Sakina Sakina

This is a WikiDot transcription of the Wikipedia Sakina page as of 29 July 2007.

'''Sakina''' (Arabic: '''سكينة''') is an Arabic word meaning "peace" or "tranquility".

Usage in the Quran

Sakina and Shekhinah

'''Sakina''' is the Spirit of Tranquillity, or Peace of Reassurance, mentioned in the Quran which descended upon Muhammad and the believers, when making an unarmed pilgrimage to Mecca, and faced with an opposing military force of the Quraysh, he struck the Treaty of Hudaybiyah.

"He it is Who sent down the Sakina into the hearts of the believers that they might add faith unto their faith" (48:4)

Karen Armstrong1 notes: “The sakina it will also be recalled, seems to be related to the Hebrew Shekhinah, the term for God’s presence in the world”. The Shekhinah is commonly referred to as the indwelling feminine face of God manifest on Earth in matrimonial concord, which retreated in the Fall, and will return as scattered shards or 'sparks' in the final unveiling.

This is consistent with Muhammad's extensive knowledge of Jewish midrash and folklore, including the hoopoe's visit to the Queen of Sheba at Solomon's behest, recounted in the Targum Sheni2:

And Sulaiman was Dawood's heir, and he said: O men! we have been taught the language of birds, and we have been given all things; … And he reviewed the birds, then said: How is it I see not the hoopoe or is it that he is of the absentees? I will most certainly punish him with a severe punishment, or kill him, or he shall bring to me a clear plea. And he tarried not long, then said: I comprehend that which you do not comprehend and I have brought to you a sure information from Sheba. (27:20)

The association with the Hebrew Shekhinah is reinforced by Quranic reference to the Ark of the Covenant:

"And their Prophet said unto them: Lo! the token of his kingdom is that there shall come unto you the ark wherein is the [[sakina]] from your Lord, and a remnant of that which the house of Moses and the house of Aaron left behind, the angels bearing it. Lo! herein shall be a token for you if (in truth) ye are believers." (2:248)

Another Quranic verse portrays sakina as being reassurance, rather than an actual human 'girl' predicted to come in the future as an incarnation of 'tranquility':

"Allah's Good Pleasure was on the Believers when they swore Fealty to thee under the Tree: He knew what was in their hearts, and He sent down Sakina (alssakeenata) to them; and He rewarded them with a speedy Victory;" (48:18)

The root of the word is sa-ka-na which means "dwelled" or "remained in place" which further supports the association with the word Shekhinah but the fact that the word is preceded by "al" (the) shows that it does not denote a name, but has an abstract meaning. This is consistent with the Shekhinah as abstract feminine and is the only remaining reference to the sacred feminine in Islam after Allat, al-Uzza and Manat were excommunicated in the Satanic Verses according to al-Tabari and Ibn Sad following Ibn Ishaq3 .

Sufi writings4 , in expounding the inner peace of Sufi contemplation, which dwells in a sanctuary or in the heart, confirm the association with both Sakina and the Shekhinah. Sufi reference to of sa-ka-na as meaning both stillness and habitation adds to the identity with Shekhinah's ''indwelling'' nature.

Another association with the concord of dwellings in peace coincides with the attribution of the Shekhinah to matrimonial concord and the tent of Sarah:

"And God gave you your houses as a quiescent place (sakanan)." (16:80)

Sakina is further mentioned in the following verse:

"While the Unbelievers got up in their hearts heat and cant, the heat and cant of ignorance, Allah sent down His Sakina - tranquillity (''Sakīnatahu'') to his Messenger and to the Believers, and made them stick close to the command of self-restraint; and well were they entitled to it and worthy of it. And Allah has full knowledge of all things." (48:26)

Sakina and Taqiyya

The strategic advantage of sakina is reinforced by another Quranic passage:

"If you will not aid him, Allah certainly aided him when those who disbelieved expelled him, he being the second of the two, when they were both in the cave, when he said to his companion: 'Grieve not, surely Allah is with us.' So Allah sent down His sakina - peace (''Sakīnatahu'') upon him and strengthened him with hosts which you did not see…" (9:40)

This passage with the first above gives rise to a warning about the qualified nature of the peace, or tranquillity, expressed in the Quranic form of Sakina. In three distinct passages, at Hudaybiyah (48:4), under the tree (48:18), and in the cave (9:40), sakina is associated with another concept, taqiyya, or takiya, which means the right to fake peace, lie, or lie still when you are weak, so as to ultimately defeat your enemy when you are stronger.

Al-Bukhari said that Al-Hasan said, The Tuqyah [i.e. deceptive outward behavior] is allowed until the Day of Resurrection5.

Shias claim taqiyya is justified from Quranic passages concerning personal threats to one's safety: Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief, except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith, but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty.(16:106).

However al-Ghazali says: ''Speaking is a means to achieve objectives. If a praiseworthy aim is attainable through both telling the truth and lying, it is unlawful to accomplish it through lying because there is no need for it. When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not by telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible…, and obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory. …One should compare the bad consequences entailed by lying to those entailed by telling the truth, and if the consequences of telling the truth are more damaging, one is entitled to lie…''6

Takiya and its relationship with Hudaybiyah has been specifically associated with Yasser Arafat's attitude to the Oslo Peace Accords as expressed in his speech in South Africa in 1993 shortly after signing the accords. Takiya has also been attributed to Iran's strategy on nuclear 'power' - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - 'practises the Takiya', and the dissimulation survival strategies of Shiites under Sunni dominance. In Muslim apocalyptic vision, the world is divided between Domain of Islam and the Domain of War - Dar al-Harb, thus invoking takiya as the strategic underlying basis in jihad of any transient peace treaty.

Karen Armstrong [p224] notes that the episode in the cave hearkens to a time "when Abu Bake and Muhammad had hidden for three days in the Cave outside Mecca, despised and rejected by their kinsmen and facing the possibility of imminent, pointless death", only later to regroup in greater strength in Medina, confirming the consistent undercurrent of takiya underlying sakina. The peace treaty at Hudaybiyah was struck for 10 years, but 2 years later, when his forces were stronger and the Meccans were living securely and off their guard, the prophet marched into Mecca. Muslims claim it was necessary to retaliate because the treaty was technically broken by skirmishes from allies of the other side, however Karen Armstrong7, who cites Montgomery Watt8,9 and Guillaume10 among her research sources, comments rather that they had handed Muhammad "a perfect excuse".

See also

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License