Kalaam, Falsafa and Tassawuf - II
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Kalaam, Falsafa and Tassawuf - II

Instead of putting oneself to misery by trying to overpower or win over mystery/Reality, one should rejoice over the complexity that displays diverse manifestations of God’s creative power

Post by on Monday, June 27, 2022

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Moreover, continuing with our debate, there is another very crucial and critical point to note which most of us ignore and that is there is a proper significant typology to personalities (an idea traditionally known), and put in modern parlance by the likes of C.G. Jung. Celebrating complexity allows all personality types to “access” and “taste” both religion and as well as reality on different levels. A group of people for example who are (psychologically) “workaholic” and are not “naturally” inclined to pondering over philosophical and metaphysical questions are sufficed with the most simplest of services/demands of religion. But religion doesn’t simply stop there and neglect other “types”. There are others who by their very psychological type are into “thinking” symbolically represented by Brahmin (type) (mythically represented as) coming from the “head” part of Brahma; head representing “thinking”- (varna system originally was a typology of personality as we find in Plato’s republic). This particular psychological type of “thinker” is quenched by deeper metaphysical cores of religion.


We are only commenting on the original psychological formulation and not later development of the system into an institution. We may refer to Huston Smith’s essay on Hinduism for further clarification which contains fruitful discussion on this issue. In addition to above mentioned types there are others who by their very nature are psychologically inclined to managing, commanding and leading (kshatriya)- they may often volunteer to captain and lead in schools, colleges, local mohallas, etc. Others are naturally talented in business and wealth creation (vaishya). Psychological types is a psychological fact which we know to be true even today in our day to day lives. Two children borne from same parents possess clearly distinguishable personality types. Some are naturally recipient to deep philosophical questions and debates while as others find them ‘dry’ and difficult to follow. While as some are into artistic things who find mathematical, analytic, logical, discrete things as terrifying and meaningless, others on the contrary naturally possess analytic mathematical bent of mind who find artistic ventures as dull and vague. Thus there is a clear typology of personalities. In fact the kind of interpretation of science, religion, and life that one is going to be ‘unconsciously’ attracted to and passionately pursue is largely determined by one’s own psychological type.


This is the reason sufis always held that tassawuf is not for everyone. Neither should students of Sufism forcefully superimpose sufistic philosophical debates on others. Doing so would cause violence on other psychological types. A muslim following basic teachings of religion, not feeling any requirement of metaphysics/tassawuf, owing to his particular personality type, is not any less of a muslim. This is the comprehensiveness of deen as a total integral tradition. We may see the importance of this point of ‘personality types’ in other areas of our lives as well. Our interests grab us first and then we pursue them later. We do not ‘consciously’ choose or “invent” our love/interests/attachments/inclinations- we come into this world with them so to speak. Our “type” is imprinted into our very nature of being. Recognizing the fact that human beings possess different typical personality types saves a lot of frustration, friction, irritation and quarrels.


Now let us come back to our original discussion; assuming that a certain linguistic or historical or legal or political representation of religion is ‘one size fits all’ kind of a thing, is problematic. As we mentioned in previous part of this article, the “hierarchy” or multiple levels of being are inherently built into the very fabric of both Reality and as well as human being. There are ‘depths’ and ‘heights’ to everything. A religious scripture cannot be a sort of an horizontal text that addresses select few ‘mentalities’ and few ‘orders’ of reality, neglecting or rejecting others. There are multiple levels to scriptural text in sync with both man and reality.


The problem with prevalent dominant reigning modernist western thought is its blinding horizontality. It has lost the sense of “verticality” which contains multiple levels of being without any violent contradictions. So called “contradictions” between religion and tassawuf on rational plane are simply absorbed by higher orders of reality which are not subject to usual causal logic of day to day material plane. Seeing an “illusion” of snake, for example, in a rope or a stick has its own ‘kind’ of reality on the level of basic perception/consciousness, which is then removed/absorbed by higher order of reality i.e. the realization that it was a rope or a stick and then finally this order is further absorbed by higher order i.e. the actual essence or nature of  the substance of rope or stick, whether it be energy or some field or consciousness or “mystery” in final analysis. All these three levels are not “contradictions” only if we understand the verticality of orders of reality. Sufi doctrines do not ontologically clash or contradict with kalaam/shariah doctrines simply because the two do not reside in same order of reality.


The aayah “yassarnal haazal qur’aan” which people often like to quote does not say that Quran is “simplistic”; it rather says that Quran has been made easy for “remembering” God. Since it is revelation (from other order), it has spiritual effects. One has to just read it with open heart to feel transformed. But it does not say that Quran is “simplistic” book of quotes that one can claim to have mastered in single reading or can collapse its multivariate existence down to one variable of nazm or politics or a certain philosophy, etc.


Many modernist Muslims ask that if we have so and so scholar in our times who presents “deen in simple language free from theology and mysticism, why do we need an Ibn Arabi or a Ghazali anyway? Not realizing that the segment of mentality & reality that the ‘modernist’ is addressing does not exhaust the total reality of both man and existence. Ibn Arabi or Ghazali themselves are nothing but wider/deeper manifestations/ramifications of the Quran itself. A historicized reductive reading of the Quran commits the error of “horizontalizing” the scriptural text. It would be ludicrous on our part to deny Islamic and Quranic scholarship the giants like Rumi or Ibn Arabi or Mulla Sadra or Faraabi who explore, extract and present deeper metaphysical & mystical realities of Quranic wisdom (where we find a healthy symbiosis and synthesis between kalam, philosophy, law and Sufism).



Lastly, who can afford to ignore the famous Hadeeth Jibra’eel which clearly demonstrates deen as a three leveled project? Many modernist Muslims have tried to perform linguistic reductionism of the three terms in order to bring them to the single plane of being. But such an attempt is problematic given that the faculty of “heart” or ‘knowledge of heart’ is registered as a separate category of knowledge in itself in both Quran and Hadeeth.  Another Prophetic tradition which defines faith as acknowledgement by the heart, tongue and the body makes the narrative all the more clear. The three levels of the deen i.e. islam, imaan and ihsaan, in complete harmony, exactly correspond to the three domains of human reality i.e. body/shariah/action, tongue/kalaam/theology and heart/awareness/ihsaan/tassawuf. Moreover, Quran/Islam itself has organically flourished into a fully functional dazzling civilization which has its own moral and legal philosophy, theology, hikmah, mysticism, art and architecture that one cannot really separate or trim off from the integral tradition. Religion/Revelation which descends down from Sacred, flowers into such diversity simply because neither man is singular simplicity & nor Reality.


To conclude, we may say that slashing Reality or man or scripture with horizontal sword to render it completely one-dimensional, might seem “stress relieving” as it makes everything over simplistic and man thinks he has captured Reality within one “propositional” formula. But Reality as we know it does not work like that. God’s creative manifestation has infinite complexity. Instead of putting oneself to misery by trying to overpower or win over mystery/Reality, one should rejoice over the complexity that displays diverse manifestations of God’s creative power (which knows no limits) and allows different people to taste reality on different frequencies.





(Author is pursuing masters in Philosophy from JNU, Delhi. Email: mugees.kaisar@gmail.com)

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