Senin, 17 Januari 2011

The three theologemes here are, respectively, a boat, a youth and a wall. What is done to the boat is a sign of God’s foreknowledge, indeed omniscience: “By a simple act of making it unseaworthy, the boat was saved from seizure”. The boat here is not a theologeme in the lucid sense of the “ship of salvation” (Safinat al-Najat) metaphor of the Ikhwan al-Safa. The boat only becomes a theologeme, a unit of theological discourse, not by its intrinsic nature but as a result of what is done to it by divine intervention, i.e. by God through al-Khidr, and by what this action signifies about God. The same holds true of the two other theologemes in the encounter between Musa and al-Khidr, the youth and the wall. The Youth is executed by al-Khidr as a sign of God’s justice as well as his omniscience which foresees the future evil that this youth will perpetrate if allowed to live. Finally, the wall as theologeme signifies God’s generosity because of what is buried beneath it, a treasure which the Qur’an itself characterizes as a mercy (rahma) from the Lord.
The second major exemplar of the Hero archetype in Surat al-Kahf is Dhu ‘l-Qarnayn. Much ink has been spilled on an identification of this mysterious but noble figure: I will not duplicate here the exstensive remarks of, for example, Yusuf Ali, who devotes an entire Appendix to the subject, nor will I revisit in extenso the exegesis and etymology of the word al-Qarnayn. It is worth stating, however, that a Pharaonic identification, (distinct from the classical identification with the historical Alexander the Great who captured Egypt), with each qarn representing not so much Upper and Lower Egypt but the realms of Life and Death, order and disorder, has not been adequately explored. Yusuf ‘Ali has no doubts on the subject: “Personally, I have not the least doubt that Dhu al-Qarnayn is meant to be Alexander the Great, the historic Alexander…”. If this is the case, then it certainly accords very well whit our characterization of Dhu’l-Qarnayn as the second major exemplar of the hero archetype in Surat al-Kahf.
The theologeme best to be associated with him is a BARRIER (sadd, radm). Like the wall, or rather, what is under it, in the Musa-al-Khidr episode, the barrier is characterised as a mercy (rahma) fro God. It becomes imbued with theological significance because it signifies the power good inherent and flourishing in Dhu ‘l-Qarnayn as well as God’s protective action. Analogies with the Cave in the story of the Sleepers may easily be drawn. The function of Dhu ’l-Qarnayn as hero archetype is thus to exhibit the Just Ruler, chosen by God, who embodies and displays in turn the protective qualities of God himself. God’s protective power is thus a leading motif both in this section of the Sura and the earlier one which adumbrated the story of the sleepers.
The fourth major archetype of surat al-kahf is that of the MYSTIC whose prime, indeed only, examplar, in this Sura is al-Khidr. He may be characterised not just as an active but as a transcendent model of the archetype. The figure of al-Khidr, with his impicit ‘greenness’, has a major and diverse resonance or parallelism in other literatures, myths and traditions whether he appears as Elijah or the Green Knight in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. What we have identified as the three theologemes of boat, youth and wall associated with Musa are, of course, closely associated with al-Khidr as well since they participate in the same encounter and are two sides of the triple testing. These will not be surveyed here again. However, the theologeme which sets al-Khidr apart from Musa is that of KNOWLEDGE (‘ILM): wa’allamnahu min ladunna ‘ilman. Here the identification of ‘ilm, knowledge, gnostic knowledge, as a fully fledged theologeme or ‘unit of theological discourse which can also function as a sign’ is easy to accept for the relationship between God and the knowledge bestowed on al-Khidr is explicit in verse 65. This theologeme, this bestowal of knowledge, serves to isolate al-Khidr set him apart from Musa and signify to the rest of humanity that, as Yusuf Ali points out, al-Khidr now has the right ‘to interpret the inner meaning and mystery of events. The function of the mystical archetype here is to interpret God’s ways (which are not man’s ways) to man in a sometimes painful theodicy, where the interpreter is conscious that he acts not of his own accord but nonetheless participates in a traditional master-disciple rela-tionship in which the former seeks to instruct the letter in that higher theodicy. It is a hard lesson.
In passing, one might also compare here the role of Yusuf in Surat Yusuf, where he is Gnostic pir interpreting dreams, with the severer and more mysterious figure of al-Khidr in Surat al-Kahf. Both have God-given knowledge which is deployed to different ends and effect. Another focus for comparison is the tale of the Archangel Raphael and Tobias in the Book of Tobit. Tobias sets out in the company of the angel who assumes the identity of a certain Azarias, son of Ananias, to recover ten talents of silver which has been left by his father Tobit in the keeping of ‘Gabael son of Gabrias, at Rhages in Media twenty years before. At the beginning of their journey they catch, kill and part-eat a great fish from the river tigris. The fish’s heart and liver are kept as a future cure for possession by evil sprits; the gall is kept as a cure for blindness. Tobias later places the former heart and liver over burning incense to cast out a demon from the presence of his kinsman’s daughter Sarah whom he wishes to marry. The ten talents of silver are collected, the marriage and its associated feast take place and the gall of the fish is used to heal the blindness of Tobias’ father, when Tobias returns to his parent. Raphael then reveals his true identity as one of the seven great angels of God and tells them that he has been sent to test their faith. In words strikingly reminiscent of the Qur’anic al-Khidr, Raphael tells them that ‘my presence was not by any decision of mine, but by the will of God.

