4. The Family

4. The Family


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى ءاله وصحبه أجمعين وسلّم

Title: The Family

Author: Khadija Carberry

Publication date: 21/9/2013

Assalamu alaykum. Welcome to the Civilisation and Society Programme of the MFAS (Muslim Faculty of Advanced Studies). This is the fourth of 12 sessions which make up the Society through Literature module. The entire session will last approximately 1 hour and comprise a lecture of around 40 minutes, followed by a 10 minute interval, and ending with a short question & answer period. You are encouraged to make a written note of any questions that may occur to you for clarification after the lecture. 

Allah is the protector of those who have iman

He brings them out of the darkness into the light. (Al Qur’an Al Baqarah 257)

My intention is that this paper be a thought provoking study of the contemporary family and the perversion of its mechanics by idealism. D H Lawrence offers incredible insights into the modern manifestation of idealism in his works. He examined the systemic perversion of all forms of relationships, from the relationships with the self to the relationship with nature. I remember my first encounter with him, on my A Level reading list. I was fascinated by him and initially horrified by his apt and uncompromising explorations of the inner workings of us ‘modern’ beings. I was even more horrified by the manner in which the teacher dealt with the jewel of Lawrence, as if his work was simply an illustration of his innate sexual perversion. Another teacher told me not to take him too seriously! Luckily I had found Sons and Lovers on my mother’s bookshelf during the previous summer. I had been able to read and ingest this work before it was tainted by these views. To appreciate Lawrence one must be prepared to see the world around us with a brutal truthfulness - we have to be prepared to see black as black and white as white - we have to let go of the idealism of the society and ourselves. These are the things which stop us from fulfilling our potential as D.H. Lawrence indicates. Our idealistic worldview paralyses us. I remember having finished Women in Love and deciding that I would have to question every impulse that I had (if this were at all possible), in order to uproot the idealistic impulses and leave only what was spontaneous, pure and free. Upon the completion of my A levels I decided that I would forego university and instead develop my interest in Aromatherapy. I remember coming to a watershed in my studies, I had realised that there were unanswered questions and my studies as they were, were unable to answer them. This led me to discover the energetic application of aromatherapy, which could be merged with and enhance my understanding of my father’s work in Greco-Arab medicine, natural philosophy and a psychotherapeutic approach whose purpose is to free people from false narratives. Now this was what I was looking for- something that could like Lawrence shed light on what I could not understand in an accessible framework that I could relate to - and in my relating, become enabled to share. 

I had many unanswered questions about the relationships I witnessed around me. There were two particular types of relationship which baffled and frustrated me. I could not understand why so many of them seemed so wrong. The first was the relationship between husband and wife, why was it that much of what I saw were people who formed very abstracted, soul consuming units, which eventually included children who were in turn devoured by a non-spontaneous vacuum of emptiness, that had to be filled with consumerism and materialistic aspirations, in order that it could appear to have meaning. I understood that for the technique system (see the technique and science module for more information) , the essence of the family has to be destroyed so that it stops producing heroic human beings - heroic in the sense of people who through their deep sense of self and connection to their Creator and universe, are able to fulfill their highest purpose. By way of this they would manifest a sense of responsibility, acknowledging themselves as ‘Khalifah’ or steward on Earth. Ultimately in order to destroy community and the togetherness of mankind, the family has to be destroyed and mankind enslaved by idealism. Lawrence said,

Men are free when they are obeying some deep, inward voice of religious belief. Obeying from within. Men are free when they belong to a living, organic, believing community, active in fulfilling some unfulfilled, perhaps unrealised purpose 

For the technique society to prevail man cannot be free, he can only be under the idealistic illusion that he is free. It is only then that he would submit to becoming a systemic cog, a faceless unindividuated number.

As muslims if we want to understand what Lawrence meant all we have to do is look at how the Sahaba (may Allah be pleased with them all) lived. They were united in one purpose which was to spread the Deen, obeying and submitting to the Creator from deep sincere impulses within themselves.

