The Uncovering of the Tenth Veil
Phraseology and Meanings of the Terms and Verities of the Ideas Signified
May Allah bless you felicity. Be obvious that in every craft and business while discussing its mysteries with one another, make use of certain words and expressions of which the meaning is known only to them. Such expressions are invented for two reasons. Firstly, in order to facilitate the understanding of difficulties and bringing them nearer to the comprehension of the novice. Secondly, in order to conceal the mysteries of that science from the uninitiated. The Sufis also have technical terms for the purpose of expressing the matter of their discourse and in order that they may reveal or disguise their meaning as they please. I will now explain some of these terms and distinguish between the significations attached to various pair of words, so that you and all readers are benefited.
Hal حال and Waqt وقت
Waqt وقت (time) is a familiar term with Sufis, and concerning which much have been said by the Sheikhs, but my object is to establish the truth, not to give long explanation.
Waqt is that state whereby a man becomes independent of the past and the future. When Divine influence descends into his soul and makes his heart collected he has neither memory of the past nor any thought of the future. It is not within the capabilities of everyone. The common persons do not know that what had been their past and what their future will be. The holders of waqt say:
“When our knowledge cannot apprehend the past and the future, the present waqt is excellent for us. If we occupy ourselves with the thoughts of coming or the past day we shall be veiled (from Allah), and a veil is a great distraction. So it is absurd to think of unattainable.”
Abu Said Kharraz says:
“Do not occupy your precious time except with the most precious of things and the most precious thing of man is the moment between the past and the future.”
And the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
لي مع الله وقت لا يسعني فيه ملك مقرب و لا نبي مرسل
“I attain a particular waqt (time) from Allah in which none of the trusted angels nor does any Prophet have any room,”
that is to say, in which the eighteen thousand worlds do not occur to my mind and have no worth in my eyes. Therefore, on the night of the Ascension, when the beauties of the earth and heaven were arrayed before him, he did not look at anything. As in the Quran,
مَا زَاغَ الْبَصَرُ وَمَا طَغَى
(his) sight never swerved, nor did it go wrong!’ (Q 53:17),
for Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a beloved, and the beloved are not engrossed save by that which is beloved.
The Unitarian has two times, the state of loss and the state of gain, i.e. one in the place of union and one in the place of separation. At both these times he is overpowered, because while in these states he is under the command and subjugation of the Truth without such volition or acquisition on his part as would make it possible to invest him with any attribute. When a man’s power of volition during his state is cut off from him, whatever he does or experiences is subjected to the Truth.
Once while I was on my way to Pilgrimage, I saw a dervish in the desert, sitting under a mimosa tree at a hard and uncomfortable spot. I asked him what made him sit there so still. He answered: “I had a time and lost it here; now I am sitting and mourning.” I inquired how long he had been there. He answered: “Twelve years. Will not the Sheikh offer up a prayer on my behalf, that perchance I might find my time again?” I left him, performed the pilgrimage and prayed for him. My prayer was granted. On my return I found him seated at the same place. I asked him that why he had not gone from there, since his wish was obtained? He replied:
“This is the place where I suffered and afflicted. Here I lost my capital and here I found it back. Therefore I don’t feel like leaving this place. I have started loving this place, leave me at my own and you please go. I have a desire that after death my dust should mix with this dust, so I may rise at the Resurrection from this dust which is the Qibla of my heart and from where I found my lost wealth.”
فكل امرءي يولي الجميل محبب وكل مكان ينبت العزطيب
“All that received from beloved is beautiful: Place where one is honored is agreeable.”
The waqt (time) is that state which cannot be attained by exerting one’s own choice, neither it is acquirable from the bazaar that that anyone should give his life in exchange for it. The man has no power either to attract or to repel it, for both its shades are equal to him. The will of the man is incompetent to establish or be constant with it. The Sheikhs call it,
الوقت سيف قاطع
“time is a cutting sword,”
because it is characteristic of a sword to cut, and time cuts the roots of the future and the past, and obliterates worry of yesterday and tomorrow from the heart. Thus to keep companionship with sword is a dangerous thing, for either it makes its master a king or it kills him. Although one should serve the sword and carry it on one's own shoulders for a thousand years, in the moment of cutting it does not discriminate between its master’s neck and the neck of another, for violence is its characteristic, and violence will not depart from it at the wish of its master.
