Metaphysics. Cosmology. Tradition. Symbolism studies in comparative religion

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1   Surah an-Nur, 24:35. The author’s interpretations of the various Qur’anic ayats cited in this article are based on his readings of Qur’anic commentaries, and particularly the texts and translations of Muhammad Asad (The Message of the Qur’an [Gibraltar: Dar-al-Andalus, 1980]) and Abdullah Yusuf Ali (The Holy Qur’an: Text, Translation and Commentary [McGregor & Werner, 1946]).

2   Surah Yunus, 10:1, “These are the ayats of the Book of Wisdom.”

3   Surah an-Nisa’, 4:174.

4   Surah al-Ahzab, 33:46. This is one of five Qur’anic capacities of the Prophethood (see 33:45-46). The Arabic termsiraj is translated by Asad as “a light-giving beacon.” It can also mean the “sun”, and is an emblem of the universality of the Islamic message.

5   Surah al-Baqarah, 2:115, “Wherever you turn, there is the Face of God.”

6   Surah al-Qasas, 28:88, “Everything is perishing but His Face.”

7   Surah al-Baqarah, 2:117, “. . . when He wills a thing to be, He but says to it, ‘Be!’—and it is.”

8   Surah adh-Dhariyat, 51:20-21.

9   Surah Fussilat, 41:53, “In time We shall make them fully understand Our messages in the utmost horizons and within themselves, until it becomes clear to them that it is the Truth.”

10   Frithjof Schuon, Understanding Islam (Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom Books, 1998), pp. 5-6.

11   See note 5, supra.

12   Surah al-Hijr, 15:21. The “known measure” (qadar) refers to both the finitude of God’s creation and to the unique combinations of His ever-renewing theophany. See also Surah al-Qamar, 54:49, “Indeed, We have created all things in a known measure.”

13   These are termed al-asma’al-husna. Surah al-Araf, 7.180, “And all the Most Beautiful Names belong to God, so call on Him by them, and quit the company of those who belie or deny His Names.” See also Surah Ta Ha, 20:8, andSurah al-Hashr, 59:24, “To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names.”

14   See note 27, infra.

15   Surah al-Baqarah, 2:31.

16   See note 17, infra. “Proportioned” here refers not only to the “fashioning” of the clay, but also to the “measuring out” of creaturely attributes from the divine treasure-house of qualities: see note 12, supra.

17   Surah as-Sajdah, 32:9, “Then He fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him the divine spirit. . .”.

18   Surah al-Sajdah, 32:7, “‘Ahhazii ‘ahsana kulla shay’in khalaqahuu. . .”. The root, hsn, refers to “goodness”, both intrinsically, as Virtue, and as the divine radiance, or Beauty.

19   Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I,5,4 ad. 1.

20   Surah al-Hajj, 22:46, “It is not the eyes that are blind, but blind are the hearts within the breast.” The Heart is the cardial center of man, the locus of spiritual discernment.

21   For an elaboration on the meaning of the term “faith” from the perspective of Tradition, see the Editorial published in Sacred Web, vol. 23, June 2009, titled “The Secularization of Faith in the Modern World” by M. Ali Lakhani, also in M. Ali Lakhani, The Timeless Relevance of Traditional Wisdom (Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2010), pp. 154-159.

22   See notes 5 and 6, supra.

23   Surah Ibrahim, 14:25, “God cites symbols for men, so that they may remember.”

24   Surah al-Araf, 7:156.

25   Surah al-An’am, 6:12, and 6:54.

26   Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith 3194.

27   The Arabic text of this celebrated Hadith Qudsi is “kuntu kanzan makhfiyan fa ahbabtu an ‘urafa fa-khalaqtu al-khalq likay u‘rafa”. The term ahbabtu is derived from the root lubb, designating “love”.

28   “In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful.”

29   William C. Chittick, Ibn ‘Arabi: Heir to the Prophets (Oxford: Oneworld, 2005), p. 42.

30   Ibid., p. 43.

31   Al-Futuhat al-makkiyya (Cairo, 1911), volume II, 326.24.

32   This is one meaning of the phrase, La ilaha illa’ Llah.

33   The Qur’an paradoxically states in Surah al-Hadid, 57:3: “He is the First and the Last, the Most Present and the Most Hidden, and He has full knowledge of all things.” God is therefore metaphysically transcendent and immanent, the Source and the Destination, the Most Present to the “eyes of the spirit” and the Most Obscure to the “eyes of the flesh”.

34   Surah al-Nisa, 4:1, “O Mankind! Be conscious of your Sustainer, who has made you from one soul, and from it created its mate, and from two spread abroad a multitude of men and women.”

35   Surah Ta Ha, 20:50.

36   Surah al-Hadad, 57:5.

37   Surah al-Araf, 7:172, “And when your Lord brought forth from the children of Adam, from their loins, their descendants, and made them bear witness concerning themselves, saying: Am I not your Lord? And they responded: Yes. We bear witness! Remember this, lest you say on the Day of Judgment: Truly, we were unaware of this.”

38   For a fuller discussion of this term, see “Fundamentalism: A Metaphysical Perspective” by M. Ali Lakhani, published as the Editorial for Sacred Web, vol. 7, July 2001. The essay also appears in the anthology, The Betrayal of Tradition, edited by Harry Oldmeadow (Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2005), p. 101.

39   See note 33, supra.

40   There are numerous Qur’anic references to God sending messengers for each community. See for example, Surah Yunus, 10:47; Surah ar-Ra’d, 13:38; Surah Ibrahim, 14:4; Surah Anbiya’, 21:7-9; and Surah Ghafir, 40:78.

41   Surah al-Baqarah, 2:213.

42   Surah al-Anbiya’, 21:25. See also note 40, supra.

43   Surah al-Ma’idah, 5:48. Yusuf Ali records this as 5:51.

44   Surah al-Baqarah, 2:189.

45   This is a constant refrain in the Qur’an. See, for example, Surah al-Baqarah, 2:25, 62, 82, 112, and 277.

46   We are following Muhammad Asad in rendering muttaqi as “the awareness of His all-presence and the desire to mould one’s existence in the light of this awareness” (The Message of the Qur’an, p. 3).

47   Surah an-Nisa’, 4:124-125.

48   Surah Ibrahim, 14:4, “We never sent a messenger but with the language of his folk.”

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