Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Pillar of Hannana Moans

While I write these words, my ears are caressed with the sweet and melodious sounds of the birds chirping in our neighborhood in the Kizingo area in Mombasa. Are they communicating, supplicating, or glorifying Allah? Indeed most of us are oblivion of our own material realm, leave alone the higher planes of existence. The Holy Qur’an tells us: ‘There is nothing but that it glorifies Allah and praises Him, but you cannot comprehend their glorification. Indeed He is forbearing and forgiving.’ [17:44] In expounding this verse, ‘Allama al-Tabataba’i in his monumental al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Qur’an says that the glorification mentioned in the verse should not be mistaken with ontological glorification, which refers to the natural expression of Allah’s Absolute and Perfect Reality through the ‘limited and deficient nature’ of every other thing in the universe. The mention of the Names “Indeed He is forbearing and forgiving” according to one of the strong opinions, is that ‘not being able to comprehend the tasbih of the other creatures’ is an offense, which Allah bears and forgives. We are told in different traditions that it is our tainted heart that hampers us from beholding the malakut (the inner realm of existence) and appreciating the tasbih of the creatures. The pebbles doing tasbih in the hands of the Prophet (s) is a day to day phenomenon witnesses by those endowed with pure hearts, but perhaps when the hearts of a group of Muslims are influenced by Allah’s Messenger “to forcefully be receptive to their tasbih” it is taken as a miracle. The pillar of Hannana is an unforgettable event in the history of the mosque of Madina. It has been narrated in our traditions that when the Prophet of Allah (s) built his mosque in Madina, there was an old dried date palm pillar besides the mihrab (place where the Imam leads prayer). Whenever he (s) would deliver a sermon or speak to the people he would lean on it; but when a mimbar was brought for him, and he ascended it, a cry was heard from the date palm the way a she camel cries when it separates from its offspring. So the Prophet (s) descended the pulpit and embraced the dry date palm, until it went into silence, and the Prophet (s) returned back. Illustrating this in very beautiful poetry Rumi says: Ustune Hannane az hajre Rasul Nale mizad hamchu arbabe uqul (the pillar of Hannana due to Prophet’s separation, lamented like those endowed with intellect); Guft payghambar che khwahi ay sutoon? Guft jaanam az firaaqat gasht khoon. (The Prophet asked the pillar: what do you want? The pillar said: Due to your separation my soul has turned into blood); Masnadat budam az man taakhti, bar sare minbar tu masnad saakhti (I was your support; now you have run away from me; you have devised a place to lean against upon the pulpit)…In the end Rumi hits in the center of our hearts and says: “Hearken, O heedless one! Be not thou less than a piece of wood! Indeed such phenomena are utter realities for those endowed with insight.