The Islamic philosopher Averroes once wrote that God, the Eternal, did not create the world. He knows the world, and because God only believes the truth, the world exists to justify God’s honesty.
Against this Averroes’s predestined enemy, the destroyer of philosophers Ghrazali, denies that self-made things could live up to the standards of a Perfect Being. He recounts the story of a decapitated criminal who, daily denying the atomic nature of God, subsequently seeded children, prayed, fasted, and fed the poor until the All-Knowing noticed the man was dead and rescinded the cadaver’s good deeds. To justify this divine ruthlessness, Ghrazali lies. He writes. “The man failed to earn his accidental life.” Which I take to mean that he had done only the believer’s bare minimum. This hardly explains why God condescends to spare you, the lukewarm reader, or I — the most unreliable of atheists.
I recall Hafiz, the Sufi poet-mystic, asked.
“Did love come first or the beloved? I met a shadow on the wall; the sun arose to project it. Blind, the darkling I adored. My eyes swelled to fill their sockets. Behind me something leopard — with braided pubes, tattooed nips, and perfume tresses — ripped my unlikely arm off. My hands erupted from their stumps to paint her with invented colors.”
Four years later, the teenage Hafiz sees the subject of these verses, Shakh-e Naba, for the first time. She would not requite his worship. Could not for he, a baker’s drudge, was too poor to introduce himself. Unlike Dante’s Beatrice, she declines to star in his poetry. Husayn Ibn Nasr Al-Wazzan Al-Balkhi — the ra’wi and disciple of Jaami — says enigmatically that Shakh-e Naba woke, like Eve, on the first day of creation from a centuries long sleep. While the academician Simon Rosenthal suspects Hafiz invented his muse through the “camouflage of judicious omission.” Elsewhere, in his much deplored ‘Chronography of Persia,’ Rosenthal insinuates that Shakh-e Naba lurks to one day ambush some lucky, predestined reader.
Of predestiny, the following.
I think I have detected in the biography of Hafiz a prefiguration of Rumi — jurist, poet, rival mystic. That Rumi died a century before Hafiz is hardly relevant.
For the Sufis, all men are contemporaries in a chronology only slightly less fantastic than the radiometric time of the paleontologists. Descendant. Ancestor. Identicular marbles in the maw of the hungry-hungry hippo of Eternity or parasites residing in an infinite intestine without stomach or rectum, beginning or end.
Both mystics often recited drunk. What Rumi said of Shams Tarbrizi — that spirit-brother which his jealous son and disciples assassinated at the door of their favorite tavern –would better have applied to Hafiz. “None was ever more shit-faced and less distraught.”
Only when Rumi drank could he explain to himself why he enjoyed life so much more than other people or utter mutterances like the following. “We disfigure ourselves and discover our lovers somehow perfect.”
Both had sexy thoughts about God, though one was dom, one was sub. Rumi was uninterrupted maleness, the Muslim ideal. The merkin above was as hairy as the merkin below. While Hafiz was soft enough for the spankings to bruise.
Either one might have agreed with father of Christian scholasticism, Thomas Aquinas, who said that “God first created sex and then men and women to enjoy it.” Certainly both knew that desires should always be indulged precisely because they could never be satisfied until that fated union, reunion, with the All-Sufficient.
Less, in fact, for on the way to join the Meccan caravan he paused to bury his wife near Jeddah and missed the hajj. At that moment God, sensing an opening, was able to erase him with a clear conscience.
Arreshy Young is a living Texan resting uneasily in Washington DC. His work has previously appeared in Isthmus, Midway Journal, and the monomers of the Ajami Private Diction.
If you enjoyed ‘Mouth of the Word’ leave a comment and let Arreshy know.
You can read Arreshy’s previously published words below:
‘An Unpublished Obituary,’ Midway Journal,’ Volume 13, Issue 3:
‘Selves of Themselves,’ Isthmus Review, Issue 8 Fall/Winter 2018:
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