The Qu'Ran and Ibn Al Arabi

foofighter

Jedi Master
Hi!

I am currently quite confused by an apparent contradiction that I can't resolve myself, and am hoping that anyone can shed some light on it. It started by me trying to read the "Sufi path of Knowledge", by Chittick/Ibn al Arabi. But then it made so many references to the Qu'ran, saying that it was great, that I figured that I should read it first. Since I'm now staying in a Muslim community it would also make sense to try and see what it was all about.

So, I got a copy with an English translation and started reading. I got about halfway through before I had to put it down, as it was so nonsensical and full of STS thinking that it made my head spin. The confusion is that on the one hand I have the Qu'ran which seems so obviously twisted and distorted, and on the other Arabi and his teachings is said to be closely aligned to the C's, and yet Arabi and Chittick both say that the Qu'ran is great. I can't make head or tails of it. What am I missing? Is there any way to resolve this apparent contradiction? Thanks.
 

Oxajil

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I think that the Qu'ran is a sandwich, truth between lies. And I think that Ibn al Arabi refers to that ancient knowledge in some of the parts from the Qu'ran.

from the Wave:

When Christianity originated, Jewish writings included a considerable body of "wisdom" literature that had been, to a great extent, "borrowed" from more ancient sources with whom the Jews had come in contact throughout their period of formation as a national entity. A lot of this literature derived from Egyptian and Babylonian sources. Very often, this material was modified or "interpreted" to suit the Hebrew perspective, and was often ascribed to their god, Jehovah or Yahweh in terms of source, even though more contemporary research clearly shows it to have been more or less plagiarized. Thus, within the pages of the Bible, there are many passages in which this ancient "Wisdom literature" makes itself known.

It is also now generally thought that the Bible itself was pretty much "written" during the Babylonian captivity by the Scribe, Ezra. [See Who Wrote the Bible, Richard Elliot Friedman, 1987 for a fascinating analysis.]

The interesting thing is that, even though it much of the Wisdom Literature was borrowed and redacted, it often appears to have been included with very little modification. Apparently, those who were engaged in assembling the Bible either did not understand the material fully, or they were unable to change it completely because it was so generally known at large.
So I guess the same kind of goes for the Qu'ran, that some ancient info was ''borrowed''.
 

ana

The Living Force
foofighter said:
Hi!

I am currently quite confused by an apparent contradiction that I can't resolve myself, and am hoping that anyone can shed some light on it. It started by me trying to read the "Sufi path of Knowledge", by Chittick/Ibn al Arabi. But then it made so many references to the Qu'ran, saying that it was great, that I figured that I should read it first. Since I'm now staying in a Muslim community it would also make sense to try and see what it was all about.

So, I got a copy with an English translation and started reading. I got about halfway through before I had to put it down, as it was so nonsensical and full of STS thinking that it made my head spin. The confusion is that on the one hand I have the Qu'ran which seems so obviously twisted and distorted, and on the other Arabi and his teachings is said to be closely aligned to the C's, and yet Arabi and Chittick both say that the Qu'ran is great. I can't make head or tails of it. What am I missing? Is there any way to resolve this apparent contradiction? Thanks.
Hi Foofighter,

I did not read this one.
Maybe you can share one of those references or comparisons, to try to grasp what Ibn al Arabi was seeing, if possible.
 

Buddy

The Living Force
foofighter said:
The confusion is that on the one hand I have the Qu'ran which seems so obviously twisted and distorted, and on the other Arabi and his teachings is said to be closely aligned to the C's, and yet Arabi and Chittick both say that the Qu'ran is great. I can't make head or tails of it. What am I missing? Is there any way to resolve this apparent contradiction? Thanks.
My first thought is that you may be assuming there is approval or support for the Qu'ran where there is only an appearance of that. Some writers find it expedient, for one reason or another, to appear to support things in order to avoid certain consequences.

I'm not saying that's the case here but I would recommend taking approving comments from the Sufi's with a grain of salt until you have reason to believe otherwise. Just my 2 cents.
 

