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The Islamic concept of himmah, as many Gülen scholars have noted, is central to the operation and growth of the Fethullah Gulen movement. This is the name for the regular local fundraising activities to finance its wide educational network or other cultural activities within Turkey or abroad. The concept of himmah (himmet in Turkish), a spiritual virtue in the Islamic Sufi tradition, also holds a key role in Fethullah Gülen‘s understanding of Islam and teaching on the moral education of an ideal Muslim. The Sufi connection should not be surprising as it is well recorded that Gülen’s understanding of Islam has been deeply shaped by the Sufi tradition, which has been an undercurrent of Turkish Islam since its beginning.Despite its significance for Gülen’s teaching, the conceptual meaning of himmah has been given little attention by Gülen scholars. A quick survey of the works conducted on Fethullah Gülen‘s thought or the movement he inspired delivers few results. This is understandable as apart from scholars studying the Sufi tradition, the conceptual meaning and significance of himmah is not well known even among students of Islamic thought. Compounding its relative obscurity among scholars is the challenge of translation. Frequently rendered as spiritual “aspiration,” “yearning,” or “resolve,” this richly suggestive concept is difficult to translate into English with one single word.

 

This paper attempts to clarify the conceptual meaning of himmah in the context of Gülen’s thought through a cross-cultural comparison with the more familiar Christian virtue of “charity.” This paper begins with a discussion of the contemporary meaning of himmah within the Gülen movement, and moves on to discuss its meaning within the Sufi tradition in the second section. The third section examines the Christian virtue of charity, and the fourth compares charity with himmah. The last and concluding part will raise some questions about the practice of the inter-faith dialogue in relation to this comparison of the two key concepts of Islam and Christianity.

I. The Role of Himmet in the Gülen Movement

It is widely known that the Gülen movement identifies itself as hizmet (hizmāt in Arabic), which means “service” in Turkish. Hizmet is the generic name for all the disinterested public activities conducted by the members of this community to fulfill their duties to religion and nation. Specific examples of hizmet are inter-faith dialogue initiatives and the educational network set up in Turkey and abroad. The term is also used more broadly for self-identification by the community members. Hence, a member of the Gülen movement often identifies himself or herself as a member of hizmet.Related to this concept and less known to the outsiders but perhaps more important in terms of Islamic history is the concept of himmet. It has been noted that the twin concepts of hizmet and himmet provide a general conceptual framework for all the economic, cultural, and religious activities of the Gülen community both inside and outside Turkey.[2] Himmet, as another student of this movement notes, is the technical name used for the fundraising gatherings of the community: “The meetings organized by the Gülen community to obtain financial support for its activities, especially its educational activities, are called himmet meetings.”The organizers of these meetings present the past achievements and future goals or projects of the community, and appeal to the religious sentiments of the participants to collect funds for their activities. The participants, mostly local affluent business owners, pledge to make donations for the cause.

 

The Turkish word himmet derives from the Arabic word al-himmah (in Persian himmat). The original Arabic word denotes several interrelated meanings. More commonly it is translated as spiritual “aspiration” or “resolve.” Its other renderings by contemporary translators and commentators include “diligence,” “power,” “will,” “yearning,” “desire,” “purpose,” “ambition,” “intention,” “concentration,” and “determination,” all of which are used with a spiritual connotation. Common to all these translations of himmah is the connotation of spiritual or mystical quest for the divine. This quest requires turning one’s attention and efforts from worldly business toward more noble and urgent matters.There are numerous phrases in the Islamic literature in which himmah appears with this connotation of rising above the affairs of the world. The phrase uluww-i himmat (lofty aspiration) was used by the Persian Sufi poet Farid al-Din Attar to mean “setting oneself high goals and not being satisfied with trivial things.”Another phrase in which himmat appears in relation to rulers is himmat-i buland which can be compared to the virtue known as high-mindedness or magnanimity in the Western tradition. For the first moralist of Islam, Miskawaih, izam alhimmah (composure) stands for “a virtue of the soul which causes it to sustain calmly both the happiness of good fortune and its opposites, including the distress which accompanies death.” Miskawaih defines himmah as a kind of courage.

In a short article entitled “Himmet: Teveccüh, İnfak ve Gayret,” (“Aspiration: Orientation, Charity, and Perseverance”), Gülen appeals to the theological roots of himmet in the Islamic tradition.Gülen puts great emphasis here on the fact that there is a deeper spiritual aspect of himmet beyond its popular aspect associated with spending one’s wealth in God’s path. Gülen particularly notes that himmet must be understood first and foremost in its tasawwufi sense. The common practical usage among public as charity (infak) and perseverance (gayret) is subordinate to this older theological meaning. Gülen further points out the connection between himmet and another tasawwufi term teveccüh (tawajjuh in Arabic). Translated as spiritual “concentration,” “orientation,” or “attentiveness,” tawajjuh literally means turning the face toward something.Tawajjuh is often used in the context of turning one’s face toward God or God’s disclosing itself to the Sufi wayfarer (salik) in return.It is also used in relation to the very personal relationship between the Sheikh (master) and the murid (disciple) in the Sufi orders.[9] In both senses it means the spiritual concentration or attention of the salik through which he hopes to receive the grace of God (either directly or indirectly through the sheikh). In relation to tawajjuh, himmet means orientation toward God with all one’s powers by opening one’s heart to God, and purifying oneself from all material or even spiritual interests and pleasures. One must even put aside the thought of heavenly rewards or spiritual powers, and commit his every deed for the sake of gaining Allah’s pleasure.Gülen also notes a second related sense of himmet in the context of social relationships. Himmet means doing a favor, helping one another, coming to the rescue of another, or reaching out to the needy. This social sense of himmet refers to committing oneself to benevolent action with sincerity on the one hand and God’s reciprocating the tawajjuh and sincerity (ikhlās) of his servant (kul) on the other. The servant’s inaba (turning to God with repentance) is reciprocated by God’s merciful tawajjuh toward the servant. God’s favors and care depends on servant’s constant orientation toward God (tawajjuh) as well as God’s reciprocal tawajjuh in mercy. It is this sense of himmet which bridges over the public meaning of doing good deeds through financial means and the tasawwufi sense conceived by sufis as “spiritual power,” which will be explored in the next section.Gülen stresses that contrary to the popular opinion that equates himmet merely with infaq (spending in the service of God) the latter must be understood only as one aspect of the former.Reminding us of the fact that himmet did not have this specific meaning in the past, Gülen points out that both the public calls for assistance and people’s response to these calls have come to be called himmet through time. The theological aspect of himmet, according to Gülen, subsumes the more practical religious virtues and duties of beneficence such as “infaq,” (charity) “sadaqa” (voluntary almsgiving), and “zakat” (obligatory almsgiving).

 

Gülen also notes that himmet (in the second restricted sense of beneficence) can be conducted not only through wealth but also knowledge, deeds, health, and intelligence. Combining its spiritual and practical sense, himmet can be construed to mean making efforts in the service of one’s religion and nation. Himmet in this sense carries the connotation of striving toward God through serving one’s fellow compatriots, co-religionists, and even all humanity. Gülen concludes his discussion of himmet by remembering Bediüzzaman Said Nursî’s words in the “The Damascus Sermon.” Here Nursî discusses the notion of himmet in the context of national solidarity or fraternity and laments how this notion was successfully applied at his time in the West and almost forgotten in the Islamic world. To quote the important passage on himmet from his sermon in full:

 

[B]ecause of the idea of nationhood which those foreigners obtained from us, an individual becomes as valuable as a nation. For a person’s value is relative to his endeavour [himmet]. If a person’s endeavour is his nation, that person forms a miniature nation on his own. Because of the heedlessness of some of us and the foreigners’ damaging characteristics that we have acquired, and, despite our strong and sacred Islamic nationhood, through everyone saying: “Me! Me!” and considering personal benefits and not the nation’s benefits, a thousand men have become like one man.Said Nursî goes on to emphasize the Aristotelian notion (incorporated later by Aquinas into the Catholic tradition) that man is a political or social being by nature and must act accordingly to become fully human:If a man’s endeavour is limited to himself, he is not a human being, for human beings are by nature social. Man is compelled to consider his fellow humans. His personal life continues through social life.

It can safely be claimed that Gülen is in agreement with the importance of the virtue of putting the service to others before oneself in the name of God. This virtue indeed constitutes the heart of Gülen’s teaching on the moral education of an ideal Muslim.

 

II. Himmah in the Sufi Tradition

 

As Gülen implies in his article, the concept of himmah holds a significant place in the Sufi tradition within Islam. Scholars of Sufism have noted that this is a technical term employed by greatest Sufis of history. Various late medieval Sufi masters such as Ibn Arabi, Suhrawardi, Najm al-Din Kubra, and Abdul-Karim al-Jili or Sufi poets such as Farid al-Din Attar employed this concept in their works.The spiritual powers of earlier mystics such as Hasan al-Basri and Rabi’a al-Adawiyya are also referred to as himmah in the hagiographical literature.This crucial term was often used by Sufis to signify the “determination of the heart to incline itself entirely to God.” Himmah in this sense is an essential quality to possess to be able to follow the arduous Sufi path. A contemporary scholar draws our attention to the significance of himmah to Sufism: “He who has no spiritual aspiration [himmah] or sincere will in seeking God in gratitude or in love cannot have an ambition to follow the path of Sufi walâya [authority].”

 

Various definitions of the term agree in their emphasis on the fact that himmah involves the spiritual quest for God, and this quest demands first and foremost the further qualities of purity, sincerity, and concentration. According to a contemporary scholar of Islam, himmah implies “total commitment to the goal of achieving spiritual perfection and closeness to God.”[18] In a classic work of Sufism Istilahat al-Sufiya (A Glossary of Sufi Technical Terms), himmah was defined as a term “applied to the freeing of the heart for the desired objects . . .; to the primal sincerity of the aspirant…; and to the concentration of the spiritual aspirations to insure the purity of inspirations.”[19] According to still another scholarly source, himmah is “the quality of perseverance or striving towards God” and “its opposite is al-hiss,” which means “distraction or inattention from concentration upon God.”

 

For the famous thirteenth century Andalusian Sufi Ibn al-Arabi, who exerted great influence on the course of Sufism after him, himmah is a pure force peculiar to the human being, which is either natural or acquired later in life.As an Ibn Arabi scholar notes, “The phenomenon of himmah is . . . something of much more than marginal significance in Ibn al-Arabi’s thought.”Ibn Arabi held that “it was only possible for human beings to come to a true understanding of the relationship that exists and should exist between creature and Creator if they were to become endowed with this power of himmah themselves.”

 

Ibn Arabi uses himmah in his major work al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya (The Meccan Illuminations) especially in reference to the ideal of perfect man (al-insan al-kamil), which is characterized by “the inner condition of sidq [truthfulness] or pure spiritual intention (himma).” Himmah, according to Arabi, is the preserve of the spiritual elite as it is “one of the distinguishing signs of the highest forms of true faith in God” and the “natural effect of divine ‘victorious support’ (nasr).”[24] Nasr is a term that combines “the notions of divine assistance and the ‘victory’ resulting from that support.”Ibn Arabi’s coupling of himmah and nasr is especially important for the purposes of this paper as this relationship between the two roughly corresponds to the close connection between charity and grace in the Christian tradition.In Futuhat Ibn Arabi uses the phrase al-fi’l bi’l-himma to refer to the act of “producing effects . . . in the outside world through concentration.” This somewhat supernatural ability is closely related to the development of the faculty of imagination. The 20th century French orientalist Henry Corbin highlights this active (poetic) sense of himmah in Ibn Arabi’s work and uses the phrase “the creative power of the heart” to capture its richly suggestive meaning.[27] According to Corbin, this creative power is essentially “the very power with which God creates and sustains the cosmos, the power by means of which God brought all the cosmic domains, subtle, physical, and intellectual into existence,” but is also something that human beings can partake of.[28] The difference between the mystic’s himmah and the divine himmah is that “God exercises this creative power with perfect attentiveness and concentration whereas the mystic always exercises it with some admixture of inattentiveness.”

rumiforum.org/islamic-himmah-and-christian-charity-an-att...

 

آزاد دائرۃ المعارف، ویکیپیڈیا سے

 

’’ جنت‘‘ لفظی معنی ہر اس باغ کے ہیں جس کے درخت زمین کو چھپا لیں۔ کل بستان ذی شجر یستر باشجارہ الارض (راغب اصفہانی) ’’ الجنۃ‘‘ سے اصطلاح شرعی میں مراد وہ عظیم الشان باغ ہے جو بے شمار نعمتیں لیے ہوئے عالم آخرت میں نیک کاروں کے لیے مخصوص ہے اور آج نظروں سے مستور ہے، اس کا نام جنت یا تو اس لیے پڑا کہ وہ دنیا کے باغوں سے مشابہ ہے۔ گومشابہت بہت دور کی سہی۔ اور یا اس لیے کہ اس کی نعمتیں ابھی مستور ہیں۔ سمیت الجنۃ اما تشبیھا بالجنۃ فی الارض وان کان بینھما بون واما السترہ نعمھا عنا (راغب)[1] وہ باغ جس کے متعلق انبیا کی تعلیمات پرایمان لا کر نیک اور اچھے کام کرنے والوں کو خوشخبری دی گئی ہے۔ یہ ایسا حسین اور خوبصورت باغ ہے جس کی مثال کوئي نہیں یہ مقام مرنے کے بعد قیامت کے دن ان لوگوں کو ملے گا جنہوں نے دنیا میں ایمان لا کر نیک اور اچھے کام کیے ہیں۔ قرآن مجید نے جنت کی یہ تعریف کی ہے کہ اس میں نہریں بہتی ہوں گی۔ عالیشان عمارتیں ہوں گی،۔ خدمت کے لیے حور و غلمان ملیں گے۔ انسان کی تمام جائز خواہشیں پوری ہوں گی۔ اور لوگ امن اور چین سے ابدی زندگی بسر کریں گے۔

 

جنت کی نہروں میں زیادہ مشہور کوثر و سلسبیل ہیں۔ کہا جاتا ہے کہ ان میں جو پانی بہے گا وہ شہد اور دودھ ایسا ہوگا۔ اس کو شراب طہور ’’پینے کی پاکیزہ شے‘‘ کہا گیا ہے۔ قرآن میں نہروں کی تعداد کا کوئی ذکر نہیں۔ کوثر کے متعلق بعض علما کا خیال ہے کہ وہ نہر نہیں، حوض ہے۔ قیامت کے دن نیک لوگ رسول اللہ صلی اللہ علیہ و آلہ وسلم کے ہاتھوں کوثر کا پانی پئیں گے۔ اسی لیے حضور کو ساقی کوثر بھی کہتے ہیں۔ قرآن پاک میں ایک سورۃ کوثر بھی ہے۔ جنت کی اعلی ترین نعمت خدا کا دیدار بھی ہوگا۔ یہی وہ مقام ہے جہاں سے آدم و حوا کو آزمائش کے لیے نکالا گیا تھا۔

 

بہشت کے آٹھ درجے

1. دارلخلد، یہ عام لوگوں کے واسطے ہے،

2. دارالسلام، جو فقیروں اور صابروں کا مقام ہے،

3. دارالمقام، جو مالدار شکر گزاروں کا مقام ہے،

4. عدن، یہ عابدوں، زاہدوں، غازیوں، سخیوں اور اماموں کے واسطے ہے،

5. دار القرار، اس میں حافظ و عالم رہیں گے،

6. جنت النعیم، یہ شہدوں اور مؤذنوں کے لیے ہے،

7. جنت الماویٰ، جو شہدائے اکبر محسنین اور اولیاءکرام کا مقام ہے،

8. جنت الفردوس، جو نبیوں اور رسولوں اور علما عاملین کی جگہ ہے

 

التأويل من المصطلحات المختلف عليها في علوم الدين والقرآن عند المسلمين فمنهم من قال:يطلق في القرآن والسنة ويراد به التفسير، كما يراد به الحقيقة التي يؤول إليها الأمر أو الخبر.[1] تأويل الكلام هو الرجوع به إلى مراد المتكلم، وهو على قسمين: الأول: بيان مراد المتكلم، وهذا هو التفسير. الثاني: الموجود الذي يؤول إليه الكلام، أي ظهور المتكلم به إلى الواقع المحسوس.[2] وهناك من قال بأن التفسير غير التأويل مثل قول (الثعلبي):التفسير بيان وضع اللفظ إما حقيقة أو مجازاً، والتأويل تفسير باطن اللفظ

 

التأويل في اللغة هو الارجاع. أوّلَ الشئ أي أرجعه، وآل إليه الشئ أي رجع إليه [4]. إذن فكلمة (آل) (إيالاً) و(أيلولةً) و(مآلاً) تعني رجع وصار و(آل) عنه تعني ارتد. و(آل) على القوم تعني ولي عليهم فهم رعاياه ويرجعون اليه وهو مسئول عنهم. و(أوّل) الشئ إليه أرجعه، و(أوّل) الكلام يعني فسره... فكأن التأويل هو إرجاع للكلمة المرادة إلى أصل أبعد من المعنى الحرفي لها. أي أن التأويل إرجاع أبعد من إرجاع المفردة العادية، أو، قل، هو إرجاع ثنائي، أولا يتم إرجاع الكلمة إلى الذهن لمعرفة معناها، ثم يتم إرجاع المعنى إلى ما وراء المعنى المصطلح عليه للتوصل إلى (معنى المعنى)[5].

 

ولعله لا توجد كلمة في العربية أثارت جدلا بين الباحثين مثل كلمة تأويل. فهي الكلمة التي امتازت بفتح الأفق واكتشاف المثير والجديد، كما أنها هي نفسها التي أظهرت الطوائف الإسلامية باختلافها الموضوعي وغير الموضوعي الذي وصل حد الاقتتال، كما هي بذاتها التي أخرجت المدارس النقدية والفكرية والفنية المتميزة ودارت حولها أفكارها ومفاهيمها، وهي (هي) التي تثير جدلا واسعا الآن بين مفكري العصر الحديث، وهي (هي) التي عن طريقها يبلغ الأديب والفقيه ذروة غاياته.

 

ولمعرفة التأويل أكثر لا بد من التطرق لعدد من المصطلحات اللغوية التي تتبع لكلمة تأويل مثل (الدلالة) و(التفسير) و(اللغة).

يقول الإمام أبو جعفر محمد بن جرير الطبري في مقدمة تفسيره جامع البيان في تأويل آي القرآن:

تأويلقد قلنا فيما مضى من كتابنا هذا في وجوه تأويل القرآن، وأن تأويل جميع القرآن على أوجه ثلاثة:

أحدها لا سبيل إلى الوصول إليه، وهو الذي استأثر الله بعلمه، وحجب علمه عن جميع خلقه، وهو أوقات ما كان من آجال الأمور الحادثة، التي أخبر الله في كتابه أنها كائنة، مثل: وقت قيام الساعة، ووقت نزول عيسى ابن مريم، ووقت طلوع الشمس من مغربها، والنفخ في الصور، وما أشبه ذلك.

 

والوجه الثاني: ما خص الله بعلم تأويله نبيه صلى الله عليه وسلم دون سائر أمته، وهو ما فيه مما بعباده إلى علم تأويله الحاجة، فلا سبيل لهم إلى علم ذلك إلا ببيان الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم لهم تأويله.

 

والثالث منها: ما كان علمه عند أهل اللسان الذي نزل به القرآن، وذلك علم تأويل عربيته وإعرابه، لا يوصل إلى علم ذلك إلا من قبلهم.

 

فإذ كان ذلك كذلك، فأحق المفسرين بإصابة الحق - في تأويل القرآن الذي إلى علم تأويله للعباد السبيل - أوضحهم حجة فيما تأول وفسر، مما كان تأويله إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم دون سائر أمته من أخبار رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم الثابتة عنه: إما من جهة النقل المستفيض، فيما وجد فيه من ذلك عنه النقل المستفيض، وإما من جهة نقل العدول الأثبات، فيما لم يكن فيه عنه النقل المستفيض، أو من جهة الدلالة المنصوبة على صحته; وأصحهم برهانا - فيما ترجم وبين من ذلك - مما كان مدركا علمه من جهة اللسان: إما بالشواهد من أشعارهم السائرة، وإما من منطقهم ولغاتهم المستفيضة المعروفة، كائنا من كان ذلك المتأول والمفسر، بعد أن لا يكون خارجا تأويله وتفسيره ما تأول وفسر من ذلك، عن أقوال السلف من الصحابة والأئمة، والخلف من التابعين وعلماء الأمة

وتفسير الطبري من أكبر كتب التفسير، يقع في ثلاثين جزءاً، وهو مطبوع عدة طبعات. وهو تفسير شامل فسّر فيه الطبري القرآن الكريم آية آية، وكلمة كلمة. وهو يقسِّم السورة إلى مجموعات، تضم كل مجموعة آية أو أكثر، ويبدأ تفسير كل مجموعة بقوله: (القول في تأويل قوله تعالى...)، ثم يُبَيِّن المعنى في إيجاز بأسلوبه وعبارته، ثم يقول: (وبمثل الذي قلنا في تأويل الآية قال جماعة من أهل التأويل)، ويعقب ذلك مباشرة بقوله: (ذِكْر مَنْ قال ذلك) فيذكر الروايات المنقولة في الآية أو الكلمة التي يفسرها عن النبي Mohamed peace be upon him.svg أو مفسري الصحابة والتابعين وتابعيهم. وإذا كان هناك اختلاف في تفسير شيء من القرآن بين أهل التفسير فإنه يقول: (وقد اختلف أهل التأويل في تأويل قوله... فقال بعضهم... وقال آخرون)

 

إن التأويل (حركة) متصاعدة لا تتوقف فإذا توقفت تحتم وجود تجاوز زمكاني للنص لهذا فإن النص لا يعيش الا في ظل التأويل.. ومن هنا ظهرت في العصر الحديث حركات إسلامية (فردية)عديدة تبنت مفهوما جديدا للنص القرآني كما ظهر مفكرون أصحاب وجهات نظر مغايرة لمألوف التراث الإسلامي ولعل تاريخ هذه الحركة الفكرية الجديدة قد استهلت بالإمام محمد عبده الذي قاد هجمة شرسة على مؤسسة الدين الرسمية في البلاد (الأزهر) ومما قاله عن الأزهر (مكثت عشرة أعوام أنظف رأسي عن قاذوراته ولم أستطع).. ولعل هذه القطيعة العجيبة بين شيخ أزهري وبجدته[9] كان سببها الرئيس هي تأويلاته الحداثوية التي لاقت اعتراضا شرسا من اصحاب العمامات. يقاسم الشيخ محمد عبده ريادته الدكتور طه حسين الذي أحدث ثورة في عالم الفكر الديني ومن أشهر مظاهر ثورته كتابه (في الشعر الجاهلي) الذي رفض فيه ما نحل للشعراء الجاهليين من أشعار من قبل المفسرين وكتاب السيرة. وهناك أيضا محمد عمارة الذي تأثر بأفكار المعتزلة وحقق لهم الكثير من الكتب المهمة ومن أهم كتبه (التراث في ضوء العقل). وهناك الكاتب (علي حرب) الذي تناول أزمة الحداثة والفكر الإسلامي، وهناك أيضا الكاتبة فاطمة المرنيسي. وهناك أيضا الدكتور نصر حامد أبو زيد الذي كاد أن يكلفه تأويله حياته الزوجية ففر وزوجته إلى المهجر..

 

ولكن يمكننا أن نقول بأن أشهر دعاة التأويل في العصر الحديث وأهمهم هو الأستاذ محمود محمد طه وتأتي أهمية طه من أنه الوحيد من كل دعاة التجديد والتنوير الذي أصبغ على أفكاره صفة التنظيمية فانشأ جماعة الاخوان الجمهوريين التي انتشرت في السودان منذ منتصف القرن الماضي. كما أن طه قد امتاز بتأويله المترابط للنص الديني وربطه لذلك التأويل بالحياة العامة فهو رجل دين ينظر للحياة الحديثة من داخل الدين. ويتحدث عن رؤيته الحديثة في شأن الدولة وسياستها واقتصادها وحكمها من منظور تأويلي تجديدي لاقى استحسان العديدين في الاوساط التنويرية ولكنه أيضا قوبل باستهجان وغضب الكثيرين في الدوائر الدينية الرسمية مثل الأزهر ورابطة العالم الإسلامي

 

ar.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D8%AA%D8%A3%D9%88%D9%8A%D9%84

 

The term jannāt ʿadni ("Gardens of Eden" or "Gardens of Perpetual Residence" is used in the Qur'an for the destination of the righteous. There are several mentions of "the Garden" in the Qur'an (2:35, 7:19, 20:117), while the Garden of Eden, without the word ʿadn, is commonly the fourth layer of the Islamic heaven and not necessarily thought as the dwelling place of Adam. The Quran refers frequently over various Surah about the first abode of Adam and his wife, including surat Sad, which features 18 verses on the subject (38:71–88), surat al-Baqara, surat al-A'raf, and surat al-Hijr although sometimes without mentioning the location. The narrative mainly surrounds the resulting expulsion of Adam and Eve after they were tempted by Shaitan. Despite the Biblical account, the Quran mentions only one tree in Eden, the tree of immortality, which God specifically claimed it was forbidden to Adam and Eve. Some exegesis added an account, about Satan, disguised as a serpent to enter the Garden, repeatedly told Adam to eat from the tree, and eventually both Adam and Eve did so, resulting in disobeying God. These stories are also featured in the hadith collections, including al-Tabari.

  

An artists representation of "Muhammed's Paradise". A Persian miniature from The History of Mohammed, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris.

The Paradise is described as surrounded by eight principal gates, each level generally being divided into a hundred degrees guarded by angels (in some traditions Ridwan). The highest level is known as firdaws (sometimes called Eden) or Illiyin. Entrants will be greeted by angels with salutations of peace or As-Salamu Alaykum. Furthermore, paradise is considered to be "as vast as the heavens and the earth".

 

In the Quran, "the Garden" is described with material delights, such as beautiful maidens, precious stones, delicious foods, and constantly flowing water—the latter especially appealing to the desert dwelling Arabs, who spend most of their life in arid lands. The Islamic texts describes life for its immortal inhabitants as: one that is happy—without hurt, sorrow, fear or shame—where every wish is fulfilled. Traditions relate that inhabitants will be of the same age (33 years), and of the same standing. Their life is one of bliss including wearing sumptuous robes, bracelets and perfumes as they partake in exquisite banquets served in priceless vessels by immortal youths (Houri), as they recline on couches inlaid with gold or precious stones.

 

According to Muslim belief, everything one longs for in this world will be there in Paradise.

 

They will eat delicious food and drink, and every bowl will have a new taste. They will take eructation which will digest the food and there will be perfumed sweating for the digestion of water. Inhabitants will rejoice in the company of their parents, spouses, and children (provided they were admitted to paradise)—conversing and recalling the past.

 

The food in Jannah never rotting and so delicious it will make any person on earth live without feeling hunger forever. The dwellings for inhabitants will be pleasant, with lofty gardens, shady valleys, fountains scented with camphor or ginger; rivers of water, milk, honey and Sharab-un-Tahoora (pure drink); delicious fruits of all seasons without thorns;

 

One day in paradise is considered equal to a thousand years on earth. Palaces are made from bricks of gold, silver, pearls, among other things. Traditions also note the presence of horses and camels of "dazzling whiteness", along with other creatures. Large trees whose shades are ever deepening, mountains made of musk, between which rivers flow in valleys of pearl and ruby.

 

The names of four rivers are Saihan (Syr Darya), Jaihan (Amu Darya), Furat (Euphrates) and Nil (Nile). Salsabil is the name of a spring that is the source of the rivers of Rahma (mercy) and Al-Kawthar (abundance). Sidrat al-Muntaha is a Lote tree that marks the end of the seventh heaven, the boundary where no creation can pass.[citation needed]

 

In spite of the goodly dwellings given to the inhabitants of paradise, the approval of God and nearness to him is considered greater. According to the Quran, God will bring the elect near to his throne (‘arsh), a day on which "some faces shall be shining in contemplating their Lord." The vision of God is regarded as the greatest of all rewards, surpassing all other joys. The true beauty of paradise is also understood as the joy of beholding God, the creator.

 

Besides the material notion of the paradise, those descriptions are also interpreted as allegories, explaining the state of joy people will get. For some theologicans, seeing God is not a question of sight, but of awareness of Gods presence. The Persian theologian Al-Ghazali said:

 

This life belongs to the world of earth and the world of visibility; the hereafter belongs to the world of transcendental and the world of beings. By this life I understand your state before death, by hereafter I understand your state after death ... However, it is impossible to explain the world of beings in this life by any other means than allegories.

 

Inhabitants of Jannah

According to the Quran, the basic criterion for salvation in the afterlife is the belief in the oneness of God (tawḥīd), Angels of God, revealed books of God, all messengers of God, as well as repentance to God, and doing good deeds. Though one must do good deeds and believe in God, salvation can only be attained through God's judgment.

 

Regarding salvation from hell, according to hadith literature, Muhammad said, “Surely a time will come over hell when its gates shall be blown by wind, there shall be none in it, and this shall be after they have remained therein for many years.” Still in the Hadith literature, Muhammad is reported to have said, "Allah will bring out people from the Fire and admit them into Paradise."Otherwise some hadiths indicate, that the majority of mankind will not access heaven.[21] According to Sunni Islam, a Muslim, even if condemned to hell, will eventually enter Heaven.

 

As in life there are many trials which one must face. This is also a condition individuals must encounter in order to enter Jannah.

 

Or do ye think that ye shall enter the Garden (of bliss) without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: "When (will come) the help of Allah?" Ah! Verily, the help of Allah is (always) near!

 

— Qur'an, sura 2 (al-Baqarah), ayah 214

Did ye think that ye would enter Heaven without Allah testing those of you who fought hard (In His Cause) and remained steadfast?

 

— Qur'an, sura 3 (Al-i-Imran), ayah 142

Non-Muslims in Jannah

There are different opinions among scholars in regard whether Non-Muslims could enter Jannah. Some Muslims and Islamic scholars argued Surah 2:62 indicates Jannah is not exclusively for Muslims.

 

Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans—those who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness—will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.2:62

 

On the other hand, other scholars hold this verse is abrogated by Surah 3:85 and just applied until the arrival of Muhammad. For example, before Jesus was born, Jewish will enter Jannah alike Christians, who lived before Muhammad enter Jannah, but every religious group needs to accept the newest prophet.

 

And whoever desires other than Islam as religion—never will it be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.3:85

 

Scholars like Ibn Arabi did not hold the first to be abrogated by the latter, since "Islam" in this context, does not apply to Islam as a religious tradition, but to "submission".Ghazali distinguished between the "saved" and "those who will attain success". Therefore, righteous Non-Muslims will neither enter hell nor Jannah, but will stay in Araf.

 

Further those, who regard Jannah as exclusively for Muslims argue, that Islam is the "completed" and "perfected" religion and it is necessary to believe in the whole teaching of God, the prophets and the angels that just can be done by a Muslim.

 

According to the Islamic theologican Süleyman Ateş, argues Muslims had made a mistake Jewish and Christians made before by claiming paradise being exclusive for Muslims. Further he states, that those who believes in God without associating any partners with Him, believes in the hereafter without any doubt and do good and useful deeds can enter paradise, conditions several religions offer. He also refers to the Quran 5:66 that there are good and bad people among any religion, and even not all Muslims may enter paradise.

 

Finally, most scholars agree that Non-Muslims who did not hear the message of Islam and Non-Muslims who died in childhood are eligible for Jannah as well:

 

… And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger (to give warning).17:15

 

Number of people who will enter Jannah

Several precise numbers are mentioned in the hadith literature regarding the extremely high standards required to qualify for Jannah. Initially, a select elite group of 70,000 people from the followers of Muhammad will enter Jannah without any accountability of their sins.

 

After the above group, only 1 out of 100 people from the rest of humanity (Muslim and Non-Muslim) would qualify for Jannah. It is understood that despite this small percentage, the actual number of people who would make it to Jannah would be higher, as Allah would forgive the sins of many people, allowing them to enter Jannah as well.

