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In our onion analogy, the real growth only occurs from within. This precedence is not only true microcosmically for each human being however little recog nised, it exists in potential in everyone it is also made evident in all its full ness in the angelic annunciation of Jesuss coming. As the Quran puts it, O Mary! God gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him, whose name is the Anointed (Messiah), Jesus, son of Mary, high-honoured in this world and the hereafter and one of those who are brought close [to God].3 For Ibn Arab, this Quranic text is a proof-text showing that the high-honouring of the Christic Word takes place prior to his physical appearance in the world, just as Muham mad is honoured with prophecy prior to being known in this world, as in the say ing I was a prophet while Adam was between water and clay. This fundamental insight into the pre-eminence of the human reality forms the basis for Ibn Arabs realisation of the fundamental Unity of Being, for Man alone has the capability to know Reality as It is. The Way which I follow and the Station I seek single-minded [in my devotion] to it is the Station of the Singularity of the One and the negation of multiplicity and number.5 God is not Translated by Elmore in: Elmore G. Islamic Sainthood in the Fullness of Time. Leiden:

Brill, 1999. P. 485486 (slightly adapted).

Q. 3:45. Referred to later in the Anq Mughrib (see: Elmore G. Islamic Sainthood.

P. 512, note 9).

For a discussion of the sources of this hadith, see: Chittick W.C. The Sufi Path of Know ledge: Ibn al-Arabis Metaphysics of Imagination. New York: SUNY Press, 1989. P. 405, n. 8.

Ibid. P. 263.

My passion is for the lightning and its gleam simply One but also Infinite. He is One ad infinitum, as it were. Everything in limited existence is a place of revelation of that selfsame Unity, which at once transcends all limitation and expresses Itself through it. The world, therefore, becomes in each and every aspect a mirror: the outer shell (qishr) of a Mean ing that is revealed within the inner core (lubb) of the human. As above, so below;

as within, so without;

on earth as it is in heaven the principle of all true spiritual teaching, implying that no aspect of the world (or of Man) can be devoid of showing Truth Itself. As the Quran states so clearly, to Him belongs the East (or place of rising, mashriq) and the West (or place of setting, maghrib).

Wherever you turn, there is the Face of God. Indeed God is Infinitely Vast, All Knowing. So when we speak of east and west, we should understand certain fundamen tals: first of all, the crucial difference between a place and an orientation, be tween the West as an area of the globe and all its cultural associations, which we may be part of or not, and the west as a direction, which we can face at any mo ment, wherever we may be. The second point is our tendency in language and thought to give subtle, more or less conscious, precedence to one side over the other: in the Quran, east invariably comes before west, perhaps an admission that we view the rising sun as our primary source of light, that we welcome the day as the time of waking and the night as the time of sleeping. Here it is important to note the conventional Sufi wisdom: that the East, being the place where the sun rises and brings light, is a metaphor for the spiritual and divine realm, while the West represents the place of darkness, where the sun metaphorically dies, and hence is material and dense.7 We find a similar motif appearing in the writ ings of one of Ibn Arabs major followers, Abd al-Razzq al-Kshn:

The west is the place of bodies, the place where the divine light has set and has become concealed by dark veils. The east is the world of spirits, which is the place of the rising of the light and its appearance from luminous veils. The emphasis upon the symbolic superiority of East over West (notably by people in the Islamic East, operating within a context deeply coloured by Zoroas trianism) tends to relegate the material world to a state of ungodliness, a dark ness that is akin to the corrupt state of mankind, which the holy angels foresaw Q. 2:115.

This pro-eastern viewpoint is given even more dramatic prominence by the Sufi philoso pher Ayn al-Qudt Hamadn (d. 525/1131), who writes: Do you know what this sun is? It is the Muhammadan light that comes out of the beginningless East. And do you know what this moonlight is? It is the black light of Azrl that comes out of the endless West (Ayn al-Qu dt Hamadn. Tamhdt. Ed. Aff Usseirn. Tehrn, 1962. 175). Thus the east is the source, and the west is the exhaustion of manifestation.

Abd al-Razzq al-Kshn. Tawlt. Quoted from: Sachiko Murata. The Tao of Islam.

Albany, NY: SUNY, 1992. P. 300. This shows very clearly, I believe, that Kshn viewed Ibn Arab through a Persianate perspective, and some of the subtleties of Ibn Arabs doctrine are obscured in the process.

596 Islamic Mysticism * S. Hirtenstein when Adam was presented to them as khalfa.9 The ungodly and corrupt West then becomes a place to be avoided at all costs.10 In a more modern context, the Lebanese writer Rihani ends one of his poems with an ironic question:

I am the East.

I have philosophies and religions.

Who would exchange them for aircraft? For Ibn Arab the situation is quite different with regard to metaphors drawn from the material world. In his view, the whole world comprises Signs (yt) that point to God,12 and for the one who knows how to read them, there is no where devoid of Gods Presence. He is especially keen to give prominence to the West. This is not simply because he was a native of al-Andalus and therefore a thoroughgoing westerner (Maghrib). For him the West symbolises the place of secrets and concealment: like birds that set their internal compass according to the place where the sun sets so that they can fly by night, Ibn Arab always looks to the west as primary, as the inner world, entrance to the Hereafter and gnosis of the spiritual abodes and degrees. Indeed, in a complete reversal of the eastern Sufi viewpoint, he even states that vice comes from the realm of the East, i.e from the entering into this world of manifestation, which is the abode of trial for everyone. When considering the four directions, Ibn Arab portrays them as symbols of the five pillars of Islam (the testimony of faith, prayer, alms-giving, fasting and pilgrimage): thus the shahda attestation There is no god but God resides at the centre, and the other four pillars are ranged in front (south), behind (north), to the right (west) and to the left (east).14 He praises those who base themselves upon these articulations of faith:

The angels response to Adam being made Gods representative on earth was to question the Divine Wisdom by complaining: What, will you place there [on earth] one who will sow corruption therein and shed blood? (Q. 2:30) As Ibn Arab remarks in the chapter on Adam in his Fu al-ikam, their critique of Adam was in fact evidence of their own corruption in not acknowledging their own limitation or that they had no knowledge of the Adamic all inclusiveness. We may add that the critique of the West as the place of darkness is of a similar nature.

A similar polarity leading to feelings of superiority exists at a racial level amongst peo ple who favour light skin over dark or black a conceit that has, for example, afflicted many Indians even to the present day.

See: Imangulieva A. Gibran, Rihani and Naimy. Oxford: Anqa, 2009. P. 103104.

We shall show them Our Signs unto the horizons and in themselves, until it is clear to them that it/He is God. (Q. 41:53).

Muy al-Dn Ibn Arab. Al-Futt al-makkiyya. Bayrt: Dr dir (non-dated). Vol. 2.

P. 121.

Note that the medieval mind placed south at the top of the map and north at the bottom for example, see the famous Idrisi world-map made at the behest of the King of Sicily in 1155, with Mecca as the centre, which looks upside down according to modern perceptions.