Hal حال (state) descends upon time (waqt) and adorns it, as the spirit adorns the body. Compulsorily waqt has dependency on hal (state), for waqt is purified and beautified by hal. Thus existence of waqt depends on hal. When the holder of waqt comes into state of hal, he becomes independent of any change. He gains strength in his states. Waqt may be lost without hal and when hal attaches with it, his all states become waqt and that cannot be lost. Whatever comes either it goes back or subsists and these are the states of manifestation and concealment. The state of waqt temporarily used to descend on possessor of waqt before hal, as he was in heedlessness. After the descending of hal, waqt gets stability. Heedlessness is possible for possessor of waqt but not possessor of hal.
The tongue of the possessor of hal is silent concerning his hal, but his actions proclaim the reality of his hal. Hence an elder said, “to question about hal is absurd,” because hal is the annihilation of speech.
Abu Ali Daqqaq says:
“In this or the next world, in joy or woe the portion of waqt is that (feeling) in which you are. But hal is not like this, for it is such an occurrence from Allah that when it comes on a man, it banishes all feelings from his heart.”
Jacob (may blessings of Allah be on him) was a holder of waqt. Sometimes he was blinded by woe of separation, and sometimes he was restored to sight by union. And sometimes he was weak like a hair by mourning and like a brush hair by wailing and sometimes he was subtle like a spirit by delight and calm and joyful by pleasure. But Abraham (may blessings of Allah be on him) was a possessor of hal. He was not conscious of separation, that he should be stricken with grief, nor of union, that he should be filled with joy. The sun, moon and stars, all contributed to his hal, but while he gazed, was independent of them, for whatever he looked on, he saw only Allah, and he said,
لا أُحِبُّ الآفِلِينَ
I love not those that set” (Q 6:76).
Sometimes, the world becomes hell to the possessor of waqt, because he is veiled from contemplation and his heart is distressed by the loss of his beloved. And sometimes his heart is like a Paradise in the blessedness of contemplation, and every moment in the shape of waqt descends to him a gift and a glad message from Allah. On the other hand, it makes no difference to the possessor of hal whether he is veiled by affliction or unveiled by happiness, for he is always in the place of actual vision.
In short, hal is an attribute of the object desired, while waqt is of the desirer. The desirer is with himself in the pleasure of waqt, while the former is with Allah in the delight of hal. How far apart are the two degrees!
Maqam مقام (station) and Tamkin تمكين (steadfastness)
Maqam (station) denotes the perseverance of the seeker in fulfilling his obligations towards the object of his search with strenuous exertion and flawless intention. Every seeker of the Truth has a maqam (station), which, in the beginning of his desire of this way, becomes a means of his desire. Although the seeker passes through all the stations and derives benefit, but finally he rests at one station, because the maqam and desire are linked with natural form and it has nothing to do with practice. Allah says:
وَمَا مِنَّا إِلَّا لَهُ مَقَامٌ مَّعْلُومٌ
“(Those ranged in ranks say): none one of us but has a place appointed;” (Q 37:164).
The maqam (station) of:
- Adam was repentance (tauba توبه),
- Noah was abstinence (zuhd زهد),
- Abraham was resignation (taslim تسليم),
- Moses was penitence (inabat انابت),
- David was sorrow (huzn حزن)
- Jesus was hope (raja رجا),
- John was fear (khaw خوف),
- of our Prophet (peace be upon him) was praise (dikr ذكر).
Although everyone has accessibility to all the stations, but each of them returned at last to his original station. In discussing the doctrine of Muhasibis, I gave explanation of the stations and distinguished between hal and maqam also. However, it is necessary to further elaborate it here also.
You must know that the Way to Allah is of three kinds:
- maqam مقام (station),
- hal حال (state),
- tamkin تمكين (steadfastness),
Allah sent the prophets to show the Way to Him and to elucidate the principles of different stations. One hundred and twenty four thousand apostles came with as many stations. On the advent of Muhammad (peace be upon him), amongst the possessors of maqam, everyone was graced with hal and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) attained a pitch where all human acquisition was left behind, until religion was made perfect unto men, as Allah has said,
الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي
“this day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favors upon you;” (Q 5:5).
