The water of life


Salaam aleikum
Thank you for the sending of the post, which indeed I find interesting. Perhaps it is possible to ask questions about it?
Brought up Christian, being Muslim now, the living water of which also the Prophet Isa speaks is known to me since the Prophet Isa refers to it many times.
I do not want to be proud or argue so please forgive me, but is the symbol of the fish not chosen because it was the age of Pisces when the Prophet Isa lived among the people?
One thing I do not understand about the story of the lore of light
when Khidr (as) and Eliyas (as) found the water, why did not they go and find Iskander to tell him about it, to share their knowing of the water of life. The knowledge of the water of life is not to be/cannot be given to one who cannot conceive it. But then I wonder about the two lights of Iskander, it was he who had the lights, he gave this to the others, he was the one who made the quest possible. And did not they promise to tell each other if they would find it? Why they suddenly know that they understood that they had fulfilled their quest and that Iskender was not destined to reach this stream?
Best regards


wa `alaykum salam,

The claim that a symbol is “chosen” to account for scientific phenomena is a modern one. This modern interpretation betrays a confusion concerning symbols. Modern “authorities” prefer to relegate symbols to primitive attempts to explain things, rather than as signs of the archetypes expressed through things. In other words, the symbolism of the fish may be reflected in the order of the stars, but it is not restricted to it. This is not to disregard the precession of the equinoxes, a phenomenon well understood by the ancients; however, according to traditional knowledge, there are other more significant astrological considerations which relate to the identity of an age.

To assist your ruminations on the account from Lore of Light, perhaps Coomaraswamy’s paraphrasing of Nizami’s account would be helpful:

“Alexander makes the prophet Khizr his guide, and Khizr ‘moving with greenness’ leads the way, and presently discovers the fountain, from which he drinks…He keeps his eye on the spring, while waiting for Alexander to catch up with him; but it disappears from sight, and Khizr himself vanishes, realizing that Alexander will not succeed in his quest.”

Mahmoud Shelton

About Ustadh Mahmoud Shelton

Mahmoud Shelton studied at the University of Edinburgh before taking a degree in Medieval Studies at Stanford University. Shelton is the author of Alchemy in Middle Earth: The Significance of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, The Balance of George Lucas' Star Wars, and numerous articles. He is also a contributor to The Royal Book of Spiritual Chivalry and The Sufi Science of Self-Realization. Contributions by Mahmoud Shelton * Chivalry of the Night and Day * Alchemy in Middle Earth * contributor, The Royal Book of Spiritual Chivalry
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