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jannah

 

Esoteric interpretation of the Quran, taʾwīl (تأويل), is the allegorical interpretation of the Quran or the quest for its hidden, inner meanings. It was a synonym of conventional interpretation in its earliest use, but it came to mean a process of discerning its most fundamental understandings. Esoteric interpretations do not usually contradict the conventional (in this context called exoteric) interpretations; instead, they discuss the inner levels of meaning of the Quran.The words Ta'wil and Tafsir have been translated to mean explanation, elucidation, interpretation, and commentary; but from the end of the 8th century onwards, 'ta'wil' was commonly regarded as the esoteric or mystical interpretation of the Quran, while the conventional exegesis of the Quran was called "tafsir". The term batin refers to the inner or esoteric meaning of a sacred text, and zahir to the apparent or exoteric meaning.[3] Esoteric interpretations are found in Shia and Sunni interpretations of the Quran. A hadith which states that the Quran has an inner meaning, and that this inner meaning conceals a yet deeper inner meaning, and so on (up to seven successive levels of deeper meaning), has sometimes been used in support of this view.Scholars agree that some passages of the Quran leave certain ideas implied rather than stated and that, from the outset, the Quran cautions that some verses are literal in meaning, while others, named "mutashabihat", are metaphorical in meaning:"It is God who has sent down to you the book: In it are verses clear (muhkamat), they are the foundation of the book, others are unspecific (mutashabihat)."[6] (Quran 3:7)

Esoteric exegesis attempts to unveil the inner meaning of the Quran by moving beyond the apparent point of the verses and relating Quranic verses to the inner and the metaphysical dimensions of consciousness and existence. The exoteric aspect is the literal word, the law, and the material text of the Quran, and the esoteric aspect is the hidden meaning. Esoteric interpretations are more suggestive than declarative and are 'allusions' rather than 'explanations' and indicate possibilities as much as they demonstrate the insights of each writer. However the Qur'an says this about doing so (Sahih Int. Translation): "As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]. And no one knows its [true] interpretation except Allah. But those firm in knowledge say, "We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord." And no one will be reminded except those of understanding." (from verse 3:7) Only a few examples are given here. In 7:172, the Quran states:"And when Your Lord summoned the descendants of Adam, and made them testify about themselves. "Am I not your Lord?" They said, "Yes, we testify." Thus you cannot say on the Day of Resurrection we were unaware of this." According to the above verse, before the Creation, God called the future humanity out of the loins of the not-yet-created Adam and addressed them with the words: "Am I not your Lord?", and they answered: "Yes, we witness it". In Islam, this "primordial covenant" is the metahistorical foundation between God and humankind. The Quran first mentions an 'inner meaning' (ta'wil) in 18:65–82 in the story of Moses and Khidr, a mystical figure of the ancient Middle East who reluctantly accepts Moses as his traveling student. When Khidr performs strange acts, Moses questions him about them. Khidr gives him the 'inner explanation' (ta'wil) of his actions. Along the way, the esoteric being damages a boat belonging to poor people. Moses is so disturbed that he keeps protesting despite his agreement to keep silent. At the end of the journey, Khidr tells Moses the reasons for his inexplicable actions: "As for the ship, it belonged to poor people working at sea, so I intended to cause defect in it as there was after them a king who seized every ship by force."In 56:79, the Quran describes itself: "This is an honorable Quran, in a book hidden, which none can touch except the purified." In the exoteric sense, the Quran requires Muslims to perform ritual cleansing of their hands before touching it. Esoteric interpreters were of the opinion that the Quran implies that individuals with spiritual purity are able to grasp its meaning. Attar of Nishapur, a 12th-century mystical poet, gives a mystical interpretation of the Quranic story of the descent of Adam and Eve from Paradise to Earth. According to Attar, "the man whose mind and vision are ensnared by heaven's grace must forfeit that same grace, for only then can he direct his face To his true Lord." Occasionally, a verse may be interpreted in a sense very different from its conventional meaning. For example, Hamadani, in his book Tamheedat ('Preludes'), interprets 104:6–7 ("It is a fierce fire created by God, to penetrate into the hearts."), which conventionally refers to the punishment in hell, to be the passion of divine love. Hamadani interprets 14:48 ("On the Day when the earth is changed into another earth, and the heavens, and they will emerge before God"), which conventionally describes the Day of Judgment as a description of the moment of spiritual awakening or enlightenment. Sufis believe that Quran's initial letters (Muqatta'at) conceal mysteries that can not be fully expressed in words and should be understood as mystic experiences. In Sufi commentaries of the Quran, Sufism concepts are commonly related such as the hierarchical levels of realities in human experience (human, supra-sensible, and divine levels), the various states of consciousness such as passing away in God (fana) and subsisting through God (baqa), and the ideas concerning the six subtleties (lataif-e-sitta). A hadith attributed to Muhammad is essential in understanding the inward aspects of the Quran, and it is fundamental to Quranic exegesis:"The Quran possesses an external appearance and a hidden depth, an exoteric meaning and an esoteric meaning. This esoteric meaning in turn conceals an esoteric meaning so it goes on for seven esoteric meanings (seven depths of hidden depth)."There is a statement made by the Imam, Jafar Sadiq (d. 765 CE): "The book of God comprises four things: the statement set down, the allusions, the hidden meanings relating to the supra-sensible world, and the exalted spiritual doctrines. The literal statement is for the ordinary believers. The allusions are the concern of the elite. The hidden meanings pertain to the friends of God. The exalted spiritual doctrines are the province of the prophets."

 

Esoteric interpretations

The most important author of esoteric interpretation prior to the 11th century was Sulami (d. 1021 CE); without his work, most of the very early Sufi commentaries would not have been preserved. Sulami's major commentary was a book named haqaiq al-tafsir ("Truths of Exegesis"), a compilation of commentaries of earlier Sufis.

 

Sahl Tustari (d. 896) was among the most important mystics in the early formative period of Islamic mysticism. His commentary (tafsir al-Quran al-azim) was compiled later by his disciples and preserved, as a commentary on the Quran. Tustari's commentary does not comprise interpretations of every single verse, but there are comments on a selection of verses.

 

A spiritual commentary of the Quran is attributed to Jafar al-Sadiq (Tafsir Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq), but its authenticity remains suspect. It conveys a spurious textual tradition and has little reliable material, but the items cited on Jafar Sadiq's authority in Sulami's book appear to be based on identifiable chains of transmitters.

 

From the 11th century, several other works appear such as commentaries by Qushayri (d. 1074), Daylami (d. 1193), Shirazi (d. 1209), and Suhrawardi (d. 1234). These works include material from Sulami's books as well as the author's own contributions. Many works are written in Persian, such as the works of Maybudi (d. 1135) kashaf al-asrar ("the unveiling of the secrets").

 

Rumi (d. 1273) wrote a vast amount of mystical poetry in his book Mathnawi. Rumi makes heavy use of the Quran in his poetry, a feature that is sometimes omitted in translations of his work. Rumi's manner of incorporating Quranic verses into his poetry is notable in that he does not use them as prooftexts but intertwines Quranic verses with his poetry.

 

Simnani (d. 1336) wrote two influential works of esoteric exegesis on the Quran. He reconciled notions of God's manifestation through and in the physical world with the sentiments of Sunni Islam. Simnani was a prolific author, 154 titles are ascribed to him, of which at least 79 exist today.

 

Comprehensive Sufi commentaries appear in the 18th century such as the work of Ismail Hakki Bursevi (d. 1725). His work ruh al-Bayan ("The Spirit of Elucidation") is a voluminous exegesis. Written in Arabic, it combines the author's own ideas with those of his predecessors (notably, Ibn Arabi and Ghazali).

 

Shia Islam is a branch of Islam in which one finds some of the most esoteric interpretations on the nature of the Quran. Shia interpretations of the Quran concern mainly issues of authority where the concept of Imamat is paramount. In Twelver Shia Islam, there are mainly two theological schools: the Akhbari and the Ususli. The former school interprets the Quran mainly through reliance upon traditions (hadith) ascribed to the Imams. The latter school gives more power to independent reasoning and judgment (ijtihad). Ismaili interpretation shares common ground with Sufism. The method is called kashf, an "unveiling" to the heart of the interpreter, and it is dependent upon the master, the grace of God, and the spiritual capacity of the interpreter.

 

Validity of esoteric interpretations

There is almost no dispute among Muslims that the Quran has concealed meanings. However, not every esoteric interpretation of the Quran is necessarily valid. Some interpreters are known to have overplayed the allegorical aspects of the Quran by claiming privileged understanding of its contents and distorting its meaning.The authority of the person who extracts such meanings is also a matter of debate. Mainstream theologians were willing to accept the interpretations if certain conditions were met.

 

One of the most important criteria is that the interpretation should not conflict with the literal meaning of the Quran. Suyuti (d. 1505CE) believed that exegesis should be rigorous to avoid misunderstanding. Taftazani (d. 1390) believed that pure gnosis and perfection of faith can be achieved when the subtle allusions of the Quran are harmonized with the literal sense.

 

Kristin Zahra Sands, in the beginning of her introduction, asks questions:

 

How can one begin to say what God "meant" by His revelation?

How does one balance the desire to understand the meaning of the Quran with the realistic fear of reducing it to the merely human and individualistic?

How, most basically, is one best to approach the Quran to discover its richness and transforming possibilities?

According to Sands, Quranic interpretation is an endless task and is different for each individual. Also, the language and the type of discourse that are chosen in interpretation varies in each commentator.

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esoteric_interpretation_of_the_Quran

Once there, egoism becomes stimulated by the subtle forces they have evoked, the emotional nature becomes more sensitive and more fluid, the imaginative power becomes more active and is less restrained. If a person then falls victim to spiritual error regarding this state, the result is swollen vanity, superstitious credulity, emotions run riot, and wild imagination. The astral plane, also called the astral world, is a plane of existence postulated by classical (particularly neo-Platonic), medieval, oriental, and esoteric philosophies and mystery religions.The astral plane, also called the astral world, is a plane of existence postulated by classical (particularly neo-Platonic), medieval, oriental, and esoteric philosophies and mystery religions. It is the world of the celestial spheres, crossed by the soul in its astral body on the way to being born and after death, and is generally believed to be populated by angels, spirits or other immaterial beings. In the late 19th and early 20th century the term was popularised by Theosophy and neo-Rosicrucianism. Another view holds that the astral plane or world, rather than being some kind of boundary area crossed by the soul, is the entirety of spirit existence or spirit worlds to which those who die on Earth go, and where they live out their non-physical lives. Some writers conflate this realm with heaven or paradise or union with God itself, and others do not. P. Yogananda wrote in Autobiography of a Yogi, "The astral universe . . . is hundreds of times larger than the material universe . . .[with] many astral planets, teeming with astral beings." (p.416) When Alice Bailey writes of seeing "Masters . . . upon the inner spiritual planes [who]. . . work with Christ and the planetary hierarchy," she refers to a vision she had of the unseen astral realm that these and countless other beings inhabit. Christ being in that realm, it is hard to construe it as a non-heaven. The Barzakh, olam mithal or intermediate world in Islam, and the "World of Yetzirah" in Lurianic Kabbalah are related concepts., and is generally believed to be populated by angels, spirits or other immaterial beings. In the late 19th and early 20th century the term was popularised by Theosophy and neo-Rosicrucianism. Another view holds that the astral plane or world, rather than being some kind of boundary area crossed by the soul, is the entirety of spirit existence or spirit worlds to which those who die on Earth go, and where they live out their non-physical lives. Some writers conflate this realm with heaven or paradise or union with God itself, and others do not. P. Yogananda wrote in Autobiography of a Yogi, "The astral universe . . . is hundreds of times larger than the material universe . . .[with] many astral planets, teeming with astral beings." (p.416) When Alice Bailey writes of seeing "Masters . . . upon the inner spiritual planes [who]. . . work with Christ and the planetary hierarchy," she refers to a vision she had of the unseen astral realm that these and countless other beings inhabit. Christ being in that realm, it is hard to construe it as a non-heaven.In Islam, the soul and the body are independent of each other. This is significant in Barzakh, because only a person's soul goes to Barzakh and not their physical body.[10] Since one's soul is divorced from their body in Barzakh, the belief is that no progress or improvements to one's past life can be made. If a person experienced a life of sin and worldly pleasures, one cannot try to perform good deeds in order to reach Jannah. Whatever one does in his or her lifetime is final and cannot be changed or altered in Barzakh.the Barzakh or Alam-e-Araf is not only where the human soul resides after death but it is also a place that the soul can visit during sleep and meditation. Ibn 'Arabi, defines Barzakh as the intermediate realm or "isthmus". It is between the World of Corporeal Bodies and the World of Spirits, and is a means of contact between the two worlds. Without it, there would be no contact between the two and both would cease to exist. It is described as simple and luminous, like the World of Spirits, but also able to take on many different forms just like the World of Corporeal Bodies can. In broader terms Barzakh, “is anything that separates two things”. It has been described as the dream world in which the dreamer is in both life and death. . In Tibetan Buddhism, bardo is the central theme of the Bardo Thodol (literally Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State), the Tibetan Book of the Dead.Metaphorically, bardo can describe times when our usual way of life becomes suspended, as, for example, during a period of illness or during a meditation retreat. Such times can prove fruitful for spiritual progress because external constraints diminish. However, they can also present challenges because our less skillful impulses may come to the foreground, just as in the sidpa bardo.The intermediate being who makes the passage in this way from one existence to the next is formed, like every living being, of the five aggregates (skandha). His existence is demonstrated by the fact that it cannot have any discontinuity in time and space between the place and moment of death and those of rebirth, and therefore it must be that the two existences belonging to the same series are linked in time and space by an intermediate stage. The intermediate being is the Gandharva, the presence of which is as necessary at conception as the fecundity and union of the parents. Furthermore, the Antarāparinirvāyin is an Anāgamin who obtains parinirvāṇa during the intermediary existence. As for the heinous criminal guilty of one of the five crimes without interval (ānantarya), he passes in quite the same way by an intermediate existence at the end of which he is reborn necessarily in hell.What is an intermediate being, and an intermediate existence? Intermediate existence, which inserts itself between existence at death and existence at birth, not having arrived at the location where it should go, cannot be said to be born. Between death—that is, the five skandhas of the moment of death—and arising—that is, the five skandhas of the moment of rebirth—there is found an existence—a "body" of five skandhas—that goes to the place of rebirth. This existence between two realms of rebirth (gatī) is called intermediate existence.Originally bardo referred only to the period between one life and the next, and this is still its normal meaning when it is mentioned without any qualification. There was considerable dispute over this theory during the early centuries of Buddhism, with one side arguing that rebirth (or conception) follows immediately after death, and the other saying that there must be an interval between the two. With the rise of mahayana, belief in a transitional period prevailed. Later Buddhism expanded the whole concept to distinguish six or more similar states, covering the whole cycle of life, death, and rebirth. But it can also be interpreted as any transitional experience, any state that lies between two other states. Its original meaning, the experience of being between death and rebirth, is the prototype of the bardo experience, while the six traditional bardos show how the essential qualities of that experience are also present in other transitional periods. By refining even further the understanding of the essence of bardo, it can then be applied to every moment of existence. The present moment, the now, is a continual bardo, always suspended between the past and the future.In Sri Aurobindo's philosophy the Intermediate zone refers to a dangerous and misleading transitional spiritual state between the ordinary consciousness and true spiritual realisation. Similar notions can be found in mystical literature, such as "the astral plane" and "the hall of illusion." The Theosophist W. Q. Judge used the similar notion of "astral intoxication" Barzakh can also refer to a person. Chronologically between Jesus and Mohammad is the contested Prophet Khalid. Ibn 'Arabi considers this man to be a “Barzakh” or the Perfect Human Being. Chittick explains that the Perfect Human acts as the Barzakh or "isthmus" between God and the world. Ibn 'Arabi's story of Prophet Khalid is a story of Perfect Human being.

Khalid's story is of a Prophet whose message never emerged because before he died, he told his sons to open his tomb forty days after his death to receive the message of Barzakh. The sons, however, feared they would be looked down upon for opening their dead father's tomb, therefore they decided not to exhume their father. Thus, his message was never shared. An Ottoman Scholar explained that for Khalid to give the knowledge of Barzakh he would have to travel through the different worlds and then return, but because he was not exhumed, his message was never heard. Ibn 'Arabi explains that because this mission ended in failure, it does not conflict with The Prophet Mohammed’s statement: “ am nearest of men to Jesus son of Mary, for there is no prophet between him and me. The Barzakh, olam mithal or intermediate world in Islam, and the "World of Yetzirah" in Lurianic Kabbalah are related concepts. Plato and Aristotle taught that the stars were composed of a type of matter different from the four earthly elements - a fifth, ethereal element or quintessence. In the "astral mysticism" of the classical world the human psyche was composed of the same material, thus accounting for the influence of the stars upon human affairs. In his commentaries on Plato's Timaeus, Proclus wrote; Man is a little world (mikros cosmos). For, just like the Whole, he possesses both mind and reason, both a divine and a mortal body. He is also divided up according to the universe. It is for this reason, you know, that some are accustomed to say that his consciousness corresponds with the nature of the fixed stars, his reason in its contemplative aspect with Saturn and in its social aspect with Jupiter, (and) as to his irrational part, the passionate nature with Mars, the eloquent with Mercury, the appetitive with Venus, the sensitive with the Sun and the vegetative with the Moon. Such doctrines were commonplace in mystery-schools and Hermetic and gnostic sects throughout the Roman Empire and influenced the early Christian church. Among Muslims the "astral" world-view was soon rendered orthodox by Quranic references to the Prophet's ascent through the seven heavens. Scholars took up the Greek Neoplatonist accounts as well as similar material in Hindu and Zoroastrian texts. The expositions of Ibn Sina (Avicenna), the Brotherhood of Purity and others, when translated into Latin in the Norman era, were to have a profound effect upon European mediaeval alchemy and astrology. By the 14th century Dante was describing his own imaginary journey through the astral spheres of Paradise. Throughout the Renaissance, philosophers, Paracelsians, Rosicrucians and alchemists continued to discuss the nature of the astral world intermediate between earth and the divine. Once the telescope established that no spiritual heaven was visible around the solar system, the idea was superseded in mainstream science.

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astral_plane

In the very centre of Hell, condemned for committing the ultimate sin (personal treachery against God), is the Devil, referred to by Virgil as Dis (the Roman god of the underworld; the name "Dis" was often used for Pluto in antiquity, such as in Virgil's Aeneid). The arch-traitor, Lucifer was once held by God to be fairest of the angels before pride caused his rebellion against God and resulted in his expulsion from Heaven. Lucifer is a giant, terrifying beast trapped waist-deep in the ice, fixed and suffering. He has three faces, each a different color: one red (the middle), one a pale yellow (the right), and one black (the left):

... he had three faces: one in front bloodred;

and then another two that, just above

the midpoint of each shoulder, joined the first;

and at the crown, all three were reattached;

the right looked somewhat yellow, somewhat white;

the left in its appearance was like those

who come from where the Nile, descending, flows.

Dorothy L. Sayers notes that Satan's three faces are thought by some to suggest his control over the three human races: red for the Europeans (from Japheth), yellow for the Asiatic (from Shem), and black for the African (the race of Ham). All interpretations recognize that the three faces represent a fundamental perversion of the Trinity: Satan is impotent, ignorant, and full of hate, in contrast to the all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving nature of God.Lucifer retains his six wings (he originally belonged to the angelic order of Seraphim, described in Isaiah 6:2), but these are now dark, bat-like, and futile: the icy wind that emanates from the beating of Lucifer's wings only further ensures his own imprisonment in the frozen lake. He weeps from his six eyes, and his tears mix with bloody froth and pus as they pour down his three chins. Each face has a mouth that chews eternally on a prominent traitor. Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus dangle with their feet in the left and right mouths, respectively, for their involvement in the assassination of Julius Caesar (March 15, 44 BC) – an act which, to Dante, represented the destruction of a unified Italy and the killing of the man who was divinely appointed to govern the world.In the central, most vicious mouth is Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Christ. Judas is receiving the most horrifying torture of the three traitors: his head is gnawed inside Lucifer's mouth while his back is forever flayed and shredded by Lucifer's claws. According to Dorothy L. Sayers, "just as Judas figures treason against God, so Brutus and Cassius figure treason against Man-in-Society; or we may say that we have here the images of treason against the Divine and the Secular government of the world."

At about 6:00 P.M. on Saturday evening, Virgil and Dante begin their escape from Hell by clambering down Satan's ragged fur, feet-first. When they reach Satan's navel, the poets pass through the center of the universe and of gravity from the Northern Hemisphere of land to the Southern Hemisphere of water. When Virgil changes direction and begins to climb "upward" towards the surface of the Earth at the antipodes, Dante, in his confusion, initially believes they are returning to Hell. Virgil indicates that the time is halfway between the canonical hours of Prime (6 a.m.) and Terce (9 a.m.) – that is, 7:30 A.M of the same Holy Saturday which was just about to end. Dante is confused as to how, after about an hour and a half of climbing, it is now apparently morning. Virgil explains that as a result of passing through the Earth's center into the Southern Hemisphere, which is twelve hours ahead of Jerusalem, the central city of the Northern Hemisphere (where, therefore, it is currently 7:30 P.M.).

Virgil goes on to explain how the Southern Hemisphere was once covered with dry land, but the land recoiled in horror to the north when Lucifer fell from Heaven and was replaced by the ocean. Meanwhile, the inner rock Lucifer displaced as he plunged into the center of the earth rushed upwards to the surface of the Southern Hemisphere to avoid contact with him, forming the Mountain of Purgatory. This mountain – the only land mass in the waters of the Southern Hemisphere – rises above the surface at a point directly opposite Jerusalem. The poets then ascend a narrow chasm of rock through the "space contained between the floor formed by the convex side of Cocytus and the underside of the earth above,"moving in opposition to Lethe, the river of oblivion, which flows down from the summit of Mount Purgatory. The poets finally emerge a little before dawn on the morning of Easter Sunday (April 10, 1300 A.D.) beneath a sky studded with stars (Canto XXXIV).

The Inferno tells the journey of Dante through Hell, guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil. In the poem, Hell is depicted as nine concentric circles of suffering located within the Earth; it is the "realm ... of those who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellowmen." As an allegory, the Divine Comedy represents the journey of the soul toward God, with the Inferno describing the recognition and rejection of sin

The poem begins on the night before Good Friday in the year 1300, "halfway along our life's path" (Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita). Dante is thirty-five years old, half of the biblical life expectancy of 70 (Psalms 89:10, Vulgate), lost in a dark wood (understood as sin), assailed by beasts (a lion, a leopard, and a she-wolf) he cannot evade, and unable to find the "straight way" (diritta via) – also translatable as "right way" – to salvation (symbolized by the sun behind the mountain). Conscious that he is ruining himself and that he is falling into a "low place" (basso loco) where the sun is silent ('l sol tace), Dante is at last rescued by Virgil, and the two of them begin their journey to the underworld. Each sin's punishment in Inferno is a contrapasso, a symbolic instance of poetic justice; for example, fortune-tellers have to walk with their heads on backwards, unable to see what is ahead, because that was what they had tried to do in life:

they had their faces twisted toward their haunches

and found it necessary to walk backward,

because they could not see ahead of them.

... and since he wanted so to see ahead,

he looks behind and walks a backward path.

Allegorically, the Inferno represents the Christian soul seeing sin for what it really is, and the three beasts represent three types of sin: the self-indulgent, the violent, and the malicious.These three types of sin also provide the three main divisions of Dante's Hell: Upper Hell, outside the city of Dis, for the four sins of indulgence (lust, gluttony, avarice, anger); Circle 7 for the sins of violence; and Circles 8 and 9 for the sins of malice (fraud and treachery). Added to these are two unlike categories that are specifically spiritual: Limbo, in Circle 1, contains the virtuous pagans who were not sinful but were ignorant of Christ, and Circle 6 contains the heretics who contradicted the doctrine and confused the spirit of Christ. The circles number 9, with the addition of Satan completing the structure of 9 + 1 = 10.

 

Purgatorio

Having survived the depths of Hell, Dante and Virgil ascend out of the undergloom, to the Mountain of Purgatory on the far side of the world. The Mountain is on an island, the only land in the Southern Hemisphere, created by the displacement of rock which resulted when Satan's fall created Hell[18] (which Dante portrays as existing underneath Jerusalem[19]). The mountain has seven terraces, corresponding to the seven deadly sins or "seven roots of sinfulness."The classification of sin here is more psychological than that of the Inferno, being based on motives, rather than actions. It is also drawn primarily from Christian theology, rather than from classical sources.However, Dante's illustrative examples of sin and virtue draw on classical sources as well as on the Bible and on contemporary events.Love, a theme throughout the Divine Comedy, is particularly important for the framing of the sin on the Mountain of Purgatory. While the love that flows from God is pure, it can become sinful as it flows through humanity. Humans can sin by using love towards improper or malicious ends (Wrath, Envy, Pride), or using it to proper ends but with love that is either not strong enough (Sloth) or love that is too strong (Lust, Gluttony, Greed). Below the seven purges of the soul is the Ante-Purgatory, containing the Excommunicated from the church and the Late repentant who died, often violently, before receiving rites. Thus the total comes to nine, with the addition of the Garden of Eden at the summit, equaling ten.Allegorically, the Purgatorio represents the Christian life. Christian souls arrive escorted by an angel, singing In exitu Israel de Aegypto. In his Letter to Cangrande, Dante explains that this reference to Israel leaving Egypt refers both to the redemption of Christ and to "the conversion of the soul from the sorrow and misery of sin to the state of grace." Appropriately, therefore, it is Easter Sunday when Dante and Virgil arrive.The Purgatorio is notable for demonstrating the medieval knowledge of a spherical Earth. During the poem, Dante discusses the different stars visible in the southern hemisphere, the altered position of the sun, and the various timezones of the Earth. At this stage it is, Dante says, sunset at Jerusalem, midnight on the River Ganges, and sunrise in Purgatory.

 

Islamic philosophy

In 1919, Professor Miguel Asín Palacios, a Spanish scholar and a Catholic priest, published La Escatología musulmana en la Divina Comedia ("Islamic Eschatology in the Divine Comedy"), an account of parallels between early Islamic philosophy and the Divine Comedy. Palacios argued that Dante derived many features of and episodes about the hereafter from the spiritual writings of Ibn Arabi and from the Isra and Mi'raj or night journey of Muhammad to heaven. The latter is described in the Hadith and the Kitab al Miraj (translated into Latin in 1264 or shortly before as Liber Scalae Machometi, "The Book of Muhammad's Ladder"), and has significant similarities to the Paradiso, such as a sevenfold division of Paradise,[39] although this is not unique to the Kitab al Miraj.

Some "superficial similarities" of the Divine Comedy to the Resalat Al-Ghufran or Epistle of Forgiveness of Al-Ma'arri have also been mentioned in this debate. The Resalat Al-Ghufran describes the journey of the poet in the realms of the afterlife and includes dialogue with people in Heaven and Hell, although, unlike the Kitab al Miraj, there is little description of these locations,and it is unlikely that Dante borrowed from this work.Dante did, however, live in a Europe of substantial literary and philosophical contact with the Muslim world, encouraged by such factors as Averroism ("Averrois, che'l gran comento feo" Commedia, Inferno, IV, 144, meaning "Averrois, who wrote the great comment") and the patronage of Alfonso X of Castile. Of the twelve wise men Dante meets in Canto X of the Paradiso, Thomas Aquinas and, even more so, Siger of Brabant were strongly influenced by Arabic commentators on Aristotle. Medieval Christian mysticism also shared the Neoplatonic influence of Sufis such as Ibn Arabi. Philosopher Frederick Copleston argued in 1950 that Dante's respectful treatment of Averroes, Avicenna, and Siger of Brabant indicates his acknowledgement of a "considerable debt" to Islamic philosophy.

Although this philosophical influence is generally acknowledged, many scholars have not been satisfied that Dante was influenced by the Kitab al Miraj. The 20th century Orientalist Francesco Gabrieli expressed skepticism regarding the claimed similarities, and the lack of evidence of a vehicle through which it could have been transmitted to Dante. Even so, while dismissing the probability of some influences posited in Palacios' work,Gabrieli conceded that it was "at least possible, if not probable, that Dante may have known the Liber scalae and have taken from it certain images and concepts of Muslim eschatology". Shortly before her death, the Italian philologist Maria Corti pointed out that, during his stay at the court of Alfonso X, Dante's mentor Brunetto Latini met Bonaventura de Siena, a Tuscan who had translated the Kitab al Miraj from Arabic into Latin. Corti speculates that Brunetto may have provided a copy of that work to Dante.René Guenon, in The Esoterism of Dante, rejected the influence of Ibn Arabi (direct or indirect) on Dante.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inferno_(Dante)

Damascus

 

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For other uses, see Damascus (disambiguation).

Damascus

دمشق Dimashq

 

View of Damascus from a bank of Barada river.

Nickname(s): (Al-Fayhaa) The Fragrant City

 

Damascus

 

Coordinates: 33°30′47″N 36°17′31″E / 33.51306°N 36.29194°E / 33.51306; 36.29194

Country Syria

Governorates Damascus Governorate, Capital City

Government

- Governor Bishr Al Sabban

Area

- City 573 km2 (221.2 sq mi)

- Metro 1,200 km2 (463.3 sq mi)

Elevation 600 m (1,969 ft)

Population (2007)[citation needed]

- City over 4 million

- Metro 6,500,000

Time zone EET (UTC+2)

- Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)

Area code(s) Country code: 963, City code: 11

Demonym Damascene

Damascus (Arabic: دمشق‎, transliteration: Dimashq, also commonly known as الشام ash-Shām) is the capital and largest city of Syria. It is one of the the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and its current population is estimated at about 4,000,000[citation needed]. The city is a governorate by itself, and the capital of the governorate of Rif Dimashq ("Rural Damascus").

   

Etymology

In Arabic, the city is called دمشق الشام (Dimashq ash-Shām), although this is often shortened to either Dimashq or ash-Shām by the citizens of Damascus, of Syria and other Arab neighbors. Ash-Shām is an Arabic term for north and for Syria (Syria—particularly historical Greater Syria—is called Bilād ash-Shām—بلاد الشام, "land of the north"—in Arabic.) The etymology of the ancient name "Damascus" is uncertain, but it is suspected to be pre-Semitic. It is attested as Dimašqa in Akkadian, T-ms-ḳw in Egyptian, Dammaśq (דמשק) in Old Aramaic and Dammeśeq (דמשק) in Biblical Hebrew. The Akkadian spelling is the earliest attestation, found in the Amarna letters, from the 14th century BCE. Later Aramaic spellings of the name often include an intrusive resh (letter r), perhaps influenced by the root dr, meaning "dwelling". Thus, the Qumranic Darmeśeq (דרמשק), and Darmsûq (ܕܪܡܣܘܩ) in Syriac.[1][2]

  

History

Ancient City of Damascus*

UNESCO World Heritage Site

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

State Party Syria

Type Cultural

Criteria i, ii, iii, iv, vi

Reference 20

Region** Arab States

Inscription history

Inscription 1979 (3rd Session)

* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.

** Region as classified by UNESCO.

 

Ancient history

Excavations at Tell Ramad on the outskirts of the city have demonstrated that Damascus has been inhabited as early as 8,000 to 10,000 BC. It is due to this that Damascus is considered to be among the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. However, Damascus is not documented as an important city until the coming of the Aramaeans, Semitic nomads who arrived from Mesopotamia. It is known that it was the Aramaeans who first established the water distribution system of Damascus by constructing canals and tunnels which maximized the efficiency of the Barada river. The same network was later improved by the Romans and the Umayyads, and still forms the basis of the water system of the old part of Damascus today. It was mentioned in Genesis 14 as existing at the time of the War of the Kings.

 

According to the 1st century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in his twenty-one volume Antiquities of the Jews, Damascus (along with Trachonitis), was founded by Uz, the son of Aram. Elsewhere, he stated:

 

Nicolaus of Damascus, in the fourth book of his History, says thus: "Abraham reigned at Damascus, being a foreigner, who came with an army out of the land above Babylon, called the land of the Chaldeans: but, after a long time, he got him up, and removed from that country also, with his people, and went into the land then called the land of Canaan, but now the land of Judea, and this when his posterity were become a multitude; as to which posterity of his, we relate their history in another work. Now the name of Abraham is even still famous in the country of Damascus; and there is shown a village named from him, The Habitation of Abraham.

 

Damascus is designated as having been part of the ancient province of Amurru in the Hyksos Kingdom, from 1720 to 1570 BC. (MacMillan, pp. 30–31). Some of the earliest Egyptian records are from the 1350 BC Amarna letters, when Damascus-(called Dimasqu) was ruled by king Biryawaza. In 1100 BC, the city became the center of a powerful Aramaean state called Aram Damascus. The Kings of Aram Damascus were involved in many wars in the area against the Assyrians and the Israelites. One of the Kings, Ben-Hadad II, fought Shalmaneser III at the Battle of Qarqar. The ruins of the Aramean town most probably lie under the eastern part of the old walled city. After Tiglath-Pileser III captured and destroyed the city in 732 BC, it lost its independence for hundreds of years, and it fell to the Neo-Babylonian Empire of Nebuchadnezzar starting in 572 BC. The Babylonian rule of the city came to an end in 538 BC when the Persians under Cyrus captured the city and made it the capital of the Persian province of Syria.

  

Greco-Roman

Damascus first came under western control with the giant campaign of Alexander the Great that swept through the near east. After the death of Alexander in 323 BC, Damascus became the site of a struggle between the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires. The control of the city passed frequently from one empire to the other. Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander's generals, had made Antioch the capital of his vast empire, a decision that led Damascus' importance to decline compared with the newly founded Seleucid cities such as Latakia in the north.

 

In 64 BC, the Roman general Pompey annexed the western part of Syria. The Romans occupied Damascus and subsequently incorporated it into the league of ten cities known as the Decapolis because it was considered such an important center of Greco-Roman culture. According to the New Testament, St. Paul was on the road to Damascus when he received a vision, was struck blind and as a result converted to Christianity. In the year 37, Roman Emperor Caligula transferred Damascus into Nabataean control by decree.[citation needed] The Nabataean king Aretas IV Philopatris ruled Damascus from his capital Petra. However, around the year 106, Nabataea was conquered by the Romans, and Damascus returned to Roman control.

 

Damascus became a metropolis by the beginning of the second century and in 222 it was upgraded to a colonia by the Emperor Septimius Severus. During the Pax Romana, Damascus and the Roman province of Syria in general began to prosper. Damascus's importance as a caravan city was evident with the trade routes from southern Arabia, Palmyra, Petra, and the silk routes from China all converging on it. The city satisfied the Roman demands for eastern luxuries.

 

Little remains of the architecture of the Romans, but the town planning of the old city did have a lasting effect. The Roman architects brought together the Greek and Aramaean foundations of the city and fused them into a new layout measuring approximately 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) by 750 metres (2,500 ft), surrounded by a city wall. The city wall contained seven gates, but only the eastern gate (Bab Sharqi) remains from the Roman period. Roman Damascus lies mostly at depths of up to five meters (16.4 ft) below the modern city.

 

The old borough of Bab Tuma was developed at the end of the Roman/Byzantine era by the local Eastern Orthodox community. According to the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Paul and Saint Thomas both lived in that neighborhood. Roman Catholic historians also consider Bab Tuma to be the birthplace of several Popes such as John V and Gregory III.

  

Islamic Arab period

 

The Umayyad Mosque

Alsayyida Zaynab shrine domeDamascus was conquered by the Rashidun Caliphate during the reign of Umar by forces under Khaled ibn al-Walid in 634 CE. Immediately thereafter, the city's power and prestige reached its peak when it became the capital of the Umayyad Empire, which extended from Spain to India from 661 to 750. In 744, the last Umayyad caliph, Marwan II, moved the capital to Harran in the Jazira,[3] and Damascus was never to regain the political prominence it had held in that period.

 

After the fall of the Umayyads and the establishment of the Abbasid caliphate in 750, Damascus was ruled from Baghdad, although in 858 al-Mutawakkil briefly established his residence there with the intention of transferring his capital there from Samarra. However, he soon abandoned the idea. As the Abbasid caliphate declined, Damascus suffered from the prevailing instability, and came under the control of local dynasties.

 

In 970, the Fatimid Caliphs in Cairo gained control of Damascus. This was to usher in a turbulent period in the city's history, as the Berber troops who formed the backbone of the Fatimid forces became deeply unpopular among its citizens. The presence in Syria of the Qaramita and occasionally of Turkish military bands added to the constant pressure from the Bedouin. For a brief period from 978, Damascus was self-governing, under the leadership of a certain Qassam and protected by a citizen militia. However, the Ghouta was ravaged by the Bedouin and after a Turkish-led campaign the city once again surrendered to Fatimid rule. From 1029 to 1041 the Turkish military leader Anushtakin was governor of Damascus under the Fatimid caliph Al-Zahir, and did much to restore the city's prosperity.

 

It appears that during this period the slow transformation of Damascus from a Graeco-Roman city layout - characterised by blocks of insulae — to a more familiar Islamic pattern took place: the grid of straight streets changed to a pattern of narrow streets, with most residents living inside harat closed off at night by heavy wooden gates to protect against criminals and the exactions of the soldiery.

  

Seljuks and Crusader rule

 

The statue of Saladin in front of Damascus citadel.

