Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lord of the Haram

Watch out: dawn and revelation
of the eternal face;
Being's King raises battle banners
from the field of Nonexistence.
A rich man goes to a party;
he needs no servant but
one goes along anyway, gets invited in;
and even that servant
is a morning star, gleaning its light
by rubbing its face against Eternity

The Unseen , the Forbidden
When it yearns to reveal itself
and raises its torches high
above the abyss
to create in its Power
through the order: BE!
before even the Pen
and the Tablet were known
then 'Ali's heart became that Tablet
Ahmad's tongue the Pen.

The station of "ali, Kaaba's Lord
became the heart itself
and all our circumbulations
then were abrogated,
all ritual complete- look!
The Elect are forbidden
what ordinary men must do
an outward pilgrimage denied
to men of Heart, whose pillar is the palace
of 'Ali; the lord of the Haram.

When I turn toward the prayer niche
I journey toward him
When I begin my prayers
I speak with him;
ignoring the road to Mecca.
Passing by the Black House
I circle his neighborhood
to venerate the child born within it
is all the worship the Kaaba demands.

Mercies are signs
of the Mercy of 'Ali
the books of the prophets
rehearse his tale,
paradise and its fruits
are his gifts
and the greatest gift of God
is 'Ali's sacred role.
Say yes! for this
Is God's greatest favor.

Fo'ad Kermani

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Letter From a War Zone.

I'm re-posting an email sent from a person living in Gaza explaining the horrors of the Israeli Assault. Thank you Olivia for providing this!

Friday 16 January 2009

Today is number 21 of the Israeli offensive on Gaza. In Tel el-Hawa neighborhood I live. Last night witnessed the third ground offensive on the area. Air surveillance by reconnaissance has never halted for 24 hours. Because of the buzzing sound and ezzzing of those airplanes people call it Zanaana! The attack helicopters and F16s are in action at any moment. They raid and raid at different times, day and night! Each moment there is a blast somewhere, sometimes near where I am and some other times, it is a little bit far or in the distance! Anyways, managing to survive under unusual circumstances, not knowing exactly what is going on around me except from static transmission of a transistor radio. News from local radio stations lacks accuracy. It could be because their correspondents cannot move around and do not have other facilities! We heard shelling and bombing approaching to our building, and exchange of machine guns fire; more explosions! No electricity or water in the neighborhood. We took to the floor in one inside room that seemed protected to us.

The battle went on from 10:00 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. Then, tanks pulled back and there was dreadful quietness in the whole place! It was almost half an hour when huge blasts began again; shooting by various machine guns and blast heard from almost everywhere in the neighborhood! At 7:00 a.m. we heard rumble of tanks and bulldozers moving into the residential area in Tel el-Hawa! I began to prepare my wife and children for horrible scenarios to come. They included attacking the building or the apartment, explosions and searching of the whole place with rudeness of soldiers, and worse than that. It was a night of anxiety, fear and anticipation by all means. For the whole day we were stuck in one room hearing explosions and bombings! One of my daughters was so frightened because she felt that each explosion is inside our building! On my part, with each blast, I opposed my daughters as saying, this far away from us, can you hear that! I tried to keep control over their worries and fear. With the sunset, fear and silence became the title of the night. Sky is lighted with explosions and white phosphorus bombs! With all courage and life experience, I could not convince my daughters and youngest son that this is how war goes on and we will come out of it safe and sound. Every moment was an hour in our night! My children were scared; they screamed, wept and shrunk together like a ball of flesh. It stopped for minutes, then, an explosion shook the whole building like an earthquake. It was the most horrible moments of the whole night! Later we knew that a sound bomb was thrown in a room in the fifth floor; it was the same room over the room in which we were sitting.

