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Al-Baytu’l-Ma‘mur (The Prosperous House)

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Key Concepts in the Practice of Sufism-4

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Fethullah Gülen

Literally meaning the prosperous house or house of worship, al- Baytu’l-Ma‘mur is a luminous construction above the heavens which, as stated in a hadith, is visited or circumambulated every day by seventy thousand angels[1]—the figure denotes multiplicity so it may actually be seventy million or more—; it is the heavenly counterpart of the Ka‘ba, which exists on the same line. The angels who visit or circumambulate it once will not be able to have another turn to do so again. Both this house and the Ka‘ba—God’s House on the earth—are prosperous due to the deep respect which the angels, spirit beings, and many humans and jinn show them; the former is visited by the angels and spirit beings and the latter by angels, spirit beings and many humans and jinn.

Al-Baytu’l-Ma‘mur is one of the sacred places by which God swears in the Qur’an (52:4). The other place of the same sacredness is God’s House, which, as its reflection on the earth, is the heart of the earth and the pupil of the Secure Town—Makka. The former is visited by heavenly beings, who go round it, while the latter is visited and circumambulated by those on the earth. However, it cannot be said that those who go round the former are not also moths that flit around the latter. Neither can it be said that the “heavenly” beings who live on the earth do not offer their respects to the heavenly Prosperous House. Those who visit and go round these two Houses, from which God never removes His “eyes,” have special regard for the Ultimate Truth, Who returns their regard with particular compliments and favors. Those who happen to visit these blessed places are considered to be God’s guests, and mean to abandon themselves in a cataract of revival. It is hoped from God that they will be saved from the causes of eternal loss, such as unbelief and misguidance. Those who reach al- Baytu’l-Ma‘mur and visit God’s House on the earth after an endeavor inspired and compelled by belief do not die misguided.

The most reliable sources provide information that al-Baytu’l- Ma‘mur is above the heavens. Some of the Companions and respected interpreters of the Qur’an say that until the end of Prophet Noah’s Messengership, upon him and our Prophet be peace, it existed where the Ka‘ba is or was bound to it with a spiritual tie. However, since the people of that time did not pay it the required respect, when the Flood began God lifted it to a heavenly point on the same line as the Ka‘ba. Concerning such an assertion with respect to the Unseen, we can say nothing but: “True knowledge is with God.”

Some of the earlier scholars’ view that al-Baytu’l-Ma‘mur is the Ka‘ba must have arisen from a confusion of the original with its projection and been based on seeing the positions where the Qur’an was sent down for the first and second times as one and the same.

There have been a few people who have put forward that the first position where the Qur’an was sent down first from the Supreme Preserved Tablet to the heaven is al-Baytu’l-‘Izza— the House of Honor. This must be due to the fact that since the position where the Divine Word was first embodied is regarded as a site around which sacred beings go, al-Baytu’l-Ma‘mur has been identified with and therefore called al-Baytu’l-‘Izza.

Some Sufis have regarded al-Baytu’l-Ma‘mur as the heart of the heroes of “ subsistence by and with God.” As can also be witnessed in some approaches to the ‘Arsh and the Kursiyy, some Sufis have considered what is projected or relative as the original itself. In fact, Sidratu’l-Muntaha is related to al-Baytu’l-Ma‘mur, and al-Baytu’l- Ma‘mur is related to the Ka‘ba, and all of these are related to the heart of a believer in varying degrees; the heart is, in one sense, both an ‘Arsh and a Sidra and a Baytu’l-Ma‘mur, provided it is genuine, and not false.

O God! O Illuminator of hearts! Illuminate our hearts with the lights of Your knowledge and pour upon us out of the knowledge of those who have proper knowledge of You! Bestow blessings and peace on our master Muhammad, the master of those who have proper knowledge of You, and on his Family and Companions, who were sincere and reached the final point of their journey to meet with You.

[1] ‘Abdu’r-Razzaq, al-Musannaf, 5:28–29; Ibn Kathir, Tafsiru’l-Qur’an, 3:13, 24.