Greatest Name

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The Greatest Name (Arabic: اسم الاعظم‎; also sometimes translated as The Most Mighty Name or Most Great Name) is a prominent device in Islamic esotericism, magic and the occult that is also identified as being the Seal of Solomon (Arabic: ختم سليمان). A series of six usually independent symbols occurring in between two pentagrams (or pentalphas) - viz. seven independent characters totaling eight in all -, this symbol is believed to reveal hidden knowledge, especially of the true name of God. In its originating transmission within the Islamic world it is attributed to 'Ali, the first Shi'ite Imam, in a poem found in the margins of the Sermon Between the Two Gulfs (khutba tatanjîya). The first seven verses of this poem state:

Three sticks in a row after a seal; above them the semblance of a straightened lance.
Then a blind ‘mîm’ without a tail, then a ladder unto all that is hoped for, but which is not a ladder.
Four things like fingers in a row pointing to good deeds, but without a wrist.
And a ‘hâ’ that has been split, then an inverted `wâw’ like the syphon of a phlebotomist, but not a blood-letting cup.
This is the name whose worth is magnified; if you were ignorant of it before, know it now.
O bearer of the great name, take sufficiency in it – you shall be preserved from misfortunes and shall be kept safe.
It is the [secret] name of the Godhead, may Its glory be glorified, unto all men, be they Arab or non-Arab. [1]

According to the narrative legends recorded in the magical corpus of Al-Buni’s writings as well as by others, it was the device used by Adam to name all things; by Solomon to summon both angels and demons, and was given to Muhammad by the archangel Gabriel[2]. While some claim a possible Mandaean origin to the symbol[3], and versions of it can be found in Jewish Kabbalistic writings as well[4], Hans Winkler posits an Assyro-Babylonian pedigree[5].

References

  1. ^ Denis MacEoin, translator. Rituals in Babism and Bahaism. London: I. B. Tauris, 1995.
  2. ^ Ahmad al-Buni. Shams al-Ma'aref al-Kubra (Sun of the Great Knowledge), Cairo, 1928, and Sharh Ism Allah al-a'zam fi al-Ruhani. Al-Matba'at al-Mahmudiyyat al-Tujjariyyat bi'l-Azhar Cairo, 1357/1939.
  3. ^ Father Georges Anawati. Le Nom Supreme de Dieu, Atti del Terzo Congresso Di Studi Arabi e Islamici, 1966.
  4. ^ Aryeh Kaplan Meditation and Kabbalah, New York: Weiser Books, 1989.
  5. ^ H. A. Winkler. Siegel und Charaktere in der Muhammedanischen Zauberei. Berlin and Leipzig, 1930.

External links

Further reading

  • H. A. Winkler. Siegel und Charaktere in der Muhammedanischen Zauberei. Berlin and Leipzig, 1930.
  • Ahmad al-Buni. Sharh Ism Allah al-a'zam fi al-Ruhani. Al-Matba'at al-Mahmudiyyat al-Tujjariyyat bi'l-Azhar Cairo, 1357/1939.
  • E.A. Wallis Budge. Amulets and Talismans. London, 1968.
  • Muhammad ʻAbd al-Rahīm. Manzūmah fī sirr ism Allāh al-aʻzam. Dār al-Mukhtārāt al-ʻArabīyah Beirut, 1413/1993.
  • Muhammad al-Gharawī. al-Ism al-a`ẓam aw ma`ārif al-basmala wa’l-ḥamdala. Beirut, 1419/1989.
  • `Abd-Allāh ibn `Umar al-Dumayjī. Ism Allāh al-a`ẓam. Reprint, Beirut 1421/2000.
  • (ed.) Emile Savage-Smith. Magic and Divination in Early Islam. Ashgate, 2004.
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