Thursday, November 13, 2008

Quran Surah 2:74 The Opening of the Rocks

Surah 2: 74

"Thenceforth were your hearts Hardened: they became even harder than a rock. From among these hearts of stone there are some from which rivers gush forth; others which when split asunder bubble forth water; and still others that sink into the depths for fear and awe of the Depth. And the Spirit is not Unmindful of what you do."

The revelation of Surah 2:74 should cause pause and reflection in us. It is a revelation of our existential reality. These are 3 possible reactions when the Spirit splits us asunder - the 3 ways of being on the path.

The first manner is the way of the river. This refers to our action in the world. Our engagement. Here our focus is on addressing social injustice, promoting peace, overcoming poverty.

The second manner is the way of bubbling forth. This refers to dialogue and discourse. Here we engage in the world of ideas, we listen to each other, we consider each other's opinions, we state and evaluate our own views. Individuals who follow this path often engage in conversations, conferences, write papers, etc.

The third manner is the way of the deep. This refers to meditation, contemplation, deep prayer. Here we often meet both Love and find ourselves adrift in a "dark night of the soul." This is the way of the mystic. The mystical moment is often one of apprehending beauty - it is the moment of "awe". Moreover, to stand before the abyss of the divine is to stand in fear and trembling.

Different individuals have proclivities towards different paths, but each of us finds ourselves at different times on one of these manners.

The verse ends by assuring us that God does not favor any one way over the other, but is mindful of our "jihad" or struggle as we each traverse "the path."

Question: You mention that there are three paths.

Watchman: There is actually only one path, but different ways of navigating that path.

Question: Could you say a few words about how this relates to interfaith dialogue? As you know, King Abdullah has recently initiated a conference on this theme.

Watchman: We would like to congratulate his Highness on this first step. However, we need to also be aware that the Qur'an clearly moves deeper than just thinking about interfaith within the Abrahamic Faith. This verse is an excellent example of that depth. Although all three manners are found within the People of the Book, so too in Buddhism, Hinduism or various forms of polytheism. We must remember that God has sent a Messenger to All Peoples, tribes and nations.

Question: You spoke of the metaphor of water in the verse...

Watchman: Yes, water is one of the key elemental substances (along with fire, air and earth). It is often associated with spiritual significance...

Question: Christian baptism, for example.

Watchman: Exactly.

Question: What of the first verse: "Thenceforth were your hearts Hardened: they became even harder than a rock"?

Watchman: In the Rose Sufi Crescent tradition, we understand this verse as referring to the moment of hardening - the moments are spirits reenter the world of matter. In our pre-existence we are spirit but when we re-incarnate we become dense matter.

Question: Are there any other possible interpretations?

Watchman: The Glorious Qur'an is the revealed Word, delivered unto the 18,000 dimensions of reality. Wherever one is in this cosmos (both physically, mentally or spiritually) one will interpret it differently. It has a very different interpretation depending on if the "reader" perceives him or herself to be within or outside of Grace. Our RSC interpretation is for those who understand that they are within Grace.

Question: And others?

Watchman: Well, a legalist would naturally interpret "hardening" as turning away from Spirit. That is unfortunate, though. They would also probably "misread" the ending as something such as "God is watching you and will punish you."

We can also interpret the verse as speaking directly to the prophets and angels as follows:

Rushing water = call the world to a new paradigm of Love, Peace and Compassion
Bubbling water = dispensing new ethical teachings of Truth
Sinking into deep water = providing instructions on contemplation and union with Beauty

Rushing water = serving to intervene in earthly affairs to promote love, peace and compassion
Bubbling water = providing comfort to the afflicted
Sinking into deep water = singing praises before Beauty


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