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« دين حقيقت و بينش ياري يك تفكر ايلياتي و عشيره‌اي نيست كه براي محاسبات آن راهكاري سنتي بدون دخيل دادن علم و هر آنچه كه در حوزه‌ي نظامنديِ كائنات تعريف دارد در نظر گرفته شود. در واقع هر چقدر كه اشراق و مفاهيم يك تفكر بالاتر باشد، مباحث و گفتمان مربوط به آن نيز تخصصي‌تر و مشكل‌تر مي نماياند. پس ما نمي‌بايست كه مفاهيم را به اندازه‌ي وجود خود پائين بكشيم تا كه به گونه‌اي گردد كه هيچگاه عزم جزم براي بالا كشيدن و سعي براي فهميدن در خود پيدا نكنيم.»

 

 

 

 

نوشته شده توسط W. Ivanow دسته: مطالب
نمایش از 22 دی 1398 بازدید: 64

THE ISMAILI SOCIETY
Series A, No. 2


COLLECTANEA

Vol. 1. 1948

Published for the Ismaili Society by
E. I. BRILL, Onde Rijn, 33a, Leiden, Holland.

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IV. AN ALI-ILAHI FRAGMENT


By W. Ivanow.

In my notes on Satpanth and its literature published at the beginning of this volume, I have stressed some remarkable instances of parallelism that exists between various religious ideas, forms, and even the general spirit of the beliefs of Sat Panth on the one hand, and of the Ali-ilahis on the other. As is known, the followers of the latter sect inhabit Persian Kurdistan, Luristan, are found in Adhar-bayjân, Mazandaran, and in isolated communities all over N.W. Persia, incidentally also in Kirman, Shiraz, and even as far west as the eastern part of Asia Minor. Thus they apparently have no direct contact whatever with the population of the remote Sind and Western India where the Sat-Panthis reside. However, the parallelism mentioned here happens too substantial to be treated as entirely fortuitous. In any case it well merits careful investigation. It would be a great achievement indeed if by any means we could discover a method of tracing those invisible ties and channels of mutual influences, which never stop in their slow and yet far reaching work amongst the masses, work which goes on without leaving any written record. Such "sub-cultural" evolution may often be as important as those cultural relations at the high level of learning and art which usually occupy all the attention of the official historian.

It is therefore unfortunate that we know so little concerning such popular religions. Satpanth until a few years ago was not, so-to-speak, on the student's map. Our knowledge of the Ali-llahis is very meagre. In fact leaving out travelers' references to them, and works of a general nature, we so far possess only one substantial text. This, however, was only translated into Russian, and so far even remains unedited. For this reason every fragment of the genuine Ali-ilahi works is invaluable for the extension of our information about the sect and its literature.

In circumstances such as these I believe I am right in venturing to offer, in the original Persian and a translation, a fragment of what apparently was a booklet dealing with the Ali-ilahi ideas of cosmogony and cognate matters. In fact this should have been published thirty years ago. The paper was prepared, in Russian, by me in 1917, was recommended for publication in the "Bulletin of the Russian Academy of Sciences" (St. Petersburg) by the late Prof. S.Oldenburg (in the session of the Section of History and Philology, 17-i-1918), and was set in type just before I left Petrograd (as it was then called). Later on, owing to my absence, it was cancelled, and never appeared in print.

Here I offer the text and translation into English together with a short introductory note which is necessary because the subject is hardly familiar to many in India.

The origin of the fragment is as follows. While staying in Shiraz in the autumn of 1914, I purchased from a certain Sayyid Nûr, an old man who posed as a darwish, a bundle of Ali-ilahi booklets and disjointed leaflets. Almost all were written in various dialects of Kurdish and Gurani which neither Sayyid Nûr, nor any of my Kurûnî friends were able to read. There was only one small fragment in Persian, which is here edited, consisting of five leafs in one sixteenth of the foolscap sheet of Russian (no. 5) paper, probably written some fifty years ago in rather uncouth Persian handwriting. I offered an attractive reward to anyone who would bring me the rest of the booklet, and I am sure that careful search was made, but, unfortunately, with no result.

