9/11

So it’s 10 years. Events like this affect us all, but their memory means different things to different people.

There is physical memory, which is Divinity unfolding.

For the families of the victims, the meaning is loss of love, which is Divinity unfolding. For those involved in wars that the event precipitated, the meaning is loss of love, which is Divinity unfolding. When the loved are killed, the Son dies alongside them, the Son is lost with them, God’s Love is lost, and no hope remains. Divinity unfolds into pain, loss, hopelessness, suffering.

But there is also historical memory, which is power and capital.

And for those who argue the politics (on either side), the memory of 9/11 is capital for brokerage, valuative bargaining. Whether bartering commodities, territories, statehood, colonial secuirty, postcolonial freedom, justice, Islamic religion, the historical meaning of 9/11 is valuative schemata, systems of capital exchange whose ultimate purpose is to stabilise inherently unstable forms of identity (aggressor, defender, victim, villain) into an tribal habitus, a temporary temple of dhikr, whose psychotic mureeds circle “your” own identity in semblance of locked loop, at the centre the stone image of “your” own face.

I’m not saying these tribal dhikr circles are illegitimate in some way: we’ve all stood within one and will continue to do so, moving between along our cycles of birth and rebirth.

But there are memories of 9/11 that are somewhere between these.

I remember 9/11, personally, not politically (not constructively or globally, merely psychologically). And not in any deep way, because I didn’t lose a member of my family and I’m not spiritually advanced enough to feel that loss as if it were my own.

I was in my old house in Australia. I remember thinking very little about Islam. I had never read the Qur’an and didn’t know much about the religion — certainly didn’t even think to associate it with the troubles in the middle east. I don’t remember immediately thinking much about the Islamic aspect of the attacks. I was living with Chinese people at the time, and remember the consensus being — oh well, at least America will now target the Arabs instead of “us” (Bush had been making threatening gestures to China up to that point — and indeed the wars did result in China becoming stronger).

I remember its aftermath — I began to read Qur’an for the first time and mix with Muslims for the first time.

Not because of 9/11 in any way — I began to read Qur’an because I fell in love with a Kazakh woman. She herself had become Muslim because her yogi had told her that it was important for her to learn Islam to “correct the Islamic karma of her previous incarnations”.. But as I became more interested in Islam, my reading of Qur’an was coloured by a necessity (media-dictated/mosque-dictated) to “defend” the Qur’an (and my evolving relationship to my newfound religion) from an “extremist” reading of verses that could justify terrorism — or war, for that matter.

I spent the last 10 years entering the religion of Islam, learning Islam and then leaving that religion. I acquired a Qur’an along the way, but one I feel no need to defend any more: it’s not that kind of Qur’an, as it has no religious or political component, no story to tell those who’d tear down a state or build one up.

When my Qur’an gets close to politics and power, it appears untenable and fades away from my grasp. And when it is read and contextualized as a record of a 7th century political-prophet, my reading disappears from me and I’m left, as I began this decade, without a Qur’an to recite … though with my Kazakh yogi, karma somewhat corrected!

A Tailor’s Doctrine: free copy courtesy of Fernmind Unilectic!

From introductory remarks by Immanuel Moon, friend and disciple of Musa Qamarbayev (author of A Tailor’s Doctrine).

What can be said of Musa Qamarbayev? A gifted academic and enlightened mystic, a belated, tragic emissary of the Light, for the opening decade of the 21st century London, his teachings directly illuminated the faces of his friends and astonished and darkened the visages of his enemies. The details of his biography are well known: his calling from the Tradition of his birth into the religion of Islam, his claim to visions of the Godhead, to metaphysical silsilah to the Prophet himself, his consequent public attempt to promote a new age of marriage between the hidden Tradition and the (very visible) Islamic religion via a modernist stance rooted in Western Philosophy. Then there is the sordid gossip and scandals associated with this, what can only be acknowledged in retrospect as mistaken proselytization. The repetition of all this would be redundant here.

All I wish to add is the testimony that I was privileged to have known him as a teacher and friend.

