Thursday, May 24, 2012

I Think, Therefore I Am Witnessing - all about wahdatul wujud, wahdatul shuhud, Mircrosoft grammar check and the cosmic ping pong table

Your separateness and individuality are lost in
the overwhelming Oneness that is God.
How should we phrase this often used-sentence – “God and the Prophet have ….” or “God and the Prophet has…”? This may appear a trivial matter, and the sinner may have way too much free time, but I think it is an interesting question to answer. And to approach this problem we will be applying the Ibn Arabi made-famous dichotomy of the two Wahdatuls. 

Some people say that the concepts of Wahdatul Wujud (the state / unity of creation) and Wahdatul Shuhud (the state / unity of witnessing) are too high and lofty for the contemplation of mere underlings like us. But hey... let's give it a shot, shall we? After all, we have a grammatical problem to solve.

At the level of Wahdatul Wujud there is only one True Reality. One Absolute Existence that existed even before the term ‘exist’ was ever created and understood. So in that context it is “God and the Prophet has” because we are in fact referring to one True Absolute Person, aka God and no one else but God. Indeed this would apply whenever God is accompanied by any other identity, even you. Your separateness and individuality are lost in the overwhelming Oneness that is God.

At the level of Wahdatul Shuhud, the presence of a witness to God necessitates two separate identities,  God and the Prophet Muhammad. In which case it makes sense that the phrase "God and the Prophet have..." is correct, signifying a plural dimension and the two very different and distinct personalities of God and His Creation (Prophet Muhammad).

So now I have two opposing and seemingly contradictory positions. But which is the best solution that Adab (courtly courtesies and good manners) would require to solve this grammatical puzzle?

In the Microsoft Word™ application, the embedded grammar and spelling-checker already underlined the word ‘has’ in green, in other words, the computer program is telling me that it is grammatically incorrect to use 'has' in context of the subject-verb agreement. The computer is telling me that the correct verb is “have”. So we know that Microsoft Inc is ostensibly at least, Wahdatul Shuhud.


Personally, I prefer going with “God and the Prophet has” because the overwhelming single reality is God Alone and that there is only He who is the willing force over all creation. The Prophet is there as the perfection of servanthood, God’s own flawless mirror set against God’s infinite and wonderful Divine Attributes. But to be fair, eminent translators of the Holy Quran have applied the plural verb when God is mentioned with other 'persons' in the form of His angels as in the verse 33:56 -

Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet: O ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him, and salute him with all respect. (Yusuf Ali)
Lo! Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet. O ye who believe! Ask blessings on him and salute him with a worthy salutation. (Marmaduke Pickthall)

And then of course, some other translation avoid this grammatical problem altogether by separating the 'subject' God from the angels...

Indeed, Allah confers blessing upon the Prophet, and His angels [ask Him to do so]. O you who have believed, ask [ Allah to confer] blessing upon him and ask [ Allah to grant him] peace.
(Sahih International)

But to be absolutely honest here, I am happy to be the ping-pong ball being hit across the cosmic ping-pong table, back and forth, back and forth… by the Divine bats of Wahdatul Wujud and Wahdatul Shuhud. Because at the end of the day, even if we are 'thinking' Wahdatul Wujud... that act of thinking itself is a state of witnessing. To paraphase jolly old Rene Descartes - I Think, therefore I Am... Witnessing. 
'existential ping-pong'


If you are not confused (enough) yet, you might like to read previous posts on the Wahdatul Wujud and Wahdatul Shuhud. You can find them all on the labels cloud on the right hand column of this almanac…

Thank you for coming by, sunshine. I have been wondering where you have gone to.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

PostScript - this posting is a re-written version incorporating earlier postscripts.

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way


Radzi Sapiee said...

Well. Taufiq and Khalid are 2 distinct individuals. Yet Taufiq bin Khalid is 1...

Or to be a bit vulgar, bull n shit could refer to 2 distint objects. But bullshit? Hehe... :]

Milky Tea said...

Actually, I do not find anything in what you say to be disagreeable.


Actually when I saw that you commented, I was wondering whether you would bring some fascinating mathematical equations...


jo said...

Oh now you're the Master of Confusion.
Thanks. Love is all around, you get more for confusing me. For more love and confusion, please be a part of the madness tonite.

Milky Tea said...

I was not around to partake in the madness last night... I hope everyone had their fair share...

God bless!