Just as in the case of other known Ali-ilahi literary productions of this kind, the fragment bears the stamp of being written by a man of very limited education, who mixes his usual colloquial Persian with high flown expressions remembered by him from learned books. It has the appearance of a note written for memory only by someone who never intended it to be published. The beginning is devoted to the question of mortals being unable to comprehend the nature of the Divine Substance, this being proved with the help of Kabbalistic discussions (ff. 1-2v). Although the text is apparently continuous, the subject later on is completely changed, and refers to the creation of the world and the foundation (ithbât) of various ceremonies in the religion of the Ali-ilahis.

The stylistic helplessness of the little educated author, his errors in spelling, and the general tone of the work are valuable indications of the fact that we have to deal here with current beliefs, probably a summary of a talk with some well-informed person, and not the individual fantasy of someone. It is a great pity indeed that we are unable to find its continuation.

 

1. The Ali-Ilahis or Ahl-i Haqq.


The religion of the Ali-ilahis, as they are called by their neighbours, or Ahl-i Haqq as they prefer to call themselves isa variety of Shi'ite extremism obviously forming a super-structure over an earlier primitive religion. What this was, we cannot yet determine. In any case it was neither Zoroastrianism, nor ancient Babylonian religion, nor yet Christianity. The Ali-ilahis themselves always like to advance the theory that their beliefs are the same as those of the Nusayris of Syria. This is extremely doubtful, however, and the case most probably is that the Ali-ilahis who claim such connection themselves have no idea of the Nusayri religious theories. What forms the common element in Ali-ilahisim and Nusayrism, and, in addition Druzism and Satpanth, is merely the Shi'ite extremist view point, and this is obviously not enough for these religions to be regarded as coming from one common stock.

There is, in fact, a substantial difference between Ali-ilahism on the one hand, and Druzism and Nusayrism on the other. While the last two Shi' ite sects are strictly confined to one nation, speaking one and the same language, and ethnically homogeneous, the case of Ali-ilahism is different. It forms the religion of various tribes and ethnical groups, speaking different languages, and scattered amongst the population belonging to different religions. Turkish, Kurdish, Gurani, Luri and Persian, are used by them in various parts of the country, but, although the sect is divided into many sub-sects or branches, the sense of unity is nevertheless in existence. Thus Ali-ilahism, and Satpanth, are not "tribal" religions, but are independent from ethnical and class affiliation. In Satpanth it is easy, to assess its Hinduistic and Tantric base because these two systems are still going strong and are well-known. In the case of Ali-ilahism such original base does not exist independently, and is entirely forgotten. We can only hope to find some information about it when Ali-ilahism is properly studied and all its non Islamic elements reliably traced and identified.

The greatest difficulty that faces the student of Ali-ilahism is the absence of original works of the sect. I was often told that the heads of the sect, whose headquarters are in the hills near Kerind, a town on the Kermanshah-Baghdad road, possess a library of Saranjam literature, the books of which are stored in rows (qatâr ba-qatâr) . It seems, however, that this is pure imagination, and apparently the Ali-ilahis have no recognized and standard religious works from which one can obtain a complete idea of their religion. For the most part, it seems, just as in the case of Satpanth, religious knowledge is embodied in religious poems by different authors, and especially kalams i.e. utterings of various saints or manifestations of the Divine Substance. These are just as polyglottic as the Satpanth gnans . Those books which like the text translated by V. Minorsky deal, in prose, with various religious subjects, are mostly the productions of people of scanty education who try to commit to writing, for memory only, what they have heard from their priests, who are supposed to be the real guardians of the oral tradition. These gentlemen are extremely jealous of their privileges and part with their knowledge only very unwillingly, perhaps not without accepting some tangible proofs of gratitude from those who are very keen to learn more about it. Therefore we have nothing but hasty records of various stories, mostly extolling the miraculous deeds of various incarnations of the Deity or different saints. The miracles, and stories about them, are predominantly of two types. One is intended to glorify the saints and their acts for didactic purposes, and the other explains the origin of this or that practice or custom in Ali-ilahi worship, the aetiological myths, ithbat . The uneducated authors of such notes, being absorbed with the story itself, very often concentrate on the dramatic contents of the tradition, not bringing out clearly the religious implications of the story and its purpose or simply disregarding them. Thus they turn tradition into all accumulation of religious fairy tales from which it is difficult to get any clear or useful idea of the system.