The book you hold in your hands is his unfinished magnum opus, A Tailor’s Doctrine. I am grateful to Qamarbayev’s widow Gauhar for permitting Fernmind access to the material. It is likely that Musa would not have approved of the distribution of the work in its current, imperfect and sketched form: he was a perfectionist in all ways. However, given that, since his death, there is now a growth of “secondary” material claiming Tailorite authencity, some with less than honourable intention, Gauhar has agreed to release her husband’s notes. Her hope is that Fernmind provides the world with a truthful, definitive and primary source of Tailorist theosophy. Her condition, gladly accepted, was that we make no effort to change, augment or reconstruct Musa’s draft Doctrine. Apart from some minor spelling corrections, the document remains as it was found on his hard drive. Grammatical errors, unfinished sentences, omissions of words: all remain unchanged. The ordering of the fragments is preserved as Qamarbayev intimated (noting that it is likely this ordering would have been changed in a final draft). Unfinished though it stands, the document remains entirely Musa’s, free of editorial refactoring or comment. It is as close as the reader will get to Musa: to know him more, the difficult onus is on them to extrapolate.

Qamarbayev was working on the final two chapters when he met his untimely end. It should be clear to reader that, by this stage, the author had acknowledged the nature of his failure, if he had not yet fully grasped and confronted the implications of failure to his project.

Thus the later chapters shift considerably in mood from the book’s initial cheery optimism (witnessed most acutely in the author’s preface, written in the premature expectation of publication with a well known Sufi publishing house). Had he lived on, perhaps Musa might have revised the entire work. Maybe he would have bypassed the Islamic project(ion) completely. Or, knowing his character, he might have attempted to simply encode the failure within the proceedings (the chapter at Jihad certainly hints at this, Musa’s own battle for hearts and minds being won through the ironic misprison of its acknowledged failure). Alternatively, he might have simply returned to the womb of his own Tradition, completing the divorce with Islam and creating something else entirely, something far greater, something less rooted in a pretense at religious authority.

For Qamarbayev’s actions were pretense, make no mistake. His closest friends, disciples and lovers would not deny this. He was a pretender to the garb of Islamic Sufic authority. He (mis)presented himself to the Muslims and Sufis of London — as one of them. But he remained a stranger, from his venture’s joyful initiation to its inevitable end. If truth be told, I know for a fact that he had very minimal Islamic background and even less Sufic initiation. Four years before he commenced writing this work, he had not even set foot in a mosque before. He knew no Arabic, worked from Qur’an and hadeeth literature in translation alone, basing his observations, essentially, on internet and library searches. He earned no apprenticeship with a teacher. He possessed a number of translations of Rumi and ibn Arabi: but openly boasted to me that he had never opened them, save to check the odd reference or quote.

Privately, he spoke of personal revelations that bypassed the need for formal instruction and scholarship, laughing that he never read the manual even in his day job. But that’s the point: these were personal revelations, deriving from something novel and individual, not (as he mistakenly misrepresented them) standing in any real lineage to the theological discourses of Sufism and Islam.

In retrospect, we could say that real value of Qamarbayev lies, not his failed aspiration to revolutionize general Islamic tafsir (interpretive science), but in the side-effect of his project: the communication of something unique and new, the intimate, private circuitry of his own soul, at a particular stage along its own unique path. We’re all on different journeys, we all have acquired some wealth along the weay: but it is not often that we make such an elaborate and public exhibition of where we are at in that journey, it is not often that so much of that wealth is shared (albeit in an unusable, foreign currency). It is unfortunate (or, more accurately, inevitable, hence this book being essentially a tragedy in the classical sense) that Musa chose to speak his own private Truth by resorting to the general matter, the verses, tropes and metaphors of a superpower amongst world religions.

By its own rules of spiritual lineage and cultural constancy, by its own nature as a Book carrier, Islam must never accept the clothing of this particular tailor, lest they cease to be. This is not a moral criticism of Islam: it is a law of physics, one that Musa (perceptive though he was in so many other things) chose to ignore. In doing so, he created the garment for a different ummah entirely, the Islam of some other, absolutely orthogonal universe.

Random Hadith Commentary: The Beginning of Creation

Tailorite Devotional Exercise: clear your mind, open the Sahih Bukhari on a random page and write down what is immediately apparent.

Narrated Imran bin Husain: I went to the Prophet and tied my she-camel at the gate. The people of Bani Tamim came to the Prophet who said “O Bani Tamim! Accept the good tidings.”

They said twice, “You have given us the good tidings, now give us something.”

Then some Yemenites came to him and he said, “Accept the good tidings, O people of Yemen, for Bani Tamim refused them.”

