultural conflict/interaction, or perhaps some more complicated and individual process involving selves running between centuries or macro-worlds, or one within a single biological entity in accord with a more commonplace understanding of the nafs as an individual ego, or perhaps literary selves, dramatis personae, within a reading of a Shakespearean play).

The key moments of the circuit are briefly summarized.

Note 2: The necessity of Prophecy’s separation from the city of love.

The Surah begins with Prophecy leaving us, isolating a part of our selfhood, externalizing Prophecy from us in the past and in the present. In particular, rendering Prophecy external to the ayat of the Surah as they appear before us. We begin our reading of the Surah in a Meccan state of existence.

And when they said: O Allah! if this is the truth from Thee, then rain upon us stones from heaven or inflict on us a painful punishment. But Allah was not going to punishment them while you were among them, nor is Allah going to punishment them while yet they ask for forgiveness. (8:32-33)

Prophecy is initially within that Southern city. Prophecy begins in the city of Love. Prophecy is amongst the city, like Light defuses within a space. Apparently indivisible from its surroundings. There is therefore no punishment in this space, not active judgement (there is differentiation, but it is not active or lived through). There is only one hand, so to speak: the right and the left are unified.

In terms of the micro-reading, the Light of the Message is present within us, as we open this surah, as we begin this recitation, inseparable. We open it in love, we open it in a position of Mecca.

The city exists within the southern space of Love, of desire, of worship. Of the Kabaa, the Cube of Love. The danger of Love, when not balanced by righteousness and active judgement (punishment), is that it can become idolatrous: this is precisely what happened. Without guardianship, human love can be transmuted into its negative form: fascism. At its very root, fascism is hinderance, obstruction to the path’s unfolding by imaginary closed-loops of upon the fabric of language, monitored by the idols of marked signifiers:

And what have they that Allah should not punish them while they hinder from the Sacred Mosque and they are not guardians of it; its guardians are only those who guard, but most of them do not know. (8:34)

This hinderance to the Sacred Mosque demands a separation of the Light from its defused environment — it demands the left to be separated from the right — it demands Prophecy leave the southern city and move left into the judgement of the Medinan caliphate.

Prophecy is always apparently present within “us” (this is why the Qur’an speaks to a “you” sometimes as to Prophecy, it is speaking to the Prophecy within you — this is why Muslims imitate unconsciously the physical habits and appearance of the Prophet, because the Muslim’s desire is to “become” Prophecy, to make Prophecy’s sunnah manifest in every aspect of their bodily existence). Rather like the composition of protons and neutrons appear to be indivisible, but can be broken down further into compositions of quarks, the city of Mecca — the city of our loving selfhood — appears to have Light within its love (because all love would appear to be Divinely inspired) but, in fact, has an aspect of denial within its composition that is in diametric tension to the affirmation of that Light.

There is denial in love and this denial necessitates the active differentiation of the love, the northern exodus of Prophecy out of human love into judgement, into an active judgement whose precursory nature anticipates the punishment of Medinan forces under Prophecy’s command. Why is the circuit so established? Because all reading — and, in particular, this Surah that predicates upon all reading — is such a circuit, a linguistic mandala that moves north and then wages war south in cycles of gnosis.

God’s ayat, God’s Love — God’s creation — linguistically situated. The cosmos is born of Love — just as this surah and our initial stance in relation to its reading are both born of Love — but both are linguistic affairs, situated within a (premature) space of differentiation (of affirmation and denial).

And when those who disbelieved devised plans against you that they might confine you or slay you or drive you away; and they devised plans and Allah too had arranged a plan; and Allah is the best of planners. And when Our communications are recited to them, they say: We have heard indeed; if we pleased we could say the like of it; this is nothing but the stories of the ancients.(8:32)

Human love is derived directly from Divine Love — but is not perfected in its original form — it is premature in that it is not yet born, does not resemble or reflect Divine Love in reciprocity, in resonance. It is a premature infancy of desire that, while divine in origin, by virtue of its immanently linguistic situation, has denial and differentiation implicit. This denial and differentiation mean that Divine Love cannot be contained by that city: the city is open to siege, it will shatter by virtue of its denial, its weakness.

