Revelation of Mystery (Kashf al Mahjub)

Performance of Miracles by Pretenders of Godhead

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Chapter XIV (r)

Performance of Miracles by Pretenders of Godhead


The Sheikhs of Sufism and all orthodox Muslims are unanimous that an extraordinary act resembling a prophetic miracle may be performed by an unbeliever, but such act would have no resemblance with miracle and karamat and there would be no doubt to believe the performer as an imposter, rather his act would itself be evidence to his falsehood. Thus, for example, Pharaoh lived four hundred years without even once fell sick and when he climbed any high ground the water followed him, and stopped when he stopped, and moved when he moved, yet, no intelligent man has any doubt that he was a liar in his claim to godhead and was an imposter, for they acknowledge that Allah is not incarnate and composite. Had there been more extraordinary acts taken place through Pharaoh still they would have had no doubt to deny his false claim. The wondrous acts of Shaddad, the lord of Iram and Nimrod should also be judged with the same analogy.

Similarly, we are told on trustworthy authority of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that in the last days Dajjal will appear and claim godhead, and two mountains, one on his left and other on his right, will move with him. The mountain on his right will be the place of felicity, and the mountain on his left will be the place of torment and he will call the people to take him as their god and punish those who will refuse to join him. Allah because of his infidelity will kill people and then will give life to them. His command will be complied with all over the world. But though he should perform a hundredfold amount of such extraordinary acts, no intelligent person would doubt the falsity of his claim, for neither Allah sits on an ass and nor any sort of change can be attributed to Him. Such things fall under the principle of Divine deception.

Again, this is also possible that one who pretends to be a prophet may perform an extraordinary act but his act itself will be evidence to his falsehood, just as a similar act performed by a true Prophet proves him genuine. But no such act can be performed if there be any possibility of doubt or any difficulty in distinguishing the true claimant from the imposter, for in that case the principle of allegiance would be nullified

Moreover it is possible, that a pretender to saintship may perform something of the same kind as karamat, and which is in accord with Shariat although his own conduct is not praiseworthy. By that miraculous act he confirms the truth of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and manifests the grace of Allah vouchsafed to him and does not attribute the act in question to his own power. One who is truthful in his faith without any karamat, he according to his belief, will be recognized a wali in all his states, although his acts might not be according to belief. The apparent fault of his acts does not deny him from his sainthood, as it does not deny him from his faith. In fact, karamat and saintship are Divine gifts, not things acquired by man. The human efforts and actions cannot become the cause of Divine guidance.

I have already mentioned that the saints are not preserved from sin, and neither is it a prerequisite to become a saint, but they are protected from any evil that involves the denial of their saintship. According to the doctrine of Muhammad b. Ali Hakim, the saintship can loose hand but not due to sin. Junaid, Hasan Nuri, Harith Muhasibi and other mystics are also of the same opinion. But those who attach importance to conduct like Sahl b. Abdullah, Abu Suleiman Durani, Abu Hamdun Qassar and others, maintain that saintship involves unceasing obedience, and one is disposed off from the saintship if he commits a grievous sin.

As I have mentioned before, there is a consensus of opinion among the Muslims that by committing a great sin one does not become unbeliever and no saintship is better than another. Therefore, since the saintship of marifat (knowledge of Allah), which is the foundation of all nobility and excellence, is not lost due to sin or disobedience, then how is it possible that walayat of lesser magnitude should disappear because of sin. The controversy among the Sheikhs on this matter has run to great, and I do not intend to record it here. The most important thing is that you should know with certainty that in what state the miraculous grace is manifested to the saint; in sobriety or intoxication, in rapture or composure. I have already explained the meaning of intoxication and sobriety in my account of the doctrine of Abu Yazid.

