The Green Man of the Qur'an

Eylon Israeli

Just a little something I read last night:

(Wilson, Peter Lamborn, "Sacred Drift - Essays on the Margins of Islam",  San-Francisco, 1993,  p. 140 -- in the last essay, titled "Sacred Drift", and dealing mainly with the concept of 'Travel' is Sufism. This book, and the author's previous one titled "Scandal", are both excellent thought provoking readings from a 'renegade scholar' in search of 'poetic facts'. The paragraph quoted is, of course, out of context, and should be read likewise.  )

"Some have identified Khezr with St. George -- but he might more accurately be seen as both St. George and the dragon in one figure.  Nature, for esoteric Islam, does not need to be pinned down like some biology specimen or household pest -- there exists no deep moral struggle between Nature and Order  in the Islamic worldview. The "spirits" of Nature, such as Khezr and the djinn -- who are in sense the principles of natural power -- recognize in the Muhammadan Light that green portion of the spectrum upon which they themselves are also situated. If Christian moralism "fixes" Nature by "killing it," Islam proceeds by conversion -- or rather, by transmutation.

"Nature maintains its measure of independence from merely human and moral sphere, while both realms are bathed in the integrative and salvific light of Muhammadan knowledge. Nowadays Khezr might well be induced to reappear as the patron of modern militant eco-enviromentalism, since he represents the fulcrum or nexus between wild(er)ness and the human/humane. Rather than attempt to moralize Nature (which never works because Nature is amoral), Khadirian Enviromentalism would rejoice simulaneously both in its utter wildness and its "meaningfulness" -- Nature as tajalli (the "shining through" of the divine into creation; the manifestation of each thing as divine light), Nature as an aesthetic of realization.

"Khezr is the embodiment of the hadith 'Three things of this world delight the heart: water, green things, and a beautiful face.' He is also, as we shall see, the very patron and personification of Sufi travel."


posted on the Donmeh West news list
Mon 15 Feb 1999


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page uploaded 7 October 1999