Thursday, May 11, 2006

Al-Fatiha (The Opening) - A Sufi Commentary

Bismallah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim

The Fatiha is the opening chapter of the Quran and provides a beautiful summary of not only the Quran, but of the essence of all the 124,000 preceding revelations. Al-Fatima begins with:

1. “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate One, the Merciful One”

Right from the Opening the Recital assists us to set our minds on the Divine Essence – the Source of compassion and mercy. Note: the Quran doesn’t open with judgment, anger, promises of punishment, etc. Instead, we are confronted with compassion and mercy. This is the message of all of the rightly guided prophets. Jesus (Isa) tells us that God is Love.

2. “All praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of all the worlds.” 3. "The Gracious One, the Merciful One.”

There are two key ideas here. First, we need to recognize the existence of worlds (plural). As Hazarat Inayat Khan, under divine inspiration, prayed: “…Lord God of the East and the West, of the worlds above and below, And of the seen and unseen beings.” The reality is that we exist in a universe with multiple worlds, visible to our senses and invisible, inhabited with almost infinite beings. The Sufi is one who develops the skills to navigate, by shifting one’s focus of awareness, these various worlds. The second important idea is to notice that these worlds are framed, literally surrounded by divine compassion and mercy. By placing the worlds between these two sentences the underlying message to those who have “eyes to see and ears to hear” is that the divine surrounds us, blankets us and frames our world. The Sufi is one who not only enters these worlds, as do shamans, conversing and interacting with visible and invisible beings (angels, jinn, spirits and spirit creatures) but also accesses and uses the divine energy fields of compassion, mercy and graciousness to align the worlds with the Divine Love, Beauty and Harmony.

4. “Guardian of the Day of Judgment.”

Both Islam and Christianity teach that there is a Great End of History that we will one day face. This is the time when all beings will be brought before the throne. The Rose Crescent also teaches that there are lesser days of judgment, when each of us dies and we are confronted by our karma.
5. “Thee do we worship. And Allah’s aid do we seek.”

Here we are brought in to face the Spirit of Compassion and Mercy, whom we both worship and call upon for aid. What is worship? The Rose Crescent maintains that there are many forms of worship, the highest being our acts of goodness, compassion and mercy in the worlds. What aid do we seek? We seek the power and divine energies to transform this cosmos and assist the Kingdom of Light to emerge.

6. “Guide us on the Straight Path.” 7. “The path of those whom the Spirit has blessed. Not the path of destruction; nor the path of wandering.”

At every moment of every day we stand at a juncture. There are three paths before us. The first path is that of divine union with the Spirit. Before we incarnated on earth we were all literally before the throne, living in Presence. The first path is a call to return to Presence, to understand and achieve our own emanation from the Light, the Source. It is the path of the Messengers (e.g. Adam, Eve, Al-Kidr, Abraham, Moses, Lao Tzu, Zoroaster, Buddah, Mary, Jesus, Muhammad – Peace be upon them all), the Mothers (e.g. Khadjia, Fatima, Aisha) and the saints (e.g. Rabia, Rumi, Ibn Arabi, Francis, Teresa, etc.). This is the path of the divine unity of the Spirit and the greater assembly (angels, jinn, humans, animals, plants and all beings).

The second path is the path of destruction. This is the state of hell wherein anger, envy and violence dominate our souls.

The third path is the earthly path. Herein we wander between the Straight Path and that of destruction. Our thoughts, acts and being flow between heaven and hell, peace and violence, love and hate. We walk in a desert, lost, yearning for the Source, despaired at not knowing how to find the Oasis of Love. The Rose Crescent uses the symbol of the trident as a tool of meditation on this passage. The Sufi is one who struggles and relaxes each moment, with each breath, to be on the Straight Path.

Question: These three states you mentioned, are they figurative (spiritual/psychological) or actual?

They are both. The Rose Crescent teaches that we actually do inhabit different spheres at the same time (heavenly, earthly and lower world). The Sufi path is to unified the soul as much as possible so that our bodies are on earth but our unified soul is in heaven.


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