The observations made by man through his faculties have always recognized an underlying order in the systems of the universe. From atoms to the galaxies, all seem to resonate and dance to the musical frequencies that express the mode of creation with an explicit design. This design has been unfolding perpetually with a surety of purpose which has made it innate to the nature of all things in the existence. The great panorama represents the authority of the creative powers in the universal mind by describing the divine plan of truth, beauty, and order. Therefore, the civilizations of man have worshipped the creator God throughout history for appreciating the tremendous organization in the works of his creation.
In the zodiac, the archetypal creative principles are enshrined in the cardinal signs, i. e. the signs of Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. Together these signs form a cross figure in the zodiac called the ‘cardinal cross’. When the Sun enters into one of these signs, a new season is initiated according to the characteristics of that sign. Here, I shall be mainly discussing the sign of Cancer in the backdrop of chapter 38 of Quran which begins with the prefixed mystery letter “Sa’d”. I had earlier mentioned in the article “The Hermetic Wisdom of Quran — Introduction”, that the mystery letter “Sa’d” stands for the astrological sign of Cancer, and it represents ‘The Authority’. Since Cancer is a cardinal sign, therefore this chapter deals with the elements of authority in the mysteries of creation. With great authority, comes great responsibility; that is metaphorically demonstrated here by the trials faced by the ‘Cancer Sun’ for fulfilling its archetypal role, and thus becoming the ‘Chosen One’ who brings order to the forces of creation in the world.
It is important to note that the chapter 38 mentions the stories of David, Solomon, and Job from the Bible in a very symbolic way. The details of the stories are simply not there, but inklings of their possible connections to certain anecdotes of the Old Testament have been recognized by the Muslims as very striking in their depictions. From a hermetic perspective, I think of these stories to represent the three symbolic trials undertaken by the Cancer Sun or the Chosen One in order to authenticate its authority.
The Aries Trial
The Quran states the following allegory concerning the Aries trial of the Chosen One.
And hath the story of the litigants come unto thee? How they climbed the wall into the royal chamber; How they burst in upon David, and he was afraid of them. They said: Be not afraid! (We are) two litigants, one of whom hath wronged the other, therefor judge aright between us; be not unjust; and show us the fair way. Lo! this my brother hath ninety and nine ewes while I had one ewe; and he said: Entrust it to me, and he conquered me in speech. (David) said: He hath wronged thee in demanding thine ewe in addition to his ewes, and lo! many partners oppress one another, save such as believe and do good works, and they are few. And David guessed that We had tried him, and he sought forgiveness of his Lord, and he bowed himself and fell down prostrate and repented. (38, 21–24)
The two litigant brothers in the above story represent the signs of Aries and Libra respectively. Though Aries had already taken ninety nine percent of the shares in the creation of the world, yet it was contending for the one percent left with the Libra also. David who is the Chosen One, decides the judgment with his authority in favour of the weaker partner, i. e. Libra. The penitence of David alludes to the incident of the Old Testament where he had conspired to marry some beautiful woman. The story teaches the Chosen One (David) to control his ambitious nature (Aries) in the exercise of his authority.
The Libra Trial
The character of Solomon in the following passage represents the Chosen One.
And We bestowed on David, Solomon. How excellent a slave! Lo! he was ever turning in repentance (toward Allah). When there were shown to him at eventide light-footed coursers. And he said: Lo! I have preferred the good things (of the world) to the remembrance of my Lord; till they were taken out of sight behind the curtain. (Then he said): Bring them back to me, and fell to slashing (with his sword their) legs and necks. And verily We tried Solomon, and set upon his throne a (mere) body. Then did he repent. (38, 30–34)
There are actually two anecdotes symbolically condensed in the above passage, both expressing the desire for entertainment, leisure, and pleasure (Libra characteristics). In the first anecdote, Solomon had gotten completely absorbed into the entertaining dances of the light-footed coursers at the evening (Libra) that he forgot the track of time to keep up with his official appointments or responsibilities. Afterwards, he realized the loss of time by deforming and injuring those coursers who had taken much of his attention uselessly, and thence they would never be able to perform again. In the second anecdote, Solomon had tried to beget many sons in a very short period so that they could strengthen his kingdom by conquering the world effortlessly, and thereby he would live with ease and pleasure in the retirement. The ‘(mere) body’ upon Solomon’s throne symbolizes an ineffective progeny, and thus his scheme of possessing many sons had failed causing him to repent from the unworthy desires of life.