Then the tamkin تمكين (steadfastness) of the steadfast appeared.
Tamkin تمكين denotes the residence of spiritual adepts in the abode of perfection and in the highest grade. It is possible that possessors of maqam may pass ahead of maqam but it is impossible for them to pass beyond tamkin, because maqam is the grade of beginners, whereas tamkin is the resting place of adepts. One can travel to destination but beyond destination there is no way. Maqamat (stations) are stages on the way, whereas tamkin is presence in the court of the Holy. The friends of Allah are only observer on the way and are strangers (to themselves) in the stages. Their hearts are in the presence of Allah, and the existence of means and motives therein is cause of destruction and veil.
In the era of Paganism the poets used to praise men for noble deed, but they did not recite their panegyric until some time had elapsed. When a poet came into the presence of the person whom he had to celebrate, he used to cut feet of his ride and then would break his sword, as though to say:
“I needed a ride to bring me from a far distance to your presence, and a sword to repel the envious that would have hindered me from paying homage to you. Now that I have reached to you, the ride is of no purpose and since I have no intention to ever depart from you, therefore, what for do I need the sword, for I will not admit into my mind the thought of being detached from your court.”
For this reason Allah said to Moses that since he had attained to Tamkin after traversing stages and maqam, therefore he needed no unsettled means and bade him to فَاخْلَعْ نَعْلَيْكَ put off thy shoes” (Q 20:12), and “والق عصاك throw away your staff, for these being articles of travel and while in the presence of Holy there was no danger of being veiled.
The beginning of love is search, but the end is repose at one place. The water flows while it is in the river, but when it reaches the ocean it ceases to flow and changes its taste, so that desirer of water avoids it. Now only that person approaches it who desire pearls. They devote themselves to death and fasten the load of the jewels of search to their feet and plunge headlong into the sea, that they may either gain the hidden pearl or lose their dear lives. One of the Sheikhs says:
التمكين رفع التلوين
“tamkin is the removal of talwin تلوين”.
Talwin تلوين is a technical term and is closely connected in meaning with tamkin, just as hal is connected with maqam.
The signification of talwin is change and turning from one state to another. The above mentioned saying means that one who is mutamakin متمكن (established) is not hesitant, for he has already presented all his possessions in the court of the Holy and has erased every thought of other than Him from his mind. No act that passes over him alters his outwardly behavior and no state changes his inwardly state. Moses was subject to talwin. When Allah revealed His glory to Mount Sinai, “وَخَرَّ موسَى صَعِقًا and Moses fell down in swoon,” (Q 7:143), but Muhammad (peace be upon him) was mutamakin متمكن (established). He suffered no change, although he was in the very revelation of glory from Mecca to space of two bow-lengths; and this is the highest grade.
Tamkin تمكين is of two kinds, i.e. one referring to the dominant influence of one's self and the other referring to the dominant influence of the Truth.
He whose tamkin is of the former kind retains his attributes unimpaired, but he whose tamkin is of the later kind he is annihilated by his attributes. The terms effacement, sobriety, attainment, destruction, annihilation, subsistence, being, and not being are not properly applied to one whose attributes are annihilated, because a subject is necessary for the maintenance of these qualities, and when the subject is absorbed he loses the capacity of maintaining them.
Muhadarat محاضرة (Presence) and Mukashafat مكاشفة (Revelation)
Muhadara محاضره (presence) in the subtleties of demonstration denotes the presence of the heart, while mukashafa مكاشفه (revelation) denotes the amazement of the inward on manifestation of actual vision. Muhadara refers to the evidences of Allah’s signs, and mukashafa to the evidences of contemplation. The mark of Muhadara is continual meditation upon Allah’s signs, while the mark of mukashafa is continual amazement at Allah’s infinite greatness. There is a difference between one who meditates upon the Divine acts and one who is amazed at the Divine Majesty, for the one is at the abode of friendship, the other is at the place of love.
When the friend of Allah (Abraham) looked on the kingdom of heaven and meditated on the reality of their existence, his heart was made present thereby, therefore, through beholding the act he became a seeker of the Agent and his presence made the act a proof of the Agent, and in perfect gnosis stage he exclaimed,
إِنِّي وَجَّهْتُ وَجْهِيَ لِلَّذِي فَطَرَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ حَنِيفًا
for me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth,” (Q 6:79).