At 10:15 p.m. we heard knocks at our door! My children screamed for fear that it is Israeli soldiers at the door! I opened the door! It was the upstairs neighbor. He told me that in the next block, across the street from Barcelona garden (Public garden and playground constructed by the Spanish Barcelona's municipality) the Israeli soldiers explode the outside doors of the buildings and order whoever is still in his place to open the door of their apartment and light a candle, then to stay and wait inside the apartment! If there is no lighted candle at the open door, the soldiers blow up the door with explosives, then they attack the apartment, shooting and destroying everything inside! The apartment turns to a useless place for living! We prepared a candle for that moment! We also knew that the soldiers order the male tenants who hold IDs (16 years of age and above) to strip off their clothes except their under wear! They fold their eyes and manacle their hands with a plastic wire behind their backs before they pull them off to a yard outside the building. Those horrible news were from SMS and phone calls from wives and daughters in homes searched and searched by the Israeli soldiers! I started another psychological treatment of the situation. I talked to my children again saying that it will be a moment of relief when the soldiers come in and know me as a university professor so that they will not misbehave! My children were so anxious and nervous and I was did not believe my words however they remained silent without a comment or objection to what I say! Then, as we know the buildings that were searched by the soldiers, I thought that it would be four or five hours before they reach us! But who really believed me! Moment of fear as always long! Of course, no one believed ... Everyone was panic-stricken! Once more, I tried to convince my children to sleep until the army arrives, but who could! While I was thinking, I found nothing to do. ... Only one scenario remained in my mind; it was a miracle from God and pulls off the whole area by some kind of a military command for a reason or another! I was so unusually fatigued and sleepless, but the safety of my wife and children was my only concern.

There was no way to recharge the batteries of our mobile phones. Thus, all our five mobiles went off plus that mobile lines were so bad. We could hardly send off SMS! I do not know how I slept! It was 7:00 a.m.. when I opened my eyes again! It was day light again! I heard sound of generators coming from nearby buildings! I thought to myself: Was it a dream? But I heard people talking Arabic! I dared to open the balcony's door and look! There was a dead body under the balcony! I sent my son to the upstairs neighbor to ask them about the situation! They said that tanks and bulldozers pulled back at 5:00 a.m. and that they came and knocked at our door but we did not reply! I went out to see what was there! It was a more horrible scene in the street. Asphalts have been destroyed by the Israeli army bulldozers; some tenants could not come down from their apartment buildings because the army bulldozers have destroyed the outside steps of the buildings, and tenant have to climb up to go inside or jump down a 2.5 meters to come out to the street! They also destroyed side walks, electric posts, and any other thing they reached.

They destroyed two ambulances and dragged it and used it as a barricade together a large rubbish dumpster! They also destroyed a third ambulance and blocked a side road with it! They burnt a nearby medical drug store of the ministry of health. At night, our noses were stuffed by abnormally suffocating smell of the burning drugs and medicines. However, our fear was more from the white phosphorous bombs that aircrafts used against targets in the same street. Also, the army evacuated one of the three buildings of Al-Quds hospitals next block to the east from me; they ordered the patients to instantaneously leave and walk off on foot for almost one kilometer when they burnt the whole five floor building! One of the patients was a woman who gave birth to three babies the same night! They also burnt the hospital's Emergency Room! They shoot two tank shells at the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (P.R.C.S.) which is located just across the street from my apartment building! P.R.C.S. building inflected damages from inside! The Ambulance Center of P.R.C.S. which is in the same building inflected damages as well. Now, I will tell you about where I live! By then, it became clearer to me why my daughters were so scared to death! In last nights bombing, tanks shot nine shells at our building destroying and burning all the seven apartments that overlook the main street and P.R.C.S.! Luckily, my apartment was in the back! I felt how lucky I was! Thank you Almighty God, all of us, my family and I are still alive!

Six of the apartments have been totally destroyed on its furniture and turned to war zone! Everything inside the apartments became useless! One of the seven apartments was totally burnt; blaze was due phototonus bomb or more. The apartment was owned by Dr. Sami el-Deeb; he holds PhD from a German University and an assistant professor of pharmaceuticals at Al-Azhar University of Gaza. The other apartments belong to other teaching staff from Al-Azhar University of Gaza which is known as loyal to Fatah. It was obvious for everyone that no one from Hamas or its supporters lives in the bombed building! It was also obvious that Israel targeted the Palestinian people and life. Among other civil society's institution targeted was the Palestinian Universities Teachers Society. They also targeted and destroyed headquarters of the Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC). Neither of the two institutions belongs to Hamas at all! At 9:30 a.m. two P.R.C.S. ambulances arrived at the scene; paramedics evacuated 23 dead bodies from the neighborhood.