Returning to the relationship between man and woman, I would like to read a quote from Women in Love: 

The old way of love seemed a dreadful bondage, a sort of conscription. What it was in him he did not know, but the thought of love, marriage, and children, and a life lived together, in the horrible privacy of domestic  and connubial satisfaction, was repulsive. He wanted something clearer, more open, cooler, as it were. The hot narrow intimacy between man and wife was abhorrent. The way they shut their doors, these married people, and shut themselves into their own exclusive alliance with each other, even in love, disgusted him. It was a whole community of mistrustful couples insulated in private houses or private rooms, always in couples, and no further life, no further immediate, no disinterested relationship admitted: a kaleidoscope of couples, disjoined, separatist, meaningless entities of married couples.

What Lawrence saw was that, when, two people formed a union as healthy beings, able to stand apart from each other but remaining whole within themselves, when such people formed a union, then there was a true marriage rather than bondage. 

I would now like to move onto another type of relationship which baffled me; the relationship between mother and son. I remember witnessing a mother repeatedly turning her young son’s face towards her, forcing him to look into her eyes, every time he looked away from her in an attempt to connect with the other women around him. she finally said to him ‘You are mine ! You only Love me !’ This I must say disturbed me profoundly and inexplicably at the time. It brought my first profound appreciation of Lawrence- at the time  I was trying to make sense of the autobiographical novel Sons and Lovers. Sons and Lovers explored Lawrence’s relationship with his mother. I understood after this that the wife who is  as Lawrence mentions in ‘Women in Love’ a ‘broken half of a couple’ cannot be fulfilled and cannot reach her full potential as wife, mother or woman, so she turns to the son and seeks her wholeness and fulfillment in him. He becomes the emotional substitute of the husband thereby perverting the son and leaving him unable to move beyond the pre-birth and nursing stage in which the mother represents the universe. Condemning him to seek his mother in every intimate relationship with a woman; in this sense he can never truly be married. This is not to say that the only parent child relationship that is perverted is the mother-son relationship but those will not be dealt with in this lecture. Generally idealism is present and perverts the whole relationship spectrum in the bourgeois mindset. Lawrence’s master novels The Rainbow and Women in Love are a comprehensive exploration of how many forms of relationships become perverted and rendered meaningless by this underlying malaise.

I would like to have a quick look at child development through Lawrence and partially through my research into treating energetic imbalances with scent.

Before I move on I will define two key concepts, differentiation and unicity using a definition from Abu Bakr Carberry’s paper ‘The Nature of Language and Its Centrality to the Preservation of the Fitrah in the Educational Process’

Unicity

The child begins as a unity with its mother and experiences existence as such. Unicity refers to the tendency to seek oneness. This is usually expressed as a tendency to want to know wholes, or we may say to know a thing completely, without differentiating things into parts.

Differentiation

The child progressively emerges to differentiate from the mother, until it can experience existence as a distinct entity. This refers to the tendency to seek unique expression and to stand apart.

Unicity vs Differentiation also refers to the Zygote beginnings of living organisms and the differentiation of the cells into distinct and different systems performing separate functions but remaining unified as a whole organism.

It also refers to our social tendency to distinguish ourselves individually within our social context – differentiation – whilst striving to remain part of the organic social whole – unicity.

Now much of the energetic imbalances we see today lie in the lower energy centres (The lower centre is associated with instinct, primal impulses and emotions, the upper centres with cognition, wisdom ): For these lower centres to  harmonically express themselves the child must be left alone. The Lower centres develop as we are in our formative years and express unicity, for the child to develop healthily it must be allowed to form a connection with the creation, by this it will come to consciously know its Creator and as it becomes more differentiated, then it will come to know its self. It must be allowed to sense and experience its world from the realms of unicity as this is the nature of energy centres that are being developed. What happens in our modern day setting is that this development is hindered  or even forgone as we are forced to begin to respond to the impulse of differentiation much much too early! Lawrence describes this as ‘a steady and persistent starving of the lower centres’, . Much of this is done in the home where children are forced to respond to an idealistic love and the rather abstracted early education compounds this. Insha Allah I will look into education later on in the lecture.