But when the beloved of Allah (Muhammad (peace be upon him)) was borne to heaven he shut his eyes from the sight of all things. He saw neither act nor created being nor himself, until the Agent manifested Himself to him. And in that revelation his desire increased manifold, in vain he sought vision but not attained, desired proximity that was made impossible and union was also denied. In proportion as the transcendence of purity of his beloved (from all the conceptions) became more manifest to him the more did his desire increase. He could neither turn back nor go forward, amazement at the friendship stage looked infidelity, and union at the maqam of love looked polytheism, hence he fell into amazement. But in love the object of amazement was nature and quality, and this amazement is unification (tawhid). Because of this reason Shibli always used to say:
“O Guide of the amazed, increase my amazement!” for in contemplation (of Allah) the greater one's amazement the higher one's degree.
Abu Said Kharraz and Abu al-Qasim Mervasi saw a friend of Allah on the river bank and they asked him “Which is the Way to Allah?” He answered that there are two ways to Allah, one for the common people and one for the elect. When they desired him to explain he said:
“The way of the common people is that which you are following. You follow this way for some cause and you leave it for some other cause. But the way of the elect is to see only the Causer, and not to see the cause.”
Qabd قبظ (contraction) and Bast بسط (expansion)
Qabd قبظ (contraction) and bast بسط (expansion) are two states which are out of ones capability i.e. one cannot induce them by any of his act or banish them by any human exertion. Allah hath said,
وَاللّهُ يَقْبِضُ وَيَبْسُطُ
its Allah that giveth (you) want or plenty,” (Q 2:245).
Qabd قبظ denotes the contraction of the heart in the state of being veiled, and bast بسط denotes the expansion of the heart in the state of revelation. Both states proceed from Allah without effort on the part of man. The qabd of Gnostics is like the fear of novices, and the bast of Gnostics is like the hope of novices. This is the sense in which the Sufis use the terms qabd and bast.
Some Sheikhs hold that for two reasons qabd is superior in degree to bast:
- qabd is mentioned before bast in Quran,
- qabd involves dissolution and oppression, whereas bast involves caress and kindness.
It is undoubtedly better to dissolve one's humanity and oppress one's nafs (lower soul) than to foster and favor them, since they are the greatest veil between man and Allah.
Some Sheikhs hold that bast is superior to qabd. They say that qabd is mentioned before bast in the Quran shows the superiority of bast, for the Arabs are accustomed to mention in the first place that which is inferior in merit, e.g. Allah hath said:
فَمِنْهُمْ ظَالِمٌ لِّنَفْسِهِ وَمِنْهُم مُّقْتَصِدٌ وَمِنْهُمْ سَابِقٌ بِالْخَيْرَاتِ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ
“But there are among them some who wrong their own souls; some who follow a middle course, and some who are by Allah’s leave foremost in good deeds;” (Q 35:32),
إِنَّ اللّهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ
“For Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean.” (Q 2:222),
يَا مَرْيَمُ اقْنُتِي لِرَبِّكِ وَاسْجُدِي وَارْكَعِي مَعَ الرَّاكِعِينَ
“O Mary! Worship thy Lord devotedly: prostrate thyself, and bow down (in prayer) with those who bow down.” (Q 3:43).
Moreover, they argue that in bast there is joy and in qabd grief. Gnostics do not feel joy without union and their grief is possible only in separation from the object of desire, therefore rest in the abode of union is better than rest in the abode of separation.
My Sheikh used to say that both qabd and bast are the result of one spiritual influence, which descends from Allah on man, and either fills the heart with joy and subdues the nafs (lower soul) or subdues the heart and fills the nafs (lower soul) with joy. In the latter case contraction (qabd) of the heart is expansion (bast) of the lower soul, and in the former case expansion of the heart is contraction of the lower soul. He who interprets this matter otherwise is wasting his time.
“The contraction of hearts consists in the expansion of souls, and the expansion of hearts in the contraction of souls.”