After all that threat, suffering, pressure, intimidation and horrific scenes, I decided to leave my apartment to save the lives of my wife and children. I am in a safer place now, but I do not have access to the internet except occasionally!

Sunday 18 January 2009 (Day 22 invasion time!)

Today is 22 invasion time! I can see destruction and brutality everywhere! The Israeli air force executed 70 raids on Gaza Strip. They bombed everywhere including an UNRWA school populated by displaced Palestinians under protection of UNRWA. Early reports mention death and other casualties in the school. It's the third UNRWA school that F16 Israeli American-made tanks targeted! The precincts of UNRWA were never safe!

The Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC) is a non-profit organization concerned with agricultural matters, farmers and faming. No one in PARC is a Hamas member or sympathizer! It's a highly professional NGO with strong relations with Europe NGOs working in the filed of agriculture! PARC's headquarters and main offices in Gaza have been targeted and totally demolished!

Palestinian Universities Teachers' Society in Tel el-Hawa is a social institution. The whole two storey building was destroyed by Israeli warships! The society hosts university professors from Al-Azhar and Al-Aqsa universities which are known as loyal to Fatah. The society was like a social club where university staffs meet to talk, watch TV.

Israel declared one sided ceasefire, but fire from Israeli army did not stop; reconnaissance planes and helicopter are in the sky; between now and then F16s fly overheads. Last nigh, the Israeli army exploded the house of Hussein Al-Aiedy, and the other homes of his two brothers, to the east of Gaza city though house was evacuated in day 15 of the attack! They were evacuated with sincere humanitarian efforts of NGOs. They left everything behind in their homes. Now, its all rubbish!

More than 40 UNRWA schools have been occupied by thousands of displaces people. The whole scene is really miserable and life turned to be inhumane for those unlucky people! Hundreds of homes demolished or burnt or became within the Israeli tanks control and activities, thus they were ordered by the Israelis to leave their places!

This morning, search under rubble of demolished homes found more than 50 dead bodies. Search is still underway. They still cannot reach where the Israeli tanks stop. I believe that there are hundreds of other bodies to be taken out and buried. Upon their arrival back home, the Norwegian medical team (Two surgeons) mentioned that what they witnessed in Gaza is more savage than what they saw in the civil war in Rwanda - Africa!

Its tremendously horrendous time before ceasefire and the irony is that shooting is still going on; air raid on somewhere in Khan Younis town minutes ago killed three people!

To the east of Gaza city only, more than 10 square kilometers of agricultural fields, productive trees; olives, fruits and others have been destroyed by Israeli army bulldozers, tanks, artillery, vehicles, and military roads were constructed on those fields. Moreover 50% of the cultivable land is now under the control of the Israeli military! All farmers were humiliated and kicked off their simple homes. Now, they are homeless living in UNRWA schools and elsewhere. Many families sought refuge in the Lawyer's Syndicate but they are unsafe at all as they could be targeted at any moment!

Gaza medical authorities announced a death toll of 1255, including 418 child and 118 woman, 118 elderly, plus 5500 injured. Let alone the traumatized, and panicked by the Israeli invasion. Let alone those who have not been saved or rescued and died under rubble or in the green fields! Medical doctors mentioned that hundreds of the injured will never recover and return to normal life! Hundreds will live as physically handicapped.

I have just received a phone call from a friend. He is Safwat Mushtaha. He is a businessman. He told me that his tile and road brick's factory has been totally destroyed. He bought the machines for the factory from Turkey and Germany two years ago. It is worth (a lot of money). He sadly said to me: Dr., I tell you! It's all gone! I am shocked! Other businesses were destroyed including a cooking gas station, iron casting factory, and others! Every Palestinian in Gaza Strip is a target! This is the reality! Every business in Gaza was a target! Every minute brings about more nightmares, bad news, destruction, and death. It was annihilation! It was a Holocaust!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Suhrawardi Comes to Aleppo.