The basic theory of Ali-ilahism is that of the Shi'ite extremism in general, namely of the manifestation of the Divine Substance in human form in this world. "Manifestations of the Divine Substance", as well informed Ali-ilahis say, "were numberless." The one that occurred at the beginning of the Islamic era was in the form of Ali b. Abi Talib. Thus, although the terms Imam or Imamat are not mentioned, it appears that the idea is the same as in Ismailism, in its Fatimid interpretation, according to which the world cannot exist without the Imam.

It is also to parallel with other Shi'ite sects that manifestations of the Divine Substance, are always accompanied by the manifestations of several, in this case of four, associates, yârûn-i chahâr malak, as they are called, and in addition a female associate (which is not found in Ismailism). This to some extent resembles a reduced programme of the Ismaili conception of religious history of the world which is divided into seven periods of millennial duration dawr) at the beginning of which an Apostle of God, Natiq is sent to humanity, accompanied by his Asas, or Wasi, and the latter followed by seven Imams, each accompanied by twelve hujjats .In tribal life, with its narrow limits of vision, such a grand progamme would surely have been excessive, and, perhaps, this is why the number of the associates has been reduced.

The fact that it is the Imam who is here number one, and not the Prophet, is easily explained by the evolution common to all sects with extremist tendencies. Such beliefs are already attested by the earliest known heresiological works and, despite the strong opposition that they met in the Islamic society as a whole, they always indicated the tendency to further intensification. Not only Persian darwishes, but even orthodox lthna-'asharism has not escaped this.

From whence comes that strange term applied to the associates of the incarnation, malak , "angel"? At first it appears to be the influence of Christianity. We may remember, however, that there were "angels" in the Khattâbite doctrine as early as the first half of the second eighth c., although their functions were different. In the ideas of the various incarnations we find that the earliest set was headed by Sahabkar, i.e. God, accompanied by the Biblical and Coranic angels : Jabrail, Mîkâ'il, and others. It is difficult to find out whether this is merely a late addition, to add symmetry to the general scheme, and make subsequent incarnations manifestations of those original substances.

At the time of the manifestation of Ali, as an incarnation of the Divine Substance, we find the names of the "four angels" which show apparently a very late origin. The first is Salmân (Fârsî), that Persian national Shi' ite saint. Next to him comes Qanbar, a legendary Negro slave of Ali who is hardly ever mentioned in early Shi'ite tradition, but becomes a prominent person under the Safawids and later. Only the third place is given to Muhammed the Prophet. The fourth is reserved to Nusayr,probably on account of the tendency to make Ali-ilahism the same as Nusayrism. Apparently an original Ali-ilahi feature is the addition of a female incarnation, here Fâtima, the daughter of the Prophet. This development may be due to Christian influences and to the difference of the position of woman in tribal life compared with that in the towns, or, perhaps, even almost completely obliterated trace of some ancient cult of the Mother Goddess which flourished in Mesopotamia.

From all the stories which are accessible to us now it is not easy to see the real purpose of the incarnation of the Deity in human form. In the fragment edited here the Deity, before disappearing, appoints the four Angels and their associates "to carry on the preaching and guidance of men towards God" (da'wat wa hidayat kunand ba-suy-i Jawhar). Nothing is said of the Incarnation giving any law or introducing reforms. Vague references are incidentally made to a certain "unutterable mystery" which the Deity will reveal.

The names of the incarnations and their principal associates may be reminiscences of certain Ali-ilahi tribal heroes or saints. But it is quite possible that at least some, in the case of the incarnations of the Deity, as "Jawhar" here, are conventionalized surnames invented to camouflage their memory from the uninitiated. Apparently there is no chronology, and no "history". Tribal existence is so monotonous in the struggle against want, nature, and interminable feuds, and the style of life is so stagnant that a century or two hardly makes any difference to the story.

The intensely tribal atmosphere of these fragments which are so far known make the problem of the origin of Ali-ilahism extremely difficult to solve. When and how had it become a religion independent of a community? What was the organisation which had brought about such unity of belief? Or, if in reality it was born as a tribal religion, what were the historical conditions which led to adoption by other peoples, speaking different languages? These and many other questions cannot be answered at present. We do not even know what exactly is the hierarchy and religious organisation of Ali-ilahism, because the ordinary adepts, for the most part illiterate people, know too little and have no intellectual keenness to ask themselves such questions. Their Sayyids, priests, are too concerned with guarding their traditional privileges, and are clever enough to do everything they can to preserve the illusion of their being the treasurers of some mysteries of extraordinary importance. They would be the last men to give reliable information, or especially hand over what they possess of their religious books.

The Ali-ilahis are subdivised into a considerable number of sub-sects, and it always so happens that the one to which the sectarian, with whom you happen to be talking himself belongs, is the oldest, the most important, influential and "orthodox". The names of such branches are differently given by different people, and the impression may be created that no-one knows anything for certain, always being ready to "improvise" the answer concerning matters of which he has no idea.

The religious practice of the sect consists of the usual items of Islamic worship, without, however, its Arabic shell. The most important un-Islamic feature is the jam', or community's meeting at which sacrificial blessed food is distributed. It is, in fact, a close parallel of the Satpanth ghat-pat . There are also fasts, payment of a religious tax, and so forth, which are technically called khidmat, "service." The number of the khidhmats is ten, and this number is apparently fixed. It is characteristic of the level of the religious education of the sect that despite my persistent inquiries at every opportunity of meeting any sectarian, I could never get a complete list of all ten. The text translated by Minorsky contains several aetiological myths of various khidhmats , but it is difficult to recognize them without knowing to what they refer.

I hope the outlines given above will be sufficient to help the reader to follow the text of the fragment edited here. It would be a deplorable loss for the cultural history of Asia if the beliefs and literature of the sect were allowed to become extinct and forgotten without having been critically studied, because here we may trace important data that might serve as the keys to the solution of the problems of "sub-cultural" exchange and connections of wide masses.

 

2. Analysis of the Text


Instead of arranging explanations, which the fragment greatly needs, in the form of footnotes, I feel it is more convenient and rational to offer them in the form of preliminary remarks. Having read them, the student will more easily find his way in the text.

There can be little room for doubt that the book, of which our fragment forms a part, was composed either by a sectarian with strong ties with darwishism, or a darwish of a high degree of initiation, closely affiliated with the Ali-ilahis. It is for this reason that one of the first matters with which he deals here is the aetiological myth of the ceremony of sar supurdan (or sar dâdan) to which we shall return in due course. Generally speaking, darwishism, especially Shi'ite darwishism in the post-Mongol period as far as it is possible to see, occupied a key position in all kinds of religious, social, national and other movements in mediaeval life. It is therefore a really sad admission that we know next to nothing about it. This merits consideration if we remember that studies of Sufism started in Europe more than 150 years ago. Unfortunately, from the very start, early arm-chair experts had adopted the view-point which they found in Persian and Arabic works, namely that all that matters is the so-called "philosophy" of Sufism, i.e. childish and helpless paraphrasing of the ill- understood and ill-adjusted popular version of Hellenistic wisdom which came into circulation in the Islamic society through second and third hands. No-one apparently cared to note that such quasi-philosophical works simply repeat each other, being composed on the same principle as in poetry, scores of poems are devoted to one and the same subject: Khusraw wa Shîrîn, Laylî wa Majnûn, etc. What the authors aimed at, was to offer a new and more stylistically perfect form of what everyone already knew, and not to search for and explore the deep and elusive mysteries of mystical experiences. All this monotonous matter, in which, of course, there are occasionally works of talented authors although the majority are merely individual fancies of dreamers or simply the production of charlatans (quite many of them) in prose and verse, was proclaimed the standard and the essence of Sufism. But every manifestation of popular ideas, forms, dreams and views was invariably treated as something far too inferior and unworthy of attention, just as popular poetry, rural dialects, popular beliefs, customs, art, and so forth. Once such ideas had set in, 150 years were unable to upset or alter them.

Almost every student of Persian at the beginning of his career falls in love with Sufism, that Protheus of Persian spiritual life which always promises more than it really possesses. There were, however, many real "specialists" in this matter, revered for their learning. In spite of all these, if we are asked to mention really valuable monographs on Sufic matters, one would have to confess that with the possible exception of L. Massignon's study of Hallâj (1922), there is, in fact, none. The arm-chair programme insisted that before we did anything we must have at our disposal reproach less critical editions of all earlier texts. This, of course, would take the work of many generations of students, who, after all, would be all the time "groping in the dark" without a reliable synthesis of the subject. It is really important to have only critical editions of such texts : they deal with pious dreams, prayers, miracles, visions, vigils, fasts, pious, reflections, and other highly important subjects in which every textual error might surely ruin the whole chain of learned reasoning. No wonder that after all we in fact know nothing of Sufism as it was in real life, active in wide masses, playing an immensely important part in the social life of medieaval Islam. Life itself played a trick with arm-chair plans and programs. While these were still at their beginning, events in political life created an attitude in the awakening, Eastern nations ruthlessly antagonistic to religious parasitism which formed a prominent element in Sufism. The result is that, except in a few remote corners, Suf'ism is practically extinct, a thing of the past, and nothing can resuscitate it. Thus, under the learned guidance of clever "specialists", we have wasted 150 years doing which by careful observation and, as far as practicable, collecting statistical data, we could have provided invaluable material for the correct understanding of many social processes in the past on which we will find nothing in the "philosophical" works of the "learned and true" form of Sufism.

Apologizing for a digression, I have to point out that whenever we have to deal with popular religious forms darwishism always comes up in one way or another as either the source or an intermediary in carrying various elements and beliefs to different corners of the Islamic world. As a widespread organisation of a religious nature which never missed an opportunity of advertising that it was the guardian of a supposed higher knowledge and supreme truth, darwishism certainly exercised much influence not only upon the lower classes professing the majority religion but also upon the unsophisticated members of various sectarian communities. It is for this reason that we find so much popular Sufic influence either in writings of the Ali-ilahis, Satpanthis or Persian Ismailis of a later period, while on the other hand there is little room for doubt that darwishism itself, in its syncretist tendency, had absorbed much from all the communities mentioned above.

The fragment begins with the helpless discussion of the attributèlesness of God, the theory which is generally known under the term of tanzîh, and is familiar to every student of Ismailism. Of course, it by no means forms an exclusive peculiarity of the Ismaili system, and was also common to other Shi' ite sects. Here the authors absence of literary experience makes it blurred and rather confusing. We may keep in mind that the fact that all such discussions found in the present text are based on an idea similar to the ancient gnostictic theory of the real Supreme God, attribute less and unknowable in His nature, and God the creator, who becomes incarnated as man on earth. Here the author struggles to express this in his discussion of Ahad and Wahid both terms meaning "one", but forming an inexhaustible source for theological hair-splitting and theorizing as to the difference between both. The triads which the author mentions further on are undoubtedly Sufic and Ali-ilahi adaptations of the usual theory of emanation : amr, or kalima, aqli-ikull and nas-i kull, which, however, themselves do not appear here.

Not feeling at home with such abstruse speculations, the author makes many strange statements. The Wahid , i.e. God-Creator, who is, in Sufic allegorical parlance, the "educator and teacher" (murabbî wa adîb, ) of course, of the ( murîd, i.e. the world ) is the "mirror of the One" (mir at-i Ahad ) . This obviously does not mean the mirror, but what is in the mirror, i.e. a reflection of the One. Thus the Incarnation becomes as if a true copy, reflection in the mirror, of the One, i.e. Supreme God reduced to perceptible form for the humans, quite a Christian motif. The Wahid , whom we may safely translate as the Incarnation, is, as the author says, haykal-i Ahad, i.e. temple, form, image, face, figure, etc. of the "God of all" (Illah-i'kull) . The triads are composed of the Ahad, One, the Wahid who occupies the position of the amr , or kalima, or aql-i kull, and the third member, the nafs-i kull to whom the author only makes allegorical reference. In his philosophizing zeal he depends principally on words rather than ideas. In this way he makes a distinction between jawhar and gawhar , although the second is merely the Persian form of the first. The author uses the term jawhar , which in Persian is commonly . used as "chemical substance", or acid, in the general sense of "substance" (usually mâdda ) and haykal , instead of sûrat , as accidence (arad) . All this philosophy is further on substantiated by Kabbalistic speculations over letters and their numerical values. As in all similar speculations, it is presupposed that the name of a thing is its Platonic idea which has an independent existence. The sounds, or rather letters, with which the author is concerned in writing, are elements of words, i.e. names, i.e. ideas, and thus the elements of everything existent. They therefore take the form of a limited number of the basic ideas of everything in the world, and the world itself, in its entirety. This is why such futile speculations possess such deeply convincing value for the unsophisticated adepts. The fact that, by incidental custom, alif is not marked in the spelling of certain Arabic words, where it should be written, thus comes to the position of a profound symbol of cosmic importance.

In this philosophy it is not only letters that matter, but also dots which are used as diacritical signs. Special importance, as we see, is attributed to the additional Persian letters which do not exist in Arabic, p, ch and zh. More over, in Ali-ilahi speculations of this kind, yet further development is found. Not content with the theory of letters being the "elements" of the world, they go a step further and divide the letters themselves into dots, nuqtas, into which calligraphers divide letters while teaching their pupils in order to show the standard proportions of every letter. In practice a nuqta , is a miniature square stain made by a qalam, reed pen, moved over paper for a distance of one breadth of its tip. The pupils are taught that alif must be so many nuqtas, or squares, long, so many, and so forth. Each style of handwriting has its proportions which are regarded as standard.

The Ali-ilahis have made the world a symbol of Sufic, or rather darwish, ideas. Thus yâ, the last letter of the alphabet, is a tâlib , or murîd of lâ, and the latter of hâ, and the latter of waw , and, so forth, till alif , which itself is a tâlib of three dots, these are a tâlib of two dots, and these of one dot, nuqta'i awwa which, surely, should be God. The world is the incarnation of the letter yâ (dunyâ = dun-iyâ, where dun is a Turkish word for Arabic libâs, dress, in the sense of the body which a substance dons when Incarnated.)

What apparently the author wished to show by all these discussions, - if, of course, his speculations are really complete here, and there is no lacuna before he comes to the story of the creation, , is to show the position of Sahabkar, the Creator, i.e. Sahib - i Kar . He is the second person of the triads mentioned at the beginning, the third obviously being the gawhars, i.e. created substances. An important point is omitted here. The sectarians divide humanity into two uneven parts, the dhât-i q'urs , i.e. "hard substance", and dhât-i minmân, i.e. "passing, incidental, guest-like, substance." The first is the essence of the direct descendants of an incarnation or its closest associates, called Sayyids, while the other are ordinary mortals. In order to affiliate the progeny of such associates, and partly in order to enhance their significance, the legends narrated here have been devised.

It is a familiar motif in such theosophical speculations that man, being the last and the most perfect creation, has the strongest case for being chosen for the incarnation of the Deity. Here this idea is expressed in the form of what amounts to the eternity of Adam. Adam is the first incarnation of the Deity in human form, but as the Deity was, always incarnated, thus Adam becomes eternal, too. Later incarnations, such as all these Shah Khusins, Sultan Suhaks, and others, are merely recent instances of the same eternal process. All of them were there - incarnation of Adam. Here the Coranic version interferes with the theory, God and Adam appear as two different persons, but as it was explained to me, Sahabkar, Shah Khushin, and so forth, all were the same substance as Adam. It is in order to witness and give testimony of such identity that the further proceedings have been instituted.

Jawhar , i.e., Divine Substance, incarnated in human form, calls out Banyamîn, described as an incarnation of Jabrail, or Salman. We need not halt on the association of these two names which has been in use ever since the beginning of Islam. The most difficult, however, is explanation of the name Benyamîn. Has it anything to do with Ruhu'l -amin ? Or it is simply a honorific title Ibn Yamin, "the one who (always) stands on the right (i.e. honorable) side"? This name is usually spelled as Bani Amin as in this text, but my insistent inquiries at every opportunity as to the meaning of the name failed to bring any sensible answer.

The very idea of "witnessing" may be connected not with the witnessing of the truth of the religion, but the identity of the person of the Imam, and these speculations clearly point to that. The Deity further on creates Da'ud from His own sweat. This is another primitive way of avoiding the idea of creation from nothing. Banyamîn was "called out," as if he had already existed before having been called, and Da'udd was thus related to the Deity, by substance. The next saint, Pir-i Musi, was not created from nothing, but made out of hu i.e. the name of God, so much used in Suf'ism, simply "He", and hui i.e. Divine ipseity. The next saint is created from the seal, muhr, of the Deity. The seal, khâtam, in Arabic, here evidently symbolizes his functions as the Angel of Death, although this might have been a later development.

It is difficult to understand why the second saint is called Da'ud, undoubtedly a purely Biblical name which frequently occurs in Ali-ilahi stories,. In Islamic ideas Biblical David does not play any big part. Contrary to this, Musa, Biblical Moses, was by some sects regarded as the greatest of the Apostles of God, because he was the fourth, and the number four is the "most perfect".We may also remember that the early Khattâbites had amongst their "angels" or prophets a "Robust Moses." The epithet of Pîr-i Mûsî, qalam-zan-i Lawh, "writer on the tablet," is also Biblical, obviously referring to the Tables of Law, received on mount Sinai. The name of the fourth angel, Mustafay-i Da'udan, is again enigmatic. It is quite probable that all these names belonged to the saints, members of the original sect which laid the foundation to Ali-ilahism, and that they simply bore ordinary Biblical names: Benjamin, David, Moses, and a certain "son of David," who later on received the name of Mustafa.

The idea that the Deity, having created the world, found no task more urgent than that of establishing the institution of the pîr-ship and its relation with the murid , is a part of the Sufic vision of the world. In such an ideology the relations of the Pir and murid are certainly fundamental. The deliberate emphasising of the paradoxical situation in which ,the Deity wants to become a murîd of His own creation, is also a Sufic symbol. It was obviously intended as an aetiological myth for the situation in which the Prophet, who actually was the "instructor" of Ali, i.e. the person who conveyed to him the still unrevealed portion of the Divine Revelation, was in fact a murîd, while Ali was the Pir, being a Divine incarnation.

The creation of the jawz, a nut (in practice it is what is called jawz-i buya nutmeg) from the Creator's own sweat is another aetiological myth, intended to stress the Divine origin of the ceremony. The nut is offered as a substitute for one's head, which is "entrusted" or "given" (supurda or dada shawad) to the Pir , who cuts it to pieces which he, distributes amongst those present at the ceremony. I hope to deal elsewhere with the details of the ceremony, and their symbolism. 

As has been mentioned above, the Deity, having laid the foundations to these ceremonies, disappears, instructing the participants carry on the preaching and guidance of people towards God (here Jawhar.)

The next item is the mystical hierarchy, quite common amongst all the Sufic schools. It exists in a great number of variants, and although its original implications have been forgotten, such matters as the qutb, chihil tan, rijal-ighyab, etc are on everyone's tongue. 

This is here called the jam i.e. ceremonial assembly, which was in the dharra'i kull or dharra -i gil ? The first expression appears to be far-fetched, while the second may simply be hyperbolism in the reverse, dharra-igil, "a speck of mud" standing for the name of the earth. Further on it is said that assembly, jam , was held in Fire, while in the world there was the domination of fire, saltanat-i nar Some of the sectaries whom I consulted found this idea strange and insisted that the text should be corrected to the effect that the first assembly jam was held zir-i saj-i nar . Saj is the Turkish word for frying pan, and the expression Saj-i Nar, which occurs rather often in Ali-ilahi texts, simply means sky. 

The end of the fragment apparently contains the story of the insurrection of the disobedient spirits, and their punishment. It is quite unconnected with the preceding stories, and it seems that the author simply added it for record. Eschatological stories seem to be rare in such texts. Here the name of Iblîs appears in the Yezidî form of Malak Taus, i.e. Peacock. Unfortunately for the student, the story is left unfinished.

Thus the fragment, despite its small size contains interesting information which merits recording. Its mixed style, in which colloquial, "bazar", expressions are interspersed with the attempts at writing in a learned manner, with Arabic quotations and terms, and above all the author's obvious helplessness in expressing his thoughts gives us to some extend a guarantee that he was acting in dead earnest while recording these stories.

 

 

Source: ismaili-net

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