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The Hermetic Wisdom of Quran — Part 4 (The Communion)

This article continues the series of “The Hermetic Wisdom of Quran”, and here it deals exclusively with the mystery of “The Communion”. There are many sections in Quran that refer to the mystery of Communion directly as well as implicitly in their teachings, and require thorough investigations through the lens of hermetic wisdom. The most prominent chapter in Quran regarding this mystery is the chapter 41, called the “Fussilat (Detailed Explanations)”. Therefore, we shall examine the features associated with the mystery of Communion and some of its esoteric aspects as described in the chapter.

The Communion essentially represents the great works performed by a person for the spiritual growth of his body and mind in the path of the Lord. The celebration of Communion rites in Christianity for instance, involves partaking of bread and wine that metaphorically refers to the body and blood of Christ demonstrating the same mystery. The mystery of bread being the solid food causing the spiritual growth of the body, and the wine being more subtle fluid causing the spiritual growth of the mind. The mystery suggests that such a growth is the very objective of living, and it can only be achieved whilst working for the Lord. In the Quran however, the Eucharist itself is mentioned in the chapter 5 (The Table Spread), but the inherent mystery of Communion is most profoundly expressed in the chapter 41; and by studying that we shall try to look into the deeper aspects of the Communion mystery.

The law of Symmetry and Proportion

The hermetic wisdom suggests that for anything to grow without getting deformed or distorted, it has to follow the law of symmetry and proportion. The pattern has to be followed in every symmetrical growth similar to the physical process of crystallization, or else deformation will occur. Therefore, in order for the body and mind of a human being to grow, it has to follow the path of the Lord. This path from the standpoint of hermetic wisdom represents the path of the Luminaries, the Sun and the Moon, representing the body and the mind respectively. The Sun represents the body because it is always visible and prominent, and the Moon represents the mind because it can vary in its visibility from very prominent to totally invisible. But the orbits of the Luminaries (Sun and Moon) are always constant, meaning that they do not extend or stretch themselves continuously in order to grow in a symmetrical fashion. Thus, a pattern of extending the Luminary orbits according to the law of symmetry and proportion is required to be recognized and followed in order to achieve a symmetrical growth. This objective can be accomplished by following the orbital patterns of Jupiter and Saturn. There is a proportional symmetry between the paths of Sun and Jupiter because the orbit of Sun takes 12 months to revolve around the ecliptic, and the orbit of Jupiter takes 12 years to follow the same circular path. Similarly, the time period required for the Moon to revolve around the ecliptic is 29.5 days, whilst in Saturn’s case it is 29.5 years. This indicates that Jupiter represents the higher symmetrical proportion of the Sun, while Saturn represents the higher symmetrical proportion of the Moon. Together in comparison though, the Sun/Jupiter proportion (month vs year) is lesser than that of the Moon/Saturn proportion (day vs year). This difference nonetheless is consistent with the notion of Sun representing the body because the growth in a human body can only occur to a lesser extent owing to its many limitations, whilst the growth in its mental faculties can be much quicker and greater with comparatively less efforts. The law of symmetry and proportion is also consistent with the mystery of the Christian Communion since partaking of the body and blood of Christ is meant to become the extension of the body and mind of Christ himself. Also in the esoteric understanding of the scriptures, the human body is usually equated to be symbolically analogous to the earth, and the human mind to that of the heaven.

The Chapter 41 of Quran, Fussilat (Detailed Explanations)

Now, we shall read the chapter 41 in the context of the Communion and the law of symmetry and proportion.

1. Ha. Mim.

2. A revelation from the Beneficent, the Merciful,

3. A Scripture whereof the verses are expounded, a Lecture in Arabic for people who have knowledge,

4. Good tidings and a warning. But most of them turn away so that they hear not.

5. And they say: Our hearts are protected from that unto which thou (O Muhammad) callest us, and in our ears there is a deafness, and between us and thee there is a veil. Act, then. Lo! we also shall be acting.

6. Say (unto them O Muhammad): I am only a mortal like you. It is inspired in me that your Allah is One Allah, therefor take the straight path unto Him and seek forgiveness of Him. And woe unto the idolaters,

7. Who give not the poor-due, and who are disbelievers in the Hereafter.

8. Lo! as for those who believe and do good works, for them is a reward enduring.

The chapter begins with the mystery letters ‘Ha. Mim.’ that can be implied to mean “The Speech for Justice”. The first verses state that this chapter offers detailed explanations for the people who have knowledge, but the ignorant people turn away from it because they want to avoid the Communion. Their hearts are protected, in their ears is deafness, and in their eyes is blindness, all to keep them from the Communion. The verse 7 suggests that the charitable attitude of a person is an important constituent for the Communion, which we shall see described more specifically in the chapter again. The next few verses are very important from a symbolic standpoint.

