Miraj and the seven heavens

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
“The first thing created by Allah was the pen.”

Prophet with gabril and buraq 1March 23 is the observance of Israʾ and Miʿraj, the night journey taken by the Prophet on the heavenly steed Buraq, perhaps to Jerusalem – as this was the direction of the prayers in those days and the basis for later attempts at military conquest – and most definitely to the seven heavens.  Scholars are agreed that the journey could be either physical or spiritual.  In Islamic countries this is good for a day off school, but in these times school is already out, and we are only left with the possibly of spiritual journeying.

So let’s jump right into the world of Sufi mysticism, cosmology, etc, represented by Ibn Arabi, Rumi, and the like.

What are the seven heavens?  Before there was a Big Bang theory, there was something called neo-Platonism and Hermes Trismegistus.  It was huge.  It tried to explain all of human knowledge.  Sound familiar?  Yup, it was the encyclopedia of its day.

On the first day of Creation, God created seven heavens.

The first heaven is visible to man, and its only function is to cover up the light during night time. It disappears every morning (see Pargod, Velon; the Curtain of Heaven).

The second heaven is Raki’a (“Firmament), where the planets are fastened to (see firmament).

prophet and buraqThe third heaven is Shehakim (“Clouds”), where the manna is made for the pious in the hereafter.

The fourth heaven, Zebul (“Lofty Dwelling”), contains the celestial Jerusalem together with the Temple, in which Michael ministers as high priest and offers the souls of the pious as sacrifices.

The fifth heaven is Ma’on (“Dwelling”), where the angel hosts reside and sing the prise of God. They only sing at night, for by day it is the task of Israel on earth to give glory to God.

The sixth heaven, called Makhon (“Residence”), is where most of the trials and visitations for the earth and its inhabitants are ordained. It is a place where snow and hail, storms, smoke, and noxious dew are stored. The doors between those celestial chambers are made of fire, which are supervised by Metatron.

prophet and buraq 3The seventh heaven, ‘Aravot (“Highest Heaven”), contains everything that is good and beautiful: right, justice, and mercy, the souls of the pious, the souls and spirits of unborn generations, the dew with which God will revive the dead on the day of resurrection. It also contains the Throne of God, surrounded by the ministering angels.

So, back to Islamic mysticism.

The first thing that Allah created was the pen, al-‘aql al-kull.

In various Sayings, the Prophet stated: “The first thing God created was my spirit/my light/the Pen/the Intellect. He created everything else from that.”
Since we have this as a given, it seems only appropriate to begin any account of existence with the First Light or the Universal Intellect (aql al-kull; also known as the First Intellect, aql al-awwal).
The Pen (kalam) is actually a shaft of white light; in Europe they called it Calamus, in a quaint latinization. It is represented by the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, the Alif, which is a vertical straight line.

Here is another explanation.  This is very basic.

In the Christian tradition, the world is created by the Word, assumed to be the spoken word of God in Genesis, “Let there be light”.  John 1:1 tells us “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This goes right back to Einstein’s theory of relativity, and the difference between matter and energy, if there is one.  The basic unit of anything is sound, vibration.

But Islam takes this a step further, and makes it a written word.  The first thing that the angel Gabriel says to Mohammed in the cave is “iqra” (إقرا) (read/recite). This was the first word of the Koran to be revealed. The Koran is written word.

The Prophet (saws) said “The first thing that Allah created was the Intellect,”

[Tirmidhi]. He also said, “The first thing that Allah created was the Pen,” and “The first thing Allah created was my Light.”The scholars said these all amount to the same thing by simile, the Pen is an Intellect created from Light it can be understood as a light similar to the light of our own intellect which we see in our mind and that light in our head imagines the sum total of our knowledge, the Pen was a light which imagined the sum total of the knowledge Allah gave it.