Azem Palace.

Damascus WallsWith the arrival of the Seljuk Turks in the late 11th century, Damascus again became the capital of independent states. It was ruled by a Seljuk dynasty from 1079 to 1104, and then by another Turkish dynasty - the Burid Emirs, who withstood a siege of the city during the Second Crusade in 1148 . In 1154 Damascus was conquered from the Burids by the famous Zengid Atabeg Nur ad-Din of Aleppo, the great foe of the Crusaders. He made it his capital, and following his death, it was acquired by Saladin, the ruler of Egypt, who also made it his capital. Saladin rebuilt the citadel, and it is reported that under his rule the suburbs were as extensive as the city itself. It is reported by Ibn Jubayr that during the time of Saladin, Damascus welcomed seekers of knowledge and industrious youth from around the world, who arrived for the sake of "undistracted study and seclusion" in Damascus' many colleges.

 

In the years following Saladin's death in 1193, there were frequent conflicts between different Ayyubid sultans ruling in Damascus and Cairo. Damascus was the capital of independent Ayyubid rulers between 1193 and 1201, from 1218 to 1238, from 1239 to 1245, and from 1250 to 1260. At other times it was ruled by the Ayyubid rulers of Egypt. Damascus steel gained a legendary reputation among the Crusaders, and patterned steel is still "damascened". The patterned Byzantine and Chinese silks available through Damascus, one of the Western termini of the Silk Road, gave the English language "damask".

  

Mamluk rule

Ayyubid rule (and independence) came to an end with the Mongol invasion of Syria in 1260, and following the Mongol defeat at Ain Jalut in the same year, Damascus became a provincial capital of the Mamluk Empire, ruled from Egypt, following the Mongol withdrawal.

  

Timurlane

In 1400 Timur, the Turco-Mongol conqueror, besieged Damascus. The Mamluk sultan dispatched a deputation from Cairo, including Ibn Khaldun, who negotiated with him, but after their withdrawal he put the city to sack. The Umayyad Mosque was burnt and men and women taken into slavery. A huge number of the city's artisans were taken to Timur's capital at Samarkand. These were the luckier citizens: many were slaughtered and their heads piled up in a field outside the north-east corner of the walls, where a city square still bears the name burj al-ru'us, originally "the tower of heads".

 

Rebuilt, Damascus continued to serve as a Mamluk provincial capital until 1516.

  

The Ottoman conquest

 

Khan As'ad Pasha was built in 1752In early 1516, the Ottoman Turks, wary of the danger of an alliance between the Mamluks and the Persian Safavids, started a campaign of conquest against the Mamluk sultanate. On 21 September, the Mamluk governor of Damascus fled the city, and on 2 October the khutba in the Umayyad mosque was pronounced in the name of Selim I. The day after, the victorious sultan entered the city, staying for three months. On 15 December, he left Damascus by Bab al-Jabiya, intent on the conquest of Egypt. Little appeared to have changed in the city: one army had simply replaced another. However, on his return in October 1517, the sultan ordered the construction of a mosque, taqiyya and mausoleum at the shrine of Shaikh Muhi al-Din ibn Arabi in al-Salihiyah. This was to be the first of Damascus' great Ottoman monuments.

 

The Ottomans remained for the next 400 years, except for a brief occupation by Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt from 1832 to 1840 . Because of its importance as the point of departure for one of the two great Hajj caravans to Mecca, Damascus was treated with more attention by the Porte than its size might have warranted — for most of this period, Aleppo was more populous and commercially more important. In 1560 the Taqiyya al-Sulaimaniyya, a mosque and khan for pilgrims on the road to Mecca, was completed to a design by the famous Ottoman architect Sinan, and soon afterwards a madrasa was built adjoining it.

  

The destroyed Christian quarter of Damascus, 1860.Perhaps the most notorious incident of these centuries was the massacre of Christians in 1860, when fighting between Druze (most probably supported by foreign countries to weaken the economical power) and Maronites in Mount Lebanon spilled over into the city. Several thousand Christians were killed, with many more being saved through the intervention of the Algerian exile Abd al-Qadir and his soldiers (three days after the massacre started), who brought them to safety in Abd al-Qadir's residence and the citadel. The Christian quarter of the old city (mostly inhabited by Catholics), including a number of churches, was burnt down. The Christian inhabitants of the notoriously poor and refractory Midan district outside the walls (mostly Orthodox) were, however, protected by their Muslim neighbours.

 

American Missionary E.C. Miller records that in 1867 the population of the city was 'about' 140,000, of whom 30,000 where Christians, 10,000 Jews and 100,000 'Mohammedans' with less than 100 Protestant Christians.[4]

  

Rise of Arab nationalism

In the early years of the twentieth century, nationalist sentiment in Damascus, initially cultural in its interest, began to take a political colouring, largely in reaction to the turkicisation programme of the Committee of Union and Progress government established in Istanbul in 1908. The hanging of a number of patriotic intellectuals by Jamal Pasha, governor of Damascus, in Beirut and Damascus in 1915 and 1916 further stoked nationalist feeling, and in 1918, as the forces of the Arab Revolt and the British army approached, residents fired on the retreating Turkish troops.

  

Modern

 

The Turkish Hospital in Damascus on 1 October 1918, shortly after the entry of the 4th Australian Light Horse Regiment.

Damascus in flames as the result of the French air raid on October 18, 1925.On 1 October 1918, the forces of the Arab revolt led by Nuri as-Said entered Damascus. The same day, Australian soldiers from the 4th and 10th Light Horse Regiments reinforced with detachments from the British Yeomanry Mounted Division entered the city and accepted its surrender from the Turkish appointed Governor Emir Said (installed as Governor the previous afternoon by the retreating Turkish Commander)[1][2]. A military government under Shukri Pasha was named. Other British forces including T. E. Lawrence followed later that day, and Faisal ibn Hussein was proclaimed king of Syria. Political tension rose in November 1917, when the new Bolshevik government in Russia revealed the Sykes-Picot Agreement whereby Britain and France had arranged to partition the Arab east between them. A new Franco-British proclamation on 17 November promised the "complete and definitive freeing of the peoples so long oppressed by the Turks." The Syrian Congress in March adopted a democratic constitution. However, the Versailles Conference had granted France a mandate over Syria, and in 1920 a French army commanded by the General Mariano Goybet crossed the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, defeated a small Syrian defensive expedition at the Battle of Maysalun and entered Damascus. The French made Damascus capital of their League of Nations Mandate of Syria.

 

When in 1925 the Druze revolt in the Hauran spread to Damascus, the French suppressed it brutally, bombing and shelling the city. The area of the old city between Al-Hamidiyah Souq and Medhat Pasha Souq was burned to the ground, with many deaths, and has since then been known as al-Hariqa ("the fire"). The old city was surrounded with barbed wire to prevent rebels infiltrating from the Ghouta, and a new road was built outside the northern ramparts to facilitate the movement of armored cars.

 

On 21 June 1941, Damascus was captured from the Vichy French forces by the Allies during the Syria-Lebanon campaign.

 

In 1945 the French once more bombed Damascus, but on this occasion British forces intervened and the French agreed to withdraw, thus leading to the full independence of Syria in 1946 . Damascus remained the capital. With the influx of Iraqi refugees beginning in 2003, and funds from the Persian Gulf, Damascus has been going through an economic boom ever since.

  

Geography

 

Damascus in spring seen from Spot satelliteDamascus lies about 80 km (50 mi) inland from the Mediterranean Sea, sheltered by the Anti-Lebanon Mountains. It lies on a plateau 680 metres (2,200 ft) above sea-level.

 

The old city of Damascus, enclosed by the city walls, lies on the south bank of the river Barada which is almost dry(3 cm left). To the south-east, north and north-east it is surrounded by suburban areas whose history stretches back to the Middle Ages: Midan in the south-west, Sarouja and Imara in the north and north-west. These districts originally arose on roads leading out of the city, near the tombs of religious figures. In the nineteenth century outlying villages developed on the slopes of Jabal Qasioun, overlooking the city, already the site of the al-Salihiyah district centred around the important shrine of Sheikh Muhi al-Din ibn Arabi. These new districts were initially settled by Kurdish soldiery and Muslim refugees from the European regions of the Ottoman Empire which had fallen under Christian rule. Thus they were known as al-Akrad (the Kurds) and al-Muhajirin (the migrants). They lay two to three kilometres (2 mi) north of the old city.

 

From the late nineteenth century on, a modern administrative and commercial centre began to spring up to the west of the old city, around the Barada, centred on the area known as al-Marjeh or the meadow. Al-Marjeh soon became the name of what was initially the central square of modern Damascus, with the city hall on it. The courts of justice, post office and railway station stood on higher ground slightly to the south. A Europeanised residential quarter soon began to be built on the road leading between al-Marjeh and al-Salihiyah. The commercial and administrative centre of the new city gradually shifted northwards slightly towards this area.

 

In the twentieth century, newer suburbs developed north of the Barada, and to some extent to the south, invading the Ghouta oasis. From 1955 the new district of Yarmouk became a second home to thousands of Palestinian refugees. City planners preferred to preserve the Ghouta as far as possible, and in the later twentieth century some of the main areas of development were to the north, in the western Mezzeh district and most recently along the Barada valley in Dummar in the northwest and on the slopes of the mountains at Berze in the north-east. Poorer areas, often built without official approval, have mostly developed south of the main city.

 

Damascus used to be surrounded by an oasis, the Ghouta region (الغوطة al-ġūṭä), watered by the Barada river. The Fijeh spring, west along the Barada valley, used to provides the city with drinking water. The Ghouta oasis has been decreasing in size with the rapid expansion of housing and industry in the city and it is almost dry. It has also become polluted due to the city's traffic, industry, and sewage.

  

Climate

Damascus' climate is semi arid, due to rain shadow effect of Anti-Lebanon mountain. Summers are hot with less humidity. Winters are cool and rainy or snowy. January Maximum & Minimum Temperatures are 11 °C (52 °F) and 0 °C (32 °F), lowest ever recorded are −13.5 °C (8 °F), The summer August Maximum & Minimum Temperature are 35 °C (95 °F) and 17 °C (63 °F), Highest ever recorded are 45.5 °C (113.9 °F), Annual rainfall around 20 cm (8 in), occur from November to March.[5]

 

Weather averages for Damascus

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year

Average high °C (°F) 11

(53) 13

(57) 17

(64) 23

(74) 28

(84) 33

(92) 36

(96) 36

(96) 33

(91) 27

(81) 19

(67) 13

(56) 24

(76)

Average low °C (°F) 0

(33) 2

(36) 4

(40) 7

(46) 11

(52) 14

(58) 16

(62) 17

(63) 13

(57) 9

(49) 4

(40) 1

(35) 8

(48)

Precipitation cm (inches) 3

(1.5) 3

(1.3) 2

(0.9) 1

(0.5) 0

(0.2) 0

(0) 0

(0) 0

(0) 0

(0) 1

(0.4) 2

(1) 4

(1.7) 19

(7.6)

Source: Weatherbase[5] 2008

  

Demographics

 

People

 

Three Damascene women; lady wearing qabqabs, a Druze, and a peasant, 1873.The majority of the population in Damascus came as a result of rural-urban migration. It is believed that the local people of Damascus, called Damascene, are about 1.5 million. Damascus is considered by most people to be a very safe city. Haggling is common, especially in the traditional souks. Corruption is widespread, but in the past few years there have been aims at combating it, by both the government and non-governmental organizations. Tea, Mate (popular caffeinated beverage made from Yerba mate), and Turkish Coffee are the most common beverages in Damascus.

 

Religion

The majority of the inhabitants of Damascus—about 75%—are Sunni Muslims. It is believed that there are more than 2,000 mosques in Damascus, the most well-known being the Umayyad Mosque. Christians represent the remaining 15% and there a number of Christian districts, such as Bab Tuma, Kassaa, and Ghassani, with many churches, most notably the ancient Chapel of Saint Paul.

  

Historical sites

 

House of Saint AnaniasDamascus has a wealth of historical sites dating back to many different periods of the city's history. Since the city has been built up with every passing occupation, it has become almost impossible to excavate all the ruins of Damascus that lie up to 8 feet (2.4 m) below the modern level. The Citadel of Damascus is located in the northwest corner of the Old City. The Street Called Straight (referred to in the conversion of St. Paul in Acts 9:11), also known as the Via Recta, was the decumanus (East-West main street) of Roman Damascus, and extended for over 1,500 metres (4,900 ft). Today, it consists of the street of Bab Sharqi and the Souk Medhat Pasha, a covered market. The Bab Sharqi street is filled with small shops and leads to the old Christian quarter of Bab Tuma (St. Thomas's Gate). Souk Medhat Pasha is also a main market in Damascus and was named after Medhat Pasha, the Ottoman governor of Syria who renovated the Souk. At the end of the Bab Sharqi street, one reaches the House of Ananias, an underground chapel that was the cellar of Ananias's house. The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus, is one of the largest mosques in the world, and one of the oldest sites of continuous prayer since the rise of Islam. A shrine in the mosque is said to contain the head of Husayn ibn Ali and the body of St. John the Baptist. The mausoleum where Saladin was buried is located in the gardens just outside the mosque. Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque, the shrine of the yongest daughter of Husayn ibn Ali, can also be found near the Umayyad Mosque. Another heavily visited site is Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque, which is the tomb of Zaynab bint Ali.

  

The walls and gates of Damascus

v • d • eOld City of Damascus

 

Azm PalaceDamascus

CitadelUmayyad Mosque

Gates

al-Jabiya · al-Saghir · Kisan · Sharqi · Tuma · al-Salam · Faradis

The Old City of Damascus is surrounded by ramparts on the northern and eastern sides and part of the southern side. There are seven extant city gates, the oldest of which dates back to the Roman period. These are, clockwise from the north of the citadel:

 

Bab al-Saghir (The Small Gate)

Bab al-Faradis ("the gate of the orchards", or "of the paradise")

Bab al-Salam ("the gate of peace"), all on the north boundary of the Old City

Bab Tuma ("Touma" or "Thomas's Gate") in the north-east corner, leading into the Christian quarter of the same name,

Bab Sharqi ("eastern gate") in the east wall, the only one to retain its Roman plan

Bab Kisan in the south-east, from which tradition holds that Saint Paul made his escape from Damascus, lowered from the ramparts in a basket; this gate is now closed and a chapel marking the event has been built into the structure,

Bab al-Jabiya at the entrance to Souk Midhat Pasha, in the south-west.

Other areas outside the walled city also bear the name "gate": Bab al-Faraj, Bab Mousalla and Bab Sreija, both to the south-west of the walled city.

  

Churches in the old city

 

The Minaret of the Bride, Umayyad Mosque in old Damascus.

Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque

Sayyidah Ruqayya MosqueCathedral of Damascus.

Virgin Mary's Cathedral.

House of Saint Ananias.

Chapel of Saint Paul.

The Roman Catholic Cathedral in Zaitoon (Olive) Alley.

The Damascene Saint Johan church.

Saint Paul's Laura.

Saint Georgeus's sanctuary.

 

Islamic sites in the old city

Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque

Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque

Bab Saghir cemetery

Umayyad Mosque

Saladin Shrine.

 

Madrasas

Al-Adiliyah Madrasa.

Az-Zahiriyah Library.

Nur al-Din Madrasa.

 

Old Damascene houses

Azm Palace

Bayt al-Aqqad (Danish Institute in Damascus)

Maktab Anbar

Beit al-Mamlouka (Boutique Hotel)

 

Khans

Khan Jaqmaq

Khan As'ad Pasha

Khan Sulayman Pasha

 

Threats to the future of the old City

Due to the rapid decline of the population of Old Damascus (between 1995-2005 more than 20,000 people moved out of the old city for more modern accommodation), a growing number of buildings are being abandoned or are falling into disrepair. In March 2007, the local government announced that it would be demolishing Old City buildings along a 1,400-metre (4,600 ft) stretch of rampart walls as part of a redevelopment scheme. These factors resulted in the Old City being placed by the World Monuments Fund on its 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world. It is hoped that its inclusion on the list will draw more public awareness to these significant threats to the future of the historic Old City of Damascus.

  

Current state of old Damascus

In spite of the recommendations of the UNESCO World Heritage Center:[3]

 

Souk El Atik, a protected buffer zone, was destroyed in three days in November 2006;

King Faysal Street, a traditional hand-craft region in a protected buffer zone near the walls of Old Damascus between the Citadel and Bab Touma, is threatened by a proposed motorway.

In 2007, the Old City of Damascus and notably the district of Bab Tuma have been recognized by The World Monument Fund as one of the most endangered sites in the world.[4]

 

Subdivisions

 

The ancient city of Damascus around the Omayyad Mosque

Azmeh Square in downtown DamascusDamascus is divided into many districts. Among them there are:

 

Abbasiyyin

Abou Rummaneh

Amara

Bahsa

Baramkah

Barzeh

Dummar

Jobar

Kafar Souseh

Malki

Mazraa

Mezzeh

Midan

Muhajreen

Qanawat

Rukn Eddeen

Al-Salihiyah

Sarouja

Sha'alan

Shaghoor

Tijara

 

ducation

Damascus is the main center of education in Syria. It is home to Damascus University, which is the oldest and by far the largest university in Syria. After the enactment of legislation allowing private secondary institutions, several new universities were established in the city and in the surrounding area.

  

Universities

 

Damascus National Museum.Damascus University

Syrian Virtual University

International University for Science and Technology

Higher Institute of Business Administration (HIBA)

Higher Institute for Applied Science and Technology (HIAST)

University of Kalamoon

Arab European University

National Institute of Administration

 

Transportation

 

Al-Hijaz StationThe main airport is Damascus International Airport, approximately 20 km (12 mi) away from the city center, with connections to many Asian, Europe, African, and recently, South American cities. Streets in Damascus are often narrow, mostly in the older parts of the city, and speed bumps are widely used to limit the speed.

 

Public transport in Damascus depends extensively on minibuses. There are about one hundred lines that operate inside the city and some of them extend from the city center to nearby suburbs. There is no schedule for the lines, and due to the limited number of official bus stops, buses will usually stop wherever a passenger needs to get on or off. The number of buses serving the same line is relatively high, which minimizes the waiting time. Lines are not numbered, rather they are given captions mostly indicating the two end points and possibly an important station along the line.

 

Al-Hijaz railway station, lies in the city center. Currently this station is closed, and railway connections with other cities take place in a suburb.

 

In 2008, the government announced a plan to construct an underground system in Damascus with opening time for the green line scheduled for 2015 Damascus Metro

  

Culture

Damascus was the 2008 Arab Capital of Culture.

  

Museums

National Museum of Damascus

Azem Palace

Military Museum

Museum of Arabic Calligraphy

 

Leisure activities

 

Damascus by night, pictured from Jabal Qasioun; the green spots are minarets

Parks and gardens

Tishreen Park is by far the largest park in Damascus. It is home to the yearly held Damascus Flower Show. Other parks include Aljahiz, Al sibbki, Altijara and Alwahda. Damascus' Ghouta (Oasis) is also a popular destination for recreation.

  

Cafe culture

Cafes are popular meeting spots for Damascene, where Arghilehs (water pipes) and popular beverages are served. Card games, Tables (backgammon variants), and chess are common in these cafes.

  

Sports

Popular sports include football, basketball, swimming and table tennis. Damascus is home to many sports clubs, such as:

 

Al Jaish

Al Wahda

Al Majd

Barada

 

Nearby attractions

Madaya

Bloudan

Zabadani

Maaloula

Saidnaya

 

Born in Damascus

Hadadezer King of Aram Damascus and leader of the coalition the 12 kings coalition that fought against Shalmaneser III

Nicolaus of Damascus (historian and philosopher)

John of Damascus (676-749) Christian saint

Ananias (Christian disciple involved in healing and preaching to Paul the Apostle)

Sophronius (Patriarch of Jerusalem)

Abd ar-Rahman I, Founder of Omayyad dynasty in Cordoba.

Izzat Husrieh, A renowned journalist and founder of the Syrian labor unions.

Khalid al-Azm, Former prime minister of Syria.

Shukri al-Quwatli, Former Syrian president and co-founder of the United Arab Republic.

Muna Wassef ( A Movie Star, and a United Nations Goodwill ambassador.)

Damascius (Byzantine philosopher)

Yasser Seirawan (chess player)

Ahmed Kuftaro (former grand mufti of Syria)

Ikram Antaki (Mexican writer)

Ghada al-Samman (novelist)

Nizar Qabbani (poet)

Michel Aflaq (political thinker and co-founder of the Baath Party)

Salah al-Din al-Bitar (political thinker and co-founder of the Baath Party)

Constantin Zureiq (academic and Arab nationalist intellectual)

Zakaria Tamer (writer)

Professor Aziz Al-Azmeh (academic, PhD in Oriental Studies)

Nazir Ismail (Artist)

Sheik Bashir Al Bani (Grand Sheik in Syria)

Mehdi Mourtada (Famous journalist and founder of WAS News Agency.

 

To the Sufi, it is the transmission of divine light from the teacher's heart to the heart of the student, rather than worldly knowledge, that allows the adept to progress. They further believe that the teacher should attempt inerrantly to follow the Divine Law.According to Moojan Momen "one of the most important doctrines of Sufism is the concept of al-Insan al-Kamil "the Perfect Man". This doctrine states that there will always exist upon the earth a "Qutb" (Pole or Axis of the Universe)—a man who is the perfect channel of grace from God to man and in a state of wilayah (sanctity, being under the protection of Allah). The concept of the Sufi Qutb is similar to that of the Shi'i Imam. However, this belief puts Sufism in "direct conflict" with Shia Islam, since both the Qutb (who for most Sufi orders is the head of the order) and the Imam fulfill the role of "the purveyor of spiritual guidance and of Allah's grace to mankind". The vow of obedience to the Shaykh or Qutb which is taken by Sufis is considered incompatible with devotion to the Imam".As a further example, the prospective adherent of the Mevlevi Order would have been ordered to serve in the kitchens of a hospice for the poor for 1001 days prior to being accepted for spiritual instruction, and a further 1,001 days in solitary retreat as a precondition of completing that instruction.Some teachers, especially when addressing more general audiences, or mixed groups of Muslims and non-Muslims, make extensive use of parable, allegory, and metaphor.[80] Although approaches to teaching vary among different Sufi orders, Sufism as a whole is primarily concerned with direct personal experience, and as such has sometimes been compared to other, non-Islamic forms of mysticism (e.g., as in the books of Hossein Nasr).Many Sufi believe that to reach the highest levels of success in Sufism typically requires that the disciple live with and serve the teacher for a long period of time.[citation needed] An example is the folk story about Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari, who gave his name to the Naqshbandi Order. He is believed to have served his first teacher, Sayyid Muhammad Baba As-Samasi, for 20 years, until as-Samasi died. He is said to then have served several other teachers for lengthy periods of time. He is said to have helped the poorer members of the community for many years and after this concluded his teacher directed him to care for animals cleaning their wounds, and assisting them.Sufis believe the sharia (exoteric "canon"), tariqa (esoteric "order") and haqiqa ("truth") are mutually interdependent.[92] Sufism leads the adept, called salik or "wayfarer", in his sulûk or "road" through different stations (maqaam) until he reaches his goal, the perfect tawhid, the existential confession that God is One.[93] Ibn Arabi says, "When we see someone in this Community who claims to be able to guide others to God, but is remiss in but one rule of the Sacred Law—even if he manifests miracles that stagger the mind—asserting that his shortcoming is a special dispensation for him, we do not even turn to look at him, for such a person is not a sheikh, nor is he speaking the truth, for no one is entrusted with the secrets of God Most High save one in whom the ordinances of the Sacred Law are preserved. (Jamiʿ karamat al-awliyaʾ)".Traditional Islamic scholars have recognized two major branches within the practice of Sufism, and use this as one key to differentiating among the approaches of different masters and devotional lineages.On the one hand there is the order from the signs to the Signifier (or from the arts to the Artisan). In this branch, the seeker begins by purifying the lower self of every corrupting influence that stands in the way of recognizing all of creation as the work of God, as God's active Self-disclosure or theophany. This is the way of Imam Al-Ghazali and of the majority of the Sufi orders.On the other hand, there is the order from the Signifier to His signs, from the Artisan to His works. In this branch the seeker experiences divine attraction (jadhba), and is able to enter the order with a glimpse of its endpoint, of direct apprehension of the Divine Presence towards which all spiritual striving is directed. This does not replace the striving to purify the heart, as in the other branch; it simply stems from a different point of entry into the path. This is the way primarily of the masters of the Naqshbandi and Shadhili orders.Contemporary scholars may also recognize a third branch, attributed to the late Ottoman scholar Said Nursi and explicated in his vast Qur'an commentary called the Risale-i Nur. This approach entails strict adherence to the way of Muhammad, in the understanding that this wont, or sunnah, proposes a complete devotional spirituality adequate to those without access to a master of the Sufi way.

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sufism

  

10 kilometers east of the town of Tlemcen in the commune of Ain Fezza, the caves of Beni Add, which date back to about 65,000 years, are remarkable for their charm and legendary beauty.

Ibn Arabi précise que : « les –stations- spirituelles de base de Sidi Boumediene étaient, « el wara » le scrupule et « tawadhu’ », l’humilité ; qui consistent à reconnaître la servitude absolue de la créature vis-à-vis du Créateur. La dernière chose dont se libère l’âme des amis sincères de Dieu est l’amour de la souveraineté qui subsiste avec l’ignorance. Il avait, disait t-il le don d’intuition et de lecture des âmes. Il connaissait le sens profond et les correspondances des formes, des attitudes et des gestes avec l’état présent et futur de l’âme ».Quatre siècles après, à Bejaia et à Tlemcen, le Cheikh Ahmed Al Burnussi Al Zurruk (Xe siècle hégire) qui était un Maitre enseignait la signification des paroles de Sidi Boumediene et d’Ibn Arabi. A cette même époque le Qutb, pôle du soufisme, qui dynamisa la Tarîqa d’Abu el Hassan Schadhily, disciple d’Abdeslam Mechiche, ce dernier faqir de Sidi Boumediene, Cheikh sidi Ahmed Benyoucef el Rachidi el miliani, disait après Sidi Boumediene et Schadhily : « mes livres ce sont mes disciples ! » Sidi Boumediene a écrit au moins deux ouvrages, dont le plus décisif est « Ilm Tawhid », La science de l’Unicité.

Afterlife (also referred to as life after death) is the concept that an essential part of an individual's identity or the stream of consciousness continues to manifest after the death of the physical body. According to various ideas about the afterlife, the essential aspect of the individual that lives on after death may be some partial element, or the entire soul or spirit, of an individual, which carries with it and may confer personal identity or, on the contrary, may not, as in Indian nirvana. Belief in an afterlife, which may be naturalistic or supernatural, is in contrast to the belief in oblivion after death.

 

In some views, this continued existence often takes place in a spiritual realm, and in other popular views, the individual may be reborn into this world and begin the life cycle over again, likely with no memory of what they have done in the past. In this latter view, such rebirths and deaths may take place over and over again continuously until the individual gains entry to a spiritual realm or Otherworld. Major views on the afterlife derive from religion, esotericism and metaphysics.

 

Some belief systems, such as those in the Abrahamic tradition, hold that the dead go to a specific plane of existence after death, as determined by God, or other divine judgment, based on their actions or beliefs during life. In contrast, in systems of reincarnation, such as those in the Indian religions, the nature of the continued existence is determined directly by the actions of the individual in the ended life, rather than through the decision of a different being.

 

Different metaphysical models

Theists generally believe some type of afterlife awaits people when they die. Members of some generally non-theistic religions tend to believe in an afterlife, but without reference to a deity. The Sadducees were an ancient Jewish sect that generally believed that there was a God but no afterlife.

 

Many religions, whether they believe in the soul's existence in another world like Christianity, Islam and many pagan belief systems, or in reincarnation like many forms of Hinduism and Buddhism, believe that one's status in the afterlife is a reward or punishment for their conduct during life.

 

Reincarnation

 

Reincarnation is the philosophical or religious concept that an aspect of a living being starts a new life in a different physical body or form after each biological death. It is also called rebirth or transmigration, and is a part of the Saṃsāra doctrine of cyclic existence. It is a central tenet of all major Indian religions, namely Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism. The idea of reincarnation is found in many ancient cultures, and a belief in rebirth/metempsychosis was held by Greek historic figures, such as Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato.It is also a common belief of various ancient and modern religions such as Spiritism, Theosophy, and Eckankar and is found as well in many tribal societies around the world, in places such as Australia, East Asia, Siberia, and South America.

 

Although the majority of denominations within the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam do not believe that individuals reincarnate, particular groups within these religions do refer to reincarnation; these groups include the mainstream historical and contemporary followers of Kabbalah, the Cathars, Alawites, the Druze, and the Rosicrucians. The historical relations between these sects and the beliefs about reincarnation that were characteristic of Neoplatonism, Orphism, Hermeticism, Manicheanism, and Gnosticism of the Roman era as well as the Indian religions have been the subject of recent scholarly research. Unity Church and its founder Charles Fillmore teach reincarnation.

 

Rosicrucians speak of a life review period occurring immediately after death and before entering the afterlife's planes of existence (before the silver cord is broken), followed by a judgment, more akin to a final review or end report over one's life.

 

Heaven and hell

 

Heaven, the heavens, seven heavens, pure lands, Tian, Jannah, Valhalla, or the Summerland, is a common religious, cosmological, or transcendent place where beings such as gods, angels, jinn, saints, or venerated ancestors are said to originate, be enthroned, or live. According to the beliefs of some religions, heavenly beings can descend to earth or incarnate, and earthly beings can ascend to heaven in the afterlife, or in exceptional cases enter heaven alive.

 

Heaven is often described as a "higher place", the holiest place, a paradise, in contrast to hell or the underworld or the "low places", and universally or conditionally accessible by earthly beings according to various standards of divinity, goodness, piety, faith or other virtues or right beliefs or simply the will of God. Some believe in the possibility of a heaven on Earth in a world to come.

 

In Indian religions, heaven is considered as Svarga loka. There are seven positive regions the soul can go to after death and seven negative regions. After completing its stay in the respective region, the soul is subjected to rebirth in different living forms according to its karma. This cycle can be broken after a soul achieves Moksha or Nirvana. Any place of existence, either of humans, souls or deities, outside the tangible world (heaven, hell, or other) is referred to as otherworld.

 

Hell, in many religious and folkloric traditions, is a place of torment and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hell as an eternal destination, while religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations. Typically, these traditions locate hell in another dimension or under the earth's surface and often include entrances to hell from the land of the living. Other afterlife destinations include purgatory and limbo.

 

Traditions that do not conceive of the afterlife as a place of punishment or reward merely describe hell as an abode of the dead, the grave, a neutral place (for example, sheol or Hades) located under the surface of earth.

 

Ancient religions

 

The afterlife played an important role in Ancient Egyptian religion, and its belief system is one of the earliest known in recorded history. When the body died, parts of its soul known as ka (body double) and the ba (personality) would go to the Kingdom of the Dead. While the soul dwelt in the Fields of Aaru, Osiris demanded work as restitution for the protection he provided. Statues were placed in the tombs to serve as substitutes for the deceased.

 

Arriving at one's reward in afterlife was a demanding ordeal, requiring a sin-free heart and the ability to recite the spells, passwords and formulae of the Book of the Dead. In the Hall of Two Truths, the deceased's heart was weighed against the Shu feather of truth and justice taken from the headdress of the goddess Ma'at.[15] If the heart was lighter than the feather, they could pass on, but if it were heavier they would be devoured by the demon Ammit.

 

Egyptians also believed that being mummified and put in a sarcophagus (an ancient Egyptian "coffin" carved with complex symbols and designs, as well as pictures and hieroglyphs) was the only way to have an afterlife. Only if the corpse had been properly embalmed and entombed in a mastaba, could the dead live again in the Fields of Yalu and accompany the Sun on its daily ride. Due to the dangers the afterlife posed, the Book of the Dead was placed in the tomb with the body as well as food, jewellery, and 'curses'. They also used the "opening of the mouth".

 

Ancient Egyptian civilization was based on religion; their belief in the rebirth after death became the driving force behind their funeral practices. Death was simply a temporary interruption, rather than complete cessation, of life, and that eternal life could be ensured by means like piety to the gods, preservation of the physical form through mummification, and the provision of statuary and other funerary equipment. Each human consisted of the physical body, the ka, the ba, and the akh. The Name and Shadow were also living entities. To enjoy the afterlife, all these elements had to be sustained and protected from harm.

 

On March 30, 2010, a spokesman for the Egyptian Culture Ministry claimed it had unearthed a large red granite door in Luxor with inscriptions by User,[20] a powerful adviser to the 18th dynasty Queen Hatshepsut who ruled between 1479 BC and 1458 BC, the longest of any woman. It believes the false door is a 'door to the Afterlife'. According to the archaeologists, the door was reused in a structure in Roman Egypt.

 

Ancient Greek and Roman religions

 

The Greek god Hades is known in Greek mythology as the king of the underworld, a place where souls live after death.The Greek god Hermes, the messenger of the gods, would take the dead soul of a person to the underworld (sometimes called Hades or the House of Hades). Hermes would leave the soul on the banks of the River Styx, the river between life and death.

 

Charon, also known as the ferry-man, would take the soul across the river to Hades, if the soul had gold: Upon burial, the family of the dead soul would put coins under the deceased's tongue. Once crossed, the soul would be judged by Aeacus, Rhadamanthus and King Minos. The soul would be sent to Elysium, Tartarus, Asphodel Fields, or the Fields of Punishment. The Elysian Fields were for the ones that lived pure lives. It consisted of green fields, valleys and mountains, everyone there was peaceful and contented, and the Sun always shone there. Tartarus was for the people that blasphemed against the gods, or were simply rebellious and consciously evil.

 

The Asphodel Fields were for a varied selection of human souls: Those whose sins equalled their goodness, were indecisive in their lives, or were not judged. The Fields of Punishment were for people that had sinned often, but not so much as to be deserving of Tartarus. In Tartarus, the soul would be punished by being burned in lava, or stretched on racks. Some heroes of Greek legend are allowed to visit the underworld. The Romans had a similar belief system about the afterlife, with Hades becoming known as Pluto. In the ancient Greek myth about the Labours of Heracles, the hero Heracles had to travel to the underworld to capture Cerberus, the three-headed guard dog, as one of his tasks.

 

In Dream of Scipio, Cicero describes what seems to be an out of body experience, of the soul traveling high above the Earth, looking down at the small planet, from far away.