My passion is for the lightning and its gleam May God place us among those who have built up their house upon these foundations! Their house is Faith (mn), and its boundaries are: ritual prayer (alt) to the south, fasting (awm) to the north, alms-giving in secret (adaqat al-sirr) to the west, the pilgrimage (jj) to the east. The one who dwells there is blessed. What is of particular interest here is the association of the secret individual action (alms-giving) with the west, and the overt collective action (pilgrimage) with the east. We may remark that the east-west axis (which has had such a huge impact on human development in terms of crops, livestock and cultural ex change16) for Ibn Arab is primarily one of outer action, either hidden (the indi vidual giving alms) or manifest (the community going on pilgrimage), whereas the north-south axis represents an inner act, either hidden and individual (fasting) or manifest and collective (prayer).

Elsewhere, when explaining the verse Lord of the east and the west, there is no god but He, so take Him as your trustee (Q. 73:9), he writes:

Here there is an allusion to [Gods] free disposal (taarruf) within the direc tions, of which He mentioned only the east (mashriq), which is the exte rior/manifest domain, and the west (maghrib), which is the interior/hidden do main. The One Essence/Source (ayn), which is the sun, when it rises, brings about the name East, and when it sets, it brings about the name West. Man (in sn) has an exterior and an interior. There is no god but He, so take Him as your trustee in your exterior and in your interior, for He is Lord of the east and the west. The identification of east with the manifest world and west with the invisible realm appears time and again throughout Ibn Arabs writing.18 This contempla tion has an alphabetical underpinning in the Arabic language: the word in Arabic for east is sharq, whose first letter, shn, is also the first letter of the word for the world of witnessing or manifestation, shuhd or shahda;

and the word for west, Ibn Arab. Futt. Vol. I. P. 3278. He states that this is the arrangement of faith on the Day of Resurrection, i.e. when the truth is revealed. According to a prophetic tradition, Islam has the testimony in the centre, prayer on the right, alms-giving on the left, fasting in Ramadan in front and pilgrimage behind. Ibn Arab says the order may vary, explaining that the action of prayer is like a light that lies in front, while fasting is an illumination that detaches one from all that lies behind.

See: Diamond J. Guns, Germs and Steel. London, 1997.

Ibn Arab. Futt. Vol. III. P. 287. Quoted in: Chittick W.C. The Self-Disclosure of God: Principles of Ibn al-Arabs Cosmology. New York: SUNY Press, 1997. P. 77. This ex tract from Chapter 360, On the true knowledge of the abode of the darknesses which are praised and the lights which are witnessed, corresponds to the 24th Quranic Sura, al-Nr (Light), and clearly echoes the notions of east and west found in the 53rd verse of Light Sura.

See for example: Elmore G. Islamic Sainthood. P. 324, where Ibn Arab describes the Light of the Muhammadian Reality as the orient of the lights and wellspring of the rivers, from which proceed the Throne and the intermediate world and the earth, as well as all things inanimate and animate, being the origin of all entities. 598 Islamic Mysticism * S. Hirtenstein gharb, begins with the letter ghayn which gives ghayb, meaning the non-mani fest or invisible world. In addition, by pointing out the rather blatant fact that east and west derive all their meaning from the single source of the sun, Ibn Arab emphasises that it is the One Essence that should be our focus both interiorly and exteriorly, or rather the revelation of the One in each domain. This is clearly expressed in the four teenth poem of his Tarjumn al-ashwq:

He saw the lightning in the East and he longed for the East;

but if it had flashed in the West, he would have longed for the West.

My passion is for the lightning and its gleam, not for the places and the earth. In his commentary on these lines, Ibn Arab explains that the lightning in the East signifies God revealing Himself in visible forms, i.e. through the Divine Names and Qualities, the east being the place of immanential manifestation (mawi al-ur alkawn). Then he writes: If it had been a revelation to the hearts, which is a Self-revelation of the Ipseity (tajall al-huwiyya) which is al luded to as the West, then this lover would equally have longed for the World of Transcendence and the Unseen (lam al-tanzh wa al-ghayb), inasmuch as he would have witnessed it as a theophanic place (maall) for a revelation tran scending the manifestation in forms that takes place on the eastern horizon. His passion is always for the places of the revelation insofar as He is revealed therein, not [as places] in themselves. In speaking of a revelation in form and a supra-formal revelation, Ibn Arab makes a classic distinction which occurs in other writings (especially his Kitb al-Tajalliyt), and here emphasises that the passion of the mystic is for God alone, not the place in which He reveals Himself. To that extent, at least, east and west are equal, though not the same.

At the same time Ibn Arab is well aware of the fact that there is more than one east or west: the Quran itself speaks of two or more easts and wests, which When discussing letters and their numerical values, Ibn Arab points out that the Eastern version of counting is used by the people of lights (ahl al-anwr) and the Western by the people of secrets (ahl al-asrr). The abjad alpha-numerical system of letter-number correspon dences have two versions: an Eastern (where the last letter is ghayn, therefore gharb) and a Western (where the last letter is shn, therefore sharq). See: Ibn Arab. The Seven Days of the Heart. Trans. P. Beneito and S. Hirtenstein. Oxford: Anqa, 1999. P. 161162 (Appendix C) and also: Ibn Arab. Futt. Vol. I. P. 67. In Arabic the associations of the root gh-r-b include departing, being a stranger, being odd, strange or obscure. Perhaps it is no wonder that the West (gharb) or becoming westernised can be viewed by Arabic-speakers as something alien or outlandish (gharb)?

Ibn Arab. Tarjumn al-ashwq. Trans. Reynold A. Nicholson. 2nd edition. London:

Theosophical Publishing House, 1978. P. 74. See also poem XLVI, verse 13.

Ibn Arab. Kitb al-Dhakhir wa al-alq. Cairo, 1967. P. 65.

My passion is for the lightning and its gleam most commentators have taken in the obvious literal sense as indicating the vari ous points of the suns rising and setting through the year. For Ibn Arab, how ever, this also has an inner meaning. In his Anq Mughrib he writes:

Even as the sun necessarily changes its time of rising and shifts its place, similarly the Sun of your transcendent Truth (shams aqqika) must rise upon the exterior of your created constitution (hir khalqika) i.e. referring to the constant change from moment to moment in what is revealed to us of our own reality. He then discusses the inherent superiority of the Western: Now know that the sun, by an inherent motion (binafsih), is constantly circulating from the west to the east, even as it proceeds by [compulsion from] another (bi-ghayrih) from the east to the west, though sight is unable [to perceive the former move ment] and the mind (lubb) is staggered [by its computation]. Here Ibn Arab is again giving priority to the spiritual Suns hidden move ment from west to east, i.e. from non-manifest to manifest, alluding not only to the motif of the Mahdi who will appear as a sun rising in the West to be the guide of all mankind at the end of Time, but equally and perhaps more impor tantly to the interior Mahdi of each person, those lights of knowledge that arise in the world of your Transcendence and those secrets of particularization and generalization that are revealed to your heart. West is best?

