The subTle Ties of allusion

Yet, as the Niche continues, if nothing exists other than God, the ''Light of the heavens and Earth'' (24:35), ''then the name 'light' for things other than the First Light [i.e. God] is sheer majaz''.47 Thus, ''the 'arifun ascend from ... majaz to ... haqaqa'', from the figural to the literal.48 For ''nothing possesses huwHya ('he-ness') other than He [huwa] except in a figural sense (bi'l-majaz)''. ''Huwlya'', the abstract form of the third-person pronoun huwa, is one of the terms used in falsafa to render ''existence''. In his work The Highest Aim (al-Maqsad al-Asna), Ghazala isolates ''huwa huwa'' and ''huwa ghayruhu'' as the basic form when one wants to say of something ''It is ...'' or ''It is not ...''

(lit. other than ... ).''49 But for the 'arif the third-person pronoun huwa no longer functions simply at the literal level. '' 'Huwa''', he explains in the Niche, ''is an expression ('ibhra] for an allusion (ishhra) to whatever [a thing] is, but there is no allusion to anything other than He [i.e. God]'', so that ''whenever you refer (asharta) to a thing, you in reality allude to Him, although ... you are unaware of it because of your ignorance of ultimate reality''. So much follows from the earlier statement that ''nothing possesses existence [he-ness, ''huwaya''] other than He (huwa) except in a figural sense (bi'l-majaz)''.

One might paraphrase the latter statement to say that whenever one says ''It is ...'', one indirectly speaks of God, although the sentence one formulates speaks of something else. After all, speakers can mean what they say, but can mean something more as well. In other words, khabari, declarative or reported meaning, is what is meant when one says ''huwa huwa'' to refer to a thing. Ishari or allusive meaning is what signifies indirectly. For example, whenever the 'arif refers to a thing using ''huwa'' he refers indirectly to God.

Earlier, we noted that Ghazali classified this type of indirect speech-act as a form of signification by implication (dalalat al-iltizhm). Implications (lawaazim) are known from linguistic, rational or ''situational contexts such as allusions (isharat) and symbols (rumuz)''. Signification by correspondence (dalalat al-mutabaqa) and inclusion (dalalat al-tadaamun) is best suited for signifying individuals and their properties in the material world. But this latter world ''parallel[s] the world of malakut''. Furthermore, ''there is nothing in the former that is not a representation (mithal) for something in the latter'', and in fact one thing in the former is a mithal for several things in the world of malakut, so that ''a single thing in malakut has many representations in the material world''. Yet the possible range of meaning (ma'hni) revealed to the saint extends beyond this world. This is why express meaning ('ibara) is also inadequate. Accordingly, Ghazali in the Niche tends to broaden his analysis of verbal signification to include the phenomenon of ishhra. It forms in fact the basis of his theory of mystical meaning.

Ishhra literally means ''pointing'', since by pointing one can signify all at once things it would need many words to express ('abara) verbally (bi'l-lafz).50 In al-Mustasfa Ghazali describes ishhra as ''what one grasps from an expression [that] comes not from the expression [itself]'', but the meaning ''to which the expression extends without expressly intending it, e.g., what one understands by the speaker's allusion and by a gesture he makes while he speaks to give some hint that the expression by itself does not signify''. However, ''something not intended and not built upon the expression from the standpoint of grammar may [nonetheless] coincide with it".51 We see this when a person says, ''This hike is longer than I remember'', and means primarily but not exclusively, ''I need a rest.'' He communicates something in addition to, although clearly related to, the meaning the sentence conveys.

Hence, an ishara will maintain the 'ibira (express meaning) but extend beyond it. For this reason, Ghazili can say, '' 'Huwa' ['He'] is an expression ('ibira) for an allusion (ishira)." And Abu Hayyin al-Tawhidi (d. 1023), in his Sufi work The Divine Allusions (al-Isharit al-Ilahiya), can exhort his readers ''to lay hold of the ishara buried within the 'ibira''. The ishara does not contradict the grammatical function of 'ibaara (express meaning) or differ from it morphologically or syntactically. Rather, its grammatical, morphological and syntactic function is used to perform the act of ishara. For, as Tawhidi asserts, ishari or allusive meaning ''is a concomitant feature of the composition of letters'' making up the sentences of the qur'anic text, except that ''the ishaara is beyond the rules governing names, verbs and circumstances''.52

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