Academic journal article Journal of Ecumenical Studies

Blood of God in Sufism: The Theory of Yadollah Yazdanpanah

Academic journal article Journal of Ecumenical Studies

Blood of God in Sufism: The Theory of Yadollah Yazdanpanah

Article excerpt


What is the meaning of the "Blood of God" from the point of view of Islam, and how is it possible to ascribe the possession of human blood to God? Fundamentally, this is a question of the nature of the relationship between God and God's human creatures and how we can assign human traits, which are natural and physical, to God, who is mystical and supernatural. Does accepting the existence of the "blood of God" require the "death of God," or does it, conversely, entail the "birth of God"? How, as Muslims, do we imagine God's birth through God's blood, which is incarnated in the blood of perfect humans? These questions could be addressed via a range of intellectual approaches--including theology, philosophy, and Sufism--but I think Sufism (Islamic mysticism) may be best positioned to grapple with this dilemma, for it concerns the demarcation between the human and the Divine. Thus, in what follows, I focus on Sufi sources in order to determine how they understand this question and in what manner they propose to respond to it.

(a) According to Sufism, human annihilation (fana') in God brings about an analogous relation between God and the annihilated one, such that God's traits could be attributed to the annihilated one and the annihilated one's traits could be assigned to God Godself. The best examples of this kind of unity between God and God's creatures are "perfect" people such as the prophets Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. According to Sufism, each prophet carries and holds a specific name (ism) of God. This means that prophets (in the general Islamic point of view) and imams (in the approach of Shi'ism) constitute grounds for the incarnation of God in respect of several specific names. These names incarnated in prophets and imams constitute the central divine code of each prophet and imam by which their different characters, missions, miracles, and works are to be comprehended. For instance, according to the Qur'an, Noah was the zeal of God (gheiratollah), being zealous about God's commands and demands; (1) Abraham was the friend of God (

(b) The idea of the blood of God indicates the same kind of annihilation in God, such that every feature of the perfect human (who is annihilated in God) can be attributed to God. In fact, the greater the nearness (taqarrob) between human beings and God, the more human traits can be ascribed to God. This analogy and unity between God's traits and those of God's Near-Stationed ones affects both the human and divine sides: The Near-Stationed ones acquire God's traits, while God acquires the Near-Ones' features and traits, including ethereal qualities as well as physical ones such as blood, hand, eye, and so forth.

This kind of nearness does not imply the human ascent to heaven; rather it means God's expansion into the material world. On this basis, the idea of the blood of God does not entail God's absence from or death in the world; rather, it implies God's extension, as if God now embraced all the perfect human features, including their joys and sufferings and their natural and supernatural aspects. Accordingly, talk of the hand of God (Yadollah), eye of God ('Einollah), and blood of God (Sarollah) is not metaphorical and symbolic usage; rather, these are concrete terms pointing to the absolute unity of God (monotheism) in all physical and nonphysical realms simultaneously. Based on this, the theory of the "blood of God," contrary to the hypothesis of the "death of God," indicates God's existence and presence in the here and now, not God's distance and aloofness from the world. Further, the notion of the blood of God is not a violent idea but, rather, creates a peaceful path for those believers who are simultaneously concerned with self-honor, self-sacrifice, and other-esteem. (5)

In order to make this clear, I will explain the technical terms "qorbe faraed' (nearness of obligatory works) and "qorbe navafil' (nearness of supererogatory works) in Sufism. …

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