9. Say (O Muhammad, unto the idolaters): Disbelieve ye verily in Him Who created the earth in two Days, and ascribe ye unto Him rivals? He (and none else) is the Lord of the Worlds.

10. He placed therein firm hills rising above it, and blessed it and measured therein its sustenance in four Days, alike for (all) who ask;

11. Then turned He to the heaven when it was smoke, and said unto it and unto the earth: Come both of you, willingly or loth. They said: We come, obedient.

12. Then He ordained them seven heavens in two Days and inspired in each heaven its mandate; and We decked the nether heaven with lamps, and rendered it inviolable. That is the measuring of the Mighty, the Knower.

The ‘two days’ mentioned in the verse 9, in which God had created the earth imply the symbolic connection of the Sun/Jupiter proportion or the body part of the Communion. Similarly, the ‘two days’ mentioned in the verse 12, in which God had ordained the seven heavens symbolically correspond to the Moon/Saturn proportion or the mind part of the Communion. But the ‘four days’ of verse 10 comprise of both the Sun/Jupiter and Moon/Saturn proportions together because the ‘firm hills’ connect both the earth and the heaven and the life between them, thus representing the Communion of the body and the mind. There is also a very profound symbolism in the verse 12 about the phrase “and We decked the nether heaven with lamps, and rendered it inviolable.” meaning the nether heaven to be consisting of the lamps like the Sun and the Moon forming the inviolable baseline from which the growth towards the higher heaven of Jupiter and Saturn might transpire. This symbolism suggests that God had created the whole process of conscious life on earth for the reason of accomplishing the Communion. The chapter further reads,

13. But if they turn away, then say: I warn you of a thunderbolt like the thunderbolt (which fell of old upon the tribes) of A’ad and Thamud;

14. When their messengers came unto them from before them and behind them, saying: Worship none but Allah! they said: If our Lord had willed, He surely would have sent down angels (unto us), so lo! we are disbelievers in that wherewith ye have been sent.

15. As for A’ad, they were arrogant in the land without right, and they said: Who is mightier than us in power? Could they not see that Allah Who created them, He was mightier than them in power? And they denied Our revelations.

16. Therefor We let loose on them a raging wind in evil days, that We might make them taste the torment of disgrace in the life of the world. And verily the doom of the Hereafter will be more shameful, and they will not be helped.

17. And as for Thamud, We gave them guidance, but they preferred blindness to the guidance, so the bolt of the doom of humiliation overtook them because of what they used to earn.

18. And We delivered those who believed and used to keep their duty to Allah.

The people of A’ad and Thamud are the only two people who are mentioned in the context of destruction in this chapter. They both were strong in their physical built, both used to carve magnificent dwelling places in the hills, and both had the great arrogance in their power. There are definite indicators from the symbolism of A’ad in the Quran suggesting that they had defied the mind part of the Communion, i. e. the Moon/Saturn proportion. Also, the A’ad were destroyed by the ‘raging wind’ which is the more subtle element for destruction, thus representing the mental part. The Thamud on the other hand had rejected the Sun/Jupiter proportion of the Communion, i. e. the physical body part, and consequently they were destroyed by the earthquake that seized their dwellings. Also the phrase ‘from before them and behind them’ in the verse 14 has occurred more than once in the chapter, and can be symbolically taken as the body and mind parts of the Communion. The approach from before effects the body of a person, whilst the approach from behind effects the mind of a person. The Thamud’s betrayal is being described very beautifully in the chapter 91 of the Quran called “Ash-Shams (The Sun)”. It is a relatively brief chapter but replete with exquisite symbolism, particularly describing the earth part of the Communion. Hence, in the interest of a deeper comprehension of the subject, I must quote the chapter 91 (The Sun) in the following.

1. By the sun and his brightness,

2. And the moon when she followeth him,

3. And the day when it revealeth him,

4. And the night when it enshroudeth him,

5. And the heaven and Him Who built it,

6. And the earth and Him Who spread it,

7. And a soul and Him Who perfected it,

8. And inspired it (with conscience of) what is wrong for it and (what is) right for it.

9. He is indeed successful who causeth it to grow,

10. And he is indeed a failure who stunteth it.

11. (The tribe of) Thamud denied (the truth) in their rebellious pride,

12. When the basest of them broke forth,

13. And the messenger of Allah said: It is the she-camel of Allah, so let her drink!

14. But they denied him, and they hamstrung her, so Allah doomed them for their sin and razed (their dwellings).

15. He dreadeth not the sequel (of events).

The ‘she-camel of Allah’ mentioned in the verse 13, is the metaphorical reference to the Sun. By denying the drink of water to the she-camel of God and injuring her, the Thamud had rejected the Communion of the earth. Hence, the earthquake destroyed them. The following set of verses from chapter 88 of the Quran are very representative of the significance of the Communion, and indicative of the strong emphasis the subject has received in the book.

