Referring to God by the pronoun Hu, a pronoun beyond gender

Jul 10, 2023

You can find this calligraphy on many doors of mosques, dergahs, zawiyas and “centers of spiritual development” especially in the Turkish and Persian Islamic world. It consists of two parts.

1. The word Adab - often translated as 'having good manners'. We would like to translate it as 'art of living' or ‘living with heart’.

2. Ya Hu - ‘Oh You!’ Also ‘Oh He/She!’ If I want to be more precise I would say Hu is a genderless or ‘beyond gender’ pronoun that would be a rich addition to the English set of pronouns which has the ‘it’ for the unconscious genderless subject but it is missing the pronoun for the conscious or the supraconscious genderless that would be befitting of Higher Meanings like God, Supreme Consciousness, or the Spirit.**

It is intentionally not saying Ya Insan (oh human) or Ya Murid (oh student or disciple).

It is purposely stating Ya Hu, to convey the deep and subtle meaning of: O You, who is the secret of Hu in her/his Deep Self.

It is a reminder that we carry the secret of the Divine within us.

As if to say: honor this secret and let your outer behavior reflect and express this inner treasure.
Be a man/woman of art, be a man/woman of he(art).

One who manifests The Divine secret that he carries within and lives in harmony with the manifestation of The Divine on the outside.

**In Arabic, Huwa is the pronoun commonly used for the masculine 3rd person such as he in English. Since this same pronoun has been used for God in the Qur’an and Holy Tradition, yet God is genderless or beyond gender, the Sufis who are always in search for coherence and not contented with unresolved spiritual problems nor shallow explanation of things, needed to find a solution. We see them often using both pronouns huwa and hiya (he and she) to talk about God or The Divine Presence and the Spirit, the deep soul or the inner Secret. Some would even resist the idea that the Most Wise Divine Intelligence has actually used the pronoun of masulinity to describe the Holy and Wholly Divine Essence which can be translated and manifested in and through both masculine and feminine attributes necessarily. So they say that the pronoun Hu is different than huwa, while huwa means he, the masculine 3rd person pronoun, Hu is a different pronoun altogether that is only used for the genderless or beyond gender deep Divine Essence. When they recite the Qur’an they don’t say ‘huwa Allah’, they insist on reciting it as ‘Hu Allah’. The question here, is not to agree or disagree…This is beyond science, this is art. Art is only to be tasted. If there is a scientific conclusion to be taken, it is that using the masculine pronoun for God was not an overlooked problem in the general islamic thought and some Muslim thinkers tried to find a solution or an explanation to avoid that some minds would slip into the confusion of imagining God as a male with a white beard as in the biblical depictions. Making God uniquely our ‘Father’ or ‘Grandfather’ and not our ‘Mother’ or ‘Grandmother’ which may have devastating psychological consequences related to our connection with The Divine.