 

In Book VI of Virgil's Aeneid, the hero, Aeneas, travels to the underworld to see his father. By the River Styx, he sees the souls of those not given a proper burial, forced to wait by the river until someone buries them. While down there, along with the dead, he is shown the place where the wrongly convicted reside, the fields of sorrow where those who committed suicide and now regret it reside, including Aeneas' former lover, the warriors and shades, Tartarus (where the titans and powerful non-mortal enemies of the Olympians reside) where he can hear the groans of the imprisoned, the palace of Pluto, and the fields of Elysium where the descendants of the divine and bravest heroes reside. He sees the river of forgetfulness, Lethe, which the dead must drink to forget their life and begin anew. Lastly, his father shows him all of the future heroes of Rome who will live if Aeneas fulfills his destiny in founding the city.

 

Norse religion

 

The Poetic and Prose Eddas, the oldest sources for information on the Norse concept of the afterlife, vary in their description of the several realms that are described as falling under this topic. The most well-known are:

 

Valhalla: (lit. "Hall of the Slain" i.e. "the Chosen Ones") Half the warriors who die in battle join the god Odin who rules over a majestic hall called Valhalla in Asgard.

Fólkvangr: (lit. "Field of the Host") The other half join the goddess Freyja in a great meadow known as Fólkvangr.

Hel: (lit. "The Covered Hall") This abode is somewhat like Hades from Ancient Greek religion: there, something not unlike the Asphodel Meadows can be found, and people who have neither excelled in that which is good nor excelled in that which is bad can expect to go there after they die and be reunited with their loved ones.[citation needed]

Niflhel: (lit. "The Dark" or "Misty Hel") This realm is roughly analogous to Greek Tartarus. It is the deeper level beneath Hel, and those who break oaths and commit other vile things will be sent there to be among their kind to suffer harsh punishments.[citation needed]

Abrahamic religions[edit]

Judaism

She'ol

She'ol, in the Hebrew Bible, is a place of darkness to which all the dead go, both the righteous and the unrighteous, regardless of the moral choices made in life, a place of stillness and darkness cut off from life and from God.need quotation to verify]

 

The inhabitants of Sheol are the "shades" (rephaim), entities without personality or strength.[28] Under some circumstances they are thought to be able to be contacted by the living, as the Witch of Endor contacts the shade of Samuel for Saul, but such practices are forbidden (Deuteronomy 18:10).

 

While the Hebrew Bible appears to describe Sheol as the permanent place of the dead, in the Second Temple period (roughly 500 BC–70 AD) a more diverse set of ideas developed. In some texts, Sheol is considered to be the home of both the righteous and the wicked, separated into respective compartments; in others, it was considered a place of punishment, meant for the wicked dead alone.[30] When the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek in ancient Alexandria around 200 BC, the word "Hades" (the Greek underworld) was substituted for Sheol. This is reflected in the New Testament where Hades is both the underworld of the dead and the personification of the evil it represents.

 

World to Come

The Talmud offers a number of thoughts relating to the afterlife. After death, the soul is brought for judgment. Those who have led pristine lives enter immediately into the Olam Haba or world to come. Most do not enter the world to come immediately, but now experience a period of review of their earthly actions and they are made aware of what they have done wrong. Some view this period as being a "re-schooling", with the soul gaining wisdom as one's errors are reviewed. Others view this period to include spiritual discomfort for past wrongs. At the end of this period, not longer than one year, the soul then takes its place in the world to come. Although discomforts are made part of certain Jewish conceptions of the afterlife, the concept of "eternal damnation", so prevalent in other religions, is not a tenet of the Jewish afterlife. According to the Talmud, extinction of the soul is reserved for a far smaller group of malicious and evil leaders, either whose very evil deeds go way beyond norms, or who lead large groups of people to utmost evil.

 

Maimonides describes the Olam Haba in spiritual terms, relegating the prophesied physical resurrection to the status of a future miracle, unrelated to the afterlife or the Messianic era. According to Maimonides, an afterlife continues for the soul of every human being, a soul now separated from the body in which it was "housed" during its earthly existence.

 

The Zohar describes Gehenna not as a place of punishment for the wicked but as a place of spiritual purification for souls.

 

Reincarnation in Jewish tradition

Although there is no reference to reincarnation in the Talmud or any prior writings, according to rabbis such as Avraham Arieh Trugman, reincarnation is recognized as being part and parcel of Jewish tradition. Trugman explains that it is through oral tradition that the meanings of the Torah, its commandments and stories, are known and understood. The classic work of Jewish mysticism, the Zohar, is quoted liberally in all Jewish learning; in the Zohar the idea of reincarnation is mentioned repeatedly. Trugman states that in the last five centuries the concept of reincarnation, which until then had been a much hidden tradition within Judaism, was given open exposure.

 

Shraga Simmons commented that within the Bible itself, the idea [of reincarnation] is intimated in Deut. 25:5-10, Deut. 33:6 and Isaiah 22:14, 65:6.

 

Yirmiyahu Ullman wrote that reincarnation is an "ancient, mainstream belief in Judaism". The Zohar makes frequent and lengthy references to reincarnation. Onkelos, a righteous convert and authoritative commentator of the same period, explained the verse, "Let Reuben live and not die ..." (Deuteronomy 33:6) to mean that Reuben should merit the World to Come directly, and not have to die again as a result of being reincarnated. Torah scholar, commentator and kabbalist, Nachmanides (Ramban 1195–1270), attributed Job's suffering to reincarnation, as hinted in Job's saying "God does all these things twice or three times with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit to ... the light of the living' (Job 33:29,30)."

 

Reincarnation, called gilgul, became popular in folk belief, and is found in much Yiddish literature among Ashkenazi Jews. Among a few kabbalists, it was posited that some human souls could end up being reincarnated into non-human bodies. These ideas were found in a number of Kabbalistic works from the 13th century, and also among many mystics in the late 16th century. Martin Buber's early collection of stories of the Baal Shem Tov's life includes several that refer to people reincarnating in successive lives.

 

Among well known (generally non-kabbalist or anti-kabbalist) rabbis who rejected the idea of reincarnation are Saadia Gaon, David Kimhi, Hasdai Crescas, Yedayah Bedershi (early 14th century), Joseph Albo, Abraham ibn Daud, the Rosh and Leon de Modena. Saadia Gaon, in Emunoth ve-Deoth (Hebrew: "beliefs and opinions") concludes Section VI with a refutation of the doctrine of metempsychosis (reincarnation). While rebutting reincarnation, Saadia Gaon further states that Jews who hold to reincarnation have adopted non-Jewish beliefs. By no means do all Jews today believe in reincarnation, but belief in reincarnation is not uncommon among many Jews, including Orthodox.

 

Other well-known rabbis who are reincarnationists include Yonassan Gershom, Abraham Isaac Kook, Talmud scholar Adin Steinsaltz, DovBer Pinson, David M. Wexelman, Zalman Schachter,[39] and many others. Reincarnation is cited by authoritative biblical commentators, including Ramban (Nachmanides), Menachem Recanti and Rabbenu Bachya.

 

Among the many volumes of Yitzchak Luria, most of which come down from the pen of his primary disciple, Chaim Vital, are insights explaining issues related to reincarnation. His Shaar HaGilgulim, "The Gates of Reincarnation", is a book devoted exclusively to the subject of reincarnation in Judaism.

 

Rabbi Naftali Silberberg of The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute notes that "Many ideas that originate in other religions and belief systems have been popularized in the media and are taken for granted by unassuming Jews."

 

Christianity

Main articles: Christian eschatology, Heaven in Christianity, Christian views on hell, and Intermediate state

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Mainstream Christianity professes belief in the Nicene Creed, and English versions of the Nicene Creed in current use include the phrase: "We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come." Although punishments are made part of certain Christian conceptions of the afterlife, the prevalent concept of "eternal damnation" is a tenet of the Christian afterlife.

 

When questioned by the Sadducees about the resurrection of the dead (in a context relating to who one's spouse would be if one had been married several times in life), Jesus said that marriage will be irrelevant after the resurrection as the resurrected will be like the angels in heaven.

 

Jesus also maintained that the time would come when the dead would hear the voice of the Son of God, and all who were in the tombs would come out, who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.

 

The Book of Enoch describes Sheol as divided into four compartments for four types of the dead: the faithful saints who await resurrection in Paradise, the merely virtuous who await their reward, the wicked who await punishment, and the wicked who have already been punished and will not be resurrected on Judgment Day. The Book of Enoch is considered apocryphal by most denominations of Christianity and all denominations of Judaism.

 

The book of 2 Maccabees gives a clear account of the dead awaiting a future resurrection and judgment, plus prayers and offerings for the dead to remove the burden of sin.

  

Domenico Beccafumi's Inferno: a Christian vision of hell

The author of Luke recounts the story of Lazarus and the rich man, which shows people in Hades awaiting the resurrection either in comfort or torment. The author of the Book of Revelation writes about God and the angels versus Satan and demons in an epic battle at the end of times when all souls are judged. There is mention of ghostly bodies of past prophets, and the transfiguration.

 

The non-canonical Acts of Paul and Thecla speak of the efficacy of prayer for the dead, so that they might be "translated to a state of happiness".

 

Hippolytus of Rome pictures the underworld (Hades) as a place where the righteous dead, awaiting in the bosom of Abraham their resurrection, rejoice at their future prospect, while the unrighteous are tormented at the sight of the "lake of unquenchable fire" into which they are destined to be cast.

 

Gregory of Nyssa discusses the long-before believed possibility of purification of souls after death.

 

Pope Gregory I repeats the concept, articulated over a century earlier by Gregory of Nyssa that the saved suffer purification after death, in connection with which he wrote of "purgatorial flames".

 

The noun "purgatorium" (Latin: place of cleansing is used for the first time to describe a state of painful purification of the saved after life. The same word in adjectival form (purgatorius -a -um, cleansing), which appears also in non-religious writing, was already used by Christians such as Augustine of Hippo and Pope Gregory I to refer to an after-death cleansing.

 

During the Age of Enlightenment, theologians and philosophers presented various philosophies and beliefs. A notable example is Emanuel Swedenborg who wrote some 18 theological works which describe in detail the nature of the afterlife according to his claimed spiritual experiences, the most famous of which is Heaven and Hell. His report of life there covers a wide range of topics, such as marriage in heaven (where all angels are married), children in heaven (where they are raised by angel parents), time and space in heaven (there are none), the after-death awakening process in the World of Spirits (a place halfway between Heaven and Hell and where people first wake up after death), the allowance of a free will choice between Heaven or Hell (as opposed to being sent to either one by God), the eternity of Hell (one could leave but would never want to), and that all angels or devils were once people on earth.

 

The Catholic Church

The "Spiritual Combat", a written work by Lorenzo Scupoli, states that four assaults are attempted by the “evil one” at the hour of death. The Catholic conception of the afterlife teaches that after the body dies, the soul is judged, the righteous and free of sin enter Heaven. However, those who die in unrepented mortal sin go to hell. In the 1990s, the Catechism of the Catholic Church defined hell not as punishment imposed on the sinner but rather as the sinner's self-exclusion from God. Unlike other Christian groups, the Catholic Church teaches that those who die in a state of grace, but still carry venial sin go to a place called Purgatory where they undergo purification to enter Heaven.

 

Limbo

Despite popular opinion, Limbo, which was elaborated upon by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, was never recognized as a dogma of the Catholic Church, yet, at times, it has been a very popular theological theory within the Church. Limbo is a theory that unbaptized but innocent souls, such as those of infants, virtuous individuals who lived before Jesus Christ was born on earth, or those that die before baptism exist in neither Heaven or Hell proper. Therefore, these souls neither merit the beatific vision, nor are subjected to any punishment, because they are not guilty of any personal sin although they have not received baptism, so still bear original sin. So they are generally seen as existing in a state of natural, but not supernatural, happiness, until the end of time.

 

In other Christian denominations it has been described as an intermediate place or state of confinement in oblivion and neglect.

 

Purgatory

The notion of purgatory is associated particularly with the Catholic Church. In the Catholic Church, all those who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven or the final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The tradition of the church, by reference to certain texts of scripture, speaks of a "cleansing fire" although it is not always called purgatory.

 

Anglicans of the Anglo-Catholic tradition generally also hold to the belief. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, believed in an intermediate state between death and the resurrection of the dead and in the possibility of "continuing to grow in holiness there", but Methodism does not officially affirm this belief and denies the possibility of helping by prayer any who may be in that state.

 

Orthodox Christianity

The Orthodox Church is intentionally reticent on the afterlife, as it acknowledges the mystery especially of things that have not yet occurred. Beyond the second coming of Jesus, bodily resurrection, and final judgment, all of which is affirmed in the Nicene Creed (325 CE), Orthodoxy does not teach much else in any definitive manner. Unlike Western forms of Christianity, however, Orthodoxy is traditionally non-dualist and does not teach that there are two separate literal locations of heaven and hell, but instead acknowledges that "the 'location' of one’s final destiny—heaven or hell—as being figurative." Instead, Orthodoxy teaches that the final judgment is simply one's uniform encounter with divine love and mercy, but this encounter is experienced multifariously depending on the extent to which one has been transformed, partaken of divinity, and is therefore compatible or incompatible with God. "The monadic, immutable, and ceaseless object of eschatological encounter is therefore the love and mercy of God, his glory which infuses the heavenly temple, and it is the subjective human reaction which engenders multiplicity or any division of experience."For instance, St. Isaac the Syrian observes that "those who are punished in Gehenna, are scourged by the scourge of love. ... The power of love works in two ways: it torments sinners . . . [as] bitter regret. But love inebriates the souls of the sons of Heaven by its delectability." In this sense, the divine action is always, immutably, and uniformly love and if one experiences this love negatively, the experience is then one of self-condemnation because of free will rather than condemnation by God. Orthodoxy therefore uses the description of Jesus' judgment in John 3:19-21 as their model: "19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God." As a characteristically Orthodox understanding, then, Fr. Thomas Hopko writes, "[I]t is precisely the presence of God’s mercy and love which cause the torment of the wicked. God does not punish; he forgives. . . . In a word, God has mercy on all, whether all like it or not. If we like it, it is paradise; if we do not, it is hell. Every knee will bend before the Lord. Everything will be subject to Him. God in Christ will indeed be "all and in all," with boundless mercy and unconditional pardon. But not all will rejoice in God's gift of forgiveness, and that choice will be judgment, the self-inflicted source of their sorrow and pain."

 

Moreover, Orthodoxy includes a prevalent tradition of apokatastasis, or the restoration of all things in the end. This has been taught most notably by Origen, but also many other Church fathers and Saints, including Gregory of Nyssa. The Second Council of Constantinople (553 C.E.) affirmed the orthodoxy of Gregory of Nyssa while simultaneously condemning Origen's brand of universalism because it taught the restoration back to our pre-existent state, which Orthodoxy doesn't teach. It is also a teaching of such eminent Orthodox theologians as Olivier Clément, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, and Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev.[55] Although apokatastasis is not a dogma of the church but instead a theologoumena, it is no less a teaching of the Orthodox Church than its rejection. As Met. Kallistos Ware explains, "It is heretical to say that all must be saved, for this is to deny free will; but, it is legitimate to hope that all may be saved,"[56] as insisting on torment without end also denies free will.

 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints[edit]

Main articles: Plan of salvation (Latter Day Saints), Exaltation (Mormonism), and Degrees of glory

 

Plan of Salvation in LDS Religion

Joseph F. Smith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presents an elaborate vision of the afterlife. It is revealed as the scene of an extensive missionary effort by righteous spirits in paradise to redeem those still in darkness—a spirit prison or "hell" where the spirits of the dead remain until judgment. It is divided into two parts: Spirit Prison and Paradise. Together these are also known as the Spirit World (also Abraham's Bosom; see Luke 16:19-25). They believe that Christ visited spirit prison (1 Peter 3:18-20) and opened the gate for those who repent to cross over to Paradise. This is similar to the Harrowing of Hell doctrine of some mainstream Christian faiths.[citation needed] Both Spirit Prison and Paradise are temporary according to Latter-day Saint beliefs. After the resurrection, spirits are assigned "permanently" to three degrees of heavenly glory, determined by how they lived– Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial.(1 Cor 15:44-42; Doctrine and Covenants, Section 76) Sons of Perdition, or those who have known and seen God and deny it, will be sent to the realm of Satan, which is called Outer Darkness, where they shall live in misery and agony forever.[57]

 

The Celestial Kingdom is believed to be a place where we can live eternally with our families. Progression does not end once one has entered the Celestial Kingdom, but it extends eternally. According to "True to the Faith" (a handbook on doctrines in the LDS faith), "The celestial kingdom is the place prepared for those who have "received the testimony of Jesus" and been "made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood" (D&C 76:51, 69). To inherit this gift, we must receive the ordinances of salvation, keep the commandments, and repent of our sins."

 

Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses occasionally use terms such as "afterlife"[59] to refer to any hope for the dead, but they understand Ecclesiastes 9:5 to preclude belief in an immortal soul.[60] Individuals judged by God to be wicked, such as in the Great Flood or at Armageddon, are given no hope of an afterlife. However, they believe that after Armageddon there will be a bodily resurrection of "both righteous and unrighteous" dead (but not the "wicked"). Survivors of Armageddon and those who are resurrected are then to gradually restore earth to a paradise.[61] After Armageddon, unrepentant sinners are punished with eternal death (non-existence).

 

Seventh-day Adventists

The Seventh-day Adventist Church, teaches that the first death, or death brought about by living on a planet with sinful conditions (sickness, old age, accident, etc.) is a sleep of the soul. Adventists believe that the body + the breath of God = a living soul. Like Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists use key phrases from the Bible, such as "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten." (Eccl. 9:5 KJV). Adventists also point to the fact that the wage of sin is death and God alone is immortal. Adventists believe God will grant eternal life to the redeemed who are resurrected at Jesus' second coming. Until then, all those who have died are "asleep". When Jesus the Christ, who is the Word and the Bread of Life, comes a second time, the righteous will be raised incorruptible and will be taken in the clouds to meet their Lord. The righteous will live in heaven for a thousand years (the millennium) where they will sit with God in judgment over the unredeemed and the fallen angels. During the time the redeemed are in heaven, the Earth will be devoid of human and animal inhabitation. Only the fallen angels will be left alive. The second resurrection is of the unrighteous, when Jesus brings the New Jerusalem down from heaven to relocate to Earth. Jesus will call to life all those who are unrighteous. Satan and his angels will convince the unrighteous to surround the city, but hell fire and brimstone will fall from heaven and consume them, thus cleansing Earth of all sin. The universe will be then free from sin forever. This is called the second death. On the new earth God will provide an eternal home for all the redeemed and a perfect environment for everlasting life, where Eden will be restored. The great controversy will be ended and sin will be no more. God will reign in perfect harmony forever. (Rom. 6:23; 1 Tim. 6:15, 16; Eccl. 9:5, 6; Ps. 146:3, 4; John 11:11-14; Col. 3:4; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; John 5:28, 29; Rev. 20:1-10; Rev. 20; 1 Cor. 6:2, 3; Jer. 4:23-26; Rev. 21:1-5; Mal. 4:1; Eze. 28:18, 19; 2 Peter 3:13; Isa. 35; 65:17-25; Matt. 5:5; Rev. 21:1-7; 22:1-5; 11:15.)[62][63]

 

Islam

 

An artists representation of "Muhammed's Paradise". A Persian miniature from The History of Mohammed, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris.

 

The Islamic prophet Idris is shown the afterlife places by an angel. In hell, the inmates are tormented by a demon.

Main articles: Islamic view of death, Barzakh, and Akhirah

The Islamic belief in the afterlife as stated in the Quran is descriptive. The Arabic word for Paradise is Jannah and Hell is Jahannam. Their level of comfort while in the grave (according to some commentators) depends wholly on their level of iman or faith in the one almighty creator or supreme being (God or Allah). In order for one to achieve proper, firm and healthy iman one must practice righteous deeds or else his level of iman chokes and shrinks and eventually can wither away if one does not practice Islam long enough, hence the depth of practicing Islam is good deeds. One may also acquire tasbih and recite the names of Allah in such manner as Subahann Allah or "Glory be to Allah" over and over again to acquire good deeds.

 

In the Quran, God gives warning about grievous punishment to those who do not believe in the afterlife (Akhirah),[64] and admonishes mankind that Hell is prepared for those who deny the meeting with him.

 

Islam teaches that the purpose of Man's entire creation is to worship Allah alone, which includes being kind to other human beings and life including bugs, and to trees, by not oppressing them. Islam teaches that the life we live on Earth is nothing but a test for us and to determine each individual's ultimate abode, be it punishment or Jannat in the afterlife, which is eternal and everlasting.

 

Jannah and Jahannam both have different levels. Jannah has eight gates and seven levels. The higher the level the better it is and the happier you are. Jahannam possess 7 deep terrible layers. The lower the layer the worse it is. Individuals will arrive at both everlasting homes during Judgment Day, which commences after the Angel Israfil blows the trumpet the second time. Islam teaches the continued existence of the soul and a transformed physical existence after death. Muslims believe there will be a day of judgment when all humans will be divided between the eternal destinations of Paradise and Hell.

 

In the 20th century, discussions about the afterlife address the interconnection between human action and divine judgment, the need for moral rectitude, and the eternal consequences of human action in this life and world.

 

A central doctrine of the Quran is the Last Day, on which the world will be destroyed and Allah will raise all people and jinn from the dead to be judged. The Last Day is also called the Day of Standing Up, Day of Separation, Day of Reckoning, Day of Awakening, Day of Judgment, The Encompassing Day or The Hour.

 

Until the Day of Judgment, deceased souls remain in their graves awaiting the resurrection. However, they begin to feel immediately a taste of their destiny to come. Those bound for hell will suffer in their graves, while those bound for heaven will be in peace until that time.

 

The resurrection that will take place on the Last Day is physical, and is explained by suggesting that God will re-create the decayed body (17💯 "Could they not see that God who created the heavens and the earth is able to create the like of them?").

 

On the Last Day, resurrected humans and jinn will be judged by Allah according to their deeds. One's eternal destination depends on balance of good to bad deeds in life. They are either granted admission to Paradise, where they will enjoy spiritual and physical pleasures forever, or condemned to Hell to suffer spiritual and physical torment for eternity. The day of judgment is described as passing over Hell on a narrow bridge (as thin as human hair and sharper than a razor) in order to enter Paradise. Those who fall, weighted by their bad deeds, will remain in Hell forever.

 

Ahmadiyya

Ahmadi Muslims believe that the afterlife is not material but of a spiritual nature. According to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of Ahmadiyya sect in Islam, the soul will give birth to another rarer entity and will resemble the life on this earth in the sense that this entity will bear a similar relationship to the soul as the soul bears relationship with the human existence on earth. On earth, if a person leads a righteous life and submits to the will of God, his or her tastes become attuned to enjoying spiritual pleasures as opposed to carnal desires. With this, an "embryonic soul" begins to take shape. Different tastes are said to be born which a person given to carnal passions finds no enjoyment. For example, sacrifice of one's own rights over that of others becomes enjoyable, or that forgiveness becomes second nature. In such a state a person finds contentment and peace at heart and at this stage, according to Ahmadiyya beliefs, it can be said that a soul within the soul has begun to take shape.

 

Sufi

The Sufi scholar Ibn 'Arabi defined Barzakh as the intermediate realm or "isthmus." It is between the world of corporeal bodies and the world of spirits, and is a means of contact between the two worlds. Without it, there would be no contact between the two and both would cease to exist. He described it as simple and luminous, like the world of spirits, but also able to take on many different forms just like the world of corporeal bodies can. In broader terms Barzakh, "is anything that separates two things". It has been called the dream world in which the dreamer is in both life and death.

 

Bahá'í Faith

The teachings of the Bahá'í Faith state that the nature of the afterlife is beyond the understanding of those living, just as an unborn fetus cannot understand the nature of the world outside of the womb. The Bahá'í writings state that the soul is immortal and after death it will continue to progress until it attains God's presence. In Bahá'í belief, souls in the afterlife will continue to retain their individuality and consciousness and will be able to recognize and communicate spiritually with other souls whom they have made deep profound friendships with, such as their spouses.

 

The Bahá'í scriptures also state there are distinctions between souls in the afterlife, and that souls will recognize the worth of their own deeds and understand the consequences of their actions. It is explained that those souls that have turned toward God will experience gladness, while those who have lived in error will become aware of the opportunities they have lost. Also, in the Baha'i view, souls will be able to recognize the accomplishments of the souls that have reached the same level as themselves, but not those that have achieved a rank higher than them.

 

South Asian religions

Hinduism

 

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The Upanishads describe reincarnation (punarjanma) (see also: samsara). The Bhagavad Gita, an important Hindu script, talks extensively about the afterlife. Here, Krishna says that just as a man discards his old clothes and wears new ones; similarly the soul discards the old body and takes on a new one. In Hinduism, the belief is that the body is nothing but a shell, the soul inside is immutable and indestructible and takes on different lives in a cycle of birth and death. The end of this cycle is called mukti (Sanskrit: मुक्ति) and staying finally with supreme God forever; is moksha (Sanskrit: मोक्ष) or salvation.

 

The Garuda Purana deals solely with what happens to a person after death. The God of Death Yama sends his representatives to collect the soul from a person's body whenever he is due for death and they take the soul to Yama. A record of each person's timings & deeds performed by him is kept in a ledger by Yama's assistant, Chitragupta.

 

According to the Garuda Purana, a soul after leaving the body travels through a very long and dark tunnel towards the South. This is why an oil lamp is lit and kept beside the head of the corpse, to light the dark tunnel and allow the soul to travel comfortably.

 

The soul, called atman leaves the body and reincarnates itself according to the deeds or karma performed by one in last birth. Rebirth would be in form of animals or other lower creatures if one performed bad karmas and in human form in a good family with joyous lifetime if the person was good in last birth. In between the two births a human is also required to either face punishments for bad karmas in "naraka" or hell or enjoy for the good karmas in swarga or heaven for good deeds. Whenever his or her punishments or rewards are over he or she is sent back to earth, also known as Mrutyulok or human world. A person stays with the God or ultimate power when he discharges only & only yajna karma (means work done for satisfaction of supreme lord only) in last birth and the same is called as moksha or nirvana, which is the ultimate goal of a self realised soul. Atma moves with Parmatma or the greatest soul. According to Bhagavad Gita an Atma or soul never dies, what dies is the body only made of five elements—Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Sky. Soul is believed to be indestructible. None of the five elements can harm or influence it. Hinduism through Garuda Purana also describes in detail various types of narkas or Hells where a person after death is punished for his bad karmas and dealt with accordingly.

 

Hindus also believe in karma. Karma is the accumulated sums of one's good or bad deeds. Satkarma means good deeds, vikarma means bad deeds. According to Hinduism the basic concept of karma is 'As you sow, you shall reap'. So, if a person has lived a good life, they will be rewarded in the afterlife. Similarly their sum of bad deeds will be mirrored in their next life. Good karma brings good rewards and bad karmas lead to bad results. There is no judgment here. People accumulate karma through their actions and even thoughts. In Bhagavad Gita when Arjuna hesitates to kill his kith and kin the lord reprimands him saying thus "Do you believe that you are the doer of the action. No. You are merely an instrument in MY hands. Do you believe that the people in front of you are living? Dear Arjuna, they are already dead. As a kshatriya (warrior) it is your duty to protect your people and land. If you fail to do your duty, then you are not adhering to dharmic principles."[This quote needs a citation]

 

Buddhism

 

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Buddhists maintain that rebirth takes place without an unchanging self or soul passing from one form to another.[70] The type of rebirth will be conditioned by the moral tone of the person's actions (kamma or karma). For example, if a person has committed harmful actions of body, speech and mind based on greed, hatred and delusion, rebirth in a lower realm, i.e. an animal, a hungry ghost or a hell realm, is to be expected. On the other hand, where a person has performed skillful actions based on generosity, loving-kindness (metta), compassion and wisdom, rebirth in a happy realm, i.e. human or one of the many heavenly realms, can be expected.

 

Yet the mechanism of rebirth with kamma is not deterministic. It depends on various levels of kamma. The most important moment that determines where a person is reborn into is the last thought moment. At that moment, heavy kamma would ripen if there were performed, if not then near death kamma, if not then habitual kamma, finally if none of the above happened, then residual kamma from previous actions can ripen. According to Theravada Buddhism, there are 31 realms of existence that one can be reborn into.

 

Pure Land Buddhism of Mahayana believes in a special place apart from the 31 planes of existence called Pure Land. It is believed that each Buddha has their own pure land, created out of their merits for the sake of sentient beings who recall them mindfully to be able to be reborn in their pure land and train to become a Buddha there. Thus the main practice of pure land Buddhism is to chant a Buddha's name.

 

In Tibetan Buddhism the Tibetan Book of the Dead explains the intermediate state of humans between death and reincarnation. The deceased will find the bright light of wisdom, which shows a straightforward path to move upward and leave the cycle of reincarnation. There are various reasons why the deceased do not follow that light. Some had no briefing about the intermediate state in the former life. Others only used to follow their basic instincts like animals. And some have fear, which results from foul deeds in the former life or from insistent haughtiness. In the intermediate state the awareness is very flexible, so it is important to be virtuous, adopt a positive attitude, and avoid negative ideas. Ideas which are rising from subconsciousness can cause extreme tempers and cowing visions. In this situation they have to understand, that these manifestations are just reflections of the inner thoughts. No one can really hurt them, because they have no more material body. The deceased get help from different Buddhas who show them the path to the bright light. The ones who do not follow the path after all will get hints for a better reincarnation. They have to release the things and beings on which or whom they still hang from the life before. It is recommended to choose a family where the parents trust in the Dharma and to reincarnate with the will to care for the welfare of all beings.

 

"Life is cosmic energy of the universe and after death it merges in universe again and as the time comes to find the suitable place for the entity died in the life condition it gets born. There are 10 life states of any life: Hell, hunger, anger, animality, rapture, humanity, learning, realization, bodhisatva and buddhahood. The life dies in which life condition it reborn in the same life condition."[This quote needs a citation]

 

Sikhism

 

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Sikhism may have a belief in the afterlife. They believe that the soul belongs to the spiritual universe which has its origins in God. However it's been a matter of great debate amongst the Sikhs about Sikhism's belief in afterlife. Many believe that Sikhism endorses the afterlife and the concept of reward and punishment as there are verses given in Guru Granth Sahib, but a large number of Sikhs believe otherwise and treat those verses as metaphorical or poetic.

 

Also it has been noted by many scholars that the Guru Granth Sahib includes poetic renditions from multiple saints and religious traditions like that of Kabir, Farid and Ramananda. The essential doctrine is to experience the divine through simple living, meditation and contemplation while being alive. Sikhism also has the belief of being in union with God while living. Accounts of afterlife are considered to be aimed at the popular prevailing views of the time so as to provide a referential framework without necessarily establishing a belief in the afterlife. Thus while it is also acknowledged that living the life of a householder is above the metaphysical truth, Sikhism can be considered agnostic to the question of an afterlife. Some scholars also interpret the mention of reincarnation to be naturalistic akin to the biogeochemical cycles.

 

But if one analyses the Sikh Scriptures carefully, one may find that on many occasions the afterlife and the existence of heaven and hell are mentioned in Guru Granth Sahib and in Dasam granth, so from that it can be concluded that Sikhism does believe in the existence of heaven and hell; however, heaven and hell are created to temporarily reward and punish, and one will then take birth again until one merges in God. According to the Sikh scriptures, the human form is the closet form to God and the best opportunity for a human being to attain salvation and merge back with God. Sikh Gurus said that nothing dies, nothing is born, everything is ever present, and it just changes forms. Like standing in front of a wardrobe, you pick up a dress and wear it and then you discard it. You wear another one. Thus, in the view of Sikhism, your soul is never born and never dies. Your soul is a part of God and hence lives forever.

 

Jainism

Jainism also believes in the after life. They believe that the soul takes on a body form based on previous karmas or actions performed by that soul through eternity. Jains believe the soul is eternal and that the freedom from the cycle of reincarnation is the means to attain eternal bliss.

 

Others

Traditional African religions

Traditional African religions are diverse in their beliefs in an afterlife. Hunter-gatherer societies such as the Hadza have no particular belief in an afterlife, and the death of an individual is a straightforward end to their existence. Ancestor cults are found throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, including cultures like the Yombe, Beng,Yoruba and Ewe, "[T]he belief that the dead come back into life and are reborn into their families is given concrete expression in the personal names that are given to children....What is reincarnated are some of the dominant characteristics of the ancestor and not his soul. For each soul remains distinct and each birth represents a new soul."The Yoruba, Dogon and LoDagoa have eschatological ideas similar to Abrahamic religions, "but in most African societies, there is a marked absence of such clear-cut notions of heaven and hell, although there are notions of God judging the soul after death." In some societies like the Mende, multiple beliefs coexist. The Mende believe that people die twice: once during the process of joining the secret society, and again during biological death after which they become ancestors. However, some Mende also believe that after people are created by God they live ten consecutive lives, each in progressively descending worlds. One cross-cultural theme is that the ancestors are part of the world of the living, interacting with it regularly.

 

Shinto

Further information: Shinto § Afterlife

It is common for families to participate in ceremonies for children at a shrine, yet have a Buddhist funeral at the time of death. In old Japanese legends, it is often claimed that the dead go to a place called yomi (黄泉), a gloomy underground realm with a river separating the living from the dead mentioned in the legend of Izanami and Izanagi. This yomi very closely resembles the Greek Hades; however, later myths include notions of resurrection and even Elysium-like descriptions such as in the legend of Okuninushi and Susanoo. Shinto tends to hold negative views on death and corpses as a source of pollution called kegare. However, death is also viewed as a path towards apotheosis in Shintoism as can be evidenced by how legendary individuals become enshrined after death. Perhaps the most famous would be Emperor Ojin who was enshrined as Hachiman the God of War after his death.

 

Unitarian Universalism

Some Unitarian Universalists believe in universalism: that all souls will ultimately be saved and that there are no torments of hell. Unitarian Universalists differ widely in their theology hence there is no exact same stance on the issue. Although Unitarians historically believed in a literal hell, and Universalists historically believed that everyone goes to heaven, modern Unitarian Universalists can be categorized into those believing in a heaven, reincarnation and oblivion. Most Unitarian Universalists believe that heaven and hell are symbolic places of consciousness and the faith is largely focused on the worldly life rather than any possible afterlife.

 

Spiritualism

According to Edgar Cayce, the afterlife consisted of nine realms equated with the nine planets of astrology. The first, symbolized by Saturn, was a level for the purification of the souls. The second, Mercury's realm, gives us the ability to consider problems as a whole. The third of the nine soul realms is ruled by Earth and is associated with the Earthly pleasures. The fourth realm is where we find out about love and is ruled by Venus. The fifth realm is where we meet our limitations and is ruled by Mars. The sixth realm is ruled by Neptune, and is where we begin to use our creative powers and free ourselves from the material world. The seventh realm is symbolized by Jupiter, which strengthens the soul's ability to depict situations, to analyze people and places, things, and conditions. The eighth afterlife realm is ruled by Uranus and develops psychic ability. The ninth afterlife realm is symbolized by Pluto, the astrological realm of the unconscious. This afterlife realm is a transient place where souls can choose to travel to other realms or other solar systems, it is the souls liberation into eternity, and is the realm that opens the doorway from our solar system into the cosmos.

