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Book Title

Logic, Wisdom and the Cosmic Romance: An experiment in comparative mysticism


This book is a speculation on the linguistic status of the prophetic voice, drawing equally on sources from Judao-Islamic mysticism, intuitionistic logic and the contemporary philosophy of language.


This book is a speculation on how we relate to God through language.

Writing from a Muslim perspective, I have expressed myself through an exegesis of the holy books of the Abrahamic faiths and their associated commentaries. The question of how we approach God through language is of central importance to these faiths in particular, with their emphasis on received revelation through words. The books of the Tanakh and the Gospels of the Christianity are all written. The angel Gabriel appeared to the Prophet Muhammed and instructed him to “Read!”: what followed was the Qur’an, a book of God’s verses, narrated by God, written from God’s perspective. It is a central tenant of, at least, orthodox practice within these faiths that these books are the inscribed word of an eternal God, rather than historically situated religious understanding of humans. In seeming paradox, these faiths (or at least Judaism and Islam) also believe that God is ineffable, essentially unknowable, somehow beyond linguistic description. Somehow they have reconciled the notion of an indescribable God that is above all creation with the idea that this God can speak to the prophets in their own language.

This book is my speculation on why this central tenant of orthodoxy holds.

My background is in mathematics and the philosophy of language. By profession I am a logician and work within what is known as the constructive school of logic. Constructive logic is an approach to thinking about how we solve problems and form meanings: it is grounded in the belief there is no absolute external meaning or value to the views we hold, and that the sense or meaning of a view comes from the way in which it was arrived at. From its proof. Constructive logic privileges derivation-as-meaning over absolute meaning.

So my day job is to think about meaning and truth: this is my qualification for writing what follows. Meaning and truth are also clearly important in religion and a claim to absolute meaning would appear to be central to the Abrahamic faiths at least. What is religion if not a claim on Truth?

I am orthodox. And like all orthodox Muslims, I personally believe that God’s Wisdom is manifested perfectly in the Holy Books and, ultimately, within the Qur’an. I believe that the path to the Light of God is negotiated through careful study of the Books of Prophecy. That we may move toward God through receiving this revealed Wisdom. And yet I am a constructive logician: I believe that there is no such thing as absolute meaning. So what follows is my attempt to reconcile these two positions. My perhaps surprising conclusion will be that the latter position entails the former.

I am personally orthodox, but my methods are not.

I will draw on ideas from Western logic and the philosophy of language as much as I draw from the verses of the Holy Books. Everything said has been pronounced infinitely more clearly by greater minds and it is inevitable that I will make reference to so-called esoteric literature about language and God: specifically the Great Sheikh of Islamic Sufism, ibn al-Arabi and the works of Zoharic and Lurianic Kabbalah. However, I draw on this less than upon the Western philosophy and modern logic, for a reason. There is already a great body of scholarship on these thinkers thought to which I could never hope to make a meaningful contribution. (In the case of, for example, ibn al-Arabi, the importance of William Chittick’s translations and commentaries is monumental.) And so, instead, I perform a different service by developing a new trajectory of understanding — what Deleuze and Guattari might call a “line of flight” — from the West to the East.

The philosophers who have influenced my understanding of language tend to be from the so called “continental” school of philosophy: Heidegger, the aforementioned Deleuze and Derrida. My approach to logic owes much to Wittgenstein (in both his early and later phases), and in a way his attempt to reconcile Schopenhauerian mysticism with a primitive logicism in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus serves as a poetic precursor to my work in spirit at least. Psychoanalytic theories of meaning, particularly those of Jacques Lacan, also prove to be instrumental. The use of this philosophy is perhaps less surprising than my drawing on modern logic: the (not very well known) “family tree” of these philosophers that has its roots in Alexandre Kojève’s reading of Hegel. Kojève wrote his dissertation on Vladimir Soloviev, that great Russian Sophiologist, who was in turn heavily influenced by esoteric mysticism, including Kabbalah and Sufi thought. Not to mention the intriguing (and still largely unexplored) direct connections between those mystical scholols and Lacan.

