Monday, November 30, 2009 By Maryam
[Published in the Proceedings of the “2nd Annual Hawaii International Conference on Arts & Humanities”, Honolulu, Hawaii.] © 2004 by Laurence Galian
This paper examines the concept of the Divine Feminine from the Sufi tradition (and its roots) with questions regarding the Sufi definition of the Divine Feminine, the various techniques used to experience it, the nature of the experiences, and the ultimate intentions of the Islamic mystics known for engaging in such practices. Through an investigation involving examinations of Sufi teachings that the female body is the locus of continuous theophany of the Divine in human beings, explorations of the cult of Prophet Muhammad’s daughter Fatima, comparisons of Tantric philosophical tendencies shared by both the ancient Dravidian world and Islam, analyses of songs chanted by a Sufi Order from Cairo, visionary experiences of mystics from various traditions, and Islamic techniques of sacred sex as revealed in Hadith and Sufi erotic poetry, it has been gathered that Allah is, as defined by numerous Sufis, the feminine form of the ultimate reality.
THE CENTRALITY OF THE DIVINE FEMININE IN SUFISM*
Copyright 2003 Laurence Galian. All Rights Reserved.
The Eternal Feminine
Draws us heavenward.
The world famous Islamic Sufi poet Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi (1207 - 1273) writes: “Woman is the radiance of God; she is not your beloved. She is the Creator—you could say that she is not created.” This paper calls attention to an unexpected and little explored fact of immense significance in Islam: at the center of Islam abides the Divine Feminine.
Before the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, brought the religion of Islam to Arabia, the Arabs were a polytheistic people. Hindu merchants frequently passed through Makkah, a major trading hub. Ancient Indian Vedic texts refer to Makkah as a place where Alla the Mother Goddess was worshiped. In Sanskrit, Alla means “mother.” This name was connected to the Hindu Goddess Ila. She was the consort of the Hindu God Siva in his form known as Il, and this form of Siva was known and worshiped in pre-Islamic Makkah. A great deal of cultural and spiritual interchange took place between the merchants of Makkah and India.
According to some scholars however, the ancient Arabs believed that Allah (the greatest God) had entrusted the discharge of the various functions of the universe to different (lesser) gods and goddesses. People would therefore turn to these gods and goddesses to invoke their blessings in all sorts of undertakings. The ancient Arabs prayed to these lesser gods and goddesses to intercede before Allah and to pass their desires on to Allah. As part of their religious practices, they visited Makkah. In Makkah was a large cube-like building known as the Ka’ba. This temple contained three hundred sixty idols. Those who were visiting the great city of Makkah as pilgrims would circumambulate the Ka’ba as part of their religious rites. The pre-Islamic Arabs had a custom of performing a sevenfold circumambulation of the Ka’ba completely naked. Men performed this in the daytime and women at night.