I wanted to share these two paragraphs from the Introduction of "The Wisdom of the Mystic East" by John Walbridge:

"In 1183 a young man, a ragged dervish, entered Aleppo. There his learning and magical powers drew the attention of all. The prince grew to love him and became his disciple. The other learned men, jealous of his ascendancy, complained of him to the king, the great Saladin. The king feared that his son would be led into heresy, and he knew that heresy bred sedition. Twice he ordered his son to kill the dervish. Heartbroken the prince at last complied. The dervish's disciples fled, and their names were forgotten. In Aleppo people remembered him, remembered the power of his personality and his speech and how he had sought to revive the Divine wisdom of the Ancients and thereby make the age luminous and how he had perished in the attempt. " His knowledge was greater then his prudence," they said.

But he had also left books behind- brilliant allegories of the mystical and philosophical life, powerful treatises of philosophy summarizing and pointing beyond the Peripatetic philosophy of Avicenna and his school, even prayers. Above all, there was a book called "The Philosophy of Illumination", a metaphysics of light and darkness, finished one September evening in 1186 as the seven Ptolemaic planets drew together on the western horizon of Aleppo. It's interpretation , he promised, was with "him who will arise with the Book," but there was no such person, or else he was lost to history when the dervish's disciples fled. In succeeding centuries some scholars in each generation sought to bring life to the dry bones of the master's writings and to follow the arduous mystical path that lead to an intuitive understanding of philosophy of illumination. And a few still do "

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi

Having named my blog Safr-i Simurgh ( Song of the Simurgh) after a work of the great Ishraqi philosopher, Sufi, and Martyr Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi , it's probably obvious that I'm a fan of his thought. I was trying to think of something to post today and I figured it might be good to create a small list of some of the better web resources on the Shaykh al-Ishraq and on Illuminationist / Ishraqi thought in general.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Top Vatican Official Calls Gaza a "Concentration Camp"

Cardinal Renato Martino , Pope Benedicts top official on issues of peace and justice, and former Vatican envoy to the UN, likened Gaza under the Israeli offensive to a "big concentration camp" in a recent interview.

The Cardinal noted that both sides in the current conflict were concerned only with their own interests . "But the consequences of this selfishness is hatred, poverty, injustice. It is always the defenseless populations that pay."

Not surprisingly Israeli officials have responded to the Cardinals statement with outrage claiming that it unfairly paints Israel as similar to the Nazi regime. Apparently the truth is a little too hard for many Israelis to digest.

Catholic News has more on this issue here:
Gaza Strip resembles a concentration camp, says top Vatican official


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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jihad and Amir Abd al-Qader

"If I have accepted leadership, this is to have the right to be the first to march in the battles, and I am ready to step behind any other chief whom you judge more worthy and more capable than me to lead you, provided that he pledges to take in hand the cause of our faith."
- Amir Abd al-Qader

If one were to look for a perfect model of chivalry and the spirit of jihad one would be hard pressed to find a better example then Amir Abd al-Qader. He rallied the people of Algeria against the French occupation under the banner of Islamic Jihad. He was a man of strength and honor but also of compassion who was respected even by his enemies. One of the French leaders in Algeria even went so far as to liken him to Jesus.

Abd al-Qader was empowered in a Spiritual manner to wage Holy Jihad in a vision that came to him on his way back from the tomb of the great Sufi Shaykh Sayid Abd-el-Qader al-Jilani. In this vision Sayid Abd-el Qader al-Jilani handed him a black robe and a sword saying, "Now I entrust to you the secrets of jihad fi sabeelillah. Your trust from me is to take this knowledge, and to lead your people against the non-believers who are preventing Islam from being followed and are preventing implementing Shariah and Tariqah. Go my son, and with this sword repel those with enmity to God, and enmity to the Sunnah of the Prophet."

