The Story of Sakina
Sakina is a manifestation of the repressed cosmic feminine lying beyond all confines of male domination. She is the alien mystery humanity must needs face to free ourselves from the bondage of submission to a male-invented religious paradigm of dominion over woman and nature, that ultimately leads to Armageddon in the clash of the cultures and the rape of the planet. Until we can come to meet the Sakina in her compassionate nature we remain aliens in the Fall.
In the Qur'an, Sakina refers to the spirit of tranquillity which Muhammad took refuge in during the brief moments he embraced peace, even if only for the sly purposes of gaining a strategic advantage later, firstly when he had to hide in a cave after being run out of Mecca, and later when facing superior forces in the peace treaty at Hudaybiyah which he later abrogated when convenient for victory.
At Badr God had revealed His presence in the midst of a battle, which had been a sign and a salvation, but God had also been present in the apparent humiliation of Hudaybiyah, when He had sent down His sakina, the spirit of peace and tranquillity:
God had sent down His sakina once before, when Abu Bake and Muhammad had hidden for three days in the Cave outside Mecca, despised and rejected by their kinsmen and facing the possibility of imminent, pointless death. The sakina, it will also be recalled, seems to have been related to the Hebrew Shekinah, the term for God's presence in the world.
Although Sakina is referred to several times in the Quran, she is not confined to Islam, nor will she ever yield to the yoke of submission the word Islam implies. Indeed in another passage she is specifically associated with the ark of the covenant and it is here that her more ancient origin becomes evident:
Here we see that Sakina is none other than the Hebrew Shekhinah, the feminine face of Jehovah's manifestation in the world.
It remains doubtful whether the prophet ever fully understood Sakina despite becoming familiar with the Shekhinah through Hebrew folklore from targum and midrash through the Jews of Medina, for his only use of the peace principle is not to bring about matrimonial concord, nor the reflowering of paradise on Earth, but to lie low and for your followers to gain faith while evading one's pursuers, so that one can turn and overwhelm them when the time is right. Thus the peace of Sakina in Islam is associated with another concept takiya - the right to fake peace when you are weak, so as to defeat your enemy when you are stronger.
The Song of Sakina
Sakina Lament (for the intrinsic violence at the source of
Chris King, Dulcimer, keyboard, lyrics, vocals, percussion.
Eden and the Fall
The completion of the Tao is complementary in every respect, containing both a feminine aspect and a masculine aspect, as mind is to body, wave is to particle and egg is to sperm. In our founding creation stories, God is complemented by a feminine aspect, which although often repressed, without which religion comes to be an often violent theme of patriarchal dominion over woman and nature, seeking a nirvana in the heavens, shedding the Earth as a mortal husk.
In Genesis 1 it is noted that woman and man are in the likeness of the Elohim, and in proverbs Hochmah or Wisdom crieth out from everlasting that she was there with the Lord from everlasting or ever the Earth was.
In the Eden story this feminine element has already retreated and Jehovah is now a lonely and jealous God. In Kabbalistic mythology, the feminine cosmic is manifest in the Shekhinah or 'indwelling' spirit, in matrimonial concord in the tent of Sarah, and in the eagle's wings of the pregnant woman in the wilderness in Revelation and in all the ways the Tao of the universe comes together in harmony rather than tumultuous conflict.
The Shekhinah retreated in the Fall, when Eve and Adam ate the forbidden fruit and God jealously cast them out of Eden with a flaming sword for seeking the wisdom of immortality but tasting the divisive knowledge of good an evil, lest they eat of both trees and become like him. The Tree of Life has become the thing hidden since the foundation of the world to return with its healing fruit in the End of Days.
As the gulf between humanity and the divine condition widened, so the Shekhinah retreated further. It is believed that in the apocalypse or 'unveiling' the shattered sparks of the Shekhinah will come together in reparadising the Earth. This is the puzzle of renewal.
The Shekhinah is defined, in traditional Jewish writings, as the "female aspect of God" or the "presence" of the infinite God in the world. She is introduced in the early rabbinical commentaries as the "immanence" or "indwelling" of the living God, whose role as the animating life force of the earth is to balance the transcendent deity.
In the Talmudic view, actions harmful to other human beings or the earth cause the Shekhinah to flee, and she rises upward to the Seven Heavens.' On the other side of the scale are the positive actions of humanity which attract her presence downward to the earth.
The other way that the Shekhinah is drawn downward is when people are in need of her as a comforting presence. The rabbis tell us she hovers at the bed of all sick individuals and is seen by the dying as they exit the world into the great light. According to tradition, the Shechinah comes to the good and true at death, giving them the opportunity to go straight up the center of the heavenly ladder in a moment of pure consciousness, into the merger with the Divine. The Shekhinah is intimately connected with expressions of human love, particularly romantic and marital bliss. It is she who blesses the happy couple; the glow of lovers is considered to be the reflection of her presence, The scholars of the Spanish and Safed schools also understood that the Shechinah could "appear" to inspired individuals (or "Prophets"), and that the form adopted would be a reflection of the divine purpose (Novick 204-14).
