The Mosque: The Heart of Submission

The Mosque: The Heart of Submission

Rusmir Mahmutćehajić
David B. Burrell series editor
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 122
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  • Book Info
    The Mosque: The Heart of Submission
    Book Description:

    The Mosque is an extended meditation on a dimension of Islam unfamiliar to most Western readers. The mosque, Rusmir Mahmuticehajiic argues, is not an analogue of the Christian church, not least because in Islam there is no priesthood and no institutionalized hierarchy. Rather, every Muslim is his or her own priest, andmost religious obligations are performed in the home. The function of the mosque is thus dispersed throughout society and, indeed, throughout the natural world as well. The Arabic word from which English mosque derives means literally place of prostration-the place one performs the daily ritual prayer of submission to God, so as to become a guest at the table God has sent down to manifest himself. That table is also the world's mosque, the world as mosque. Among the many tragic victims of the Bosnian genocide are its mosques; more than a thousand were destroyed. A part of the essential fabric of Bosnian life was changed. With this book, Rusmir Mahmuticehajiic seeks to rebuild the spirit and majesty of each mosque that was destroyed, the spiritual grace it lent the Bosnian landscape.Beautifully composed, elegantly written and constructed, this is a primary text of Islamic spirituality, by one of the most significant Muslim European voices of our age . . . . A book to be returned to again and again.-Adam B. Seligman, Boston UniversityThis work by one of the leading intellectual figures of Bosnia is one of the finest written in the English language on the spiritual significance of the mosque. It speaks the language of universal spirituality and is able to open a door for Western readers to the relationship between the mosque, as understood outwardly, and the inner mosque, which is the heart. The book also reflects in most elegant language the reality of a land where mosques, churches, and synagogues have stood side by side over the centuries, each bearing witness in its own way to the Presence of the One.-Seyyed Hossein Nasr, George Washington University

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4817-9
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    William C. Chittick

    This is a remarkable little book. As I read it through I was astonished at Dr. Mahmutćehajić’s ability to reformulate classical positions of Muslim thinkers and spiritual teachers in fresh and original ways. Despite his use of a nondenominational language, he is completely in line with the Islamic intellectual tradition founded by the Qur’an and the Prophet and echoed down through the ages in the writings of numerous sages and saints. Nowhere do we meet a simple rehash of old ideas, but rather a fresh and ongoing rediscovery of the riches of prophetic wisdom.

    Those seasoned in Islamic thought and...

  4. Introduction
    (pp. xvii-xx)

    Man exists in space and time. At any space and time we can turn in any number of potential directions—but none can bring us fulfillment, for nothing that happens to us is enough in itself. But all boundedness in space and time has the potential to direct us toward the Boundless, that which lies beyond all boundaries. As each place receives us, each moment leaves us behind: we are travelers in search of an outer world and an innermost self that constantly eludes our grasp. As long as they elude us, we are guests, not prisoners, in a world...

  5. 1. The Self and the self
    (pp. 1-4)

    The Complete Self cannot be Complete, and free itself from concealment, without becoming manifest—and It can become manifest only in the contingent self. In becoming manifest, It speaks of Itself as Completeness in the contingent. Both the Self and the self speak—the Self to the self, but also vice versa; and as there are a myriad selves, all of these speak to one another.

    Speaking involves listening. A speaker has a right to be listened to; this is determined by the listener openness, willing or otherwise, toward the speaker’s message. By allowing speakers this right, listeners oblige speakers...

  6. 2. The Self That Speaks
    (pp. 5-8)

    The words “Verily I am God; there is no god but I; therefore serve Me,”¹ which are both Divine and human, testify both to the Complete and to the contingent. In that the words come from the Complete, they assume a listener who is meant to hear them; and in being heard, the words become the listener’s. Listener and speaker, being two, form a differentiation of the Complete within Itself. Yet they cannot be the Complete: they merely manifest the One through duality. Because It has no associate, the Complete can only be revealed through duality. That which is Hidden...

  7. 3. The World
    (pp. 9-12)

    God is both hidden and open, one and many, and therefore the self can turn toward Him from any level of memory; this testifies to how all names are encompassed by the Sacred Name, and by His Mercy which, as He says, encompasses all things.¹ The Lord says: “Verily, My mercy predominates My wrath.”² And the Prophet says: “God created a hundred mercies on the day He created the heavens and the earth, each mercy of which would fill what is between the heaven and the earth. Of these He placed one mercy in the earth. Through it the mother...