Psalehesost

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I was thinking the same as Buddy for one possibility. Another is that he might actually have kept a naive belief in the truthfulness of the Qu'ran himself - indoctrination burrowed deeply - though this was mitigated by his otherwise superior knowledge and understanding; in other words, that this was an isolated "black spot" (or sacred cow) in an otherwise clear field of awareness.
 

Vulcan59

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Just like Mouravieff had a "Biblical Gloss" in Gnosis, that didn't detract from the accuracy and truthfulness of it.
 

Biomiast

Jedi Master
I think for Arabi, it is more like a strategic enclosure. If he wouldn't write in that style, he would be killed in that political environment. His work wouldn't be published this much and we wouldn't hear anything about it.

I think another reason he used it is that how STS mimicks STO behaviour, so basically they are very similar in terms of experience and description. For example "unveiling" that Laura described in Wave series is a part of Muhammed's experience, when he supposedly obtained the parts of Quran from "Allah". Yet we know it is also an STO experience. Those who have ability to See will understand the difference with their discernment abilities, or so I think.

I personally think Quran was dictated by Lizzies in a careful manner, so that each person can interpret given words with their false personalities to cause divisions. Lucky for us, these holes in interpretation opens up the possibility for people like Arabi to "interpret" those texts in a "correct manner". I read some parts of Quran and personally don't suggest it to anyone unless you want to see STS forces in action.

Just my two cents, fwiw.
 

Approaching Infinity

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I tend to agree with Vulcan59's idea. Islam was simply the cultural milieu in which Ibn-'Arabi wrote. I just started reading his work, so I don't know for sure, but it will be interesting to see which quotes he uses, and HOW he uses them.
 

go2

Dagobah Resident
Hi foofighter,

Perhaps the great secrets of the Work are inaccessible to the ‘I ‘of the Personality. While it is true many spiritual texts have been altered for political agendas, the problem of contradiction and interpretation of teaching stories and text usually lies within the individual doing the reading. It is not really a problem, but is in the nature of limits of our capacity to see and hear. We must develop the reading instrument in order to read with the eyes and ears of a spiritual woman or man. The levels of man and levels of understanding are explored here, starting with reply #9.

Mouravieff’s Gnosis helped me comprehend the limitations of my reading instrument. My reading instrument was a subjective, secular, and literal lower intellectual center, contaminated by emotional material. I have been surprised to discover, after working on separating the lower emotional and lower intellectual centres, that I understand a little more each time I study a spiritual text. Perhaps, there is still time to read the great masters with the Eyes of the Soul, as the Christian Esoteric Tradition calls the higher emotional and the higher intellectual centers. I hope this small insight is helpful, it is only a comment from a blind man describing an elephant.

Mouravieff said:
[…]messages received through the higher emotional centre can be translated into pictures or language, but they always take the form of images or symbols. This is the case, for example, with the Book of Revelations. In its ensemble this text is unintelligible if one studies it only by mean of the lower centres. To grasp its true sense, it must be read with thee help of the higher emotional centre. It is thus that it was revealed to St John on the island of Patmos, and it is only thus that we can understand this most important communication. It is true that the ‘I’ of the Personality can read it, but he will only understand a very small part of it; the grandiose meaning of these magnificent visions will remain hidden from him.

[…]We do not register the message of the higher centres, which are ceaselessly working in us a full capacity. This is not only because our lower centres are under-developed, but also because they are not equilibrated.

[…]As no direct link exists between the lower intellectual centre and the higher intellectual centre, the intellectual culture which is the almost exclusive basis of our education cannot lead us to higher levels of consciousness. In spite of the refinement of his intelligence, no matter how extensive or deep the knowledge he acquires, exterior man remains enclosed within the circle of reason.
bty-Ibn Al Arabi's Conference of the Birds is one of my favorite readings.
 

