The gender related issues that are described in the traditions of Islam have been heavily discussed in the modern times by many scholars as well as the critics of Islam. The opinions among people concerning this subject vary greatly, ranging from ‘best’ to ‘worst’ in the topics ranging from marriage and divorce to the punishments for adultery. In this article therefore, I should investigate the laws of Islam pertinent to the matter from a hermetic standpoint, and demonstrate some of the key features of the Quranic teachings in this regard.
The Hermetic Principle of Gender
The hermetic wisdom defines gender as, “Gender represents those actions of opposing forces that result in the generation of Light”. The light here can refer to mean as the light of truth, wisdom, intelligence, or any other noble characteristic in a human being. However, before we get to the humans, let us start with animals in order to put down the groundwork for our study. The Quran states,
(Take) eight (head of cattle) in (four) pairs: of sheep a pair, and of goats a pair; say, hath He forbidden the two males, or the two females, or (the young) which the wombs of the two females enclose? Tell me with knowledge if ye are truthful: Of camels a pair, and oxen a pair; say, hath He forbidden the two males, or the two females, or (the young) which the wombs of the two females enclose? — Were ye present when Allah ordered you such a thing? But who doth more wrong than one who invents a lie against Allah, to lead astray men without knowledge? For Allah guideth not people who do wrong. (06, 143–144)
The verses (06, 143–144) I had discussed at some length in the article “The Symbolism of Animals in Quran”. Briefly I should explain here that the four types of animals mentioned in the text represent the four seasons, namely sheep (winter), goat (autumn), camel (summer), and oxen (spring). The Triad of male, female, and the unborn youngling in the text represents the cardinal, fixed, and the mutable signs of the zodiac. It is interesting to note here that out of twelve animals, only eight are counted in the text, i. e. the unborn younglings are mentioned but not counted, or they are counted as a part of the female. At another instance in the Quran the same eight animals are referred in a very symbolic manner.
He created you from one being, then from that (being) He made its mate; and He hath provided for you of cattle eight kinds. He created you in the wombs of your mothers, creation after creation, in a threefold gloom. Such is Allah, your Lord. His is the Sovereignty. There is no Allah save Him. How then are ye turned away? (39, 6)
Again in the verse (39, 6), eight animals are counted and not twelve. The “threefold gloom” is a metaphorical allusion to the triplicity of the zodiac: cardinal, fixed, and mutable. The mysterious style and the theme of the verse such as “creation after creation”, and “wombs of your mothers” suggests that the creation happens thrice for every person in the stages of cardinal, fixed, and the mutable signs. Another verse of the Quran underscores the same point.
They say: Our Lord! Twice hast Thou made us die, and twice hast Thou made us live. Now we confess our sins. Is there any way to go out? (40, 11)
The people in the verse (40, 11) are those whose creation have already happened twice in the cardinal and the fixed signs, and thus they become alive for the third time in the mutable signs. To illustrate these three stages of living, I had explained the gnosis of trinity in the article “Shiva, the Great; and the Abrahamic Traditions”. From there I should copy the following passage because of its relevance.
“The creation of physical organs such as eyes, arms, and legs can only happen inside the mother’s body, because that is the realm of the creator god. If the mother receives proper nourishment and care, the baby comes out to be of healthy and vibrant state; or otherwise defective in some way. Once in the world, the human body gets in the realm of the sustainer god, who makes the body to grow, enlarge, and reproduce but no new organs are added into the body at this stage. Here, according to the gnosis of trinity, this human body acts as a gestation organ similar to the mother’s womb for the creation of a new ‘Spirit’. Just as the creation of human body occurred during the stay in the mother’s womb, the human spirit undergoes its creation during the stay in the physical world, to be finally transferred to the spiritual world. And just as carelessness on the part of mother might cause lasting defects or deformities in the child, similarly, actions based on inequity might cause permanent weaknesses in the spirit, so as to render the spirit incompatible to the higher spiritual world. Also, the child had no need for the physical organs like eyes in the mother’s womb, but he still manufactured them for the next proceeding stage; and therefore, the righteous actions of a human being would bring to him the spiritual sight to exist in the spiritual realm. Thus the journey that started with the conception of a baby, ends in its integration with the divine spirit.”
After studying the symbolism of animals in connection to the eight cardinal and fixed signs, and before we may discuss humans at a greater depth, we must take some notes on the angels. The Quran states,
And the angels will be on the sides thereof, and eight will uphold the Throne of thy Lord that day, above them. (69, 17)
In the verse (69, 17), the eight angels that will uphold the Throne represent the noble accomplishments of the cardinal and fixed signs, and the mystery would suggest that the Throne itself represents the mutable signs because it shall be the third stage of creation. In addition, it should be fascinating to note here the depiction of ‘the Throne upheld by the eight angels’ in the emblems of many European countries and secret or sacred orders. Most pronounced depiction for it can be recognized from the eight pointed ‘Maltese Cross’ of the Order of the Knights of Malta. Specially, the Orders aspirations that are supposed to represent the eight points on the Cross actually reflect the cardinal and fixed signs in the precise astrological order. Following is the passage taken from Wikipedia stating the aspirations of the Order alongside the astrological signs in the brackets included by me.