D.H. Lawrence understood that the development of the child expresses the idealism of the society, shaping its relationships with others throughout the course of its life. He also firmly believed that this carried on after death, through it being transmitted behaviourally, affecting subsequent generations. He explores this in his semi-autobiographical novel Sons and Lovers. He saw that the child must form a relationship with the world that did not involve its mother, allowing that child to differentiate. The child needs unicity with its mother when it is in the womb, but once it leaves the womb, unicity gradually enters the realm of differentiation. The child will be fed and nurtured by its mother, it is no longer part of her, it is other than her and this otherness increases as it becomes less dependent upon her. Her love for the child when it is not idealistic must reflect this. She must allow that child to form its relationship with its world and its Creator, a relationship that does not involve her. If not the child will spend its life seeking its mother in every future relationship .

When the man is not whole he must be consumed by a woman as his own mother consumed him and when a woman is not whole she must consume through an idealistic love. This need to consume and be consumed is as a result of the underdevelopment of the lower energy centres which are associated with a sense of security and a connection with earthly energy - when there is an energetic imbalance in this area it is understood that the being cannot fulfill their potential or even begin to respond to their secret - fear is paralysing and this is the emotion associated with these energy centres when they are not balanced. The energy of these centres are in the developmental stage between birth and twelve years of age. I have noticed that children who are very connected to their mothers in a manner that stops them from exploring their world fear what is other than her, and I have seen those children whose mothers have left them to explore with a fearless zeal, possess a surety of themselves that shows that they do not fear the creation because they know that they are at one with it. 

When the child is able to differentiate it grows into an adult who is able to fulfil its essential purpose which is not merely to love, be loved and be happy.  These are such insignificant states, in the face of man’s true purpose which is to embark upon the gnostic path to understand that his existence is for the worship of his Creator- when he realises this he knows that he has a purpose, a secret and he must fulfil this. It is only then that man can have meaningful real relationships because he has stepped beyond himself.

he( the child) can never emerge if the whole mass of the world and the tradition of love hold him back. Now we come to the greater peril of our particular form of idealism. It is the idealism of love and of the spirit: the idealism of yearning, outgoing love, of pure sympathetic communion and "understanding." And this idealism recognizes as the highest earthly love, the love of mother and child. And what does this mean? It means, for every delicately brought up child, indeed for all the children who matter, a steady and persistent pressure upon the upper sympathetic centers, and a steady and persistent starving of the lower centers’ --- Fantasia of the Unconscious

I have a memory of a child no more than six years old, saying that she did not like her seventeen year old brother because he was lazy and did not have a job. That all grown ups must have jobs so that they can make money. I remember recoiling in disgust, because what was in front of me was a perversion, a child that expressed the already perverse attitudes of an adult world! What you often see are children who prematurely enter the planes of adulthood and then as a result eventually develop a premature and idealistic awakening of their sexuality which D H Lawrence says is a perfectly natural balancing reaction to the overstimulation of their upper centres... 

a child arrives at the age of puberty already stripped of its childhood’s darkness, bound, and delivered over. Instead of walking now to a whole new field of consciousness, a whole vast and wonderful new dynamic impulse towards new connections, it finds itself fatally bound

This quotation is very interesting especially since I have been reading a novel called The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, a novel that I was initially ready to discount due to its irreverent tone but something kept me going. I was fascinated with the idea that the author presents,that for there to be a healthy family there must be clear boundaries between the worlds of men and women and between the adult world and that of children. They must exist clearly within their zones overlapping only when necessary and this is how people maintain their sense of selfhood or identity and that the inhabitants of these worlds must maintain a code of conduct with an air of secrecy to protect themselves. So the women have practices among themselves that the men know nothing of, that for them affirm their womanhood and vice versa for the men and children. So you see they had worlds in which they were independent of each other so that they could not consume each other. 

