[Indications from Signs]

The Underlying Structure of the Qur’an

The Qur’an complexifies internally through five phases.

1. SUKUT — silences. The Message is punctuated with breaks, silences, without which the meaning would not be clear.

2. HURUF — letters. The Qur’an in its totality is letters. The means by which they are patterned is listed below. But letters also appear in the isolated form at the beginnings of certain units of the Qur’an. These letters are called al-muqatta’at.

3. KALAM — words. The first level of meanings in the mulk — the outward realm of manifestation. Words have inner structures of their own.

4. AYATS — signs. These constructions of word patterning are the basic meaning clusters of the Book, the second level of meanings in the mulk. They have an inner structure of arrangement — grammar.

5. SURATS — forms. These are the large units united by thematic content. There are 114 surats or 113 which open with the ‘Bismillah’.

Read more: Indications from Signs, by Shaykh Abdalqadir as-Sufi


[Direct vs. Inverse Analogy]

“Direct analogy and inverse analogy: as for the first, a tree reflected in water will never be anything but a tree; as for the second, the reflected tree will always be upside down.”

Source: Frithjof Schuon, Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts: A New Translation with Selected Letters, p. 115


al-Buraq.  The miraculous steed which the Angel Gabriel brought to the Prophet (Muhammad) for the Mi’raj, or Heavenly Ascent, also known as the Isra’, or Night Journey. The root of the word is ba’-ra’-qaf, which means “to glitter”, especially of lightening…

The traditional account of the Night Journey says that the Buraq proceeded in flashes of speed; where its glance landed, the next bound brought it, and from this it can be seen that the Buraq is an embodiment of the Intellect which, when it perceives an object in Being, or a spiritual reality, can immediately recognize its nature, or “know” it, without a process of analysis and reason.

Source: Cyril Glassé, The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, Third Edition, p. 106

The Prophetic tradition, reported on the authority of Anas Ibn-Malik, which provides a description of al-Buraq:

Prophet Muhammad (S) said,

“I was brought al-Buraq Who is an animal white and long, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule, who would place his hoof a distance equal to the range of his vision.”


“… an analogy by which this universal and archetypal sense of Number can be understood. A revolving sphere presents us with the notion of an axis. We think of this axis as an ideal or imaginary line through the sphere. It has no objective existence, yet we cannot help but be convinced of its reality; and to determine anything about the sphere, such as its inclination or its speed of rotation we must refer to this imaginary axis. Number in the enumerative sense corresponds to the measures and movements of the outer surface of the sphere, while the universal aspect of Number is analogous to the immobile, unmanifest, functional principle of its axis.

Let us shift our analogy to the two-dimensional plane. If we take a circle and a square and give the value 1 to the diameter of the circle and also to the side of the square, then the diagonal of the square will always be (and this is an invariable law) an ‘incommensurable’, ‘irrational’ number. It is said that such a number can be carried out to an infinite number of decimal places without ever arriving at a resolution. In the case of the diagonal of the square, this decimal is 1.4142 . . . and is called the square root of 2, or 2. With the circle, if we give the diameter the value 1, the circumference will also always be of the incommensurable type, 3.14159 . . . which we know by the Greek symbol π, or pi.

The principle remains the same in the inversion: if we give the fixed, rational value of 1 to the diagonal of the square and to the circumference of the circle, then the side of the square and the radius of the circle will become of the incommensurable ‘irrational’ type: 1/2 and 1/ π.

It is exactly at this point that quantified mathematics and geometry go their separate ways, because numerically we can never know exactly the diagonal of the square nor the circumference of the circle. Yes, we can round-off after a certain number of decimal places, and treat these cut off numbers like any other number, but we can never reduce them to a quantity. In geometry, however, the diagonal and the circumference, when considered in the context of formal relationship (diagonal to side; circumference to diameter), are absolutely knowable, self-evident realities: 1: 2 and 1: π. Number is considered as a formal relationship, and this type of numerical relationship is called a function. The square root of 2 is the functional number of a square. Pi is the functional number of a circle. Philosophic geometry—and consequently sacred art and architecture—is very much concerned with these ‘irrational’ functions, for the simple reason that they demonstrate graphically a level of experience which is universal and invariable.

The irrational functions (which we will consider rather as supra-rational) are a key opening a door to a higher reality of Number. They demonstrate that Number is above all a relationship; and no matter what quantities are applied to the side and to the diameter the relationship will remain invariable, for in essence this functional aspect of Number is neither large nor small, neither infinite nor finite: it is universal. Thus within the concept of Number there is a definite, finite, particularizing power and also a universal synthesizing power. One may be called the exoteric or external aspect of number, the other the esoteric or inner, functional aspect.”

Source: Robert Lawlor, Sacred Geometry: Philosophy and Practice, pp. 10-12

[Intellectual Superficiality]

“Most ‘intellectuals’, to speak without euphemism, are not intelligent enough to understand writers like Saint Anselm or Saint Thomas Aquinas, that is to say to understand them in depth and to find there evidence of God. The darkening of our world – whether we mean the West properly so called or its ramifications in the East and elsewhere – appears patently in the fact that an extreme mental dexterity goes hand in hand with a no less excessive intellectual superficiality; it has become habitual to treat concepts as if they were playthings of the mind, committing one to nothing, in other words everything is touched on and nothing is assimilated; ideas no longer bite into the intelligence, which slides over concepts without taking time to really grasp them. The modern mind moves ‘on the surface’, all the time playing with mental images, while not knowing their possibilities and role; whereas the traditional mind proceeds in depth, whence come doctrines, which may seem dogmatist, but are fully sufficient and effectual for those who know what a doctrine is. Twentieth century man has lost the sense of repose and contemplation; living on husks, he no longer knows what fruit is like.”

Source: Frithjof Schuon, Stations of Wisdom, pp.x-xi

[Know Thyself]

“One who knows one’s own self, knows one’s Lord.”

– Prophetic Tradition

“The visible world was made to correspond to the world invisible and there is nothing in this world but is a symbol of something in that other world.”

Source: Al-Ghazali, Ihya, in Margaret Smith, al-Ghazali, the Mystic, p.111

“We shall show them Our signs upon the horizons and within themselves until it is clear to them that He is the Real.”

– Qur’an (41:53)


“Like points on the circumference of a circle, the words of God are infinitely many. But the infinitely many words of God originate from a single word. That word is the divine command kun which consists of two manifest letters (kaf and nun) and a nonmanifest letter (waw). God engenders existence or brings his commands into manifestation by differentiating or setting limits between the letters or the words that are latent in His Essence. When God desires to make this affair known, he speaks within the configuration of the perfect human being. The perfect human being assumes the deputyship of the Real in differentiating between the engendered prior word and the word that follows it.”

Source: Salman H. Bashier, Ibn al-Arabi’s Barzakh: The Concept of the Limit and the Relationship between God and the World