The age-old dream of the human caravan is not to send astronauts in their orbit in outer space.. it is to send its individuals - every single individual in his orbit of self-realization. It is high time that this dream be thus reinterpreted. It is also the sacred duty of every man and woman to help intelligently reorientate human endeavour towards the culmination of this pilgrimage.

Mahmoud Muhammad Taha - Answers to the questions of Mr. John Voll - 17.7.1963

Simplifying the New Islamic Call - Episode VI

Part 1

In the name of God, the Beneficent the Merciful:

“Indeed We have the Revelation on the Night of Glory. What will convey to you what the Night of Glory is! The Night of Glory is the grace of a thousand months. On that Night the angels and the Spirit descend by permission of their Lord in every affair. Peace it is, till the break of dawn” [Quran, Chapter 97]. God Almighty is truthful.

Herein, receiving the blessing of this Chapter, we begin the sixth episode of our talk on simplifying the New Islamic Call. We ended our fifth episode talking about the obscurity that results when customary intuition follows the literal meaning of the Quran. Regarding this matter: the customary intuition is the imaginative will power—the will power that we believe and claim for ourselves through our familiar voluntary actions. Our familiar voluntary actions make us believe that we have the faculty of will power.

We stopped, last time, at the following two verses: “Whoever wills among you may take a right course. Your will is effectual only if it is the Will of God, the Lord of the worlds” (81:28-29). We said that the illusion that we are in as a result of customary intuition is that we have conscious will—we have volition. The literal meaning of the Quran follows this customary intuition, as in the verse “Whoever wills among you may take a right course” (18:28), which caused us to overlook the subsequent verse “Your will is effectual only if it is the Will of God, the Lord of the worlds” (81:29). The first verse, “Whoever wills among you may take a right course” (18:28), is exoteric while the verse “Your will is effectual only if it is the Will of God, the Lord of the worlds” (81:29) is esoteric. The exoteric verse is close to us while the esoteric verse is distant from us—it is more advanced. The exoteric verse, once again, follows illusion—it tends to move us tranquilly and gradually to reality. Customarily, we have conscious will—we have volition. Factually, the existing effectual will is singular. Yet, we can only ascertain this fact through certitude—obtained only through first-hand experience, which is the fruit of our worship practice. We practice worship, at the exoteric level to have servitude as a result at the esoteric level. Servitude requires that we surrender to the Singular Willer—to the Singular Creator—for He is Lord and we are slaves.

We said that the exoteric code follows an illusion. In a sense, the exoteric code is lenient towards people. This is what is asserted in the hadith: “We Prophets are ordered to speak to the people according to the extent of their intelligence.” The Quran indicates this point explicitly: “God takes not a soul beyond its capacity” (2:286). Also, in a revelatory hadith regarding the true sense of leniency towards people, it is stated that, “People are asleep; when dead, they will pay attention.” Due to illusion, people behave as if they are asleep. We have already said that illusion comes from the deficient information received through the senses about the external world, which includes people, animate and inanimate objects, and celestial bodies. Our knowledge about all these arises out of ignorance and is far away from reality. Still, we continuously improve and refine our knowledge, advancing towards greater accuracy and precision. We can understand from the phrase “people are asleep,” that the oblivious person is like a sleeper. The sleeper is spoken to through dreams. Dreams include scenes that deepen sleep and do not disturb the sleeper. At times, one stays asleep after the dream ends. Sometimes, the sleeper wakes up at the end of the dream. What is evident, however, is that the language of scenes in dreams deepens the sleep until the sleeper wakes up anxious or at ease, or it may be that the sleeper continues from one vision to another in a deep sleep. From the hadith, “People are asleep; when dead they will pay attention,” we can understand that the level of exoteric code deems people as if they are asleep—they are oblivious. Therefore, people are kept undisturbed in profound illusion and are gradually transitioned to the truth. At first, people are unaware of the truth, although it is always present just before them. Whenever people arrive at one truth, they feel the need to proceed to another truth greater than the previous one.

We also mentioned, the command of the Lord to the Prophet, “Take the superfluous, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the ignorant,” which is stated in the hadith: “My Lord has disciplined me well. Then He said: Take the superfluous, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the ignorant.” The phrase “My Lord has disciplined me well” represents the prophethood and preparedness stage of the apostolic mission. This mission has been alluded to in the command: “Take the superfluous, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the ignorant.” The phrase “Take the superfluous” means, do not demand too much of people. Take the negligible things from them that they grant generously without feeling uneasy about it—without lamenting the loss. In fact, this meaning has also been alluded to in the Quran: “There has come to you a Messenger from among yourselves, what you are distressed with is grievous to him; he is full of concern for you, for the believers he is full of pity, merciful” (9:128). The phrase “what you are distressed with” means that what troubled you is grievous and troublesome to him. He, as well, has intended for everything to be convenient and easily understood. From here came the hadith: “We Prophets are ordered to speak to the people according to the extent of their intelligence.” For this reason, the matter of religion comes to adhere to people’s illusions, until they are transitioned - away from them. In fact, approaching God is through stages of gradual transition from coarseness to fineness. Transitorily, the coarse things are desired because they are at the level of what people can tolerate. Moreover, this represents a transitional stage to the finer things, as if people that are in their gradient toward God are passing from one illusion to another. That is because people are on their way to know a portioned truth—the truth that coalesces at gradients of trueness.