Buddy

The Living Force
go2 said:
Perhaps the great secrets of the Work are inaccessible to the ‘I ‘of the Personality. While it is true many spiritual texts have been altered for political agendas, the problem of contradiction and interpretation of teaching stories and text usually lies within the individual doing the reading. It is not really a problem, but is in the nature of limits of our capacity to see and hear. We must develop the reading instrument...
I think that's well said, go2. As anart and others remind us: you can't think about the way you think...with the way you think. Likewise, I think it's very difficult to grasp deep interconnected understandings without first finding a way to jump outside the framework of our habitual thought patterns and cognitive set(s) - if only temporarily.

Anything that will help kick-start a contemplative mode might help - like question everything...even assumptions about what we think that means- and especially notice patterns that seem to follow the 'as above, so below' maxim.
 

mkrnhr

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I have read the Qur'an in my adolescence and I can confirm it is highly STS in its essence. However, lies are always mixed with some truth to make them acceptable. And if we discard distortions (big big parts), one can find some fragments of wisdom, be it in the ancient testament, the qur'an, or in the daily newspaper :D

Ibn El 'arabi quotes from the qur'an, but very very little. Maybe the minimum to justify he is not a heretic (which he clearly is!) or as a way to communicate with his muslim readers. Ibn El 'Arabi clearly states that his knowledge comes from direct revelation, from his personal mystical experience. He emphasises on direct knowledge rather then on blind faith, which makes him on the other side to the religious thinking.

More then being cryptic and paradoxical, the Qur'an in arabic is "semi-poetic" (I don't know how to express it exactly, it's a sort of prose with a rhythm without being properly a poem) and I suspect it being a hypnotic text leading to STS hidden suggestions wrapped in a seemingly wise text. In any case, it distors the way of thinking and reading it is painful if you try with a critical mind. Makes you wonder who was the shiny creature who came to interrupt his nightly meditation in the cave ;)
 

foofighter

Jedi Master
Thanks to everyone for their answers! I think I am more at ease now with what is going on, and can actually start reading Chittick's book with a better perspective.

Some comments on your respective feedback:
Oxajil said:
I think that the Qu'ran is a sandwich, truth between lies. And I think that Ibn al Arabi refers to that ancient knowledge in some of the parts from the Qu'ran.
That is what I expected too when I started reading it, figuring it would be something like that. But what I found was basically one thing, repeated over and over again in different forms. Very hypnotic, I suppose, if you're into the fear-based thing. The basic message is "I am your GOD, fear me. If you believe and obey me, good things happen. If you disbelieve and disobey me, bad things happen". That's it. For about 600 pages. The variation is in the ways of fear, the ways of believing and obeying, and what happens if you do, and what happens if you don't, with the main focus being on the unbeliever part.

The main ways in which truth seems to be wedged in there, or more like squuuueeeezzzed in there, is that this GOD is almost always referring to the "celestial calamities" (or "fiery rocks from the sky" as we would say) as his punishment to the unbelievers. Everything bad that ever happened to the human race, this GOD takes credit for, basically. So if you skip the crediting, yes, you can get some idea of how civilizations were crushed by natural disasters. Other than that, not much going on.

[quote author=Pryf]
I did not read this one.
Maybe you can share one of those references or comparisons, to try to grasp what Ibn al Arabi was seeing, if possible.
[/quote]
So, this is kind of funny. When I first read the introduction by Chittick, and then skipped to Arabis section on "Understanding the Koran", it seemed like they were overall liking the Koran. But now, when I try to find specific instances that shows this, it is much harder. On "opening" (p. xii):
[quote author=Chittick]
The knowledge which is opened up to the seeker is the knowledge of the Koran, the Divine Speech. "Nothing is opened up to any friend of God except the understanding of the Mighty Book" (III 56.2)
[quote author=Arabi]
The perfect inheritor of the Prophet among the friends of God is he who dedicates himself exclusively to God through His Shari'a. Eventually God will open up in his heart the understanding of what He has sent down upon His messenger and prophet, Muhammad, through disclosing Himself to him in his inward dimension. (I 251.3)
[/quote]
Opening is not a goal that every disciple will reach. The least of the necessary qualifications is the "godfearingness" referred to earlier, an attribute which Muslims have always perceived as the epitome of human perfection. As the Koran says, "The most noble among you in God's eyes is the most godfearing"
[/quote]
On the surface of it this seems to promote the state of fear that the Koran creates in its followers. But if I read this with a different attitude it could also mean the opposite, as godfearingness is the *least* of the "necessary qualifications", meaning, instead of being a basic requirement it is not really useful at all.