There will be a limited amount of symbolic logic: this monograph is a sequel of sorts to my first book which concerned how constructive logic can be used to solve problems in computer science. I refer interested readers to that text for the gory details of constructive logic and type theory. Such a reference is unnecessary however, as I have endevoured to keep the technical details to a minimum and I believe I have managed to provide as much background as is required for the sake of self-containedness.

I have violated a number of constraints that I would normally abide by within conventional academic writing. I have, in particular, adopted a number of poetic conceits during the course of my argument. Some of the chapters involve philosophical dialogues between characters, others include short (non-intrusive!) stories. At these moments I depart from my ordinary academic style but conform to an older tradition of illustration through storytelling, employed by the Sufi mystics of my ancestry. There is a point to be made through these conceits: they are performatives — functioning like Austin’s speech acts — serving to demonstrate the points I make within the more academically conventional moments of the text. I hope they also serve to entertain.

The book moves through four themes:
• The logical, linguistic status of prophetic revelation. I attempt to argue how the prophetic voice differs from “ordinary” speech and what the implications of this difference are for our understanding of revealed truth.
• The relationship between temporality and logical truth. Time is central to the Abrahamic faiths: we move through it to an end of days and a ressurection. 20th century philosophy has many interesting things to say about temporality, reason and language. I consider how the latter’s results can help us to understand the former.
• The notion of a sunnah and becoming. Orthodox Islam, perhaps most stringently out of all faiths, demands its followers to follow the sunnah (or manners, customs and practice) of its prophets, most particularly that of the Prophet Muhammed. Again, 20th century philosophy sheds an interesting perspective on this. Gilles Deleuze, for example, developed a philosophy of “becoming”: characterising a difference between simple imitation and bodily “entering into” a practice.
• Love. All three Abrahamic religions claim their message is one of love and peace. This claim has come under dispute over the centuries. In recent times, the question of how Islam relates to Love has has come under some scrutiny (from within the religion itself and from outside). One of the problems with the Old Testament and the Qur’an in particular is linguistic: the language is sometimes confronting, disturbingly violent or contradictory. Assuming we accept these books are still the word of God, how are we to reconcile their language with a Loving Creator? Mysticism in various forms (Sufism and Kabbalah) has found very interesting solutions. I will draw on these, together with my treatment of the previous three themes to draw a suprising connection between Jesus’ axiom that “God is Love” and the Muhammed’s statement that “God is Time” that I hope will approach the problem of Love within the Abrahamic faiths from a new angle.

Short non-technical description

This book is a speculation on the nature of prophetic revelation. The author draws on a diverse range of sources from philosophy of lanugage, Lacanian psychonalysis, Islamic and Judaic mysticism and constructive logic to investigate how the prophetic voice differs from “ordinary” speech. His understanding of this difference has profound implications for our understanding of revealed truth and our relationship to God.

Key features

If you had to give three key benefits your book offers its readers, what would they be?

1. A novel way of relating new movements in logic and theories of meaning to spirtuality
2. A modern way of understanding Islamic tafsir (interpretation theory)
3. An entertaining and accessible way of presenting difficult theological, mathematical and philosophical material.

Table of Contents

See attached draft chapter (includes a table of contents at the beginning).