Ibn Arab gives a most interesting gloss on the importance of the east-west polarity when discussing how the west has priority over the east, as the hidden world has priority over the manifest, and night over day.24 In what would appear to be a relatively early work, Rislat al-Intir, written in answer to certain ques tions from a Shaykh from Baghdad, he describes himself as the lowliest Sufi of the Maghrib, the least of them in terms of following [the Way], the most incom plete in terms of spiritual opening, the most covered in terms of veils. Then in praise of his own masters in the Maghrib, he writes:

By God, were you to behold those among us who have arrived at the very Essence of Reality, you would completely pass away at the very first flash of being annihilated in the Real. For the spiritual opening (fat) of the West is unri valled by any other opening, since its allotted place in temporal existence (al wujd al-zamn) is the night and the night precedes the daytime in the Glori Elmore G. Islamic Sainthood. P. 487. The movement through another refers to the idea that the sphere of the sun is partly moved by the constraint of the sphere beyond it, i.e. the sphere of fixed stars and the falak al-mu. Note that this passage immediately follows the one quoted at the beginning of this paper.

Elmore G. Islamic Sainthood. P. 291 (slightly amended translation).

See: Ibn Arab. The Seven Days. P. 16, 149, for a discussion of this precedence.

600 Islamic Mysticism * S. Hirtenstein ous Scripture in every passage. At night is the night-journey of the prophets and the attainment of real benefit. At night comes the revelation of the Real to His servants, for it is a time of stillness beneath the coursing of measured things (aqdr) it is pure grace (inya)... So then praise be to God who has made the opening of the people of the West (ahl al-maghrib) an opening of secrets and other openings. For the virginal secrets are only deflowered with us. Thereafter they emerge before you in your East as divorcees who have completed (fa raghna) their period of waiting. Then you marry them at the horizon of the Ori ent. Now we share equally in the pleasure of marriage, but we [in the West] win the pleasure of deflowering! Now is Ibn Arab here indulging in a kind of one-upmanship over his East ern brethren (just as they had been doing)? Is he not conflating the East/West orientation with physical places? If so, that might point to a somewhat nave and youthful enthusiasm, and indicate that this was an early work (and that Ibn Arab had this insight into east/west polarity from the beginning). However, there is a much more serious point being made: the association of the primal revelation of divine secrets with the notion of the west. The west becomes a metaphor for closeness to the Real and for concealment of the secrets from all but those whom God selects. If the east opens into daytime when the suns light dawns upon everyone, the west opens into night when there is privacy, intimacy and seclusion with the beloved. The remarkable image of the deflowering of virgins is also found as a metaphor for the deepest spiritual realisation, in which new original meanings are revealed.26 As Michel Chodkiewicz has pointed out, there is also an east-west polarity in his perspective on the prophets: They are oriental in terms of nubuwwa [prophethood] and occidental in terms of walya [sainthood].27 In other words, the prophetic function of a prophet, which is exte rior, is therefore eastern, and his saintly side being interior is western. Rislat al-Intisr // Ibn Arab. Rasil Ibn Arab. Bayrt, 1997. P. 338. I have corrected the text in places according to the superior manuscript, Ayasofya 2063. I have mostly followed the excellent translation of Gerald Elmore, to whom I am indebted for drawing my attention to this revealing passage in his Islamic Sainthood (P. 1745).

See: Hirtenstein S. Unlimited Mercifier. Oxford: Anqa, 1999. P. 82. For further details, see: Elmore G. Islamic Sainthood. P. 176ff. There is an evident allusion to the condition of Mary, and Elmore also observes a fascinating parallel in the story of Jesus birth, where the three wise men travelled from the east following the star of esoteric knowledge in search of the rising of the new sun of salvation in the west (P. 190, n. 158).

See Chodkiewicz M. Seal of the Saints. Cambridge, 1993. P. 119. The spiritual side of the prophets is referred to as the sunsets of wisdom (mawqi al-ikam).

My passion is for the lightning and its gleam Plurality and polarity Fidelity to the revelation leads Ibn Arab to open up dimensions on other Quranic passages where East and West are mentioned:28 for example, he quotes a Divine oath, which runs as follows: No! I swear by the Lord of the Easts and the Wests, surely We are able to substitute a better than they;

We shall not be outstripped (Q. 70:40). In his comment on this Quranic verse (in a short treatise written in Mosul), Ibn Arab observes that God swears by His Essential Lord ship in terms of east and west as they are immutable and fixed directions, rather than something transient such as the action of rising or setting. He begins by ex plaining that the One Essence gives rise to multiple polarities:

He swore using the plural since easts and wests are many: His visibility and His invisibility, His manifesting and His hiding, in the world of bodies and in the world of spirits, in this world and in the hereafter, in paradise and in hell, in veils and in revelations, in union and in separation, in effacement and in establish ment, in annihilation and in subsistence, in intoxication and in sobriety, in wak ing and in sleep, and in absolutely every state of being. At the end of the treatise, he gives a terse description of the different ways in which east and west may appear to the human being. In an astonishing series of rhyming pairs, Ibn Arab depicts five different degrees of these polarities, from the outermost physical body to the innermost core of the human being:

Within the easts and wests are obtained all the [different] points of view (madhhib). The east of the physical eye is the rising of the lights (anwr), while the west of the eye is the finding of the moons last night (sarr).30 The dawning of the intellect is the east of tradition (manql), while the west of the intellect is the mystery that is indicated (madll). The east of the soul is the rising of assimi lation (tajns);

31 the west of the soul is the presence of purest sanctity (taqds).

The east of the spirit is the dawning of clarification ();

the west of the spirit is the evening-breaths of tranquillity (riy). The east of the secret consciousness See for example: Ibn Arab. Fu al-ikam. Ed. Aff. Bayrt, 1946. P. 207ff., where he discusses the conversation between Moses and Pharaoh regarding the Lord of the East and the West and all that is between them;

also: Ibn Arab. Futt. Vol. IV. P. 360, where he describes the Lord of the two Easts and the two Wests (Q. 55:17) in terms of the exterior of the two emergences (this world and the next?) and the interior of the two forms (the divine and the worldly).

Kitb al-Qasam al-ilah // Ibn Arab. Rasil Ibn Arab. Bayrt, 1997. P. 134. I am in debted to Matt Warren for drawing my attention to this passage. The text has been corrected against the manuscript, Veliyuddin 51 (Beyazit Library, Istanbul), which was copied from the authors original, written in Mosul in the year 601/1205.

In other words, when the moon is invisible to the human eye, and darkness overwhelms the heaven.

In the sense of finding resemblances between oneself and others and becoming assimi lated as part of a group or class (jins).