They said, “We accept it, O Allah’s Apostle! We have come to ask you about this matter.” He said, “First of all, there was nothing but Allah, and (then He created His Throne). His throne was over the water, and He wrote everything in the Book and created the Heavens and the Earth.”

Then a man shouted, “O Ibn Husain! Your she-camel has gone away!” So, I went away and could not see the she-camel because of the mirage. By Allah, I wished I had left that she-camel. (Sahih Bukhari, “Beginning of Creation”, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 414)

Prophecy is a Light that appears to bend and divide as it passes through the prisms of our perception (though its Photonic Reality is the constant by which theories of relativity may be drawn up/inseminated).

All tribes are prisms of matter, porous membranes. The Bani Tamim are a northern prism that (like all prisms/membranes) draws Prophecy’s good tidings through them. But they deny Light’s passage (news) by demanding that Prophecy be material . In a sense, the Bani Tamim demand that Prophecy be a physical man, to be really real, to demand his situation/capture within their northern membrane of matter. The Bani Tamim’s demand is tantamount to demanding that Prophecy be useful , of some value (social, political, financial, moral, familial — all forms of materialisation/capture) besides its inherent Photonic Beauty.

They are a prism that would be a prison. But the nature of signs is that they have doors that permit entry and exit, conjunction and disjunction, assemblage and disassembly. And so the Nur passes through, but never materialises. The Nur captivates with Beauty, the Nur is True Capture, but Truth is never captured.

The Yemenis are a southern (right handed) prism, a membrane who is at peace with its membrane-nature: and therefore can be called a people of Love. This is because acceptance of no-compulsion in Deen = acceptance of passage of Love. And this is tantamount to acceptance of our material nature as Love’s impossible creation: Love has Created matter (in fundamental contradiction to Love’s Unity) as an overflow/excess of Love that there might be receptivity, that there might be passage, that there might be Nur of Good News, passing through slavery, extending back up in reciprocal planetary growth and harvest. The Yemenis understand this, accept this, their impossible situation of matter in relation to Prophecy’s passage, they accept their membrane impossibility and are consequently receptive to the passage.

And the passage itself then takes the form of Creation’s Impossibility recited through Creation’s Impossible Hearing. Their shema : the southern people hear and affirm: there is nothing but Allah, then the throne (whose stature extends in primordial excess, the vibratory-yet-still-face-to-face aspect of excess known as fatherhood into maternal waters). This vibratory excess forms the perfect Kitab, the Book of Truth. But that Book becomes impossibly fragmented so as to be delivered through passage (the ultimate excess) across a fragmented multiplicity of immanent planes, each comprising of atoms of porous impossibilities, what are known as Ayat of Allah. And so there is Heavens (Nur/inception) and Earth (the membrane of matter/reception).

They said, “We accept it, O Allah’s Apostle! We have come to ask you about this matter.” He said, “First of all, there was nothing but Allah, and (then He created His Throne). His throne was over the water, and He wrote everything in the Book and created the Heavens and the Earth.”

And the She-Camel? This is the internalisation of this water. It is the comic irony of the hadith: the hadith, my commentary is a fantasy itself. Tenuous, she’s accompanying me, as I sit here and listen to Prophecy, turning his face from this northern folk to this southern folk. I tethered her at the gate of the hadith, and so I grasping the point, understanding, hearing in shema. But she’s also my distraction, when I look directly for her (look but don’t listen), she disappears — she’s a fantasy after all, a fantasy of the process, an internalisation that carries only by virtue of her fantasy.

And it appears I’ve become a rich man, bewildered by what just came and went … my needle still in hand …

The Festival of Conclusion: Notes on the Sunnah

Garments

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”

Draw Muhammed Day: the Sunnah of Retaliation

An image from the Facebook site, this time, as with Ka'b's poem, defaming the Feminine of Islam. But there is light within it: all depiction (including this picture) is itself is a misprison, a hijab of signs over the body. But the solution lies in the lie.

“Everybody Draw Muhammed Day” is a Facebook fan page that went viral recently. It stems from the idea of a cartoonist called Molly Norris. She was originally protesting the censorship by Comedy Central of a South Park cartoon that depicted the Prophet Muhammed wearing a bear suit. Her protest was to draw a picture of Muhammed on a slice of toast, declaring May 20 “Everybody Draw Muhammed Day”. She says she never intended this to be actually taken literally. However, someone else then ran with the idea, setting up a fan page on website Facebook. Facebook is a popular example of a Social Network: a website that allows users to locate old and new friends who have joined the network and then share information (usually trivia about their day to day lives or idle vagaries of opinion). Over 17,000 people subscribed to the “Draw Muhammed Day” fan page — and many uploaded their own images of the Prophet of Islam onto the page.