The contracted soul is guarded from injury, and the expanded heart is restrained from falling into defect, because jealously is the rule in love, and contraction is a sign of Allah’s jealousy; and it is necessary that lovers should reproach one another. The expansion is a sign of mutual reproach. It is well-known tradition that John (may blessings of Allah be on him) never laughed ever since he was born, while Jesus (may blessings of Allah be on him) never wept ever since he was born, because John was in state of contraction and Jesus in expansion. When they met John used to say, “O Jesus, hast thou no fear of being cut off (from Allah)?” And Jesus used to say, “O John, hast thou no hope of Allah’s mercy? Neither thy tears nor my smiles will change the eternal decree of Allah.”
Therefore, there is neither contraction nor expansion, neither effacement nor intimacy, neither helplessness nor struggle, all is from Allah and only that will happen which has been written and predestined.
Uns انس (Intimacy) and Haibat هيبت (awe)
Uns انس (intimacy) and haibat هيبت (awe) are two states of the dervishes who travel on the path of Truth. When Allah manifests splendor of His Majesty to a man’s heart, he is engrossed by haibat (awe), but when Allah manifests splendor of His Beauty he attain uns (intimacy). Those who feel awe are distressed due to His Majesty, while those who feel intimacy are happy because of His Beauty. One’s heart burns in the fire of love of His Majesty and while the heart of other illuminates in the splendor of contemplation of His Beauty. There is a difference between them.
Some Sheikhs have said that haibat is the maqam of Gnostics and uns the degree of novices, because one who is more steadfast in the presence and purity of the attributes of the Truth the more his heart is overwhelmed with awe and the more averse he is to intimacy, for one intimates with of his own kind, and intimacy with Allah is inconceivable, since no homogeneity or resemblance can possibly exist between Allah and man. If intimacy is possible, it is possible only with the dikr (remembrance) of Him, which is something different from Him, for it is an attribute of man. In love to be satisfied with another than the Beloved is falsehood and pretension and self-conceit. Haibat, on the other hand, arises from contemplating Greatness of the Lord, which is an attribute of Allah.
There is a vast difference between one whose act proceeds from himself through himself and one whose act manifests the subsistence of Allah through the annihilation of his self. Shibli said that for a long time he used to think that he was rejoicing in the love of Allah and was intimate with contemplation of Him but later on he found that intimacy was impossible except with a congener.
One group is of the opinion that haibat is a consequence of separation and punishment, while uns is the result of union and mercy, therefore, the friends of Truth must guard themselves from the consequences of haibat and get nearer to uns. Uns (intimacy) involves love and as homogeneity is impossible in love (of Allah), so it is impossible in uns. My Sheikh used to say, “I wonder at those who declare intimacy with Allah to be impossible, after Allah has said,
وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ
“When my servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them),” (Q 2:186),
as for My servants” (Q 17:65),
say to My servants”(Q 17:53),
يَا عِبَادِ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْكُمُ الْيَوْمَ وَلَا أَنتُمْ تَحْزَنُونَ
“My devotees! No fear shall be on you that day, nor shall you grieve--” (Q 43:68).
When a man sees the Grace of Allah, he turns to love Him and from love intimacy generates. The awe of one's beloved is separation, whereas intimacy is sign of oneness. It is characteristic of men to become intimate with their benefactors, inasmuch as Allah has conferred on us so great benefits and we have knowledge of Him, it is impossible that we should talk of awe.
I say that both the parties inspite of the controversy are right, because the power of haibat is exerted upon the nafs (lower soul) and its desires, and tends to annihilate human nature, while the power of uns is exerted upon the heart and tends to foster gnosis in the heart. Therefore Allah annihilates the souls of those who love Him by revealing His Majesty and endows their hearts with everlasting life by revealing His Beauty. The followers of annihilation (fana) regard haibat as superior, but the followers of subsistence (baqa) prefer uns.
Qahr قهر (violence) and Lutf لطف (kindness)
These two expressions are used by the Sufis to interpret their own state. By qahr قهر (violence) they signify to annihilate their desires and to restrain nafs (lower soul) from its desires by the aid of Allah, without mingling any personal object therein. By lutf لطف (kindness) they signify the subsistence of their hearts, the continuance of contemplation and permanence of ecstasy in the degree of steadfastness by the help of Allah. The adherents of lutf say divine grace is the attainment of one's desire, but the others say that divine grace is that Allah save His desire should restrain a man from all his desires and should overpower him through keeping him objective less, so that if he was thirsty and plunged into a river, the river would become dry.