602 Islamic Mysticism * S. Hirtenstein is the rising of being rooted in the heart (istihr);

32 the west of the secret con sciousness is the contemplation of a trackless land (ahr). Beyond east and west Ultimately all these perspectives are rooted in the relationship between ob server and observed. Ibn Arab is explicit that the Essence of God, and by ex tension the reality of Perfect Man, is beyond all polarity: just as the movement of the sun, a single body, produces the opposition of East and West, so does the viewer who witnesses and marks the two horizons. In fact, we can see how the two horizon-events occur through an interaction of earthly viewer and celestial Sun, in a kind of mutual vision and non-vision. The dancing interplay between God and Man in terms of polar opposites such as east and west, manifest and hidden, light and dark, day and night, are beautifully evoked in the following poem:

When it is the eye (ayn) of the servant, then the servant is hidden.

When it is the hearing of the Real, then God is the one who hears The whole matter is only between obligation and supererogation.

You and Gods Self (ayn) bring all together Truth (aqq) and creation (khalq), they will never cease Bestowing existence on the essence one moment, the next withholding it.

When it is the essence/eye of the servant, then night is your state.

When it is the essence/eye of the Real, then light shines forth.

You are only between an east and a west.

Your sun in a west, and your full moon rising. The White Light The West as symbol of the fundamental unknowability of God is also alluded to in a remarkable visionary meeting between Ibn Arab and Ab Bakr al Siddq, the first caliph and the Prophets closest companion. In what he calls the theophany of white light, Ibn Arab finds the figure of Ab Bakr at the highest rung of this revelation, Ibn Arab uses this expression in connection with Ab Yazd [Bistm] having the Qu ran rooted in his heart, and he calls it experiencing the pleasure of [Gods] bringing down from the Unseen (ghayb) upon the hearts (Ibn Arab. Futt. Vol. III. P. 314;

see also: Chit tick W.C. The Self-Disclosure of God. P. 394. note 4).

According to Kazimirski [Biberstein-Kazimirski A. de. Dictionnaire arabe-franais. Paris, 1860. ed.], ahr means the edge of a rocky land. The manuscripts I have consulted are unvowelled, and I am unclear whether this is the right reading here. The rhyme ends as it be gins, in -r.

Ibn Arab. Futt. Vol. IV. P. 313, from the Presence of Light (nr) in Chapter 558.

I have followed with amendments Chitticks translation (Chittick W.C. The Self-Disclosure of God. P. 161).

My passion is for the lightning and its gleam gazing westwards, and wearing a robe of the most splendid gold, whose ra diance arrests the eye. The light embraced him, streaming down from his beard to his place of sitting. Still he was, immobile and speechless, like one amazed. Each element here has a precise significance. According to Ibn Sawdakn, whose commentary is a record of Ibn Arabs own explanations, the white light signifies that which includes all other colours, and therefore the state of complete perfection (kaml) in relation to the other colours, it is like the supreme Di vine Majesty within the Names or the Essence with its qualities. The place where this light shines is entirely beyond the world of intellect or sense perception. As for facing westwards, the west is the very source of secrets and his face was set to the west because the sun going down is the same as the secrets disappearing. The Human Tree While the white light signifies perfection, the receptor of this light, the mystic or knower of God (rif), who is clothed in golden completion, may be depicted as a tree.36 The image of the tree, in particular the olive with its light-giving oil, recalls the famous light-verse of the Quran, where the Divine Light is compared to a niche, wherein is a lamp, the lamp in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star, kindled from a blessed tree, an olive tree that is neither of the east nor the west, whose oil would shine even if no fire touched it, Light upon Light... The four elements of this image of shining light, the niche, the glass, the lamp and the oil, are taken by Ibn Arab to signify different aspects of the com plete human being, which are: being protected from the passions (niche), having clarity and serenity of heart (glass), the radiant light of the heart (lamp) and fi nally the sheer luminosity of absolute closeness of identity between Man and God (oil from the olive).38 This sheer luminosity that appears in the mystics se Ibn Arab. Al-Tajalliyt al-ilhyya. Ed. Osman Yahya. Bayrt, 2002. Chapter 71.

P. 174. The setting for this chapter is in the mid-point between the Theophany of Red Light, where Al resides, and the Theophany of Green Light, where Umar resides. The supremacy of white over the colours is thus respected, not by being put first, but by virtue of occupying the intermediate position (barzakh).

See: Ibn Arab. Futt. Vol. II. P. 646, where Ibn Arab is discussing the station of no station (maqm l maqm) in the context of Ab Yazd al-Bistms saying I have no morning and no evening morning and evening belong to one who is bound by quality, but I, I have no quality. Ibn Arab comments: The gnostic in this station is like the blessed olive, which is neither of the east nor the west, so he does not determine over this station with any quality nor is he limited by it. Q. 24:35. For a fuller exposition of Ibn Arabs treatment of this verse, see: Gril Denis.

Le commentaire du verset de la lumire daprs Ibn Arab // Bulletin dtudes Orientales, XXIX. Damas, 1977. P. 179187.

See: Ibn Arab. Futt. Vol. I. P. 434. According to the teaching of the great Ottoman follower of Ibn Arab and first instructor in the way of the Jelveti, Muhyiddin Mehmet ftade (14901580), there are correspondences between four subtle centres in man (corporeal nature, 604 Islamic Mysticism * S. Hirtenstein cret heart is kindled from the blessed tree of the Reality of Man, who stands always in perfect equilibrium39 between God and His creation, neither of the east nor the west, who does not incline more to the exterior or to the interior, a complete mirror in which God can manifest Himself to Himself, the eye-pupil through whom the whole world is showered with mercy and bathed in light.

Regarding this tree, Ibn Arab says, its root is its west and its branches are its east, and it itself is neither of the east nor the west. So observe! Do you [ever] see a tree that is without these two principles? You will never find such a thing unless it is God, exalted be He!40 This pithy commentary again spells out Ibn Arabs teaching: its root is its west because the origin of all things is the Un seen;

its branches are its east, in the manifest world;

and it itself is neither of the east nor the west, since this tree is the whole of Being, that which is both manifest and hidden. This tree symbolises the Divine Ipseity (Itselfness, huwi yya), the Reality of the Self, grounded in identification with the Divine Essence in the interior, and branching out in its full expression and manifestation. It is equally a metaphor for the Reality of Man, whose secret interior is identical to the Essence and whose exterior is the place of Gods manifestation.

In the trees extension from root to branch, it is neither of the east nor the west, as it does not become part of a polarity, and the light which shines forth from it is itself. Is this perhaps the real inner significance of offering an olive branch as an act of peace and reconciliation? For it reminds us that our reality is not of the world of polarity, and that nothing has ever left the Presence of the One and Only. Like the olive yielding its precious oil, this Divine Itselfness ex tends into the heart of Perfect Man, self-luminous, illuminating all through Its own sheer luminosity. Unlike earthly lights, It has no need for any other to light It (its oil would shine even if no fire touched it).

