Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Secret of Destiny

Hardy’s Jude the Obscure shows how fate make the hero fall through sexual misconduct.

Complaints against fate are legion. Not just ordinary people but poets and philosophers have been voicing them. Hardy’s Jude the Obscure shows how fate make the hero fall through sexual misconduct. Cioron, arguably after Schopnhaur the most uncompromising pessimist philosopher, is all rage against the joke that man’s fate seem to be.
Kahlil Gibran asks why we aren’t consulted either at birth or at death.  Man has been sentenced (taking this life as a sentence) for sins he doesn’t know, both Kafka and Beckett seek to show in their literary works. Maugham  also portrays man’ bondage to desire and sin and huge costs of resisting it. For modern man God’s ways are simply beyond comprehension. He is hard put to discern any trace of wisdom in His actions.  Camus’ The Plague and Dostoevsky’s Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov put his case with apparently unimpeachable logic.  From Sophocles to Maari to Ghalib, the problem of man’s seemingly unjust suffering due to fate has been stated with such force that all attempts that ignore the terrible reality of fate and its seemingly (or really?) incomprehensible logic appear shallow.
Both the Quran and the Prophetic traditions have stated the case for predestination in so clear terms that there is no scope for an easier way out of the hard questions like what is man’s fault in coming to the world, who created Satan and what made him defy God, and Adam disobey Him. We can’t escape questions and skeptics and must resort to metaphysics that dissolves if not solves problems.
We can’t ignore complaints and criticisms. We can respond by noting why it is said that the secret of destiny is known to God alone. Ratiocination in such matters as that of predestination had already been condemned by the Prophet of Islam (SAW). It is Cartesian epistemology (questioned by Heidegger, mystics, perennialists and others) that posits a subject-object dichotomy and faulty theology and metaphysics that posits in the first instance such binaries as freewill and determinism.
Simply look at the logic of Infinite (no finite entity including you and me could fall outside God as Infinite so aren’t we  as spirits party in scripting fate?) or the questionable notion that God encounters the world from an outside (and we can take him to a hypothetical court as in OMG film) or pretension that we can detach ourselves from the very process we are part of and seek to scrutinize. We see why debating destiny the way popularly is done create antinomies.  Isn’t God defined as Mystery so how come we don’t see as fallacious any attempt as that of  logical or conceptual intellect to scan God or question freedom and fate if it itself, unwarrantedly, divides seamless Unity that  Reality/God for its convenience? It is the Self that writes destiny or plays out different role for pure sport or aesthetic reasons. We don’t ask why the rose blooms or the sun rises or we love.
Who asks why? Who knows only “wooden legged reason.”  Life precedes reason and thus needn’t be accountable in utilitarian terms to the later. Intellect or Intelligence intuits answer – it doesn’t need to argue. This explains why the debate on conceptualizing knowledge of the secret of taqdeer is discouraged. However some related questions are legitimate and we can’t escape engaging with them.
The test case for any preacher or advocate of religion is how he is able to convince himself, or a skeptic regarding the meaning of doctrine of fate in a manner that is not revolting either to reason or ethics. How unconvincing our widely read modern theologians can be for a sharp modern mind can be seen by taking a look on Syed Moududi’s pamphlet on taqdeer and Ghamidi’s answers to related questions. However, how well equipped our great scholastic tradition is in handling at least conventional arguments against God arising from such notions as evil or predestination can be seen by reading Maulana Qari Mohammad Tayyib (Falsafi- Naemat-o-museebat) or Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi on the issue of taqdeer. But, against rather sketchy and shorter presentations of them, more elaborate, technically elaborated and more comprehensive and convincing case for divine justice in the face of human misery and transgression is stated in Murtaza Muthari’s book Adl-i-iIlahi(عدلِ الٰہی).