Much of the modern day tragedy of idealism that we express, is an expression of Humanism. Essentially Humanism is the replacing of the Divine as the centre of the creation with man. It is the denial that the Divine creator Allah has power over all things and that we are answerable to Him alone. It makes man answerable to himself, so then he  believes that he has control over everything even though he obviously does not. Through the historical unfolding of humanism, man is in fact dehumanised and taken away from his fitra- his natural state as the steward on earth, answerable to his Creator… and made into a creature who only answers to ethics or morals and other man made codes of law while wasting and exploiting resources- which are there of course solely for man’s use and profit. Going back to an earlier quote from Lawrence

Men are free when they are obeying some deep, inward voice of religious belief. Obeying from within. Men are free when they belong to a living, organic, believing community, active in fulfilling some unfulfilled, perhaps unrealised purpose

The replacing of the Divine as the centre of the creation with man has led to an energetically imbalanced being that cannot belong to a living, organic, believing community because he cannot bridge the energy of earth and heaven... Lawrence said ‘Men cannot live long without a belief’. Man in this state cannot harmoniously develop the higher and lower centres.

Through my research and study of the Ayurvedic Chakra system it is said that only when you have acknowledge the existence of a Divine creator and have lost the sense of self being obliterated by Divine light and experienced unity with the creation,  then true wisdom or a knowledge of the creation, that you know is true with your whole being comes, this is when the crown chakra – one of the higher energy centres in Ayurveda – which lies somewhere around the top of the head is most open and heavenly energy is able to flow down into the receptive being.  As muslims this comes of course as no surprise to us. So when earthly energy is able to flow up the being securely connecting it with earth and heavenly energy to flow down connecting it with light they  meet at the heart centre which is the centre of balance and appropriateness, this centre begins its continuous development and manifestation once puberty has started.

I would like to clarify what healthy love in the development of the child is. I always remember what an old Jamaican neighbour of ours called Miss Avis, used to say to me when I complained about my parents. ‘Girl, there are parents out there who are always saying that they love their children, but they do not ensure that they are the best that they can be. Is this the kind of love that you want ? A love that is not real ?‘  Now this brings me back to Lawrence. 

A tree grows straight when it has deep roots and is not too stifled. Love is a spontaneous thing, coming out of an effectual soul. As a deliberate principle it is an unmitigated evil

On an energetic level, pure love and compassion is the spontaneous result of a person who is receptive to both earthly and heavenly energy with a heart centre that maintains appropriateness and balance as I described earlier, but this kind of love does not end and begin at the individual it extends beyond them pervading their actions. The king who punishes a subject for a crime can do this out of love and compassion, being aware of his responsibility to maintain justice. The healthy person must be rooted enough and receptive enough to be spontaneous. When the child is forced to express a deliberate and idealistic love their ability to be spontaneous is stifled, they become abstracted from their impulsive self. Energy builds up in the centres unable to move through the energetic system and we end up with an uptight stressed child, with a thinking and abstracting ability divorced from their deep impulses, having been overexposed to the adult preoccupations. Their ability to love cannot extend beyond themselves and their intellect, this is the ‘unmitigated evil’.

Here is an excerpt from a dialogue in Women in Love. Hermione intellectually grasps how idealism has destroyed the healthy development of the child, tragically she herself is so damaged that she cannot break out of the realms of idealism 

Do you really think, Rupert,’ she asked, as if Ursula were not present, ‘do you really think it is worthwhile? Do you really think the children are better for being roused to consciousness?’ 

A dark flash went over his face, a silent fury. He was hollow-cheeked and pale, almost unearthly. And the woman, with her serious, conscience-harrowing question tortured him on the quick. 

’They are not roused to consciousness,’ he said. ‘Consciousness comes to them, willy-nilly.’ 

’But do you think they are better for having it quickened, stimulated? Isn’t it better that they should remain unconscious of the hazel, isn’t it better that they should see as a whole, without all this pulling to pieces, all this knowledge?’ (Women in Love)

I would like to look at the etymology of the word ‘education’  it comes from the latin ‘educere’ which means ‘lead out’  from ‘e’ - out and ‘ducere’ - to lead. This word has the sense of leading out what is already there. So an education must allow a child to turn in and find, express and unfold what is within them. I will now look at a quote from Hard Times – a satirical novel written by Charles Dickens (Another one of the books from my A Level reading list, over which I argued vehemently with the teacher) 

You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them

This novel is an exploration of how the child is alienated from its own self. They abstract what is within because modern education projects that the child is empty, the child is utterly potential. The ‘omnipotent’ educational process, grants the child a self, it makes it someone. It has taken the position that they were not somebody in the first place. So this malformed somebody can take their place within society as a cog in the wheel.

How could you give me life, and take from me all the inappreciable things that raise it from the state of conscious death? Where are the graces of my soul? Where are the sentiments of my heart? What have you done, O father, what have you done, with the garden that should have bloomed once, in this great wilderness  here!’

And here is a continuation of the dialogue of Hermione and Birkin  in Women In Love 

‘is it better to leave them untouched, spontaneous. Hadn’t they better be animals, simple animals, crude, violent, ANYTHING, rather than this self-consciousness, this incapacity to be spontaneous.’ 

This brings me to Ayn Rand a Russian born novelist, playwright, and screenwriter who became an essayist and then through her own experiences and study of philosophy  developed her own rationales of morality. This is her overview of what her ‘philosophy’ was 

My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute

She also spoke of ‘ethical egoism’ and rationality which according to her formed the basis of ‘her’ moral system. Which was a system based on self-interest and man reaching his own happiness by himself independently of others.  Her system is a crude expression of  Humanism, it sets out to remove man -as a collective- from the  centre of the creation replacing it with the ego or individual self. She believes that sacrificing our ‘freedom’ and ‘happiness’ in altruistic attempts to care unconditionally for your fellow man -to whom you are answerable -is perverted. Why not just make yourself the centre of the creation so that you are only answerable to you and your desires? She called her philosophy  objectivism. It is the rise of a self-centredness that abdicates its social responsibility and separates you from society. It is unmitigated individualism locking mankind into a social autism utterly narcissistic and without the acknowledgement of our inherent interdependence. It is differentiation without the possibility of unicity. An unnatural state which malforms the energy centres.

In the words of Lawrence:

it is an unmitigated evil

The way that we function is very autistic in the sense that it is abstracted from reality- much of what happens is that there is something in front of us that obscures reality be it the television, the computer, our education, our mother etc... because energetically we are unable to step beyond the experience of our separateness.  When we interact with screens we do not need balance, we do not need to give anything of ourselves because the true self is inaccessible. Ayn Rand’s objectivism though an extreme form, is a perfect example of the autistic, self-centred nature of our society.

So what happens to the autistic family? It like the autistic community lacks a real sense of togetherness although it expresses an idealistic love that stifles rather than nurtures the members of the family. Shaykh Abdal Qadir says in the Klontaal Talks, that the family is the control mechanism.

The modern state, which is intrinsic tyranny, is totally antipathetic to the human condition and its freedom. It is, in fact, dependent on control and annexation of the family itself (The Collaborative Couple)

Conclusion

Men are free when they belong to a living, organic, believing community, active in fulfilling some unfulfilled, perhaps unrealised purpose

What I have experienced here in Norwich, is an incredible sense of nurturing and guidance that has allowed me to write this lecture. It was amazing to know that I was not limited to my parents for guidance or reassurance, for the older generation here in Norwich would often offer advice and encouragement, which is the role of community and the family. It is to draw out the best in each other and to ensure that young people and children are nurtured and enabled to fulfill the potential that Allah (SWT) has given them. You see it is all about intention if we intend to be free, belonging to living, organic, believing communities then Allah rewards us and places a togetherness in our hearts. This is a healing in a time when maintaining community and the togetherness of people is itself a battle. You see this is non-idealistic love and it is compassion. it extends beyond the individual, it heals and harmonises, it is not an intellectual ideal, it is lived and goes beyond the confines of a narrow families. I would like to thank the faculty for offering me this incredible opportunity and would like to thank all the families that have accommodated me and those who have offered their many words of guidance and encouragement. May Allah reward you all.

And what is the reward of goodness except goodness’ (Surah Rahman)

That brings us to the end of today’s lecture. Recommend further reading would be ‘Fantasia of the Unconscious’ , ‘The Rainbow’, ‘Women in Love’, ‘Sons and Lovers’ all by D. H Lawrence, Hard Times by Dickens . The subject of our next lecture is ‘The Search for Community’. Thank you for your attention. Assalamu alaykum.