Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Allah: An Omnipresent God

"Those who adore God in the sun behold the sun, and those who adore Him in living things see a living thing, and those who adore Him in lifeless things see a lifeless thing, and those who adore Him as a Being unique and unparalleled see that which has no like. Do not attach yourself to a particular creed exclusively so that you disbelieve in all the rest; otherwise you will lose much good; nay, you will fail to recognize the real truth of the matter. God, the omnipresent and omnipotent, is not limited by any one creed. Wheresoever you turn, there is the face of Allah."
-- Ibn 'Arabi --
("Essential Sufism," pp. 228-229)
The beauty of Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, and of which Ibn 'Arabi is an undisputed master, is its inclusiveness. Indeed, there are those Sufis who do not recognize Sufism as being, strictly speaking, a Muslim school. (In the attached video Sufi teacher, Irena Tweedie, for example, notes that Sufism predates Islam.)

There is, thus, a wide, almost-pantheistic inclusiveness within Sufism's rich multi-cultural tradition, an inclusiveness which no doubt arises from the all embracing notion of what Allah is. Ibn 'Arabi's observation, above ("Wheresoever you turn, there is the face of Allah.") is, in fact, itself a direct quote from the Koran.

Certainly the great Sufi teachers of the past have recognized the omnipresent, inneffable nature of the Divine, an omnipresence that is inherent irrespective of one's faith. As the great Sufi poet, Rumi observed:
Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu,
Buddhist, sufi or zen. Not any religion

or cultural system. I am not from the East
or the West, not out of the ocean or up

from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not
composed of any elements at all. I do not exist,

am not an entity in this world or the next,
did not descend from Adam and Eve or any

origin story. My place is placeless, a trace
of the traceless. Neither body or soul.

I belong to the beloved, have seen the two
worlds as one, and that one call to and know,

first last, outer, inner, only that
breath breathing human being.


There is a way between voice and presence
where information flows.

In disciplined silence it opens.
With wandering talk it closes.

[Coleman Barks, "The Essential Rumi," p. 32.]

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