Jafar Al-Sadiq on Quran

Jafar Al-Sadiq on Quran - fart/5m flé‘SflP/é 021 7/71...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–4. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
Image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 4
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: fart/5m? flé‘SflP/é). 021/ 7/71: aaaan/ ' EARLY SUFI QUR’AN INTERPRETATION (Islamic mysticism ) to Shi ‘ism (the Islamic community that recognizes a series of leaders starting with 'Ali as their Imams or guides). According to Shi‘ite belief: the prophet Muhammad en trusted the spiritual leadership (the imamate) of the Muslim community to his closest male heir, his cousin and son—in-law ‘Ali, who had married his daughter Fatima. ‘Ali, the first Imam, passed on the leadership to his first son, Hasan, the second Imam. Hasan passed it on to his brother H usayn, the third Imam. H usayn was killed light- ing against the Caliph Yazid at the battle of Karbala ’, the central tragic event in Shi ‘ism. One of the few survivors of Husa yn 's family, his son ‘Ali, became the fourth ImamJ and ‘Ali’s son Muhammad Baqir, the fifth. Most Shi‘ite groups are in agreement, then, that the first six Imams are: 1. ‘Ali 2. Hasan ibn ‘Ali 3. Husaynibn ‘Ali 4. ‘Ali ibn Husayn 5. Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Husayn, al—Baqir 6. Ja ‘far ibn Muhammad as-Sfidiq a ‘far is a central figure in Islamic tradition. Although Shi‘ites and Sunnis accept the same basic principles of the shari ‘a, they differ on their view of the authority and leadership role of the Islamic community, and in aspects of Our ’anic interpretation. It was around fa‘far that the Shi‘ite community formed itself as an explicit and articulate version of Islam. To Ja ‘i‘ar are attributed an enormous set of alchemical and astrological writings, and he is considered by tradition to have been the teacher of the famous alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan, although modern scholars have cast doubt on the authen- ticity of the writings attributed to fa ‘far. Theological writings are attributed to ]a ‘far, and he is said to have had a position between determinism and tree will. The legal writings attributed to fa ‘far are the basis for what is called the fa ‘fari school of Islamic jurisprudence. Ja ‘far’s Sufi commentary comes down primarily through the collection of mystical commentaries made by Sulami. What is immediately Striking is the lack of an y particularly Shi‘ite slant to the comments. These Sufi inter- preta tions attributed to ]a ‘riar would be a majorinfluence in the development 76 EARLY SUFI QUR’AN INTERPRETATION of mystical interpretations of the Qur’an. Did early Shi‘ite views of ta ’wil (symbolic interpretation) help found mystical commentary? Ha ve the Shi‘ite aspects of fa ‘far’s commen taty been edited out by later Sufi compilers? This question becomes even more intriguing with the discovery of two manu- scripts that partially overlap with the Sulami version ofja‘far’s Our’an com- mentaiy, but contain explicit Shi‘ite reibrences.‘ In addition, there is a single manuscript of the Sulami— ]a ‘far that contains another explicit Shi‘ite com- mentary in which the family of the Prophet (Muhammad, Ali, Fatima, Ha~ san, and Husayn) are given cosmic and mystical roles} The translation below will use the S ulami- fa ‘far, which is the only text so far to be edited, but it will also include the openly Shi ‘ite passage from the anomalous Salami-fa ‘far text to give a sense of what kind ofShi‘ite mystical commentary may have also been included in the ]a ‘far teXt. The Sulami—Ja‘far commentary is striking for the vividness and self- conlidence, at an apparently very early period, with which it offers a strong mystical interpretation of the Qur’an, focusing on the ltey themes of passing away (fani’) and abiding (baqi’). Sometimes several interpretations of a given verse will be ascribed to Ja ‘far, each introduced by the phrase “ a‘far said” or “As-Sadiq said.” Although the commentary is unified around the general theme of mystical union with the divine beloved, the style of the commen tary varies. Some comments are short and cryptic, others are long and sustained. The selections below focus on the following themes: (1) Shi‘ite interpretation of the “names” known by Adam as the key mem— bers of the family of Muhammad; (2) interpretation of the Qur’anic Moses stories as a paradigm for S uli mystical experience; (3) interpretation of the Our ’anic accounts (53:1—18) of Muhammad ’s prophetic vision; (4) spiritu- ality of ritual Islam, the Ka‘ba, and the orientation of ritual prayer as sym- bolic ofAbrahamic intimacy with the divine; (5) the S ui‘i stress on an interior interpretation onur ’anic accounts of the afterlife,- and ( 6) examples of earl y Sufi letter symbolism. The Shi‘ite Passage from Ja‘far: The F iue Names 2:27: “Adam received from his lord the names." [Ja‘far said:] Before any of his creation existed, God was. He created five creatures from the