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Mishkat al-anwar (Niche of Lights): We are two spirits dwelling in one body.

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  • jagbir singh
    ... In his ecstasy, al-Hallaj had cried aloud: I am the Truth! According to the Gospels, Jesus had made the same claim, when he had said that he was the
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 8, 2005
      --- In shriadishakti@yahoogroups.com, jagbir singh
      <adishakti_org@y...> wrote:
      > A few months ago i asked my ten-year-old daughter Lalita what that
      > immensely brilliant Light above the Adi Shakti in her Sahasrara
      > is. She replied "God!"
      > i remained silent for a long time to absorb the immensity of that
      > single word answer.

      "In his ecstasy, al-Hallaj had cried aloud: "I am the Truth!"
      According to the Gospels, Jesus had made the same claim, when he had
      said that he was the Way, the Truth and the Life. The Koran
      repeatedly condemned the Christian belief in God's Incarnation in
      Christ as blasphemous, so it was not surprising that Muslims were
      horrified by al-Hallaj's ecstatic cry. Al-Haqq (the Truth) was
      one of the names of God, and it was idolatry for any mere mortal to
      claim this title for himself. Al-Hallaj had been expressing his
      sense of a union with God that was so close that it felt like
      identity. As he said in one of his poems:

      I am He whom I love, and He whom I love is I:
      We are two spirits dwelling in one body.
      If thou seest me, thou seest Him, and if thou seest Him, thou seest
      us both.

      It was a daring expression of that annihilation of self and union
      with God that his master al-Junayd had called fina. Al-Hallaj
      refused to recant when accused of blasphemy and died a saintly

      Al-Hallaj's cry anaal-Haqq: "I am the Truth!" shows that God of
      the mystics is not an objective reality but profoundly subjective.
      Later al-Ghazzali argued that he had not been blasphemous but only
      unwise in proclaiming an esoteric truth that could be misleading to
      the uninitiated. Because there is no reality but al-Lah — as
      Shahadah maintains — all men are essentially divine. The Koran
      taught that God had created Adam in his own image so that he could
      contemplate himself as in a mirror. That is why he ordered the
      angels to bow down and worship the first man. The mistake of the
      Christians had been to assume that one man had contained the whole
      incarnation of the divine, Sufis would argue. A mystic who had
      regained his original vision of God had rediscovered the divine
      image within himself, as it had happened on the day of creation....

      The story of al-Hallaj shows the deep antagonism that can exist
      between the mystic and the religious establishment who have
      different notions of God and revelation. For the mystic the
      revelation is an event that happens within his own soul, while for
      the more conventional people like some of the elema it is an event
      that is firmly fixed in the past."

      Karen Armstrong, A History of God,
      Ballantine Books, 1993, p. 228-29.


      "The Mishkat al-Anwar, an examination of the Light-Verse in the
      Koran and the symbolism of the Veils-Tradition, was written in the
      eleventh century by al-Ghazzali, a man of formidable intellect
      working in the Muslim tradition, who understood that spiritual
      realization entailed making a jump from the limitations of the mind
      and sensory experience. Abdullah discusses the inner teaching of the
      Mishkat al-Anwar, explaining truths which are as relevant to twenty-
      first century man as to seekers a thousand years ago."

      Abdullah Dougan,
      The Glimpse: The inner teaching of Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazzali's
      Mishkat al-Anwar (The Niche for Lights);


      "The Niche of Lights (Mishkat al-anwar) is an accessible and
      richly rewarding text by one of the most fascinating and important
      thinkers in the history of Islam.

      Born in the eastern Iranian city of Tus in 450 A.H. (1058 C.E.), Abu
      Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali also died there, relatively young, in 505
      A.H. (1111 C.E.). Between those two dates, however, he established
      himself as a pivotal figure throughout the Islamic world. By his
      early thirties he was a pre-eminent legal scholar and teacher in
      Baghdad. But then, overcome by skepticism and finding no other
      satisfactory way to combat his doubts, he abandoned his academic
      position to devote himself to reattaining religious certainty
      through the practice of Sufi mysticism. By his own account, he
      succeeded. After somewhat more than a decade of travel and ascetic
      contemplation, and at the instance of the sultan at that time, he
      emerged again into public life and teaching during his final years.

