“Of that day and hour no one knows … ”: the Tailorite Sufi’s rapture

A recent sermon given by Dr. Immanuel G. Moon, that friendly faced High Reader-in-Residence with the Tailorite Temple of Imanetical Literacy, Qalbfordshire.

Not that we have ever been one to impinge upon the embodied piety of those who carry our Books, be they Christian, Muslim, Jewish or otherwise. But today we feel it appropriate to reflect on the meaning of the End of Days, the Tribulation and the event sometimes referred to as the Rapture.

From a Tailorite perspective, any attempt to guess the day and hour of these events is impermissible.

This ought to be accord with mainstream Islam and Christianity — see, for example,

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. (Mark 24:36)

With Allah is the Knowledge of the Hour and he sends down the rain and knows what is in the wombs. And no nafs knows what it will earn tomorrow nor the land in which it will perish. (Qur’an 31:34)

But we will go further, deviating from the mainstream in our reading of these passages. Because we see a difference between the unknowable and unguessable in relation to the Hour.

It’s not like the time of the Hour is the world’s best kept secret, one that we might be let in on, but aren’t. One that we could guess and be right or wrong, with only Allah actually knowing if we got it correct. That would mean that prediction of the Hour is at least an ontological possibility. But prediction of the Hour in any form is not possible: it is an impossibility by virtue of what the Hour itself.

Because knowledge of the Hour is a different kind of Knowledge to regular kinds of knowing. Your head can’t contain it: it never can. It is a different kind of Timing, only accessible to the Father. The train timetable for Shenfield to London might be concealed from you — but it is always possible you might learn it. But the timetable for the Hour is simply inexpressible, not even thinkable for a human being.

And so you see, in reading the passages quoted above, the mainstream sheikhs and priests of the religions are closer than you might think to the smaller groups who say “It’s happening May 21, for certain”. For example, I can recall hutbas given by Muslim sheikhs in which the signs of the Hour were enumerated and “ticked off” as already happening: that there will be false prophets (certainly a few), women will be walking about in the streets without many clothes (definitely), that people will hop between earth and clouds and what is far will become near (airplanes), a man will leave his house and his thigh will tell him what is in his house (beepers/mobile phones), people will dance with instruments upon their heads (headphones) and so on. The effect of these kinds of hutbas (and their Christian equivalent — found more in the American charismatic tradition than the more placid European modes of practice) is to instill in the listener a state of fear and reverence with respect to the immediacy and seriousness of impending day of Judgement, when their good deeds will be weighed against their bad.

They have produced an assemblage: fusing the machine of social, clockwork time to the Divine time machine of the Bible. This allows them to say either: “It will happen on the 21st of May 2011” or “It is unguessable, but it could well happen on the 21st of May, given most of the signs seem to have been realised”.

But in doing so they relegate God’s Knowledge of the Hour to something if not human (the minority sects), then at least angelic (the majority/mainstream). Angels comprehend the logical entirety of what is possible and what is not possible: for they are beings occupying the space of forms, just as we occupy forms of space. Christ informs us that “not even the angels of heaven” know the hour: and so the Knowledge cannot even be contingency, cannot be a guessable possibility, because the space of forms is a logical space.

But regarding these sects: that’s their practice, and their particular treatment of the signs of the end is intrinsic to their habitus: we respect the sects’ cultural right to exist and continue.

We are not imperial colonists. We have no wish to colonially attack the embodied piety of the minority sects whose practice involves prediction of the Hour nor to damage the belief eco-system of the majority sects’ more common treatment of an unguessable “train timetable” Hour. We’re not out to get either group, with their shared consequent implication of a habitus of reverence/fear revolving around such reconstituted socio-divine temporality.

All the same, reciting outward from Tailorite position, any such attempt at prediction constitutes a literalist folly.

Or, more correctly, it is folly because it fails to literalise in a literary manner: a fusion of two time machines that fails to reference the situated textuality of that fusion. A failure to recognize the Impossible Father, the Impossible Father who alone possesses Impossible Knowledge of the Hour. Because to reference situated textuality is to reference the Impossible Father’s Wisdom.

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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.

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Ramadan Reading: a Few Notes on the Third Juz

Note 1: Saul and Sakina (from Juz 2)

The second juz ends with the story of Saul’s Kingship and David’s conquest.

Verses (2:246-249) concerns the prescription of jihad given earlier in the surah in verse (2:216).

To comprehend the enjoining of jihad is the self-referential essence of waging jihad.

These verses predicate upon that verse, on our reading of that verse, “unpacking” our reader’s reaction to finding God command us to jihad and, as a consequence, enter us into jihad and from Poverty of Saul to the Kingdom of Saul, from the tension of the People’s call to the release of their distillation.

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Ramadan Reading: a Few Notes on the First Juz

Note 1: The intended audience.

The second surah opens with a description what the Book is and who it is written for:

This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah (2:2)

Divine Revelation is privileged in its status of certainty. All signs in the world point to God, but the Kitab points perfectly to this property of the world and is thus guidance (meta-ayat). But a precondition of entry into this fact is God consciousness: otherwise the book will effectively not be opened.

Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them (2:3)

These conditions are related, co-dependent modes of being in the world:

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Puppy love

And they called it puppy love
Oh I guess they’ll never know
How a young heart really feels
And why I love her so

And they called it puppy love
Just because we’re seventeen
Tell them all it isn’t fair
To take away my only dream

I cry each night these tears for you
My tears are all in vain
Oh I’ll hope and I’ll pray that may be some day
You’ll be back in my arms once again

Someone help me, help me please
Is the answer up above?
How can I ever tell them
This is not a puppy love

Someone help me, help me please
Is the answer up above?
How can I ever tell them
This is not a puppy love

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.

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