The Prophet (saws) said “The first thing that Allah created was the Pen and He said to it: Write! So it wrote what is to be forever (the rest of time).” (Tabarani and Abu Nu’aym)

The Prophet (saws) said, “The first thing created by Allah was the pen, then, He ordered it to write, so it wrote everything that will happen till the Day of Judgment.” (narrated by Tirmidhi, Abu-Dawud, and Ahmad).

The muqataat letters of the Quran are the letters that some surah’s begin with, Alif Lam Mim etc, it can be established from ahadith with ease what the letter nun (pronounced noon) means, which is Allah’s name for space, in terms of quantum mechanics (the physics of small particles) and the subatomic world it refers to the outer most layer of subatomic space, we are referring here to the depth of space as we go inside Atoms and the particles they are made from.

There is actually very little written about the meaning of the mystery letters at the beginnings of the Koranic verses, and very few people who have attempted to explain them. (See Muqattaʿat.)

I do believe that Sucks’ very own Abd is one of them, but the references are impossible to find, even in the so-called biographies of Abd that keep getting spammed around. Abd would be doing a service to stop the bizarre flame wars and conspiracy theories he’s fanning around the wiki-lands and point to any scholarship he has published on the subject, and explain these letters in plain English, along with any associated cosmology, if that is not too much of a challenge.

If you want to go further down this linguistic rabbit hole, in the style of Ibn Arabi, try the free ebook, Mirror of the Free, by Nicholas Swift. (Did you know that in Arabic, nafs is both breath and spirit?  Or something like that.)

Sources:

This is not only for Islamic mysticism, Avicenna delved into such metaphysics, it is a pity western philosophy reached its own dead end with such stiff concepts as replacement words for praxis in German instead of exploring this language.  See here:

“There are also ambiguities in his use of such terms as al-‘aql al-kulliyy (the universal intellect) and al-nafs al-kulliyya (the universal soul). Although in one place he makes it clear that these expressions refer to concepts that exist only in the mind, distinguishing them from ‘aql al-kull (the intellect of ‘the whole [universal]’) and nafs al-kull (the soul of ‘the whole [universel]’), the distinction is not uniformly observed.”

So what are they tweeting about in the Islamic world today?

Jordan’s King Abdullah tweets a prayer for the safety of Jordan, on the occasion of the remembrance of the noble Israʾ and Miʿraj:

تمر علينا ذكرى الإسراء والمعراج الشريفين في ظرف استثنائي يذكرنا بما مر به نبينا محمد، صلى الله عليه وسلم، من ضيق وشدة، انتصر عليهما بالصبر والإيمان. أسأل الله تعالى أن يلهمنا الصبر حتى يعم الخير وتحل السلامة على الأردن والعالم، بتوكلنا على الله، ووحدتنا واقتدائنا بسيرة نبينا محمد

We do hope it will be more effective than the pope’s prayers for Italy.

Saudi crown prince MBS is tweeting “spread love” and is surrounded by dudes in white gowns and red head coverings. Let’s hope they are not spreading something more viral.

Shall we take a moment to remember the dead, detained or disappeared, including the women who drive, and are now being tortured in Saudi prisons?

The NYT did a puff piece on MBS yesterday.  They did mention the men – princes and businessmen – that MBS had locked up in a hotel at the beginning of his ascent to power,  but it did not mention these women at all.

But I will.

Last week the trial of Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was postponed.

Her family says they will not give up:

Loujain al-Hathloul first realised that speaking up could make a difference when she was five years old. Her father, a navy veteran who wanted his children to be strong swimmers, took her to the local pool where other visitors chastised him for bringing a girl in a pair of swimming trunks to the male-only area.

“He told them that if they were uncomfortable with what a five-year-old girl was wearing then that was their problem,” said Loujain’s sister, Lina. “After that, lots of fathers started taking their little girls along to swim.”

And a lot of women in Saudi Arabia are now driving, legally.

“In whatever you do, make sure you’re happy while doing it”, tweets MBS.

Does that include having women imprisoned and tortured?  For driving?  For shame, MBS, for shame.

Let them go.

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