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The Meaning of Man

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    Posted: 10 July 2005 at 11:36pm
The Meaning of Man

By Sidi Ali al-Jamal

Translated by Aisha Bewley

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Introduction to "The Meaning of Man"

By Shaykh Abd al-Qadir as-Sufi

Until this edition only one copy of the book was in existence. For two hundred years the author's copy was kept at the place where he taught and during that time, regularly, every Thursday night, a small group of the intellectual elite of the city of Fez in Morocco would make their way down to the dyer's quarter to the small zawiyya of the great teacher, gather in a circle and read, examine and apply the method delineated in the hand-written manuscript before them. As of today, that circle still gathers. It is hoped that by publication of this extraordinary work, incomparable in its profundity and clarity, the circle of Fez scholars will be extended and that knowledge may be disseminated through it in this age of intellectual bankruptcy.

It is regrettable that in the present climate of academic 'learning' if one released the text of this masterwork without comment it would simply disappear without a trace, partly because of the vast amount of published literature of utter worthlessness and we refer here to the works published within the academic nexus, not the mountain of popular opiate writings put out in the modern state and partly because that very system of 'learning' is in its structure and method geared to anaesthetise any incoming organism that might threaten its supremacy. All literature published today is obliged, whether the authors know it or not, to be absorbed into a total culture module whose tentacles stretch round the whole world. The Peking Academy, the Russian university system and the Western academic community basically share the same world-view and accept the same central thesis that exalts the continuing tyranny of speculation, (defined as a 'freedom') the myth of research, the cult of system, and the priesthood of the doctorate.

Most important in our approach to this text is an understanding that access to its meanings and therefore its applications are impossible unless the reader is able to understand that he has to circumvent the quite imperialist block that stands in the way of approaching the book's subject matter. This may seem confusing until the reader considers that it is precisely the mystical claim of a methodology that proposes objectivity' as a basis of analysis that stands in the way of permitting this seminal text of a deep knowledge process to transform the reader. The author again and again in the book makes clear that the foundations of knowledge are only accessible to the one who is prepared to undergo a profound existential transformation. The idea of knowledge being an ideational process is not even considered. Men's words are not to be mistaken for men's deeds.

In the present social stasis which precedes the imminent total collapse of modern culture what we have called the imperialist doctrines of scholastic method use quite crude techniques to prevent any breaking out of the so-called scientific ethos. If this book is categorised as religion it would automatically forego its chance to land on the desk of the man who is intellectually seeking to acquire knowledge within the present rigid system. Worse if it is labelled mysticism it would also come under automatic fire as being either irrelevant or decadent. This book is not a religious work, nor is it a mystical work, for the author's evaluation of these, and indeed, of this his own book makes it quite clear that the approach to knowledge involves an operational zone taking in the whole life-pattern of the student. The partitive and divisive thinking of the academics is geared to keep their own quite mystical search for the pure knowledge that they claim they will arrive at in the future as elusive as the moral and just society that they promise the helpless slaves of the industrial prison. Production is the god of these barbarians, and nowhere is it allowed to suggest that the chains of the worker are forged in the factory, that the chains of the society are the linked units of the production process, which the whole so called intellectual community labours to defend.

Let us say it another way. If the creational and knowledge principle outlined so clearly and scientifically in this masterwork were applied it would overthrow the whole monstrous statist system of tyranny that modern man has encased himself in, for in it the freedoms he has been so cunningly taught to desire are chimeric and worthless. Real freedom, as a project, is politically forbidden.

We are saying openly that these men of the Darqawi way of learning are men of freedom. They have mastered themselves, so everyone is free around them. The present society has leaders who are inwardly in chaos so everywhere around them is oppression. The great fear of modern society is not that of the police - it is merely an outward manifestation of the inner fear of the power group who lead society. The leaders of modern society are walking demonstrations of terror - their own fears, that so fix them in bodily and mental rigidity, crush the other, not only physically but in a restrictive mental atmosphere that has no outcome but violence and death.

The dream-like, trance-like move towards complete stasis in this society, with its compulsive polarisations of desire for security and vulnerability to attack, both on the domestic and the military level, this sickness and its cure are clearly outlined in this book. The means to the dismantling of the suicide pact in which this age seems trapped can be found in these pages. Here is a method, the application of which brings liberation - not, as is clear from the book's central theme, an a-political freedom but a total transformative restoration of man as a human animal who is benign to his own inwardness and to the outwardness of his brothers. He is no danger to society and society cannot endanger him. It is significant that despite the persecution the men of knowledge have been submitted to, the teaching survives, and the teachers survive - they fight, they take to the mountains, they hide in the cities. This is not a poetic statement, it is a historical one.

The author, the Master, Sidi 'Ali al-Jamal, who taught in his small centre in Fez, although he had many people studying under him, in the end passed on the whole of his teaching to only one man. That man was Moulay al-Arabi ad-Darqawi. From him were to come forty great teachers who spread across North Africa and penetrated as far as Malaysia and the islands off East Africa. Now the descendants of that knowledge lineage are to be found in England and America.

The Darqawi men were slaughtered and tortured by the colonial french occupation forces under the fanatical catholic leadership of the governor of Morocco, General Leauty. When the French departed, the modernist and statist elite who took over in the name of national freedom continued the persecution.

These men were a threat because you could not build a consumer-state if there existed men who pointed out that if you were a consumer you would only be consumed. You could not forge a modern production-religion if there were men roaming about free to tell people not only that the happy and just society would not be built after all the misery, murder, and destruction as promised, but in fact that the free society already did exist, had never not existed.

