Revelation of Mystery (Kashf al Mahjub)

Sukr سکر (Intoxication) and Sahw صحو (Sobriety)

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Chapter XIV (f)

Sukr  سکر (Intoxication) and Sahw  صحو (Sobriety)


You must know that sukr سكر (intoxication) and ghalabah غلبه (rapture) are terms used by spiritualists to denote the rapture of love for Allah, while the term sahw صحو (sobriety) expresses the attainment of desire. They have deliberated this matter in length. One group prefer sobriety to intoxication and the other group hold the intoxication to be superior.

Abu Yazid and his followers prefer intoxication to sobriety. They say that sobriety involves the fixity and equilibrium of human attributes, which are the greatest veil between Allah and the man, whereas intoxication involves the diminish of catastrophe, blemishes of human attributes, and the annihilation of foresight and choice, so that only those faculties remains to act which are above humanity and these faculties are more perfect and accomplished. Thus David (may blessings of Allah be on him) was in the state of sobriety when an act proceeded from him which Allah attributed to him and said,

وقَتَلَ دَاوُودُ جَالُوتَ

and David slew Goliath” (Q 2:251),

but Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was in the state of intoxication when an act proceeded from him which Allah attributed to Himself and said:

وَمَا رَمَيْتَ إِذْ رَمَيْتَ وَلَـكِنَّ اللّهَ رَمَى

“When thou threwest (a handful of dust), it was not thy act, but Allah’s:” (Q 8:17).

How great is the difference between man to man!

Allah said to him who was dormant to himself and set to his own attributes that “you did it”, and to whom who was firm with the Truth and annihilated from his attributes said “whatever was done We did it”. The attribution of a man’s act to Allah is better than the attribution of Allah’s act to a man, for in the latter case the man stands by the attributes of humanity, while in the former case he stands through Allah because when man stands by human attributes his example is like this:

When David looked at where he was not supposed to look i.e. the wife of Adriya, in remand of that what  happened with David, only he knew but when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) looked at, resultantly, that woman was forbidden for her husband. The David was in state of sobriety and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was dwelling at maqam (station) of intoxication.

Junaid and his followers prefer sahw صحو (sobriety) to sukr سكر (intoxication). They say that intoxication is a palace of misfortunes, because it involves the disturbance of one's normal state and loss of health and self-control. The desire of the seeker is to get to know the mystical meanings, may these be concerning to annihilation or subsistence, or of effacement or affirmation, and without being in right state how he can verify his quest. The hearts of the seekers of Truth should remain clear of all created and merely by closing eyes one is not free from the world and its motives and nor one is free from its tribulations. The attachment of creature with other things (save Allah) is because they are ignorant of their reality and had the reality be known to them they would have got escaped of them. 

There are two ways to see the things correctly. He who looks at anything sees it either with the eye of subsistence (baqa بقا) or with the eye of annihilation (fana فنا). In the first case he perceives that the whole universe is imperfect in comparison with their own subsistence, for they in their subsistence are not subsistent to their own self. And if he looks with the eye of annihilation, he perceives that all created things are non-existent beside the subsistence of Allah. In either case he turns away from created things. Therefore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said in his prayer,

اللهم ارنا الا شياء كماهي

O Allah, show us things as they really are,

because, whoever truly perceives the reality, finds peace.

And this saying of Allah has also similar meaning:

فا عتبر وايا ولي الابصار

"Take warning, then, O ye with eyes (to see)! (Q 59:2).

Because until we see, how can we perceive warning. Such vision cannot be properly attained except in the state of sobriety, and the intoxicated have no knowledge thereof. Since Moses was in state of intoxication, therefore, he could not endure when Allah manifested His glory, but fell down in a swoon (Q 7:143), but Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who was in state of sobriety, beheld the same glory continuously, all the way from Mecca until he stood at the distance of two bow-lengths from the Divine presence (Q 53:9) and his every moment was ever-increasing consciousness,

شربت الواح كاسا بعد كاس     فما نفد الشراب ومارويت

I took wine of His Marifat in abundance, but

Neither wine finished nor did I get satisfied.

My Sheikh, who followed the doctrine of Junaid, said:

Sukr (intoxication) is child’s play, but sobriety is the death field of men.”

I, in agreement with my Sheikh say, that the perfection of the state of the intoxicated man is sobriety and the lowest stage of sobriety is the perception of powerlessness of human nature, therefore, even that sobriety which may leads to some injury is better than sukr (intoxication) because intoxication is a total catastrophe.