Acquaintance with God consists of two levels, truthiness and trueness. Truthiness is the level of knowing the Divine Self, which has no opposition. Trueness is the level of knowing the grades of Divine names, attributes, and actions, which have opposition. Also, over every true fact there is one truer. Every true fact today becomes void tomorrow. This is what is meant by saying that people advance gradually by transitioning from one illusion to another. Or rather: tomorrow, with the emergence of greater knowledge, today’s true fact becomes void and people move to a truer one. An example of this is found in the three religions forming stages towards ultimate Islam: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These three religious stages towards ultimate Islam are relatively true as people pursue them.

Yet in fact, there is no religion on Earth but Islam. All the prophets came with Islam. Or rather, they came with portions of Islam. Judaism was true, but became void for whoever knew Christianity when Jesus came—Christianity became their true calling. When Islam came, Christianity became void for whoever knew Islam. Furthermore, Islam descended as two levels. First is the level we called “the First Message” to which people of the seventh century were called when, at the same time, the Prophet called them to the Second Message. When people were unable to follow the Second Message of Islam, it was abrogated but remained enjoined on Muhammad alone as Prophet. So, the calling at the level of the Prophet descended to the level we now call “the First Message.” For people who knew about the First Message of Islam, Christianity became void—this level of calling by the Prophet became the true one. Now, when people are called to the Second Message of Islam—when they are called to the “Prophet Path” that they failed to follow in the past when it was actually intended for them—the old call becomes void and the call at the level of the Prophet is the example to be followed. When it becomes time to follow the Prophet, whoever fails to follow will be holding on to nothing. In fact, when the Quran says: “He who desires other than Islam as religion, that (religion) shall not be accepted, and in the hereafter he shall be among the losers” (3:85), it refers to the Prophet’s level of the ultimate Islamic call, which in our New Islamic mission is known as the Second Message of Islam.

The Second Message of Islam is the Prophet Path. Originally, Mecca was the field and focus of his call. The Second Message is present in the original verses, the Meccan verses. When, in practice, it became clear that people of the past were incapable of these verses, they were withdrawn. They were considered abrogated by the Medinese verses and chapters upon which the exoteric code—the subject of the First Message—was based.

It is evident that people show progress by steps with respect to discerning trueness. They shift from one true event to another or, as we have said, from one illusion to another. That is to say, discerning trueness is below knowing the truthiness—the latter being below knowing God. Trueness involves opposition. The opposite of trueness is falseness. Our minds can only reflect through opposition, whereas God has no opposite. Therefore, minds cannot have comprehensive knowledge of God, even though they allude towards Him. That is because, in all the different situations, every true event only alludes towards God. Trueness is discerning the signs on the horizons and feeling God’s profound wisdom behind them. This is what is asserted in the verse: “We shall show them Our signs on the horizons (of the physical world) and within themselves until it becomes manifest to them that He is the Truth. Is your Lord not sufficient witness over all things?” (41:53) Some reprehension can be noticed at the last part of the verse: “Does not your Lord suffice, since He is witness over all things?” As if to say: there is no way for you to know the Creator through creation, other than knowing creation through the Creator! The later is the profoundest knowledge, which is to be attained at the moment of Truth realization. We have previously talked about Truth realization, as not being a station, or a place of learning, but rather a state of Divine witnessing.

What is evident is that illusions adhered to by the exoteric code are many, and without mastering monotheism, people would definitely remain in the zone of illusions. The illusion we have touched on and termed a “mental illusion” is a very great barrier, impediment, and veil hiding the true state of rigorous monotheism at the level of determinism versus freewill.

Regarding the matter of determinism and freewill, no one believes that man has actual choice in any particle of his time, action, or thought but a polytheist. The source of polytheism is associating the will of the creature with the will of the Creator.

The act of worshiping figures or idols is solely because man is associating his will with the will of God. It is monotheism when man surrenders his will to the will of God, while a polytheist thinks himself to be effectually willed.

This perceived will is the trusteeship that was offered to the heavens and the Earth, in the words of God: “We offered the trusteeship to the heavens and the Earth and the mountains, and they declined to accept it and were afraid of it; but man accepted it. He was overconfident ignorant” (33:72). It is the will that was perceived by man at the time of being given a mind. Because of this will, man became obliged to observe the precepts of religion—obliged to observe the exoteric code. He knew what became unlawful and what became lawful. He was obliged to avoid the unlawful—to undertake some acts and avoid others. He was obliged to undertake lawful things and avoid the unlawful. All these followed on the assumption that he then felt to be effectually willed. It becomes polytheism if man surrenders to this feeling and considers his will to be unrestricted, not planned, or subject to the single effectual Will. The Quran indicates this point explicitly in the verse: “God commands you to render trusts to whom they belong” (4:58). The aim of this central command, regarding people’s acts of obedience in conduct toward God and among themselves, is to render back the trust to its Owner. It is as if we have been entrusted with the will that we have. Originally, this will belonged to God and He loaned it to us. Because of this will, religious duties were enjoined. By fulfilling our religious duties, we will come to know for certain that the Willer is singular.