The Naassene “Perfect Man” and the Islamic “Insan al-Kamil”

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Regarding the gnostic Naassenes and their doctrine of the “Perfect Man” (seemingly equated with Christ), the Christian theologian Hippolytus of Rome (170 – 235 AD) in his work Philosophumena (Book V, 3) writes:

. . . [Jacob] was astonished at the celestial Gate, exclaiming, “How terrible [full of awe] is this place! It is nought else than the house of God, and this (is) the Gate of Heaven.” On account of this, he [the Naassene] says, Jesus uses the words, “I am the true Gate.” (John 10:9; Matthew 7:13.)[1] Now he who makes these statements is, he says, the Perfect Man that is imaged from the unportrayable One from above [compare ‘the Reality of Muhammad’ al-Ḥaqīqah al-Muḥammadīyah as the first self-determination of the ineffable One al-dhāt al-aḥadiyya] . . . Jeremiah likewise utters lamentation for Jerusalem below, not the city in Phoenicia, but the corruptible generation below. For Jeremiah likewise, he says, was aware of the Perfect Man, of him that is born again—of water and the Spirit not carnal. At least Jeremiah himself remarked: “He is a man, and who shall know him?” In this manner, (the Naassene) says, the knowledge of the Perfect Man is exceedingly profound, and difficult of comprehension.

This “knowledge of the Perfect Man,” which is “exceedingly profound, and difficult of comprehension,” can be compared to the Sufi and Shīʿa ʿirfan (gnosis) of Insān al-Kāmil ‘the Perfect Man’ and ultimately ‘the Reality of Muhammad’ al-Ḥaqīqah al-Muḥammadīyah. Read more

The Eternal Imām as “Standing One”

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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). Read more

The Pre-existent James and his Father Alphaeus/Cleophas as Khalipha (‘Caliph’)

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James ‘the Just’ as Zaddik (Tsaddiq ‘Righteous One’)

James the Just - Zaddik - Son of Alphaeus

In the introductory “Epistle of Clement to James” in the “Pseudo-Clementine” Homilies, James the Righteous (AKA James the Just) is addressed as “the Bishop of bishops, who rules Jerusalem, the Holy Assembly of the Hebrews and the Assemblies everywhere.”

From the perspective of first-century Judaism, James (Hebrew Yaʿakov or ‘Jacob’) was also the Opposition High Priest[1] (in contradistinction to the Herodian-installed ‘Sadducee’ High Priest) and he was the revered Tsaddiq ‘Righteous One’ of his time—hence the name James the Righteous (Yaʿakov ha Tsaddiq). According to Proverbs 10:25 and the Zohar (1.59b), the Tsaddiq is “the Perfect copy of the heavenly Ideal,” “the Foundation of the World” and “the Pillar that upholds the World”. Read more

The ‘First-born Son’ of God, Begotten as ‘Word of Truth’

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

In Colossians 1:15-19, we read:

The beloved Son is the Image of the invisible God,[1] the first-born over all creation:[2] For through him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created through him, and for him:[3] And he is before all things,[4] and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church:[5] who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead [i.e. those yet without “true Life=hayyā“]; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him all fullness [plērōma] should dwell.

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