[ by Charles Cameron — also the Latin Breviary in 24 letters, and the meaning of blood and dots ]
I was aware of the Arabic letter nun:
ISIS place this on the walls of the homes of Christians. The letter “Nun” for the word Nasara (????? : Nazarenes). pic.twitter.com/N0GdAOdykL
— Simon Godwin (@lastenglishking) July 20, 2014
but not until the last few days, the letter ra:
This symbol is the Arabic letter “Ra” is being painted on properties of #Shia in #Mosul by #ISIS pic.twitter.com/2pubkoJyD7
— Shia?Ali (?) (@kassamally) July 23, 2014
The letters that comprise alphabets, and the words, phrases, sentences and books that are built of thedm, are capable of enormous meaning…
The banging of a judge’s gavel can be a death sentences, the pillars of a door painted in sacrificial blood can cause hamash’chit — the destroyer angel — to overfly a house in which there are Jews, thus saving them from the destruction of their first-born, a yellow six-pointed star painted on a house or shop indicate its Jewish ownership — and the Arabic letters nun and ra serve similar purposes, signalling both a threat from ISIS and a mark of pride and solidarity…
For those with hermetic and kabbalistic tastes, I’d like to take this a little further.
A single dot can have powerful meaning…
Although the Torah itself suggests that certain hylic entities co-existed with God at the beginning (water, darkness), by separating out the diacritical dagesh from the word [it is the dot in the first letter]:
Beginning with a point… b • reshit (Zohar I:15a)
the Zohar finds the philosophic principle creation ex nihilo [from nothing] in the first word.
And know that all of Allah’s secrets are in the heavenly books, and all of the secrets of the heavenly books are in the Qur’an. And all of which is in the Qur’an is in al-Fatihah, and all of which is in al-Fatihah is in bismillah, and all of which is in bismillah is in the ba’ of bismillah, and all of which is in the ba’ in bismillah is the dot (nuqtah) which is under the ba’. Imam ‘Ali said: “I am the dot which is under the ba’”
first finds the saying I am the dot which is under the ba’ in al-Ghazali, where it is attributed to Abu Bakr al-Shibli, disciple of the great Sufi al-Junayd
We can not understand the Quran properly without dots, or if we can know the point (Nukta) of a thing we understand the reality of the whole matter.
The symbol of Aum contains of three curves, one semicircle and a dot. The large lower curve symbolizes the waking state; the upper curve denotes deep sleep (or the unconscious) state, and the lower curve (which lies between deep sleep and the waking state) signifies the dream state. These three states of an individual’s consciousness, and therefore the entire physical phenomenon, are represented by the three curves. The dot signifies the Absolute (fourth or Turiya state of consciousness), which illuminates the other three states. The semicircle symbolizes maya and separates the dot from the other three curves. The semicircle is open on the top, which means that the absolute is infinite and is not affected by maya. Maya only affects the manifested phenomenon. In this way the form of aum symbolizes the infinite Brahman and the entire Universe.
And the entire elphabet?
Here’s the Shortest Rite for Reciting the Breviary, for Itinerants and the Scrupulous, as transmitted to me by Dom Sylvester Houédard, priest, poet and scholar:
RITUS BREVISSIMUS RECITANDI BREVIARIUM PRO ITINERANTIBUS ET SCRUPULOSIS
Dicitur: Pater et Ave
A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
V. Per hoc alphabetum notum
R. componitur breviarium totum (Tempore paschali, dicitur Alleluia)
Deus, qui ex viginti quatuor litteris totam sacram scripturam et breviarium istud componi voluisti, iunge, disiunge et accipe ex his viginti quatuor litteris matutinas cum laudibus, primam, tertiam, sextam, nonam, vesperas et completorium. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Signat se dicens: Sapienti pauca.
V. In pace in idipsum.
R. Dormiam et requiescam.
If my rusty, Google-assisted Latin is to be believed, the gist of the central prayer here reads:
O God, who hast chosen to compose the entirety of sacred scripture and this breviary out of twenty-four letters, separate, join and receive from these twenty-four letters Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline, through Christ our Lord. Amen..
That’s the complete Holy Office as recited by Catholic monks — Dom Sylvester was a member of the Benedictines — in just 24 letters.
Which is less than it takes to type:
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.