Thursday, July 03, 2014

Number 66 and some random Ramadhan thoughts by Rahal Eks

Digital art by Rahal Eks - 
Allah Abjad mandala with light tile pattern

If you add up the horizontal lines of the Abjad field in my digital artwork above you always get the sum of 66 in each line!

21 + 26 + 19 = 66  / 20 + 22 + 24 = 66 / 25 + 18 + 23 = 66

The same sum is achieved if you happen to add up both diagonal options:

21 + 22 + 23 = 66 / 25 + 22 + 19 = 66

And even when you add up the vertical columns the sum in each also remains 66:

21 + 20 + 25 = 66 / 26 + 22 + 18 = 66 / 19 + 24 + 23 = 66

In the Arabic Abjad system of numerology we get from the letters of the word ALLAH the sum 66! Sixty-six is not to be confused with the number 666 of the Great Beast of the Apocalypse and other more or less esoteric writings of diverse traditions or schools of thought. Let’s please not mix oil and water or get lost in spiritual tourism. 

It is said that Allah is the sum of all the 99 Most Beautiful Names / Qualities / Attributes, and in the Sufi view per se the only Absolute Being, the Source of Existence, the Divinity, the Friend who is at the same time transcendent and immanent, a fact hard to comprehend for the intellect trapped in the 3-D world of duality.

But if we leave the intellect behind at the doorstep of the “Tavern of Ruin”, as announced by Sufi poets of the past, we might get access to taste a special wine that in the school of the followers of Ibn ‘Arabi and Co. has been coined wahdat al-wujud, the unicity of being. Or call it: hameh ust, all is He. Hu! Whatever you choose to name it, it boils down to the same thing.

So in reality there is only one Real Being and that’s Allah!  All else is relative existence, al-khalq, creation, and thus the shadow of the Real, the Truth Al-Haqq!  Note that wujud is also related to the meaning “finding”. And by coincidence Name number 66 on the list of Allah’s Most Beautiful 99 Names is Al-Wahid, the Unique, whose quality is balanced and the related Abjad numerology is 19.

Some people say that the world is sound, others reduce the universe to numbers. Funnily enough, it seems to be both at the same time, and yet so much more. Yet others from a more modern scientific quantum physics background came up with the conclusion that the universe is just like a hologram, we are getting very cuddly with mystic talk here because catch this: when a holographic photo is cut into half, the image is not cut in half, instead we get two smaller versions of the entire and complete original image. Please note that “just” should not mean less in this case using the label and idea of a hologram – it is neither more nor less and also not making our lives more or less real – it just is. It is what it is, and in it is what is in it – fihi ma fihi! That sounds almost as cute and bewildering as some Zen koan, doesn’t it?

“The truth was a mirror in the hands of God. It fell, and broke into pieces. Everybody took a piece of it, and they looked at it and thought they had the truth,” said Rumi.

Allah, Khuda, Brahman, Dios, Tanrı, Gott, Bhagavana, Mungu, Ram, Ilaah, Dieu, te Atua, Deus, uNkulunku, Isten, Duw, Jumala, Dio, Gud, Jainkoaren, Astvats, Bog, Zot, Burkhan, Theós, Dumnezeu, Bondye, or God – the Divine is called by many different names. But these names are not labels or brands with a copyright – therefore I felt very bewildered and quite upset when I recently read that in a certain country the Highest Court confirmed a ban on the word Allah for all non-Muslims, even though this word is an Arabic loan word in their language and I thought: What’s the big deal about this, what’s their problem? And for example, what should Christian Arabs say when calling upon God in Arabic? Evidently it would be Allah, which was in use way before the Qur’an came down and before any Muslims peopled the neighborhood. There is only One God, but many names and different religions and spiritual traditions and that is good that way for the healthy sake of cultural and spiritual diversity.

Do I have a problem when someone uses the word God or Allah? I actually don’t, regardless of the speaker or writer’s religion or his or her lack of it. I find it very painful when certain folks in a narrow-minded, hateful, and excluding spirit try to present Islam with an air of presumed superiority while oozing with unbearable intolerance and self-righteousness. To forbid the use of the word Allah by any court is absurd and ridiculous. We may as well say good-bye to common sense and reason.

The Australian Aborigines have a wonderful proverb: “We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love…and then we return home.”

Rumi conceived of the universe as the body of Allah and all the elements it contains, the stars, the sun, the moon, the mountains, forests, oceans, humans and animals as the organs of the Divine Body. We should love and respect the universe, the transcendent and immanent Divine Being, the Friend who is closer to us than our jugular vein and try and live in harmony with nature and all those who are labeled “the other”, regardless if they are from our same tribe or another one, regardless if they are of our religion or another one or none, regardless if they hold the same gender identity and sexual orientation or another one or both, regardless if they are of the same Tariqa or none or another type of tradition – it is time to extend our limiting identity borders and think and feel in more global, more all-inclusive terms and practice loving kindness, acceptance and tolerance of creation’s diversity manifestations without feeling threatened by the foreigner, the stranger, the asylum seeker, the refugee, the unemployed, the sick, the unfortunate,  the successful, the needy, the rich, the poor, the aged or the young.

It happens to be Ramadhan, the month of the Greater Jihad, or Holy War with the Nafs. Ramadhan Mubarak! Ramadhan Karim!

If you observe the fast please remember Qur’an 2:256: “Let there be no compulsion in religion…” – and try not to judge those who don’t fast because they are traveling, are ill, or have their very personal reasons. Ya Rahman! Ya Rahim! Allah Karim!

Some people fast out of engrained conditioning, even if they should rather NOT fast because they need to take their HIV medication and thus drink and eat. Nobody is required to drop his or her medication and ruin one’s health and get ill or die. We have a responsibility towards our physical wellbeing, even during Ramadhan! It is vital to say yes or no at the right time and for the right cause.

We are also living during an extreme time with the threat of climate change where we actually need a revolution in consciousness and increased awareness for a collaborative spiritual and ethical ecology in harmony with the environment, not to forget to say a loud and clear no to all forms of fanaticism, extremism and negativity and all those who try to gain power via terror, murder and intimidation. No to fear!

“Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition…” Qur’an 13:11.

While Hazrat Amir Khusraw asks two mystical questions: “Teshna raa che mibaayad? Melaap ko kyaa chaahiye?...” (What is required for the thirsty person? What is required for union?”)… These lines can be heard refrain-like in entrancing and uplifting Qawwali songs. Perhaps you’ll find the answer for your personal path to reach the goal? They say “Uwaysis” are rare and it is best to find a friend, guide and teacher in order to not get lost on dangerous sidetracks or in the wilderness. He or she has done the trip and knows the terrain of life’s theater stage.

In his book THE WAY OF THE SUFI Idries Shah quoted Abu Said: To be a Sufi is to put away what is in your head: imagined truth, preconceptions, conditionings – and to face what may happen to you…”

Bon voyage! Ishq bashad wa Baraka bashad, saludos Rahal