During a vision of this Tree, Ibn Arab sees the hearts of people of true faith (al-muminn) brought before him and is told: Ignite them with light, for the soul, spirit and secret consciousness), four aspects of man (animal, human, angelic and su preme), four steps (law, way, knowledge, reality) and four successors to Muhammad (Ab Bakr, Umar, Uthmn and Al). The basis for all these is the Quranic verse (Q. 57:3): He is the First and the Last, the Manifest and the Hidden. For further details, see: ftade. The Nightingale in the Garden of Love: ftades Divan. Trans. Paul Ballanfat (French) and Angela Culme-Seymour (English). Oxford: Anqa, 2005.

The association of the olive tree with equilibrium is also implied in Q. 95:14, where it is mentioned (like a barzakh) between the fig-tree (associated with Jesus) and the mountain (as sociated with Moses). The olive, with all its associations of peace and kingliness, becomes thus the prime tree-symbol of Muhammad.

Ibn Arab. Kitb al-Tajalliyyt. P. 187, from the oral teachings recorded by Ibn Sawda kn on the Theophany of the Tree (tajall 73). The whole theophanic vision is as follows in Ibn Arabs text: I raised the ladder of ascension and mounted it. I was given possession of the extended light, and the hearts of the people of faith were brought before me. I was told: Ignite them with light, for the darkness of covering-up [the truth] has enveloped [them] and nothing but this light can dispel it. I was overcome by rapture during the ascension. My passion is for the lightning and its gleam darkness of covering-up [the truth] has enveloped [them] and nothing but this light can dispel it. The extraordinary rapture which Ibn Arab says he experi enced during this vision is like the parable of the shepherd and the lost sheep, an indication of the extreme Divine desire to be known41 and His pleasure at the restoration of a lost soul to true knowledge. For this tree of Light is also a beacon for others to find their own reality. In other words, the only purpose and aim of the perfected human, returned to creation in full consciousness of the Divine root and acting as Gods representative on earth (khalfa), neither of the east nor the west, is to serve as a guide to others, igniting their hearts with a light of guidance and knowledge which will bring them directly to the Source of all.

In this brief survey of Ibn Arabs treatment of East and West, we can see the enormously rich tapestry of insights that he draws from contemplating the interaction of Sun and earth. By using West and East as symbols of hidden and manifest, Ibn Arab gives honour and dignity to every aspect of this world. But this is only possible through the most rigorous and faithful submission to the Singular Sun of Divine Reality. Whenever we forget our true orientation to the Sun, and externalise this orientation into a place out there, we fall into a po larisation of the place where we are, in contrast to that other. This inevitably leads to questions of superiority/inferiority and potential conflict, both personally and collectively. West and East then cease to be directions of singular vision, and become metonyms for our own divided perception. When we remember that our transcendent reality has precedence over our physical appearance, we are putting our west in its proper place, as having primacy over our east. Only then can we have true common spiritual values.

As in the Divine Saying (hadth quds) I was a hidden treasure and I loved to be known so I created the world that I might be known (or: that they might know Me). Philosophy of Illumination: Suhrawardi and his School Afaq Asadova (Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, Baku, Azerbaijan) LOVE AS A PATH TO SALVATION The Quran, which has a divine logic and includes divine knowledge, does not appeal only to the human intellect. It was sent down in the form of Reve lation to the heart of the Messenger of Allah (P.B.U.H.), who was also a human being. The Divine Word is not a sort of theoretical information that is acquired as a result of generalized human experiences;

quite the contrary, it is a book of action which is realized by human beings as a result of experience. To recite the Divine Knowledge, to memorize and maintain different theoretical reasoning over it, in other words, not to actualize and examine it within the inward spiritual experience is to remain at the periphery of this very knowledge. Then, how can this knowledge be actualized? Many answers may be given to this question ac cording to some Islamic sects (madhhib), Sufi paths (urq) and various scien tific and political views. This, of course, indicates both the richness of Allahs last religion and its features, including every sort of specifications in va rious geographical points, kinds of contemplation, historical and vital situations, where it is not confined. Ab mid al-Ghazzl, who is considered one of the greatest thinkers not only in Islamic history but also in the history of the world and who, by legating us a worldwide famous opus magnum Iy ulm al-dn, was able to revive his own period, accepted the idea that the knowledge of old women, those who are illiterate and are among common people but at the same time worship Allah in a devoted and sincere manner and fear Him, is superior to his own knowledge.

The following dictum of a famous Sufi, Ab Yazd Bistm, corresponds to al-Ghazzls statement: Even if you see someone who is sitting cross-legged on air, do not accept this act as a miracle unless you realize that he preserves the limits of Divine Order and Revelation, obeys the traditions of the Messenger of Allah, and observes the right of The Almighty. A scholar, who is accepted as the pole of this era, a certain man who has the miracle of suspending cross-legged, and an illiterate but sincere old woman in her worshipping;

all these people would be rewarded in accordance with their sincerity and purity in their prayers in Divine Presence. The verses (yt) which refer to knowledge such as Are those equal, those who know and those who do Love as a Path to Salvation not know?1 and also the Traditions of the Prophet (adth) state that the ones who have knowledge, in fact, are those who adopt Islamic morality and make it their way of life, who purge their selves and purify their hearts, who fight against their lower selves spiritually, without making any sort of peace with the lower self during their lifetime, who lead a life along the right path in compliance (ri) and submission (taslm), and have a sincere and purified heart. The knowledge revealed to the heart can be adopted in the heart, by the heart and realized within the heart. How can heat exist unless the sunlight touches the skin and spreads through the other parts of the body, and how can thirst be quenched unless water flows within the cells? Such is the fact with the Holy Quran when one keeps it on a bookshelf or keeps it in mind, recites and preserves it within the reason.

The hearts of disbelievers cannot preserve the wisdom;

their hearts turn loose and convey it only to their tongues. The whole history is witness to this great saying of our Prophet (P.B.U.H). The Word of God will turn to be a means of fight of human beings with each other for the sake of the world rather than a path leading to Allah if it is realized and remains as knowledge learnt only by means of the intellect in a rational manner. Thus, the Quran, by stating: Con tinue then in the right way as you are commanded,2 gives the life of the Prophet as an example for those who try to be on the right way by the deepest purity that could be reached by human will, and cannot be confined within the frame of ra tional knowledge.

Therefore, Ibn al-Arab, who, as a teenager, separated his way from such great rationalist scholar as Ibn Rushd (Averroes);

Ab mid al-Ghazzl, who realized that the worldly bonds and the knowledge that they brings honour, fame and respect (which, by the age of forty, he had gained to the extent that they were not enjoyed even by the greatest philosophers of his age) are just the oppo site of what the religion commands, like many other philosophers, chose the Sufi way the path of love.

In Sufism, the term ishq (love) is mostly used as the correlative, a synonym or sometimes even as an antonym of ilm (knowledge).