The process of this surah, the process of its reading, the circuit of our becoming (at any level) is the crowning of this love by judgement, righteousness, strength of the hands over the weakness … leading to victory in Gnosis.

And the first step in this process is for Prophecy to be separated from what it appears to be immanent to: the space of love, leaving only denial and idolatry present.

This distills “us” into two parties who then, in negotiation, in distinction, wage war against the very nature of reading (including the reading of this surah).

… if you believe in Allah and in that which We revealed to Our servant, on the day of distinction, the day on which the two parties met; and Allah has power over all things. (8:41)

Note 3: Angels in battle.

The two parties have their own separate problems. The Meccan problem we have just discussed. But the distilled Medinan aspects of the human self are in a space of judgement — and judgement is a zone of pure difference that can lead to hypocrisy (as we have defined it, one of worship of difference, one of pure immanent materialism). The Medians are in need of wealth (the transcendent spoils of war) to heal themselves from this problem of hypocrisy.

By the Medinan judgement, hypocrites (within the space of judgement) and disbelievers (from the side of love) are killed. Their deaths are symmetric in kind, both of displacement of their language games: the rupture of their assumptions of reality, a Prophetic speech-act that transforms their paradigms, severing their “necks” from the their “faces”. This is necessarily Angelic, because Angels occupy the upper realms of metamodelling: Angelic transformations. Angels are entities that reside within these realms and Angelic punishment is essentially a form of model transformation that displaces and dislocates the fascist subjectivities constituted by the sign regimes of a particular model.

And had you seen when the angels will cause to die those who disbelieve, smiting their faces and their backs, and (saying): Taste the punishment of burning. (8:50)

Using a machinic metaphor, we can think of the subjectivities of a sign regime — the roles “we” play in life — as machines that attach to the necks of other machinic assemblages to constitute societies, systems, families, domains of knowledge, literature, etc. The faces and backs of these machinic subjectivities are the transmissive and receptive conduits, permitting lego-like assemblage. The angelic punishment over the faces and backs is their correction. And their correction produces wealth.

Note 4: Distribution of the Spoils of War
At first, it is made clear that nothing goes to combatants other than the Prophecy:
They ask you about the spoils of war. Say: The spoils of war are for Allah and the Messenger. So be careful of Allah and set aright matters of your difference, and obey Allah and His Messenger if you are believers.
Those only are believers whose hearts become full of fear when Allah is mentioned, and when His communications are recited to them they increase them in faith, and in their Lord do they trust.(8:1-2)

It is curious that these first verses are weakened later, permitting 4/5ths to the spoils to be given to the “you” of the following verse:
And know that whatever you gain of the spoils of war, a fifth of it is for Allah and for the Messenger and for the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, if you believe in Allah and in that which We revealed to Our servant, on the day of distinction, the day on which the two parties met; and Allah has power over all things. (8:41)

A further qualification follows:

Eat then of the lawful and good (things) which you have acquired as spoils of war, and be careful of Allah; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Had not an ordainment from Allah preceded, surely have touched you for what you took: a punishment great. (8:68-69)

This appears to clarify things. The Muslim jihadists took something they should have not, unaware perhaps of verses 1-2. Allah’s ordinance alone permits them to consume that taken capital, absolving them of a potential sin. So while the followers (those positive aspects of selfhood that survives the process of distillation and that aid’s Prophecy’s attack) are permitted to consume the wealth — a Medinan consumption — 1/5th (meaning all in the sense that Prophecy always totalizes, even by virtue of an upper secret fraction, one above the fourth) is to be taken as a Fadakian allowance, for the secret space of the Prophecy (accessed via strangers/strangeness and the poor/poverty).

But what is this wealth? Briefly, it is the potential for Divine Gnosis that arises from God’s knowing what is in “our” (captive) hearts.