Wikipedia notes the following on this period of his life:

"In 1830, Algeria was invaded by France; French colonial domination over Algeria supplanted what had been domination in name only by the Ottoman Empire. Within two years, `Abd al-Qâdir was made an amir and with the loyalty of a number of tribes began a rebellion against the French. He was effective at using guerrilla warfare and for a decade, up until 1842, scored many victories. He often signed tactical truces with the French, but these did not last. His power base was in the western part of Algeria, where he was successful in uniting the tribes against the French. He was noted for his chivalry; at one occasion released his French captives simply because he had insufficient food to feed them." *

Eventually he was overpowered by the French and exiled to Damascus. When Abd al-Qader was in exile he risked his life to defend Christians from persecution and attacks by the Druze. For this effort he was given a life long pension as a reward from the French! He was also gifted with several exquisitely crafted guns by President Abraham Lincoln in honor of his actions.

Wikipedia notes the following about this event:

"While in Damascus he befriended Jane Digby and Richard and Isabel Burton. In July 1860, conflict between the Druze and Maronites of Mount Lebanon spread to Damascus, and local Druze attacked the Christian quarter, killing over 3,000 persons. `Abd al-Qâdir and his personal guard saved large numbers of Christians, bringing them to safety in his house and in the citadel. For this action the French government, which granted the amir a pension of 4000 Louis, bestowed on him the Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur. He was also honoured by Abraham Lincoln for this gesture towards Christians with several guns that are now on display in the Algiers museum."*

Not only did al-Qader posses great martial and moral qualities he was also a Sufi of some note. He was an initiate of the Qadiri Sufi order and a leading authority on the thought of Ibn Arabi. His writings provide an excellent introduction to the thought of the Shaykh al-Akbar.

Last week I came across a web page dedicated to Abd al-Qader that contains a short but informative video.

As Muslim we must give thanks to Allah (swt) that He has blessed us with such examples!

Henry Corbin Memorialized in Iran.

This is old news but I thought I would post it anyway because I found it interesting and I've always loved the works of Henry Corbin. This article appeared in the Iran Daily on June 29 2005:

"TEHRAN, June 28--A plaque to commemorate the noted French philosopher Henry Corbin was unveiled in a ceremony here Monday which was attended by the French Ambassador to Iran Francois Nicouloud, reported IRNA. The plaque was installed at the intersection of Neauphle-le-Chateau and Marjan streets in downtown Tehran. Meanwhile, Marjan Street was renamed after Henry Corbin, a philosopher who conducted extensive oriental studies and was deeply interested in Iranian culture and civilization. Speaking at the ceremony, Nicouloud said that Corbin (1903-1978) was a great philosopher who is held in high esteem in France. He successfully introduced Iranian culture, literature and civilization to the Europeans, he added. The outgoing French ambassador said that Corbin proved that culture will develop when it is opened up to others. Addressing the same gathering, Chairman of Tehran City Council Mehdi Chamran said that Iran and France have friendly relations and hoped that they would further develop in all fields."

Henry Corbin Memorial Plaque Installed

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Polar Orient.

I was re-reading an old book I had " Arktos: The Polar Myth in Science, Symbolism, and Nazi Survival" by Joscelyn Godwin and I came across a fascinating topic to discuss. That is the symbolism of the Pole and the North Star in Islamic (specifically Shiite, Ishraqi, and Sufi) teaching.

"Esoterically, however , the Persian Theosophers situated their 'Orient' neither to the East nor to the South, whither they faced in prayer towards the Ka'aba. The Orient sought by the mystic, the Orient that cannot be located on our maps, is in the direction of the north, beyond the north. “About this Pole reigns a perpetual Darkness", says the Recital of Hayy ibn Yaqzan , one of the visionary recitals of Avicenna. " Each year the rising sun shines upon it at a fixed time. He who confronts that darkness and does not hesitate to plunge into it for fear of difficulties will come to a vast space, boundless and filled with light." This Darkness, says Corbin is the ignorance of the natural man. "To pass through it is a terrifying and painful experience , for it ruins and destroy all the patencies and norms on which the natural man lived and depended..."