As William Chittick asserts, historians have commonly spoken of a gradual development of Sufism that begins in a mysticism of asceticism and fear, slowly changes to an emphasis on love and devotion and then turns to stressing knowl edge and gnosis.3 Sufis believe that it is impossible to define love (ishq) in the fullest sense of the term. As a matter of fact, it is clear that defining the inner spiritual experiences is quite difficult and, in most cases, it is impossible to de fine them in words. That is why the eastern poetry is extremely rich, powerful Q. 39:9. Here and later, I quote the Quranic verses in the English translation of A.J. Arberry (The Koran. Translated with an Introduction by Arthur J. Arberry. London: Allen and Unwin, 1955).

Q. 11:112.

Chittick W. Sufism: A Short Introduction. Oxford: Oneworld, 2000. P. 61.

608 Islamic Mysticism * Afaq Asadova and metaphorical. The feelings experienced on the path towards Allah and, gen erally, the things experienced in other manner than those experienced during our lives in this lower world, cannot be explained in terms of common speech, for it is designed for the expression of experiences belonging to this world. By means of these metaphorical words, another poetic language is created. This language is the language of love and this logic is the logic of love. In fact, the entire Sufi literature speaks of love and depicts love. However, it cannot define what love is.

As the great Sufi thinker and poet Rm wrote:

A man asked, What is love? I said do not ask me about it.

You know it if you happen to become me.

If it calls you, then you will tell your story. Or:

Failing to explain it (love), Reason fell in the mud like a donkey Only Love can fully describe how to fall in love. The great German philosopher Hegel says that to know something and to have knowledge about it is the same as to determine its limits in reflection. It is possible to determine the limits of the material things that surround us and also non-material thoughts in contemplation. As a result, the essence of this determi nation can also be called science. Thus, the determination and definition of scientific understanding is clear in this context.6 While determining the confines of the human intellect, Immanuel Kant states in his famous Critique of Pure Reason that the positive value of the critical principles of pure reason in relation to the conception of God and of the simple nature of the soul, admits of a similar exemplification;

but on this point I shall not dwell. I cannot even make the as sumption as the practical interests of morality require of God, freedom, and immortality, if I do not deprive speculative reason of its pretensions to tran scendent insight.7 Even when approached by a rational intellect, the word ishq has close relations with these words and it is not difficult to understand that it is impossible to define it within this logical frame.

Jall al-Dn Rm. Kulliyt-i Shams. Ed. B. Furznfarr. Verses 2905051. The English translation by W.C. Chittick is taken from: Chittick W. The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rm. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1983. P. 195.

Jalaluddin Rumi. The Mathnawi. Books 16. Ed. R. A. Nicholson. London: Luzac and Co, 19251940. Book 1, verse 115. The English translation by W.C. Chittick is taken from:

Chittick W. The Sufi Path of Love. P. 223.

... . . 3. . . .. . .: , 1956. . 95.

Kant I. Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. Paul Guyer and Alan W. Good. Cambridge: CUP, 1998. P. 37.

Love as a Path to Salvation Similarly, the great Azerbaijani poet Nizm wonders what love means:

Love is the highest point of heavens You are worth nothing, oh world, without it. And Fuzl says:

To think that higher ranks are gained by knowledge Is an impossible desire.

It is love that merely exists in the universe The rest is only hearsay. The scope of love cannot be defined from existing philosophical, psychologi cal, para-psychological points of view. For, todays science that depends on ex perience describes human being as a single physical being with his/her essence, pure conscience or collective sub-consciousness. This science generalizes facts and teaches the general relations which occur between matter and events, and are stable and repeated. But as many philosophers inquire, how is it possible to learn these states and the events which are special and never repeated but at the same time more valuable than other general facts? If this science can provide general results by examining the biological instincts of millions of people, while it cannot explain how these very people have particular nature and aptitudes su perior to these instincts, or understand these aptitudes only as the psychological stimulations or neurosis, experienced as a result of the restraint of biological in stincts, then to what extent does it deserve trust? In some cases, there are at tempts to study the facts and events linked with Sufism within the frame of vari ous sciences. Of course, as Carl Jung stated, human being is the great experiment of nature and it can bring required experience over the essence to a great extent.

However, the same philosopher asserts about the human soul that contempo rary western scientists, the analytic psychology created by them and thus the Freudian psychoanalysis is like the enthusiasm of a young person who has re cently begun learning when compared with existing knowledge from the early times in the East. Jung at the same time points out righteously :

Is it again a mere coincidence that modern thought had had to come to terms with Einsteins relativity theory and with ideas about the structure of the atom which lead us away from determinism and visual representation? Even physics volatilizes our material world. It is no wonder, then, in my opinion, if modern man falls back upon the reality of psychic life and expects from it that certainty which the world denies him. These observations of Carl Gustav Jung, one of the greatest scholars and psy chologists, were answered by Shams Tabrz who, according to Mawlan Jall ad-Dn Rm is the spiritual sun (shams) more than seven centuries ago:

Nizm. Haft paykar. Ed. Wahd Dastgard. Tehrn, 1934. P. 57.

Fuzuli. Rind zahid. Ankara, 1956. P. 32.

Jung C.G. Modern Man in Search of a Soul. London: Routledge, 2001. P. 217.

610 Islamic Mysticism * Afaq Asadova To attain the beauty of Spirit and to be able to see the spirit is a further state.

After seeing the spirit, one needs to follow the path to Allah so that he/she may witness Him. I do not say he/she witnesses Him here or in this world. If the worldly essences have veils, it means each essence has a light, which shines outwardly. Those who are perfect can see this very light. However, it is not sur prising that they can see the light, which is not reflected outwardly. But it is sur prising that some people cannot see the light whether it be in their hands or be fore them. The opinions and ideas of Socrates, Hypocrites, Brethren of Purity (Ikhwn al-af), and Greek philosophers do not resemble that of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H), his descendants and those who follow him sincerely and de votedly Caliph Omar was reading a passage from the Torah. The Prophet Muham mad (P.B.U.H) took the piece of paper from him and said, If that holy person (Moses) to whom the Torah was revealed was here, he would follow me. The path of the Prophet Muhammad the path of love is the path by which Shams of Tabriz the sun (shams), which rose in Tabriz of Azerbaijan and who was among the holiest people in the world, inspired the great Sufi Maw lan Jalal ad-Dn Rm in Konya by his entire heart and showed by the eye of the heart and saw in the mirror of his heart. The seekers of this path are the seers of the light behind the veils of the substances in the world two thousand years ago and have that certainty which the world denies him, as it was observed by Carl Jung a thousand years later.

