View Full Version : The Centrality Of The Divine Feminine In Sufism

July 25th, 2005, 08:30 PM

This paper examines the concept of the Divine Feminine from the Sf tradition (and its roots) with questions regarding the Sf 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 Sf 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 Sf Order from Cairo, visionary experiences of mystics from various
traditions, and Islamic techniques of sacred sex as revealed in Hadith and Sf erotic poetry, it has been gathered that Allh is, as defined by numerous Sfs, the feminine form of the ultimate reality.


Copyright 2003 Laurence Galian. All Rights Reserved.

The Eternal Feminine
Draws us heavenward.

The world famous Islamic Sf 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."[1] 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 Allh (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.[2] The ancient Arabs prayed to these lesser gods and goddesses to intercede before Allh and to pass their desires on to Allh. 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.[3] 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. The door of the Ka'ba is in the
northeastern wall. On the outside, in the corner east of the door and 1.5 meters above the ground, the famous "Black Stone" (Hajar Al-Aswad) is found. This Black Stone is now in pieces, three large parts, and smaller fragments, which are tied together with a silver band. The eminently feminine yoni [4] form of the Black Stone's setting is remarkable. There are several theories on the origin of the Black Stone: a meteor, lava, or basalt. Its color is reddish black, with some red and yellow particles. Its original diameter is estimated to have been 30 cm. The identity of the Black Stone with the Great Goddess and with the moon is recognized by the Hulama - the rationalist school of Islam.[5] Inside the Ka'ba there were fresco paintings including those of Abraham and the "Virgin Mary" with the baby Jesus.[6] When Muhammad retook Makkah he began a program of removing the pagan influences from the Ka'ba, the most holy of Muslim sites. He removed many frescoes and images that he considered inauspicious but he specifically left on the walls a fresco of the "Virgin Mary" and her child. The Qur'an obligates every believer to make a pilgrimage to Makkah at least once in his or her lifetime, if finances permit.[7] Since the
time of Muhammad, during the Tawaf (circumambulation of the Ka'ba)[8] pilgrims kiss
or touch the black stone as they make circuit around the Ka'ba. Ben-Jochannan who has studied the polytheistic religions of the Arabian peninsula points out that before Muhammad, Makkah was a holy site to the worshippers of El'Ka'ba (a goddess). Her worshippers knelt at her symbol, a jet black stone.[9] This jet-black stone was probably a meteorite, and the Hajar Al-Aswad was once known as the 'Old Woman'.[10] Popular
tradition relates how Abraham, when he founded the Ka'ba, bought the land from an old woman to which it belonged. She however consented to part with it only on the condition that she and her descendents should have the key of the place in their keeping.[11] Today the stone is served by men called Beni Shaybah (the Sons of the Old Woman). The crescent moon goddess (and virgin warrior Goddess of the morning star), Al-Uzza, was known to the pre-Islamic Arabs as "The Mighty". Some scholars believe that in very ancient times, it was she who was considered enshrined in the black stone of Makkah, where she was served by priestesses. Her sacred grove of acacia trees once stood just south of Makkah, at Nakla. The Acacia tree was sacred to the Arabs who made the idol of Al-Uzza from its wood.[12] Stones, similar to the black stone of the Ka'ba, were worshipped by Arabs in most parts and by the Semitic races generally.

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July 25th, 2005, 10:29 PM
Thats interesting. It is a great departure from most Islamic teachings. However I would make a distinction when reading this between Islam and PreIslamic principles. When Muhammed, peace be upon Him, came...he reformed a great deal...including destroying many of the Idols within the Temple. I am a bit speculative about the Hindu traders and the Vedic texts going down into the area...if you rememebr Persia lay between India and Arabia...and the Persians were quite territorial when it came to trading and contact. One thing you should note however is that the God Allah, the Moon God of Pre Islamic Arabian religion...had several daughters, one of whom was Allat. In the ancient past, it has been proven that many of the communities in the Arabian penuinsula was influenced by Africa, the Middle east...India and ofcourse Persia. Christianity and Judaism was also a strong influence on the northern cities...and thats why when the Prophet went up into Medina...he probably learned Christian and Jewish scripture and beliefs. im not too sure what to say on this...as I have not looked far into Sufism...but it does sound as though it is Sufi...there is a certain twinge. many Muslims view Sufis as not a part of their community...as outcastes for their liberal views on Allah...but I say of all, they are true Muslims...Namaste


August 4th, 2005, 10:54 AM
When I was in grad school, I had a bf who was Muslim. He had no idea what paganism and Wicca were so I had to do alot of explaining. One day he goes "Ahhhhh, I get it! It's like Sufi!" so there have to be more similarities than just this one. He however, did not have a negative view of Sufism at all. In fact, he seemed to have a great reverence for mystics. :)