‘The slave remains the slave’

by Imraan

“Universal man realises eternally in the Truth that he is nothing and yet He is Everything. But such realisation is beyond his human soul, and this is what is meant by the saying: ‘The slave remains the slave.’ The slave cannot become God, since he is either the slave, as in appearance, or nothing at all, as in Reality. Universal man cannot make his human soul divine; like the souls of all other men, but with an outstanding difference of quality, it implies the illusion of an existence apart from God. It differs from them not in kind, but in what might almost be called an organic consciousness that this separate existence is in Truth no more than an illusion. There is a saying that ‘Muhammad is a man, yet not as other men, but like a jewel among stones.’ Albeit the souls remains the soul just as night remains night, or else it vanishes and there is day. But though the soul of Universal Man cannot itself attain to the direct knowledge of the Truth of Certainty, yet unlike other souls it is touched in its centre by a ray of light proceeding from the sun of the Spirit of the Truth; for this perfect soul, represented in Islam by the soul of the Prophet, is none other than the Night of Power (lailatu ‘l-qadr), into which descend the Angels and the Spirit; and the Heart, that is, the point of this spiritual ray’s contact, is as a full moon in the unclouded night of the perfect soul making it better than a thousand months of other nights, that is peerless among all other souls. …

“Universal man with his two natures if figures in the Seal of Solomon, of which the upper and lower triangles represent respectively the Divine and the human nature. In virtue of this duality he is the mediator between Heaven and earth, and it is owing to this function that he is sometimes referred to as ‘the isthmus’ (al-barzakh) as in the Chapter of the Distinct Revelation:

And He it is Who hath let loose the two seas, one sweet and fresh, the other salt and bitter, and hath set between them as isthmus, an impassable barrier.    Qur’an, XXV:53

“In His Heart alone does the sweet sea of the next world meet the salt sea of this; and by reason of this meeting his human nature itself is the noblest and best of all earthly things as is affirmed in the Chapter of the Fig:

Verily We created man in the fairest rectitude. Qur’an, XCV:4

“The nearness of Heaven, by reason of his presence, even causes sometimes the laws of earth to cease perceptibly, just as the moon grows pale at the approach of the day; and it is at such moments that a miracle may take place, such as the changing of water into wine, or the step which leaves a print upon the rock and none upon the sand. As in the Seal of Solomon, his central function as mediator is also figured in the Cross, which is another symbols of Universal Man in that the horizontal line represents the fullness of his earthly nature, whereas the vertical line represents his heavenly exaltation; and yet another of his symbols is the Crescent, for like a cup it indicates his function of receiving Divine Grace, and at the same time, like the horns of the bull, it indicates his majesty, his function of administering this Grace throughout the whole Universe.
Blessed is He Who hath made the distinct revelation unto His servant, that he might be for all the worlds a warner. Qur’an XXV:1.”

Abu Bakr Siraj ad-Din, The Book of Certainty: The Sufi Doctrine of Faith, Vision and Gnosis, p 8-11

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