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Excerpt from 'The Three-Character Rhymed Classic on the Ka‘bah' by Ma Fu-ch’u (Yusuf Ma Dexin)

Excerpt from 'The Three-Character Rhymed Classic on the Ka‘bah' by Ma Fu-ch’u (Yusuf Ma Dexin)

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The foundation of the Path

is clearly to acknowledge God,

not bounded by space

nor limited by form

without end or beginning,

not to be apprehended by the senses,

neither near nor far,

the Uniquely Sublime;

not empty nothingness

but Truth and Reality,

mysterious and hard to fathom,

beyond definition,

resembling Goodness and Reason,

yet like empty space,

Reality, Truth and Being,

wondrous and beyond description.

If we simply consider Being,

not trying to ponder too deeply,

Being’s great attribute

is called Consciousness-Potency,

Consciousness foreshadowing the intelligence of things

and Potency implying forms;

creative change begins

when the archetypes are born;

the Great Command is given

which is the gate to all marvels;

natures and intelligences are separated out

prefiguring their forms;

the myriad intelligences muster

and the subtle substance forms;

what one calls the Primal Spirit

is truly all-pervasive

from the limits of the Previous Heaven

to the roots of the Later Heaven;

the male and female principles emerge

and the four elements are manifested

and their celestial and chthonic aspects fixed;

when the myriad forms are complete

they make Man.


(Ma Fu-ch’u; Yusuf Ma Dexin, 1794–1874)
Recommended Reading:
'Chinese Gleams of Sufi Light: With a New Translation of Jami's Lawa'ih from the Persian'
By William C. Chittick
Purchase Book:
Chinese Gleams of Sufi Light investigates, for the first time in a Western language, the manner in which the Muslim scholars of China adapted the Chinese tradition to their own needs during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The book surveys the 1400-year history of Islam in China and explores why the four books translated from Islamic languages into Chinese before the twentieth century were all Persian Sufi texts. The author also looks carefully at the two most important Muslim authors of books in the Chinese language, Wang Tai-yu and Liu Chih. Murata shows how they assimilated Confucian social teachings and Neo-Confucian metaphysics, as well as Buddhism and Taoism, into Islamic thought. She presents full translations of Wang's Great Learning of the Pure and Real--a text on the principles of Islam--and Liu Chih's Displaying the Concealment of the Real Realm, which in turn is a translation from Persian of Lawa'ih', a famous Sufi text by Jami. A new translation of Jami's Lawa'ih' from the Persian by William C. Chittick is juxtaposed with Liu Chih's work, revealing the latter's techniques in adapting the text to the Chinese language and Chinese thought.
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