Rabb al-mashriqayn (two places of sunrise)

A Lord who wants to replace my mindless way of being the world with an awareness that things are happening at His command, by His power and will, by His wisdom and mercy, can and does tell me that he is Lord of the place of the rising of the sun – the east. And that He is the one who makes it set. Time, life, existence are but His actions and, in short, I have a Lord who is doing all this. He addresses my fears born of my on weakness and poverty to attain my dreams and find eternal life and unending and undying, perfect/holy joy and satisfaction. And if he only told me this, he would at most be the Lord who creates.

My second easts are many. I’ll mention three that matter most to me.

  1. The Lord of two easts and two wests (and hence of many easts and wests) is the Lord who i can know as not only the One who creates but the One who resurrects because he re-creates. A power and wisdom that creates a sunrise and then a sunset is a step above mindlessness about any divine action around me at all. But it is not yet the answer to my heart’s deepest needs – is the Lord One who can and will give life after death? is He one who can and wants to bring back to light/existence that which He brings to decline/decay and death? The speaker in the Quran points me to the occurence of two (and more) risings and settings as the creation and “Re-creation” (not unlike how he tells me about brining the earth back to life after its death) of sunrise and sunset. He did not create me to show me how great He is. He created me and shows me He wants to give me eternal existence! He is pointing me to the return of the sunrise – my second east and saying i need to know Him (if i want my heart’s peace) as the Lord of two easts and two wests and not just the one.
  2. Related to the first point, there is the geographical east as a physical location and then there is the meaning that this east points to (a second east). The geographical east and the geographical West (its one at a time anyway for a common person like me) are the physical aspects of east and west – a place or direction from my human point of view. As only this east and west, I often fail to recognize that they are being sustained by a Lord. And so my making them dual (two easts and two wests), I feel the Quran is saying that the east and west have a second aspect. The second east is the face of the east that is its meaning – what does it mean that the sun is rising in the east and setting in the (first) west)? What does the east point to, for me? This meaning of the east is the second aspect, a second east, which tells me of a Lord or sustainer who is doing all the activity I associate with the physical place or direction. And the One that the physical rising of the sun refers to i.e. the Sustainer whose (power, compassion, love, wisdom) is being shown by the physical east is my Lord.
  3. Further, the second east is also the non-physical (metaphorical) “East” of my life – when things are emerging and ascending in my life, they have a Lord. They emerge and rise in my life (e.g. intelligence or knowledge or love or success of any kind) by His sustaining action. He brings them to me. The suns of my life rise at His command and He is the Lord who sets them to show me that He is Lord, not those things themselves! The setting/west on its own is often an evil to me but the declines i experience in my life, the verse is telling me, is pointing to the Lord. It is by His action that my health is taken and my soul is taken from this world. By His action that a sun sets in my life (e.g. i lose something i love) so that I can experience a new dawn and therefore see Him as the owner and source of all that I love.

may my Lord be, in my heart, the Lord of two or more and not just one, east and two or more, and not just one, west…

Published by Faraz Sheikh

Faraz Sheikh

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