light of his glory, and attributed to each one of them, one of his names. As the Glorified (mahmt'ttd, he called his Prophet Muhammad [which also means “the praised” or “the deserving—of-praise”]. Being the Sublime (211?) he called the Emir of believers ‘Ali. Being the Creator (fitir) of the heavens and earth, he fashioned the name 77 EARLY SUFI QUR‘AN INTERPRETATION Fatima. Because he had names that were called [in the Qur’an] the most beautiful (husnc‘i), he fashioned two names [from the same Arabic root] for Hasan and Husayn. Then he placed them to the right of the throne.4 Ja‘far’s Intepretation of Qur’anic Accounts of Moses The Our’anic Moses (Musa) is a prototype of the mystical knower (inf), but the Qur’anic accounts of Moses stress more both the intimacy and the intensity ofhis encounter with the deity than the character of the knowledge he attains. Like Abraham (Ibrahim), who was known as the intimate com- panion (khalTl) of the divine, Moses is also renowned for the intimacy of his relations with the deity. In Sura 19:5 l 75 2 Moses is said to be brought near the divine presence as a confidant (najiyyan). There is a major tradition in Islam of intimate conversation (munijét) as a form of private prayer and petition (du‘fi), though such prayer is not as well known as the performed ritual prayer (salé_1).Jr This intimate relationship of human and divine becomes one of the central features ofSufi language. Some of the most moving pas- sages ofSufi literature will be in the form ofmunfijfit. Yet this intimacy coexists with graphic evocations of a we in the face of the transcendent. In the account of Moses’ vision of the divine, the divine presence is so strong that Moses cannot look at it directly; instead he is told to look at the mountain which is destroyed as it encounters the presence of the deity. Moses’ vision at Mt. Sinai (Tfir as-Sinin, or simply at-Tfir) is compared to M uhammad’s prophetic vision of the lote tree of the filrthest limit (53:14). The commentary on the vision of Moses ( or rather non vision, since Moses never really sees the deity) is used to discuss the central Sufi concepts offani’ (passing away or annihilation of the ego-self), baqa’ (the abiding of the person in union With the divine), and half: ’ (the trial or tribu- lation that is an essential aspect ofSuh' spirituality). In the Our ’anic account 01" Moses and the fire, there is a Qur’anic equiv- alent (at least in Sufi interpretations) of the biblical “I am that I am ” (ehyeh asher ehyeh): “I, I am your lord” (inni aria rabbuka).° This duplication of the “I“is used by Sufis in a manner similar to Jewish and Christian exegetes of the “I am that I am” to deny any definable essence or quiddity of the divine. For many Sufis, it is divine self-revela tion, more as act than as content, that is the only true knowledge ofnhe divine. In his commentary, Ja ‘far supplies an explanatory dialogue in which the deity and Moses engage in a more explicit discussion, with the grammatical duplication (I, I am your lord) discussed in terms of the experience of a we and the moment ofmysti- cal annihilation in the divine. 78 EARLY SUFI QUR’AN INTERPRETATION The final Qur’anic passage on Moses discussed in this excerpt from Ja ‘far involves the appearance of M oses before the Pharoah. After the magic of Moses overcomes that of the Pharoah ’s sorcerers, the sorcerers acknowl— edge the God of Moses, saying, “We believe in the lord of the two worlds” —usually interpreted as the lord of heaven and earth. The Pharoah threatens them with mutilation and crucifixion for turning their loyalty to the God of Moses and Aaron (Hamn). Their response, “No harm: to our lord is the return” becomes the occasion for a fa ‘fiarian meditation on the torment, trial, or testing (bali’) that each Sufi must pass through on hhe path to union with the beloved, a theme that will be central to the passages from Junayd in Chapter 8 of this volume. The commentaries offa‘firr and of Tustari presuppose intimate knowledge of the Our’an. A simple word or phrase from the Qur’an is given and the commentary follows. The reader is expected to know from that word or phrase the entire passage. In this chapter, the entire passage is given in each case, so that the reader will be able to consult it. To indicate that the hill citations of the passage were not part of the original text attributed to Ja‘fiir and Tustari, but are the translator’s explanatory interpolations, such passages have been italicized. JA‘FAR’S COMNTARY ON THE QUR‘ANIC MOSES 7:142 We designatedfir M use thirty nights ondtve completed them with ten more; the appointed time of his lord was thus (amplete at forty nights. Mum said to his hrather Harun: “Govern in my place among my people and act in the host interest; do notflallow the way of those who would cause tomption. ” 7:143 When M mo some at our appointed time and his lord spoke to him, he said: “Lord, show me that I might gaze upon you.” He said: ”You will not see me. Look at the mountain. If it stays in place, you will see me.”Bnt when its lord appeared to the mountain, he tamedit to shorter and Moses was strntk down unconscious. When he awoke, he said: “Glory to you! I have turned bath to you in repentance and I om the first of the believers.