“The eight points also symbolize the eight obligations or aspirations of the knights:
to live in truth [Spring, Cardinal, Aries]
to have faith [Spring, Fixed, Taurus]
to repent of one’s sins [Summer, Cardinal, Cancer]
to give proof of humility [Summer, Fixed, Leo]
to love justice [Autumn, Cardinal, Libra]
to be merciful [Autumn, Fixed, Scorpio]
to be sincere and wholehearted [Winter, Cardinal, Capricorn]
to endure persecution [Winter, Fixed, Aquarius]”
The Active and Passive Principles
The mystery of the active and passive principles can be investigated from the chapter 89 (The Dawn) of Quran. It says,
1. By the Dawn.
2. And ten nights,
3. And the Even and the Odd,
4. And the night when it departeth,
5. There surely is an oath for thinking man.
The Dawn of the verse 1 occurs after the ten nights of the verse 2. The Even and the Odd in the verse 3 are the numbers One and Ten, because in the hermetic wisdom it is the number Ten and not the number Two that represents the Even for the Odd number One. The reason being that the number Two symbolizes Duality, whilst the number One symbolizes Unity, and thereby they cannot serve as Active (Odd) and Passive (Even) for each other. One and Two do not have any common grounds to stand together, and therefore the number Ten which is Even and also symbolizes unity because 10 = 1+0 = 1, serves as the Passive or Even number for the Odd or Active number One. Also, the relationship between the Ten Nights and the One Dawn following them accentuates their characteristics as being Active and Passive for each other. It is worth noting that from a philosophical standpoint, the Passive does not mean Inaction but rather the Desire for Action. Just like a persistent hunger and thirst may create a powerful desire for eating and drinking, the persistence of Passive characteristic similarly shall cause a stronger desire for the relevant Action. The quality of Passive in other words only results in the reinforcement of the Active, and thus supports the active through its presence. The Ten being the Passive for One, implies that all the multiples and exponents of Ten like 20, 30, 40… and 100, 1000, 10000… respectively serve as the Passives for One to even a greater extent on account of their magnitude. Moreover, since we are talking about gender here, I think it was at least the original intent behind the use of fashion and cosmetics by human females, but humans are known to have subverted it, just like they have been known to subvert many other natural phenomena. The chapter 97 of Quran conveys a very powerful message,
1. We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power:
2. And what will explain to thee what the night of power is?
3. The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.
4. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah’s permission, on every errand:
5. Peace!… This until the rise of morn!
The verse 3 indicates that one night with the message of Quran may create a hunger for truth and a thirst for knowledge that can surpass the work of a thousand months. The verse 5 communicates that the actions ensuing from its message would be truly grand in their potential to produce an enlightened world. The Quran further says,
The likeness of those who spend their wealth in Allah’s way is as the likeness of a grain which groweth seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains. Allah giveth increase manifold to whom He will. Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing. (2, 261)
The Human Factor
The Quran says,
Vile women are for vile men, and vile men for vile women. Good women are for good men, and good men for good women; such are innocent of that which people say: For them is pardon and a bountiful provision. (24, 26)
It is fascinating to observe the outrightness of Quran regarding the philosophy of gender. If the gender has to function physically, it must be equally effective spiritually. The spiritual resonance of both active and passive forces is essential to generate the light that may lead their paths. Nevertheless, in the real life there are always exceptional cases, such as mentioned in the chapter 56 of Quran.
10. Allah citeth an example for those who disbelieve: the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot, who were under two of Our righteous slaves yet betrayed them so that they (the husbands) availed them naught against Allah and it was said (unto them): Enter the Fire along with those who enter.
11. And Allah citeth an example for those who believe: the wife of Pharaoh when she said: My Lord! Build for me a home with thee in the Garden, and deliver me from Pharaoh and his work, and deliver me from evil-doing folk;
12. And Mary, daughter of ‘Imran, whose body was chaste, therefor We breathed therein something of Our Spirit. And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His scriptures, and was of the obedient.
The wives of Noah and Lot in the verse 10 did not commit adultery or any such act, and thus had not violated the Active and Passive Principles. However, they did violate the Hermetic Principle of Gender, or in a simpler language, they had betrayed the Mutable Signs of zodiac. The Pharaoh’s wife in the verse 11 had not violated either of the principles, but her husband had betrayed the mutable signs. In the case of Mary, she did not have a husband but was dutiful to the Mutable Signs and as a result got rewarded by the birth of the son Jesus. Therefore, the conclusion from this passage should be that the Mutable Signs are the most essential factors in the fulfillment of the gender roles. In the Christian trinity, the Holy Spirit metaphorically represents the Mutable Signs. Therefore, it should be worth quoting the following verse from the New Testament.
Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. Matthew 12:32
What happens to those who would violate all the principles? The following verses from chapter 24 speak of such cases.
2. The adulterer and the adulteress, scourge ye each one of them (with) a hundred stripes. And let not pity for the twain withhold you from obedience to Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of believers witness their punishment.
3. The adulterer shall not marry save an adulteress or an idolatress, and the adulteress none shall marry save an adulterer or an idolater. All that is forbidden unto believers.
4. And those who accuse honourable women but bring not four witnesses, scourge them (with) eighty stripes and never (afterward) accept their testimony — They indeed are evil-doers -
The punishment for violating the Active and Passive Principles shall be the scourging with a hundred stripes; hundred being the double exponent of Ten. And the punishment for betraying the Mutable signs shall be the restriction from marrying the righteous people because those people can only live with sinful people in a sinful environment. The verse 4 mentions the kind of people who would spread bad rumours or stories against honourable women, and find some sort of prideful gratification in sinful conversations completely disregarding the moral values by debasing the women in their absence. Such type of persons has no integrity, and though they might not be guilty of physical harm to others, but their evil mentality and vile nature creates a very negative atmosphere for human dignity. Therefore, they must be scourged with eighty stripes because eighty is the multiple of eight and ten, i. e. eight for betraying the Mutable Signs, and Ten for violating the Active and Passive Principles.
This should be enough for the punishments for now. Let us cheer up by reading a story of Moses from the chapter 28 of Quran.
22. And when he turned his face toward Midian, he said: Peradventure my Lord will guide me in the right road.
23. And when he came unto the water of Midian he found there a whole tribe of men, watering. And he found apart from them two women keeping back (their flocks). He said: What aileth you? The two said: We cannot give (our flocks) to drink till the shepherds return from the water; and our father is a very old man.
24. So he watered (their flock) for them. Then he turned aside into the shade, and said: My Lord! I am needy of whatever good Thou sendest down for me.
25. Then there came unto him one of the two women, walking shyly. She said: Lo! my father biddeth thee, that he may reward thee with a payment for that thou didst water (the flock) for us. Then, when he came unto him and told him the (whole) story, he said: Fear not! Thou hast escaped from the wrongdoing folk.
26. One of the two women said: O my father! Hire him! For the best (man) that thou canst hire is the strong, the trustworthy.
27. He said: Lo! I fain would marry thee to one of these two daughters of mine on condition that thou hirest thyself to me for (the term of) eight pilgrimages. Then if thou completest ten it will be of thine own accord, for I would not make it hard for thee. Allah willing, thou wilt find me of the righteous.
28. He said: That (is settled) between thee and me. Whichever of the two terms I fulfil, there will be no injustice to me, and Allah is Surety over what we say.
I did not quote the Moses story merely for fun, but also to note that the two terms of Eight and Ten mentioned in the verse 27 has esoteric implications; namely that they allude to the Hermetic Principle of Gender and the Active and Passive Principles. Here again, the Hermetic Principle of Gender is compulsory, whilst the Active and Passive Principles is considered to be optional. However, the rewards of fulfilling both the principles are described in the following verses of chapter 24.
35. Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is as a niche wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were a shining star. (This lamp is) kindled from a blessed tree, an olive neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself) though no fire touched it. Light upon light. Allah guideth unto His light whom He will. And Allah speaketh to mankind in allegories, for Allah is Knower of all things.
36. (This lamp is found) in houses which Allah hath allowed to be exalted and that His name shall be remembered therein. Therein do offer praise to Him at morn and evening.
The verse 35 is truly the most beautiful verse of the Quran as it is full of metaphorical and mystical significance. The niche in the verse is the chest cavity of a human being, the lamp is the heart, and the glass represents the chest of a noble being. The verse says that this chest is like a shining star because only the most benevolent and beneficent feelings ever occur to it. The heart in this chest beats with the mirth and joy of the truth, and loves all the humanity without any bias or discrimination. The very presence of such a heart causes all good to transpire spontaneously without any need for encouragement in the forms of fame and fortune, or the fear of law enforcement. The hearts that shine with the light of God, and they embrace the presence of ever-loving God in the spiritual blessedness.
The End Note
Despite the researches of modern psychology and the application of technological devices, the humans have failed to find the right solution for gender issues through their mechanical logic because that type of logic is essentially faulty. If humanity ever has to emerge from the abyss of their own making, then they must first discover and apply the right tools. Those tools they may well find in the wisdom of the ancients, and the ever-living traditions of the wise. I shall conclude this article by stating the following verse from the Quran.
And stay in your houses. Bedizen not yourselves with the bedizenment of the Time of Ignorance. Be regular in prayer, and pay the poor-due, and obey Allah and His messenger. Allah’s wish is but to remove uncleanness far from you, O Folk of the Household, and cleanse you with a thorough cleansing. (33, 33)