Chapter by chapter synopsis

1. Prologue. The summarizes the religio-cultural context of what follows.
2. The Cosmic Romance. This chapter presents a summary of how truth, reason, language, humankind and God relate to each other through a reading of Christian Gnostic and Islamic creation myths. Each of these concepts and their interrelationships are later expounded upon in later chapters.
3. Garments. Utlizing Lacan’s reading of Freudean metaphor and metonymy, I attempt to explain the relationship between prophecy, madness and “ordinary” speech.
4. True time. The chapter begins with an investigation of how signification relates to the Heideggerean and Derridean notions of Time and, consequently, to our own position in the universe as signifying agents. I then develop a novel model of temporality as logical proof, drawing on Lacan’s treatment of logical time and the philosophy of constructivism (the topic of my previous book, and what I am best known for in academia). I develop a dialectic of authenticity that parallels that of Heidegger and Derrida, that I then apply to answer the question of “how” we should read religious texts and “why” these texts can be legitimately said to be life-changing if read in an authentic fashion.
5. Wisdom and the Gifted Body. I draw on Soloviev’s work on Sophia and Wisdom within an Orthodox Christian Context and Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the Body without Organs to develop a cosmology of the bodies within the Abrahamic faiths. In particular, I treat the relationship between bodies in the “first” life and the recreation of bodies in an afterlife.
6. Food. Food and drink are commonly used as keywords for knowledge (good and bad) within the Abrahamic texts. The last verse of Muhammed’s revelation regards what food is permissible and what is not. Wine is treated interestingly these texts and associated mystical commentaries. Following my treatment of bodies, I attempt to develop a systematic, post-Deleuzian undersanding of food and Wisdom.
7. Prophetology and Imamology. This chapter deals with the relationship between “ordinary” worshippers and prophets, and the means by which the following of the prophets’ sunnah (way of living) in Islam is important. I deal with the journey that prophets take in the various narrations, and the significance of a narrative mode (first, third or, in the case of the Quran, second person) in the Abrahamic scriptures. I necessarily need to touch on the relationship between prophets and wives of prophets, something central to Lurianic Kabbalah and very much emphasized within the text of the Qur’an and associated narrations. (As a corollary, interesting possibilities for new feminist readings of Islamic texts are opened up.)
8. The end of the path. This chapter presents a summary and conclusion.

Word count

Estimated to the nearest 5,000 words (including notes and bibliography)


Submission date

Suggest a realistic date for delivery of the complete manuscript

November 2009.

Figures, Illustrations and Permissions

Please give details of any figures, illustrations or text permissions necessary

Approximately 10 illustrations in pdf format – no permissions necessary.

Market and Competition

Market and Readership

The primary readership is philosophy and religious studies scholars. However, while the treatment does reference (usually quite impenetrable) continental philosophers, formal logical concepts and mystical writing, I have endevoured to make the work self-contained and user friendly.

Due to the novel synergy of Islamic ideas and modern philosophy, I believe there should also be a strong market within the general Islamic community (e.g., the same audience of “progressive” Muslims who buy Tariq Ramadan’s books). The material has been “road-tested” with such an general audience at seminars held at University College, and has met with considerably favourable reception (this was partly the motivation to attempt to publish).

International Markets

The usual channels would be employed to publicise the work to an academic audience. I believe I can also utilize contacts within various Islamic networks to promote the book to a wider international market.

Your analysis of competing or comparable books

Currently there are virtually no comparable treatment of philosophy of language and religion written from an Islamic perspective. The closest work would be that of Iqbaal’s utilization of Bergson in his “Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam”
That work is almost a century old but appears to be gaining significant popularity in the Islamic world precisely because it offers an entry point for synergies between Islam and philosophy that the community appears to desire reinvigorated.

There are a wide range of excellent academic treatments of older Sufi thought, such as William Chittick’s translations and commentaries. However we do not compete with these books (nor with the various popular books on Sufism).

The remaining academic works on Islam tend to be straightforward comparative theology or sociology. Again, this book is not in competition with these.

In performing a market analysis, we might consider the succes of Tariq Ramadan. While his project is largely orthogonal to mine, as I do not consider the problems of social change within the Muslim community, there is some commonality in the provision of a “new” way of reading the main Islamic scriptures in negotiation with Western thought. His work is quite unique in this way and, probably as a result, has gained led to significant readership that cuts across both academia and the general public. While his work is not thematic competition, the impact might potentially be similar.

