© 2017 D. Catherine

The Arabic qiyamah ‘rising, resurrection’ and al-Qāʾim ‘the Standing One’ etymologically derive from the Arabic qiyam ‘standing’, from the root q-w-m or qāma ‘to stand up’. Esoterically, this alludes to the activation of the innate Universal/First Intellect (ʿaql al-kulli/awwal): to be noetically awake—in the full sense of the faculty—and to be ‘upright’ in gnosis of the divine Principial with its relevant Attribute of al-Qayyūm ‘the Self-Existing One’ (upon Whom all others depend).

The Arabic Imām ‘leader, pattern’ etymologically derives from the root ʾamma ‘to precede, be in front, lead’. This not only refers to the physically manifest Imām who stands before the congregation during ritual prayer, but esoterically this also alludes to the pre-existence of the Eternal Imām who is also ontologically primary and Principial and thus Stands before creation itself. According to Zachary Markwith:

Some gnostic Shīʿa have also spoken of the ‘Imam of one’s being.’ Here the Imam is envisaged as the personification of the Intellect (ʿaql) or eye of the heart (ʿayn al-qalb), which is the subjective ‘Imam’ of the believer […] It is this spiritual archetype that summons humans to their higher nature and is in fact identical to it. The Imam helps to orient us towards the heart, which is the locus of revelation (waḥy) for the prophets and inspiration (ilhām) for the saints. In ʿirfānī Shīʿī epistemology, it is through the Intellect or the ‘Imam of one’s being’ that one is oriented towards and guided to the Divine reality.[1]

In the following pre-Islamic examples, take note of references to this “Standing” which alludes to the metaphysical divine Principial or the Eternal Imām as ‘Pole’ or ‘Pillar’ in divinis—the ‘Hidden/Secret Adam’ of the Mandaeans, or the ‘Hidden God/Power’ of the Elkasaites—who is also pre-existent and thus Stands “before”:

You alone created the Righteous One, establishing him from the Womb … to Stand before You in Everlasting abode, illumined with Perfect Light forever with no more Darkness in unending Eras of Joy.
— Qumran Hymns: 1QH 15.8–18.29

And the “Sons of Zadok” are the Elect of Israel, called by Name, who will Stand up [or ‘go on Standing’] in the Last Days.
— Qumran Damascus Document: CD 4.3–4

John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water: but there Stands one among you, whom you know not.”
— John 1:26

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep Standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
— Galatians 5:1

Incomprehensible Air, without beginning or end. In this is the Father who sustains all things, and nourishes those things which have a beginning and end. This is He who has Stood, Stands and will Stand, a male-female power as the preëxisting Boundless Power, which has neither beginning nor end, existing in oneness.
— ‘Apophasis Megale’ of Simon Magus, via Hippolytus in G. R. S. Mead, Fragments of a Faith Forgotten, p.173.

And [the One] Standing there raised above all that which has being, we kneel to It as to the Rising Sun, blinded in our eyes.
— Proclus

The Lord said, “Blessed is he who is before he came into being. For he who is, has been and shall be.”
— Gospel of Philip

To reiterate: “He who has Stood, Stands and will Stand” (qāma), “who is, has been and shall be” (Christus aeternus, the Eternal Imām), is both pre-existent and metaphysically Principial, and in such way ‘stands’ before (thus in the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Thomas 19 it is “he who is before he came into being”). This is arguably prefigured in the pre-existent, supernal “Ideal/Image” upon which is established the “Perfect copy” of the Jewish Tsaddiq ‘Righteous (Pillar)’, who is said to be “the Foundation of the World” (Proverbs 10:25, Zohar 1.59b) and who was exemplified in James-the-Tsaddiq “for whose sake Heaven and Earth came into being.” (Gospel of Thomas, Logion 12).

Robert Eisenman in his book James the Brother of Jesus: Recovering the True History of Early Christianity, writes:

A book ascribed to ‘Elchasai’ [described as a “Righteous One” by Hippolytus] was apparently brought to Rome during the second year of Hadrian’s reign (119 CE). This book included the important reference to ‘the Standing One’ … There, purportedly, it was also a revelatory Angel ‘standing’ some ‘ninety-six miles high’ (in competing accounts this is the risen Christ) … The height of ‘ninety-six’ here, manifestly, is nothing but the number of years Epiphanius—two centuries later—considers to be James’ age when he died.[2]

This then situates this ‘Elchasai’, Angel or Angelos Christos firmly within thematic events associated with James’ ontology and eschatology, as well as his assault in the Temple after being questioned about “the gate/door of Jesus” and him proclaiming “the Son of Man” at the right hand of “the Great Power.” (Hegesippus via Eusebius, Ecclesiastial History II.23.7-18). In the Letter of James 5:9 we read: “The Judge is Standing at the door.”

The term “Son of Man” can create some confusion, but it appears to represent the active Agency of the ‘Great/Boundless Power’ (as per James, Paul and Simon Magus) which in itself is ontologically homologous to, or one of the primary attributes of, the ‘Hidden Adam’ (AKA Adam Qadmon as Protanthropos ‘Principial Man’).

