Bismallah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim
With Ramadan coming to a close, I, unless I compose roughly twenty brief discussions on the remaining 66 Divine of Allah, will not finish what I hoped to do. Ce la vie. Perhaps where I find myself in this series is quite fitting in that the 34th name, Ghafur, concerns forgiveness and, considering today is my birthday, the 35th Name concerns gratitude.
Often paired with Ghaffar (the 14th Name) with which it shares its root, Ghafur “is the essence of forgiveness, because it reveals the
depth of the divine heart” (Meyer et al. 51). While Ghaffar is “inexhaustible forgiveness” (43), Ghafur is the “divine forgiveness that penetrates into the most repressed secrets of our hearts” (51) and it allows us “to accept that there is forgiveness ever for the worst crime we have ever committed in our live, or the worst crime ever done to us” (51).
Since it shares the same root with Ghaffar, which I have discussed previously (see link above), I will concentrate here on what distinguishes Ghafur from its “partner.” Whereas Ghaffar’s grammatical structure underscores the continuity and repetitive quality of forgiveness, Ghafur’s structure “carries the meaning of ‘penetrating right into the essence of a thing’…(it) reaches that which we imagined was unforgivable” (127).
Through the forgiveness of others, as these Names imply we are forgiven, we “can then awaken to a kind of compassion that actually reaches the wound and covers the fault in a soothing way” (127) resulting in the easing of our pain “that has caused us to isolate ourselves in our relationships to life” (128).
“Udders or breasts filling up.”
“The letting down of a mother’s milk.”
Such meanings are derived from the root of Shakur, “the one who sends gratitude into the depth of the lover’s heart” (51), and much like Ghafur’s forgiveness get right to the heart of the matter, the gratitude that is Shakur “manifests…as thankfulness for specific blessings…thankfulness penetrates to the very core of the deepest thing” (238) as it “reaches all the way to the hardest place in the heart, into the deepest wound” (238).
An “antidote for dissatisfaction with the falseness or incompleteness of the world,” Shakur addresses that aspect of the ego-dysfunction related “most directly to the continual complaining and dissatisfaction” (239). That part of us that is feels nothing is ever right. The part of ourselves that is always finding fault. This attitude “blinds the soul from perceiving the great abundance and richness of what is present” for as “long as your ego is trapped in a pattern of complaint, you are incapable of appreciating reality, god, or yourself” (239).
Washing “away the distinction between the ego-self and the divine reality,” “The veil that has made this universe into a place of deprivation, a place to be complained about,” Shakur (often paired with Hamid) awakens the kind of inner gratitude that overflows from an open heart that perceives the abundance of life in every waking moment as a divine gift.
Pure transcendence. Beyond form. Above, absolutely above, with nothing beyond.
Such is ‘Aliyy.
The transcendence of God that many people (especially monotheists) associate with God. A most fundamental concept.
But there is more to this transcendence that is ‘Aliyy, as this Name is an emanating transcendence, for “just as the sun much reach its zenith in the sky to shine its light and fully illuminate each and every thing,” ‘Aliyy “manifests that transcendence in its immanence” (52).
Variations on the Names root engender the word al-‘aliyah, “a she-camel that has sufficient strength to bear a burden” (165), suggesting that ‘Aliyy “allows for high aspirations…a vision of the highest” (165).
Additionally, ‘Aliyy “has the meaning of being beyond nobility, rank, or dignity” (165) and is, as such, an antidote for “jealousy nad arrogance,” stemming from placing “our ego-self above God” (166) and in “overcoming our clinging to an egocentric view…this reorientation of perspective is experiencing the universe, or God, as fully embracing you” (167).
Related to the 10th Name, Mutakabbir, the “ever-expanding cosmic wave removing all boundaries” (41), Kabir, the 37th Name, “is incomparable greatness or vastness, an unrestricted expansiveness” beyond the “boundaries of time and space” (52). The “infinite presence of Allah,” to even say “the biggest” does not to Kabir justice, for language itself “is inadequate for such realities” (52). We just don’t have the words or the mental capacity to understand that which is transcends time and space. Kabir is that aspect of the divine that is “so vast it is beyond the rational mind’s ability to comprehend” (52). And that is why this Name enthralls me through and through.
