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Frithjof Schuon

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Extract from “Metaphysics of the Name”

The Name Allāh contains two syllables, one short and one long, which betoken two hypostatic mysteries, namely, the Absolute and the Infinite, or the combination—one could say—between the Absolute and its dimension of Infinitude. The absolute is what admits no augmentation or diminution, hence what excludes all relativity; and the infinite is what contains no limitation, either extrinsic or intrinsic. With regard to spatial symbolism the Absolute and the Infinite suggest, respectively, the geometric point and extension, the first indicating pure Essence, and the second All-Possibility. The potentiality of the Absolute Principle is infinite; it is because necessary Being includes possible being that the world exists.

In addition to spatial symbolism there is also temporal symbolism: the relationship point-extension corresponds to the relationship instant-duration; such a parallelism at the very basis of existence must have a metaphysical foundation. Incontestably, space is static and time dynamic; now space relates to Substance—ether gives proof of this—and time to Energy; the divine Principle is at once Substance and Energy, and each of these aspects implies both Absoluteness and Infinitude, which is another way of saying that the Absolute is at once static and dynamic—if it can be so expressed—and the same is true of the Infinite. It is therefore not only the hypostases of Absoluteness and Infinitude that meet or are combined in the divine Nature, but also the hypostases of Substantiality and Energy or of Consciousness and Power—Consciousness because the Principle is the Self, and Power because the Principle radiates and determines all. God is Intelligence and Will and is such absolutely and infinitely, Will being the intrinsic consequence of Intelligence. To know is to will, and to know the Good is to love; “God is Love”.

God is “He Who is”; “I am that I am.” To be is to radiate; a reality radiates to the extent it is; pure Being is pure Radiation.

The Name Allāh not only contains two syllables, one short and one long, but also—within each syllable—two sounds, a vowel and a consonant, namely, the sounds a and l, the vowel indicating Substance and the consonant Energy. The at the end is a final synthesis, which is proven by its association with the word Huwa, “He”, which signifies the Essence. The vowel a is static, and it expresses Substance because it is in itself an invariable “extension”; the consonant l is dynamic, and it expresses Energy because it is a “compression”, hence a “becoming”.

To this doctrine of the Ism is joined that of the Shahādah, the four words of which—lā ilāha illā 'Llāh—signify respectively: Manifestation as such, the reflection of the Principle in Manifestation, the prefiguration of Manifestation in the Principle, the Principle as such.

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