Mystical Elements in Mohammed

By John Clark Archer | Go to book overview

IV
RECORD OF THE MYSTICAL

Against the background which we have thus far drawn we may take the ninety-fourth chapter of the Koran as standing out with special significance in our exposition of the mystical elements in Mohammed. This sura is the record of a deep, peculiar and reassuring experience of God on Mohammed's part. It is even more significant when associated with other Koranic materials, e.g., suras 96 and 74, and lesser miscellaneous passages. We may take it as something of the Prophet's own commentary, in a moment of exaltation, upon his first revelations. It is both a record of revelation and a recollection of ecstasy. Our impression of its ecstatic character is heightened by the fact that it is a bit of true poetry throughout (see above, p. 21). It is a spontaneous, unstudied appreciation, a coherent unit of revelation, the climax of one of the many occasions when Mohammed planned and hoped for exactly some such result.

It would, of course, be silly to adopt any literal interpretation of this sura such as various traditions offer us. There is "the hapless tale,"109 as Nöldeke calls it, which appears in various sources as explanation of the first verse of the chapter. In one source, Ibn Hishām's version, is an account of the cutting open of Mohammed's breast by Gabriel, the removal and the cleansing of his heart, and the filling of it with divine wisdom.110 Buḫārī has the traditional saying of Mohammed, that "while I was stretched out within the Ka'ba enclosure someone ( Gabriel) confronted me, made an incision," etc.111 The comments in that connection record a difference of opinion as to whether the incision was made in the curtained wall of the Ka'ba or in

____________________
109
Gesch. d. Qorāns, 75, note 2, "Die elende Fable".
110
Sira, 105f.
111
Houdas et Marçais, El-Bokhari, vol. 3, p. 37.

-41-

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Mystical Elements in Mohammed
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 5
  • Contents 7
  • Introduction 9
  • I - The Case for Pathology 14
  • II - The Mystical Element 24
  • III - Mohammed's Idea of God 28
  • IV - Record of the Mystical 41
  • V - Mohammed's View of the World 52
  • VI - The Objective Origin of the Mystical 56
  • VII - The Christian Monk 61
  • Viii Mohammed's Practice of the Mystical 71
  • IX - The Angel Gabriel 79
  • X - "The Inspired Man" 85
  • Summary 87
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