Abu Yazid, Dhu al-Nun, Muhammad b. Khafif, Hussein b. Mansur, Yahya b. Maud Razi and one of the groups of Sufism hold that karamat (miracles) are not vouchsafed to a saint except when he is in the state of intoxication, whereas the miracles of the prophets are wrought in the state of sobriety. Hence, according to their doctrine, this is the distinction between miracle and karamat. Since Karamat is vouchsafed to wali (saint) when he is enraptured and he does not make any claim for his karamat, while the miracle is vouchsafed to Prophet in the state of sobriety, and challenges the people to rival what he has done. Moreover, the prophet has the choice to manifest or conceal his extraordinary powers where and whenever he desires, but the saints have no such choice, as sometimes a karamat is not granted to them when they desire it, and sometimes it is bestowed when they do not desire it; for the saint is not a preacher, that his attributes should be subsistent, but he is hidden and his state is praised with annihilated attributes.

Therefore, the prophet is a man of Sharia (law) and the saint is a man of inwardly feeling. Accordingly, a karamat will not be manifested to a saint unless he is in a state of bewilderment and absence from himself, and fully subjugated to Divine Command. And when he is under such state, his every act is guided by the Truth, for the reformation of humanity attributes is needed to those who remain busy in amusement, or in heedlessness or who are independent of Allah. The Prophets are never busy in amusement, or in a state of heedlessness, and, there is none other than the Prophets who are the friends of Allah in its most true sense. Therefore, instead of steadfastness and fixity, they are left with anxiety and unstable state. The saints while in their state of humanity are veiled, but when the veil is lifted they are bewildered and amazed though realizing the bounties of Allah and karamat cannot be manifested except in the state of kashf (revelation) because this is the degree of proximity; and here for him gold and stone stand equal and valueless. And amongst the human beings, this state is only endowed to Prophets, and beside them if it is ever endowed to a person, it is temporary and in the state of intoxication. Thus, one day, Haritha (may Allah be pleased with him) while cut off from this world, was revealed the next world to him and he said,

عرفت نفسي عن الدنيا فاستوي عندي حجرها ً وذهبها و فضتها و مدرها

I have got the knowledge of my nafs (lower soul) in relation to the world, so that its stones, gold, silver and its clay are all one and the same to me.” Next day he was seen working in a date orchard and on being asked what he was doing, he said that he was busy in earning his livelihood, as there was no remedy without that. His earlier moments were bearer of his that state and his present moments were suitable for this act. 

Thus, the state of sahw صحو (sobriety) is common with the saints, and sukr سكر (intoxication) is the state of Prophets and when the saints return to themselves, they consider themselves as ordinary men, and when they are absent from themselves and attentive to the Truth, their sukr (intoxication) is decent, and their readiness and decency is only for Allah and the whole universe becomes like gold unto them. Shibli says,

ذهب اينما ذهبنا و درحيث درنا وفضة في الفضاء

gold wherever we go, and pearl wherever we turn, and silver in the atmosphere.”

Imam Abu al-Qasim Qushayri said that once he asked Tabrani about the beginning of his spiritual experience. He told him that on one occasion he needed a stone. Whichever stone he picked up from the river-bed at Sarkhas that would turn into a gem and he threw them all away. This was because stones and gems were the same to him or rather gems were of less value since he had no desire for them.

While I was at Sarkhas, Khawaja Imam Hazami related a tale of his experience to me which is as follow:

In my boyhood I went to a place to get mulberry leaves for silkworms. I climbed a tree and started shaking its branches. Meanwhile, Sheikh Abu al-Fadl b. al-Hasan passed by, but he did not see me, and I had no doubt that he was absent from himself and was wholeheartedly present with Allah. Suddenly he raised his head and spoke with the boldness of intimacy, “O Lord, it is more than a year since Thou hast not given me a small piece of silver that I might have my hair cut. Is this the way to treat Thy friends?”

Imam Hazami said that no sooner had he spoken I saw whole the tree turned to gold. Seeing this, Sheikh Abu al-Fadl exclaimed:

“How strange, even my least hint has become cause of petition; it is against etiquettes to talk frankly in Thy Court.”