The Absolute and the Exception

In order to believe in an Absolute, there is always a necessarily repressed Exception. Truth can only become Absolute through the repression of its dual opposite, a Singular Exception.

In cases where Absolute Truth involves peoples (rights of collectives), the Singular Exception often emerges in the form of a transcendentally divine human embodiment. The Exception lurks below the collective surface of the Absolute and then breaks out, like a dream, into a human personage. This is the nature of Messianism and also of Stalinism.

Hence we find a good recent example in the Left.

The modern Left believes absolutely in a politics in which a sexual Marxism is part and parcel of the ultimate the political ideal: the absolute destruction of the capitalist masters involves the eradication of sexually abusive mastery as well. All slaves own the means of production: the workers of the machines, the women of their bodies. This is the Absolute Truth: there’s no 50 shades of grey here.

Yet this Absolute Truth requires a Singular Exception to event be thought. Absolute control of the means to production for the Collective: this cannot even be thought unless the thinker opposes this in relation to a Singular Worker, above the Collective, who divests supreme control to himself alone, for the good of the Collective (he’s still a worker, not a master). Absolute rights of the women to their bodies: this cannot be considered by the Left Mind to be absolute without repressing the possibility of a Singular Supreme Leftist (a fellow comrade, from amongst their collective, yet apart from them) who can take an exception to these rights.

Absolute belief represses this Singular Exception — but repression always becomes manifest in the Symbolic — embodied with strange emotive investment, libido crystallized in the strangest of figures. This is required, like dreaming, to facilitate the psychological sustainability of an Absolute Truth. It doesn’t undermine this Truth — it sustains the Absolute, through release, crystallized into a kind of doublethink. The Absolute requires a bastard to be the Divine Exception to the Rule of Righteousness.

Other examples, beyond the far Left and the Collective/Singular instantiating of our theorem would be the (individual) racist who hates all blacks, but admires Michael Jordan as the exception (“he’s not really black”). He cannot be a racist, were it not for his admiration of the sportsman. Or the middle class Englishman who is uncomfortable with Roma people living next door to him, but has no problem playing Django Reinhardt records at his dinner parties. His discomfort is not possible were it not for his love of the guitarist. Or the religious cult member who insists on modesty in sexual activity for all the cult — with the exception of the cult leader himself, who may take who he wishes as wives because “God gives different rules for the leader”. There cannot be an absolute rule of religious modesty without the leader being granted exception to this rule.

And the exception is always transcendental, divine, prophetic. It’s emergence is ecstatic for the believers — there is an ecstasy in doublethink — derived from the investment they have made in the Absolute, that feeds back into, and strengthens (not undermining) their Absolute belief in that which the Singular excepts itself from.

This is very different from hypocrisy, which is more a characteristic of the Right. There, things are spoken as if they were meant — but, in reality, they are a deliberate deception in order to achieve a known aim. (An example of a a conservative government manipulating the working classes to go against their own interests by harping on anti-immigration platform. The government isn’t really racist — it’s just a stance to achieve an aim — the passivity of the working class and the strengthening of control.)

What’s the alternative?

The alternative is not to believe in an Absolute Truth. Rather, to accept there are flows, relativities, different metric spaces, through which the human body/mind complex flows. We are all Alice, growing bigger and smaller relative to different rates of measure in space and time.

Alice, in her continual reconfiguration: she displaces the prophetic/religious leader/Supreme Worker as our crystallization. She is Chi, Flow, Shekhina, the Goddess running her fingers through form and matter.

Alice is what should be adored: adored through becoming Her, through knowing Her as you know yourself.

No more Leftist Absolutes and Exceptions or Rightwing forms of hypocrisy. Being, the Fermind: unfolding, rising, falling, growing, shrinking, speaking, silent, sad, joyful.


