Islamic cosmology is a variation of what is essentially a Ptolemaic geocentric model derived from Aristotle. According to Edith Jachimowiczhe, the space between the surface of the earth and the sphere of the Moon is known as the sub-lunary region. It is the realm of the elements, of minerals, plants, and animals, and of generation and corruption. In addition to the eight Ptolemaic spheres (Moon or falak al-kamar, Mercury or falak al-utarid, Venus or falak al- zuhra, Sun or falak al- shams, Mars or falak al-Mirrikh, Jupiter or falak al-Mushtari, Saturn or falak al-Zuhal, Fixed Stars or falak al-burudj), the Islamic cosmos has a ninth Sphere, the Sphere of Spheres or falak al-aflak. This astronomical or physical model of the cosmos is integrated with a theological or metaphysical cosmology.
In the explaining the relationship of the structure of the Islamic cosmos to the process of the primordial Creation, Jachimowiczhe cites theTasawwurat of Nasir al-Din Tusi, in which it is said that the creative force “reached the Throne of God, from the Throne reached the pedestal and, from the Pedestal again, descended to the sphere of Saturn and became attached to it. Again, it descended further, from one sphere to the other, until it reached the sphere of the moon. Then the exaltations and the rays of the stars, by the force of that energy and through the mediation of the sphere of the moon, fell upon the elements. This was certainly the cause which stirred the elements …” A line of force is drawn from the highest heaven down to the sublunary region and, given the notion of the ‘stirring’ of the elements, we might impute a turning movement to this force. In my own imagination, this line of force echoes the axial function and dynamics of the Pokok Pauh Janggi which links Dasar laut to Kayangan in the Malay cosmos.
Image: Jachimowicz, Edith (1975). Islamic Cosmology. In Carmen Blacker, Michael Loewe & J. Martin Plumley (eds.), Ancient Cosmologies. Allen & Unwin.
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