Here's some commentary on the perfection of Muhammad and the Qu'ran:
[quote author=Chittick]
p241. The Prophet is the most perfect of perfect men, the locus of manifestation par excellence for the divine name Allah. Hence the Prophet synthesizes everything and possesses all knowledge. "He encompasses the knowledge of all knowers who know God, whether those who had gone before or those who would come after" (III 142.27). To say that his character is the Koran means, according to the literal sense of the term, that he brings together all knowledge. In other words, it is the Prophet who has assumed as his character traits all the names of God, since he "brings together all things", by being the qur'an, "that which brings together." "The character of the messenger of God was the Koran and the assumption of the divine names as his own traits" (III 61.2). Coming to know the Koran is to come to know the Prophet, God, and all things."
[/quote]
On the one hand this can be seen as high praise of the book and its messenger. But, put yer tongue in yer cheek, and it becomes the opposite: the message of the Koran is silly, and since the Prophets character is equal to that of the book, the Prophet is equally silly in his character.

It would seem that pretty much all commentary and references I have read by Chittick/Arabi *could* be interpreted with this "tongue in cheek" attitude, hence causing the opposite of its surface value. Maybe that is the only way to make sense of it.

Which brings me to Buddy's comment:
[quote author=Buddy]
My first thought is that you may be assuming there is approval or support for the Qu'ran where there is only an appearance of that. Some writers find it expedient, for one reason or another, to appear to support things in order to avoid certain consequences.
[/quote]
That would certainly make sense, and it was a suspicion I had myself, but wanted to check if others had a differing understanding. I can certainly understand that position myself, as I am constantly forced to lie about pretty much everything when dealing with the community I am in. Still trying to get used to it. Especially now during the feasting/fasting season of Ramadan, when the contradictions are immense (you're supposed to "fast" but everyone "feasts"; most stores are out of sugar because of all the cakebaking!!).

So this conclusion is then summarized well here:
[quote author=Biomiast]
I think for Arabi, it is more like a strategic enclosure. If he wouldn't write in that style, he would be killed in that political environment. His work wouldn't be published this much and we wouldn't hear anything about it.
[/quote]
And that would solve this apparent contradiction, as it is then only apparent rather than actual.

Thanks a bunch :-) Now I can continue reading Chittick's book with a more happy outlook on the content, instead of being stuck in the confused initial state.

And as Biomiast said, I can't really recommend anyone to read the Qu'ran. If you do, then try only a couple of chapters and rest assured that the rest is pretty much the same, over and over again. I got a sore neck from all the headshaking that I went through trying to read it...
 

ana

The Living Force
foofighter said:
[quote author=Chittick]
The knowledge which is opened up to the seeker is the knowledge of the Koran, the Divine Speech. "Nothing is opened up to any friend of God except the understanding of the Mighty Book" (III 56.2)
[quote author=Arabi]
The perfect inheritor of the Prophet among the friends of God is he who dedicates himself exclusively to God through His Shari'a. Eventually God will open up in his heart the understanding of what He has sent down upon His messenger and prophet, Muhammad, through disclosing Himself to him in his inward dimension. (I 251.3)[/quote]
Opening is not a goal that every disciple will reach. The least of the necessary qualifications is the "godfearingness" referred to earlier, an attribute which Muslims have always perceived as the epitome of human perfection. As the Koran says, "The most noble among you in God's eyes is the most godfearing"
[/quote]



Maybe we can compare what Arabi says here with what Gurdjieff call the work, a total surrender of the individual to the search of itself, through tremendous efforts.

