Mem û Zîn Analytical Study*: IV – 2 (2): Principles of necessity and probability

Analytical Study of Mem û Zîn

By Dr Kamal Mirawdeli:

Love and Existence: Analytical Study of Ahmadi Khani’s Tragedy of Mem û Zîn’

Part IV, Chapter Two (Part 2): Analytical reading of Mem û Zîn as a tragic drama

Khani on the Principles of Necessity and Probability

The next parts of the drama will move to scenes of description and action. As Khani approaches actions and events from a philosophical worldview, and by so doing he adds deep layers of symbolic meaning to his poetic constructions, it would be helpful at this point to refer to his conception of the principles of Necessity and Possibility, as he has explained it in the first religious prologue to his work. These principles for Khani are not just technical devices but theosophical principles for interpreting the world and understanding the meaning and possibilities of human existence.

Things according to evidence and proof                                                              

Do not go beyond necessity and possibility                                            

Necessity (wajib) is One: the Self (dhat) of greatness                            

Possibility (mumkin) is many: everything else but Him

This Necessary Existence has made of the possibilities a curtain

Possibilities have made Necessity their evidence                                                        

That is what is made evident                                                                                     

Its beauty comes out of hiding                                                                               

The treasure of its secret will be revealed                                                           

And will be proved by the Inscriptions of the Engraver                                 

But the art of this Wise Planner                                                                             

And the drawings of this Enabling Power                                                      

Would not have been seen if there had not been images of Him                

Thus He deemed proper to create numbers                                                       

 As all what existed before had no number                                               

Therefore, the first thing He created was pen                                                  

This First, and First Soul and First Mind                                                              

The three are figured out by First                                                                           

Do not separate them from one another                                                             

But harmonize them in this way                                                                         

They are all ONE: WHOLE without Division                                                      

And Counting and Plurality are a matter of consideration  (94-104)

For Khani the possibility of knowledge and truth of things start with God as Necessity or the Sole Necessary Being. This Necessity is hidden by Probabilities. It is this metaphysical necessity of God that makes everything else possible by giving them ability and at the same time evidence of their possibility. The beauty of Necessity is evidenced by its enabled possibilities, by the images and phenomena, which exhibit God’s unity and beauty, from whose First Existence springs First Mind and First Soul. The three are one and can only be figured out by recourse to the First Necessity. But for Necessity to be seen and discovered needs images and inscriptions. God created the world and man to reveal the treasure of His secret through them. This is a reference to the well-known sacred ḥadīth “I was a hidden treasure; I wanted to be known. Hence I created the world so that I would be known”. This hadith qudsi (the Prophet’s sayings in the name of God) places the very cause of creation in God’s “wanting” or “loving” (ḥubb) to be known.

Khani does not use this metaphysical principle to explain or enact everything in his story but it explains at least one level of his philosophical construction of the events in the tragedy. There is always an evident perceptible divine order behind the natural things we can daily see and feel (nature, sun, stars, seasons, etc.) or a higher hidden order which we cannot understand through our senses or reasoning. Our existence and destiny in the world is in itself an enigma we can never understand or be sure about. Even after the intensive mystical experience of his journey of spiritual love in the story and revealing the possibility of union with God and eternal life in paradise, Khani still asks sceptically at the end of his story:

Come, Cup-bearer, and tell me what the colour of life is:  

Is this universe an illusion or a dream?                                                           

Don’t tell me it is an empty dream                                                                      

Don’t portray it as an illusion                                                                      

Whatever the beginning life had                                                                           

The destiny is death. (2503-2505)

However, metaphysical necessity and divine order is one level of interpretation that provides the possibilities of the structured organisation of events and actions within his unified dramatic plot. We can see how this principle becomes functional from the very beginning of the actions and scenes of the drama starting with the scene of Newroz celebration which becomes the launching ground for the whole events of the story in all their three levels: pretext, super-text and dramatized text.

* ‘Love and Existence: Analytical Study of Ahmadi Khani’s Tragedy of Mem û Zîn’ by Dr Kamal Mirawdeli is published by the Khani Academy in association with authorhouse, uk. The hard cover, soft cover, or the electronic edition of the book can be ordered from:

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