At 26, Mark Zukerberg has become one of the youngest billionaires in the world due to his founding the system.

Facebook is a very popular preoccupation for the under 30s set — in fact, it appears to be an genuine addiction for that species, at the same level as drugs, supplanting the television and computer games of their childhood. And as a subset of usage, it has large Muslim base. Perhaps as a result of this, there have been some street protests, a Pakistan court has banned access to the website and — who knows, the way the ummah works in these cases — there might well be recourse to further legal action.

So it’s a smaller repetition of what happened with the Danish cartoons. In the grand cosmic scheme of things, this is a mere tweet, an ignored status update from a friend recommendation of a friend I never really knew so well at school. What has it got to do with the two seas of Surah Rahman? Or the Celestial Tablet? Why is the Tailor interested in speaking on such obscure and irrelevant trivia?

Is there any illumination to be gained within Facebook — either through retaliation or through reading it?

Well … yes. First, it affords us the opportunity to reappraise the sunnah of retaliation to insults against Islam in general and the depiction of Prophecy in particular.

Continue reading “Draw Muhammed Day: the Sunnah of Retaliation”

Four rivers

Four rivers, four levels of being.

Regarding the four rivers, here is a secret I disclose for you (although, as usual, whatever I say can and may be used in evidence against “me”).

Recall Qur’an:

“… in it are rivers of water incorruptible, rivers of milk of which the taste never change, rivers of wine, a joy to those who drink, and rivers of honey pure and clear.” (Qur’an 47:15)

These are the four rivers that run from the Lote Tree (also outlined in the hadeeth relating to Mi’raj and within the first few pages of Genesis): as Qur’an and various Divine sources observe, two of these rivers (of water and milk) are visible, while the “upper” two rivers (wine and honey) are invisible.

Within Tailorite Sufism, these rivers correspond to four planes of existence:

Continue reading “Four rivers”

Prayer and the body

Prayer and the body

[What follows is a verbatim transcript of a meeting that took place between the tailor and his friend, the neuroscientist. They were discussing prayer in relation to Islamic narrations and physically transmitted tradition.]

The Tailor: In Tailorite Sufism, the power of the sunnah derives from its provision of a conduit of Light from Prophecy to the receptive seeker’s frame of reference. We’ve discussed what might be called Symbolic perspectives on this conduit — such as the hadith of milk — that always take the form of the “milk” of Illuminated Judgement/Reading being provided to us by Prophecy. To follow the Prophetic sunnah is to read the signs of the cosmos correctly. This is the Symbolic nature of the sunnah.

There is also a physical, bodily, Real nature of the sunnah that the Symbolic is dependent upon. Prayer has a special status in terms of this dependent connection.

The form of Prayer was given by an angel to Prophecy. Prophecy then instructed the first generation of believers, who then instructed the generations that followed, all the way up to us. Instruction was given, not through Symbolic word, but through physical transmission/imitation. There is an unbroken physical instruction that provides an intimate, bodily chain of transmission to Prophecy itself, a physical chain of transmission that every Muslim participates in, though we are often unreflective.

Truly amazing when you grasp the implication of this. But to grasp this, you must understand what constitutes a body and what constitutes physical imitation … and makes up a generation! And then how these concepts of physical prayer — when conceptualised and Read — relate back to the body.

The Neuroscientist: Okay, let’s talk about your notion of Reading and physical prayer first then. The precise form of prayer — standing, bowing, prostration, etc — is significant because of its bodily connection to Prophecy. But am I right in assuming that this form is itself derived from an interpretation of hadeeth. Would the specific practice or form of prayer then not be a connection to prophecy, unless it was also read as a form of correct, Illuminated Judgement/Reading of these hadeeth?

The Tailor: My view is that prayer is a bodily connection to prophecy — and is not actually derived as such from the hadeeth. However, our understanding of prayer is intimately linked to our understanding of the hadeeth, particularly those in which it actually occurs and is described.

Continue reading “Prayer and the body”