  8. 4. Humankind
    (pp. 13-16)

    As it was God who offered us the covenant based on “confidence,” His obligation is the greater. There is no ignorance or violence in God: He is Complete. This means that His trust in the covenant that results from the offer is also Complete. The fact that this covenant with God is a relationship of choice, of confidence—rather than one of submission and servitude without free will, as is the case with “the sun and the moon, the stars and the mountains, the trees and the beasts”—necessarily leaves us prone to ignorance and violence.

    And yet we have...

  9. 5. The Book
    (pp. 17-20)

    The universe is a table containing all of God’s separate signs; these reveal the potential that lies in the hidden treasury of the Divine Self. Every sign is a manifestation of that Word which is one and the same, the Word which is in every sign and contains the whole of knowledge.

    The Word was sent down by God into the human self, so that it might gather together everything that is separate in the outer world and open us to the unending current that confirms Oneness.

    Thus God’s Word, as manifested in all the diversity of creation, was reassembled...

  10. 6. Dignity
    (pp. 21-24)

    Humankind was created in “the fairest stature”—that is, in supreme uprightness or verticality. As created beings, our original nature wholly reflects the will of God. At the core of our selves we open ourselves to a meeting with that will, which means that our original uprightness is the unity of two wills, the Divine and the human—an inner unity that cannot be abjured. As the principle of all that exists, it is also the inviolable.

    Thus joining ourselves to the inviolable is what makes us truly upright; and our upright stature enables us to transcend our createdness and...

  11. 7. Arrival and Return
    (pp. 25-28)

    All that exists comes from God. The whole of creation and every individual thing has God as its Other; but God has no other of His own.¹ Hence every phenomenon perceives Him as both infinitely close and infinitely far. He is God, the One; and in that oneness He is the Allfaithful,² loving and knowing. His love demands to be known, and He is flow and change. Every moment of time, every atom of matter proclaims His oneness, although He begets not, nor is He begotten.³

    Everything that exists is a confirmation of Oneness. We humans are the sum of...

  12. 8. Space
    (pp. 29-32)

    The whole of existence, all the heavens and all the earth, forms a space for the Self to reveal Itself. But although space and time have no reality without the Self, they are not the same as the Self.

    The Self is goodness, but also infinite potential. Its creation out of goodness also testifies to non-Self, that which is not the first principle. All phenomena in space are signs which reveal the Hidden but add nothing to it. Individually and collectively, they have no reality other than Reality. Their condition is one of ultimate submission and servitude.

    The world is...

  13. 9. Time
    (pp. 33-36)

    “I am the Hidden Treasure” means that the divine I is eternal and infinite. “I love to be known, hence I created the creatures” tells how time and space reveal the eternal and infinite. Since the human self is the sum of everything in the universe, it gathers time and space into itself.

    All phenomena confirm the names that God taught Adam. The phenomena which reveal these names exist in time and space. They disclose what is hidden by determining the places and times for prayer, almsgiving, fasting and pilgrimage as expressions of our submission. At any time, anywhere in...

  14. 10. Nature
    (pp. 37-40)

    The world, as the differentiation of His Names into multiplicity, is the place that reveals non-place. We are created in the image of our Creator, and placed on earth to be its stewards. But we too, being created, are just as subordinate as everything else in the outer world. This subordination lies beyond multiplicity, and hence is perfect potential. At source, ours is the fairest stature: we stand upright on the earth, pointing toward heaven. Our path is vertical and leads toward infinity. At its uttermost limits, human being encompasses both the Self and the non-Self, from Fullness to the...

  15. 11. The Opening
    (pp. 41-44)

    The Divine I creates through the word and speaks through the act of creation. His undifferentiated word incorporates all names, and creation reveals them as signs in the outer and inner world. Every sign is imbued with the Truth, and manifests one or more of Its names and attributes, though in the ineffable Name of God they are supremely undifferentiated. This is what makes creation and speech open to the Holy Name.

    The Self has entered a covenant with the self: the Self confers reality upon the self, and the self attains fullness by testifying that there is no self...

  16. 12. The Debt
    (pp. 45-48)

    The testimony that there is no god but God and that the Praiser is His messenger comes from the will of the self, which contains the Will of the Self. These two wills are free, and hence they can be linked by trust. Since the will of the self is contingent, it can be guided and won over by aligning itself with the Will of the Self. As the Self is the only reality of the self, seeing only the Self brings liberation from fallacy and illusion.

