The Ringstones of Wisdom

Arguably, the most important book in Islamic canon and in the vast body of Islamic literature – aside from the Quran itself – is Ibn Arabi’s Fusus al-Hikam (“The Ringstones of Wisdom”). For those of us who have read this masterpiece, the depth of intellectualism, philosophy, and spiritual substance in this masterful work is absolutely clear, and it is strongly recommended that folks who have not read it make the time to read this very important work.

I mentioned the perennial paradox of material wealth amidst spiritual poverty in the previous post, and that the conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine is very much a physical manifestation of widespread intellectual and spiritual poverty. Many folks have echoed the sentiment that “diplomacy is the only option” in resolving this conflict. But in addition to the fact that for the most part Western diplomacy amounts to nothing more than the breaking of promises and lies, a major fact of diplomacy in general is that diplomacy never works and it is never pursued when there is asymmetry in the power dynamics of the two sides who are faced with the prospect of diplomacy.

For instance, Washington was not interested in pursuing diplomacy with the Taliban in 2001 or with Iraq in 2003 because of the asymmetry in the power dynamics between Washington and the opposing sides. Washington did not open the path for diplomacy with the Taliban until 2010, when the power dynamics became less asymmetrical as a result of the fact that the Taliban-led insurgency and resistance against American forces and the Afghan government continued growing. And in the current case of diplomacy between the West and Russia over the issue of Ukraine, the power dynamics between the two sides are less asymmetrical than they were about twenty years ago. As a result, Russia – in addition to Iran and North Korea – are less likely to concede to Western demands compared to about two decades ago during America’s “unipolar moment” because of diminished asymmetry in power dynamics.

In general, there are two classes or types of people. For one, there are “The Elect” (Awliya), and on the other hand there is everyone else. “The Elect” (Awliya) are about four thousand in number. The means by which a person is brought into “The Elect” (Awliya) is a matter of discussion and debate. Nevertheless, there are two classes or types of people, and this is an undeniable fact and reality of human life. These two classes of people are in different eschatological realities and states, even though they occupy the same planet physically. Thus, when a person rubs another person the wrong way, it is because the two people are in different eschatological realities or states. Also, when one member of “The Elect” (Awliya) encounters another member of this unique class of people, these individuals are usually cognizant that they are in the presence of a person who belongs to their own particular class or grouping.

And even if a member of “The Elect” (Awliya) lambasts and scorns another person, “The Elect” (Awliya) are exempt and free from reproach and judgment. As Hafez Shirazi wrote in his famous Divan, even if a Faqir or Saint wishes death upon someone, he is ultimately forgiven by virtue of being chosen into God’s “Elect” (Awliya). In turn, God’s “Elect” (Awliya) can change or sway the entire course of human history from one direction to another. Thus, neither the actions nor the words of “The Elect” (Awliya) should be dismissed or taken lightly by others.

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