There were two eminent dervishes in Baghdad, the one a believer in qahr and the other a believer in lutf. Both were always pulling and hauling and each would prefer his own state to that of his contemporary. One would say that lutf is superior as Allah has said,
اللَّهُ لَطِيفٌ بِعِبَادِه
Gracious is Allah to His servants:” (Q 42:19).
The other would call qahr superior by quoting the following verse of Quran,
وَهُوَ الْقَاهِرُ فَوْقَ عِبَادِه
He is the irresistible, (watching) from above over His worshippers;” (Q 6:18).
The dervish who preferred lutf set out for Mecca but on his way struck up in the desert, and never reached his destination. For many years no one heard about him, until he was seen by a traveler on the road between Mecca and Baghdad. The dervish asked the traveler to convey the following message to his friend at Karkh in Baghdad:
“If he wishes to see a desert with all its hardship, like Karkh of Baghdad, with all its marvels, let him come here, for this desert is Karkh to me!”
When the traveler arrived at Karkh he delivered this message to the other dervish, who said:
“On your return, tell him that there is no superiority in the fact that the desert has been made like Karkh to him, in order that he may not flee from the Court (of Allah); the superiority lies in the fact that Karkh, with all its wonders and magnificence has been made to me like a painful desert, and that nevertheless, I am happy here.”
Shibli said, in his secret converse with Allah:
“O Lord, I will not turn from Thee, although Thou shouldst make the heaven a collar for my neck and the earth a shackle for my foot and the whole universe a thirst for my blood.”
My Sheikh narrated:
“There was a meeting of the saints of Allah which took place in the midst of a desert, and I accompanied my Sheikh Husri, to that spot. I saw some people approaching on camels, some borne on thrones, and some flying, but Husri paid no heed to them. Then I saw a youth with torn shoes and a broken staff. His feet could scarcely support him, and his head was bare and his body emaciated. As soon as he appeared Husri got up and ran to meet him and led him to a lofty seat. This astonished me, and afterwards I questioned the Sheikh about the youth. He replied that he was one of Allah’s saints who do not follow saintship, but saintship follows him and he pays no attention to miracles.”
In short what we choose ourselves is a cause of affliction. I desire only that Allah should desire for me, and therein preserve me from the evil thereof and save me from the wickedness of my soul. If He keeps me in qahr I do not wish for lutf, and if He keeps me in lutf I do not wish for qahr. I have no choice beyond His choice.
Nafy نفي (negation) and Ithbat اثبات (affirmation)
The Sheikhs of this Path gives the names of nafy (negation) and ithbat اثبات (affirmation) to the effacement of the attributes of humanity and affirmation of Divine aid. By nafy they signify the negation of the attributes of humanity, and by ithbat they mean the overwhelmness of the power of the Truth, for object of effacement is to abolish the total and total negation is applicable only to the attributes because while the humanity subsists the negation of essence is impossible. It is necessary, therefore, that blameworthy attributes should be negated by the affirmation of praiseworthy qualities, i.e. the pretension to love of Allah is negated by affirmation of the reality, for pretension is one of the vanities of the nafs (lower soul). But the Sufis, when their attributes are overpowered by the might of the Truth, habitually say that the attributes of humanity are negated by affirming the subsistence of Allah. This matter has already been discussed in the chapters on poverty and purity and in that on annihilation and subsistence.
They also say that the terms signify the negation of man’s free will by the affirmation of Allah’s authority. Some elder said:
اختيار الحق بعبده مع علمه بعبده خيرمن اختيارعبده لنفسه مع جهله بربه
“Allah’s choice for His servant with His knowledge of His servant is better than His servant’s choice for himself with his ignorance of his Lord,” because love as all agrees, is the negation of the lover’s choice by affirmation of the Beloved’s choice.
A dervish was drowning in the river, when someone cried, “Brother, do you wish to be saved?” The dervish said: “No.” “Then do you wish to be drowned?” “No,” said dervish. “It is a wonder that you will not choose either to die or to be saved.” The dervish said:
“What have I to do with safety, that I should choose it? My choice is that Allah should choose for me.”