17. Will they not regard the camels, how they are created?

18. And the heaven, how it is raised?

19. And the hills, how they are set up?

20. And the earth, how it is spread?

21. Remind them, for thou art but a remembrancer,

22. Thou art not at all a warder over them.

The physical outlook and attributes of a camel makes it a very interesting animal. Although a denizen of desert where the lack of sustenance is a common condition, the camel seems to stretch itself to grow higher and higher from the ground. Not only it has the great capacity to endure the severity of extreme weather conditions and scarcity of water supply, but also serves as a beast of burden for travelling in areas where no other transporting agent may survive. Its ability to stretch the limits of perseverance without breaking down makes it an ideal candidate to demonstrate the value of Communion. Even if it does happen to breakdown, it is slaughtered and consumed as a nourishing sustenance for the humans. Though there may well be many animals with outstanding talents for survival under harsh conditions, but their instincts are mostly limited to the good of their own selves. The camel is especially useful because its talents serve the humans both whilst it stands, and ultimately whence it succumbs. The Communion requires humans to serve the Lord in a fashion similar to the camel.

Another very interesting symbolism of Communion relates to the hills. Hills can be symbolically considered as the features of earth that have outgrown the earth and afterwards are eagerly trying to reach out to the heaven, and the heaven too as it appears trying to reach out to the hills as well. Thus, the hills symbolize the Communion of both the earth and the heaven in a very romantic way. Now that we have seen the basic theme of symbolism regarding the Communion, we may return to the chapter 41 for further exploration of the mystery.

34. The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend.

35. But none is granted it save those who are steadfast, and none is granted it save the owner of great happiness.

The most essential element of Communion is to practice charitable conduct towards ones enemies. It is considered by far the most potent component because it imparts the great spiritual heights to a person by exalting his station to a level of true grandness. The nobility of attitudes in the human interactions is the prime characteristic that distinguishes the humanity to be associated with the divine essence.

37. And of His portents are the night and the day and the sun and the moon. Do not prostrate to the sun or the moon; but prostrate to Allah Who created them, if it is in truth Him Whom ye worship.

38. But if they are too proud — still those who are with thy Lord glorify Him night and day, and tire not.

39. And of His portents (is this): that thou seest the earth lowly, but when We send down water thereon it thrilleth and groweth. Lo! He Who quickeneth it is verily the Quickener of the Dead. Lo! He is Able to do all things.

The verse 37 is very significant because by describing ‘the sun and the moon’ as portents of God, it turns them into the instruments of human growth. In other words, the physical and mental talents of humans are not there to be worshipped or celebrated but to be used for their spiritual growth. A strong beautiful person does not have to be appreciated for his wonderful body, but for the wonderful works his body gets to accomplish for the good of humanity. Being a human is a privilege that needs to be earned through constant application and hard work, so that humankind may not linger in stasis but unfolds its tremendous potential of growth. As I had observed earlier that the orbits of Sun and Moon only serve as a baseline, a solid ground for humans to launch themselves into the universe, but they by no means represent the great human destiny. It is the growth of humankind guided by the law of symmetry and proportion that will determine the human destiny.

51. When We show favour unto man, he withdraweth and turneth aside, but when ill toucheth him then he aboundeth in prayer.

52. Bethink you: If it is from Allah and ye reject it — Who is further astray than one who is at open feud (with Allah)?

53. We shall show them Our portents on the horizons and within themselves until it will be manifest unto them that it is the Truth. Doth not thy Lord suffice, since He is Witness over all things?

54. How! Are they still in doubt about the meeting with their Lord? Lo! Is not He surrounding all things?

The process of growth is actually a hard experience. A person has to use a strong will to move against the gravity, against the friction, and against the slope. The hedonistic attitudes only lead to the spiritual destruction of a human being, and never lead to his spiritual growth. The verse 53 explains the hermetic law of symmetry and proportion in a very comprehensive and thorough manner by connecting the grand macrocosm with its microcosmic essence, the humanity. Thus, humans must find their ascension to the plane of Communion through indomitable will and indefatigable efforts to realize their true potential.

The End Note

We may be living in the world of vanity and deception, but the deception can only last for so long before the reality reasserts itself. I have noticed that in those magical moments of reassertion of reality, one may discover for oneself the most ecstatic state of Communion. I should conclude this article with the following statements of Quran from chapter 18.

109. Say: Though the sea became ink for the Words of my Lord, verily the sea would be used up before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even though We brought the like thereof to help.

110. Say: I am only a mortal like you. My Lord inspireth in me that your Allah is only One Allah. And whoever hopeth for the meeting with his Lord, let him do righteous work, and make none sharer of the worship due unto his Lord.