Sophianic Feminine

Topics: Sufism, Islam, Rumi Pages: 9 (3167 words) Published: August 27, 2013
THE SOPHIANIC FEMININE IN THE WORK OF IBN ARABI AND RUMI
By HeraZahra

Introduction
"Woman synthesizing virgin nature, the sanctuary and spiritual company, is for man what is most lovable; in a certain respect she represents the projection of merciful inwardness in barren outwardness, and in this regard she assumes a sacramental or quasi-Divine function." (Frithjof Schuon)

The word Sophia is Greek for “wisdom.” It is the root of words such as philosophy (love of wisdom), theosophy (God’s wisdom), and sophist (literally, wise man, although generally used to mean one who uses specious reasoning). The Christian notion of wisdom is androgynous, but because the Greek word is feminine, Sophia came to be associated with the female aspect of God and with Female Wisdom. In Western culture, Wisdom is nearly always allegorized in a female figure. Sometimes called the Mother of All or Lady Wisdom, Sophia fused with Eve or Mary in Judeo-Christian iconography. The Greek Hagia Sophia, meaning Divine or Holy Wisdom, was translated into Spanish and other Romance languages as Saint Sophia (Santa Sofía), thereby personifying the abstract figure.[1]

Sophia is a complex allegory. She is God’s Wisdom. She is spiritual illumination or enlightenment achieved through God’s blessing. She can also be human learning that leads to a greater appreciation of God and creation, as well as an understanding of self. Sophia is always depicted as a feminine presence. Sometimes she is represented as a rose, symbolizing the spiritual whole.

The Sophianic Feminine addresses as by Henry Corbin, it’s primary meaning, relates to the notion of the Feminine as a manifestation of divine Wisdom or ‘Sophia’ and the relationship-oriented quest that feminine images and symbols seem to play natural a part to that Sophianic nature of the spiritual/divine.[2] On the special importance with regard to the mediating principle of divine-human relationship in a profound and principal way which placing the Feminine in the scheme of things, both sensual and spiritual.

Basically, “Sophia” means “to craft, to design, to be skillful, which is parallel to concept and image in Hindu Tantrism, that of the feminine Shakti, the root of which is shak , ‘to make, to do, to empower’. The function of divine Shakti is to provide the divine Subject/Person with the inspiration for and the content of his creative Self-knowing and revelation. For more, Sophianic Feminine is the essential instigator of the primordial division of the divine Being into the creative relationship of Subject and Object, of own/Self and other/non-Self, both in terms of God’s discovery by created cosmos and of his Selfhood in the Spirit. Thus God must make Himself other in order to relate to Himself, to know Himself, to love Himself, but also to be none other, to be Himself.

A. The Feminine Element in Sufism
A pious woman is better than a thousand bad men
-Sana’i-
Ibn Arabi points out that in Arabic all terms that indicate origin or cause are feminine. And the Prophet suggested that the Feminine is the origin of all things. This principle terms are : dhat (Essence, Self), dhat ilahiya ( Divine Essence), origin and source of being; illa,cause ;qudra, the power that manifests being; sifa,divine qualification, the Attribute that which is manifested.[3]

The women in stories both in classical Sufism and medieval Christianity remains the tendency to equate ‘the world’ with a woman. Rumi says “ He who seeks the world is female. The ‘nafs’, the lower soul which can say the individual representative of the world and its temptation is also sometimes compared to woman, who by her ruses, tries to ensure the pure spirit and bring him down into the trap of worldly life. [4] But the ascetic doesn’t care for this ‘woman world’. What the Sufis well aware and care is the positive aspect of womenhood. Many stories tell us how women completely lost in their love, like zulaykha who became symbol of...

References: :
Annemarie Schimel, Mystical Dimension of Islam, The University of North Carolina Press, 1975
[17] Ibid, p.244
[18] Rumi, The Mastnawi I, 2445
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