 

Mainstream Spiritualists postulate a series of seven realms that are not unlike Edgar Cayce's nine realms ruled by the planets. As it evolves, the soul moves higher and higher until it reaches the ultimate realm of spiritual oneness. The first realm, equated with hell, is the place where troubled souls spend a long time before they are compelled to move up to the next level. The second realm, where most souls move directly, is thought of as an intermediate transition between the lower planes of life and hell and the higher perfect realms of the universe. The third level is for those who have worked with their karmic inheritance. The fourth level is that from which evolved souls teach and direct those on Earth. The fifth level is where the soul leaves human consciousness behind. At the sixth plane, the soul is finally aligned with the cosmic consciousness and has no sense of separateness or individuality. Finally, the seventh level, the goal of each soul, is where the soul transcends its own sense of "soulfulness" and reunites with the World Soul and the universe.

 

Wicca]

The Wiccan afterlife is most commonly described as The Summerland. Here, souls rest, recuperate from life, and reflect on the experiences they had during their lives. After a period of rest, the souls are reincarnated, and the memory of their previous lives is erased. Many Wiccans see The Summerland as a place to reflect on their life actions. It is not a place of reward, but rather the end of a life journey at an end point of incarnations.

 

Zoroastrianism

  

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Zoroastrianism states that the urvan, the disembodied spirit, lingers on earth for three days before departing downward to the kingdom of the dead that is ruled by Yima. For the three days that it rests on Earth, righteous souls sit at the head of their body, chanting the Ustavaiti Gathas with joy, while a wicked person sits at the feet of the corpse, wails and recites the Yasna. Zoroastrianism states that for the righteous souls, a beautiful maiden, which is the personification of the soul's good thoughts, words and deeds, appears. For a wicked person, a very old, ugly, naked hag appears. After three nights, the soul of the wicked is taken by the demon Vizaresa (Vīzarəša), to Chinvat bridge, and is made to go to darkness (hell).

 

Yima is believed to have been the first king on earth to rule, as well as the first man to die. Inside of Yima's realm, the spirits live a shadowy existence, and are dependent on their own descendants which are still living on Earth. Their descendants are to satisfy their hunger and clothe them, through rituals done on earth.

 

Rituals which are done on the first three days are vital and important, as they protect the soul from evil powers and give it strength to reach the underworld. After three days, the soul crosses Chinvat bridge which is the Final Judgment of the soul. Rashnu and Sraosha are present at the final judgment. The list is expanded sometimes, and include Vahman and Ormazd. Rashnu is the yazata who holds the scales of justice. If the good deeds of the person outweigh the bad, the soul is worthy of paradise. If the bad deeds outweigh the good, the bridge narrows down to the width of a blade-edge, and a horrid hag pulls the soul in her arms, and takes it down to hell with her.

 

Misvan Gatu is the "place of the mixed ones" where the souls lead a gray existence, lacking both joy and sorrow. A soul goes here if his/her good deeds and bad deeds are equal, and Rashnu's scale is equal.

 

Parapsychology

See also: Near-death studies and Near death experience

The Society for Psychical Research was founded in 1882 with the express intention of investigating phenomena relating to Spiritualism and the afterlife. Its members continue to conduct scientific research on the paranormal to this day. Some of the earliest attempts to apply scientific methods to the study of phenomena relating to an afterlife were conducted by this organization. Its earliest members included noted scientists like William Crookes, and philosophers such as Henry Sidgwick and William James.

 

Parapsychological investigation of the afterlife includes the study of haunting, apparitions of the deceased, instrumental trans-communication, electronic voice phenomena, and mediumship.[87] But also the study of the near death experience. Scientists who have worked in this area include Raymond Moody, Susan Blackmore, Charles Tart, William James, Ian Stevenson, Michael Persinger, Pim van Lommel and Penny Sartori among others.

 

A study conducted in 1901 by physician Duncan MacDougall sought to measure the weight lost by a human when the soul "departed the body" upon death. MacDougall weighed dying patients in an attempt to prove that the soul was material, tangible and thus measurable. Although MacDougall's results varied considerably from "21 grams", for some people this figure has become synonymous with the measure of a soul's mass. The title of the 2003 movie 21 Grams is a reference to MacDougall's findings. His results have never been reproduced, and are generally regarded either as meaningless or considered to have had little if any scientific merit.

 

Frank Tipler has argued that physics can explain immortality, though such arguments are not falsifiable and thus do not qualify, in Karl Popper's views, as science.

 

After 25 years of parapsychological research, Susan Blackmore came to the conclusion that there is no empirical evidence for an afterlife.

 

Philosophy

Modern philosophy

There is still the position, based on the philosophical question of personal identity, termed open individualism, and in some ways similar to the old belief of monopsychism, that concludes that individual existence is illusory, and our consciousness continues

  

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afterlife

The Quran (English pronunciation: /kɔrˈɑːn/ kor-AHN , Arabic: القرآن‎ al-qur'ān, IPA: [qurˈʔaːn], literally meaning "the recitation", also romanised Qur'an or Koran) is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims believe to be a revelation from God (Arabic: الله‎, Allah). Its scriptural status among a world-spanning religious community, and its major place within world literature generally, has led to a great deal of secondary literature on the Quran. Quranic chapters are called suras and verses are called ayahs.

 

Muslims believe that the Quran was verbally revealed by God to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel (Jibril), gradually over a period of approximately 23 years, beginning on 22 December 609 CE, when Muhammad was 40, and concluding in 632 CE, the year of his death. Muslims regard the Quran as the most important miracle of Muhammad, a proof of his prophethood, and the culmination of a series of divine messages that started with the messages revealed to Adam and ended with Muhammad. They consider the Quran to be the only revealed book that has been protected by God from distortion or corruption.

 

According to the traditional narrative, several companions of Muhammad served as scribes and were responsible for writing down the revelations. Shortly after Muhammad's death, the Quran was compiled by his companions who wrote down and memorized parts of it. These codices had differences that motivated the Caliph Uthman to establish a standard version now known as Uthman's codex, which is generally considered the archetype of the Quran we have today. However, the existence of variant readings, with mostly minor and some significant variations, and the early unvocalized Arabic script mean the relationship between Uthman's codex to both the text of today's Quran and to the revelations of Muhammad's time is still unclear.

 

The Quran assumes familiarity with major narratives recounted in the Jewish and Christian scriptures. It summarizes some, dwells at length on others and, in some cases, presents alternative accounts and interpretations of events. The Quran describes itself as a book of guidance. It sometimes offers detailed accounts of specific historical events, and it often emphasizes the moral significance of an event over its narrative sequence. The Quran is used along with the hadith to interpret sharia law. During prayers, the Quran is recited only in Arabic.

 

Someone who has memorized the entire Quran is called a hafiz. Some Muslims read Quranic ayahs (verses) with elocution, which is often called tajwīd. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims typically complete the recitation of the whole Quran during tarawih prayers. In order to extrapolate the meaning of a particular Quranic verse, most Muslims rely on the tafsir.

 

ETYMOLOGY & MEANING

The word qurʼān appears about 70 times in the Quran itself, assuming various meanings. It is a verbal noun (maṣdar) of the Arabic verb qaraʼa (قرأ), meaning "he read" or "he recited". The Syriac equivalent is (ܩܪܝܢܐ) qeryānā, which refers to "scripture reading" or "lesson". While some Western scholars consider the word to be derived from the Syriac, the majority of Muslim authorities hold the origin of the word is qaraʼa itself. Regardless, it had become an Arabic term by Muhammad's lifetime. An important meaning of the word is the "act of reciting", as reflected in an early Quranic passage: "It is for Us to collect it and to recite it (qurʼānahu)."

 

In other verses, the word refers to "an individual passage recited [by Muhammad]". Its liturgical context is seen in a number of passages, for example: "So when al-qurʼān is recited, listen to it and keep silent." The word may also assume the meaning of a codified scripture when mentioned with other scriptures such as the Torah and Gospel.

 

The term also has closely related synonyms that are employed throughout the Quran. Each synonym possesses its own distinct meaning, but its use may converge with that of qurʼān in certain contexts. Such terms include kitāb (book); āyah (sign); and sūrah (scripture). The latter two terms also denote units of revelation. In the large majority of contexts, usually with a definite article (al-), the word is referred to as the "revelation" (waḥy), that which has been "sent down" (tanzīl) at intervals. Other related words are: dhikr (remembrance), used to refer to the Quran in the sense of a reminder and warning, and ḥikmah (wisdom), sometimes referring to the revelation or part of it.

 

The Quran describes itself as "the discernment or the criterion between truth and falsehood" (al-furqān), "the mother book" (umm al-kitāb), "the guide" (huda), "the wisdom" (hikmah), "the remembrance" (dhikr) and "the revelation" (tanzīl; something sent down, signifying the descent of an object from a higher place to lower place). Another term is al-kitāb (the book), though it is also used in the Arabic language for other scriptures, such as the Torah and the Gospels. The adjective of "Quran" has multiple transliterations including "quranic," "koranic" and "qur'anic," or capitalised as "Qur'anic," "Koranic" and "Quranic." The term muṣḥaf ('written work') is often used to refer to particular Quranic manuscripts but is also used in the Quran to identify earlier revealed books. Other transliterations of "Quran" include "al-Coran", "Coran", "Kuran" and "al-Qurʼan".

 

HISTORY

PROPHETIC ERA

Islamic tradition relates that Muhammad received his first revelation in the Cave of Hira during one of his isolated retreats to the mountains. Thereafter, he received revelations over a period of 23 years. According to hadith and Muslim history, after Muhammad emigrated to Medina and formed an independent Muslim community, he ordered many of his companions to recite the Quran and to learn and teach the laws, which were revealed daily. It is related that some of the Quraish who were taken prisoners at the battle of Badr regained their freedom after they had taught some of the Muslims the simple writing of the time. Thus a group of Muslims gradually became literate. As it was initially spoken, the Quran was recorded on tablets, bones, and the wide, flat ends of date palm fronds. Most suras were in use amongst early Muslims since they are mentioned in numerous sayings by both Sunni and Shia sources, relating Muhammad's use of the Quran as a call to Islam, the making of prayer and the manner of recitation. However, the Quran did not exist in book form at the time of Muhammad's death in 632 CE. There is agreement among scholars that Muhammad himself did not write down the revelation.

 

Sahih al-Bukhari narrates Muhammad describing the revelations as, "Sometimes it is (revealed) like the ringing of a bell" and Aisha reported, "I saw the Prophet being inspired Divinely on a very cold day and noticed the sweat dropping from his forehead (as the Inspiration was over)." Muhammad's first revelation, according to the Quran, was accompanied with a vision. The agent of revelation is mentioned as the "one mighty in power", the one who "grew clear to view when he was on the uppermost horizon. Then he drew nigh and came down till he was (distant) two bows' length or even nearer." The Islamic studies scholar Welch states in the Encyclopaedia of Islam that he believes the graphic descriptions of Muhammad's condition at these moments may be regarded as genuine, because he was severely disturbed after these revelations. According to Welch, these seizures would have been seen by those around him as convincing evidence for the superhuman origin of Muhammad's inspirations. However, Muhammad's critics accused him of being a possessed man, a soothsayer or a magician since his experiences were similar to those claimed by such figures well known in ancient Arabia. Welch additionally states that it remains uncertain whether these experiences occurred before or after Muhammad's initial claim of prophethood. The Quran describes Muhammad as "ummi", which is traditionally interpreted as "illiterate," but the meaning is rather more complex. The medieval commentators such as Al-Tabari maintained that the term induced two meanings: first, the inability to read or write in general; second, the inexperience or ignorance of the previous books or scriptures (but they gave priority to the first meaning). Besides, Muhammad's illiteracy was taken as a sign of the genuineness of his prophethood. For example, according to Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, if Muhammad had mastered writing and reading he possibly would have been suspected of having studied the books of the ancestors. Some scholars such as Watt prefer the second meaning.

 

COMPILATION

Based on earlier transmitted reports, in the year 632 CE, after Muhammad died and a number of his companions who knew the Quran by heart were killed in a battle by Musaylimah, the first caliph Abu Bakr (d. 634CE) decided to collect the book in one volume so that it could be preserved. Zayd ibn Thabit (d. 655CE) was the person to collect the Quran since "he used to write the Divine Inspiration for Allah's Apostle". Thus, a group of scribes, most importantly Zayd, collected the verses and produced a hand-written manuscript of the complete book. The manuscript according to Zayd remained with Abu Bakr until he died. Zayd's reaction to the task and the difficulties in collecting the Quranic material from parchments, palm-leaf stalks, thin stones and from men who knew it by heart is recorded in earlier narratives. After Abu Bakr, Hafsa bint Umar, Muhammad's widow, was entrusted with the manuscript. In about 650 CE, the third Caliph Uthman ibn Affan (d. 656CE) began noticing slight differences in pronunciation of the Quran as Islam expanded beyond the Arabian peninsula into Persia, the Levant, and North Africa. In order to preserve the sanctity of the text, he ordered a committee headed by Zayd to use Abu Bakr's copy and prepare a standard copy of the Quran. Thus, within 20 years of Muhammad's death, the Quran was committed to written form. That text became the model from which copies were made and promulgated throughout the urban centers of the Muslim world, and other versions are believed to have been destroyed. The present form of the Quran text is accepted by Muslim scholars to be the original version compiled by Abu Bakr.

 

According to Shia and some Sunni scholars, Ali ibn Abi Talib (d. 661CE) compiled a complete version of the Quran shortly after Muhammad's death. The order of this text differed from that gathered later during Uthman's era in that this version had been collected in chronological order. Despite this, he made no objection against the standardized Quran and accepted the Quran in circulation. Other personal copies of the Quran might have existed including Ibn Mas'ud's and Ubayy ibn Kab's codex, none of which exist today.

 

The Quran most likely existed in scattered written form during Muhammad's lifetime. Several sources indicate that during Muhammad's lifetime a large number of his companions had memorized the revelations. Early commentaries and Islamic historical sources support the above-mentioned understanding of the Quran's early development. The Quran in its present form is generally considered by academic scholars to record the words spoken by Muhammad because the search for variants has not yielded any differences of great significance. Although most variant readings of the text of the Quran have ceased to be transmitted, some still are. There has been no critical text produced on which a scholarly reconstruction of the Quranic text could be based. Historically, controversy over the Quran's content has rarely become an issue, although debates continue on the subject.

 

In 1972, in a mosque in the city of Sana'a, Yemen, manuscripts were discovered that were later proved to be the most ancient Quranic text known to exist. The Sana'a manuscripts contain palimpsests, a manuscript page from which the text has been washed off to make the parchment reusable again - a practice which was common in ancient times due to scarcity of writing material. However, the faint washed-off underlying text (scriptio inferior) is still barely visible and believed to be "pre-Uthmanic" Quranic content, while the text written on top (scriptio superior) is believed to belong to Uthmanic time. Studies using radiocarbon dating indicate that the parchments are dated to the period before 671 AD with a 99 percent probability.

 

SIGNIFICANCE IN ISLAM

WORSHIP

Muslims believe the Quran to be the book of divine guidance revealed from God to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel over a period of 23 years and view the Quran as God's final revelation to humanity. They also believe that the Quran has solutions to all the problems of humanity irrespective of how complex they may be and in what age they occur.

 

Revelation in Islamic and Quranic concept means the act of God addressing an individual, conveying a message for a greater number of recipients. The process by which the divine message comes to the heart of a messenger of God is tanzil (to send down) or nuzūl (to come down). As the Quran says, "With the truth we (God) have sent it down and with the truth it has come down."

 

The Quran frequently asserts in its text that it is divinely ordained. Some verses in the Quran seem to imply that even those who do not speak Arabic would understand the Quran if it were recited to them. The Quran refers to a written pre-text, "the preserved tablet", that records God's speech even before it was sent down.

 

The issue of whether the Quran is eternal or created became a theological debate (Quran's createdness) in the ninth century. Mu'tazilas, an Islamic school of theology based on reason and rational thought, held that the Quran was created while the most widespread varieties of Muslim theologians considered the Quran to be co-eternal with God and therefore uncreated. Sufi philosophers view the question as artificial or wrongly framed.

 

Muslims believe that the present wording of the Quran corresponds to that revealed to Muhammad, and according to their interpretation of Quran 15:9, it is protected from corruption ("Indeed, it is We who sent down the Quran and indeed, We will be its guardian."). Muslims consider the Quran to be a guide, a sign of the prophethood of Muhammad and the truth of the religion. They argue it is not possible for a human to produce a book like the Quran, as the Quran itself maintains.

 

Muslims commemorate annually the beginning of Quran's revelation on the Night of Destiny (Laylat al-Qadr), during the last 10 days of Ramadan, the month during which they fast from sunrise until sunset.

 

The first sura of the Quran is repeated in daily prayers and in other occasions. This sura, which consists of seven verses, is the most often recited sura of the Quran:

 

"All praise belongs to God, Lord of the Universe, the Beneficent, the Merciful and Master of the Day of Judgment, You alone We do worship and from You alone we do seek assistance, guide us to the right path, the path of those to whom You have granted blessings, those who are neither subject to Your anger nor have gone astray."

 

Respect for the written text of the Quran is an important element of religious faith by many Muslims, and the Quran is treated with reverence. Based on tradition and a literal interpretation of Quran 56:79 ("none shall touch but those who are clean"), some Muslims believe that they must perform a ritual cleansing with water before touching a copy of the Quran, although this view is not universal. Worn-out copies of the Quran are wrapped in a cloth and stored indefinitely in a safe place, buried in a mosque or a Muslim cemetery, or burned and the ashes buried or scattered over water.

 

In Islam, most intellectual disciplines, including Islamic theology, philosophy, mysticism and Jurisprudence, have been concerned with the Quran or have their foundation in its teachings. Muslims believe that the preaching or reading of the Quran is rewarded with divine rewards variously called ajr, thawab or hasanat.

 

IN ISLAMIC ART

The Quran also inspired Islamic arts and specifically the so-called Quranic arts of calligraphy and illumination.[1] The Quran is never decorated with figurative images, but many Qurans have been highly decorated with decorative patterns in the margins of the page, or between the lines or at the start of suras. Islamic verses appear in many other media, on buildings and on objects of all sizes, such as mosque lamps, metal work, pottery and single pages of calligraphy for muraqqas or albums.

 

INIMITABILITY

Inimitability of the Quran (or "I'jaz") is the belief that no human speech can match the Quran in its content and form. The Quran is considered an inimitable miracle by Muslims, effective until the Day of Resurrection - and, thereby, the central proof granted to Muhammad in authentication of his prophetic status. The concept of inimitability originates in the Quran where in five different verses opponents are challenged to produce something like the Quran: "If men and sprites banded together to produce the like of this Quran they would never produce its like not though they backed one another."[61] So the suggestion is that if there are doubts concerning the divine authorship of the Quran, come forward and create something like it. From the ninth century, numerous works appeared which studied the Quran and examined its style and content. Medieval Muslim scholars including al-Jurjani (d. 1078CE) and al-Baqillani (d. 1013CE) have written treatises on the subject, discussed its various aspects, and used linguistic approaches to study the Quran. Others argue that the Quran contains noble ideas, has inner meanings, maintained its freshness through the ages and has caused great transformations in individual level and in the history. Some scholars state that the Quran contains scientific information that agrees with modern science. The doctrine of miraculousness of the Quran is further emphasized by Muhammad's illiteracy since the unlettered prophet could not have been suspected of composing the Quran.

 

TEXT & ARRANGEMENT

The Quran consists of 114 chapters of varying lengths, each known as a sura. Suras are classified as Meccan or Medinan, depending on whether the verses were revealed before or after the migration of Muhammad to the city of Medina. However, a sura classified as Medinan may contain Meccan verses in it and vice versa. Sura titles are derived from a name or quality discussed in the text, or from the first letters or words of the surah. Suras are arranged roughly in order of decreasing size. The sura arrangement is thus not connected to the sequence of revelation. Each sura except the ninth starts with the Bismillah (بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم) an Arabic phrase meaning 'In the name of God.' There are, however, still 114 occurrences of the Bismillah in the Quran, due to its presence in Quran 27:30 as the opening of Solomon's letter to the Queen of Sheba.

 

Each sura consists of several verses, known as ayat, which originally means a 'sign' or 'evidence' sent by God. The number of verses differs from sura to sura. An individual verse may be just a few letters or several lines. The total number of verses in the Quran is 6236, however, the number varies if the bismillahs are counted separately.

 

In addition to and independent of the division into suras, there are various ways of dividing the Quran into parts of approximately equal length for convenience in reading. The 30 juz' (plural ajzāʼ) can be used to read through the entire Quran in a month. Some of these parts are known by names - which are the first few words by which the juzʼ starts. A juz' is sometimes further divided into two ḥizb (plural aḥzāb), and each hizb subdivided into four rubʻ al-ahzab. The Quran is also divided into seven approximately equal parts, manzil (plural manāzil), for it to be recited in a week.

 

Muqatta'at, or the Quranic initials, are 14 different letter combinations of 14 Arabic letters that appear in the beginning of 29 suras of the Quran. The meanings of these initials remain unclear.

 

According to one estimate the Quran consists of 77,430 words, 18,994 unique words, 12,183 stems, 3,382 lemmas and 1,685 roots.

 

CONTENTS

The Quranic content is concerned with the basic beliefs of Islam which include the existence of God and the resurrection. Narratives of the early prophets, ethical and legal subjects, historical events of Muhammad's time, charity and prayer also appear in the Quran. The Quranic verses contain general exhortations regarding right and wrong and the historical events are related to outline general moral lessons. Verses pertaining to natural phenomena have been interpreted by Muslims as an indication of the authenticity of the Quranic message.

 

MONOTHEISM

The central theme of the Quran is monotheism. God is depicted as living, eternal, omniscient and omnipotent (see, e.g., Quran 2:20, 2:29, 2:255). God's omnipotence appears above all in his power to create. He is the creator of everything, of the heavens and the earth and what is between them (see, e.g., Quran 13:16, 50:38, etc.). All human beings are equal in their utter dependence upon God, and their well-being depends upon their acknowledging that fact and living accordingly.

 

The Quran uses cosmological and contingency arguments in various verses without referring to the terms to prove the existence of God. Therefore, the universe is originated and needs an originator, and whatever exists must have a sufficient cause for its existence. Besides, the design of the universe, is frequently referred to as a point of contemplation: "It is He who has created seven heavens in harmony. You cannot see any fault in God's creation; then look again: Can you see any flaw?"

 

ESCHATOLOGY

The doctrine of the last day and eschatology (the final fate of the universe) may be reckoned as the second great doctrine of the Quran. It is estimated that around a full one-third of the Quran is eschatological, dealing with the afterlife in the next world and with the day of judgment at the end of time. There is a reference of the afterlife on most pages of the Quran and the belief in the afterlife is often referred to in conjunction with belief in God as in the common expression: "Believe in God and the last day". A number of suras such as 44, 56, 75, 78, 81 and 101 are directly related to the afterlife and its preparations. Some of the suras indicate the closeness of the event and warn people to be prepared for the imminent day. For instance, the first verses of Sura 22, which deal with the mighty earthquake and the situations of people on that day, represent this style of divine address: "O People! Be respectful to your Lord. The earthquake of the Hour is a mighty thing."

 

The Quran is often vivid in its depiction of what will happen at the end time. Watt describes the Quranic view of End Time:

 

"The climax of history, when the present world comes to an end, is referred to in various ways. It is 'the Day of Judgment,' 'the Last Day,' 'the Day of Resurrection,' or simply 'the Hour.' Less frequently it is 'the Day of Distinction' (when the good are separated from the evil), 'the Day of the Gathering' (of men to the presence of God) or 'the Day of the Meeting' (of men with God). The Hour comes suddenly. It is heralded by a shout, by a thunderclap, or by the blast of a trumpet. A cosmic upheaval then takes place. The mountains dissolve into dust, the seas boil up, the sun is darkened, the stars fall and the sky is rolled up. God appears as Judge, but his presence is hinted at rather than described. [...] The central interest, of course, is in the gathering of all mankind before the Judge. Human beings of all ages, restored to life, join the throng. To the scoffing objection of the unbelievers that former generations had been dead a long time and were now dust and mouldering bones, the reply is that God is nevertheless able to restore them to life."

 

The Quran does not assert a natural immortality of the human soul, since man's existence is dependent on the will of God: when he wills, he causes man to die; and when he wills, he raises him to life again in a bodily resurrection.[68]

 

PROPHETS

According to the Quran, God communicated with man and made his will known through signs and revelations. Prophets, or 'Messengers of God', received revelations and delivered them to humanity. The message has been identical and for all humankind. "Nothing is said to you that was not said to the messengers before you, that your lord has at his Command forgiveness as well as a most Grievous Penalty." The revelation does not come directly from God to the prophets. Angels acting as God's messengers deliver the divine revelation to them. This comes out in Quran 42:51, in which it is stated: "It is not for any mortal that God should speak to them, except by revelation, or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger to reveal by his permission whatsoever He will."

 

ETHICO-RELIGIOUS CONCEPTS

Belief is the center of the sphere of positive moral properties in the Quran. A number of scholars have tried to determine the semantic contents of the words meaning 'belief' and 'believer' in the Quran [70] The Ethico-legal concepts and exhortations dealing with righteous conduct are linked to a profound awareness of God, thereby emphasizing the importance of faith, accountability and the belief in each human's ultimate encounter with God. People are invited to perform acts of charity, especially for the needy. Believers who "spend of their wealth by night and by day, in secret and in public" are promised that they "shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve" It also affirms family life by legislating on matters of marriage, divorce and inheritance. A number of practices such as usury and gambling are prohibited. The Quran is one of the fundamental sources of the Islamic law, or sharia. Some formal religious practices receive significant attention in the Quran including the formal prayers and fasting in the month of Ramadan. As for the manner in which the prayer is to be conducted, the Quran refers to prostration. The term used for charity, Zakat, actually means purification. Charity, according to the Quran, is a means of self-purification.

 

LITERARY STYLE

The Quran's message is conveyed with various literary structures and devices. In the original Arabic, the suras and verses employ phonetic and thematic structures that assist the audience's efforts to recall the message of the text. Muslims[who?] assert (according to the Quran itself) that the Quranic content and style is inimitable.

 

The language of the Quran has been described as "rhymed prose" as it partakes of both poetry and prose, however, this description runs the risk of compromising the rhythmic quality of Quranic language, which is certainly more poetic in some parts and more prose-like in others. Rhyme, while found throughout the Quran, is conspicuous in many of the earlier Meccan suras, in which relatively short verses throw the rhyming words into prominence. The effectiveness of such a form is evident for instance in Sura 81, and there can be no doubt that these passages impressed the conscience of the hearers. Frequently a change of rhyme from one set of verses to another signals a change in the subject of discussion. Later sections also preserve this form but the style is more expository.

 

The Quranic text seems to have no beginning, middle, or end, its nonlinear structure being akin to a web or net. The textual arrangement is sometimes considered to have lack of continuity, absence of any chronological or thematic order and presence of repetition. Michael Sells, citing the work of the critic Norman O. Brown, acknowledges Brown's observation that the seeming disorganization of Quranic literary expression – its scattered or fragmented mode of composition in Sells's phrase – is in fact a literary device capable of delivering profound effects as if the intensity of the prophetic message were shattering the vehicle of human language in which it was being communicated. Sells also addresses the much-discussed repetitiveness of the Quran, seeing this, too, as a literary device.

 

A text is self-referential when it speaks about itself and makes reference to itself. According to Stefan Wild the Quran demonstrates this meta-textuality by explaining, classifying, interpreting and justifying the words to be transmitted. Self-referentiality is evident in those passages when the Quran refers to itself as revelation (tanzil), remembrance (dhikr), news (naba'), criterion (furqan) in a self-designating manner (explicitly asserting its Divinity, "And this is a blessed Remembrance that We have sent down; so are you now denying it?"), or in the frequent appearance of the 'Say' tags, when Muhammad is commanded to speak (e.g. "Say: 'God's guidance is the true guidance' ", "Say: 'Would you then dispute with us concerning God?' "). According to Wild the Quran is highly self-referential. The feature is more evident in early Meccan suras.

 

INTERPRETATION

The Quran has sparked a huge body of commentary and explication (tafsīr), aimed at explaining the "meanings of the Quranic verses, clarifying their import and finding out their significance".

 

Tafsir is one of the earliest academic activities of Muslims. According to the Quran, Muhammad was the first person who described the meanings of verses for early Muslims. Other early exegetes included a few Companions of Muhammad, like ʻAli ibn Abi Talib, ʻAbdullah ibn Abbas, ʻAbdullah ibn Umar and Ubayy ibn Kaʻb. Exegesis in those days was confined to the explanation of literary aspects of the verse, the background of its revelation and, occasionally, interpretation of one verse with the help of the other. If the verse was about a historical event, then sometimes a few traditions (hadith) of Muhammad were narrated to make its meaning clear.

 

Because the Quran is spoken in classical Arabic, many of the later converts to Islam (mostly non-Arabs) did not always understand the Quranic Arabic, they did not catch allusions that were clear to early Muslims fluent in Arabic and they were concerned with reconciling apparent conflict of themes in the Quran. Commentators erudite in Arabic explained the allusions, and perhaps most importantly, explained which Quranic verses had been revealed early in Muhammad's prophetic career, as being appropriate to the very earliest Muslim community, and which had been revealed later, canceling out or "abrogating" (nāsikh) the earlier text (mansūkh). Other scholars, however, maintain that no abrogation has taken place in the Quran. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has published a 10-volume Urdu commentary on the Quran, with the name Tafseer e Kabir.

 

ESOTERIC INTERPRETATION

Esoteric or Sufi interpretation attempts to unveil the inner meanings of the Quran. Sufism moves beyond the apparent (zahir) point of the verses and instead relates Quranic verses to the inner or esoteric (batin) and metaphysical dimensions of consciousness and existence. According to Sands, esoteric interpretations are more suggestive than declarative, they are 'allusions' (isharat) rather than explanations (tafsir). They indicate possibilities as much as they demonstrate the insights of each writer.

 

Sufi interpretation, according to Annabel Keeler, also exemplifies the use of the theme of love, as for instance can seen in Qushayri's interpretation of the Quran. Quran 7:143 says:

 

"when Moses came at the time we appointed, and his Lord spoke to him, he said, 'My Lord, show yourself to me! Let me see you!' He said, 'you shall not see me but look at that mountain, if it remains standing firm you will see me.' When his Lord revealed Himself to the mountain, He made it crumble. Moses fell down unconscious. When he recovered, he said, 'Glory be to you! I repent to you! I am the first to believe!'"

 

Moses, in 7:143, comes the way of those who are in love, he asks for a vision but his desire is denied, he is made to suffer by being commanded to look at other than the Beloved while the mountain is able to see God. The mountain crumbles and Moses faints at the sight of God's manifestation upon the mountain. In Qushayri's words, Moses came like thousands of men who traveled great distances, and there was nothing left to Moses of Moses. In that state of annihilation from himself, Moses was granted the unveiling of the realities. From the Sufi point of view, God is the always the beloved and the wayfarer's longing and suffering lead to realization of the truths.[90]

 

Muhammad Husayn Tabatabaei says that according to the popular explanation among the later exegetes, ta'wil indicates the particular meaning a verse is directed towards. The meaning of revelation (tanzil), as opposed to ta'wil, is clear in its accordance to the obvious meaning of the words as they were revealed. But this explanation has become so widespread that, at present, it has become the primary meaning of ta'wil, which originally meant "to return" or "the returning place". In Tabatabaei's view, what has been rightly called ta'wil, or hermeneutic interpretation of the Quran, is not concerned simply with the denotation of words. Rather, it is concerned with certain truths and realities that transcend the comprehension of the common run of men; yet it is from these truths and realities that the principles of doctrine and the practical injunctions of the Quran issue forth. Interpretation is not the meaning of the verse - rather it transpires through that meaning, in a special sort of transpiration. There is a spiritual reality - which is the main objective of ordaining a law, or the basic aim in describing a divine attribute - and then there is an actual significance that a Quranic story refers to.

 

According to Shia beliefs, those who are firmly rooted in knowledge like Muhammad and the imams know the secrets of the Quran. According to Tabatabaei, the statement "none knows its interpretation except God" remains valid, without any opposing or qualifying clause. Therefore, so far as this verse is concerned, the knowledge of the Quran's interpretation is reserved for God. But Tabatabaei uses other verses and concludes that those who are purified by God know the interpretation of the Quran to a certain extent.

 

According to Tabatabaei, there are acceptable and unacceptable esoteric interpretations. Acceptable ta'wil refers to the meaning of a verse beyond its literal meaning; rather the implicit meaning, which ultimately is known only to God and can't be comprehended directly through human thought alone. The verses in question here refer to the human qualities of coming, going, sitting, satisfaction, anger and sorrow, which are apparently attributed to God. Unacceptable ta'wil is where one "transfers" the apparent meaning of a verse to a different meaning by means of a proof; this method is not without obvious inconsistencies. Although this unacceptable ta'wil has gained considerable acceptance, it is incorrect and cannot be applied to the Quranic verses. The correct interpretation is that reality a verse refers to. It is found in all verses, the decisive and the ambiguous alike; it is not a sort of a meaning of the word; it is a fact that is too sublime for words. God has dressed them with words to bring them a bit nearer to our minds; in this respect they are like proverbs that are used to create a picture in the mind, and thus help the hearer to clearly grasp the intended idea.

 

HISTORY OF SUFI COMMENTARIES

One of the notable authors of esoteric interpretation prior to the 12th century is Sulami (d. 1021 CE) without whose work the majority of very early Sufi commentaries would not have been preserved. Sulami's major commentary is a book named haqaiq al-tafsir ("Truths of Exegesis") which is a compilation of commentaries of earlier Sufis. From the 11th century onwards several other works appear, including commentaries by Qushayri (d. 1074), Daylami (d. 1193), Shirazi (d. 1209) and Suhrawardi (d. 1234). These works include material from Sulami's books plus the author's contributions. Many works are written in Persian such as the works of Maybudi (d. 1135) kash al-asrar ("the unveiling of the secrets"). Rumi (d. 1273) wrote a vast amount of mystical poetry in his book Mathnawi. Rumi makes heavy use of the Quran in his poetry, a feature that is sometimes omitted in translations of Rumi's work. A large number of Quranic passages can be found in Mathnawi, which some consider a kind of Sufi interpretation of the Quran. Rumi's book is not exceptional for containing citations from and elaboration on the Quran, however, Rumi does mention Quran more frequently. Simnani (d. 1336) wrote two influential works of esoteric exegesis on the Quran. He reconciled notions of God's manifestation through and in the physical world with the sentiments of Sunni Islam. Comprehensive Sufi commentaries appears in the 18th century such as the work of Ismail Hakki Bursevi (d. 1725). His work ruh al-Bayan (the Spirit of Elucidation) is a voluminous exegesis. Written in Arabic, it combines the author's own ideas with those of his predecessors (notably Ibn Arabi and Ghazali), all woven together in Hafiz, a Persian poetry form.

