Above and Beyond

Rhetoric and writing have one basic aim, which is persuasion. Cicero, a famous Roman philosopher and politician, laid out the four basic principles of persuasion as it pertains to rhetoric and writing. For one, there is memory. Then, there is arrangement. Also, there is the issue of style. Finally, there is the issue of delivery. These are the four basic principles of persuasion laid out by Cicero as it pertains to rhetoric and writing, and these four principles are still pertinent and relevant in an age where rhetoric and writing have taken on new characteristics and new dimensions considering the evolution of technology in a postmodern age. Thus, persuasion in terms of rhetoric and writing is an art, and not necessarily an exact science.

             Underlying the basic “Trivium” of rhetoric, logic, and grammar in the liberal arts is something basic and simple, namely, truth. “Boolean logic” – along with the rules of rhetoric and grammar – are pertinent only when it comes to inducing the truth out of the rhetorician and writer. In essence, truth shapes the “Trivium” of the liberal arts (rhetoric, logic, and grammar), although some folks might be under the impression that the “Trivium” itself shapes the content and substance that is conveyed by the rhetorician and writer. Thus, the “Trivium” – along with the four basic principles of persuasion set out by Cicero – facilitate the revelation of basic truths.

            In turn, truth is the destination or the objective of one’s intellectual and spiritual journey, which is known as Suluk in the Sufi tradition. The Salik is the individual who embarks on an intellectual and spiritual journey (Suluk) towards the truth. Both Salik and Suluk are terms derived from the Arabic root verb salaka, which translates into “travel” or “follow.” In order to reach the truth, the Salik has to adhere to both the esoteric and exoteric dimensions of Suluk. Overall, Suluk is led by a spiritual guide, and once the Salik obtains a spiritual guide, the Salik then becomes a Murid, which is a term or noun that translates into “the one who has a wish.” That wish is communion and the realization of God through divine knowledge and wisdom, as well as both love and romance. The spiritual guide who leads the Murid to the fulfillment of his wish is known as the Murshid.

As mentioned in the previous blog post, Suluk – which is the intellectual and spiritual journey leading the individual to the truth – requires a certain level of asceticism, isolation, and withdrawal (Zuhd). Thus, the intellectual and spiritual journey (Suluk) revolves around the adherence to basic esoteric (Tassawuf) and exoteric (Sharia) principles on the part of the traveller (Salik), all of which are guided and led by the spiritual guide (Pir or Murshid). This journey is a lot like an airplane ride, in the sense that it begins with turbulence and it continues through the ride, until finally everything smooths out by the time one reaches both descent and destination. Whether an individual has to be chosen for the journey through divine appointment (“Unconditional election”) or whether one can voluntarily embark on such a journey (“Conditional Election”) is perhaps the core philosophical and religious question of both the Western and Islamic traditions even to this day. Bon Voyage.

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