Mohammad’s Word, Mohammad’s Miracle

• Feb 9th, 2008 • Category: Interviews

Interview with Abdulkarim Soroush by Kargozaran newspaper

Q. Some newspapers and websites have been saying recently that Dr Soroush has officially denied that the Koran was revealed by God and has said that it is the earthly word of Muhammad. Is this true?

A. Maybe they’re joking or, God forbid, they have political or personal motives.

Q. So, what’s your view and your explanation?

A. God willing, they’re well-intentioned and have simply misunderstood things. Otherwise, anyone who is acquainted with the divinity’s dominion and with the closeness of God’s saints to God – and knows about the experience of union – would not speak in such a repudiatory manner. God’s saints are so close to God and they so lose themselves in God that their word is the same as the word of God, and their commands and prohibitions and their likes and dislikes are the same as God’s commands and prohibitions and likes and dislikes. The beloved Prophet of Islam was a human being and he acknowledged and was conscious of his humanity, but this human being had, at the same time, acquired such a divine hue and quality – and the intermediaries (even Gabriel) had so fallen away from between him and God – that whatever he said was both earthly and divine; these two things were inseparable.

“Like a stone that’s turned into a dazzling ruby / it’s brimming with the traits of the sun.”

God willing, if people reflect on this fine, mystical point, the problem will be solved and the key to what is being said will be discovered.

Q. So what about Gabriel descending to bring down revelation?

A. Mystics are of the view that Gabriel isn’t closer to God than Muhammad is; in fact, it is Gabriel who complies with the Prophet. Do we not have it in the story of the Prophet’s ascension to heaven that Gabriel was unable to accompany the Prophet and was afraid that his wings would be singed and burn? What does this story tell us? Didn’t the late Khomeini say: “It was the spirituality of God’s Prophet that brought down revelation to us… In other words, the Holy Prophet brought truthful Gabriel into this world.” (Sahifeh-ye Nur, Vol 20, speech dated 14 April 1987) Does this mean that it wasn’t God who sent down Gabriel? Or does it mean, in Mowlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi’s words, that “I need no intermediary or wet nurse to give me the kindness of God / for, Moses-like, my wet nurse and my mother are one and the same.”

To say that the Koran is Muhammad’s word is exactly like saying the Koran is Muhammad’s miracle. Underlining one is not a negation of the other. Anything that happens in the world happens in accordance with God’s knowledge, permission and will. A monotheist has no doubt about this. Be that as it may, we say that the cherry is the fruit of the cherry tree. Do we have to say that the cherry is the fruit of God in order to be a monotheist? Let’s not wrap the old Ash’arism in the garb of modern sanctity. Let’s speak in a righteous way and strive to understand the meaning of delicate and subtle points. The Koran was the product of a virtuous tree – the Prophet’s persona – which bore fruit by God’s permission, and this is identical to revelation being sent down to us and an act of God.

My advice to the fair-minded (I don’t know what to say to the ill-intentioned) is exactly the same as Rumi’s advice: They must set aside any suspicion of God’s saints and not view them as separate from God. They mustn’t dislodge and bring down these beloved, revered figures from God’s presence, proximity and dominion.


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