    The will of the self achieves perfection when it becomes wholly subordinate and...

  17. 13. Poverty
    (pp. 49-52)

    Although the heavens and the earth, like humankind itself, were created to make it known that He Is the Truth, they are all poor, utterly poor, for they give nothing to God. Whenever the self becomes fixated on the world or with itself, though both are merely signs of God, it takes these signs to be gods—that is, it associates other things with God.

    Everything we have, we receive from God. Turning this fact into action means accepting that the self is in a state of total debt. The question of the self is a question asked by the...

  18. 14. Mary
    (pp. 53-56)

    The innermost part of every mosque is itsmihrab—the niche in the wall that faces toward Mecca. Every mosque has at least one door through which it may be entered physically; but themihrabcan be described as the door which all the signs within the mosque speak of, and which all its paths lead toward. Before that door, the door to the inviolable sanctuary, we complete our immersion in the holy teachings and sacred rituals, our struggle with the duality that we must transform into Oneness by the testimony that there is no self but the Self. Here...

  19. 15. “Purify My House”
    (pp. 57-60)

    One of the Messenger traditions relates that the first mosque to be built on this earth was the one in the Bekka valley, which God sent down as a sign of His covenant with Adam, when Adam was banished from Eden and began his earthly life.¹ The second was the mosque on the Holy Mount, the Further Mosque, erected forty years after the first.²

    Both were built in accordance with God’s will and humanity’s submission to it. Before the Fall, all the worlds were humanity’s mosque; everything in them was as God ordained when He bestowed them on humankind. This...

  20. 16. The Ascension
    (pp. 61-64)

    Human dignity is inseparable from free will, which comprises all potential, from self-realization to the furthest bounds of non-reality. This means that only the self can choose to face the Self or the non-Self. Everything else in existence chooses the Self by its very nature.

    The human heart is sensitive not only to all these changes, but also to the distinction between the Real and the non-real. Yet the fact that humanity is subject to the duality of all that exists means that we are caught between remembering and forgetting, between knowledge and ignorance.

    The Real lies in the very...

  21. 17. The Holy
    (pp. 65-68)

    God says: “Alif Lam Mim. That is the Book, wherein is no doubt, a guidance to the conscious who believe in the Unseen.”¹ The three characters that begin this statement reveal the oneness of the word that is confirmed by a countless multitude of manifestations—the world and humankind as a book with two aspects. The first is differentiated and scattered through the outer world. The second is gathered together within us as humans. But both are the one same face of the Divine I. As this I speaks in all things, It descends into the deepest center and manifests...

  22. 18. The Name
    (pp. 69-72)

    The more we become accustomed to the space that receives us, the more it presents to us the side that faces non-Self, nothingness. Habit leads us to believe that the place where we are is at the top of the ladder by which we climbed to it—that we are at the summit, the end of the ascent.

    But the Face of God is everywhere, and He responds to the call of humankind. Nothing can surpass that Face. As we draw near to Him, passing from the self as reality through the various levels of His manifestation, all illusion evaporates....

  23. 19. The Peace
    (pp. 73-76)

    When we accept the call to turn our face toward the Holy Mosque in the sacred Vale of Tears¹, we become a point on the circle formed by all the potential responders to that call. All these responders face the Center that is one and the same. Their hearts—that is, the centers of all these selves—constitute, together with the one Center which they face, a confirmation of oneness in multiplicity and multiplicity in oneness.

    The Center is the principle of all that lies outside it. It irradiates all with its fullness, and reveals itself through a countless multitude...

  24. Afterword
    (pp. 77-80)

    The mosque is a place where we meet the Supreme Being by expressing our submission and that of the world to Him. This submission, however, involves not only love and knowledge of the Supreme, but also a connection with the world as a whole. The mosque may be any place in all of existence.

    The mosque is our relationship with God; and since that relationship is based on trust, it can take many possible directions. In the incessant flux and reflux of the world, the mosque is where we grasp our highest potential. The whole of existence is a mosque,...

  25. Notes
    (pp. 81-94)
  26. Bibliography
    (pp. 95-96)
  27. Index
    (pp. 97-100)
  28. Back Matter
    (pp. 101-101)