Reading and Niyat

A sister from Norway asked the Tailor: “You have stated here that you would continue with your Tailorite Sufic reading of the Sahih Bukhari even if it turned out that those hadeeth were fabricated by someone 50 years ago. And you’d insist on your uncompromisingly “spiritual/metaphoric” peace and love based understanding of Torah and Qur’an even if there was definitive historical evidence that these books were actually designed as tools to drum up political and martial support within some distant historical conflict. You have stated that Muhammed never shed physical human blood, that Abraham’s sacrifice of his son was a purely ceremonial case of fana, that “4 wives” does not mean physical wives, that the lashings for adultery and the beatings for wives are Qur’anic tropes meaning some kind of purification of the soul. And you have stated that it doesn’t matter what others think, what others have said in the past or present, you have said this “Truth” you have found within these texts is the stand alone light, transcending scholarship and history.

But what about the intentions of the speakers: what about Bukhari’s intent — or Abraham’s intent — or Muhammed’s intent?”

The Tailor thought for a moment and said: “These questions are put to me again and again, in different forms: because they are central questions to ask. Central, perhaps, to the very future of Islam, though that might not appear obvious. But sometimes the manner in which the question is asked is just as important as the answer. See here, a dialogue I had once with a brother from Turkey: if it does not answer your question, then at least it will show you the form — one of adab — by which the Answer may be negotiated!”

The Tailor proceeded to load up a transcript of a dialogue with this Turkish brother, held within Bookface, a well known meta-social networking site.

The Bookface dialogue.

The Turkish brother:

Do the intentions of the speaker – what was meant by the person who spoke the words of the hadith, the sense in which they were meant to be understood by the hearers – not matter in trying to discover the meaning of the words? Are the words as it were stand-alone, and the intentions irrelevant?

Pardon me if I appear as a ‘hostile critic’. I assure you, I am not at all hostile to your general point of view, as far I understand it. I would just like to see if your interpretation (taking this hadith as a test-case) holds up under a little critical (but friendly and basically sympathetic) scrutiny. You’re clearly a singular person; and I should like to make the same spiritual journey you have – but I should also like bring my mind along with me. Think of me as an errant disciple, humbling petitioning for light and clarification.

The Tailor:

In answer to your question: yes, and no.

From one perspective, yes, the words are standalone with respect to any Truth we can find in them, because ultimately there is only One Speaker. Everything else is a kind of illusory intermediary, and to believe in a particular intermediary can sometimes distract us from this fact.

This is the meaning behind the verse:

You killed them not, but Allah killed them. And you (Muhammad ) threw not when you did throw but Allah threw, that He might test the believers by a fair trial from Him. Verily, Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower. (8:17)

By which we understand, “Allah is the All Speaker” (same difference, because Allah’s Knowledge is Creation, whose seed is the Kalim, the Word).

When I first fell in love, I had this wonderful kind of experience: each song on the radio suddenly became about my love, pop songs that hitherto were banal commercialism became rich and deep, each TV program somehow reminded me of her, romantic pulpy films were transformed into Donne sonnets.

It felt like a veil had been lifted from my eyes and I could see love written everywhere, my love for her recited by every event, object, media encountered.

This phenomenon is not uncommon for people who fall in Love (it surprised me at the time partly because it so closely matched the standard cliche).

Now, this is the sense in which the intentions of pop song writers, the TV and film producers — they don’t matter and the words stand alone because God’s Love is the engine behind the mechanics of it all.

Continue reading “Reading and Niyat”

Burning down the house

Question: I attended your recent hutba where you laid down the principles of Tailorite “True islam”, and your dogma of the Prophet Muhammed’s immaculate pacifism: he shed no physical blood, yielded no physical punishment, etc.

No doubt you have a number of esoteric techniques to extract a Tailorite tafsir of peace and love from even the most difficult verses and narrations. And yet on the point of “harsh and cruel laws”, “exterior appearance of cruelty”, etc, I can’t help coming away with the impression that you’re deluding yourself. Esoterism can only get you so far, surely. There remain many aspects of the sharia that can’t be explained away so easily.

For example (one example amongst many I could give you), there are sound hadiths in which the Prophet says that those who don’t come to pray deserve to have their houses burnt down! This certainly appears to be a “harsh punishment”, if ever there was one, and I puzzle at how this threatening Prophet of his time and culture could possibly be reconciled with your immaculately peaceful image of Prophecy.


The Lord bless you and keep you on you, maintaining you on the sirat al mustaqeem by the cyclical radiance of the Loving Countenance, resonating through the shells of appearance, running outward, seeping inward, the core Truth of your lives and loves.