Uthman Maghrabi, in the earlier part of his life, spent twenty years in solitude, living in wilderness and deserts where he never heard the sound of a human voice. His body shriveled due to toil and diligence, his eyes became as small as the eye of a sack-needle and his facial features had hardly anything common with the human face. After twenty years he was commanded to associate with mankind. He resolved to begin with the friends of Allah and attendant of Kaba and left for Mecca. The Sheikhs of Mecca through insight were aware of his coming and went forth to meet him. Finding him so changed that he hardly seemed to be human creature, they said to him:

“O Abu Uthman, you have spent twenty years in such condition that sons of Adam are unable to perceive. Tell us.

Why did you dwell in wilderness?

What did you see there?

What all did you gain?

And now why have you come back?”

He relied: “I went because of intoxication, and I saw the wretchedness of intoxication. I have come back with humility and despair. ”

All the Sheikhs said in one voice: “O Abu Uthman, it is not lawful for anyone after you to explain the meaning of sobriety and intoxication, for you have done justice to the whole matter and have shown forth the evil of intoxication.”

Hence, sukr (intoxication) is to erroneously consider self annihilation while the attributes really subsists and this is a veil. But Sahw (sobriety) on the other hand, is the vision of subsistence while the attributes of human nature are annihilated and this is actual revelation.

It is absurd for anyone to suppose that intoxication is nearer to annihilation (fana) than sobriety, for intoxication is such an aspect that adds to sobriety, and so long a man is thoughtful of increase in his attributes he remains ignorant and when attributes starts diminishing, the seekers of the Truth get hopeful. This is the limit and end state of seekers in sahw (sobriety) and sukr (intoxication).

Yahya b, Maud wrote to Abu Yazid: “What do you say of one who becomes intoxicated by just taking a single drop from the ocean of love?”

Bayazid wrote him in reply: “What do you say of one who drinks all the rivers of the world filled with wine of love and still cry for more to satisfy his thirst of love?”

People perceived as if Yahya was speaking of intoxication, and Bayazid of sobriety. But in fact the man of sobriety is he who is unable to drink even a single drop, and the man of intoxication is he who in his intoxicated state drinks all and still desires for more. The wine of love is an instrument of intoxication and demands what is homogeneous with itself and sahw (sobriety) is anti intoxication, therefore, sobriety has no relation with intoxication.

The sukr (intoxication) is of two kinds, i.e. with the wine of friendship and with the cup of affection.

The former is dependant on a cause i.e. it arises because of a benefit but the later has no cause, since it arises from the vision of the benefactor. He who regards the benefit sees through himself and therefore sees himself but he who regards the benefactor sees through Him and therefore does not see himself, so that, although he is in state of intoxication but his intoxication is sobriety.

The Sahw (sobriety) is also of two kinds, i.e. sobriety in heedlessness and sobriety in love.

The former is the greatest of veils, but the later is the clearest of revelations. The sobriety that is connected with heedlessness is actually intoxication, while that which is linked with love, although it is intoxication but is actually sobriety. When the origin is firmly established, sobriety and intoxication resemble one another, but when origin and base is missing, both are useless.

In short, sobriety and intoxication exist with difference of opinion amongst seekers of the Truth. If the Truth unveils Its secrets, both sobriety and intoxication appear to be uninvited intruders as the boundaries of both are joined, and the end of the one is the beginning of the other, and beginning and end are terms that imply separation, which has only a relative existence. In union all separations are negated, as the poet says:

اذا طلع الصباح بنجم راح

تساوي فيه سكران وصاح

When the morning rises with the heart pleasing goblet of wine,

The drunkard and the sober are in similar state.

At Sarkhas there were two Sheikhs, namely, Luqman and Abu Fadl Hasan. One day Luqman came to Abu Fadl and found him searching something from the pieces of papers (of manuscript) in his hand. He asked him that what he was seeking in those papers. Abu Fadl replied, “the same thing which you are seeking by turning them away.” Luqman said: “Then why this difference?” Abu Fadl answered:

“You see a difference when you ask me what I am seeking. Come to sobriety from intoxication and get disgusted of sobriety, in order that the difference may be removed from you and that you may know what you and I are in search of.”

The Tayfuris has only this much difference with Junaidis which has been indicated. Their doctrine as regards to ethics consists in shunning companionship and choosing retirement from the world, and he enjoined all his disciples to do the same. If attained, this is a praiseworthy and laudable Path.



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