 

LEVELS OF MEANING

Unlike the Salafis and Zahiri, Shias and Sufis as well as some other Muslim philosophers believe the meaning of the Quran is not restricted to the literal aspect. For them, it is an essential idea that the Quran also has inward aspects. Henry Corbin narrates a hadith that goes back to Muhammad:

 

"The Quran possesses an external appearance and a hidden depth, an exoteric meaning and an esoteric meaning. This esoteric meaning in turn conceals an esoteric meaning (this depth possesses a depth, after the image of the celestial Spheres, which are enclosed within each other). So it goes on for seven esoteric meanings (seven depths of hidden depth)."

 

According to this view, it has also become evident that the inner meaning of the Quran does not eradicate or invalidate its outward meaning. Rather, it is like the soul, which gives life to the body. Corbin considers the Quran to play a part in Islamic philosophy, because gnosiology itself goes hand in hand with prophetology.

 

Commentaries dealing with the zahir (outward aspects) of the text are called tafsir, and hermeneutic and esoteric commentaries dealing with the batin are called ta'wil ("interpretation" or "explanation"), which involves taking the text back to its beginning. Commentators with an esoteric slant believe that the ultimate meaning of the Quran is known only to God. In contrast, Quranic literalism, followed by Salafis and Zahiris, is the belief that the Quran should only be taken at its apparent meaning.

 

TRANSLATIONS

Translation of the Quran has always been a problematic and difficult issue. Many argue that the Quranic text cannot be reproduced in another language or form. Furthermore, an Arabic word may have a range of meanings depending on the context, making an accurate translation even more difficult.

 

Nevertheless, the Quran has been translated into most African, Asian and European languages. The first translator of the Quran was Salman the Persian, who translated surat al-Fatiha into Persian during the seventh century. Another translation of the Quran was completed in 884 CE in Alwar (Sindh, India now Pakistan) by the orders of Abdullah bin Umar bin Abdul Aziz on the request of the Hindu Raja Mehruk.

 

The first fully attested complete translations of the Quran were done between the 10th and 12th centuries in Persian language. The Samanid king, Mansur I (961-976), ordered a group of scholars from Khorasan to translate the Tafsir al-Tabari, originally in Arabic, into Persian. Later in the 11th century, one of the students of Abu Mansur Abdullah al-Ansari wrote a complete tafsir of the Quran in Persian. In the 12th century, Najm al-Din Abu Hafs al-Nasafi translated the Quran into Persian. The manuscripts of all three books have survived and have been published several times.

 

Islamic tradition also holds that translations were made for Emperor Negus of Abyssinia and Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, as both received letters by Muhammad containing verses from the Quran. In early centuries, the permissibility of translations was not an issue, but whether one could use translations in prayer.

 

In 1936, translations in 102 languages were known. In 2010, the Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review reported that the Quran was presented in 112 languages at the 18th International Quran Exhibition in Tehran.

   

Beauty standards (white complexion and big black eyes of the houris), jewels and fabrics worn by the people of paradise (rubis, coral, silk, brocade), perfumes that embalm the gardens of Eden (musc, amber), food and food in abundance, correspond to this horizon. The Muslim tradition is full of details about the physical features and customs of the inhabitants of paradise. Basically: beautiful, radiant, 33 years old (all men and women, without exception), they do not know sleep or fatigue and will never have children, because procreation is impossible in paradise. According to this description, the elected and blessed will all speak Arabic. In addition to being the language of the Koran, Arabic will also be the language of paradise. The palaces reserved for the inhabitants of paradise are carved out of precious stones and constructed of gold, ruby and musk, and are spread out over tens of kilometers and their ceilings are hundreds of meters high. Excessive dimensions that will make the poet Bashar Ibn Bord's teasing spirit say that it must be very cold during the month of December in such spacious and tall residences.

 

“Satisfaction is the greatest gate of God and the paradise of this world.” Know that the servant will not approach being satisfied with God". In addition to other descriptions of Jannah (heaven), Islamic tradition describes heaven as having eight "doors" or "gates." Each one has a name, describing the types of people who will be admitted through it. Some scholars interpret that these doors are found inside Jannah, after one enters the main gate. The exact nature of these doors is unknown, but they were mentioned in the Quran and their names were given by the Prophet Muhammad.Most of the Qur' anic verses evoking the resurrection, paradise and hell have been revealed in Mecca. During the first thirteen years of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad was to conquer the hearts and minds of the men and women who would make up the first Muslim community. This period spent in Mecca was a time of fragility, hardship and endurance for the prophet of Islam. The rich and powerful chiefs of the Qurayche tribe saw no point in believing and following the message of a destitute orphan, protected by an aging uncle and supported by "the weak and slaves". Mohammed then described the spiritual and moral aspects of his revelation, and described life here on earth as a passage, a transition, a trial course, where only submission to God and the fulfillment of good deeds counted. Wealth, prestige, noble belonging and titles had no interest or usefulness after death. The verses revealed to Mecca abound in descriptions that depict the future life, where the pious, rich or poor, will be rewarded, while the arrogant, the ungodly and the unbelievers will be promised to the torment and torment of hell. The description of paradise in these verses is sensual, taking up the aspects of luxury, opulence and comfort that were prevalent at the time among the wealthy inhabitants of Mecca. As pointed out by Sheikh Soubhi El-Saleh, author of a reference book on the subject (The Future Life According to the Qur' an, Vrin Edition, 1986), the highly materialistic nature of life in Mecca explains the use of this sensual description. A thriving centre of commerce, a meeting place for Arab tribes, Mecca was dominated by the cult of wealth, lush and affluence. The Qur' an should then present a description of the delights of paradise and the afflictions of hell close to the mental and cultural horizon of the inhabitants of Mecca.

To those who reject Our signs and treat them with arrogance, no opening will there be of the gates of heaven, nor will they enter the garden, until the camel can pass through the eye of the needle. Such is Our reward for those in sin. (Quran 7:40)

And those who feared their Lord will be led to the Garden in crowds, until behold, they arrive there. Its gates will be opened, and its keepers will say: 'Peace be upon you! You have done well! Enter here, to dwell therein.' (Quran 39:73)

Ubadah narrated that the Prophet Muhammad said: "If anyone testifies that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah Alone Who has no partners, and that Muhammad is his slave and His Apostle, and that Jesus is Allah's slave and His Apostle and His word which He bestowed on Mary and a spirit created by Him, and that Paradise is true, and Hell is true, Allah will admit him into Paradise through any of its eight gates he likes."

 

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet said: "Whoever spends two things in the way of Allah will be called from the gates of Paradise and will be addressed, 'O slave of Allah, here is prosperity!' So whoever was among the people who used to offer their prayers will be called from the gate of prayer; and whoever was among the people who used to participate in jihad will be called from the gate of jihad; and whoever was among those who used to observe fasts will be called from the gate of ar-Rayyaan; and whoever was among those who used to give in charity will be called from the gate of charity."

It is natural to wonder: What will happen to those people who have earned the privilege to enter Jannah through more than one gate? Abu Bakr had the same question, and he eagerly asked the Prophet Muhammad: "Will there be anyone who will be called from all these gates?" The Prophet answered him, "Yes. And I hope you will be one of them."

The most commonly-cited list of the eight doors of Jannah includes:

Baab As-Salaat: Those who were punctual and focused in their prayers (salaat) will be granted entry through this door.

 

Baab Al-Jihad: Those who have died in the defense of Islam (jihad) will be granted entry through this door. Note that the Quran calls upon Muslims to solve issues by peaceful means, and only engage in defensive battles. "Let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression" (Quran 2:193).

Baab As-Sadaqah: Those who frequently give away in charity (sadaqah) will be admitted into Jannah through this door.

Baab Ar-Rayyaan

The people who constantly observed fasting (especially during Ramadan) will be granted entry through this door.

Baab Al-Hajj: Those who observe the Hajj pilgrimage will be admitted through this door.

Baab Al-Kaazimeen Al-Ghaiz Wal Aafina Anin Naas: This door is reserved for those who control their anger and forgive others.

Baab Al-Iman: This door is reserved for the entry of such people who have sincere faith and trust in Allah, and who strive to follow the commands of Allah.

Baab Al-Dhikr: Those who constantly remembered Allah (dhikr) will be admitted through this door.

Whether one believes that these "gates" of heaven are metaphorical or literal, it helps one to see where the core values of Islam lie. The names of the gates each describe a spiritual practice that one should strive to incorporate into one's life.

“There are eight gates for Paradise and seven gates for the Fire.” said the Prophet (pbuh).

 

The saying of praise for Allah, “Al-Hamdu Lil-lahi,” has eight alphabets*; the number of the gates of Paradise is also eight, therefore he who recites these eight alphabets out of purity of heart does deserve (the opening of) the eight gates of Paradise. Know that indeed there are eight gates for Paradise, and in the rank that you reach after reciting, “I take refuge in Allah from Shaytan the outcast…” one gate of the eight gates of Paradise opens for you; that is the gate of Ma’refa (Divine Gnosis).

A second gate is that of al-Dhikr (Remembrance) as you are reciting ‘Bismil-lahir Rahmanir Rahim’.

The third gate is that of Shukr (Gratitude) after reciting ‘Al-Hamdu Lil-Lahi Rabbil Alamin’.

The fourth gate is that of Hope when you recite ‘Ar-Rahanir Rahimi’.

The fifth gate is that of Fear when you recite ‘Maliki Yaumid-Din’.

The sixth gate is that of Purity born out of the Ma’refa (Divine Gnosis) of ‘Ubudiat (Servitude) and Rububiat (Divinity) in your reciting ‘Iyyaka Na’budu Wa Iyyaka Nasta’inu’.

The seventh gate is that of Du’a (Invocation) in your reciting ‘Ihdinas Siratal Mustaqim’.

The eighth gate is that of ‘Iqtidā’ (emulation or following the example) of the good and pure souls, and of seeking guidance through their Nur (Divine Light) and that is in your reciting of ‘Siratal La-Dhina…’

Now you know the secrets of the Eight Gates of Paradise and what is referred to in 38:50. ‘The Gardens of Eden with opened gates for them’. For the Gardens of Divine Gnosis have been opened by these spiritual keys, and this does point to what happens during the Prayer of Spiritual Ascension, like that of the Prophet (pbuh) to the Heavens.

 

– From the Tasfir al-Kabir (The Great Commentary), al-Fatiha, verse 7, by Fahkr al-Din al-Razi (his exegesis on the Quran), also named the Mafatih al-Ghayb (The Keys to the Unknown).

 

The transition to Medina and the creation of the Islamic state marked a new trend in the description of the afterlife. The Qur' anic verses revealed to Medina, depicting heaven and hell, are more spiritual, less picturesque, and the notion of "divine satisfaction" (or Ridwan) is placed above any divine reward or reward. It is obvious that this evolution of spiritual thought is in Medina where the prophet has become the spiritual guide of the new community. It is precisely this period of great importance for the future of Islam that puts an end to the Paradise description,"notes Sheikh Sobhi El-Saleh, a former president of the Lebanese Ulema League and a member of the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco.

It should be noted, however, that the Qur' an remains concise and sober in the description of heaven, hell and life after death. It is the Hadith and Muslim tradition that provide the most detailed and exuberant accounts of the afterlife.The resurrection and the day of the judgment are the subject of a Dantean and terrifying narrative in Muslim religious texts. According to a verse of the Qur' an, the resurrection (Al Qiyama) is announced by a trumpet blow (Al Nafkh fi Sour). All creatures will then find life and recover their bodies, souls and spirits. Harboured and stunned by their resurrection, human beings realize what happens to them and prefer to return to their graves rather than face the day of the final judgment. They are then placed in a long and unbearable wait, in a state of nudity and anguish, which will make the most selfish reflexes of the human being reappear: the mothers will forget their own children and everyone will be concerned about their own fate. In his masterpiece Al Foutouhat Al Makkiya, the mystical Andalusian master Ibn Arabi speaks of 50 stops along the way from resurrection to heaven or hell. According to Ibn Arabi, each stopping place is equivalent to a thousand years of waiting, and at each station (Mawqif), the different actions of human beings will be scrutinized. The good accomplished and the evil done by each one will be weighed and evaluated, before the faithful join paradise and the ungodly rushed into hell. The Hadith and Muslim tradition provide a colourful and very ceremonial description of the arrival in paradise. Thus, after having passed through the trials of judgment, the blessed ones will arrive before the eight immense gates of paradise. Each door has a name that designates it according to the benefits and virtues of the faithful: a door of prayer, jihad, fasting, repentance, almsgiving, submission to God, control of anger, and a last door reserved for those who will enter heaven without judgment. According to the Muslim tradition, the first person to enter heaven is the prophet Muhammad, followed by members of the Muslim community, the poor first, then the rich and the affluent. This discrimination is a way of "rewarding" the poor, slaves and wretched who were the first to believe in the message of the prophet of Islam. After the Muslim community, it is the turn of Christians, guided by Jesus, to reach heaven. The other communities will follow in their footsteps, led by their respective prophets. Noah and those who followed him after the flood will close this long procession to heaven. The arrival in front of the seven gates of hell is described in a more terrifying way. The damned doomed to hell will arrive in seven groups, depending on the seriousness of the sins committed. Each door will be assigned to a group and sinners belonging to the Muslim community will move towards the door where torments are the least cruel. Honoured, humiliated, carrying heavy weight, the condemned to hell are watched over by an incalculable number of guards endowed with an incomparable strength and an indescribable cruelty. As the ungodly and unbelievers approached, hell roared and spit out its flames, and a rain of fire, ropes and chains fell upon the future tenants of hell. At the sight of this frightening spectacle, the latter retreat from fear and fear, cry, cry, scream, but relentless angels will follow them and precipitate them into hell, and their fall will spread over several years (70 years according to some accounts) before reaching the bottom. The Muslim tradition is inexhaustible of details and imagination in the description of paradise, perceived as a place of rest, bliss and eternal enjoyment. The disproportionate dimensions, the abundance of goods and delicacies, the extremely sensual nature of the narratives that depict paradise, have prompted rational theologians and Sufis to put a dose of relativity and even doubt in this description. According to the Muslim tradition, which includes Hadith and comments from the Qur' an, heaven is placed in the seventh heaven below God's throne, to mark the closeness of the blessed mansion to God's dwelling-place. However, paradise does contain levels according to the degree of piety, faith and actions accomplished here below. The chosen ones, i. e. the most faithful prophets and believers, placed on higher floors, will appear to the other tenants of paradise as "the rays of the stars and stars". The alleys of paradise are inlaid with precious stones and rubies and the ground is covered with musk and saffron, and heady scents embellish the atmosphere. Rivers of honey, milk and wine flow through paradise and water its people with their unalterable taste. According to this description, the bodies of the inhabitants of paradise do not know sickness, decay or death. Moreover, a hadith explains that death will be incarnated in the form of a ram, brought back by angels, and slain before the people of heaven and hell, to signify to them the eternal character of life in the afterlife and the end of the fear of death that haunts humans.

The exuberant, picturesque and luxurious description of paradise has prompted a number of Muslim theologians and mystics to react, who wanted to give a more spiritual, rational or symbolic aspect to the catalogue of pleasures promised to the blessed in paradise. For Al Ghazali, the famous 11th century theologian, no human being is able to grasp or describe life perfectly in heaven or hell. Al Ghazali defines paradise and its pleasures in the words of a hadith:"Paradise is what no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and which has never passed through the heart of a human being". The description of paradise thus has the value of illustration and example. According to this vision of Al Ghazali, the delights of paradise are therefore nothing more than a theatre of shadows and a presentation close to the material meaning that humans give to the notion of pleasure. God has revealed only a figuration of paradise and not its essence nor its true and real nature, which is known only to him.

Much closer to us, Sheikh Mohamed Abdou, the great Egyptian religious reformer, is sceptical and sometimes critical of the material and overly detailed description of life in paradise, and the afterlife in general. While accepting the concrete and sensual nature of paradise, Sheikh Mohamed Abdou considers spiritual retribution to be more important than the material pleasures of paradise. The Egyptian reformer, aware of the role of tradition in amplifying stories about the afterlife, only admits to these questions the Motawatar hadiths, i. e. those with a high degree of authenticity and whose number is very small. The method allows this great figure of reformist and rational Salafism to give a sober description of paradise, closer to reason and understanding than the overly detailed narratives of which the Muslim tradition abounds. Like Al Ghazali, Mohamed Abdou also reminds us of this hadith, which presents paradise as belonging to the domain of the indescribable and the inexpressible. Sufism, on the other hand, provides an original vision of paradise and the relationship that Muslims must establish with the afterlife. For the masters of Muslim mysticism, God must be worshipped for himself and not out of fear of his hell or the desire to reach his paradise. Rabia Al Adaouia expresses this vision best when she explained to one of her visitors:"I did not worship God, like the evil slave, out of fear of his hell or desire for his paradise, but I loved him out of love for him and by inclination towards him". Rabia Al Adaouia did not dispute the existence of paradise and its nature, but felt that all these pleasures are incomparable with God's closeness and contemplation. As Orientalist Louis Massignon notes, the Iraqi mystic was looking for the neighbour (God) first, rather than the dwelling place (the paradise). Other mystics, such as Al Halaj or Al Nifari, considered paradise as a veil stretched to hide the essential. The pleasures of paradise are displayed as a kind of divine ruse that places the chosen ones in waiting, like the beloved one making his lover languish, before appearing and revealing himself to him.

 

www.thoughtco.com/doors-of-jannah-2004342

 

Taken, with thanks to Brother Dara, from the Untiredwithloving website.

 

from wikipedia

 

A Muslim, sometimes spelled Moslem,[1] is a follower of the religion of Islam,[2] a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the Quran. Muslims consider the Quran to be the verbatim word of God as revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. They also follow the teachings and practices of Muhammad as recorded in traditional accounts called hadith.[3] "Muslim" is an Arabic word meaning "one who submits (to God)".[4] A female Muslim is sometimes called a "Muslimah".

 

Most Muslims accept as a Muslim anyone who has publicly pronounced the Shahadah (declaration of faith) which states:

 

There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.[5]

 

Islamic beliefs commonly held by Muslims include: that God (Arabic: الله‎ Allāh) is eternal, transcendent and absolutely one (monotheism); that God is incomparable, self-sustaining and neither begets nor was begotten; that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that has been revealed before through many prophets including Abraham, Moses, Ishmael and Jesus;[6] that these previous messages and revelations have been partially changed or corrupted over time[7] and that the Qur'an is the final unaltered revelation from God (The Final Testament).[8]

 

The religious practices of Muslims are enumerated in the Five Pillars of Islam, which, in addition to Shahadah, consist of daily prayers (salat), fasting during Ramadan (sawm), almsgiving (zakat), and the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) at least once in a lifetime.[9][10]

  

The word muslim (Arabic: مسلم‎, IPA: [ˈmʊslɪm]; English /ˈmʌzlɨm/, /ˈmʊzlɨm/, /ˈmʊslɨm/ or moslem /ˈmɒzləm/, /ˈmɒsləm/[11]) is the participle of the same verb of which islām is the infinitive, based on the triliteral S-L-M "to be whole, intact".[12][13] A female adherent is a muslima (Arabic: مسلمة‎). The plural form in Arabic is muslimūn (مسلمون), and its feminine equivalent is muslimāt (مسلمات). The Arabic form muslimun is the stem IV participle[14] of the triliteral S-L-M. A female Muslim can variously be called in their etymologically Arabic form of Muslimah, also spelled Muslima, Muslimette, Muslimess or simple the standard term of Muslim.[15][16] General alternative epithets or designations given to Muslims include mosquegoer, masjidgoer, or archaic, dated and obsolete terms such as Muslimite or Muslimist.[17][18][19]

 

The ordinary word in English is "Muslim". It is sometimes transliterated as "Moslem", which is an older spelling.[20] The word Mosalman (Persian: مسلمان‎, alternatively Mussalman) is a common equivalent for Muslim used in Central Asia. Until at least the mid-1960s, many English-language writers used the term Mohammedans or Mahometans.[21] Although such terms were not necessarily intended to be pejorative, Muslims argue that the terms are offensive because they allegedly imply that Muslims worship Muhammad rather than God.[22]

 

In defining Muslim, the Sufi spiritual leader Ibn Arabi said:

 

A Muslim is a person who has dedicated his worship exclusively to God...Islam means making one's religion and faith God's alone.[2

  

About 13% of Muslims live in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country,[24] 25% in South Asia,[24] 20% in the Middle East and North Africa,[24][25] 2% in Central Asia, 4% in the remaining South East Asian countries, and 15% in Sub-saharan Africa.[24] Sizable communities are also found in China and Russia, and parts of the Caribbean. Converts and immigrant communities are found in almost every part of the world.

 

The majority of Muslims are Sunni, being over 75–90% of all Muslims.[26][27] The second and third largest sects, Shia and Ahmadiyya, make up 10–20%,[28] and 1%[29] respectively. The most populous Muslim-majority country is Indonesia home to 12.7% of the world's Muslims followed by Pakistan (11.0%), Bangladesh (9.2%), and Egypt (4.9%).[30] Sizable minorities are also found in India, China, Russia, Ethiopia, Americas, Australia and parts of Europe. With about 1.6 billion followers, almost a quarter of earth's population,[24][31][32] Islam is the second-largest and one of the fastest-growing religions in the world.[33][34][35]

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim

 

The Quran (English pronunciation: /kɔrˈɑːn/ kor-AHN , Arabic: القرآن‎ al-qur'ān, IPA: [qurˈʔaːn], literally meaning "the recitation", also romanised Qur'an or Koran) is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims believe to be a revelation from God (Arabic: الله‎, Allah). Its scriptural status among a world-spanning religious community, and its major place within world literature generally, has led to a great deal of secondary literature on the Quran. Quranic chapters are called suras and verses are called ayahs.

 

Muslims believe that the Quran was verbally revealed by God to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel (Jibril), gradually over a period of approximately 23 years, beginning on 22 December 609 CE, when Muhammad was 40, and concluding in 632 CE, the year of his death. Muslims regard the Quran as the most important miracle of Muhammad, a proof of his prophethood, and the culmination of a series of divine messages that started with the messages revealed to Adam and ended with Muhammad. They consider the Quran to be the only revealed book that has been protected by God from distortion or corruption.

 

According to the traditional narrative, several companions of Muhammad served as scribes and were responsible for writing down the revelations. Shortly after Muhammad's death, the Quran was compiled by his companions who wrote down and memorized parts of it. These codices had differences that motivated the Caliph Uthman to establish a standard version now known as Uthman's codex, which is generally considered the archetype of the Quran we have today. However, the existence of variant readings, with mostly minor and some significant variations, and the early unvocalized Arabic script mean the relationship between Uthman's codex to both the text of today's Quran and to the revelations of Muhammad's time is still unclear.

 

The Quran assumes familiarity with major narratives recounted in the Jewish and Christian scriptures. It summarizes some, dwells at length on others and, in some cases, presents alternative accounts and interpretations of events. The Quran describes itself as a book of guidance. It sometimes offers detailed accounts of specific historical events, and it often emphasizes the moral significance of an event over its narrative sequence. The Quran is used along with the hadith to interpret sharia law. During prayers, the Quran is recited only in Arabic.

 

Someone who has memorized the entire Quran is called a hafiz. Some Muslims read Quranic ayahs (verses) with elocution, which is often called tajwīd. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims typically complete the recitation of the whole Quran during tarawih prayers. In order to extrapolate the meaning of a particular Quranic verse, most Muslims rely on the tafsir.

 

ETYMOLOGY & MEANING

The word qurʼān appears about 70 times in the Quran itself, assuming various meanings. It is a verbal noun (maṣdar) of the Arabic verb qaraʼa (قرأ), meaning "he read" or "he recited". The Syriac equivalent is (ܩܪܝܢܐ) qeryānā, which refers to "scripture reading" or "lesson". While some Western scholars consider the word to be derived from the Syriac, the majority of Muslim authorities hold the origin of the word is qaraʼa itself. Regardless, it had become an Arabic term by Muhammad's lifetime. An important meaning of the word is the "act of reciting", as reflected in an early Quranic passage: "It is for Us to collect it and to recite it (qurʼānahu)."

 

In other verses, the word refers to "an individual passage recited [by Muhammad]". Its liturgical context is seen in a number of passages, for example: "So when al-qurʼān is recited, listen to it and keep silent." The word may also assume the meaning of a codified scripture when mentioned with other scriptures such as the Torah and Gospel.

 

The term also has closely related synonyms that are employed throughout the Quran. Each synonym possesses its own distinct meaning, but its use may converge with that of qurʼān in certain contexts. Such terms include kitāb (book); āyah (sign); and sūrah (scripture). The latter two terms also denote units of revelation. In the large majority of contexts, usually with a definite article (al-), the word is referred to as the "revelation" (waḥy), that which has been "sent down" (tanzīl) at intervals. Other related words are: dhikr (remembrance), used to refer to the Quran in the sense of a reminder and warning, and ḥikmah (wisdom), sometimes referring to the revelation or part of it.

 

The Quran describes itself as "the discernment or the criterion between truth and falsehood" (al-furqān), "the mother book" (umm al-kitāb), "the guide" (huda), "the wisdom" (hikmah), "the remembrance" (dhikr) and "the revelation" (tanzīl; something sent down, signifying the descent of an object from a higher place to lower place). Another term is al-kitāb (the book), though it is also used in the Arabic language for other scriptures, such as the Torah and the Gospels. The adjective of "Quran" has multiple transliterations including "quranic," "koranic" and "qur'anic," or capitalised as "Qur'anic," "Koranic" and "Quranic." The term muṣḥaf ('written work') is often used to refer to particular Quranic manuscripts but is also used in the Quran to identify earlier revealed books. Other transliterations of "Quran" include "al-Coran", "Coran", "Kuran" and "al-Qurʼan".

 

HISTORY

PROPHETIC ERA

Islamic tradition relates that Muhammad received his first revelation in the Cave of Hira during one of his isolated retreats to the mountains. Thereafter, he received revelations over a period of 23 years. According to hadith and Muslim history, after Muhammad emigrated to Medina and formed an independent Muslim community, he ordered many of his companions to recite the Quran and to learn and teach the laws, which were revealed daily. It is related that some of the Quraish who were taken prisoners at the battle of Badr regained their freedom after they had taught some of the Muslims the simple writing of the time. Thus a group of Muslims gradually became literate. As it was initially spoken, the Quran was recorded on tablets, bones, and the wide, flat ends of date palm fronds. Most suras were in use amongst early Muslims since they are mentioned in numerous sayings by both Sunni and Shia sources, relating Muhammad's use of the Quran as a call to Islam, the making of prayer and the manner of recitation. However, the Quran did not exist in book form at the time of Muhammad's death in 632 CE. There is agreement among scholars that Muhammad himself did not write down the revelation.

 

Sahih al-Bukhari narrates Muhammad describing the revelations as, "Sometimes it is (revealed) like the ringing of a bell" and Aisha reported, "I saw the Prophet being inspired Divinely on a very cold day and noticed the sweat dropping from his forehead (as the Inspiration was over)." Muhammad's first revelation, according to the Quran, was accompanied with a vision. The agent of revelation is mentioned as the "one mighty in power", the one who "grew clear to view when he was on the uppermost horizon. Then he drew nigh and came down till he was (distant) two bows' length or even nearer." The Islamic studies scholar Welch states in the Encyclopaedia of Islam that he believes the graphic descriptions of Muhammad's condition at these moments may be regarded as genuine, because he was severely disturbed after these revelations. According to Welch, these seizures would have been seen by those around him as convincing evidence for the superhuman origin of Muhammad's inspirations. However, Muhammad's critics accused him of being a possessed man, a soothsayer or a magician since his experiences were similar to those claimed by such figures well known in ancient Arabia. Welch additionally states that it remains uncertain whether these experiences occurred before or after Muhammad's initial claim of prophethood. The Quran describes Muhammad as "ummi", which is traditionally interpreted as "illiterate," but the meaning is rather more complex. The medieval commentators such as Al-Tabari maintained that the term induced two meanings: first, the inability to read or write in general; second, the inexperience or ignorance of the previous books or scriptures (but they gave priority to the first meaning). Besides, Muhammad's illiteracy was taken as a sign of the genuineness of his prophethood. For example, according to Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, if Muhammad had mastered writing and reading he possibly would have been suspected of having studied the books of the ancestors. Some scholars such as Watt prefer the second meaning.

 

COMPILATION

Based on earlier transmitted reports, in the year 632 CE, after Muhammad died and a number of his companions who knew the Quran by heart were killed in a battle by Musaylimah, the first caliph Abu Bakr (d. 634CE) decided to collect the book in one volume so that it could be preserved. Zayd ibn Thabit (d. 655CE) was the person to collect the Quran since "he used to write the Divine Inspiration for Allah's Apostle". Thus, a group of scribes, most importantly Zayd, collected the verses and produced a hand-written manuscript of the complete book. The manuscript according to Zayd remained with Abu Bakr until he died. Zayd's reaction to the task and the difficulties in collecting the Quranic material from parchments, palm-leaf stalks, thin stones and from men who knew it by heart is recorded in earlier narratives. After Abu Bakr, Hafsa bint Umar, Muhammad's widow, was entrusted with the manuscript. In about 650 CE, the third Caliph Uthman ibn Affan (d. 656CE) began noticing slight differences in pronunciation of the Quran as Islam expanded beyond the Arabian peninsula into Persia, the Levant, and North Africa. In order to preserve the sanctity of the text, he ordered a committee headed by Zayd to use Abu Bakr's copy and prepare a standard copy of the Quran. Thus, within 20 years of Muhammad's death, the Quran was committed to written form. That text became the model from which copies were made and promulgated throughout the urban centers of the Muslim world, and other versions are believed to have been destroyed. The present form of the Quran text is accepted by Muslim scholars to be the original version compiled by Abu Bakr.

 

According to Shia and some Sunni scholars, Ali ibn Abi Talib (d. 661CE) compiled a complete version of the Quran shortly after Muhammad's death. The order of this text differed from that gathered later during Uthman's era in that this version had been collected in chronological order. Despite this, he made no objection against the standardized Quran and accepted the Quran in circulation. Other personal copies of the Quran might have existed including Ibn Mas'ud's and Ubayy ibn Kab's codex, none of which exist today.

 

The Quran most likely existed in scattered written form during Muhammad's lifetime. Several sources indicate that during Muhammad's lifetime a large number of his companions had memorized the revelations. Early commentaries and Islamic historical sources support the above-mentioned understanding of the Quran's early development. The Quran in its present form is generally considered by academic scholars to record the words spoken by Muhammad because the search for variants has not yielded any differences of great significance. Although most variant readings of the text of the Quran have ceased to be transmitted, some still are. There has been no critical text produced on which a scholarly reconstruction of the Quranic text could be based. Historically, controversy over the Quran's content has rarely become an issue, although debates continue on the subject.

 

In 1972, in a mosque in the city of Sana'a, Yemen, manuscripts were discovered that were later proved to be the most ancient Quranic text known to exist. The Sana'a manuscripts contain palimpsests, a manuscript page from which the text has been washed off to make the parchment reusable again - a practice which was common in ancient times due to scarcity of writing material. However, the faint washed-off underlying text (scriptio inferior) is still barely visible and believed to be "pre-Uthmanic" Quranic content, while the text written on top (scriptio superior) is believed to belong to Uthmanic time. Studies using radiocarbon dating indicate that the parchments are dated to the period before 671 AD with a 99 percent probability.

 

SIGNIFICANCE IN ISLAM

WORSHIP

Muslims believe the Quran to be the book of divine guidance revealed from God to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel over a period of 23 years and view the Quran as God's final revelation to humanity. They also believe that the Quran has solutions to all the problems of humanity irrespective of how complex they may be and in what age they occur.

 

Revelation in Islamic and Quranic concept means the act of God addressing an individual, conveying a message for a greater number of recipients. The process by which the divine message comes to the heart of a messenger of God is tanzil (to send down) or nuzūl (to come down). As the Quran says, "With the truth we (God) have sent it down and with the truth it has come down."

 

The Quran frequently asserts in its text that it is divinely ordained. Some verses in the Quran seem to imply that even those who do not speak Arabic would understand the Quran if it were recited to them. The Quran refers to a written pre-text, "the preserved tablet", that records God's speech even before it was sent down.

 

The issue of whether the Quran is eternal or created became a theological debate (Quran's createdness) in the ninth century. Mu'tazilas, an Islamic school of theology based on reason and rational thought, held that the Quran was created while the most widespread varieties of Muslim theologians considered the Quran to be co-eternal with God and therefore uncreated. Sufi philosophers view the question as artificial or wrongly framed.

 

Muslims believe that the present wording of the Quran corresponds to that revealed to Muhammad, and according to their interpretation of Quran 15:9, it is protected from corruption ("Indeed, it is We who sent down the Quran and indeed, We will be its guardian."). Muslims consider the Quran to be a guide, a sign of the prophethood of Muhammad and the truth of the religion. They argue it is not possible for a human to produce a book like the Quran, as the Quran itself maintains.

 

Muslims commemorate annually the beginning of Quran's revelation on the Night of Destiny (Laylat al-Qadr), during the last 10 days of Ramadan, the month during which they fast from sunrise until sunset.

 

The first sura of the Quran is repeated in daily prayers and in other occasions. This sura, which consists of seven verses, is the most often recited sura of the Quran:

 

"All praise belongs to God, Lord of the Universe, the Beneficent, the Merciful and Master of the Day of Judgment, You alone We do worship and from You alone we do seek assistance, guide us to the right path, the path of those to whom You have granted blessings, those who are neither subject to Your anger nor have gone astray."

 

Respect for the written text of the Quran is an important element of religious faith by many Muslims, and the Quran is treated with reverence. Based on tradition and a literal interpretation of Quran 56:79 ("none shall touch but those who are clean"), some Muslims believe that they must perform a ritual cleansing with water before touching a copy of the Quran, although this view is not universal. Worn-out copies of the Quran are wrapped in a cloth and stored indefinitely in a safe place, buried in a mosque or a Muslim cemetery, or burned and the ashes buried or scattered over water.