The 21st century does not promise a beautiful and blissful future for humanity as a result of the rapid development of contemporary science and technology the environment increasingly becomes polluted and global heating results in ca tastrophes, the decrease of natural resources on our planet may provoke some forces to use nuclear and mass destruction weapons, the differences between the standards of life in various countries keep increasing... As a result of the devel opment of contemporary information technologies, the world becomes smaller and smaller. And the nano- and robo-technologies substitute the organs of human beings with artificial organs;

they are likely to replace the human species called homo sapiens with robots and cyborgs. The lower world seems to cast more and more veils of matter upon the soul. Scientists speak of new thoughts and new horizons of thought. However, how much potential there remains for the change of cogitation? To what extent is human intellect urged? The intellect does not give up antinomy;

it does not give up duality. On the contrary, it increases antin omy and leads reality to multiplicity. The intellect leads the world and its es Shams-i Tabrz. Maqlt-i Shams. Ed. M. A. Movahed. 4th edition. Tehrn: Nashr-i dnigh, 1378/1999. P. 311. Quoted from: Chittick W. Me and Rumi: The Autobiography of Shams-i Tabrizi. 2nd edition. Tehrn: Murwrid, 1386 S.H. P. 142.

Shams-i Tabrz. Maqlt-i Shams. P. 313. Quoted from: Chittick W. Me and Rumi.

P. 143.

Love as a Path to Salvation sence to destruction by changing the world and its essence. Today, the world is something created by rational thought and positive science. Humanity is on the path of love. Love suppresses the antinomies and keeps the truths alive. It re moves the duality and leads it to oneness;

it destroys the incomplete and transient side and leads to the eternal subsistence (baq). Shams and Rms who, in fact, shine as spiritual sun and reflect in each other and survive in each other for the sake of God in the dimness of history spiritual love and passion for human is a reflection of divine love and its functions are models in sustaining the vital functions of humanity;

the model of tolerating the creation for the sake of The Creator. The current stage, which humanity has reached today, indicates once more that the path of love held by a few chosen people among humanity for centuries the way of beatific morality, the purification of the self, and refinement of hearts is the straightest way. Friendship, brotherhood and love are the fruits of purifica tion and morality. Strife, hatred are the fruits of evil morality. Nowadays the so cial diseases and catastrophes that engulf our world are the fruits of relations among human beings who depend on selfishness, ambition and excessive world liness for centuries. The saying of the last Messenger of Allah (who was a pos sessor of superior morality, according to the Quranic verse: And lo! Thou art of a tremendous nature13): The most beneficial thing given to human beings is the beautiful morality, testifies to the lasting significance of his prophethood even thousands of years later. Friendship, which is a fruit of beautiful morality, is such a great bliss that Allah explains His vast Mercy by bestowing such an important bliss on humanity: And (as for the believers) hath attuned their hearts.

If thou hadst spent all that is in the earth thou couldst not have attuned their hearts, but Allah hath attuned them. Lo! He is Mighty, Wise. Today, humanity can solve its vital problems by this great bliss, bestowed by Allah. The axis of the highest sky, ishq, is also the activator of human relations on the earth. If only history would turn its face towards the loves sun of the East and remember the following words of Rm:

Through Love all that is bitter will be sweet.

Through Love all that is copper will be gold.

Through Love all dregs will turn to purest wine.

Through Love all pain will turn to medicine.

Through Love the dead will all become alive.

Through Love the king will turn into a slave! Quran, 68:4.

Quran, 8:63.

Jall al-Dn Rm. Kulliyt-i Shams. Ed. B. Furznfarr. Verses 1103032. The English translation by Annemarie Schimmel is taken from: Schimmel A. The Triumphal Sun: The Life and Works of Mowlana Jalaloddin Rumi. LondonHague, 1980. P. 216.

Philosophy of Illumination: Suhrawardi and his School Zam Khenchelaoui (CNRPAH, Algrie) LA CHEVALERIE SPIRITUELLE EN ISLAM En islam, la notion de saintet renvoie au thme de futuwwa ou Chevale rie Spirituelle. Parvenus une haute ralisation mystique, ces saints guerriers qui avaient pour mission la rvlation de lsotrisme de la prophtie, sont dauthentiques chevaliers spirituels en ce sens quils taient tous capables de distinguer une guerre juste dune guerre injuste. Lide d'un tel parcours initiati que uvrant pour une rconciliation entre le ciel et la terre prend racine dans un islam de type visionnaire: le soufisme.

De par la valorisation de larme, du cheval et dune lite spirituelle se consa crant exclusivement lart de la guerre, apparaissent des ordres maraboutiques au systme de valeurs, aux rites seigneuriaux et aux codes dhonneur bass sur les hautes qualits de gnrosit, de secourisme, de vigueur, de bont, de chas tet, de bienveillance, de fiert, de pudeur, de libert, de dignit, dabngation, de charit et de solidarit. Cette discipline martiale dont les fondements moraux auront un retentissement mondial grce laction chevaleresque accomplie en faveur des opprims, se rfre une lutte lgitime voire sacre attribue cer tains tres exceptionnels, les awliy allah, les saints militants, ces yeux par les quels Dieu regarde le monde, pour combattre linjustice et rtablir lharmonie.

Cette notion est lie celle de lHomme de lumire, sa nature archtypale, sa dimension divine quil devra reconqurir par une exprience visionnaire base sur un mouvement de redressement actif. Cette exprience visionnaire introduit ceux qui la vivent dans la ligne des chevaliers de lordre invisible, des tres qui incombe le devoir de servir la socit, de dfendre lintgrit territoriale, de tendre la main et le cur la veuve et lorphelin, de protger la foi et la patrie.

Cette force dunit, dordre et de justice se caractrise par le fait de lutter partout et constamment pour raliser la synthse de lamour, du savoir et du pouvoir.

Il sagit dune discipline spirituelle base sur lacceptation de verser son sang, de faire don de sa vie pour expulser sa propre bestialit, incarne tantt par linfidle, tantt par lenvahisseur et librer sa parcelle divine en se livrant tri omphalement lautel sacrificiel. La voie chevaleresque est donc toute entire centre sur une vision dsintresse de la vie. Elle est base sur le culte exclusif du martyre en ce sens que, le chevalier na pas dennemi car il est ennemi de ses La chevalerie spirituelle en islam pr res pulsio ropr ons go es. Il m oste ne un ch min hr ue de comba c ntre hem roqu at con so mm v nc son drag n int eur et a de, au term de sa l e, la b ut oi-m me, vain gon trie acc me lutte beau ex ise de la kab J d cu E e dan le m de, tou en n nt p du k ba du c ur. Etre ns l mon xqu ut n tan pas m de, telle es la dev e de cett fr ernit unive elle.

mond t e st vise te frate t erse.

614 Islamic Mysticism * Zam Khenchelaoui Or, le chevalier est celui qui ne retourne jamais son arme contre les siens, signe dune noble moralit et dun patriotisme distingu. En ce sens, ladepte de la futuwwa ne peut tre assimil un vulgaire mercenaire au service de forces occultes ou trangres. Il est au service de son peuple et se constitue volontiers comme un lgionnaire vou son pays. Fidles leur code dhonneur, ces moines soldats avaient le regard port en direction de lextrieur, jamais vers lintrieur. Leur propos ntait pas de troubler lordre tabli ou de porter atteinte aux musulmans. Ils se donnaient pour mission de protger la foi et la patrie des menaces et des dangers qui venaient dailleurs et de tenir ladversaire distance dans un esprit chevaleresque fond sur le respect et la loyaut mme envers lennemi. Loin de toute lecture mortifre qui ferait des chevaliers spirituels des espces de fugitifs illumins voire menaants, leur sacrifice suprme devra tre lu, au contraire, dans un sens doffrande lgale la nation au sein de laquelle ils semblaient tre bien intgrs.