I certainly agree my efforts hare futile with respect to ever convincing mainstream Islam as practiced down south in the City. I’m preaching to the converted up here in Fuadfordshire — a comfortable, middle class Tailorite elite. Remember, my move to this northern village was forced upon me after I spent a number of years preaching to the wealthy and the poor of the City, efforts that were ineffective and lost to the majority. Even outwardly moderate and progressive Muslims eventually object at what I have to say, once they sit down, really listen and digest its implications.

I despair of the City and don’t for a moment believe that anything I say will convince anyone who hasn’t already had an experience of Allah (in which case they will not need to read what I have to say anyway).

Nevertheless, your hadith example is a good illustration of how I read the outwardly harsh and cruel stuff in Islamic and Judaic revelatory literature.

Continue reading “Burning down the house”

This week’s hutba: True Islam

A recent hutba given by the Rev. Immanuel G. Moon, the friendly faced sheikh of Fuadfordshire.

True Islam is the religion of Life, not of Death. True Islam saves, it does not punish.

True Islam would never punish a man or woman with physical death. True Islam does not bring punishment. No punishment, no death in True Islam, for any reason: for apostasy, for adultery, in warfare.

There are interpretations of Islam and revelation, some are rightly tailored, some shaytanically manufactured. Manufactured interpretations: just a human fancy, not Reality. But the Islamic Truth is that Prophet Muhammed never killed another human being, and delivered a message of Life, of Love, not death. It is a human innovation (bidah) to believe he did anything else otherwise.

If you are not clear about why True Islam forbids all cruelty, then you can ask me and I will try to explain, as the teachers have explained before me. With respect to the Qur’an and the narrations, with their undisputed exterior appearance of cruelty: to Read them you need to be schooled in the language of Love, its genealogy of tropes and its bittersweet irony, to study everything its author has written before and after.

But, ultimately, we stand alone in our relationship to the Reading we call existence. it will be the experience of Allah that will lead you to know this Truth: ultimately it will be falling in Love that will lead you to know this Love.

If you really believe that Muhammed killed humans (and ordered harsh and cruel laws from a harsh and cruel God), it might well be that this is just because someone else told you this and you accepted it because you have been told this is part of Islam. As a non-psychopath, you have rationalised it by saying: “Oh, these laws can only be implemented in a truly just Caliphate — so in a way they are impossible to achieve in this day and age.” or “No — these laws are limits, extrema, a threat — the law always allows us to err on the side of caution and mercy.”

And so you continue to exist here, in the West, finding an uneasy compatibility between that extrema and this Western reality.

But such thoughts are an obstruction to the Truth. They are also a kind of bidah, obstructing the realization of True Islam throughout the lands and worlds. To live by that position is to live in the transitory, impermanent, false. Because the Law is the map of Reality, the Reality behind all obstructions, all forms of colonization, behind your false division of West/now from ideal/extrema. The Law is not an extrema of cruelty in an ideal political state. The Law is the Body of the Cosmos, Prescribing its own Reading in Love.

And this is the nature of what is Read, the Truth of our Islam: there is no Love but Love and Muhammed is its Slave and Messenger.

Reality machines and the Asadian rap

It’s the standard Asadian rap. Admittedly, it has potential and and encourages the kind of progress we are pushing for. But you know, this approach has its origin in Foucault’s LSD trip, just as the secular identity/religious identity distinction has its origin in the Kantian European Enlightenment.

That is to say, the implicit binary opposition that colonial forces employ to overdetermine Islamic rule (the European identity formed out of a privileging of the secular over the religious) sources itself from a Kantian trip.

Whereas Asad, a Foucaultian post-colonial theorist, has connected the Raw Reality of Foucault’s chemical/biological/psychedelic machine to the historical/geographic/political machine, and ultimately therefore owes his debt to that French Prophet, and the Swiss inspirational Angel of the 20th century, Albert Hofmann. Foucault’s trip is undoubtedly magnificent and powerful — not some teenage raver jumping up and down to repetitive music — his trip was so intense, so powerful, that it persists throughout the upper echelons of the academies, from East to West, that it persists in the penmanship of every post-colonial theorist worth his/her salt.

Yet Sufism has always offered a similar deconstruction of identities through highlighting and complicating implicit dualities — we call this fana. We also prescribe a notion of asecularity within our Shariah, by means of its Holy Irony (as an apparently religious and politically prescriptive form of poetry, it is supremely ironic and supremely sublime in this regard), there is no religion and no political space in the Medina of the Verandah Vanguard. And we also employ a Raw Reality machine — but a much older and more beautiful one, at least in our aesthetics: the Reality Machine of the Arab Unlettered Prophet, the equally psychedelic trip of the Miraj.