 

In Islam, most intellectual disciplines, including Islamic theology, philosophy, mysticism and Jurisprudence, have been concerned with the Quran or have their foundation in its teachings. Muslims believe that the preaching or reading of the Quran is rewarded with divine rewards variously called ajr, thawab or hasanat.

 

IN ISLAMIC ART

The Quran also inspired Islamic arts and specifically the so-called Quranic arts of calligraphy and illumination.[1] The Quran is never decorated with figurative images, but many Qurans have been highly decorated with decorative patterns in the margins of the page, or between the lines or at the start of suras. Islamic verses appear in many other media, on buildings and on objects of all sizes, such as mosque lamps, metal work, pottery and single pages of calligraphy for muraqqas or albums.

 

INIMITABILITY

Inimitability of the Quran (or "I'jaz") is the belief that no human speech can match the Quran in its content and form. The Quran is considered an inimitable miracle by Muslims, effective until the Day of Resurrection - and, thereby, the central proof granted to Muhammad in authentication of his prophetic status. The concept of inimitability originates in the Quran where in five different verses opponents are challenged to produce something like the Quran: "If men and sprites banded together to produce the like of this Quran they would never produce its like not though they backed one another."[61] So the suggestion is that if there are doubts concerning the divine authorship of the Quran, come forward and create something like it. From the ninth century, numerous works appeared which studied the Quran and examined its style and content. Medieval Muslim scholars including al-Jurjani (d. 1078CE) and al-Baqillani (d. 1013CE) have written treatises on the subject, discussed its various aspects, and used linguistic approaches to study the Quran. Others argue that the Quran contains noble ideas, has inner meanings, maintained its freshness through the ages and has caused great transformations in individual level and in the history. Some scholars state that the Quran contains scientific information that agrees with modern science. The doctrine of miraculousness of the Quran is further emphasized by Muhammad's illiteracy since the unlettered prophet could not have been suspected of composing the Quran.

 

TEXT & ARRANGEMENT

The Quran consists of 114 chapters of varying lengths, each known as a sura. Suras are classified as Meccan or Medinan, depending on whether the verses were revealed before or after the migration of Muhammad to the city of Medina. However, a sura classified as Medinan may contain Meccan verses in it and vice versa. Sura titles are derived from a name or quality discussed in the text, or from the first letters or words of the surah. Suras are arranged roughly in order of decreasing size. The sura arrangement is thus not connected to the sequence of revelation. Each sura except the ninth starts with the Bismillah (بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم) an Arabic phrase meaning 'In the name of God.' There are, however, still 114 occurrences of the Bismillah in the Quran, due to its presence in Quran 27:30 as the opening of Solomon's letter to the Queen of Sheba.

 

Each sura consists of several verses, known as ayat, which originally means a 'sign' or 'evidence' sent by God. The number of verses differs from sura to sura. An individual verse may be just a few letters or several lines. The total number of verses in the Quran is 6236, however, the number varies if the bismillahs are counted separately.

 

In addition to and independent of the division into suras, there are various ways of dividing the Quran into parts of approximately equal length for convenience in reading. The 30 juz' (plural ajzāʼ) can be used to read through the entire Quran in a month. Some of these parts are known by names - which are the first few words by which the juzʼ starts. A juz' is sometimes further divided into two ḥizb (plural aḥzāb), and each hizb subdivided into four rubʻ al-ahzab. The Quran is also divided into seven approximately equal parts, manzil (plural manāzil), for it to be recited in a week.

 

Muqatta'at, or the Quranic initials, are 14 different letter combinations of 14 Arabic letters that appear in the beginning of 29 suras of the Quran. The meanings of these initials remain unclear.

 

According to one estimate the Quran consists of 77,430 words, 18,994 unique words, 12,183 stems, 3,382 lemmas and 1,685 roots.

 

CONTENTS

The Quranic content is concerned with the basic beliefs of Islam which include the existence of God and the resurrection. Narratives of the early prophets, ethical and legal subjects, historical events of Muhammad's time, charity and prayer also appear in the Quran. The Quranic verses contain general exhortations regarding right and wrong and the historical events are related to outline general moral lessons. Verses pertaining to natural phenomena have been interpreted by Muslims as an indication of the authenticity of the Quranic message.

 

MONOTHEISM

The central theme of the Quran is monotheism. God is depicted as living, eternal, omniscient and omnipotent (see, e.g., Quran 2:20, 2:29, 2:255). God's omnipotence appears above all in his power to create. He is the creator of everything, of the heavens and the earth and what is between them (see, e.g., Quran 13:16, 50:38, etc.). All human beings are equal in their utter dependence upon God, and their well-being depends upon their acknowledging that fact and living accordingly.

 

The Quran uses cosmological and contingency arguments in various verses without referring to the terms to prove the existence of God. Therefore, the universe is originated and needs an originator, and whatever exists must have a sufficient cause for its existence. Besides, the design of the universe, is frequently referred to as a point of contemplation: "It is He who has created seven heavens in harmony. You cannot see any fault in God's creation; then look again: Can you see any flaw?"

 

ESCHATOLOGY

The doctrine of the last day and eschatology (the final fate of the universe) may be reckoned as the second great doctrine of the Quran. It is estimated that around a full one-third of the Quran is eschatological, dealing with the afterlife in the next world and with the day of judgment at the end of time. There is a reference of the afterlife on most pages of the Quran and the belief in the afterlife is often referred to in conjunction with belief in God as in the common expression: "Believe in God and the last day". A number of suras such as 44, 56, 75, 78, 81 and 101 are directly related to the afterlife and its preparations. Some of the suras indicate the closeness of the event and warn people to be prepared for the imminent day. For instance, the first verses of Sura 22, which deal with the mighty earthquake and the situations of people on that day, represent this style of divine address: "O People! Be respectful to your Lord. The earthquake of the Hour is a mighty thing."

 

The Quran is often vivid in its depiction of what will happen at the end time. Watt describes the Quranic view of End Time:

 

"The climax of history, when the present world comes to an end, is referred to in various ways. It is 'the Day of Judgment,' 'the Last Day,' 'the Day of Resurrection,' or simply 'the Hour.' Less frequently it is 'the Day of Distinction' (when the good are separated from the evil), 'the Day of the Gathering' (of men to the presence of God) or 'the Day of the Meeting' (of men with God). The Hour comes suddenly. It is heralded by a shout, by a thunderclap, or by the blast of a trumpet. A cosmic upheaval then takes place. The mountains dissolve into dust, the seas boil up, the sun is darkened, the stars fall and the sky is rolled up. God appears as Judge, but his presence is hinted at rather than described. [...] The central interest, of course, is in the gathering of all mankind before the Judge. Human beings of all ages, restored to life, join the throng. To the scoffing objection of the unbelievers that former generations had been dead a long time and were now dust and mouldering bones, the reply is that God is nevertheless able to restore them to life."

 

The Quran does not assert a natural immortality of the human soul, since man's existence is dependent on the will of God: when he wills, he causes man to die; and when he wills, he raises him to life again in a bodily resurrection.[68]

 

PROPHETS

According to the Quran, God communicated with man and made his will known through signs and revelations. Prophets, or 'Messengers of God', received revelations and delivered them to humanity. The message has been identical and for all humankind. "Nothing is said to you that was not said to the messengers before you, that your lord has at his Command forgiveness as well as a most Grievous Penalty." The revelation does not come directly from God to the prophets. Angels acting as God's messengers deliver the divine revelation to them. This comes out in Quran 42:51, in which it is stated: "It is not for any mortal that God should speak to them, except by revelation, or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger to reveal by his permission whatsoever He will."

 

ETHICO-RELIGIOUS CONCEPTS

Belief is the center of the sphere of positive moral properties in the Quran. A number of scholars have tried to determine the semantic contents of the words meaning 'belief' and 'believer' in the Quran [70] The Ethico-legal concepts and exhortations dealing with righteous conduct are linked to a profound awareness of God, thereby emphasizing the importance of faith, accountability and the belief in each human's ultimate encounter with God. People are invited to perform acts of charity, especially for the needy. Believers who "spend of their wealth by night and by day, in secret and in public" are promised that they "shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve" It also affirms family life by legislating on matters of marriage, divorce and inheritance. A number of practices such as usury and gambling are prohibited. The Quran is one of the fundamental sources of the Islamic law, or sharia. Some formal religious practices receive significant attention in the Quran including the formal prayers and fasting in the month of Ramadan. As for the manner in which the prayer is to be conducted, the Quran refers to prostration. The term used for charity, Zakat, actually means purification. Charity, according to the Quran, is a means of self-purification.

 

LITERARY STYLE

The Quran's message is conveyed with various literary structures and devices. In the original Arabic, the suras and verses employ phonetic and thematic structures that assist the audience's efforts to recall the message of the text. Muslims[who?] assert (according to the Quran itself) that the Quranic content and style is inimitable.

 

The language of the Quran has been described as "rhymed prose" as it partakes of both poetry and prose, however, this description runs the risk of compromising the rhythmic quality of Quranic language, which is certainly more poetic in some parts and more prose-like in others. Rhyme, while found throughout the Quran, is conspicuous in many of the earlier Meccan suras, in which relatively short verses throw the rhyming words into prominence. The effectiveness of such a form is evident for instance in Sura 81, and there can be no doubt that these passages impressed the conscience of the hearers. Frequently a change of rhyme from one set of verses to another signals a change in the subject of discussion. Later sections also preserve this form but the style is more expository.

 

The Quranic text seems to have no beginning, middle, or end, its nonlinear structure being akin to a web or net. The textual arrangement is sometimes considered to have lack of continuity, absence of any chronological or thematic order and presence of repetition. Michael Sells, citing the work of the critic Norman O. Brown, acknowledges Brown's observation that the seeming disorganization of Quranic literary expression – its scattered or fragmented mode of composition in Sells's phrase – is in fact a literary device capable of delivering profound effects as if the intensity of the prophetic message were shattering the vehicle of human language in which it was being communicated. Sells also addresses the much-discussed repetitiveness of the Quran, seeing this, too, as a literary device.

 

A text is self-referential when it speaks about itself and makes reference to itself. According to Stefan Wild the Quran demonstrates this meta-textuality by explaining, classifying, interpreting and justifying the words to be transmitted. Self-referentiality is evident in those passages when the Quran refers to itself as revelation (tanzil), remembrance (dhikr), news (naba'), criterion (furqan) in a self-designating manner (explicitly asserting its Divinity, "And this is a blessed Remembrance that We have sent down; so are you now denying it?"), or in the frequent appearance of the 'Say' tags, when Muhammad is commanded to speak (e.g. "Say: 'God's guidance is the true guidance' ", "Say: 'Would you then dispute with us concerning God?' "). According to Wild the Quran is highly self-referential. The feature is more evident in early Meccan suras.

 

INTERPRETATION

The Quran has sparked a huge body of commentary and explication (tafsīr), aimed at explaining the "meanings of the Quranic verses, clarifying their import and finding out their significance".

 

Tafsir is one of the earliest academic activities of Muslims. According to the Quran, Muhammad was the first person who described the meanings of verses for early Muslims. Other early exegetes included a few Companions of Muhammad, like ʻAli ibn Abi Talib, ʻAbdullah ibn Abbas, ʻAbdullah ibn Umar and Ubayy ibn Kaʻb. Exegesis in those days was confined to the explanation of literary aspects of the verse, the background of its revelation and, occasionally, interpretation of one verse with the help of the other. If the verse was about a historical event, then sometimes a few traditions (hadith) of Muhammad were narrated to make its meaning clear.

 

Because the Quran is spoken in classical Arabic, many of the later converts to Islam (mostly non-Arabs) did not always understand the Quranic Arabic, they did not catch allusions that were clear to early Muslims fluent in Arabic and they were concerned with reconciling apparent conflict of themes in the Quran. Commentators erudite in Arabic explained the allusions, and perhaps most importantly, explained which Quranic verses had been revealed early in Muhammad's prophetic career, as being appropriate to the very earliest Muslim community, and which had been revealed later, canceling out or "abrogating" (nāsikh) the earlier text (mansūkh). Other scholars, however, maintain that no abrogation has taken place in the Quran. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has published a 10-volume Urdu commentary on the Quran, with the name Tafseer e Kabir.

 

ESOTERIC INTERPRETATION

Esoteric or Sufi interpretation attempts to unveil the inner meanings of the Quran. Sufism moves beyond the apparent (zahir) point of the verses and instead relates Quranic verses to the inner or esoteric (batin) and metaphysical dimensions of consciousness and existence. According to Sands, esoteric interpretations are more suggestive than declarative, they are 'allusions' (isharat) rather than explanations (tafsir). They indicate possibilities as much as they demonstrate the insights of each writer.

 

Sufi interpretation, according to Annabel Keeler, also exemplifies the use of the theme of love, as for instance can seen in Qushayri's interpretation of the Quran. Quran 7:143 says:

 

"when Moses came at the time we appointed, and his Lord spoke to him, he said, 'My Lord, show yourself to me! Let me see you!' He said, 'you shall not see me but look at that mountain, if it remains standing firm you will see me.' When his Lord revealed Himself to the mountain, He made it crumble. Moses fell down unconscious. When he recovered, he said, 'Glory be to you! I repent to you! I am the first to believe!'"

 

Moses, in 7:143, comes the way of those who are in love, he asks for a vision but his desire is denied, he is made to suffer by being commanded to look at other than the Beloved while the mountain is able to see God. The mountain crumbles and Moses faints at the sight of God's manifestation upon the mountain. In Qushayri's words, Moses came like thousands of men who traveled great distances, and there was nothing left to Moses of Moses. In that state of annihilation from himself, Moses was granted the unveiling of the realities. From the Sufi point of view, God is the always the beloved and the wayfarer's longing and suffering lead to realization of the truths.[90]

 

Muhammad Husayn Tabatabaei says that according to the popular explanation among the later exegetes, ta'wil indicates the particular meaning a verse is directed towards. The meaning of revelation (tanzil), as opposed to ta'wil, is clear in its accordance to the obvious meaning of the words as they were revealed. But this explanation has become so widespread that, at present, it has become the primary meaning of ta'wil, which originally meant "to return" or "the returning place". In Tabatabaei's view, what has been rightly called ta'wil, or hermeneutic interpretation of the Quran, is not concerned simply with the denotation of words. Rather, it is concerned with certain truths and realities that transcend the comprehension of the common run of men; yet it is from these truths and realities that the principles of doctrine and the practical injunctions of the Quran issue forth. Interpretation is not the meaning of the verse - rather it transpires through that meaning, in a special sort of transpiration. There is a spiritual reality - which is the main objective of ordaining a law, or the basic aim in describing a divine attribute - and then there is an actual significance that a Quranic story refers to.

 

According to Shia beliefs, those who are firmly rooted in knowledge like Muhammad and the imams know the secrets of the Quran. According to Tabatabaei, the statement "none knows its interpretation except God" remains valid, without any opposing or qualifying clause. Therefore, so far as this verse is concerned, the knowledge of the Quran's interpretation is reserved for God. But Tabatabaei uses other verses and concludes that those who are purified by God know the interpretation of the Quran to a certain extent.

 

According to Tabatabaei, there are acceptable and unacceptable esoteric interpretations. Acceptable ta'wil refers to the meaning of a verse beyond its literal meaning; rather the implicit meaning, which ultimately is known only to God and can't be comprehended directly through human thought alone. The verses in question here refer to the human qualities of coming, going, sitting, satisfaction, anger and sorrow, which are apparently attributed to God. Unacceptable ta'wil is where one "transfers" the apparent meaning of a verse to a different meaning by means of a proof; this method is not without obvious inconsistencies. Although this unacceptable ta'wil has gained considerable acceptance, it is incorrect and cannot be applied to the Quranic verses. The correct interpretation is that reality a verse refers to. It is found in all verses, the decisive and the ambiguous alike; it is not a sort of a meaning of the word; it is a fact that is too sublime for words. God has dressed them with words to bring them a bit nearer to our minds; in this respect they are like proverbs that are used to create a picture in the mind, and thus help the hearer to clearly grasp the intended idea.

 

HISTORY OF SUFI COMMENTARIES

One of the notable authors of esoteric interpretation prior to the 12th century is Sulami (d. 1021 CE) without whose work the majority of very early Sufi commentaries would not have been preserved. Sulami's major commentary is a book named haqaiq al-tafsir ("Truths of Exegesis") which is a compilation of commentaries of earlier Sufis. From the 11th century onwards several other works appear, including commentaries by Qushayri (d. 1074), Daylami (d. 1193), Shirazi (d. 1209) and Suhrawardi (d. 1234). These works include material from Sulami's books plus the author's contributions. Many works are written in Persian such as the works of Maybudi (d. 1135) kash al-asrar ("the unveiling of the secrets"). Rumi (d. 1273) wrote a vast amount of mystical poetry in his book Mathnawi. Rumi makes heavy use of the Quran in his poetry, a feature that is sometimes omitted in translations of Rumi's work. A large number of Quranic passages can be found in Mathnawi, which some consider a kind of Sufi interpretation of the Quran. Rumi's book is not exceptional for containing citations from and elaboration on the Quran, however, Rumi does mention Quran more frequently. Simnani (d. 1336) wrote two influential works of esoteric exegesis on the Quran. He reconciled notions of God's manifestation through and in the physical world with the sentiments of Sunni Islam. Comprehensive Sufi commentaries appears in the 18th century such as the work of Ismail Hakki Bursevi (d. 1725). His work ruh al-Bayan (the Spirit of Elucidation) is a voluminous exegesis. Written in Arabic, it combines the author's own ideas with those of his predecessors (notably Ibn Arabi and Ghazali), all woven together in Hafiz, a Persian poetry form.

 

LEVELS OF MEANING

Unlike the Salafis and Zahiri, Shias and Sufis as well as some other Muslim philosophers believe the meaning of the Quran is not restricted to the literal aspect. For them, it is an essential idea that the Quran also has inward aspects. Henry Corbin narrates a hadith that goes back to Muhammad:

 

"The Quran possesses an external appearance and a hidden depth, an exoteric meaning and an esoteric meaning. This esoteric meaning in turn conceals an esoteric meaning (this depth possesses a depth, after the image of the celestial Spheres, which are enclosed within each other). So it goes on for seven esoteric meanings (seven depths of hidden depth)."

 

According to this view, it has also become evident that the inner meaning of the Quran does not eradicate or invalidate its outward meaning. Rather, it is like the soul, which gives life to the body. Corbin considers the Quran to play a part in Islamic philosophy, because gnosiology itself goes hand in hand with prophetology.

 

Commentaries dealing with the zahir (outward aspects) of the text are called tafsir, and hermeneutic and esoteric commentaries dealing with the batin are called ta'wil ("interpretation" or "explanation"), which involves taking the text back to its beginning. Commentators with an esoteric slant believe that the ultimate meaning of the Quran is known only to God. In contrast, Quranic literalism, followed by Salafis and Zahiris, is the belief that the Quran should only be taken at its apparent meaning.

 

TRANSLATIONS

Translation of the Quran has always been a problematic and difficult issue. Many argue that the Quranic text cannot be reproduced in another language or form. Furthermore, an Arabic word may have a range of meanings depending on the context, making an accurate translation even more difficult.

 

Nevertheless, the Quran has been translated into most African, Asian and European languages. The first translator of the Quran was Salman the Persian, who translated surat al-Fatiha into Persian during the seventh century. Another translation of the Quran was completed in 884 CE in Alwar (Sindh, India now Pakistan) by the orders of Abdullah bin Umar bin Abdul Aziz on the request of the Hindu Raja Mehruk.

 

The first fully attested complete translations of the Quran were done between the 10th and 12th centuries in Persian language. The Samanid king, Mansur I (961-976), ordered a group of scholars from Khorasan to translate the Tafsir al-Tabari, originally in Arabic, into Persian. Later in the 11th century, one of the students of Abu Mansur Abdullah al-Ansari wrote a complete tafsir of the Quran in Persian. In the 12th century, Najm al-Din Abu Hafs al-Nasafi translated the Quran into Persian. The manuscripts of all three books have survived and have been published several times.

 

Islamic tradition also holds that translations were made for Emperor Negus of Abyssinia and Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, as both received letters by Muhammad containing verses from the Quran. In early centuries, the permissibility of translations was not an issue, but whether one could use translations in prayer.

 

In 1936, translations in 102 languages were known. In 2010, the Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review reported that the Quran was presented in 112 languages at the 18th International Quran Exhibition in Tehran.

   

Situated in the heart of the Mediterranean area and former capital of the Hammadite kingdom, the city of Béjaïa (Bougie, Bugia, Bgayet, Buzzea) - which gave its name to the small candles and from which Arabic numerals were to become popular in Europe - was, in medieval times, one of the most dynamic cultural and scientific centres in the Maghreb. It was the focal point of the intellectual elite (Muslim, Christian and Jewish) who came to study, debate ideas, research and make astronomical observations (1). After the destruction of the city by the Spaniards at the beginning of the 16th century, the province took over responsibility for astronomy. This is the epic story of the Zaouïa or Kabylian institutes.Treaties are drawn up which enable local scholars to transmit knowledge. The level of knowledge of these nineteenth-century scholars and their practices can be understood by analysing the contents of the scholarly library of manuscripts of Sheikh Lmuhub, exhumed in 1994. The ancient practices lasted until the early 20th century, when the first contemporary astronomers were trained. The prediction of the appearance of the lunar crescents, the orientation (direction of Mecca), as well as the determination of the moments of prayer have always been the major preoccupation of the Muslims. The times of prayers, for example, are directly related to the height of the sun, and vary according to the latitude of the place and the declination of the sun.Astronomy was therefore necessary, and many portable observation instruments (astrolabes, sundials) were manufactured and developed. In the 13th century, a distinct discipline, Ilm al-Miqat (the science of determined moments), was even born, dealing only with religious prescriptions related to astronomy. Work on astronomy in the countries of Islam began in the ninth century in the East (Syria, Iraq), with the translation of the Almagest of Ptolemy, famous astronomer of Alexandria in the second century. As early as the 10th century, this work was known in the Maghreb, especially in Kairouan. In this important city of Ifriqiya (editor's note: Tunisia), founded in 670, have lived a large number of scientists.The famous astronomer and astrologer Ibn Abi Ridjal (m. 1040), known in Europe as Albohazen (or Aben Rajel) . He is said to have witnessed astronomical observations made in Baghdad in 989. His main work, Kitab al-Bari fi Ahkam al-Nudjum (The Ingenious in Forensic Astrology), was translated into Spanish for King Alfonso X (around 1254), and from there into Latin , Hebrew, Portuguese, French and English. This remarkable work has played an important role in the diffusion of Muslim astronomy and astrology in Europe. Following the Hilalian attack and the ruin of Kairouan in 1057, the learned elite of this city, and Ifriqiya in general, settled in Mahdia (Tunisia), the new capital of the Zirid kingdom, and in Qal' a of the Blessed Hammad (near M' sila, Algeria). Mahdia was the work of the great astronomer Abu l' Salt Umayya, who wrote a treatise on astronomy and a Risala fi`Ilm al-Asturlab (Treaty on the Use of the Astrolabe) in the early twelfth century. However, in 1067, following the continuing threat of the Hilalians, Prince al-Nasir transferred the capital of the Berber kingdom of the Hammadites of Qal`a to Bejaia.This city thus benefited from the exodus of the learned Qal' a elite, including many mathematicians. It was endowed with beautiful monuments and also recovered works of art from the Qal' a. It then became a flourishing city. Later, the Christian Reconquista, which would put an end to the Andalusian Muslim civilization, would encourage the immigration of many Andalusian scholars to Béjaïa, including many astronomers and mathematicians from different cities, including Murcia, Seville, Valencia and Jativa. In addition to the factors already mentioned at the origin of the arrival of the learned elite in Bougie, this city, with its very active port, had the particularity of being a point of obligatory passage on the Western-East road, notably for the accomplishment of the pilgrimage of Mecca or to pursue studies.Moreover, the tolerance and dynamism of the princes of Bougie, as well as the quality of the official relations established with the Mediterranean Christian republics (Genoa, Pisa, Marseille, Venice, Catalonia, Majorca) which led to the signing of numerous treaties (peace treaties, trade treaties, treaties on the property of shipwrecked persons, etc.), will play a major role in the process of transmitting Muslim knowledge, but this is not the only one that will play a major role in the process of transmitting Muslim knowledge. It was in Bougie, for example, that the son of an Italian merchant, Leonardo Fibonacci (1170-1240), considered the first great mathematician of the Christian West, received an "admirable" teaching (mirabili magisterio), according to his own testimony, in calculus science and algebra. He is introduced to the numbering system, calculation methods and commercial techniques of the countries of Islam. He learns to calculate latitudes and longitude. Back in Pisa, he is the one who will make the work of Muslims known and stimulate the revival of mathematical studies in Europe.Bougie was famous for the level of his school. Many famous astronomers lived and worked there in medieval times. The debates were intense. An example of controversy is the classification of astronomy by two scientists from Bougie: astronomy is not integrated into the same discipline; for Ibn Sab`in astronomy is part of physics, while for Ibn Khaldun it belongs to mathematics. Some knowledge and concepts of astronomy, deeply rooted in the minds of the time and conveyed on a daily basis, give us an idea of the high level of education. For example, as early as the 12th century, many scholars of Candlelight were convinced of the sphericity of the Earth and the enormity of the Sun (Ibn Sab' in, Ibn Khaldun, Ibn Sa' id, al-Gubrini and others).In addition, astronomical instruments have reached the high level of complexity and sophistication that any specialization requires. In Bougie, numerous specialists, such as al-Burji (1310-1384), ensure the development of these instruments. According to the testimony of Al-Idrisi (1100-1166), famous geographer of the Norman king Roger II of Sicily, there was in Bougie a whole industry of "strange and exceptional apparatuses".Among the major achievements that have marked the city are the astronomical observations of Abu l' Hassan Ali and the establishment of astronomical tables by Ibn Raqqam. The Moroccan astronomer Abu l' Hassan Ali, a native of Marrakech and a great traveller,"added to the knowledge he had acquired that of the most learned men in the only countries where science was then successfully cultivated". He says:"We have written in red ink the names of the cities in which we have been, and whose latitude we have observed ourselves. "".From his own testimony, we know that Abu l' Hassan (death in 1262) was involved in astronomical observations at Bougie. He observed the height of the pole and determined the longitude and latitude of the city (36° 5'). He did the same work, with much greater precision than the elders, for 40 other cities in Andalusia and northern Africa. He recorded his observations in a masterly work Jamiou al-Mabadi wa l' Gayiat fi`Ilm al-Miqat (Collection of Beginnings and Endings). This treatise is divided into four parts: the science of calculus, the use of devices, and studies to acquire knowledge and creative power. The work was partially translated by J. in the 19th century. J. Sedillot, a French orientalist and astronomer, who states that "this treaty is the most comprehensive one written on this subject by any astronomer of the Muslim nation". L. A. Sédillot completed his father's work by publishing, in 1841, the Mémoire sur les instruments astronomiques des Arabes.In 1266, astronomer Ibn Raqqam (death in 1315) left his native Andalusia to go to Béjaïa and learn astronomy. Around 1280, he composed his famous work al-Zij al-Shamil fi Tahdib al-Kamil according to the tradition of the school initiated by the famous Andalusian astronomer Arzachel (death in 1100). This book is divided into three parts: the first part is an abstract of the treaty Al-Zij al-Kamil fi at-Ta`anim of Ibn al-Haim (composed around 1205-1206). The second part is a production by Ibn Raqqam himself. The third part is devoted to astronomical tables (Zij) that predict various celestial events (eclipses, planetary passages...). It would be interesting to check whether these tables are really suitable for Bejaia's latitude. A copy of Al-Zij al-Shamil is listed under number 249 in the al-Kindili Museum (Istanbul).Many scholars who lived in Bougie were geographically versed. This is the case of Ibn Sa' id al-Magribi (1214-1286) who wrote a geography based on the treatises of Ptolemy, al-Idrisi, Ibn Fatima and al-Khawarizmi. He accompanied the most important places of their lands and latitudes. What distinguishes it from its peers is its interest in Europe and non-Muslim countries. Ibn Sa' id's work seems to have had an impact far beyond the region. Indeed, several chapters of Abu al-Fida's work (1271-1331), largely inspired by that of Ibn Sa' id, have been translated and published in Europe.Metaphysicist Ibn Sab' in (1216-1270), disciple of the great al-Buni astrologer (m. 1225), is famous for answering the philosophical questions that Emperor Frederic II of Hohenstaufen had addressed to the Almohad almohad Sultan al-Rashid. During his stay in Bejaïa, he wrote a book on the use of the Zayriya (an instrument for astrology invented in the Maghreb in the 12th or 13th centuries). In the form of a circular table, the practice of this instrument requires a good knowledge of astronomy.The famous Catalan philosopher Raymond Lulle (1232-1316), a follower of astrology, made many trips to Bougie. He would have studied mathematics there around 1280. However, it is his journey of 1307 that will be remarkable because, on this occasion, took place the only methodical discussion of Lulle with a Muslim scholar of which there remains a record. This discussion was only possible thanks to the good will of the Ulema. The work of Lulle à Bougie, however, remains difficult to apprehend. It seems that he has taken a serious interest in Muslim works "only under the influence of a certain intellectual missionary tendency". D. Urvoy considers that his scientific universe will be dominated essentially by two aspects which may seem unrelated: the importance of maritime techniques, and especially cartographic techniques, in Catalonia, on the one hand, and an important attachment to occultism (whose practice developed in the 14th century), on the other hand. In fact, Lulle would confine himself in mathematics to the problems of speculative figures and, in astronomy, to the nature of celestial bodies and astrological judgments.Ibn Khaldun (1332- 1406), a great historian and philosopher from the Maghreb, taught at Béjaïa in 1365 and 1366. In his writings, he provides us with valuable information on the transmission of astronomical knowledge from Antiquity to the present day. Ibn Khaldun, imbued with Ptolemy's ideas, showed in "The Prolegenics" a high level of knowledge in astronomy. Faithful to the Aristotelian dogma, he places the Earth at the center of the world (geocentrism), and broadly takes up the idea of the eight crystalline spheres (those of the planets, the Moon, the Sun and the fixed ones), eccentric circles and epicycles. However, he wonders about their true existence. Let us recall that another scholar of Candle, the cosmologist Ibn' Arabi (1165-1240), exposes a system different from the previous one (3). In addition to the eight crystalline spheres, it adds a ninth, the surrounding sphere. The latter, animated by a rotating movement (24 hours), carries with it all the other spheres. Thus, the movement of each sphere is divided into two parts: one that is its own, called natural movement, and another that is imposed on it. In Prolegenics, Ibn Khaldun devoted two chapters to the problem of conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn. Concerning the shape of the Earth, Ibn Khaldun says:"In the books of philosophers who have taken the universe as the subject of their studies, we read that the earth has a spherical shape. However, the sphericity of the Earth was an idea accepted, not only by Ibn Khaldun, but also by many scientists of Candle, such as Ibn Sabin, well before Galilee. Another important geographer is the Ottoman Admiral Piri Reis (1470-1554). Arrived in Bougie around 1495, it is from this city that he goes on expedition every summer. The most remarkable of his works is the geographical map of the world he established in 1513 (shortly after Christopher Columbus was discovered in 1492) which includes the coasts of Latin America and West Africa, among others.Very accurate, this map shows that the mapping technique was very advanced at that time. A little later, in 1521, he wrote a book entitled Kitab-i-Bahriye (The Book of the Navy), which included descriptions and drawings of the Mediterranean (cities and coastal countries), as well as information on navigation techniques and related subjects, such as nautical astronomy. His visits allowed him to obtain valuable information through his discussions with the Portuguese and Spanish captives, some of whom had participated in Christopher Columbus' expeditions. Remember that at that time, the Bougiers shipowners practiced the race (piracy) with great audacity.Following the invasion of Bougie by the Spaniards in 1509, all the buildings and monuments of this city were ruined (the royal library, the majestic mosques, the prestigious schools, the palaces decorated with arabesques and mosaics). These tragic events resulted in the death of many scientists and the loss of their work. The survivors of this disaster fled to the surrounding mountains of Kabylia. As a result, the formerly little-known zawya (religious and scientific teaching institute) became increasingly important. One of them is in Akbou (Béjaïa). According to some testimonies, it was the first of the scientific zawya that developed in Algeria during three consecutive centuries; it allowed, among other things, the diffusion of astronomy and arithmetic.Many Kabyle scholars have written astronomical treatises. The one of Ash Shellati (18th century) is probably the most important. As far as we are concerned, this last work has allowed us, more than anything else, to unveil the work of several Béjaïa astronomers, who had hitherto remained in the shadows. At present, the most critical criticism of these astronomers is that they have limited themselves to the purely utilitarian function of astronomy (calendars, orientation, etc.) and have reproduced, without any originality, the works of their ancestors. Muhammed ash-Shellati wrote around 1778 a treatise on astronomy entitled Ma' alim al-Istibsar (4). It is a commentary on the treatise of the Moroccan astronomer as-Susi (d. 1679), continuator of Abi Miqra (XIVth century). Ash-Shellati writes:"I have entitled my book Ma`alim al-Istibsar". "Thank God..."He then clarifies his objective:"A useful work for beginners like me, a key to access the as-Susi work, but also to enlighten abandoned or ignored points (by as-Susi). ""

One of the peculiarities of this book is that it allows to list the various astronomical events (new stars, comets, eclipses, etc.). Ash Shellati reports that, towards the end of August 1769, a comet with a very long tail appeared in the constellation of Taurus, changing position over time. It is certainly comet C/1769 P1, also observed in Paris at the same time. In addition, he mentions the appearance of a second comet shortly after, this time in the direction of the celestial North Pole.In the 19th century, the Julian year, some ten days behind the Gregorian year, was still in use in North Africa. It was used for all things relating to agriculture and daily occupations, and the lunar year was used for its chronology. Many treaties explain how to move from one to the other. Thanks to them, local scholars could determine exactly this concordance and design calendars for the Julian year. The discovery in 1994 by the Gehimab Association of Afniq n' Ccix Lmuhub (Library of Sheikh Lmuhub's manuscripts) in Tala Uzrar (Beni Ourtilane), today gives a better idea of the astronomical knowledge that was available to local scholars .Many families in Béjaïa have libraries of manuscripts by inheritance. But we know from experience that Kabyles value their old family documents very much. As a result, many books and documents, which could serve the history of this glorious city that is Bougie, are still in the shadows to this day. At the beginning of the 20th century, modern astronomy appeared in the Kabylie mountains. Mulud-al-Hafidhi (1880-1948) joined Al-Azhar University in Cairo at the age of 25, after a two-year stint at the Zaytouna University in Tunis, where he resided for 16 years. He returned to Beni Hafedh around 1922 and taught in several zaouïa (Illula, Tamokra...). He drew up the annual Hegira calendar and announced the beginning and end of Ramadhan's month based on his own scientific data.

