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THEMUSLIMWORLD

VOL. LXXV

JULY/OCTOBER 1985

NOS. 3-4

THE IRREFUTABLE RELIGION

Again and always the confrontation Christianity-Islam; but it is an important problem, and we do not think that we have to apologize for returning to it once more. In the face of Christianity, the argument of Islam is fundamentally-and more or less implicitly-the following. When a man knows that God is God-that He is the Supreme Reality and the Sovereign Good-and when this man stands before God with a pure heart, then he lacks nothing as regards the essential and the decisive; he is banif; “pure,” and fulfills the conditions required by truth and salvation. Consequently, let no one claim that this is insufficient and that man still has need of this or that; for our man stands on firm ground, no one can validly contest his double certitude: that of God and that of salvation. It could be argued, however, that Islam also has its particular dogmas and its numerous prescriptions; this is true, but these elements are based upon the elementary conditions that we have just set forth; it is from them that these elements draw the reason for their existence.’ They do not constitute the essential, although the Law must prescribe them for Muslim humanity as if they did constitute it, otherwise the essential itself would become lost. Thus, every time man stands before God wholeheartedly-that is, “poor” and without being puffed up-he stands on the ground of absolute certitude, the certitude of his conditional salvation as well as of God. And that is why God has given us the gift of this supernatural key that is prayer: in order that we might stand before Him, as in the primordial state, and as “always and everywhere”; or as in Eternity.

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We have said: “when man stands before God wholeheartedly.” This implicitly demands that man be bonae voluntatis: this means, not that he never have sinned, but that he live always with the intention of doing what brings him closer to God while abstaining from what takes him away from God, and that he manifest this intention by his behavior; otherwise, precisely, he could not stand before God wholeheartedly. All this is linked to the “faith which saves.” Faith does not demand that man earn his salvation through given works; it demands prayer and, as a sort of

Which makes us think of this opinion of the Shaykh al-‘Alawi: all the prescriptions of the religion have as their motive the remembrance of God and nothing else.

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prolongation of prayer, the accomplishment of one’s duty, by abstention as well as action. This accomplishment, whether habitual or imposed by particular circumstances, becomes sanctified by the pre-eminent work, the first of them all, prayer; and it thus participates, more or less indirectly according to its nature, in the liberating alchemy of which prayer is the chief support.

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In Islam and in most of the other religions, the Message is everything; in Christianity-and in a certain fashion also in Buddhism-it is on the contrary the Messenger who has priority. The great Christian argument is in effect the fact that God Himself has come; it is this argument that is meant to make Christianity at once unique and irrefutable; from the Christian standpoint, all the other Messengers seem to have been surpassed and “outclassed,” and along with them their Messages. We have pointed out above that Islam remains inaccessible to this argument, ‘by basing itself on the intrinsic truth-and the rights-of the spiritual archetypes. If in Christianity the Messenger is all, if consequently his radiance has priority over the universal evidences of which we have spoken, this is, in the final analysis, because this perspective pertains to the mystery of immanence rather than that of transcendence-without for that reason being able to altogether overlook the latter-whereas in Islam transcendence has priority in exoterism, while immanence has priority in esoterism. The Christian opening towards universality is not on the side of the transcendence of God, but on the side of the immanence of the Word: the entire Christian phenomenon is universalized by its interiorization, which is to say that Christ is the Word in us, that veiy Intellect which, according to Meister Eckhart, is “uncreated and uncreatable”; Christianity projects this mystery of immanence into the dimension of transcendence, whence the concept of the Trinity which Islam, jealous guardian of transcendentism, rejects vigorously. Be that as it may, if the irrefutability of Islam lies in the evidence founded upon the transcendent dimension of God, the irrefutability of Christianity is based on the immanent dimension, and it is in this metaphysical interpretation that the Christic phenomenon rejoins universal realities and in consequence the absolutely irrefutable truths. In the Christian ~piyu,~the evidence is “existential” rather than “intellectual”:

the proof of this is, not only the accentuation of the element “phenomenon”- namely, the “personal coming” of God-but also and by way of consequence, the eucharistic mode; Christ is the “life” and he makes live, and one ‘‘consumes”

Let us recall that in Buddhist terminology an upiya is a “celestial stratagem” meant to save us from the world of suffering, and which can vary according to the needs of men; its “truth” is not literal, it is primarily practical or efficient.

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him in the bread and wine.3 Fundamentally, all the evidence for the Christic phenomenon lies in this principle: “God became man that man might become God.”

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To say God is to say Salvation; God is desire to save us as well as desire to

create us. The Name of God-whatever its form-is the sign of our salvation; it is incumbent upon man not to close himself to the divine attraction. For as the Prophet-King has sung, “the Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my de1i~erer.l’~And likewise Isaiah, and here it is the Eternal who speaks: I, even I,

there is no God else beside

am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour me; a just God and a Savio~r.”~

the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of

those that believe.”6 This saying of the Apostle to Timothy shows the distinction between the will of God which saves the believers “in fact”-these being ,precisely those who open themselves to Mercy-and the will to save man as such “in principle”; it is the saving will that resides in the divine nature and offers itself to all men. Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.

‘I.

We trust in

Bloomington, Indiana

FRITHJOFSCHUON

In the bread, the Divinity makes Itself present and serves us as sanctifying nourishment; in the wine, It takes us out of ourselves and transforms us in order to reintegrate us into Its own nature; at least this is so in principle and from the standpoint of potentiality, for it goes without saying that for most communicants the difference between the species, as regards their efficacity, remains purely virtual. I1 Samuel, XXII, 2. Isaiah, XLIII, 11 and XLV, 21. I Timothy, IV, 10.