This book explains how the Sufi Ruzbehan of Shiraz had a series of visions referring to the heavenly Pole; and by meditating on these that he was able to understand how he was personally connected with the masters of initiation symbolized by the stars in the immediate vicinity of the Pole Star.

"This again underlines the essential individual, not social nature of theosophy. Yet it is far from being useless to the community, Just as the Platonic world of Forms gives being to the material world, so the influence of the esoteric masters and the access to them, one by one , of their destined pupils is the magnetic influence that keeps humanity from falling into complete abandonment and self destruction”

Ruzbehan, in his vision , was "given oil from the constellation of the Bear," which he seems to have recognized as an anointing, admitting him to the rank of the seven masters of initiation. On turning his attention to the Great Bear, Ruzbehan saw its seven stars as seven apertures through which God was showing himself.

The Taoist tradition also refers to seven spiritual rulers "localized" in the constellation of the Bear. The "Classic of the Pivot of Jade" gives a spiritual doctrine told in its very title, which refers to the North Star, "the pivot of Heaven revolving on itself and carrying all the heavenly bodies along with it in its round dance." It's interesting to see the unanimity among Traditions regarding the spiritual reality of the Northern Orient and the Pole. It's also telling that the Taoist called it the "Jade Pivot" as Jade is green and thats also the color of the light experienced beyond the pole in Islamic tradition*. At the summit of mount Qaf (which is also the Pole ) is the Emerald stone that is inscribed with the eternal Koran. This is also what in Hermeticism is called the "Emerald Tablet of Hermes".

The Ishraqi Theosopher and martyr Suhrawardi elaborated on the spiritual significance of the Pole in his works as well. Nai’mah Iman speaking on this aspect of the works of Suhrawardi states the following:

"The individual who is perfected in philosophy and has attained illumination is Hakim Mutaallih, literally, a theosopher, and is counted as one of that exceptional circle of sages which includes Pythagorean and Plato. Beyond this, one passes out of the human realm into that of the celestial hierarchy of invisible beings whose chief is the Qutb, the Pole, that its spiritual center for whom the spiritual hosts are representatives as they are also the means to human illumination. The Qutb can be geographically symbolized as the north celestial pole around which the vault of heaven turns. In his imaginary accounts of the soul's sojourn, the distinction between the shadowy occident and the luminous orient is turned on end, so to speak. The orient of light is the North Pole and the occident is the World of the Senses. Illumination, Ishraq, is the soul's return to its home through reason and intuition, where it will find peace and the earth through the empyrean to intimate what is beyond and covers the whole of manifest existence. Reality is Light. That Light varies in intensity from plane to plane, giving rise to the relativities of light and darkness. Light is indefinable because all degrees and things are defined in terms of it, whilst it is supremely evident."

* As expressed by the Great Sufi Najm Kobra among others.

here is the book by Ruzbehan in which he explains his various visions:

The Unveiling of Secrets: Diary of a Sufi Master


Esoteric Exegesis of the Quran.

I'm reading a great book now " Tuhfah Yi-Abbasi: The Golden Chain of Sufism in Shi'ite Islam" by Shaykh Muhammad Ali Mu'addhdhin Sabzawari Khurasani translated by M. H. Faghfoory. It had a section on the esoteric exegesis of the Quran that I wanted to share!:

In a discourse on the nature of the Quran, Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq said, " The Book of Allah is of four natures: al-'ibarah, that is to say, the text, that is for the common people; al-Ishara, i.e. allusions that are for the select (khawass) al-lata'if, that is fine mysteries that are for the friends of God (awliya); and finally, al-haqa'iq, the truth which is for the Prophets (anbi'ya)."

The manifest meaning of the revelation (al-Zahir) can be understood by ordinary people (al-nas) who accept the principles of religion and observe its commands such as the daily prayers, fasting and other rituals. The inner meaning of the revelation however, can be understood only by those who have purified their hearts and those who have emptied it form anything other then God, as the Quran testifies: "Verily, this is indeed a nobel Quran , in a Book kept hidden, which none touches except the purified".