For general readers who want more polemical than scholarly and jargon ridden answers one may refer to relevant portions in Taleem-i-Gousia by Syed Shah Gul Hasan Qalandri. However some modern formulations are not satisfactorily tackled by our scholastically informed scholars are best handled by metaphysicians like Schuon. A  part of the problem is best catered by existentialistically informed response presented in Islamic idiom by Jamal Khwaja in Quest for Islam. The Sufi view on destiny and evil is succinctly stated in Mir Valiuddin’s The Quranic Sufism. Here we first see why confusions arise in understanding evil and predestination and then state briefly few points elaborated in Valiudin’s work.
Confusions and problems arise because we think things including ourselves are created out of nothing, that God is some cosmic being or person whom we can somehow ask questions or who sees things from outside and then manipulates them. Problem in short is because the idea of Tawhid as Unity of Being is not understood, and people take a literalist view of God and scripture. Stace thus shows what is wrong with thorough going literalism.
Taken so, the doctrine implies that God is a person, a mind, a consciousness, and these words, too, must be taken in their literal meanings. Love is some kind of emotion or feeling or attitude or desire or at least a purpose– perhaps the purpose to act in a certain way, for instance, to achieve the happiness and good of created beings. But, can any of this be literally true of God? Only, apparently, if God be thought of as a finite center of consciousness, one mind among other minds. This mind, God, loves that mind, a human soul. But apart from this, to attribute emotions to God conflicts with the very definite religious intuition that God is unchanging. He is “without shadow of turning.”
This critique of a literal interpretation also applies to other psychological terms we use of Him, such as ‘mind,’ ‘consciousness,’ ‘purpose,’ ‘love’.
All traditions and generality of great thinkers largely agree on the question of doctrine of fate. Allazi qaddara fahada (– “And who destined and guided.”) states the key thesis on fate. The essence of Hindu, Buddhist and Judeo-Christian-Islamic perspectives on karma or fate and salvation is similar. From Plato to Nietzsche including Muslim philosophers not excluding Iqbal have upheld “higher fatalism.”
“The decree of predestination applies to essential natures (‘ayan),i.e. the creation of God is in accordance with the aptitudes of Essences. That is why it is asserted that ‘’You are the Destiny’ and ‘It is for you to decree.’
Valiuddin thus states the Aharite doctrine of acquisition that reconciles the binary of free will and determinism.
…actions are being created exactly according to the essential nature of things. In other words, whatever there is in the essence is being manifested through the agency of the creator. When all the incidents are happening according to my aptitude, and nothing is imposed on me against my nature, I am, then free in the true sense of the word. That is why Shaykh al-Akbar says: “Whatever has been definitely determined about us is in conformity with our nature, further we ourselves are determining it according to our aptitude’’.
This tallies verbatim with the commandment of the Holy Qur’an– “And He giveth you of all that ye ask for.” At another place it is stated more explicitly. “Lo! We shall pay them their whole due unabated.” “For God’s is the final argument.” The author of Gulshan-e-Raz makes God say: “The good and evil in thee, /Owe their being from thine own nature (ay’)/ It is my grace that gives a form/To what is implicitly therein.
Things aren’t created out of nothing, because nothing or not-being doesn’t exist at all, and out of nothing will come nothing. Creation is only the external manifestation or actualization of the ideas of God, or the essences.
Lest there be confusion if quietism follows or people take evil lightly and forget ethical responsibility in fighting it, I quote Ibn Arabi:
“Be content with [God’s] Decree not necessarily with each thing decreed, but, rather, with its Decree itself. And receive with joy whatever may come from Him.”
The secret is that the secret of destiny is better kept secret as it's too costly for mortals and too subtle for minds. The Greatest master of secrets of religion, Ibn Arabi, said that he was almost decimated when something from the secret of destiny was unveiled to him.
(Spirit, divine element in us, may see divine things) Lesser mortals can’t bear the burden of this truth. Some stories told in Tazkirai Gousia are dumbfounding. We may better embrace fate, script fate, submit to divine will but try to fathom it with profane tools.

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