“ 79 EARLY SUFI QUR'AN INTERPRETATION “\Vhen Musa came to our appointed time and his lord spoke to him."]a‘far said: The appointed time Was the time for seeking a vision. Ja‘far also said: Musa heard words coming forth from his humanity and attributed the words to him [the deity]? and he spoke to him from the selfhood of Musa and his servanthood. Musa was hidden from his self and passed away from his attributes (sife'ztilss). His lord spoke to him from the realities of his meanings. Musa heard his own attribute from his lord, while Muhammad heard from his lord the attribute of his lord and thus was the most praised (abmaa? of the praised (mabmt'sdin). Therefore the station of Muhammad was the lore tree of the furthest boundary while the station of Musa was at-Tfir [Mt. Sinai]. When God spoke to Musa on Tut, he annihilated its attributes so that no vegetation has ever appeared upon it and it is the abode of no one. He said: “Lord, show me that I might gaze upon you!” Ja‘far said: “He confided in his lord concerning the matter of seeing him because he saw the phantom of his8 words upon his heart.” He replied: “You will not see me,” that is, you are not able to see me because you pass away. How can that which passes away ( f onin) find a way to that which abides (bfiqin)? “Look at the mountain.” Ja‘far said: The mountain was struck by the knowledge of beholding, was split and shattered. The mountain was de- stroyed by the mere mention (dbikr) of beholding its lord and Musa was struck down upon seeing the mountain fall to pieces. How would it be, then, if one were to behold his lord with his own eyes, face to face! The lord’s face-to-face vision in respect to the servant is the annihilation of the ser- vant.° The servant's face-to—face vision of the lord and in the lord is enduring.I0 He said: Three things are impossible for servants in regard to their lord: manifestation, contact, and insight. No eye can see him, no heart attain him, and no intellect intuit him. The origin of intuition is innate disposition; the root of connection is the interval of distance; the root of witness is apparition.” Concerning his saying “You will not see me. Look instead at the moun- tain,” Ja‘far said: He occupied him with the mountain and then manifested himself. Were it not for Musa’s preoccupation with the mountain, he would have been killed, struck unconscious, never to awake. Concerning his saying “Glory to you! I have turned back to you in repentance," Ja‘far said: He affirmed the transcendence of his lord, ac- knowledged toward him his own weakness, and disavowed his own intel- lect. “I have returned to you in repentance": I have returned to you from my self and no longer rely upon my knowledge. Knowledge is what you have taught me and intellect is what you have graced me with. “And I am 80 EARLY SUFI QUR’AN INTERPRETATION the first of the believers”: That is, surely you [Allah] cannot be seen in the world.12 20:9 Has tbe account of M usa reaebedyoo? 10 How be saw a fire and said to bis people: “Stay bebind, I make out a fire. Perbaps I can return from it witb an ember or find at tbefire some guidance.” 11 Wben be approarlsed it, be was called: “0 M asa.’ 12 Indeed I, I am your lord. Take ofiryoar sandals. Y on are in tbe sanctifiedvalley of Tutor-I. 13 I am tbe one tube selected you, so listen to robot is revealed! 14 I am Allab, tbere is no god but I. Worsbip me and perform the prayer in remembrance of me. “" 3 20:1 ]-12 “When he came to it, a voice called out: 0 Musa, I, I am your lord.” Ja‘far said: Musa was asked “How did you know that the call was the call of the real?” He said: Because he annihilated me, then encompassed me, and it was as if all the hairs on my body were speaking from all sides about the call, and were themselves on their own power responding to the call! When the lights of awe encompassed me and the lights of majesty and ja- bar-fit addressed me, I knew that I was being addressed on the part of the truth.H The beginning of the address, “Indeed, I” was followed by another “I.” This repetition of the “1” indicated to me that no one but the real can refer to himself with two consecutive phrases. I was astonished and that was the way-station of passing away. So I said: You, you are that which has endured and will endure and Musa has no station with you nor does he dare to speak except that you make him endure in your enduring and give him your attribute so that you are the addresser and the addressee together. He replied: No one can bear my address but I and no one can respond but I. I am the speaker and the spoken-to and you are in—between, a phantom upon whom falls the way—station of speaking. 