Today’s post regarding the 99 Divine Names–Khaliq, Bari’, and Musawwir–concern the process of creation, beginning with the planning of that creation to the beginning of manifestation.
The eleventh name’s grammatical form suggests (as it does for the subsequent name Bari’) “the only one who” or “the unique” (Meyer, Hyde, Muqaddam, and Kahn. Physicians of the Heart 28). In regards to Khaliq as a Divine Name, Khaliq, is the “dynamic source of creation,” a creation that is not a one-time thing, but a continuous process (42). To this process there is no beginning, no end, “nor any rest in the middle” (42).
As much as Khaliq is a Divine Name, the Arabic khaliq also means “leatherworker” and in one of “the root forms of al-Khaliq, we find the meanings of measuring a piece of leather and conceiving a design that is beautifully proportioned” (210). Measuring and conceiving–that is, planning. Khaliq is that awareness, that part of the creative process that begins with “imagining an infinity of hidden possibilities” (210). The creative process begins with such.
An understanding of this name is amplified when we look at related terms: khilaqah, meaning “something created or made in the mother’s womb,” and khaliqah, which “means a well of water formed by nature and not a dug well” (211). Meyer et al. suggest these terms underscore the idea that with Khaliq, that which is created is “created by what was already present in a natural container” (211) and by further extension to another related word, khallaaq, meaning “beginningless and endless,” so to is the process of creation.
This is not a God who sits back and watches his creation after “completing” it. No, much as the Qur’an says “Every moment God is manifesting,” this manifestation occurs “every single moment” (211). There is a ceaseless continuity to creation; again, no beginning, no end, no rest in between. In other words, “Every moment we are seeing al-Khaliq in action” (211).
Talwaaniy is the result of a Sufi practice where one slows “down the moment in which God is manifesting” so that one may see “that in each such moment God is simultaneously destroying and creating the universe” (211). It is ” a way of slowing down time to see what time essentially is…the endless dance of time and timelessness, emptiness and fullness” (211). And with this notion of ceaseless and simultaneous creation and destruction, we find a parallel with the realm of quantum physics where, according to the experts, sub-atomic particles, the “stuff” that makes up material existence are constantly annihilated and recreated at “speeds” which defy comprehension.
Another meaning for Khaliq is ‘”‘beautifully created, shapely and well-proportioned'” (211) and again, through extension to another Arabic word, an understanding of Khaliq fills out. Khalooq means perfume, as in rubbing a body with perfume and thus with Khaliq, “we have beauty, pleasing to the senses, and well proportioned” (212). Is this not creation?
Beautiful, well proportioned, pleasing to the senses?
Infinite in possibility.
With Bari’ we come to the next “phase” in the process of creation, for whereas with Khaliq we are in the realm of “planning,” of measuring the leather, Bari’ “would be the act of cutting out the individual pieces of the design that has been measured” (42). Prior to the actual physical manifestation, the nature of Bari’ is to create “in a manner free from inconsistencies, faults, blemishes, defects, and imperfection” (42).
Whereas the preceding name suggests infinite possibilities, with Bari’ the shapes have been cut, so to speak, and now, instead of possibilities, we are in the realm of “inexhaustible potentialities” (212). Multiplicity begins with Bari’ and what was a possibility to manifest has become definite (with the act of cutting) potential. Bari’, in other words, “fashions what comes out of the initial creative impulse into something else” (213).
The root of Bari’ forms of set of words that mean “‘to become free of’ or ‘to remove yourself from…’becoming free from'” (213). In regards to creation, this suggest that “what is created is free from all fault and imperfection” (213). Allow me to repeat. “What is created is free from all fault and imperfection.” I am created. You are created.
Bari’s healing qualities are intimately associated and “indeed, healing is a primary meaning frequently seen in al-Bari'” (213). How often do we see ourselves as full of fault, imperfections? How often to we measure ourselves against some external model of perfection, whether it be success, beauty, performance, whatever? We are never good enough. Or so we may tell ourselves.
Bari’ says we are created perfect–that our imperfection are not innate in us. Such notions of ourselves may be the result of our woundings and form as ego-responses to such experiences, but through the healing process underscoring Bari’ one is “freed from the tyranny of the ego and becomes fully in touch with the intrinsic purity of…soul, which is your real self” (213).
With Musawwir, the shapes cut out by Bari’ are “now sewn together and made into a three-dimensional form” (43). Suggested by the Name’s grammatical form, this is a continual process and of these three Names, Musawwir “is the one that moves closest to material objects in the universe” (43). While “things” have still not reached the level of visibility with Musawwir, they, having been given their “finite shapes”, reach the precipice of manifestation (43).
From Khaliq, the infinite, we have moved to Musawwir, the finite.
The Name itself “contains hints or seeds of the journey of return back to the essential source of everything” (215). Even though we are moving from the realm of the formless and infinite, of pure possibility, to the realm of finite and particular form, the move “suggest the circle” for “Just as the formless innately constituted to imagine forms, the formed is made so as to imagine the formless” (215).
So says a famous sacred hadith (tradition/statement of Mohammed) beloved by many Sufis: “I (God) was a hidden treasure. I fell in love and that loving yearning was to know the heaven and earth, so I created them by the breath of infinite compassion” (215). In other words, there is a “loving inclination” in creation. Musawwir is this inclination.
And so says the Qur’an: “‘Allah loves them with pre-eternal love predating the universe, and the sum of human love is the refraction of this unlimited eternal love'” (2:222, qtd in Meyer et al. 215).
This love unfolds within the “movement” from Khaliq, to Bari’, to Musawwir:
“When the created ones love God, again it is through the activity of Khaliq, Bari’, and Musawwir. There is a natural disposition that draws the finite to come to know the infinite. It is the basis for the whole Sufi path” (216).