Jihad: Divine Paradox

A missive from the Verandah Vanguard on Jihad, developed by the marvelously mellifluent Matronita minor and your friendly neighbourhood Tailor. Film commissioned by Hamja Ahsan as part of the Redo Pakistan project within the Other Asias movement.


Wedding batah (barakah)

May your spirits garment each other forever, in provision, protection and shelter, may this married journey take the form of the Qu’ran: a boundless, joyfully immeasurable mirroring of Your Beautiful Truth!

As the Angel commanded, let the bride and groom read the signs of Love in their every glance, action, deed and consideration, that Jannah may be known to you upon this earth today.

And let the Vine of that Love multiply outward into little ones, many little ones, guided by the trellis of grandparents’ Wisdom, of parents’ Jihad, children of beauty, of adornment, the pearl and coral of the two seas, joining the helpers of critical recitation, returning that Kingdom of which the “we” of this city can only dream our Muslim dreams.

May these things “Be!”, by Allah’s Grace. May your journey through Love lead you ever closer to know the Origin of that Love.

Interlude: Lewis Carroll on Tafsir

I have been going Through the Looking Glass with my elder daughter the past week and, last night, we reached the chapter in Alice’s journey in which she encounters Humpty Dumpty. It was like staring at a picture of myself (and my Daughter)! It is enjoined upon every Muslim to read Lewis Carroll completely (metaphysically, if not physically). But here is the particular chapter in question:

HOWEVER, the egg only got larger and larger, and more and more human: when she had come within a few yards of it, she saw that it had eyes and a nose and mouth; and, when she had come close to it, she saw clearly that it was HUMPTY DUMPTY himself. `It can’t be anybody else!’ she said to herself. `I’m as certain of it, as if his name were written all over his face!’

It might have been written a hundred times, easily, on that enormous face. Humpty Dumpty was sitting, with his legs crossed like a Turk, on the top of a high wall — such a narrow one that Alice quite wondered how he could keep his balance — and, as his eyes were steadily fixed in the opposite direction, and he didn’t take the least notice of her, she thought he must be a stuffed figure, after all.

`And how exactly like an egg he is!’ she said aloud, standing with her hands ready to catch him, for she was every moment expecting him to fall.

`It’s very provoking,’ Humpty Dumpty said after a long silence, looking away from Alice as he spoke, `to be called an egg — very!’

Continue reading “Interlude: Lewis Carroll on Tafsir”

The Festival of Conclusion: Notes on the Sunnah


Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Umar: Umar bought a silk cloak from the market, took it to Allah’s Apostle and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Take it and adorn yourself with it during the Eid and when the delegations visit you.” Allah’s Apostle (p.b.u.h) replied, “This dress is for those who have no share (in the Hereafter).” After a long period Allah’s Apostle (p.b.u.h) sent to Umar a cloak of silk brocade. Umar came to Allah’s Apostle (p.b.u.h) with the cloak and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! You said that this dress was for those who had no share; yet you have sent me this cloak.” Allah’s Apostle said to him, “Sell it and fulfill your needs by it.” (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 15, Number 69)

The silk cloak is any kind of impure cosmology, any kind of unrighteous system of tafsir. Or rather, a tafsir so weighted in a wealth of a tradition that does not lend itself or bestow any light. A traditional education, a great possession of the syntax of the tradition, weighs down the owner so that no Light is transmitted: circuitry is worn as wealth rather than engaged with (via bestowal). A tafsir that does not enable corrective reading.

Corrective reading releases and unlocks the Prophetic light from the signs of our life. Corrective reading is the very nature of the call, the nature of the prayer, the essence of salat in “standing” position.

All garments are forms of reading, traces of reading. An ostentatious garment that trails below the ankles prevents the “prostration” position (the concluding cycle of submission to that “standing”) is an inadmissible reading. Likewise, a silk garment is a kind of reading that is burdened by the wealth, a wealth that is locked into itself, not given outwards. A wealth that is not enacted nor bestowed, but shut in. It is the kind of garment that is gained through an Imam’s intense study and detailed grasp of Qur’an and shariah, for instance, but that does not recognize or embody or live through (“spend”) the circuitry contained therein. Threads of silk containing, after all, no wool.

Continue reading “The Festival of Conclusion: Notes on the Sunnah”

Eid Mubarak from the Tailor

Oh breast unfolded, oh heart unsealed,
You questioners, so near to disbelief,
You cave sleepers of unutterable number,
Oh you city exodus, you harvest of days
Oh infinite assembly of rows,
You adorned frames of noble tongue,
You breath of warning, first of submitters
Oh witnesses of the month, 2, 3 or 4:

God’s Desire runs through your form into the Ease
Like honey through the comb of your body
Like wine into the cup of your reception,
Like milk of the Camel that emerged, visible, pregnant and revelatory
Like rain upon an earth, then into trees of poetry’s shade,

Their hand does not touch the food of offering
And I am perplexed, filled with the holy terror,
Yet she laughs at what they inform her of.
And by the palm’s extension into the stream, ripened dates fall to her,
“And how shall we speak to one who is still an infant?”

The bond of your silence completes its cycle, so let lips reveal.
Oh beloved, may infancy’s speech be your Eid!
My sweetness, how swiftly your age of jubilation commences!
Oh my people, may the Good News walk with you forever.

Ramadan Reading: a Few Notes on the Thirteenth Juz

Note 1: Surat Yusuf

Much excellent Sufi milage has been had from this surah and we won’t repeat it all. For example, it has been pointed out to us that

  • According to ibn Arabi, the “false blood” placed on the garment of Yusuf by his brothers to deceive his father is the same “false” menstrual blood of the verses concerning the forbidding of the husband’s approach to the wife during her menses — and this distance being the “adha” (hurt) that is often mentioned in relation to disbelief. We make a further inference then that Yusuf’s journey is one of a cycle of reading (the Qur’an itself) that, during his time in slavery, is a distancing, but when he gains regency, one of marriage or approach. And that his journey proceeds through two such cycles (regency over the smaller house and then over all of Egypt) before reaching absolute regency. Continue reading “Ramadan Reading: a Few Notes on the Thirteenth Juz”

Ramadan Reading: a Few Notes on the Twelfth Juz

Note 1: Disbelief and garments

No doubt! They did fold up their breasts, that they may hide from Him. Surely, even when they cover themselves with their garments, He knows what they conceal and what they reveal. Verily, He is the All-Knower of the breasts.

The breast of the human is a surface, a plane of earth upon which signs are inscribed, that extends as a continuum and has no below nor above with respect to the process of signification: it is a plane of immanence that, when considered locally, forms individualities, subjecthoods. This entire surface is known as the Logos, the real body, that which is the word “Be!” from the Love. The surface is God’s Knowledge, Loving to be Known through that word. But to fold this surface is to double, to take that plane and fold it (locally) upon itself, creating the (local) impression of a difference, of an above and a below, of a semantics of signs on one side of the fold in subjecthood to other privileged signs on the other side of the fold.

It’s a trick of topology that constitutes an sense of selfhood that can be deceitful in that its locality gives the appearance of a hidden interior life divorced from the actual reality of this surface. The locality of the fold is an illusion inasmuch as it implies a hidden interiority of subjecthood distinct from the actual Body (it creates a false sense of the material rather than the actual Flesh of the Vine that is the surface). The surface — the breasts — is God’s Knowledge, God’s signs, so both sides of the fold are part of the same surface, part of the same knowledge.

Continue reading “Ramadan Reading: a Few Notes on the Twelfth Juz”