Why I Celebrate Qiyamat
by Osman El Malik Khan
“On the 17th day of Ramadan, the anniversary of the murder of Ali, in the year 559 [8.August, 1164], under the ascendancy of Virgo and when the sun was in Cancer, Hasan ordered the erection of a pulpit in the courtyard of Alamut, facing towards the west, with four great banners of four colours, white, red, yellow, and green, at the four corners. The people from the different regions, whom he had previously summoned to Alamut, were assembled in the courtyard— those from the East on the right side, those from the West on the left side, and those from the North, from Rudbar and Daylam, in front, facing the pulpit. As the pulpit faced west the congregants had their backs towards Mecca. ‘Then, says an Isma’ili tract, ’ towards noon, the Lord [Hasan], on his mention be peace, wearing a white garment and a white turban, came down from the castle, approached the pulpit from the right side, and in the most perfect manner ascended it. Three times he uttered greetings, first to the Daylamis, then to those on the right, then to those on the left. In a moment he sat down, and then rose up again and, holding his sword, spoke in a loud voice.’ Addressing himself to ‘the inhabitants of the worlds, jinn, men, and angels,’ he announced that a message had come to him from the hidden Imam, with new guidance. ‘The Imam of our time has sent you his blessing and his compassion, and has called you his special chosen servants. He has freed you from the burden of the rules of Holy Law, and has brought you to the Resurrection.’ …When he had completed his address, Hasan stepped down from the pulpit , and performed two prostrations of the festival prayer. Then, a table having been laid, he invited them to break their fast, join in a banquet, and make merry. Messengers were sent to carry the glad tidings to east and west. In Quhistan, the chief of the fortress of Mu’minabad repeated the ceremony of Alamut, and proclaimed himself as the vicar of Hasan, from a pulpit facing the wrong way;’ [and an anti-Isma’ili source records that] ‘that day on which these ignominies were divulged and these evils proclaimed [sic!] in that nest of heretics, Mu’minabad, that assembly played harp and rebeck and openly drank wine upon the very steps of that pulpit and within its precincts.’ In Syria [at Aleppo] too the word was received, and the faithful celebrated the end of the law.”
(Bernard Lewis, The Assassins . pp 72,73)
Lewis’ account is one of the more concise available, although he deems not to comment on the significance of the event, or its practical interpretations.
Qiyamat means, literally, “Resurrection.” And in Lewis’ account, he uses the word Resurrection. But what is it a Resurrection of? I can put it only briefly and clumsily. Like the rest of the Creation, The Truth exists in several different levels. In the matter of the Qiyamat, this begins to unfold first as the levels of exoteric and esoteric— the outer and the inner Truths. “The Law,” revealed and expounded upon openly in the messages of Prophets, is the basis of the exoteric, “outer” Truth. Within these same revelations and text, however, is a second, “hidden” current. (This is hardly the place in which to outline any of the inner truths outside of Qiyamat, however.) The Imam— the manifestation in the flesh of the Word and Will of Allah— of the time was hidden, whether in a physical sense or in a hyper-physical sense, as in occultation; and Hasan II (pbuh) was, in turn, the communicant for the word and will of the Imam.
The declaration of Qiyamat from the Imam, via Hasan II (pbuh), was that the exoteric, the rule of “Law”, had run its course. It can be debated via epistemology, ontology, or a few other -ologies, whether the declaration was a creation— a lifting of the Law then and there— or a revelation— a pointing to an eternal Truth. I tend toward the latter, but no matter. In any case, it was a revelation in the sense that it uncovered a new understanding of Truth. No longer was faithfulness bound into the physical realm, no longer was the experience of the Truth of Allah mediated. The scholar Henry Corbin has dealt with the Truth of Qiyamat perhaps more than any other scholar of our time. He uses the term and concept “Imam-of-ones’-own-being” to describe the praxis of the abrogation of Law revealed by Qiyamat. In effect, the mediation between common people, religious leaders, the Imam, and Allah is removed. The Law and other physical, exoteric expressions no longer separate man from Allah. Each person exists as his or her own Imam, his or her own messenger and manifestation of the Word and Will of Allah.
The impact of these events is multifold. For the Nizari Isma’ilis of the time, who witnessed this declaration of a spiritual millennium, it further enforced their belief that they were the true Fedayeen, the true warriors of the Faith. It also, in praxis, served and serves to disintegrate various divisions that are supposed to exist between “separate” faiths or applications of faiths. The laws and regulations and responsibilities that religions place on followers, naming themselves and their laws the hand of god, are no longer of any importance beyond the symbolic, since every human, through Qiyamat, actively becomes his or her own representative of Truth And Qiyamat is the unveiling of a great passion, the recognition of the Beloved very near at hand. Incidentally Hasan II (pbuh), Lord of the Assassins, was himself assassinated by his brother-in-law, who refused the gift of the Qiyamat. Eventually, the Qiyamat was pushed further and further aside, until it became merely a symbolic principle.
But in the Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of America, commonly called the Circle Seven Koran, the Truth of the Qiyamat lives on, itself resurrected and revived in this time. In Chapter One, the Noble Prophet Drew Ali writes, “Man is a thought of Allah;” affirming that man is not merely a creation or construction, but a manifestation of the Word and Will of Allah. In Chapter Ten, the relevance of outward law and ritual, beyond merely a symbolic practice to aid in the attainment of wisdom is negated: “When man sees Allah as one with him, as Father Allah, he needs no middle man, no priest to intercede. He goes straight up to Him and says: ‘My Father God, Allah!’ And then he lays his hands in Allah’s own hand, and all is well. And this is Allah. You are, each one, a priest, just for yourself; and sacrifice of blood Allah does not want.”(vv.22-24) And in Chapter Seven, Jesus tells his friend Lamaas that “Allah and man are one,” (v.23); and he later goes on to say that “Salvation is a ladder reaching from the heart of men to the heart of Allah. It has three steps: Belief is first, and this is what man thinks, perhaps, is truth. And faith is next, and this is what man knows is truth. Fruition is the last, and this is man himself, the truth. Belief is lost in faith; and in fruition faith is lost; and man is saved when he has reached deific life; when he and Allah are one.” (vv.27-31) The realization of Qiyamat, not only by the intellect or the heart, but by and in and through the core, eternal essence of the human, is the reunification of the human with Allah. “Then every man of earth will read the words of life in language of his native land, and men will see the light, and walk in the light and be the light. And man again will be at one with Allah.” (Chapter Two, vv.27 & 28) The Beloved is no longer even to be viewed as the causeless cause of things other than the individual; but rather the Beloved can now be observed and adored even and especially within each person. Qiyamat is the end of Forgetfulness. It is the Remembering and the Resurrection of the True Self.
These are the words that bolster my belief in Qiyamat, found in the world of Medieval Islam and in the writings of the turn-of-the-century Prophet of Moorish Science. But they are themselves only physical manifestations, temporal and temporary. The center of my belief is that Creation is Perfect. Not in dialectical contrast to imperfection, but rather that its existence— all of existence— is most purely In-Itself, that every state is In-Itself perfected and True; and all dialectical impositions by the human brain are— while still existing perfectly— inconsequential, or at least of no more consequence than anything else, all existing as equally perfect. Wholenesses and Divisions all are perfect and True, perfect all times and none. The Wholeness of Creation is perfect, as are the Divisions of it. The Beloved is of course also Perfect in Its Wholeness, and as such inescapably unified and pervasive beyond any possible definitions. It is from this perfect Wholeness that my belief in Qiyamat sprouts. Qiyamat is the Rememberance of Perfection.