10 Then the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying, 11 “Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!” 13 Then he said, “Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well? 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. 15 He will eat curds and honey with respect to his knowing enough to refuse evil and choose good. 16 For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.

The “Lord” is the Unnamable Supreme Love. “Himself” is the father, Chokmah. The “Virgin” is the mother, the absent Binah. The son, Immnuel, is transmitted Love, embodied, fantasy Love — made flesh. The little face.

The little face is formed, first flesh, then skull (bone, of differentiation). How is flesh formed? From “curds” and “honey”: from milk and honey, the visible realm of form (malakut) and the invisible realm of the metalanguage (lahut). He consumes these two forms (the fantasy and the reality of forms), until he has grown legs — that is, until his skull has formed — and he is able to differentiate (good/bad, to enter into the Moses/Aaron diamond dialectic).

How does he differentiate? He is perfection, the Omega point (moving forward as a Christ re-born), so his differentiation is perfect — it is Da’at, Knowledge Unfolded, the perfect Thought realised of the dialectic.

But he is Christ re-born, perfection regained — and so there is the preceding two kings, so he is realised of the dialectic. Duality as conflict — duality to be balanced by Thought, Thought running through duality like an arrow, Thought realisation of Da’at.

Stop: a tafsir

“You just walk in, I make you smile”

‘You’ is the self, in motion, moving from house to house in gilgul, extracting the truth of its temporary materialisation to effect the tikkun olam. And that self is Prophetic becoming materialised, within this son: the “you” becomes “I”. Who is “I”? Sara, who smiles a smile that spans the four aeons (Nasut Makakut jabarut lahut). Her smile is the Son of rebirth (the Self reemerging into the next world/house/orb/sign/repair): Issac.

“It’s cool but you don’t even know me
You take an inch, I run a mile”

The divine Shekhina Sophia: she is elusive as much as she is present, the presence of God (who is “I”?) in relation to the infusion of God (who are “you”?).

“Can’t win, you’re always right behind me”

Closer to “me” than my jugular vein.

“And we know that you could go and find some other”

Allah/Chi/Self wills what it wills, inhabits and embodies what it wills, discards what it wills, elevates what it wills.

At a deeper level: this movement is always to “some other” – Binah, the absent womb of god, imagined.

“Take or leave it or just don’t even bother
Caught in a craze, it’s just a faze
Or will this be around forever?”

Its a binary logic of the eternal/temporary. This is the evasion of truth within signs, signs housing truth.

“Don’t you know it’s going too fast?
Racing so hard you know it won’t last”

This is capitalism, valuative work, life – illusion, mara, the material, the temporary nature of ego existence.

“Don’t you know, why can’t you see?”

Now the self is embedded within the middle of the song, within the qliphot of the text, the text (garment) asks of its inhabitant: know! See!

“Slow it down, read the sign so you know
Just where you are going”

Gnosis is extracted in instantaneous self reflexive velocity.

“Stop right now, thank you very much
I need somebody with the human touch”

And the self of God is Imagined/crucified now “in the image of God”, as the primordial Human, Christ, the Insan Kamil.

“Hey you, always on the run
Gotta slow it down baby, gotta have some fun”

Slow down to the instantaneous measure of Christ, who exists as a window into the mind of God, right here, right now. Its a humorous gesture, playful – a cosmic peekaboo. Crucifixion = rebirth = jugular vein = god all along.

“And we know that you could go and find some other”

The self inhabits what it wills, Allah chooses whomever he chooses, destroys gives life to embodies discards realises whatever he wills.

“Take or leave it ’cause we’ve always got each other”

The dialectic of taking/placing: the lower legs of the circuit. These realise a diamond, wherein Elohim/the Quranic
“we” assert in self affirming tawhid “We’ve always got each other [in unity]”.

“You know who you are and yes, you’re gonna break down”

The realisation, the ultimate realisation: it’s entry into matter, the complete break down of light into the darkened mirror, Eris, the goddess of chaos, infinite Cantorian difference.