26:48—50 Tbey said: we believed in tbe lord oftbe two worlds." Tbe lord of Malta andHamn He said: “You believed in bins before I gave you permission. He is your ebiefwbo taagbt you sorcery: you will surely know! I will eat ofyonr bands and legs, alternatively, and crucify you all togetber.” Tbey said' "No barns. To our lord is our return." 81 EARLY SUFI QUR’AN INTERPRETATION the words “he is the one who creates and renews his creation," Ja‘far as-deiq also said: That is, he clothes the enemies in the garb of friends so they might be led along little by little. He clOthes his friends in the garb of enemies that they might not admire themselves.22 Then, at the moment of ‘ death, he renews his creation. Ja‘far’s Letter Symbolism and Mystical Exegesis of the Opening of the Qur’an The first sura of the Qur’an begins with the phrase “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Caring. ” This phrase is also pronounced at the be— ginning of every sura of the Our’an, though it is only with the first that the phrase is considered an integral part or" the sura. The first section of the commentary focuses on this first Qur’anic verse, 1:1, taking each letter (short vowels excluded) of the phrase and discussing its symbolic meaning. For example, the first expression, “in the name 0 , ”in Arabic is bismi. Thus the major letters, B, S, and M,“ will each be attached to a key word based on one of the letters. In another example, Ja‘rar associates the letter A, the Arabic alif, which in Arabic is a straight vertical line, with a column, making a connection not through a key word that begins with alif, but through the shape of the letter. The column Will become central in Sufi meditation on columns of light. These letter-symbols occur at the very beginning of Ja‘far’s commentary. Ja‘far’s commentary on the first words of the Qur’an is an example of the kind of letter symbolism that has been popular in the _ Islamic world to the present day.“ The commentary also contains a fourfold hierarchy of in terpreta tion that might bear in teresting comparison with sim- ilar hierarchies in medieval Kabbalah and Christian mysticism. JA‘FAR'S COMMENTARY ON THE BEGINNING OF THE QUR‘AN I: Introduction: It is related of Ja‘far ibn Muhammad that he said: The book of Allah has four aspects: The expression, the allusion, the subtleties, and the realities. The expression is for the masses, the allusion for the elite, the subtleties for the Godfriends, and the realities for the prophets. 1:1 bismi allahi r-rahmani r-rahirn (In the name afAllah, the Com- pasrimate, the Caring) 1:1: bismi. It is said ofJa‘far ibn Muhammad that he said: The 5 is his en- during (baqfi’) and the r is his names (aSmZz’) and the M is his dominion 88 EARLY SUFI QUR’AN INTERPRETATION (malk). The faith of the believer—his remembrance is through his enduring. The service of the seeker—his remembrance is through his names. The knower passes away from the kingdom into its king. 1:1 He also said: birm has three letters: The B, S, and M. The B is the bub (gate) of prophecy. The S the rin- (secret) of the Prophet to the elite of his community. The M is the kingdom (mulk) of the faith which includes the white and the black. 1:1 It is related that when Ja‘far ibn Muhammad was asked about the verse bismi llfihi r—mhman ar—rahim (In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Caring) he said: The B is the splendor (bah?) ofAllah and the S is his bril- liance (rant—1’) and the M is his glory (maja9. Allah is a God of every thing, the Compassionate to all his creatures, the Caring for his believers espe- cially. Of Ja‘far it is related that he said of the word “Allah” [in this verse] that it is the complete name because it has four letters: the A—and that is the column of unity;“ the first land that is the tablet (leash) of understanding, the second I and that is the tablet (lawh) of prophecy, and the h is the furtheSt reach of allusion. Allah is a singular name, unique, that cannot be attributed to anything; rather all things are attributed to it. Its interpretation is the object of worship which is the God of creatures, yet beyond any perception of what-it-is26 and any comprehension of how—itvisu— veiled from all gaze and imaging, covered by its majesty from all perception. TheSe excerpts are relatively brief, and sometimes cryptic. As the reader proceeds through this volume, however, the key Qur’anic passages and Ja‘farian interpretations should become clearer as they are reflected in a Wide variety of later Sufi literature. Also helping to clarify the fa ‘tiarian exe- gesis is the second example of early Sufi Qur’an interpretation that follows here: the interpretation ofSahl at— Tustari. § 0 O SAHL AT—TUSTARI (FROM THE INTERPRETATION OF THE MAJESTIC QUR’AN) INTRODUCTION The second selection ofSufi exegesis is taken from the Qur’anic commen- tary of Muhammad Sahl ibn ‘Abdullah at- Tustari.” Sahl was born in the town of Tustar, fi'om which he takes his nickname, and died in the famous 89 ...
View Full Document

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern