Bishmallah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim
In trying to catch up with my endeavor to explore 3 of the the 99 Names of Allah per day during the month of Ramadan, I, having previously discussed the first three names (Rahman, Rahim, and Malik), I now will consider names 4-6: Quddus, Salam, and Mu’min from a Sufi perspective as expounded in Physicians of the Heart by Wali Ali Meyer, Bilal Hyde, Faisal Muqaddam, and Sharbda Kahn.
Quddus is the “purifying one.”
“A significant part of the meaning of the 99 Beautiful Names of God,” write the authors, “is conveyed by a sound code that is embedded in the grammatical structure of the Arabic language” (25). Like the names Jabbar and Ghaffar, Quddus contains a doubled middle consonant. But whereas names like Jabbar and Ghaffar and Wahhab consist of a short “a” followed by a long “aa” after the doubled consonant, the short “u” and long “oo” preceding and following the doubled consonant, respectively, suggest something that is “always happening without a beginning or an end” (30).
Thus, in relation to purifying, the purification embodied in the name Quddus is a purification that is “always happening without a beginning or an end.” It is something, that is, that transcends time, and in transcending time, transcends mind. Quddus “requires us to take leave of what we cling to in order to experience intimate union” (39).
“Take leave of what we cling to.” In other words, our attachments. Thus in taking of leave of what we cling to, we are in the realm of detachment which is, for those familiar, integral to the Buddhist tradition where we find the Buddha saying: “When is cravings overcome him, his sorrows increase more and more…But whoever in this world overcomes his selfish cravings, his sorrows fall away from him, like drops of water from a lotus flower” (Dhammapada, lines 335-6).
In these regards, Sufis speak of the nafs, of which there are several levels. In short, nafs is often translated as ego. Without going into a detailed explanation of these various levels, suffice it so say that the lower levels of the nafs are what concern the current discussion, for these lower levels of the nafs are what form the cravings, attachments, and the clingings. The Buddha might say such are the result of our delusions, our ignorances, as to the true nature of phenomenon.
Quddus, in ever-purifying, is the Divine Name that purifies the delusions of the “conceptual mind and its differentiations” (39). As discussed in the first of these series of posts, as Sufi perspective understands the nature of reality to be unitary: “There is no existence except Allah” (2) and Allah is One. Thus reality is One.
It is the conceptual mind, then, that “fragments” this unity. The mind breaks things into categories. The mind creates separate “things.” The mind, much as it is understood in Buddhist traditions, creates reality. But this reality is a subjective reality, not true reality. Not Nirvana in Buddhism. Not Allah in Islam. All else is ephemeral.
“A variation on the root” of Quddus “means to return home to one’s village” (39) or “to return to one’s true home” (243). This return, of course, is understood as a returning to Allah, the true source, the true reality, which involves a “leaving behind of the ephemeral” which requires, in turn, a letting go of our attachments.
Returning to the sound code, the “oo” in Quddus suggests that more than just “always happening without a beginning or an end,” the “activity is ever penetrating into the deepest center…to the depth of the heart” (243), suggesting, then, that the return home cannot be achieved through the mind, that which clings to the many things of the world, but through the heart, for, as a hadith qudsi says:
The heavens and the earth cannot contain me (Allah), but the heart of my loving servantcan.
Salam–from the same root (S-L-M) which forms the words “Islam,” meaning “to submit/to surrender” and “Muslim,” meaning “one who submits/surrenders.”
The root S-L-M contains the following meanings: safety/security; humility/sincerity; freedom; to be in a sound condition; well without blemish; gentle/tender/soft.
And what does the word/Name Salam mean?
That the words Islam, Muslim, and Salam share the same root means the words are interrelated in that one who submits finds peace, or peace is found through submission. Such can be extended to the meanings of the S-L-M root: peace/submission are then related to safety and security, humility, sincerity, gentleness, tenderness and the like.
As one of the 99 Names, Salam “is peace itself” (39). As a name, Salam is a divine attribute and thus “not the result of anything and is nothing that can be said to manifest” (39).
In another sense, “Salam is one who is peaceful.”
Of course, there is much that can be said about peace/Salam, considering the state of affairs today–particularly right now with the present conflict in Iraq. Such would take this discussion far afield. That being said, Salam as a Divine Name “should not be seen as simply the end of hostilities, or any kind of mere cessation” (40).
Salam, peace, is, rather, the “divine energy that bestows peace itself on us” (40).
We know it when we experience it.
It is that feeling that despite all that has happened to us, all that does, and all that will happen, there are those moments of peace, of quiet, when we know that all will be okay, all is okay, and all will be okay.
That is peace, that is Salam.
In the Arabic sound code, Mu’min is, along with names such as Mujib, Muhsi, and Mu’it, a member of a form of Names which relate to “the cause of all causes” (32), the implication that there is no other cause than God–“the cause of all causes and of all effects” (32). This can, of course, be something hard to swallow.
Mu’min, as the cause of faith, is the Name that makes one swallow, allows one to see that the Divine “reveals itself as the only being, the cause of all causes and of all effects. The veil of secondary causes is completely resolved, and the ultimate cause becomes evident” (32).
Mu’min is derived from the root ‘amana which means to watch over; oversee; expand one’s wings (as a mama chicken over her chicks); be witness to; offer security and peace; protect.
Mu’min is the not simply the source of faith and trust–it sit the Name that is the source of faith and trust when we feel lost, out there, unprotected. When we feel the world is not a safe place, a place we cannot trust. When we are full of fear.
Mu’min shatters the fear, the distrust, and the defenses when we feel lost.
When such is shattered, that is Mu’min: and we know, if we can get deep deep down, in that heart, that we are safe, we are protected, that there is nothing to fear.