“You’ve crossed a line so you’re gonna have to turn around”

Transgression: each soul has its lowest depth of embodiment and then ascends back to Madina, as the Prophet said.

“Don’t you know it’s goin’ too fast?
Racing so hard you know it won’t last
Don’t you know, why can’t you see?
Slow it down, read the sign so you know
Just where you are going

Gotta keep it down honey, lay your back on the line
‘Cause I don’t care about the money, don’t be wasting my time
You need less speed, get off my case
You gotta slow it down baby, just get out of my face”

From honey/aselic realm into differentiation/capital/”money”: this is time. Instantaneous measure = Christ = “get out of my face”: all that remains is the face.


Jacob saw that there was shever (שבר) in Egypt. (Genesis 42:1)

And Jacbob’s children suffered the calamity of exile, yet they did not deviate from the mystery of faith of their fathers, and the name of the blessed Holy One was frequently on their lips. Therefore it is written: and they say to me “What is His name?” (Exodus 3:13) because they knew and never forgot it, and they endured the calamity of exile for the sake of the blessed Holy One. Consequently, they merited redemption and miracles. (Zohar, Va-Yaqhel, 2:198b)

שבר means both “grain/provision” and “breakage”. Because provision is the product of shattering, the shattering of the orbs.

Jacob’s children are Christ/Chi: the breath of the One, breathing through the divine Orbs. This breath of primordial provision is also one of primordial reception, a breathing out followed by a breathing in, that oscillates through the Orbs, a Waveform that shatters them, as they cannot withstand the frequency.

The shattering is infinitesimal: micro-totems, atomic signs, each different (not identifiable) from the other, crystallized in an infinity of language-worlds.

It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern.” (Isaiah, 30:14)

How are the micro-totems provision? They are lived through, consumed. Not identified, but navigated between, by Jacob’s children. Jacob’s children are Christ/Chi in cycles of reincarnation (he dies so that we might have life, he dies so that life continues): the breath of the One, still breathing, an echo, an imprint, through the divine Orbs.

Jacob’s children do “not deviate from the mystery of faith of their fathers, and the name of the blessed Holy One was frequently on their lips.” Because they are the breath of the waveform, they are the faith in cycles of gilgul into broken matter, they are the entrance into provision, they are the provision that runs through the shattered orbs. This song that continues to be sung from their lips: this is the cosmic mouth, the Reciter who is Recitation (the Name who recites the the Name). The “What”, the mystery”. They say to me “What is His name?” (Exodus 3:13)
“They knew and never forgot it” because the mystery is all about them, it’s the mouth that runs through them, the mystery of the mouth — His name is “What”.

Provision is shattering. “They endured the calamity of exile for the sake of the blessed Holy One.” For the sake of humanity, the son passes away. Shattering is cyclic, because provision entails reception, because breathing leads to breathing in. And so reception runs back, to the Womb: “Consequently, they merited redemption and miracles.”


Mysticism is often seen as a perennial technology for the destruction/reconstruction of the ego. But what if, over the course of time, the ego itself has lost its primacy within modern being, and all that is left is a set of technologies?

I speak of a lost divinity, a lost religion, suppressed by latter developments. But those developments have reached their end. And what was lost is here.

Totem drift

Version 1:

Divorced women remain in waiting for three periods, and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have more right to take them back in this if they want reconciliation. And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. But the men have a degree over them. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.

Version 2:

The cycle of my disconnect from the orb-realm of matter is three spans of self-reflection (matter, reflection on matter, reflection on reflection). The Divine implant (that remains, incubated) is not subject to Shariah (it transcends logic). The upper interface to the orb provides re-connection to this disconnection. And re-connection permits further thought to enter, within the metaphor of culturally primitive sexual totems, over which I am (exaltation/wisdom waveform).