      In The Niche of Lights, al-Ghazali maintains that one who truly
      desires to understand the relationship between God and the world
      must recognize not only His distance and absolute transcendence, as
      emphasized in Islamic theology and jurisprudence, but also His
      proximity to His creation--His inherent presence. The "symbolism" of
      the Qur'an, suggests al-Ghazali, should not be thought of primarily
      as literary imagery, as mere similes and metaphors. On the contrary,
      God employs the language that He does in order to clarify the actual
      nature of reality. An understanding of the structure of the cosmos
      and of the human soul depends upon how accurately one perceives that

      Middle Eastern Text Initiative

      METI Review of The Niche of Lights (Mishkat al-anwar), by al-
      Ghazali, a parallel English-Arabic text translated, introduced, and
      annotated by David Buchman

      Biography of Translator

      David Buchman received his Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology from
      the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he also
      earned his master's degree. For his dissertation he completed two
      years of field research on the beliefs and practices of a Sufi order
      in Yemen. As a Stony Brook undergraduate, he majored in religious
      studies with an emphasis on Islam. He has traveled throughout the
      Middle East pursuing the study of Arabic, Islam, and the status of
      contemporary Sufism. He is currently an assistant professor of
      anthropology and Middle East studies at Hanover College in Indiana.


      "Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali's philosophical explorations
      covered nearly the entire spectrum of twelfth-century beliefs.
      Beginning his career as a skeptic, he ended it as a scholar of
      mysticism and orthodoxy. The Niche of Lights, written near the end
      of his illustrious career, advances the philosophically important
      idea that reason can serve as a connection between the devout and
      God. Al-Ghazali argues that abstracting God from the world, as he
      believed theologians did, was not sufficient for understanding.
      Exploring the boundary between philosophy and theology, The Niche of
      Lights seeks to understand the role of reality in the perception of
      the spiritual."

      Amazon.com Book Review


      "Friday prayer leaders affirm from mosque pulpits around the
      world belief in divine decree, be it good or evil. They warn their
      faithful listeners with this hadith: `The most evil of things are
      novelties; for every novelty is an innovation. Every innovation is
      an error, and every error leads to the Fire.'

      While Christians considered theology `the queen of the
      sciences', Muslims came to consider it the work of Satan. This is
      because theology has confused the rank and file of Muslims. It has
      discouraged any kind of innovative thinking. It has paralyzed the
      intellectuals, preoccupying them with unsolvable questions."

      Mahmoud M. Ayoub
      World Religions: The Islamic Tradition


      "Ibn al-Arabi did not believe that the God he knew had an
      objective existence. Even though he was a skilled metaphysician, he
      did not believe that God's existence could be proved by logic. He
      liked to call himself a disciple of Khidr, a name given to the
      mysterious figure who appears in the Koran as the spiritual director
      of Moses, who brought the external Law to the Israelites. God has
      given Khidr a special knowledge of himself, so Moses begs him for
      instruction, but Khidr tells him that he will not be able to put up
      with this, since it lies outside his own religious experience. It is
      no good trying to understand religious "information" that we have
      not experienced ourselves. The name Khidr seems to have meant "the
      Green One," indicating that his wisdom was ever fresh and eternally
      renewable. Even a prophet of Moses' stature cannot necessarily
      comprehend esoteric forms of religion, for, in the Koran, he finds
      that indeed he cannot put up with Khidr's method of instruction.
      The meaning of this strange episode seems to suggest that the
      external trappings of a religion do not always correspond to its
      spiritual or mystical element. People, such as the ulema, might be
      unable to understand the Islam of a Sufi like Ibn al-Arabi. Muslim
      tradition makes Khidr the master of all who seek a mystic truth,
      which is inherently superior to and quite different from the God
      which is the same as everybody else's but to a God who is in the
      deepest sense of the word subjective."

      Karen Armstrong, A History of God
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