E.S. Drower in her book, The Secret Adam: A Study of Nasoraean Gnosis, writes:

The [heavenly or divine] Body is that of Adam Qadmaia [compare the Qabalah’s Adam Qadmon], the ‘First Adam’, Adam Kasia, the Mystic or Secret Adam [compare the Shīʿī “Hidden Imām”] who preceded the human Adam called Adam pagria (physical man) by many myriads of years, for the macrocosm preceded the microcosm and the Idea of the cosmos was formed in human shape, so that through the creation of the one the creation of the other ensued […]

The central cult of both [the Elkasaites and the Mandaeans] is the Heavenly Man, Adam. In the secret scrolls the ‘false prophet’ [so-called by the Church Fathers, but called by the Ebionites ‘the True Prophet’] of the Elkasaites can be recognized as the Nasoraean Adam Kasia [Secret Adam]—no ‘man’ but Man, Anthropos, the Son of Man, the Son of God; `El Kasia [the Hidden God]. In his lower aspect he is the Demiurge, creator of ‘worlds of illusion, seven to his right and seven to his left’. In his higher and divine aspect he is Mankind anointed and crowned, priest and king, an image of divine kingship [compare Melchizedek].[3]

In the anthropomorphic representations the supra-physical and pre-existent ‘Standing One’ is homologous to the ‘Hidden Adam’ of the Mandaeans, the ‘Hidden God’[4] of the Elkasaites, the ‘Perfect Man’ of the Naassenes, and ‘Sat Purusha’ (True Person/Being) of the Upanishads—the Protanthropos or Ātman. In addition, “(He who has) neither beginning nor end, existing in oneness” is ontologically homologous to Melchizedek who is “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; he remains a priest continually” (Hebrews 7:3)—and note that in the 11QMelch Dead Sea Scroll, Melchizedek is portrayed as a heavenly being.

Melchizedek (the heavenly ‘King of Righteousness’) “remains a priest continually (for all time)” because He is the pre-existent and meta-historical Mediator between the ineffable divine Essence (Hebrew Atsmut) as Godhead (termed “Father”) and all of creation (compare 1QH 15.8 – 18.29’s reference to “the Righteous One … in everlasting abode … in unending Eras of Joy”). Philo writes: “And the Father who created the universe has given to his archangelic and most ancient Word a pre-eminent gift, to stand on the confines of both, and separated that which had been created from the Creator. And this same Word is continually a suppliant to the immortal God on behalf of the mortal race, which is exposed to affliction and misery; and is also the ambassador, sent by the Ruler of all, to the subject race. And the Word rejoices in the gift, and, exulting in it, announces it and boasts of it, saying, ‘And I stood in the midst, between the Lord and you;’ [Numbers 16:48] neither being uncreated as God, nor yet created as you, but being in the midst between these two extremities.” (Who Is the Heir of Divine Things, 205).

Similarly, Christ (Angelos Christos?) says in John 10:1:

I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

And again in John 14:6:

I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

From the perspective of traditional philosophy and metaphysics, the Standing One as divine Principial—whether Standing prior to existence, Standing throughout existence, or the one remaining Standing at the completion of the proverbial ‘End of Days’—corresponds with the ‘First Logos’ of Philo and the ‘Word of Truth’ (logō alētheias) in the canonical Letter of James 1:18. These, in turn, are homologous to the Plotinian ‘First Intellect’ (Arabic ʿaql al-awwal) which is considered to be the first emanation/determination of the absolute and ineffable One (Greek to hen, Arabic al-dhāt al-aḥadiyya). With regards to the First Logos and First Intellect, compare Philo’s ‘first-born of God’ and James’ ‘first-fruit of God’—once again alluding to metaphysical primacy and the divine Principial.

“He who has Stood, Stands and will Stand … Who is, has been and shall be” (“he who is before he came into being”) is arguably also the Eternal Imām as the one who Stands “before” (i.e. ontologically prior-to, compare Christus aeternus)—and the present writer believes that this does not simply refer to the physical Imām who leads the community in prayer, but primarily must originate in the supernal Authority of the pre-existent, divine Principial: “the Imam-of-one’s-being”, elsewhere known as the supernal Self or Ātman.


[1] Zachary Markwith, ‘Jesus and Christic Sanctity in Ibn ʿArabī and Early Islamic Spirituality’, Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn ʿArabi Society, Vol. 57, 2015, pp.103-104.
[2] Robert Eisenman, James the Brother of Jesus: Recovering the True History of Early Christianity, London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1997, pp.838-839; see also pp.326-327.
[3] E. S. Drower, The Secret Adam: A Study of Nasoraean Gnosis, London: Oxford University Press, 1960, pp.21-22 and 97–98.
[4] E. S. Drower notes: “Epiphanius’s explanation of the first syllable as… ‘strength‘, ‘power’, has been accepted by some scholars with the result that they get ‘secret Power’ from Elkasai, e.g. H. J. Schonfield, Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Valentine, 1956), p.122. Brandt had already considered this possible meaning, but was inclined to reject it (Die Judischen Baptismen, p.109). In the Ras Shamra texts Adam is the son of El, which makes the possibility that ‘El’ here is עיל even more likely [ . . . ] Transliteration of Aramaic into Greek constantly leads patristic writers astray; some Hebrew letters have no exact equivalent in the Greek alphabet (e.g. ע and כ). The various methods of transliterating the latter [e.g. kh, ch, k, x] are exemplified in the various spellings of Kasai in Elkasai’s name, and the first syllable, as is suggested on another page, is also rendered by various spellings. If I am right in supposing it to have been עיל, these are explained. Professor Driver agrees with me that the El would be approximated by the ʿĀl (in Arabic), as both mean ‘high’, ‘celestial’ (עיל, ‘high one’, can be equated with על, ‘the high god’). In 0 .- Ass. A-al-tab = ‘Al is good’, I-li-a-lu-um = ‘my god is Al(um)’. ‘Obviously’, he says, ‘Elxai contains the Aramaic עיל, “high one”, a title of God.’ … Kasai for ‘secret’, ‘mystic’, ‘hidden’, is a W. Aramaic form. In the GR [Ginza Rba] Jewish names usually end with ai, e.g. ‘ni[sh]bai, Miriai, [Sh]ilai, Salbai, [etc].” (Ibid., pp.97 n.1 and p.93 n.1)

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