This is not a criticism of Asad or Foucault or the piece on asecularity. But as a non-Muslim Sufi (I don’t belong to a religion or to a state) who Loves Qur’an, I have to ask: where is Qur’an in this? Because I want Qur’an near to me in all discussions: not because I think it is morally preferable but just because she’s Hu “I” Love most.

It’s not a criticism — it’s a Love thing, a taste thing, a beauty thing. I want Qur’an in every discussion because I want her constantly in my life.

Qur’an is the prism through which all Reality is refracted, a refraction we call the tresses — and therefore encompasses Foucault, his Raw Reality, his admittedly magnificent trip (that still lives on, streaming out through the pens of countless post-structural PhDs). The Qur’an encompasses all Raw Realities: entangles and complicates them, just as they complicate Europe. The tresses of the Qur’an entangle any French philosopher, any post-colonial theorist, any human being.


Last night she thought she had them once more in her thrall,
those grey bearded authorities pouring over her pages,
she supposed she kept their attention with her brilliant display.
And their superb adab: it deceived her sister too, to the extent that
she had faith, her success with the people was inevitable.

And when I kissed her after that public reading,
her reciprocal was a recollection of the sahaba,
when a kiss was a force to be reckoned with,
fearful tribunes of her hair cutting through fabric of land,
her intellect a Saraswati, overflowing, clear, focused, present.

But today, that possibility was lost on them, and they turn away from her reading,
and her brilliant display was a failure,
she kept no attention, she stirred no heartbeat.

So she weeps at her purposeless literacy,
a complex without society’s sanction,
surahs and psalms revealed by God
that men’s lips refuse to utter.

Oh, only for me, only for me, within this space:
what people are these,
that the sweetest clarity of her ayat might be cast aside so cheaply
in favour of such dully awful prose?

IMASE statement on recent events in the East End

The International Muslim Association of Scientists and Engineers (IMASE) has released a statement in relation to the death threats launched against Sheikh Hasan.

Please distribute the statement around to anyone who you think it might be relevant to.

And if you are in any position to help with the actions that are being calling for let IMASE know at

Of oranges and peels

The consensus amongst the city is that there is an orange, and it is the best kind of fruit. But they use the terms “orange” and “orange peel” interchangeably, because they haven’t learnt to eat and so take bites directly from the skin, never penetrating to the actual fruit and so the peel is all they know.

Their declaration of faith is “There is no orange but the orange peel.” They take great pride in their distinction from the rest of the West, which takes its orange peel but perversely turns it into cointreau, leading to health problems and lax morals, particularly amongst the women.

Some of the citizens take their faith very seriously and consider it incumbent upon themselves to police their brothers, ensuring that orange peel, and only orange peel, is consumed.

Of course, the worst sin is to believe in orange peel but then to be led away towards its neglect: “I’ll kill you for denying the absolute culinary potential of orange peel!” “All who fail to consume orange peel are destined for the eternal hell fire!”

Other citizens take their faith seriously, but attempt to integrate it with modern context, scientific advances and the multi-culinary tastes of the city. “Of course cointreau is a dangerous corruption of the peel, but peels can be baked in cakes and that makes them sweet.” “Actually, the message is a trajectory, and we are encouraged to use logical inference to determine what is appropriate to consume in this day and age: logically, we can eat banana peel as well as orange peel.”

To which, of course, the former citizens declare: “I’ll kill you for suggesting that!”

Some Western folk feel threatened by the apparent growth of this “peel-based fundamentalism” within their midst, to the extent that there is now an active campaign to promote the denial of the existence of an orange peel altogether, spearheaded by a notable media professor. “There is no orange peel — it is just an antiquated figment of the imagination designed to control and regulate political and social power — so stop worrying and get on with living life!”

Significantly, the citizens believe strongly in preserving their peel-oriented views onto their children, to continue and grow a People of the Peel. Some ultimately dream of a utopian society in which only orange peel is consumed and the memory of all other fruit is wiped clean.

To this aim, they form weekend schools to teach their children all about the proper way to eat orange peel.

Now, if you keep feeding your people and your children orange peel, they’ll develop a dislike for what they think is an orange.

At some point, after about 40 years, the children will grow up and will say: “Enough is enough! This bitter stuff is awful.” And they’ll find something else to eat, that provides them a healthier, more nutritious diet.

So be it.

That dislike of what the citizens believe to be “an orange” will take a generation to ripen until it turns into outright rejection of all oranges.

People will stop buying oranges altogether: there will cease to be a People of the Peel.

Only at that point can someone/some principle emerge from the descendants, providing a knife to cut though that skin they thought was “an orange” and to facilitate the tasting of the fruit within.

This is what is meant in Torah when she says:

Say to them, as truly as I live, says YHWH, as you have spoken in my ears, so will I do to you: Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me. Doubtless you shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.

But your little ones, which you said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your adultery, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. (Numbers 14:28-33)