Punya Kak Erlan
Numerous analogies might be drawn between the story of Tobias and Raphael, that of Musa and al-Khidr and, indeed, that of Yusuf as well. Two stand out: whereas in Surat Yusuf it is the dream that theologeme and motor for much of the action, in the Book of Tobit and Surat al-Kahf it is the fish which takes on this role. In Surat Yusuf, garments serve as syimbols of rectitude and physical or spiritual healing and truth: Joseph’s shirt (qamis) is torn from behind; another shirt of Joseph’s restores his father jacob’s eyesight. In the Book of Tobit it is the fish which has curative properties while in Surat al-Kahf, the fish, as we have seen, is a symbol of rectitude in that it signals the protagonists have started on the right path and are subject to divine guidance.
In any comparison between the signs, symbols, archetypes and theologemes of Surat Yusuf and Surat al-Kahf, it is clear that the archetype at the forefront of the former, and quite absent from the letter, is that of the SEDUCER, identified by name as Zulaykha by the classical mufassirun. Yusuf and al-Khidr, by virtue of their mystical abilities, clearly have much in common. However, it is very difficult to find a counterpart to Zulaykha in Surat al-Kahf, unless one casts her in a role akin to that of the Anti-Hero.
The fifth and last major archetype in Surat al-Kahf is the ANTI-HERO. The exemplars of this archetype in the Sura are active proponents of evil and chaos in their different ways. They are wicked vineyard owner on the one hand, who contrasts neatly with his just critic surveyed above, and the pair known as Gog and Magog on the other; their names are Arabicised as Ya’juj and Ma’juj. The wicked vineyard owner who had made virtual ‘gods’ of his material possessions, epitomizes the chaos of polytheism. It is the function of this anti-hero archetype here to provide a salutary warning of the dangers of shirk. Gog and Magog, whose true identity, like that of Dhu ‘l-Qarnayn, has been the subject of much speculation, appear in guises as various as statuary in Guildhall, London, and the nicknames of two giants in the most famous novel by the Victorian writer William Harrison Ainsworth (1805-1882). The letter barrows these names, presumably from old testament rather then Qur’anic sources, and gives them to two of three giants working in the tower of London: ‘its arched, claiming direct descent from the late monarch, Harry the Eighth, were nicknamed by their companions, from their extraordinary stature, Og, Gog, and Magog.
For Muhammad al-Ghazali, the Qur’anic Gog and Magog ‘are part of the ‘legions’ of Allah restrained by action of Dhu ‘l-Qarnayn’ and he does not believe that their actual identity is important. Yusuf Ali, however, does identity them, holding that they are Mongol tribes while the old testament book of ezikiel portrays a certain gog as king of a country called magog and ‘paramount prince of meshech and tubal’. The text the dire destruction of gog at the hands of Yahweh for, as in the Qur’an, gog and his land represent the forces of evil and chaos. The function of gog and magog in the Qur’an exemplars of anti-hero archetype is to provide an opportunity for God to demonstrate his mighty power through Dhu ‘l-Qarnayn. Hero thus clases with anti-hero and the former, with God’s help win.
In both sets of anti-hero, wicked vineyard owner on the one hand and gog and magog on the other, the theologemes remain the same as for their virtuous opposites: a vineyard and a wall or barrier. One, however, takes on subtle, extra dimension theologically: the vineyards (janatayn min a’nab) owned by te wicked man are an actual locus for, or impetus towards, polytheism, swallowing all the owner’s interest and energies, and they contrast dramatically with the gardens of paradise (jannat al-firdaws) mentioned towards the end of the sura in verse 107. The wall or barrier built as a protection against gog and magog continues to functions as a sign of God’s ongoing care and protection, even when the spotlight is on these two forces of chaos rather than Dhu ‘l-Qarnayn. The ultimate breach of that barrier by gog and magog will be a sign not only of the impending last judgement but a final withdrawal of God’s care end protection, in preparation for that judgement. A foretaste of this was described by the prophet Muhammad himself and his words are recorded in the hadith literature.
4. Clonclusion: Harmony versus Chaos
It is aruguable that, of the three topoi identified at the beginning of this essay as major leitmotivs in the text of surat al-kahf, that of harmony from chaos is the most pervasive and the most powerful. The apparent chaos of al-Khidr’s actions is dissolved in a harmony of careful exegesis by the sage himself; the chaos of persecution is resolved by the harmony of sleep in a protecting cave and a waking to an ordered environment; the chaos of infatuation with material possessions-a species of shirk-is destroyed in the critique by the just observer who, perhaps like the Arabian prophets Salih and Shu’ayb, sees a world of disordered fancies replaced by the order of a strict judgement; and, most obviously, Dhu ‘l-Qarnayn builds the walls or barriers to safeguard harmony and civilisations and keep out the radical caous epitomized so vividly in the figures, or tribes, of gog and magog.
In our analysis we have deployed the concept of the theologeme, and identified several types ranging from the cave to the wall. The concept is not intended to be mere wordplay or a useless neologism. Not every inanimate object or concept can be a theologeme. The letter must be able to function as a ‘basic unit of theological discourse’, that is, is mist have theological significance in its content or context which it signals or signifies. All the theologemes which we have identified in this essay have and do precisely that. In their significations they constitute for the muslim further examplers of those signs which God has promised to show ‘on horizons and in themselves’ (fi ‘l-afaq wa fi anfusihim)

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