En Arabe classique, le mot fat renvoie une racine qui dsigne la jeunesse, la force et la beaut : le fat est le jeune homme dot dune bonne dis position morale et physique, do lintrt port sur la pratique des sports tels que la lutte, lescrime et lquitation. Dans le Coran, al-fat signifie lhomme accompli dont la gnrosit ne cesse que lorsquil aura tout donn. Un homme qui renoncerait tout, y compris sa propre vie. En tant que dfenseur de la justice et de la vrit, le chevalier se doit de porter secours son prochain, de diffuser le bonheur et de susciter lesprance.

Institutionnaliss par le calife al-Nsir (11811223), lui-mme adepte de ce mouvement chevaleresque, ces chevaliers de la sagesse, qui devinrent au service de lEtat, vivaient dans des forteresses monastiques connus sous le nom de ribt do lexpression murbit ou marabout. Ces tours de garde qui donnrent naissance, par la suite, linstitution historique de la zaoua (terme qui drive de la racine arabe zwy de laquelle procdent les vocables inzaw inziwan et qui dsigne le lieu de retraite et disolement), situes prs des frontires maritimes taient places sous la responsabilit dun grand Matre ou le cheikh suprieur.

Certains suivaient un parcours initiatique spcifique. Dautres portaient un uniforme distinctif. Il sagit du fameux habit du chevalier (libs al-futuwwa ) qui faisait partie des crmonies dadmission rituelle au grade de no vice au sein de la ligne (silsila )dsignant la chane spirituelle qui remonte au Prophte et laquelle taient affilis tous les ordres chevaleresques qui se rclamaient du soufisme. On rapporte quen dpit de leur stricte discipline in terne les adeptes de la futuwwa taient hospitaliers avec les voyageurs qui ils offraient gte et couverts. Le code de la noble virilit labor par Ab Abd al Rahmn ibn al-Husayn al-Sullam, qui vivait au IV sicle de lHgire (Xme sicle de lre commune), cit dans son trait mystique intitul Kitab al-Futuwwa constitue la Bible de la Chevalerie Spirituelle en islam.

La chevalerie spirituelle en islam A linstar du compagnonnage mdival europen, la futuwwa islamique (khwn en berbre, ahilik en turc, djawnmard en persan) avec laquelle les Templiers auraient tabli des contacts lors des croisades est lorigine de linstitution des corporations de mtiers et des confrries corporatives en islam.

Il existait autrefois des futuwwa dartisans, de btisseurs, etc. Il existerait encore de nos jours des corporations de ce type dans certaines cits de lislam places sous le patronage de figures prophtiques dont le profil concorde avec lactivit exerce : Enoch/astronomie, David/mtallurgie, Salomon/sciences occultes, etc.

La chevalerie apparat ds lorigine de lislam associe la qute spirituelle mene par le soufi qui, arm de lpe double tranchant, la lance et le bouclier, va seul la conqute de sa conscience profonde et entame un voyage sans retour vers lArchitecte de lunivers. Il devient ainsi un adepte de cet art chevaleresque et uvre en secret la restauration de la paix et de la justice ainsi qu la parousie dun nouveau monde. Il sagit pour lhomme aspirant pratiquer cet art royal de dpasser sa propre enfance pour devenir adulte, autrement dit, sortir de ltat de dpendance et dasservissement caractristique de notre conscience or dinaire pour devenir un tre libre et matre de son destin. Pouvoir se maintenir dans une perptuelle jeunesse, cest quitter un tat dinconscience vers un tat de discernement hiratique en ouvrant sa conscience sur une ralit plus haute que celle du monde ordinaire.

La chevalerie spirituelle parachve la prophtie nubuwwa dont la mission consiste en laccomplissement des hautes vertus makrim al-akhlq, rapporte-t-on dans un clbre hadth canonique. Cette force spirituelle est une voie dynamique typifiant les stades de dveloppement intrieur de lhomme, celle de linitiation mystique dont on peroit limage travers lexemple coranique des sept jeunes dormants dEphse qui, fuyant la perscution de lempereur romain Decius se rfugirent durant trois cent neuf ans dans un sommeil comateux retirs dans une caverne, signe dune rsistance passive la corruption des hommes et des institutions.

Cest le cas des modles chevaleresques que nous offrent les figures dAbraham brisant lidole de son nafs ( ego) et se jetant dans le feu de Nem rod par engagement spirituel azm avant de faire la rencontre du mystrieux personnage de Melkisedek, ou celle de Joseph prfrant la prison la trahison de son matre ou celle de Muhammad qui, fuyant la perscution de son peuple dt prendre le chemin de lExile al-hijra vers Dieu, ou celle de son disciple Ali qui, face aux menaces de mort qui pesaient sur le Prophte, accepta de coucher dans le lit de celui-ci au risque de sa vie ce qui lui valut cette pithte laudative: l fat ill Al wa l sayfun ill dh al-fiqr ce qui donnerait en franais ceci: Point de chevalier hormis Ali et point dpe hormis son sabre fourchu, ou encore celle du jeune Josu portant une dvotion exclusive son matre Mose lui-mme en qute de son initiateur spiri tuel al-Khidr au manteau verdi par le contact de la source de jouvence, 616 Islamic Mysticism * Zam Khenchelaoui personnage, habitant au confluent des deux mers, tantt assimil Herms Tris mgiste tantt Elie.

La connaissance des ordres chevaleresques, fonds sur une vision cosmique du monde, devient aujourdhui dune importance vitale, au moment mme o nos socits sont confrontes aux flaux lis la mondialisation sauvage et au choc des civilisations qui en rsulte. Cette approche ouvre donc la science et la socit la possibilit de comprendre notre pass et de participer limmense entreprise de reconqute de notre avenir et de rconciliation avec notre prsent dans un esprit de dialogue, de tolrance et douverture.

Mon propos est dappeler mettre laccent sur limpact que produit lengagement de ladepte de cet idal spirituel pour sa patrie et sa socit, au pass comme au prsent, en dcryptant le code dhonneur qui le rgit et en essayant den dgager la hirarchie des valeurs, les modalits de fonctionnement, les mcanismes de transfert et les conditions de passage des diffrentes phases dinitiation auxquelles le candidat la chevalerie spirituelle est soumis ainsi qu en dduire des outils, des mthodologies et des concepts en termes danalyse de ce phnomne.

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Tholuck F.A.D. Ssufismus, sive Theosophia Persarum pantheistica. Berolini: Ferd. Du emmler,1821.

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