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Observations placeholder

Shah, Idries - The Sufis - QaLB



Type of Spiritual Experience


In the following description Idries Shah is showing how the single word of QALB takes on a number of symbolic meanings within the Sufi code system.  He uses ‘turned upside down – meaning ‘the mirror’ of the spiritual world which is a mirror of the physical world.

A palm tree in Arabian symbolism is equated with the kundalini experience.  As a symbol it is very effective – the explosion of energy at the top of the trunk which resembles the spine.  The red bunches of dates also closely tie in with the grapes used in Greek symbolism and the pine cone.

A description of the experience

Idries Shah – The Sufis


The Arabic word QLB is not confined in meaning to the form QaLB (heart), which is one of its most familiar forms.

In the Sufi sense, QLB is considered to have the following meanings, all straightforward dictionary derivations of this triliteral root:

 QaLaB = to turn a thing upside-down. A reference to the Sufi dictum: "The world is upside down."

 QaLaB = to extract the marrow of a palm tree. The palm tree, as noted elsewhere, is the Sufi term for baraka and the magic square of fifteen, which contains Sufi diagrammatic and mathematical material. The "marrow" is used in the sense of the essence, vital portion.

 QaLaB = to become red. Applied to dates, the product of the palm, Iater associated with the alchemical idea of the "red elixir."

AQLaB = to be baked on one side. Used for bread, and in a special Sufi sense, denoting a part of a developmental process of transformation, analogized with turning one thing (dough) into what seems to be another (bread).

QaLB = reverse; invert; wrong side. This is also associated with "molding" and a matrix (QALiB), the formative apparatus.

 QaLB = heart, mind, soul; intimate thought; marrow, pith; best part. AIso used in the compound phrase qalb el-muqaddas, literally "the Sacred Heart," meaning the part of mankind which partakes of the essence of divinity.

The source of the experience

Shah, Idries

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

False pregnancy

Activities and commonsteps



Sexual stimulation