Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A SCHOLAR-filmmaker Teaches the YUSUF Story with Reason and FAITH

Salaam means Peace

Here is a most eloquent SUMMARY of the ultra-layered UNITY which I'm understanding as a beautiful strong golden running thread of purpose throughout our teacher's work:

'Theme, action, characters, diction, music and embellishment became an indivisible unity in this narrative so that the reader could write on her or his soul the greater Unity of God, which was the key with which Joseph decoded mysteries and foretold destinies of individuals and nations. For that, the readers have to recollect their own energies – the Josephs of their souls must also outwit the scheming stepbrothers of fear, desire and flawed reasoning in order to become one unified whole. To quote from Iqbal: “What is the nation, you who declare ‘No god but God’? With thousands of eyes, to be one in vision! …Do not look slightingly on oneness of vision; this is a true epiphany of the Unity…Are you dead? Become living through oneness of vision; cease to be centre-less, become stable. Create unity of thought and action, that you may possess authority in the world” (‘Beyond the Spheres’ in Javidnama).'

Here is another such passage - too easy to overlook - so again I'm "framing" this here in a slightly different way yet here are the same words Khurram Shafique used:

"The theme of this surah is the gift bestowed upon Joseph by God. Implications of the gift are insight into destiny through interpretation of visions, events and stories. Its corollaries are incorruptible moral character, patience, hope and forgiveness. Its purpose is to bring together a scattered “family,” be it the house of Jacob or the family of God (i.e. the entire human race)."

Now, here is a continuation of more of this teaching - some surprisingly wholistic tools (beyond just analysis) not only for mental clarification with the story of Yusuf - Chapter 12 of the Quran - yet also quite illuminating toward SEEING with the heart sublime TRUTHS (for those ready to receive them.) I have slightly condensed this from a teaching given at the Republic of Rumi by scholar Khurram Ali Shafique Sahib. The capitalization of whole words is mine for emphasis:
1. Book (Kitab)
2. Remembrance (Zikr)
3. Guidance (Huda)
4. Cure (Shifa)
5. Arabic (Arabi)

Approaching a text according to according to patterns recognizable by our minds is a human limitation. Hence, on the most obvious level, the Quran is “a BOOM”, and we pay attention not only to what is being said but also how it is being said. The Quranic version of the story we have discussed transforms the historic Joseph into metaphors of an individual soul, a nation as well as the entire human race.

Like Joseph, the humanity was also given a promising vision to be the master of the sun, moon and star. Just like Joseph, it has also been thrown into prison...Therefore, just like Joseph, it will one day be elevated to the throne where indeed the dreams will come true. Each individual is a custodian of this entire progress of humanity: “you too have a Joseph in your soul” is the common message of all Sufi masters while some, like Attar, Jami and Iqbal, have treated the subject at great length.

Consequently, the esteem of the historic person also increases in our hearts. We wonder about the prophet of God who, in a short lifespan, was able to act out a metaphor of the entire human history from Creation to the Day of Judgment as well as mirror the trials and tribulations of each individual soul...the surah consists entirely of historical information...

This reflects the function of the Quran as “REMEMBRANCE.” ...Muslim scholars have spent great efforts to filter out those anecdotes of the story which had crept into traditional commentaries of the Quran from external sources and were incompatible with the stature of Joseph ...perhaps the crowning this area is Qasasul Quran, written by Hifzur Rahman Sewharvi sometime around the middle of the twentieth century).

Such efforts...turn the life of this prophet into “GUIDANCE” for our souls. His... unusual truthfulness, chastity, loyalty to friends and family, forgiveness, and wisdom – becomes a role model for believers. The source from which these immense virtues originate is the unity of God, as Joseph himself points out so succinctly: “...Are many lords differing among themselves better or Allah, the One and Almighty?”

Understanding the unity of God through textual integrity, historical accuracy and unity of action leads us to the more miraculous aspects of the Quran. Sufis have equated the Quran with Jesus, since both have been described as “the Word of God” – like Jesus, the Quran also has HEALING (Cure-Shifa) power...

...The word Quran itself means a recital, and hence the Arabic recitation of the Quran has always been emphasized in Muslim cultures: in Javidnama, it is the recitation of the Quran and its sounds which reveal the “Heavenly Archetype” on the spirit of Iqbal at the second stage in the journey (a very creative recitation recommended in an earlier installment of the present summary has been done by Mishary Rashid and is easily available on the Internet through the artist’s website and other sources).

Of course, the other implication of remembering the Quran’s ARABIC CHARACTER is to be able to understand it through linguistic discussions about its words. One interesting point highlighted by my teacher Abbas Husain is that the king refers to his dream as rouya, which has the connotation of a vision while his counselors refer to it as ehlam, which has the connotation of a confused dream which is not worth interpreting. While spiritual psychology regarded all dreams as rouya, modern psychology disregards all as ehlam. A latter approach which was questioned by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was to consider some dreams as inspired from above and therefore rouya while disregarding others as mere reflection of subconscious, and hence disregarding them as ehlam.

Interestingly, the text of Surah Yusuf does not bifurcate between these two types: the same dream is called rouya by the king and ehlam by his counselors. To Joseph, this difference doesn’t seem to matter, for he can interpret all dreams, stories and events to reveal destinies of individuals and nations. This, as he explains to his fellow prisoners, is because he has “abandoned the ways of a people that believe not in Allah and that deny the Hereafter” and has come to see everything with the light of Unity: “O my two companions of the prison! Are many lords differing among themselves better or Allah, the One and Almighty?”

1 comment:

Connie L. Nash said...

Let me know if I've made any mistakes in transferring post from Khurram Ali Shafique Sahib here? Or if the title is not quite right...