The Capricorn Trial
The personality of Job represents the Chosen One in the following anecdote.
And make mention (O Muhammad) of Our bondman Job, when he cried unto his Lord (saying): Lo! the devil doth afflict me with distress and torment. (And it was said unto him): Strike the ground with thy foot. This (spring) is a cool bath and a refreshing drink. And We bestowed on him (again) his household and therewith the like thereof, a mercy from Us, and a memorial for men of understanding. And (it was said unto him): Take in thine hand a branch and smite therewith, and break not thine oath. Lo! We found him steadfast, how excellent a slave! Lo! he was ever turning in repentance (to his Lord). (38, 41–44)
We know about the disease of Job from the Old Testament, which is symbolically mentioned here as a trial of Capricorn for the Chosen One. The affliction of Job was the trial for his ability to endure the uncontrollable circumstances by always keeping himself true to his noble purpose. Job did not surrender even under the most desperate conditions to the negativities of life, and therefore ultimately found succour from the waters of Cancer that healed him. The inability of Job to physically function properly could not make him to loose faith in his higher objectives, though his relatives had given up on him. The relatives of Job were looking for material and social benefits from him and showed neither concerns nor sympathy for his spiritual growth due to the great suffering he had endured, and hence they had to be punished for their ignoble short-sightedness. The Capricorn trial teaches the lesson of endurance to the Chosen One.
The Authority of Creation
The following is the account given in this chapter regarding the creation of a mortal man, and his exalted stature as being the inheritor of the Divine Spirit.
When thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to create a mortal out of mire. And when I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My Spirit, then fall down before him prostrate. The angels fell down prostrate, every one. Saving Iblis; he was scornful and became one of the disbelievers. He said: O Iblis! What hindereth thee from falling prostrate before that which I have created with both My hands? Art thou too proud or art thou of the high exalted? He said: I am better than him. Thou createdst me of fire, whilst him Thou didst create of clay. He said: Go forth from hence, for lo! thou art outcast, And lo! My curse is on thee till the Day of Judgment. He said: My Lord! Reprieve me till the Day when they are raised. He said: Lo! thou art of those reprieved. Until the Day of the time appointed. He said: Then, by Thy might, I surely will beguile them every one. Save Thy single-minded slaves among them. He said: The Truth is, and the Truth I speak. That I shall fill hell with thee and with such of them as follow thee, together. (38, 71–85)
The above passage mentions ‘both My hands’ in association with the creation of man to signify the presence of divine authority in his creation. The two hands may also metaphorically represent the two cardinal axes of Aries/Libra and Cancer/Capricorn respectively. The Iblis or Devil, who did not recognize the divine authority to create a mortal of outstanding order and surpassing harmony of elements was thus, cursed by God on account of his pride. Therefore, pride constitutes the fundamental component of all forms of disharmony and disorder that destroys the creative capacity of humans. The ‘single-minded slaves’ in the above passage represent the Chosen Ones who overcome all the trials and become the true authorities.
The End Note
Jesus had taught that the trees should be judged by their fruits; which does not necessarily indicate that the ends should justify the means, but rather they should be used to determine the means. One may correctly surmise that there could be an eschatological connection to the theme of this article. Since every work of creation speaks of the skill of its maker, and thus the great potential of man as the Chosen One may express the supreme authority of the perfect and ultimate Creator. I should conclude this article by citing the following verses from Quran.
And make mention of Our bondmen, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, men of parts and vision. Lo! We purified them with a pure thought, remembrance of the Home (of the Hereafter). Lo! in Our sight they are verily of the elect, the excellent. And make mention of Ishmael and Elisha and Dhu’l-Kifl. All are of the chosen. This is a reminder. And lo! for those who ward off (evil) is a happy journey’s end. (38, 45–49)