Corbin, Henry - Jabalqa and Jabarsa
Type of Spiritual Experience
These two cities are sited diametrically opposite to one another. One in the ‘Orient’ and the other in the ‘Occident’.
One is symbolic of dawn and the other of sunset. One is symbolic therefore of new system, one of old system – the dawn of a civilisation and the death of a civilisation – the rise of an empire the fall of an empire. Thus the systems that are in place at the time. They will be different.
There is a very strong possibility that the civilisation in question is that of the Islamic empire. Thus the Islamic visionaries who were able to ‘see’ these cities were effectively seeing their own civilisation and its state. In the second quote, we can see that Shaikh Ibrahimi - quoting the second Imam - perceived the Islamic empire to be thriving and growing. Symbolically, the Islamic empire is ‘enclosed’ meaning it is an exclusive as opposed to inclusive system, but it has many gates, meaning it does allow new entrants – in fact the symbolism would tend to suggest it encourages them. It is an empire built on ‘strength’ – the iron of the fortress [like Margaret Thatcher’s reputation as the iron lady]. Thus we have strength, will, resilience, determination, but the fortress means the empire is built on military strength.
There is also a quote from Tabari. This then is the ideal system as perceived by Tabari. The spiritual nature of the vision is perfectly clear from the references to Qaf – which is a symbolic ‘mountain’ and especially to the nature of the light in the vision which is exactly the same as the light perceived in most visions – luminescent, brilliant colours, objects emitting light and not reflecting it.
Tabari would like the perfect Islamic civilisation to be vegetarian. Tabari was a historian writing in the ninth century and his views would have been influenced by the prevailing feeling of the time that the ‘fall of Adam’ was unwelcome, as such he is envisioning a system where ‘the fall’ has not taken place – we have not tasted of the Tree of Knowledge and thus are more like children and innocent – which is why the symbol of nakedness is used.
It is a little unclear in all these observations whether the observers had the vision of what they wanted to see or whether they understood the symbolism and simply expressed it as a characteristic they wanted to see in the hope that people would aspire to it. By stating it, it may happen, if it happened a visionary would then see it, so there is a sort of cyclical nature to the visions of cities we see well expressed here… wish for it hard enough and it may appear…………. Note how the sixth Imam's vision is different from the others.
A description of the experience
Shamsuddin Muhammad Lahiji – Commentary on Gulshan-I Raz [trnmslated by Henry Corbin and Nancy Pearson]
Jabalqa and Jabarsa are two immense cities, the one facing the other, and in truth there is no limit to the multitude of creatures which inhabit them both. And as each of the worlds has respectively its Orient and Occident, the author of the ‘Rose Garden of the Mystery’ declares ‘Meditate conjointly the Orients and the Occidents, notwithstanding that our world here below has only one of each.
Shaikh Abu’l-Qasim Khan Ibrahimi – from Tanziq al-awliyd [translated by Henry Corbin and Nancy Pearson] 1947
From the second Imam, Hasan ibn ‘Ali, the following saying is reported; ‘God possesses two cities, one to the West, the other to the East, at whose summit there rises an iron fortress. Encircling both of these cities there is a surrounding wall containing one million golden gates. Seven million languages are spoken there, each different from the other. I know all of these languages, just as I know everything within these two cities and everything contained in the space between them.
Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth – Henry Corbin [translated by Nancy Pearson] 1977
Jabarsa and Jabalqa, Tabari tells us, are two emerald cities that lie immediately beyond the mountain of Qaf. Like those of the Heavenly Jerusalem, their dimensions express quaternity, the symbol of perfection and wholeness. The surface of each is a square, the sides measuring twelve thousand parasangs. The inhabitants do not know the existence of our Adam, nor of Iblis, the Antagonist; their food consists exclusively of vegetables; they have no need of clothing, for their faith in God makes them like the angels, although they are not angels. Since they are not differentiated by sex, they have no desire for posterity. Lastly, all their light comes to them from the mountain of Qaf, while the minerals in their soil and the walls of their towns secrete their own light.
Abu ‘Abd Allah sixth Imam, Ja’far Sadiq [translated by Henry Corbin and Nancy Pearson]
.. Their devotion is ardent and their diligence passionate. The wall surrounding their cities is pierced by gates; between each gate there is a distance of 100 parasangs. They celebrate magnificent liturgies and devotions. Their invocation and their spiritual effort are so intense, that if you saw them, you would have but a poor opinion of your own behaviour. Some of them pray for a whole month without raising their heads from their prostrate position. Their nourishment is hymnology; their clothing is verdant youth; their faces have the brilliance of the morning light. When they see one of Us, they greet him with a kiss; they gather around him and cut out the earth which retains his footprint in order to keep it as a kind of relic. When they intone the Prayer, the hum of their psalmody is heard above the roar of the most violent wind. Among them there is a whole group who have not laid down their arms since they began to await the advent of the one among us who will be the Resurrector and they call on God to reveal Him to them; one of them is a thousand years old.
The source of the experienceCorbin, Henry
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps
SuppressionsBeing left handed
I have grouped this observation under Corbin for ease of reference, it is obviously Corbin himself who was left handed.