Note 5: The Captives of the Nabi

O Prophet! say to whoever is in your hands of the captives: If Allah knows anything good in your hearts, He will give to you better than that which has been taken from you and will forgive you, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (8:70)

This verse speaks to the those who have fallen into the hands of Prophecy during war: the preceding verse insists that this is permitted only when Prophecy has completely triumphed over the land, subduing it. So the land has become a plane of immanence and Judgement has crowned Love.

The war of reading — reading everything but, particularly, this surah — is one in which the Prophecy is now victorious. Once we get to this point in the surah, we are now captives to Prophecy. His hands (the hands of the perfect body) are strength into which the captives are placed.

This position of captivation to Prophecy is different from Slavery to Allah. It is a psycho-physiological relationship to the hands of the form of Prophecy. The hands of Prophecy are strength, the strength of the Message as it is inscribed upon us: when positioned within this strength, pinned down, so to speak, by the Revelation, the upward circuit to Gnosis (the circuit we have been describing) is ready to be completed and Gnosis will be channeled back down into us.

How? Because the condition is that “If Allah knows in your hearts any good He will give you better than what was taken from you”. The heart (qalb) is the second order aspect of the self, above the nafs.

Allah knows everything: the qalb contains the ruh, the spirit and breath of God. The journeying aspect of the self, that moves between the qalb like a stranger between houses. Hearts are either stone or open, as we have seen in earlier surahs. In a sense, Allah’s Gnosis is that ruh: Allah’s knowledge, or the conduit, the connection back to Allah, is the ruh that is known within the heart. Allah knowing Allah’s knowing. So the condition is one in which the captives of Prophecy are granted release from their model, their context, their qalbic position that grounded their nafs — released from their languages — and only the good that was aquired is preserved, the qalbic Gnosis earned — traced — by the ruh’s witnessing. That earning is the wealth of the captive. Wealth is what was rendered good by virtue of the Angelic smiting of the face and back of the transmissive and receptive aspects of the self: it is what self-knowledge the nafs generated, what archetypes of the heart became inscribed and preserved, what repair was done to universe by that individual aspect

Now the wealth (the trace of the ruh) is unlocked and released, the captive is given something better than what was taken away. The process of bestowal and withdrawal (giving and taking away) is cyclical with respect to all the surahs (because we re-read them and this battle is repeated whenever we read a surah) — and also in life (because reading life is no different). So what is that which is better? It is these cycles of reading, the ruh’s re-entry into the heart, the process of the battle occurring again, with more wealth generated through re-reading, the repeated withdrawal, the repeated bestowal from above. These cycles of bestowal and withdrawal are exactly the felt effect of the Face of God: they are the self in immanent resonance with the Reality of that Face.

And so the battle continues on according to this resonance, each time with new repair and gained Gnosis, gained repair, a perfected qalbic trace by the ruh’s progress.

The ruh’s progress has a bit more to it. The wealth is important for “subsidiary” selfhoods that exist to expedite this. It is consumed by them to create the Medinan caliphate that we might call the city of the upper self. But within this is the inner, secret, space of Fadak, where the ties of kinship — the tie to the Womb — the immediate, direct tie of Gnosis, this conduit we speak about — is maintained.

As we have said elsewhere, that is a Prophetic space of perfection that is not temporal. It is effectively a 5th “aeon” to the other 4, not so much “above” them as “beside” them or “in between” them. Another way of putting it is that it is here all the time, within our first level, located in front of you, everywhere, a 5th hiding between the lines. All spoils are for Prophecy (because the space of Prophecy is beside you, everywhere), and, at the same time, a fifth is allocated. This 1/5th is not corrective so much as immediate in relation to the Womb of Gnosis:

And those who accept Faith subsequently, and adopt exile, and fight for the Faith in your company,- they are of you. But kindred by the womb have prior rights against each other in the Book of Allah. Verily Allah is well-acquainted with all things. (8:75)

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