Shekhinah is identified with the eagle's wings both in Exodus and Revelation and is thus the ultimate mystery the nagual of the shaman's vision quest exemplified in Moses' 'burning bush'. She is also identified as the feminine moon deity (Wolkenstain and Kramer xv).
Jesus of two Natures
Jesus set himself as an arrow of truth in the bow that arcs from the Fall in Eden to the apocalyptic restoration of Paradise and the Tree of Life at the End of Days. However this untimely assault on the division led to further violence in Crucifixion, Martyrdom, Crusade, Inquisition, Witch Hunt and Holocaust and continued repression of women, as the source of 'original sin'.
Christianity worships Jesus as the culmination of the apocalyptic Messiah, in the only begotten 'Son of God'. By contrast traditional Jewish thinking decries Jesus as a false messiah who brought ill on the Jewish people and in the Talmud refers to him as Balaam the Lame citing Edom as his source. In Islam, Jesus is likewise referred to as Isa, or Esau, reflecting Jewish belief that his blasphemous claims to miracles and being the son of God, the Bridegroom anointed by a woman, sourced from the Dionysian practices of the Arab kingdom of Nabatea, rather than the traditions of Israel.
It is notable that coinage of Nabatea attests to the fact that the kings and queens of Nabatea reigned in consort as a couple. The society was verdant and had developed a strong fertility tradition based on Dionysian Dhu Shara (the Lord of Seir) and Goddesses such as Allat, al-Uzza and Manat. Dhu Shara was both the high god of Genesis partially indistinguishable from Jehovah but became personified in iconic form as a man with flowing locks and as an avatar in the form of a Dionysian man-god posessing the key features of Jesus' blasphemous nature, whose tragic mask conferred immortality on the bearer.
When John the Baptist cursed Herodias for taking her husband Philip's brother Herod, he was beheaded at Machaerus because Herod's generals were present at a council of war that resulted from Herod jilting his previous partner, the princess of Nabatea who escaped in fear of her life, precipitating a war between Nabatea and Herod. The dance of the seven veils in the name of Salome is thus a direct reflection of this fertility tradition taken in tragic poetic irony in the sacrifice of John.
In addition to being a mission for the lost sheep of Israel, the mission of Jesus follows in the wake of Dhu Shara, replete with intimacies of Dionysian and fertility worship, from water into wine as Cana, consorting with winebibbers, claiming to be the soma and sangre, the true vine, indulging in miraculous dread, anointed by a woman to his doom, given unto by the women of Galilee of their very substance, implicated variously in the lives of Magdalen aka Mary, Salome and Martha and watched over only by the women in his hour of need. Jesus thus formed a cultural bridge between the traditions of Israel and Nabatea, the latter being virtually unrecognized in Christian circles but implicit in the Talmud and Quran.
In the Quran, Isa is surely a knowledge of the hour of apocalypse:
"And most surely it is a knowledge of the hour, therefore have no doubt about it and follow me: this is the right path. And let not the Shaitan prevent you; surely he is your open enemy. And when Isa came with clear arguments he said: I have come to you indeed with wisdom, and that I may make clear to you part of what you differ in; so be careful of (your duty to) Allah and obey me" (43.61).
No one apart from Allah knows this otherwise. "Surely Allah is He with Whom is the knowledge of the hour, and He sends down the rain and He knows what is in the wombs; and no one knows what he shall earn on the morrow; and no one knows in what land he shall die; surely Allah is Knowing, Aware" (31.34).
In the Christian tradition, the gnostic text Thunder-Perfect Mind gives the clearest idea of the untrammeled cosmic feminine in her most paradoxical form although this was repressed and hidden for almost two millennia.
Islam, Jihad and Sakina
Like the Fall in Eden, Islam has had several falls further from the grace of concord into the division of conflict and conquest - cursing allat, the satanic verses, embracing jihad, women only half the value of men, the genocide at Medina, sakina subsumed to takiya, faking peace, the killing of Sarah on Muhammads entry into Mecca and the cutting out the tongues of the singers.
When Muhammad became a prophet of Islam, he did so in the tradition of the Hebrew God, at first praying to Jerusalem before turning the tables to Mecca. At first his teachings found a degree of favour with the people in Mecca, but when he turned against the daughters of al-Llah al-Lat, al-Uzza and Manat, who were popular in Mecca and had prominent pilgrimage centres in the environs, decrying them as false icons a division ensued which caused the Umma to have to flee to Medina, where his beloved partner and benefactress Khadja died as a result of the privations suffered.
It is this episode around which revolves the issue of the"Satanic Verses" in which some Islamic historians recount that the prophet had initially uttered verses acclaiming the daughters of Allah, Allat, al-Uzza and Manat as intermediaries, only to later claim these verses were inspired by Satan rather than Gabriel.
The result was a war with the Quraysh of Mecca which resulted in the genocide in the souk of Medina. The Meccan army had besieged the oasis of Medina and all but penetrated the defences. The Jews of the Oasis, who had ridiculed Muhammad's religion, had made diplomatic initiatives to the Quraysh but had not actually opened their gates. In the event, the Meccan army left superstitiously after a storm brewed and Muhammad then turned his attention to the Jewish tribe. He appointed a mortally wounded man as judge over their fates who summarily ordered that the men be executed following Deuteronomic law and the wives and children taken into slavery. Some 700 jewish men were summarily slaughtered in the souk.