God the Almighty says in the Quran " Verily, We gave the Book as an inheritance to those whom we have selected from among our servants." It is obvious that what is meant by the Book is not only the Nobel Quran in its descended form (kitab munzal), but more importantly, the reality of the Quran that is Kitab al-maknun.

Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib asked the Prophet " O Messenger of God! How would I spread your message to people after you?" The Prophet answered, 'inform people of the non-manifest meaning (ta'wil) of the Quran, that is difficult for them [to understand]. Only God Knows Quran's reality and reveals it only to the Pure (mutahharun) and those who are steadfast in knowledge (rasikhun fil'ilm)" When a man asked Imam Sadiq who the steadfast in knowledge are, he replied that "They are the progeny of Muhammad."

In another discourse on the Quran, Imam Jafar al-Sadiq said:" Verily God taught His Messenger the science of interpretation of the Quran (tanzil and ta'wil), then he taught those sciences to Ali and by God, Ali taught them to us."

* * *

I also wanted to share a statement of the great Sufi Hamid Al Ghazali on the topic of Quranic exegesis as well because it ties in perfectly with the above teachings:

"The man who claims that the Koran has no meaning except that which the exoteric exegesis has transmitted is acknowledging his own limitation. He is right in his acknowledgment, but is wrong in his judgment that puts all people on the level to which he is limited and bound. Indeed, reports and traditions ( of the Prophet and others) indicate that for men of understanding there is great latitude in the meaning of the Koran. Thus 'Ali said "The Messenger of God did not confide to me anything which he concealed from people, except that God bestows understanding of the Koran upon a man." If there were no meaning other than that which has been transmitted, what then is meant by that understanding of the Koran? The Prophet said , "surely the Koran has an outward aspect (Zahr) , an inward aspect (batin), an ending and a beginning." This tradition is also related as being from Ibn Mas'ud on his own authority, and he was one of the scholars of exegesis. What then is the meaning of the outward aspect, the inward aspect, end and beginning?"

Ali said, " If I wished I could load seventy camels with the exegesis of the Opening Surah (al-Fatiha) of the Koran". What is the meaning of this, when the exoteric interpretation [of this Surah] is extremely short? Abu al-Darada said " A man does not truly understand until he attributes different perspectives to the Koran." A certain scholar said "For every Koranic verse there are sixty thousand understandings and what remains to be understood is even more ." Others have said " The Koran contains seventy seven thousand two hundred sciences, for every word in it is a science, and then that number can be quadrupled, since every word has an outward aspect, an inward aspect, an end and a beginning"

The Prophets repetition of the phrase " In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate" twenty times was only for the purpose of pondering its esoteric meanings (batin ma'aniha). Otherwise its explanation and exegesis are so obvious that someone like him would not need to repeat it. Ibn Masu said " He who desires the knowledge of the ancients and the moderns should ponder the Koran." and that is not something that can be attained merely by its exoteric interpretation".

Israeli Use of Human Shields

That Palestinians have made use of human shields in recent conflicts is an oft repeated charge by supporters of the Zionist regime. Generally these accusations imply that Palestinians have waged war from inside urban areas or in close proximity to civilian structures. What isn't as well known is that the Israelis themselves make use of human shields. They have stationed military forces within cities and they have also used Palestinians (including children!) as literal shields when going into dangerous areas.

Not only have the Israelis used these tactics in the past but it appears that they are up to their old tricks again in their current assault on Gaza as well. They have been stationing Israeli troops in houses and buildings occupied by Palestinian civilians. If these Israeli troops are attacked civilians would likely be hurt and their houses destroyed . The Israelis are hoping that these human shields will prevent Hamas fighters from targeting the IDF.

Malcolm Smart, Amnesty Internationals Middle East and North Africa Program director said the following:

"Our sources in Gaza report that Israeli soldiers have entered and taken up positions in a number of Palestinian homes, forcing families to stay in a ground-floor room while they use the rest of their house as a military base and sniper position,"

"This clearly increases the risk to the Palestinian families concerned and means they are effectively being used as human shields,"

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