Once, Shibli threw four hundred dinars into the Tigris. When asked what he had done, he replied, “Stones are to be thrown in the water.” They suggested that he might have distributed them among the people.  Shibli replied, “Glory to Allah! What plea can I urge before Him if I remove the veil from my own heart only to place it on the hearts of my brother Muslims? It is against the norms of the religion to consider others lesser than oneself.”

All these relate to the state of intoxication, which I have already explained and the object here is only to establish the validity of karamat.

On the other hand, Junaid, and Abu al-Abbas Sayyari, Abu Bakr Wasti and Muhammad b. Ali Tirmidhi, the author of the doctrine, hold that karamat كرامات (miracles) are manifested in the state of sobriety (sahw صحو ) and composure (tamkin تمكين), not in the state of intoxication (sukr سكر). They argue that saints of Allah are the governors of His kingdom and the overseers of the universe, which Allah has committed absolutely to their charge, therefore their judgments must be soundest of all, and their hearts are most tenderly disposed of towards Allah’s creature, for they have already attained their objective. The states of agitation (talwin تلوين) and intoxication are the marks of the beginning and when they attain their object agitation is transmuted into composure (tamkin) and it is only then that they are blessed with walayat (saintship) and their Karamat are genuine.

It is well known among Sufis that every night the Autad اوتاد must go round the whole universe. If there should be any place on which their eyes do not fall and some imperfection appears there, they must then inform the Qutb قطب, in order that he may fix his attention on the weak spot, and that by his blessing the imperfection may be removed.

As regards to claim that gold and dust are same to the saint, this is a degree of deficiency in want of Marifat (knowledge of Allah) and intoxication and it carries no excellence. More excellent is the man of true sight and sound perception, to whom gold is gold and dust is dust, but he must be aware of their evils and blemishes and should say,

يا صفراء يا بيضاء غري غيري

O gold! O silver! beguile some one else, for I am aware of your corruptness.”

He who sees the corruptness of gold and silver perceives them to be a veil, and Allah will reward him for having renounced them. But he to whom gold is even as dust, how can he influence someone to renounce dust. 

Haritha (may Allah be pleased with him), being in state of intoxication, declared stones and gold were alike to him, but Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), being in state of sobriety, perceived the evil of laying hands on worldly wealth, and knew that Allah would reward him for rejecting it. Therefore he had renounced it to such an extant that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked him what he had left for his family, he answered, “Allah and His Prophet.”

Abu Bakr Warraq Tirmidhi related the following:

One day Muhammad b. Ali (al-Hakim) said that he would take me somewhere. I replied that it was for the Sheikh to command. Soon after we set out and reached in a jungle.  I saw there a golden throne placed under a green tree on the bank of a fountain. A person clad in beautiful raiment was seated on the throne. When Muhammad b. Ali approached him, he saluted Ali. The man got up from his seat and bade Muhammad b. Ali to sit with him on the throne. After a while, people came from every side until forty were gathered. Then the man waved his hand towards the sky, and suddenly food appeared which all of us feasted. Then Muhammad b. Ali asked a question from him, and he in reply made a long discourse of which I did not understand a single word. After some time the Sheikh begged leave and took his departure, saying to me: “Lucky, you have been blessed for ever.” On our return to Tirmidh, I asked him what was that place and who was that man. He told me that the place was Jungle of the Israelites and the man was the Qutb on whom the order of the universe depends. I asked him, O Sheikh how did we reach the Desert of Israelites from Tirmidh in such a brief time? He answered, “O Abu Bakr, it is thy business to arrive, not ask questions and seek about state.”

This is a mark of sanity, and not of intoxication.

Now I round up this discussion and mention some miracles and stories of Sufis as proofs, so that seekers may gain knowledge, Ulama have comfort, Researchers have some assets and people are assured in their faith so that no doubt is left in their mind.



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Zahid Javed Rana, Abid Javed Rana, Lahore, Pakistan

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