Yet this genocide, which reminds us of Srebrenica, proved entirely unnecessary, because when he later met the opposing army of Mecca, their numbers were clearly to great to resist, so ostensibly in the Quran heeding the Sakina or spirit of tranquillity, he sued for peace and established a peace treaty. Karen Armstrong in "Muhammad" notes that the Sakina appears to be a manifestation of the Shekhinah, known to Muhammad from Jewish folk lore, along with many of the other tales from targum and midrash in the Qur'an.
Thus having rejected the iconic feminine in following the Hebrew view of God, the prophet found himself face to face with the abstract feminine in the form of the Sakina.
However from here, we once again see the Sakina retreat. The peace treaty was used simply as a bid to bide for time until the Umma were numerous enough to overwhelm Mecca, and later, using pretexts of skirmishes with some outlying supporters of Mecca, the treaty was abrogated and Muhammad arrived victorious in Mecca, immediately destroying all the idols, except for an image of Jesus and Mary.
Despite the healing mercy of the Sakina, which the prophet acknowledged in the Qur'an, little heed was paid to Sakina when the prophet entered Mecca in victory without the need for battle. Nawal el Sadaawi in "The Naked Face of Eve" notes that Sarah the slave singer who had sung barbed words in opposition to the prophet was summarily put to death on the day of Muhammad's victorious entry into Mecca, and other female singers had their tongues cut out, and those who beat the tambourine had their hands cut off. Thus all dissent was repressed by murder and maiming.
"Sarah was a famous slave singer who aimed her barbed words against the Moslems. She was among those whom Mahomet ordered to be executed on the day of his victorious entry into Mecca. In the region of El Nagir, it was recounted that some women had rejoiced when the Prophet died and Abu Bake, the first of the Caliphs, ordered their hands and feet to be cut off. Thus women who dared to give voice to their protest or opposition could be exposed to cruel punishment. Their hands might be cut off, or their teeth pulled out, or their tongues torn from their mouths. This last form of punishment was usually reserved for those who were singers. It was said of these women that they used to dye their hands with henna, brazenly display the seductions of their beauty, and beat time with their fingers on tambourines and drums in defiance of God, and in derision towards the rights of God and his Prophet. It was therefore necessary to cut off their hands and tear out their tongues".
As time passed, Muhammad came to gather nine wives, partly as a result of cementing astute liasons. According to Wiebke Walther in "Women in Islam" the requirement for the prophet's wives to be veiled originated, according to a ninth century historian, from the prophet's marriage feast to Zaynab, the former wife of his adopted son, having been attracted to her after seeing her in her undergarments. Towards the end of the evening, when the guests showed no signs of leaving, presumably as a result of her attractiveness, the prophet 'impatiently' left the room several times and it is said the verses of 33.59 covering the women were then revealed to him.
He then legislated that women were only half the value and legitimacy in law of a man. Aisha, his child bride, who was only nine when they were wed, lamented the inferior position of women: 'The things which annul the prayers were mentioned before me. They said, "Prayer is annulled by a dog, a donkey and a woman (if they pass in front of the praying people)." I said, "You have made us (i.e. women) dogs" (Abu Said Al-Khudri)'
Nabih Faris in "The Book of Idols" notes that when the banu-Umahmah were slaughtered and the women raped for defending dhu-al-Khalasah which stood half way to San'a, a woman cried:
It is thus said by al-Bukhari that the Prophet lamented: "This world shall not pass away until the buttocks of the women of Daws wiggle [again] around the dhu-al-Khalasah and they worship it as they were want to do [before Islam]".
Sakina is the feminine spirit which the prophet almost came into a fateful meeting with, but lost intimate contact with again in abrogating the peace treaty and in the killing of Sarah and the repression of women to be only half the value of men.
In Muslim apocalyptic vision, the world is divided between Domain of Islam or submission, and the Domain of War - Dar al-Harb - invoking a utopian agenda of world conquest. Sakina is the missing peace in the puzzle healing jihad so that the world can become whole and complete. Sakina is the mirror of holy peace to the unholy condition of war, and the sprit of liberation for Muslim women, and men too, integral to Islamic destiny and to the soul-searching all must face to understand the roots of their beliefs.
Women Critics of Islam
Jihad-Sakina - DVD $18 U.S. inc. air postage
Jihad-Sakina is more than a movie, it is a state of mind transgressing all boundaries between the inside and outside of belief in finding the missing peace complementing the jihad of Islam and reflowering the Tree of Life in the sacred union in Jerusalem. A video MTV apocalypse set to the events of the WTC which goes to the souce of violence in Islam. The sequence of musical videos and short documentary clips evolves into an account of the unrest in Israel/Palestine, our millennial reflowering on the Mount of Olives and completes with a multi-source account of the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004. DVD Mpeg2 (PAL-compatible).