Having previously treated Mutakabbir, here againI will discuss that which distinguishes Kabir. Kabir is “pre-eternal, and it is timeless” (156). Just one more reason why a rational mind which is dependent upon time, cannot comprehend Kabir. If there was a big bang as cosmologists and physicists suggest, if there was a “beginning,” Kabir “predates” such. The big bang, the beginning, is the beginning of “time.” Thus Kabir, in “pre-dating” the big bang, is outside of time.
As discussed previously, Mutakabbir is “the path to vastness” (157), emphasis on the process of going. In other words, it is the verb of the journey. Kabir, on the other hand, “is more like the state itself. There is no more beyond it” (157) because it is always beyond.
In our lives, we come across boundaries, both inner and outer. In “spiritual” journeys, we come across boundaries. Kabir is always already beyond those boundaries. With Mutakabbir a boundary dissolves and there is growth, expansion. But then comes another boundary. “When we come to al-Kabir,” however, “there are no more boundaries. There is no more time. Time and space themselves are boundaries” (158).
I want to repeat that:
“Time and space are boundaries.”
They are mental constructs, simple words.
We use words when we think; thinking is a linguistic process. But…
“Whatever we think, in doing so we have set a boundary” (158).
But these boundaries, “or these limitations in the mind, are a defense mechanism against a sense of deficiency” (158) are actually constructive for “the ego deficiency directly opens to the absolute. It is actually through the ego deficiency that there is entry to the absolute!” (159).
So much as I wrote in “Re-Visioning Mental Health,” love your mental “illnesses,” love your ego-deficiencies, everything you think is “wrong” with you. “Wrong” is much a concept, a boundary as thinking is, as time is, as space is. And moreover, according to this perspective, that which is “wrong” with you is the very door.
The name of a beautiful Sufi poet; the Divine Name meaning “everything in the heavens and earth, down to the smallest particle, is within the protection of Allah” (52-3). The Divine quality that suggests one is always protected and remembered, for us humans, Hafiz “involves becoming mindful, considerate, respectful and cherishing deeply in your heart” (53).
Useful “for those who need protection from fear, despair, and hopelessness” (53), the protection that is Hafiz “reaches to the smallest particle in the same way as the loving mercy of ar-Rahim” (179).
Compared to its opposite, ghaflah, “those who forget,” Hafiz is that special quality of remembrance, special, because, according to the Qur’an, “Remember me (Allah) and I will remember you” (180). Note this is not a conditional statement. It does not say “IF you remember me, then I will remember you.” There are, rather two statements joined by the conjunction “and.” It simply say, in other words: “Remember me. I will remember you.”
There are two additional meanings important to an understanding of Hafiz. The first “is that of preserving the order, sequence, and timing of the whole universe in a constant and dependable manner” (180). The notion of protection underscores this idea; the idea that as much as we might feel like we need to “fix” something, “we don’t have to” (180) and when we want to, we may have to address issues of control.
The second additional meaning is “to save from decay and preserve the eternal quality of a thing” (180). In Sufi thought, “the eternal in a thing is called the malakut of each thing” (180). Hafiz means this eternal quality is protected. It cannot be harmed. It cannot be damaged. It cannot decay. Such is related then to another meaning of Hafiz, a meaning which “reaches outside” the notion of protection. Meaning also “to know or be mindful of the secret,” this secret, of course, is the inner, eternal quality of the thing, “the essence, the eternal light or spirit” (180).
Feeling protected can, of course, be a very difficulty thing to accept, especially when, as its grammatical form suggest, Hafiz “reaches every situation and every thing” (185). But his difficulty in acceptance is an ego defense, particularly one stemming from the fear of being lost. It is natural to feel unprotected when lost. Hafiz then (in conjunction with a great many names relating to Divine protection) is an antidote for that fear–we may feel lost, but we are not.
We are exactly where we need to be.