Archangel Gabriel. Persian Miniature, around 1375–1425. From the manuscript, “The Wonders of Creatures and Peculiarities of Things” by Zakariya al-Qazwini (c. 1200–1283).
In the collections of the British Museum in London.
Another sharing for the day from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, more excerpts from Azizuddin Nasafi’s ‘Book of the Perfect Man’, Fayard, Paris, 1984. Our English translation comes from Isabelle de Gastine’s French translation of the original Persian. From pages 128 to 130, then 130 to 132 and finally 263 & 264.
‘Know that when the drop of semen falls into the matrix, it is at the likeliness of the primal substance. When it disintegrates in four layers, it is at the likeliness of the elements and ‘temperaments’ (natures). When the limbs appear, they are the exterior ones, such as the head, the hands, stomach, genitals, the feet –all at the likeliness of the seven climates; the interior ones, such as the lungs, the brain, the kidneys, the heart, gall, liver and spleen – all are at the likeliness of the seven heavens.
The lungs correspond to the first heaven; they represent the realm of the moon because the moon is the lung of the macrocosmos and that she is intermediary in between the two worlds. In this realm, there are many angels; the one appointed to the balancing of the air and the water is the ruler of these angels.
The brain correspond to the second heaven; it represent the realm of Mercury because Mercury is the brain of the macrocosmos. In this realm, there are many angels; the one appointed to the study of the scriptures and of the sciences, also to the acquisition of the means of livelihood is the ruler of these angels and his name is Gabriel. He is the angel of knowledge.
The kidneys correspond to the third heaven. They represent the realm of Venus because Venus is the kidney of the macrocosmos. In this realm, there are many angels. The one appointed to vivacity, joy and carnal appetite is the ruler of these angels.
The heart correspond to the fourth heaven. It represent the realm of the sun because the sun is the heart of the macrocosmos. In this realm, there are many angels. The one appointed to life is the ruler of these angels. His name is Seraphiel. He is the angel of life.
The gall correspond to the fifth heaven. It represent the realm of Mars because Mars is the gall of the macrocosmos. In this realm, there are many angels. The one appointed to domination, anger, to violence and to murder is the ruler of these angels.
Liver corresponds to the sixth heaven. It represents the realm of Jupiter because Jupiter is the liver of the macrocosmos. In this realm, there are many angels. The one appointed to daily bread is the ruler of these angels. His name is Michael. He is mankind’s provider.
The spleen correspond to the seventh heaven. It represents the realm of Saturn because Saturn is the spleen of the macrocosmos. In this realm, there are many angels. The one appointed to the gathering of the souls is the ruler of these angels. His name is Azrael. He is the angel of death.
The animal spirit correspond to the sky. It represents the realm of the motionless because it is the sky of the macrocosmos. In this realm there are many angels.
The psychic spirit correspond to the throne. It represents the realm of the spheres because it is the throne of the macrocosmos, the intellect of the vicar of God.
The limbs, as long as they are in the embryonic state are at the likeliness of the minerals. When the growth in them appears, they are at the likeliness of the plants. When the senses and voluntary movement in them appear, they are at the likeliness of the animal.’
‘Know that in the macrocosmos there is Adam, Eve and Iblis; that it is the same in the microcosmos; also that there are big cats, beasts, demons and angels; it is the same in the microcosmos.
O Dervish ! Man is the microcosmos. Intelligence is the Adam of this microcosmos. The body is Eve; Illusion is Iblis; desire, the peacock; anger, the snake. Beautiful character is paradise; bad character is hell. The faculties of the intellect, of the spirit and of the body are the angels.
O Dervish ! There is a distinction between Satan and Iblis. Satan represent nature; Iblis, illusion.
