The fanaticism that we see in modern Islam is a new development in a religion that, in its early history, was famous for its tolerance and respect for other religions. In Islam’s classical period in medieval Spain and Egypt perhaps only Buddhism rivalled Islam’s tolerance. The fundamentalism that characterises the behaviour of many of today’s Muslims is in fact anti-Koranic.
While the Muslim vision is often perceived to be authoritarian and punitive the Koran, on close inspection, is filled with descriptions and vision of God’s more feminine attributes such as gentleness, providence, love, universal compassion and tender-heartedness.
The religious intolerance that characterises the behaviour of many Muslim communities today is inconsistent with the heritage of tolerance that is professed by the Islamic tradition. For example, the Koran clearly states in several passages that any person who lives a life of holy reverence is welcomed into paradise regardless of their religion. Muhammad openly praises both Judaism (Abraham is deeply respected within the Koran) and Christianity (Muhammad frequently praises Jesus and Mary in the Koran).
Even more surprising is the Koran’s reverence for Mary, mother of Christ. Muhammad (and also in later Islamic theological scriptures) regarded Mary as the most marvellous of all women, a high adept and living example of the pure and holy life. Later Koranic commentaries describe Mary as an intervening force between God (Allah) and humanity. This intervening force is characterised by Allah’s mercy, forgiveness, sweetness and humility- the embodiment of Allah’s love for creation.
In one of the most powerful Hadiths ( prophetic sayings of Muhammad) it is reported that Muhammad said, “Paradise is at the feet of the Mother”. Does this suggest that the feminine aspect of God is an important and essential pathway to the attainment of supreme consciousness?
Muhammad’s peak defining experience, called the Meraj, saw him elevated through the seven heavens to the realm of God Almighty at the resplendant Sidrath where he communed with God, received his divine visions and instructions and was placed on the inexorable course of his life-mission to establish Islam. Muhammad was escorted by the archangel Gabriel (a masculine force) but the vehicle upon which Muhammad rode was the beautiful “Buraq”. The Buraq was a white horse with wings and the face of a woman! Clearly suggesting that the great power by which Muhammad was elevated to the level of supreme consciousness was ultimately feminine in nature! Some scholars say that the Buraq is an Islamic symbol of the Kundalini, a force that Eastern Yogis describe as the Goddess or Divine Mother.
Sunni Islam has also drawn inspiration from the female. The philosopher Muid ad-Din ibn al-Arabi (1165-1240) saw a young girl in Mecca surrounded by light and realised that, for him, she was an incarnation of the divine Sophia. He believed that women were the most potent icons of the sacred, because they inspired a love in men which must ultimately be directed to God, the only true object of love.
While official Islam may not consistently describe the role of the Divine Feminine, this principle has been described and explored at length in the more esoteric Islamic tradition of Sufism. Sufism emphasises passionate, mystical adoration of God. Many Sufis (and other mystics in other religions) seek a spiritual union between themselves and the divine principle not unlike that between a child (the Sufi) and his mother (God) or a bride (Sufi) and the husband (God).
A Sufi Ode to the Divine Mother
On the face of the earth there is no one more beautiful than You
Wherever I go I wear your image in my heart
Whenever I fall in a despondent mood I remember your image
And my spirit rises a thousand fold
Your advent is the blossom time of the Universe
O Mother you have showered your choicest blessings upon me
Also remember me on the Day of Judgement
I don’t know if I will go to heaven or hell
But wherever I go, please always abide in me.
This is a shortened re-post from the magazine KNOWLEDGE OF REALITLY.