Sunday, February 07, 2010

On longing and loneliness...


In 1999 a young man sat in a small room looking out of the window into the night sky. The streets were empty apart from the odd fox or stray cat padding across the streets. He'd just managed to make himself enough spare money to buy a small radio. As he turned its tiny wheel across the different channels, a flicker of something familiar to his ears came to life. It was Omm Kalthoum singing on BBC Arabic. Alone for the first time in his life and in a foreign land with few friends, he drank in her voice and the emotions she was conveying through her words. For a brief moment he could have been back home, in his old neighbourhood. Familar smells and noises, sights and sounds, people he had known, all came flooding back. He sighed with longing, sitting alone in that strange room, the orange light frome the street lamp outside painting the ceiling. It was a warm moment in a special period of his life.

Almost a decade later, on a similar summer night, he would try to explain the importance of that night to someone. He pointed out the room's window as they walked along those same solitary streets but she only nodded her head politely. A man, whether a hero or the greatest of failures, spends his life trying to find somebody he can convey the hardship and solitude of his struggles to. He wants her to understand, to promise never to leave his side. It is always a selfish impulse underpinning what people call love. The story of our father Adam is a parallel to our own lives as we fall from grace and then yearn for the safety of that garden of paradise, for that womb. That she will never understand this, and could never fully provide it, is what drives a man to seek the One. The One who told us to Read.

The Prophet began by mentioning women and ended with the prayer. That is because woman is part of man in the root of the manifestation of her source, and because man's recognition of himself preceded his recognition of his Lord. That is why the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Whoever knows himself knows his Lord." If you wish, you can say that this tradition is the forbidding of gnosis and stating the inability to attain to Him - and that is a permissible statement; and, if you wish, you can say that it is the affirmation of gnosis. The first is that if you do not know yourself, so you will not know your Lord. The second is that you recognise yourself, so you do recognise your Lord. Muhammad was the clearest proof of his Lord. Every part of the world indicates its root which is its Lord, so understand!

The Prophet was made to love women, so he yearned for them because as the whole yearns for what is part of it. The matter is self-evident through what Allah says regarding this elemental human constitution, "and I breathed My Ruh into him." (15:29; 38:72) Then He described Himself with intensity of yearning to meet those who yearn for Him. He said, "O Da'ud! I have intense yearning for them," i.e. those who yearn for Him, and it is a particular encounter. The Prophet said in a hadith about the Dajjal, "None of you will see his Lord until after he dies."

Allah must yearn for those near ones - because even though He sees them and wants them to see Him, that encounter is still prevented by man's station. That is like His words "until We know" although He is Knowing. He yearns for this particular attribute which only is achieved existence through death.

Sheikh Muhiyeddin Ibn Arabi (God rest his soul)

4 comments:

hamdanism said...

wow. I can really relate to what you wrote in so many levels ! Being a relatively foreign land, with few understanding friends; seeking a shelter of a woman who isn't understanding.

Great piece of writing.

Maysaloon said...

Hamdanism,
Thanks for your comments, I'm glad you could relate with it.

melicieuse said...

beautiful

Maysaloon said...

Thank you melicieuse...