O Dervish ! It is not the appearance that counts but the meaning. It is not the name or the genealogy but the value. The dog, by his canine appearance, is neither vile nor impure; it is by its ferocity and appetite to bite that it is. And when these features are to be found in man, he is called a dog. A swine, by his porcine appearance is neither vile or impure; it is by its voracity and avidity that it is. And when these features are to be found in man, he is called a swine. Satan, by his devilish appearance, is neither vile or impure; but by his rebellion, his corruption and his hex that he is. And when these features are to be found in man, he is called satanic (wicked). Iblis, by his diabolical appearance is neither banished nor rejected; It is by his arrogance, his vanity, his jealousy and his disobedience, that he is. And when these features are to be found in man, he is called demoniacal. The angel, by his angelical appearance, is neither noble nor good; it is by his obedience and his devotion that he is. And when these features are to be found in man, he is called angelical. Know that it is alike in everything. The aim of the vicar of God is to conquer these qualities, to subject them in a way that none will exercise itself, out of its order. The vicar of God is like Salomon: He has them all.
O Dervish ! The angel as much as Iblis is a power. As long as this power is not subjected to Salomon, it is called ‘ Iblis’; and Salomon keeps it prisoner. As soon as this power is subjected to Solomon, it is called ‘ Angel’ and Solomon uses it giving a task to everyone: This one will be an architect; this other one will be a pearl diver. So, Solomon’s task is to transform qualities – not to annihilate them, as this could not be. He makes obedient the rebel, honest the outcast. He brings back sight to the blind, hearing to the death, life to the dead. In doing so, Intelligence, the vicar of God, is at the same time, Adam, Salomon and Jesus. If it would be otherwise, like if Solomon would be subject to the powers of evil- Solomon would be prisoner of the dog and the swine; he would be entangled with Satan and the demons. Every day, he would have to serve them, come forth to their desires – in their hands, he would be a beggar and miserable. The demons would prevail and would occupy the throne, as Solomon would stand in front of them and would tie the belt of servitude. In him, all the divine qualities would be veiled and hidden; all demoniacal features would be revealed and unleashed.
O Dervish ! Such a person, even though he would have human appearance, would be truly a demon, Satan, a dog or a swine. It is pitiful that a demon sits on the throne and that Solomon, in front of him, come forth at his service.’
‘Know that the angel is a being of light; and the beast is a being of the darkness. Angel and beast own only one world. Man owns both. God almighty created the angel provided with intelligence but without any carnal appetite; the animal provided with carnal appetite and lacking intelligence; man, provided with both intelligence and carnal appetite. When the intelligence in man wins over the carnal appetite, man is superior to the angel; when the carnal appetite is winning over the intelligence, man is inferior to the animal.
Having learned the meaning of the angel, know now that angels have levels. Some are in the superior world; and some in the inferior world. In both worlds, there exists a hierarchy. To each angel is designated a rank. The know and the how of each is determined – his science will not grow or diminish; his task will not vary. None may exceed the rank that has been his own; all are busy with their work.
‘They do not disobey God’s Order; they do what is commanded.’ Qur’an, 66-VI.
The angels of the superior world are, on one side, the cherubs, and on the other side, pure spirits. It may happen that both cherubs and pure spirits, on God’s order, descend on Earth. Sometime, like it is recalled in the Qur’an about Mary and Abraham, they take a shape and confer with some men, saying to them: ‘ We are angels sent by God to fulfill a task.’ Sometime again, the angels don’t appear to men, but with a distinct voice speak to them, assigning them a task or informing them about a state. This voice is the ‘secret voice’. Finally, sometime angels don’t express themselves in open voice, but communicate directly to the heart of man.
This being said, know now that every time an angel insufflates a world in man’s heart- this communication, if it is done during the waking time, is called ‘ inspiration’; during sleep, it is called ‘ true dream’. Every time, the angels descend to Earth, taking a shape, appear to the Prophets and transmit them God’s word, this word is called ‘ revelation’. To some Prophets, revelation comes during sleep. This was the case of our Prophet during the six first months of his mission. From this, it has been said that the true dream is one of the forty six part of prophecy. But the dream of any one who sees what he has seen or heard during his wake, is groundless; to that dream, there is no possible interpretation.’