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Fall of Man

Roya's Corner.
By Roya Monajem, Tehran

Since the day I started reading books, I always had this question that why in contrast to Western literature, our contemporary literary writings (particularly before the revolution) are almost completely devoid of any reference to or quotations from the Holy Book, Koran? A Christian book reader, even when brought up in an atheist family, is bound to come across Bible when reading literary writings, or even listening to many lyrics of the contemporary pop music. On the other hand, a contemporary Persian can die with the most insignificant contact and at best the most superficial one with the content of Koran, of course disregarding what is taught at schools that seems to produce mainly aversion for the majority. What may be the probable reasons?

It seems that the first major problem here is the problem of language. Christians were freed of such a setback by the virtue of Lutherian Revolt and translation of Bible into all European languages. As the result, Westerners can pick up the Bible and start reading it without having much difficulty in understanding it. For us Persians the situation is different. Koran is still in a foreign language, the language of our conquerors - Arabs. And it seems that many of us still find it hard to surrender completely. As did our forefathers who after the fall of Persian Empire, manifested their reaction and resistance to the ruling 'Anirans' (foreigners, in that case Arab caliphs) and their religion by invention of Shiitism, and later as it also happened in Christendom when Evangels (glad tidings, good news) turned to evil tidings by the virtue of Christian priests and the Church and a form of underground mystic movement started, here too Islamic mysticism emerged as a form of resistance to the ruling Shiite ecclesiastic. (Today's Iran is also overflowing with all kinds of spiritualistic and mystical movements.)

Leaving the psychology of a defeated nation alone, here our first problem is the language of Koran that we can not relate to. But a simple translation can not solve this problem as it did in case of Bible either. For in contrast to the major European languages which have their roots in Latin -- the original language of Bible - or Greek, Persian and Arabic languages belong to two completely different races and thus cultures. And those of us, who in addition to our mother tongue can speak another language, know how it is sometimes almost impossible to translate a word and a concept from one of these languages to another. And the most one can do is what Fitzgerald did with Khayam's poetry, writing his own understanding of it instead of translating it. And the real importance of Rumi, Hafez, Sadii and other major Persian poets in the life of Persians originates perhaps from more or less the same fact. Their poetry includes their understanding of Koran rendered in Persian. That is perhaps the most important reason for finding a book of Hafez poetry beside Koran in almost every Persian House. And while Koran is kept on the shelf, we live with Hafez. We Persians have our peculiar and quite subtle ways of resistance.

I was an angel and sublime heaven was my place
Adam brought me to this ruined oasis.

Who needs to be reminded that this is the reference to the story of the Fall of Man? Thus we are confronted with a three-folded problem: first Koran is in a completely foreign language, second this is the language of a race which we take as responsible for overthrowing the Great Persian Empire, and thirdly it is untranslatable, it has to be read in its original language. Let us not forget the fact that Koran was Mohammad's only miracle (it is said that it is like poetry), in contrast to Moses and Jesus who were both Miracle-man. And ignorance in this relation is a real problem because it implies that we stay unaware of a great source of our culture, our psyche, our world view.

Anyhow, the whole idea of this piece came from my recent courage in developing the will to try to understand the cryptic or symbolic language of the story of creation of human beings and their fall in the Holy Book (it is more or less the same in Bible and Koran). Why should Man be created first and Woman only as 'an help meet for him' and out of his rib, without feeling offence and nauseated and humiliated and in one word feminist.

"And unto Adam he (God) said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;" (Genesis, Ch.3, 17).

If it is true that the English word 'man' comes from the old Persian word with the same pronunciation meaning thought, in other words if 'Man is Mind' as Rumi says then an interpretation of the Story of Creation of Man can be that God created 'thought' first and then created matter (woman) for its manifestation ('an help to meet for 'thought'). In other words matter is born out of thought. Isn't this exactly what happens in any creative work; first comes the idea and then it has to be put into action.

"And the rib which the Lord God had taken from man made he a woman and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh." (Genesis, Ch. 2, 22, 23).

In other words, Woman (matter) then becomes the best or the core substance of Man (thought) and she begets man's flesh, which can mean thoughts should be fed with matter or praxis if they are to be unfolded and thus manifested. As such there is nothing humiliating, lowering, degrading in relation to women. Rather it seems that the major aspect of women's problem today, that is, after accomplishing legal equality in many parts of the world originates from our habitual judgmental thinking. Why do we continue to think that Darkness, Coldness, Heaviness, Moon, Matter, Woman .(Yin) are inferior to Light, Heat, Lightness, Sun, Energy, Man.(Yang)? Why do we think that 'thought' is superior to 'matter'?

On the other hand, isn't the whole domain of thoughts (i.e. knowledge) man-made? So why do women get offended to be considered as the 'second' sex, second in the ordinary sense of the word? As a living organism with a dominant animal part we are first a self-oriented and then a species-oriented creature. Why should women wonder why God, the God introduced to us by and through Men, never selected a woman as his prophet? And if He or another God did, don't you think that men would then have had exactly the same fate? Let us not ignore the laws of nature!

Now the rest of the story of Man:

He was not supposed to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil which he finally did due to Eve's seduction. And Eve was seduced when the serpent told her that if they eat that fruit 'their eyes shall be opened and they shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.' First God created man in its own image and then man gained his knowledge as well, by eating from the forbidden tree. Their only difference is now that Man is mortal. In fact he was driven out of heaven in order to prevent him from 'putting forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever.' (Genesis: Ch.3, 22).

By virtue of Einstein discovery (energy equals to matter times the square of the speed of light) we now know that energy and matter are two different yet interchangeable entities, man and woman are different and as different entities they have their own unique characteristics and conceptions and world-views. To me this is the determining fact still disregarded. We are continuing to make this historical mistake of taking Men's valuations, conceptions, world views as human valuations, conceptions, world views.

In the language of physics what is going on in the domain of energy is different from that which is happening in the world of matter. There can be no true opposition and enmity between inter-related and mutually dependent phenomena. So where does this enmity between men and women originates from.

"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed."

Let us put an end to this historical-cultural if not cosmogonal enmity which is in reality enmity with our individual self and thus with the whole world. Outside is the mirror of Inside. If we want peace outside, in our world, it is imperative to stop all our intra- and inter-oppositions and enmities.

Let us be 'an help meet for him' whose God has not only driven him out of His Heaven, but contemplates on destroying him because of his further actions on the face of the earth:

"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart."

And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth." (Genesis, Ch.6, 5.6.7)

... Payvand News - 1/29/03 ... --

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