The men of knowledge who have basically followed this way have been all but eliminated in the Communist world, both Russia and China, their works as well as their lives having been wiped out. On the Indian sub-continent these men are almost gone, thanks to the superbly sophisticated ruthlessness of the British and by their slaves, the 'modernists' who followed in their wake and now are the power elite in India and Pakistan. Persia went under at the same time that the Arab states were broken up, the Khalifate of Istanbul was smashed, and the squalid Western-authored rule of Ataturk saw these men hanged in every town and village across Turkey. North Africa and West Africa experienced the same brilliant strategy of military initiative backed by Jesuit research and business interest. In the end the whole Darqawi way and its equivalent lines of knowledge had been annihilated by assassination, denunciation, and a most far-reaching propaganda to devalue the practices and even the epistemology of the different lines of learning.

The learning grid presented in this work seems very far from the violent and barbaric attack that the men of learning had to withstand. It is a cool and ravishingly beautiful method of understanding the self/universe and the therefore the Universal. It is a clear statement of how existence works. Nothing less and nothing more. Once the central grid has been understood, and once the learner has set himself the de-programming course without which none of the book's contents can make sense, then that grid can be applied to any science, for what is valid for the science of knowledge is therefore a paradigm for any knowledge system or science. It is applicable both to molecular biology and economic theory. Already from its nature it is clear that the gross and exclusive divisions of scientism are not possible in real knowledge. For example, it will emerge that there is no such thing as psychology-in-itself nor is there such a thing as astronomy-in-itself. If you wish to understand these areas you must set out the limits of a new science in a dual mirror-construct that is only possible to describe in the current manner of this society as psychology/astronomy. Only we would see and define no difference. The uses to which this METHOD'MANUAL may be put probably will not emerge for some time. It will first have to reach those intellects that have not been totally drugged by the ghastly superficialities that pass for learned dissertation in our society. There is intellectually nothing more depressing than to read or try to read the trivial texts of the linguistic science and the existentially barren texts of the social theorists.

Ibn al-'Arabi has said that if you make a model of the universe you can only make a model of yourself. Though a social theory is veiled in complexity and priestly hermeneutics, yet it can never bring a new society, however alluring, if the theorist himself is a tyrant. I do not mean just a political tyrant, I mean a human tyrant.

Let us try some clear statements arising out of this book. According to the present barbarian culture social reality begins with the group. The private project is denied any reality. If you have a private project, the highest project of course would be knowledge, then you are anti-social and anti-productive. Your quest does not serve the people (i.e. production). Therefore you are not 'the people.' In linguistic terms let us say it again. If the statement has meaning it will be because the sentence structure is meaningful and successfully delineates, by its verbal method and not just by its noun indicators, what is intended in practice. This meaning structure is primary and everything is secunded to it. So vital is the 'content' that the words are its slaves but more important the letters from which the words and the structures are built are considered devoid of meaning. The phonemes are meaningless but the sentence has meaning.

Meaning only emerges with the complexity of the structure- but before the sentence is said does it not already have to be 'lined up' in consciousness? Let us look at it in the biological realm. The creature is simple in structure and capacities within a given environment - semiotically it is a term serving a movable function within a sentence-environment. If the sentence is complexified the term must change by the addition of a prefix or suffix, for example. But its meaning is dependent on that sentence arrangement. It will 'change' as the sentence changes. But the phoneme in this picture cannot understand the sentence - which has not yet been said - or indeed while it is being said. How then can the DNA molecules order a new printout and a new NRA response that will trigger a new protein arrangement? Obversely, the organism does not command the molecules nor the sentence line up the phonemes. If meaning is not already in the phoneme the sequence is incomprehensible. This is true of the sentence, the man, and the organism. It is meaning we are dealing with at every level. The meaning is prior to the phoneme, is in the phoneme, is in the process, is in the new sentence.

We live in an age where the meaning of man itself is in danger, therefore man is in danger, therefore his environment, this Earth is in danger. We live in a society that is determined to destroy man and make him the servant of the lowest aspects of himself, instead of the master of the highest aspects of himself. In the recognition that this nadir point of human worth is taking us to the time when man will be restored in his splendour as a locus of knowledge we have published this magisterial work. Of its nature it cannot be studied in a university or classroom. It can only be applied in the circle of men who follow this method of the transformation of the self that is the ancient knowledge way that the anthropologists had been employed to cover over.

In this time, if men want to know, they must set out in search of men who live to know, and who have freed themselves from the crushing a-culturisation process that makes the products of our universities such zombie-like historical products. Such men are not part of the problem nor are they part of the solution.

For it is the current dialectic that is the tyranny of modern society. It is the method itself of this culture that is its madness. Here is another way, and in it man is not endangered - he is liberated and that means life for all those around him. Just as knowledge is not to be found in either social upheaval or in stasis, just as it is not to be found either in esotericism and experimental groups or in power structures, so the seeker must break out of his cultural mould and recognise that knowledge is the property of the poor. If poverty were eliminated, knowledge would be eliminated. It is the only clue we can leave in writing. The way of poverty is the way of knowledge. We write it on the cave wall. We write it on your heart.

From the poor slave,

the helpless, the needy,

'Abd al-Qadir as-Sufi.


Available at Andalus Islamic Bookstore
"I am a slave. I eat as a slave eats and I sit as a slave sits.", Beloved, sallallahu alyhi wa-sallam.
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