But what leads a man to take as the only purpose in his/her life the search for truth?


Chittick said:
The most noble among you in God's eyes is the most godfearing"
Possibily He is talking of those who see the terrible situation in which we are, the World we live in, is a manifestation of an aspect of God we all know STS. If you see this situation, if you feel the horror then maybe you have an oportunity to know other aspect of God.


He also says:
Eventually God will open up in his heart the understanding of what He has sent down upon His messenger and prophet, Muhammad, through disclosing Himself to him in his inward dimension. (I 251.3)
Opening is not a goal that every disciple will reach.
That is the goal; after continous efforts (which largely explains Gurdjieff and other teachings), the individual gets cleansed of lies, has purified himself, allowing the truth to manifest through him/her.

God fearing seems to be a primary need, if not how would we try to find alternatives to our inicial situation?

Of course there are those dreaming that God protect or punish them according to their subservient behavior… but as I see it, that is in any way the take of Arabi ,sufism and others.
Maybe We should try to look with no old prejudices, this seems the only way to find the truth hidden.
 

Oxajil

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Laura also took some small excerpts from the Koran and posted them in the Wave. For example here: http://www.cassiopaea.org/cass/wave12c.htm

foofighter said:
That would certainly make sense, and it was a suspicion I had myself, but wanted to check if others had a differing understanding. I can certainly understand that position myself, as I am constantly forced to lie about pretty much everything when dealing with the community I am in. Still trying to get used to it. Especially now during the feasting/fasting season of Ramadan, when the contradictions are immense (you're supposed to "fast" but everyone "feasts"; most stores are out of sugar because of all the cakebaking!!).
I can relate to that! Being raised in a muslim family (though not a strict one) I kind of wanted the Koran to be a ''good'' thing, so when I read it I was like looking for those ''good'' things, but what I found most was fear mongering and all that kind of stuff. Quite disappointing somehow. Ye the fasting period is a total joke to what I see here. They fast some hours with the thought that they will eat a LOT later. I remember my cousin saying that some people actually gained weight after fasting.
I wonder what the ancient idea is behind fasting if there is any. My brother mentioned that maybe it could be detoxing.. hm
In this thread I read (though most definitely a different way of fasting):

Reasons for fasting – Waste and toxins are stored in the tissues, especially in the fatty and connective tissues, and, as these tissues are liquidated, the stored toxins are released.
sorry for going off-topic
 

foofighter

Jedi Master
Oxajil said:
I can relate to that! Being raised in a muslim family (though not a strict one) I kind of wanted the Koran to be a ''good'' thing, so when I read it I was like looking for those ''good'' things, but what I found most was fear mongering and all that kind of stuff. Quite disappointing somehow. Ye the fasting period is a total joke to what I see here. They fast some hours with the thought that they will eat a LOT later. I remember my cousin saying that some people actually gained weight after fasting.
Around here that's a rule rather than exception. Malaysians are quite obese overall. I read that 50+% are clinically obese or overweight now, and considering the sugary and western diets that are now becoming the norm, I'm not surprised. The traditional cooking also includes LOTS of sugar. And they all avoid exercise as much as possible, and am relying for cars as much as possible. My neighbour gets water from a natural spring which is 100m from his house, and uses his car to go there... insane...

[quote author=Oxajil]
I wonder what the ancient idea is behind fasting if there is any. My brother mentioned that maybe it could be detoxing.. hm
In this thread I read (though most definitely a different way of fasting):

Reasons for fasting – Waste and toxins are stored in the tissues, especially in the fatty and connective tissues, and, as these tissues are liquidated, the stored toxins are released.
[/quote]
That sounds very possible, but it has been twisted into its opposite. For me, I'm going to try the fasting month to do an actual water fast (which is breaking the fasting rules by the way). Last year we only ate fruits during Ramadan, which was also a good way to use it, I think. Noone else does it like that though.
 
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