Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Barzakh and the heart.


In the image of the hierarchy of the worlds contained in the kawn al-kabir, every world or

every degree of human individuality is presided over by a barzakh, in the same way as every

human faculty is governed by a certain pole.”

This is most easily seen in the faculties of mental conception, in which the barāzikh (plural

of barzakh) constitute the pivots of the complementaries “subject” and “object”, as well as in the

faculties of sensible perception.

The Shaykh Tadilī also says: “All the barāzikh of man depend on his central barzakh, which

is the heart (qalb), mediator between the domain of the Spirit (Rūh) and that of the individual

soul (nafs).”

Moreover, the physical aspect of the heart very clearly expresses the different characteristics

of the barāzikh, for, according to Shaykh Tadilī, “these barāzikh of the human hierarchy can be

symbolically represented as so many imperceptible points from which a luminous vibration

emanates, alternately of concentration and of expansion, continuously and spontaneously. Each

pulsation of the barzakh produces a transformation of the vital light. In order that this

transformation does not become upset and does not, through individual negligence, become

fatally ‘downward tending’, it must always be determined by spiritual orientation and sustained

by means such as dhikr (invocation) or by methods that depend on the science of respiration.

“These methods are based, from a certain point of view, on the analogy between the phases of

respiration and the pulsation of the barāzikh.'




Ibn al Nafis, who discovered the pulmonary circulation of blood, believed there to be two ventricles, one that filled up with Ruh (spirit) and the other with Nafs (soul). His importance lies in his criticism of the kalam (rational philosophy) of al Farabi which was defended by Avicenna and Ibn al Tufayl in the novel 'Hayy ibn Yaqzan'. In contrast to the view that Revelation was adapted to the animalistic nature of the masses- who recoiled from philosophic truth independently arrived at- al Nafis repudiated the theory of emanation and upheld the orthodox doctrine of the Resurrection and the World's destruction in Time.




There is a hadith (from Muwatt ā’ of Imām Mālik ibn Anas) stressed by the Hanbalis though denied by some others-“The earth eats all of the son of Adam except the ajb al-dhanab. He was created from it, and on it he is built.”




Al Nafisi describes the generation of the embryo and the attachment, by God, of the soul to it- ''This matter is generated from sperm and similar things, and when the soul becomes attached to it . . ., the body is generated from it. This matter is called the ajb al-dhanab. It is absurd that this should become lost as long as the soul subsists . . .. The soul of man is imperishable . . .. So, this matter which is the ajb al-dhanab is imperishable (too). Therefore it remains after the death and decomposition of the body, and the soul with which it remains continues to be perceiving and noticing, and that time it experiences pleasures or pain; these are the pleasures and pain in the tomb.

'Then when the time for resurrection . . . comes, the soul stirs again and feeds this (nucleus of) matter by attracting matter to it and transforming it into something similar to it; and therefrom grows a body a second time. This body is the same as the first body inasmuch as this (nucleus of) matter in it is the same, and the souls in the same. In this way resurrection takes place.'

Dr.Nahyan A.G. Fancy, from whose dissertation the above is extracted, writes 'However, I should emphasize that this had īth is only one in a multitude of had īth that are concerned with the status of body and soul after death. The majority of had ith and even Qur’ānic verses, refer to the possibility of a free soul/spirit that leaves the body at death and even views it from afar.'




'..by attaching the soul to the ajb al-dhanab, Ibn al-Nafīs severs the connection between the heart, spirit and soul that underlies Ibn Tufayl’s entire argument for autodidactic learning. Unlike Ibn Tufayl, Ibn al-Naf īs makes a sharp distinction between soul (nafs) and spirit (rūh). Hence, although Ibn al-Naf īs agrees that the spirit is a refined body that resides in the heart and animates the rest of the human body, he denies

that it emanates from the divine or has any divine element or immateriality associated with it. Instead, he claims that the spirit is entirely derived from air and is continuously created within the heart.

'Therefore, the soul, spirit and heart do not have the tight nexus required for Ibn Tufayl’s rational defense of mystical visions. Consequently, Ibn al-Nafīs is able to rationalize the possibility of bodily resurrection and proffer a solution to the problem of individuation, without providing Ibn Tufayl with a basis to support mystical visions and, hence, autodidactic learning.'




















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