 

www.djazairess.com/fr/elwatan/152991

 

Bejaia... Bougie...(Candle), the city lit by its name. Origin of the Bougie, Bejaia actually (Candlelight candle) - The name Candle is the name of our city (City of Algeria located in the Kabylia region). This name appeared around the middle ages and stems from its Kabyle name "Bgayet". This name also represents the candle originally made with beeswaxThe Bougie (candle) "The Dictionary of Littrum", after many quotes, gives us a 13th century candle, then another one from the 15th century. To Jehan Guérin, in favor of what he brought to Madame de Bougye candles that the Count of Beauvais sent to the said Lady ". The Littré ends with a definition:"Candle, city of Algeria where this kind of candle was made". "La Fontaine having also specified that the candle is made with beeswax". In fact "Candle" also exported beeswax to Genoa (in Italy) where important candle factories were located. Known in Roman times as Saldae, it became one of the most prosperous cities on the Mediterranean coast in the Middle Ages, capital of the great Muslim dynasties, notably the Hammadides and a branch of the Hafsid. Originally known in Europe for the quality of its beeswax candles, to which it gave its name, the candles, Béjaïa also played an important role in the dissemination of Indo-Arabic figures in the West. It is also often referred to as the francized name of Bougie, an official name during the period of colonizationThe origin of the 3 names of the city: Bgayet - Béjaia - Bougie (Candle). Indeed, it may surprise that a city can have three names and that they are used at the same time in our time. A peculiarity of our city that has had other names in its rich past. Saldae the Roman name, or El Naciriya in the time of the Hamadite kings.

But we know clearly that since the time of Ibn Khaldun (14th century AD) that its inhabitants called it BgayetAccording to Ibn Khaldun[1]: Bedja is a locality inhabited by a Berber tribe of the same name. Bedjaïa is written Bekaïa and pronounced BegaïaThe difficulty Ibn Khaldun had in translating the name of the city into literary Arabic can be easily explained by the fact that the letter "gua" from Gaston or Bgayet does not exist in the classical Arabic alphabet. The 2 letters he used are the "ka" of kanun (the law) and the "dja" of "Djamal".

It is not uncommon also to find, even today, on the road signs of the region, like Gouraya Park, the same lack of transcription in Arabic. Thus, we find Kouraya (with a guttural K[2]) instead of Gouraya.

In short, the name of the Kabyle town of Bgayet gives birth to:

Bedjaia: transcription in classical Arabic

Bdjaya: in Algerian dialect

Bugia: in Spanish

Candle: in French

 

Dalila Smail

 

1] considered the father of modern sociology and who, around 1364, was entrusted with the office of Prime Minister and preacher of the great El-Qaçaba mosque in our city by Abou-Abdellah, Prince Hafside, a dissident prince.

2] Consonant pronounced from the throat.

 

kabyleuniversel.com/2014/03/20/bougie-la-ville-eclairee-p...

Ahmad ibn ‘Ali ibn Yusuf al-Buni (Arabic: أحمد البوني‎) (died 1225) was a well known Sufi and writer on the esoteric value of letters and topics relating to mathematics, sihr (sorcery) and spirituality, but very little is known about him. Al-Buni lived in Egypt and learned from many eminent Sufi masters of his time.[1]

He wrote one of the most famous books of his era, the Shams al-Ma'arif al-Kubra (Sun of the Great Knowledge, Arabic شمس المعارف الكبرى) which is one of the most widely read medieval treatises on talismans, magic squares and occult practices. This work rivals the Picatrix in importance. This book was later banned by orthodox Muslims as heretical, but continues to be read and studied.

Instead of sihr (Sorcery), this kind of magic was called Ilm al-Hikmah (Knowledge of the Wisedom), Ilm al-simiyah (Study of the Divine Names) and Ruhaniyat (Spirituality). Most of the so-called mujarrabât ("time-tested methods") books on sorcery in the Muslim world are simplified excerpts from the Shams al-ma`ârif.[2] The book remains the seminal work on Theurgy and esoteric arts to this day.

In c. 1200, Ahmad al-Buni showed how to construct magic squares using a simple bordering technique, but he may not have discovered the method himself. Al-Buni wrote about Latin squares and constructed, for example, 4 x 4 Latin squares using letters from one of the 99 names of Allah. His works on traditional healing remains a point of reference among Yoruba Muslim healers in Nigeria and other areas of the Muslim world.[3]

Ahmad al-Buni also left a list of other titles that he wrote. Unfortunately, very few of them have survived.

Al-Buni states in his work Manba’ Usul al-Hikmah (Source of the Essentials of Wisdom) that he acquired his knowledge of the esoteric properities of the letters from his personal teacher Abu Abdillah Shams al-Din al-Asfahâni. He in turn received it from Jalal al-Din Abdullah al-Bistami, who in turn received it from Shaykh al-Sarajani, who received it from Qasim al-Sarajani, who received it from Abdullah al-Babani, who received it from Asîl al-Din al-Shirazi, who received it from Abu al-Najîb al-Sahruwardi, who received it from, Mohammad ibn Mohammad Al-Ghazali al-Tusi, who received it from Ahmad al-Aswad, who received it from Hamad al-Dînuri, who received it from the master al-Junayd al-Baghdadi, who received it from Sari al-Din al-Saqati, who received it from Ma’ruf al-Karkhi, who received it from Dawûd al-Jili, who received it from Habîb al-A’ajami, who received it from Imam Hasan al-Basri.

Al-Buni states in the same work that he acquired his knowledge of magical squares from Sirâj al-Dîn al-Hanafi, who acquired it from Shihab al-Dîn al-Muqaddasi, who acquired it from Shams al-Dîn al-Farisi, who acquired it from Shihab al-Dîn al-Hamadani, who acquired it from Qutb al-Dîn al-Diyâ’i, who acquired it from Muhyiddîn Ibn Arabi, who acquired it from Abu al-'Abbas Ahmad ibn al-Turîzi, who acquired it from Abu Abdillah al-Qurashi, who acquired it from Abu Madîn al-Andalusi.

He also states that he acquired additional knowledge about the esoteric art of letters and the magical squares from Mohammad 'Izz al-Dîn ibn Jam’a, who acquired it from Mohammad al-Sirani, who acquired it from Shihab al-Dîn al-Hamadani, who acquired it from Qutb al-Dîn al-Dhiya’i, who acquired it from Muhyiddîn Ibn Arabi.

Al-Buni also states that he acquired his occult knowledge from Abu al-'Abbas Ahmad ibn Maymûn al-Qastalâni, who acquired it from Abu Abdillah Mohammed al-Qurashi, who acquired it from Abu Madîn Shu'ayb ibn Hasan al-Ansari al-Andalusi, who received it from Abu Ayyub ibn Abi Sa'id al-Sanhaji al-Armuzi, who received it from Abi Muhammad ibn Nur, who received it from Abu al-Fadhl Abdullah ibn Bashr, who received it from Abu Bashr al-Hasan al-Jujari, who received it from al-Saqati, who received it from Dawûd al-Tâ’i, who received it from Habîb al-A'jami, who received it from Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Sîrîn, who received it from Malik ibn Anas.

Al-Buni also made regular mention in his work of Plato, Aristotle, Hermes, Alexander the Great, and obscure Chaldean magicians. In one of his works, he recounted a story of his discovery of a cache of manuscripts buried under the pyramids, that included a work of Hermetic thinkers.

His work is said to have influenced the Hurufis and the New Lettrist International.[4]

Prana is expended by thinking, willing, acting, moving, talking, writing, etc. A healthy and strong man has an abundance of prar:a, nerve force. vitality. Prana is supplied in water, in food, in air and in solar energy. Excess prana is stored in the brain and nerve centres. Seminal energy, when sublimated or transformed, supplies an abundance of prarna to the system. It is stored in the brain in the form of ‘ojas’. The yogi stores abundant prana by regular practice of pranayama. The yogi who has stored up a large supply of prana radiates strength and vitality. Those who come in close contact with him imbibe prar:a from him and get strength, vigour, vitality and exhilaration of spirits. Just as water flows from one vessel to another, prar:a flows, like a steady current, from a developed yogi to a weaker person. This may actually be seen by one who has developed his inner, psychic vision. Breath is the external manifestation of gross prana. Correct habits of breathing must be established by the regular practice of pranayama. If you can control prana, you can completely control all the forces of the universe, mental and physical. The yogi can also control the omnipresent, manifesting power out of which all energies take their origin. He can control magnetism, electricity, gravitation, cohesion, nerve-currents, vital forces or thought vibrations. In fact he can control the total forces of the universe, both physical and mental. A yogi can withdraw prana from any area. That area then becomes numb; it becomes impervious to heat and cold. He can send prana to the eyes and see distant objects. He can send prana to the nose and can experience divya gandha (supernatural scent). He can send prana to the tongue and can experience supersensuous taste. There is great significance in the order of the arigas (limbs) of raja yoga. Practice of asana (posture) controls rajas (restlessness). Brahmacarya (celibacy) purifies the prana. Pranayama purifies the nadis (astral tubes). Pranayama steadies the mind and makes it fit for concentration. It removes rajas and tamas (dullness). The practice of yama (self-restraint), niyama (discipline), asana and pranayama are all auxiliaries in the practice of concentration. Pranayama reduces the velocity of the mind. It makes it run in smaller and smaller circles. Most classical commentators other than Sufis took the statement "God is the light of the heavens and the earth" as a metaphor, and considered that God should not be literally equated with the natural phenomenon of light. Al-Tabari (839–923) in his Jami al-bayan says that the best interpretation is to substitute "guide" for "light", as "God is the guide of the heavens and the earth". Other interpretations make God the source of illumination rather than the light itself, as "God lights the heavens and the earth. The Persian scholar Al-Zamakhshari (c. 1074 –1144) says that the phrase "God is the light" is like saying "Zayd is generous and munificent". This does not mean that Zayd is the properties of generosity and munificence, but that he has these properties. Al-Zamakhshari rejected the possibility of attributes separate from God, such as power or knowledge or light, which would be contrary to the unity of God. He interpreted "God is the light of the heavens and the earth" as meaning, He is the possessor of the light of the heavens and the owner of the light of the heavens. The light of the heavens and the earth is the truth (al-ḥaqq), which can be compared to light in its manifestation and clarification, just as he says, "God is the friend of those who believe; He brings them forth from the shadows to the light (2:257), i.e., from the false to the true (al-ḥaqq). Al-Ghazali (c. 1058–1111) wrote a treatise on how different types of light should be defined, and how the phrase "God is the light of the heavens and the earth" should be interpreted. In his view, "light" can have three different meanings. The first is the ordinary usage, "an expression of what can be seen in itself and through which other things can be seen, like the sun". In Arabic the word "light" may also refer to the eye, through which perception takes place, and this may be a more appropriate interpretation. The "eye" of the intellect is an even more perfect organ of perception, and "light" may be used to refer to this organ. In this sense "light" may refer to Muhammad, and to a lesser extent to the other prophets and religious scholars. A third interpretation is that "light" is the first light (al-nūr al-awwal) and the real light (al-nūr al-ḥaqq) since it is the only light that does not take its luminosity from some other source. God is light, the only light, the universal light, and he is hidden from mortals because he is pure light, although he is omnipresent. Using the term "light" for any other purpose is metaphor. Another passage of the Quran states "The earth will shine with the light of its Lord" (Q39:69). Mainstream exegetes take this statement literally. Exegetes of the rationalist Mu'tazila school of theology of the 8th–10th centuries interpreted the word nūr in this passage in the sense of "the truth, the Quran and the proof" rather than the commonplace meaning of "light".Shia exegetes take it to mean "the land of the soul will shine with the Lord's light of justice and truth during the time of Imam al-Mahdi." Sufi exegetes take nūr in this case to mean "justice", or take the statement to mean "God will create a special light to shine on the Earth".The deeply influential German Catholic mystic theologian and spiritual psychologist Meister Eckhart was the most illustrious spiritual instructor of his day. He was also unjustly condemned as a heretic by the papacy after an impressive career of writing, teaching, preaching, directing souls and serving as a high-level administrator of the Dominican Order. Eckhart, virtually forgotten by the Church for centuries, is seen by growing numbers of people in the modern era to be one of the world’s pinnacle “nondual” mystics. His influence is greater now than at any time since the 14th century. Eckhart’s theology is that of radical panentheism (“all in God, God in all”), which goes far beyond mere theism (which can only posit a transcendent “God up there” who sometimes personally intervenes “down here”), and certainly goes far beyond lowly pantheism (“all is God”—God is not more than the sum of creation). For Eckhart, God’s supremely glorious nature can only mean that God is fully transcendent and fully immanent, entirely beyond all and yet completely within all as the One Who alone IS, pure Spirit, the groundless Ground or Essence of all. For Eckhart, therefore, God is both the transpersonal Godhead (Gotheit) or “God beyond god,” and the personal Lord, i.e., the triune God—the Persons Father, Son and Holy Spirit in one nondual, indistinct Divine Nature. No reclusive “quietist,” this very busy man’s duties must have interfered with his writing, for his intended major academic work, the Opus Tripartitum, was never finished; only fragments survive. His duties also required extensive travel—along slow-going, bad roads. In 1311 he was recalled from becoming Teutonia’s provincial to resume duties in the more professorial life at Paris; only Thomas Aquinas had also held this respected chair of theology twice. In 1313 Eckhart came to lively Strasburg near the French border, where again he served as theology professor, spiritual director and preacher. In 1314 he was made Dominican Vicar-General.

Eckhart was a prime impetus in this northern European movement of Rheno [Rhineland]-Flemish mysticism, a profound renewal of contemplative, ecstatic/instatic Christianity, which accepts outward worship of God but specializes in the inner via negativa, way of negation, or radical dis-identification from self by letting go all attachments, images, forms, and concepts—until nothing is left but God. The soul “dies” to all to live only in God—the one true Being or Substance.

 

This mysticism is suggested in the works of Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, but expressed most vividly in a line of via negativa or apophatic mystics featuring John Scotus Eriugena (c.800-c.877), the greatest Christian mind of the early middle ages, and pseudo-Dionysius (Denys) Areopagite, an unknown monk (likely Syrian) who, circa 500 CE, wrote seminal works of apophatic mystical theology and transcendental metaphysics synthesizing Christianity and Neoplatonism (Plotinus, Proclus, et al.) (see Dionysius’ Divine Names, Mystical Theology, Celestial Hierarchy, Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, and epistles). Gregory of Nyssa (c.330-c.395) had been the first Christian father to seriously explore this apophatic “negation” approach to God. After the Crusades re-exposed Christianity to the ancient Greeks —Muslims preserved many of their works—Aquinas made use of the newly-translated Aristotle to infuse Christianity with novel ideas. But Eckhart’s theology, “one of the great medieval attempts to achieve a synthesis between Greek thought and Christian faith” (Oliver Davies), made more use of the Neoplatonists (especially Proclus [410-85]), whose tradition was much more amenable to a rich inner mysticism and a very different sense of the God-soul relationship. Says Huston Smith: “From the human standpoint the two are separated by a categorical gulf; God appears of necessity as radically Other. But the Neoplatonic tradition in which Eckhart stands teaches that it is quite otherwise from God’s vantage point. For God knows that he alone is completely real; real in every sense—all else is only partially so. And that which is fully real in what is other-than-God is God’s presence in it. Thus from the divine perspective a sublime continuity reigns. Everything that is, to the degree that it is, is God him/her/itself—our pronouns do not fit.” Oliver Davies sees Eckhart’s use of Neoplatonism anticipating 19th-century German idealism and influencing modern thinkers like Hegel, Schopenhauer, Bloch, Heidegger and Derrida.

 

In 1322, Eckhart, now the most famous preacher of his era, was moved by the Dominicans to Cologne, where he uttered some of his most memorable sermons. His teachings were laced with fresh imagery from the vernacular style of chivalrous courtly love-talk, and even more rich with an extremely sublime, lofty mysticism often featuring riveting aphorisms that jolted one into (some degree of) spiritual awakening—e.g., “God is at home, man abroad”; “Be thoroughly dead and buried in God”; “I pray God to make me free of God, for [His] unconditioned Being is above God and all distinctions.” “The authorities say that God is a being, an intelligent being who knows everything. But I say that God is neither a being nor intelligent and He doesn’t ‘know’ either this or that. God is free of everything and therefore He is everything.” “If I had a God I could understand, I would no longer consider him God.” Eckhart’s mystic teachings were already suspect to non-mystics who heard or read his works out of context. “He seems to have delighted in shocking his listeners into attention to the divine presence within and in the world outside by outrageous comparisons, puns, and comic examples…. By adopting the role of trickster, Eckhart irritated the official guardians of pious sobriety and cautious expression…. Eckhart’s playful but profound assaults on conventional God-talk [were thought by some to be] mad and dangerous.” (Woods) Meister Eckhart was clearly a man of great piety himself, and urged this in others. Yet he was also ahead of his time, psychologically quite free, it seems, of that morbid penitential religiosity that weighed so heavily upon the West during the Middle Ages. In this, he was actually like Jesus 2,000 years ago, who taught the simple Our Father prayer, not a complex regimen of penance-practices. Listen, for instance, to Eckhart’s words on “sin” from one of his earliest writings: “Love knows nothing of sin—not that man has not sinned—but sins are blotted out at once by love and they vanish as if they had not been. This is because whatever God does he does completely, like the cup running over. Whom he forgives, he forgives utterly and at once.” (Talks of Instruction 15) Astute spiritual counselor that he was, like his beloved Lord Jesus, Eckhart did not want people maintaining an ego-sense through guilt any more than he wanted them to inflate the ego through pride. The essential aim that Meister Eckhart always points his listeners toward is selflessness and emptiness so that God can be one's only One.

 

In 1325 papal official Nicholas of Strasburg examined Eckhart’s works at Pope John XXII’s request and declared them “orthodox.” But in 1326 Eckhart was summoned before the inquisition and accused of heresy by Henry II of Virneburg, Cologne’s archbishop, perhaps jealous of Eckhart’s talent and fame. Eckhart was the first theologian of major rank ever to face this charge. He then trudged 500 miles to face the papal court at Avignon, France (where the papacy dwelt in exile from Rome). For over a year he defended his views; he wrote his Defense to show that his more controversial teachings were rooted in Scripture and the writings of eminent Church Fathers like Paul and Augustine. (Davies: “If his accusers charged Eckhart with heresy, then he charged them with stupidity,” i.e., lacking information and competence to judge such things.) Other factors were at play in this debacle. Since he was a reformer, disgruntled friars sought revenge. “The two key witnesses against him in Cologne and Avignon, Herman de Summo and William of Nidecken, were malcontents … later seized and imprisoned for disobedience and treachery.” (Woods) Moreover, the interrogators at Cologne were Franciscans, perhaps rankled by the teaching prowess of famous Dominicans like Eckhart. Finally, his association with the Beguines, increasingly coming in for censure by the Church (their non-institutional status made them hard to control), made him suspect as well. It seems, too, that some people were irresponsible in applying his teachings. As John Tauler poignantly said, “He spoke from the point of view of eternity, and you understood him from the point of view of time.” A verdict came in against him, so Eckhart appealed to Pope John. While the proceedings dragged on, Eckhart died at Avignon, probably in winter 1327/8. In 1329, Pope John, at the behest of petty Henry II, his close political ally in the attempt to return the papacy to Rome, condemned Eckhart, identifying 17 points of his teaching as heretically unorthodox, 11 as “evil-sounding, rash and suspect of heresy.” This postmortem condemnation—spiteful, since Eckhart was no longer alive to preach—shows how widely influential his mystical views had in fact become. The papal bull of condemnation intended to taint his good name and stamp out his writings. In fact, not until the mid-19th century did most of his teachings again came to light, thanks to Franz Pfeiffer and Franz Jostes, who uncovered a large body of Eckhart’s work beyond the few sermons preserved in the writings of his disciple Johann Tauler (1300-61). Yet Eckhart’s views were propagated through the 14th century, albeit more cautiously, by his followers, the Friends of God, and, more generally, by the Rheno-Flemish mystical movement. Thus, his German Dominican disciples Tauler and Blessed Henry Suso (1295-1366) (both of whom were at times censured by the Church), Flemish mystic Blessed Jan van Ruusbroec (or Ruysbroek, 1293-1381, also greatly influenced by Eckhart), the Beguine and Beghard communities, the important unknown German authors of The Book of Spiritual Poverty (c.1350) and Theologia Germanica (14th cent.), the unknown British author of Cloud of Unknowing (et al.) (late 14th c.), and the German mystic, Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa (1400-64)—all gratefully look to Eckhart for inspiration. In the 20th century, Dominican scholars have labored to clear Meister Eckhart’s name and, in a new light, show the brilliance and relevance of his thinking. The Walberberg Chapter, a panel of experts, from 1982-1992 studied his works and concluded that Eckhart needed no “rehabilitation” in the juridical sense, for neither he nor his doctrine had in fact been condemned, contrary to what had been thought; heresy implies deliberately, willfully teaching against Church doctrine, and Eckhart had been unyielding in claiming, rightly so, that his views were rooted in Scripture and Church Fathers, “a judgment sustained today by scores of theologians and historians.” (Woods) In 1992, the Master of the Dominican Order formally requested Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) to abrogate the bull of condemnation; though this has not yet occurred, Pope John Paul II himself in September 1985 observed, “Did not Eckhart teach his disciples: ‘All that God asks you most pressingly is to go out of yourself … and let God be God in you?’ One could think that in separating himself from creatures, the mystic leaves his brothers, humanity, behind. The same Eckhart affirms that, on the contrary, the mystic is marvelously present to them on the only level where he can truly reach them, that is, in God.” (L’Osservatore Romano, 28 Oct. 1985) Dominican scholar Richard Woods concludes: “For all practical purposes, the exoneration of Meister Eckhart has been achieved.” So the Meister can openly be considered as he was in his own day: “one of the greatest masters of Western spirituality” (Colledge & McGinn). Meister Eckhart generated numerous Latin and German works. The Latin treatises—most quite orthodox and didactic—include 56 sermons, featuring a long sermon on the Lord’s Prayer; scriptural commentaries (many unfinished); fragments from his Opus Tripartitum; an Introduction to his commentary on Lombard’s Sentences; and the Parisian Questions, a record of his brilliant Paris debates. His works in Middle High German begin with four treatises: Talks of Instruction (longest and evidently earliest, written in the 1290s), The Nobleman/Aristocrat, On Detachment/Disinterest (this work has been questioned by some as authentically Eckhart’s), and, in 1308, The Book of Divine Consolation, especially written for the widowed Queen Anne of Hungary after the death of her mother and murder of her father, Emperor-elect Albert I of Austria. We also now finally have transcripts of over 100 German sermons judged as authentically Eckhart’s, “the first substantial body of sophisticated philosophical and theological discussion in a European vernacular language” (Davies). In these very original works occur most of the statements charged (falsely) as being “heretical.” And it is in these sermons (many recorded by the Dominican nuns under his guidance) that Eckhart eagerly speaks to the listeners’ heart with his most intensely nondual, mystical parlance on the glory of God and the soul. Meister Eckhart wanted everyone, high or low, learned or unlettered, to intimately know and love God the way he himself was blessed to enjoy. God is not distant, a matter for rarified theology. God is HERE and NOW. Thus, a central theme for Eckhart is the “birth of God in the soul” in this timeless Now, an Incarnation abolishing any dualism between self and God or God and world. Eckhart describes a threefold movement of detachment, release and dehiscence (splitting open), elsewhere called breakthrough, yielding a joyfully enlightened “living without a why” in the realization that all things are in God, who is One and thus renders all beings one within Him. “For Eckhart, as for the ancient mystical theology of the Church, God is uniquely present in the depths of the soul, waiting to break forth into consciousness.” (Woods)

 

Some have tried to find a consistent Eckhart schema for stages of mystical growth, as, for instance, found in many medieval Christian mystics’ triple sequence of “purgation, illumination, and union with God.” But Robert Forman observes, “I have counted at least seventeen separate passages in which Eckhart enumerates the divisions of phases that a mystic might undergo. No two are identical.” Moreover, in contrast to, for example, the Jesuits, with their structured “Spiritual Exercises” of St. Ignatius, Eckhart’s spiritual path is a “wayless way,” with no particular methodology other than pure, immediate contemplation of the infinitely simple Divine Truth already alive and dynamically present at the core of one’s being. Out of such spiritual contemplation flows loving action. And for Eckhart, contemplation and action aren’t separate, but truly one process.

 

A key element in many passages of Eckhart’s writings and sermons is complete accordance with the will of God. He points out with great irony that Christians daily pray, in the Our Father prayer, that “Thy will be done.” But then they complain when things happen that they don’t like—yet, for Eckhart, it is obvious that whatever happens is meant to be happening, by Divine Will, otherwise something else would be happening, by Divine Will.

 

Reading Meister Eckhart’s many works, one beholds his uncanny ability to draw out rich, multiple meanings from a single line in scripture. In an era and society that saw nearly everything in religious terms, Eckhart delighted in taking God-talk to ever-higher levels. His genius, surely flowing out of direct and deep experiencing of Divine Spirit, came up with a wealth of interpretations and illustrations, playfully-surprising turns of language, and “instatic” expressions of worshipful love of God. Bernard McGinn: “Eckhart was not only a highly trained philosopher and theologian, but also a preacher, a poet, and a punster who deliberately cultivated rhetorical effects, bold paradoxes, and unusual metaphors, neologisms, and wordplay to stir his readers and hearers from their intellectual and moral slumber.” Davies: “[We find] in his work a geniality of style, profound speculation and spiritual vision that still move us today as they once did those who gathered in the churches and convents of medieval Germany to hear a Master who spoke in so strange a way of the ‘God beyond words.’”

Whoever possesses God in their being, has him in a divine manner, and he shines out to them in all things; for them all things taste of God and in all things it is God's image that they see.

People should not worry as much about what they do but rather about what they are. If they and their ways are good, then their deeds are radiant. If you are righteous, then what you do will also be righteous. We should not think that holiness is based on what we do but rather on what we are, for it is not our works which sanctify us but we who sanctify our works.

It is a fair trade and an equal exchange: to the extent that you depart from things, thus far, no more and no less, God enters into you with all that is his, as far as you have stripped yourself of yourself in all things. It is here that you should begin, whatever the cost, for it is here that you will find true peace, and nowhere else. Talks of Instruction

In 1985 the Pope, John Paul II, said: "Did not Eckhart teach his disciples: 'All that God asks you most pressingly is to go out of yourself - and let God be God in you'? One could think that, in separating himself from creatures, the mystic leaves his brothers, humanity, behind. The same Eckhart affirms that, on the contrary, the mystic is marvelously present to them on the only level where he can truly reach them, that is in God.

Here in time we are celebrating the eternal birth which God the Father bore and unceasingly bears in eternity, because this same birth is now born in time, in human nature. [German sermon 1, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

The soul in which this birth is to take place must keep absolutely pure and must live in noble fashion, quite collected, and turned entirely inward: not running out through the five senses into the multiplicity of creatures, but all inturned and collected and in the purest part: there is His place; He disdains anything else. [German sermon 1, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

Here God enters the soul with His all, not merely with a part: God enters here the ground of the soul. [German sermon 1, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

Though it may be called a nescience, and unknowing, yet there is in it more than all knowing and understanding without it; for this unknowing lures and attracts you from all understood things, and from yourself as well. [German sermon 1, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

The soul is scattered abroad among her powers, and dissipated in the action of each. Thus her ability to work inwardly is enfeebled, for a scattered power is imperfect. [German sermon 2, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

Do not imagine that your reason can grow to the knowledge of God. [German sermon 4, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

No. Be sure of this: absolute stillness for as long as possible is best of all for you. [German sermon 4, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

You should know that God must act and pour Himself into the moment He finds you ready. [German sermon 4, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

To be receptive to the highest truth, and to live therein, a man must needs be without before and after, untrammelled by all his acts or by any images he ever perceived, empty and free, receiving the divine gift in the eternal Now, and bearing it back unhindered in the light of the same with praise and thanksgiving in our Lord Jesus Christ. . [German sermon 6, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

Since it is God's nature not to be like anyone, we have to come to the state of being nothing in order to enter into the same nature that He is. . [German sermon 7, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

So, when I am able to establish myself in nothing, and nothing in myself, uprooting and casting out what is in me, then I can pass into the naked being of God, which is the naked being of the Spirit. [German sermon 7, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

There is a power in the soul which touches neither time nor flesh, flowing from the spirit, remaining in the spirit, altogether spiritual. . [German sermon 7, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

One means, without which I cannot get to God, is work or activity in time, which does not interfere with eternal salvation. 'Works' are performed from without, but 'activity' is when one practises with care and understanding from within. [German sermon 9, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

It is a certain and necessary truth that he who resigns his will wholly to God will catch God and bind God, so that God can do nothing but what that man wills [German sermon 10, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

If you seek God and seek Him for your own profit and bliss, then in truth you are not seeking God. [German sermon 11, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

We find people who like the taste of God in one way and not in another, and they want to have God only in one way of contemplation, not in another.I raise no objection, but they are quite wrong. [German sermon 13a, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

I declare truly that as long as anything is reflected in your mind which is not the eternal Word, or which looks away from the eternal Word, then, good as it may be, it is not the right thing. [German sermon 14b, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

For he alone is a good man who, having set at nought all created things, stands facing straight, with no side-glances, towards the eternal Word, and is imaged and reflected there in righteousness. [German sermon 14b, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

The human spirit must transcend number and break through multiplicity, and God will break through him; and just as He breaks through into me, so I break through into Him. [German sermon 14b, trans M.O’C. Walshe]

Above thought is the intellect, which still seeks: it goes about looking, spies out here and there, picks up and drops. But above the intellect that seeks is another intellect which does not seek but stays in its pure, simple being, which is embraced in that light. . [German sermon 19b, trans M.O’C. Walshe]“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Lord Buddha

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” Dalai Lama“Our souls may lose their peace and even disturb other people’s, if we are always criticizing trivial actions – which often are not real defects at all, but we construe them wrongly through our ignorance of their motives.” Saint Teresa of Avila

  

Ahmad ibn ‘Ali ibn Yusuf al-Buni (Arabic: أحمد البوني‎) (died 1225) was a well known Sufi and writer on the esoteric value of letters and topics relating to mathematics, sihr (sorcery) and spirituality, but very little is known about him. Al-Buni lived in Egypt and learned from many eminent Sufi masters of his time.[1]

He wrote one of the most famous books of his era, the Shams al-Ma'arif al-Kubra (Sun of the Great Knowledge, Arabic شمس المعارف الكبرى) which is one of the most widely read medieval treatises on talismans, magic squares and occult practices. This work rivals the Picatrix in importance. This book was later banned by orthodox Muslims as heretical, but continues to be read and studied.

Instead of sihr (Sorcery), this kind of magic was called Ilm al-Hikmah (Knowledge of the Wisedom), Ilm al-simiyah (Study of the Divine Names) and Ruhaniyat (Spirituality). Most of the so-called mujarrabât ("time-tested methods") books on sorcery in the Muslim world are simplified excerpts from the Shams al-ma`ârif.[2] The book remains the seminal work on Theurgy and esoteric arts to this day.

In c. 1200, Ahmad al-Buni showed how to construct magic squares using a simple bordering technique, but he may not have discovered the method himself. Al-Buni wrote about Latin squares and constructed, for example, 4 x 4 Latin squares using letters from one of the 99 names of Allah. His works on traditional healing remains a point of reference among Yoruba Muslim healers in Nigeria and other areas of the Muslim world.[3]

Ahmad al-Buni also left a list of other titles that he wrote. Unfortunately, very few of them have survived.

Al-Buni states in his work Manba’ Usul al-Hikmah (Source of the Essentials of Wisdom) that he acquired his knowledge of the esoteric properities of the letters from his personal teacher Abu Abdillah Shams al-Din al-Asfahâni. He in turn received it from Jalal al-Din Abdullah al-Bistami, who in turn received it from Shaykh al-Sarajani, who received it from Qasim al-Sarajani, who received it from Abdullah al-Babani, who received it from Asîl al-Din al-Shirazi, who received it from Abu al-Najîb al-Sahruwardi, who received it from, Mohammad ibn Mohammad Al-Ghazali al-Tusi, who received it from Ahmad al-Aswad, who received it from Hamad al-Dînuri, who received it from the master al-Junayd al-Baghdadi, who received it from Sari al-Din al-Saqati, who received it from Ma’ruf al-Karkhi, who received it from Dawûd al-Jili, who received it from Habîb al-A’ajami, who received it from Imam Hasan al-Basri.

Al-Buni states in the same work that he acquired his knowledge of magical squares from Sirâj al-Dîn al-Hanafi, who acquired it from Shihab al-Dîn al-Muqaddasi, who acquired it from Shams al-Dîn al-Farisi, who acquired it from Shihab al-Dîn al-Hamadani, who acquired it from Qutb al-Dîn al-Diyâ’i, who acquired it from Muhyiddîn Ibn Arabi, who acquired it from Abu al-'Abbas Ahmad ibn al-Turîzi, who acquired it from Abu Abdillah al-Qurashi, who acquired it from Abu Madîn al-Andalusi.

He also states that he acquired additional knowledge about the esoteric art of letters and the magical squares from Mohammad 'Izz al-Dîn ibn Jam’a, who acquired it from Mohammad al-Sirani, who acquired it from Shihab al-Dîn al-Hamadani, who acquired it from Qutb al-Dîn al-Dhiya’i, who acquired it from Muhyiddîn Ibn Arabi.

Al-Buni also states that he acquired his occult knowledge from Abu al-'Abbas Ahmad ibn Maymûn al-Qastalâni, who acquired it from Abu Abdillah Mohammed al-Qurashi, who acquired it from Abu Madîn Shu'ayb ibn Hasan al-Ansari al-Andalusi, who received it from Abu Ayyub ibn Abi Sa'id al-Sanhaji al-Armuzi, who received it from Abi Muhammad ibn Nur, who received it from Abu al-Fadhl Abdullah ibn Bashr, who received it from Abu Bashr al-Hasan al-Jujari, who received it from al-Saqati, who received it from Dawûd al-Tâ’i, who received it from Habîb al-A'jami, who received it from Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Sîrîn, who received it from Malik ibn Anas.

Al-Buni also made regular mention in his work of Plato, Aristotle, Hermes, Alexander the Great, and obscure Chaldean magicians. In one of his works, he recounted a story of his discovery of a cache of manuscripts buried under the pyramids, that included a work of Hermetic thinkers.

His work is said to have influenced the Hurufis and the New Lettrist International.[4]