The Sheikhs have said that negation of one's own choice is the least grade in love. The authority of Allah is Eternal and cannot possibly be negated, but man’s choice is temporary and admits negation, and it must be trodden under feet so that the Eternal choice of Allah may subsist for ever. When Moses (may blessings of Allah be on him) in the state of bast (expansion) came on mount Tur, he desired for the vision of the Truth by keeping his own choice and Allah replied, “لن تراني by no means canst you see Me (direct). Moses said, “O my Lord! vision is Truth and I qualify for that, then why this hurdle? Allah said:
“Vision is Truth, but in love choice is not allowable.”
There has been much debate on this matter, but my sole aim is that you should know the signification of the terms used by the Sufis. I have mentioned some of these, e.g., jama` and tafriq, and fana and baqa, and ghaybat and hudur, and sukr and sahw, in the chapter treating doctrines of the Sufis, and you must look there for the explanation of them.
Musamarat مسامرة (nocturnal discourse) & Muhadathat محادثة (conversation)
These are two states of the perfect Sufis. Muhadatha محادثه (conversation) is spiritual talk conjoined with silence of the tongue, and musamara مسامره (nocturnal discourse) is continuance of delight combined with concealment of the inward state.
The musamara is a spiritual state existing between Allah and man at night, and muhadatha is a similar state existing by day, in which there is exoteric and esoteric conversation. Hence secret prayers (Manajat) by night are called musamara, while invocations made by day are called muhadatha. The daily state is based on revelation, and the nightly state on osculation.
In love musamara is more perfect than muhadatha, and is connected with the state of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), when Allah sent Gabriel (may blessings of Allah be on him) to him with Buraq and conveyed him by night from Mecca to a space of two bow-length from His presence. The Prophet (peace be upon him) conversed secretly with Allah, and when he reached the goal his tongue became dumb before the revelation of Allah’s Majesty, and his heart was amazed at His infinite Greatness, and he said, “لا احصي ثنا عليك I cannot tell thy praise.”
Muhadatha is connected with the state of Moses (may blessings of Allah be on him), who when wished to seek waqt (time) from the Court of the Lord, after forty days waiting came to Mount Sinai and heard the speech of Allah and when went into state of gladness happened to ask for vision of Him. When he could not meet his desire, went into swoon and on recovering from that state said, “تبت اليك to Thy, I turn in repentance.”
There is a plain difference between one who was conducted, i.e. “Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a journey by night,” (Q 17:1) and one who came, “when Moses came to the place appointed by Us,” (Q 7:143).
Thus, night is the time when lovers are alone with each other, and the day is the time when servants wait upon their masters. When a servant transgresses he is reprimanded, but a lover has no law by the transgression of which he should incur blame, for lovers cannot do anything displeasing to each other.
Ilm al-Yaqin علم اليقين (Knowledge of Faith)
Ayn al-Yaqin عين اليقين (Undoubted Faith)
Haq al-Yaqin حق اليقين (Truth of Faith)
Principally all these expressions denote knowledge. The knowledge which is devoid of faith on its reality and accuracy is not knowledge itself, but when knowledge is gained the hidden appears as actually seen. The believers who shall see Allah on the Day of Judgment shall see Him then in the same perceptive as they know Him in this world. If they shall see Him otherwise, either their vision will be imperfect then or their knowledge is faulty now. Both these are in contradiction with unification, because if men’s knowledge of Allah is sound today only then their vision of Allah should be sound tomorrow and his knowledge would become certain. Hence knowledge of faith will become undoubted Faith and Truth of Faith will become knowledge of faith. Some have said that ayn al-yaqin عين اليقين is the complete absorption of knowledge in vision, but this is impossible, because vision is an instrument for the attainment of knowledge, like hearing, etc. as knowledge does not absorb in hearing, so its absorption in vision is equally impossible.
By ilm al-yaqin علم اليقين the Sufis mean knowledge of (religious) practice in this world according to the Divine commandments. And by ayn al-yaqin عين اليقين they mean knowledge of the state of last breaths at the time of death and the time of departure from this world. And by haq al-yaqin حق اليقين they mean intuitive knowledge of the vision (of Allah) and to know about the state of the inhabitants of Paradise. Therefore ilm al-yaqin is the rank of theologians on account of their being steadfast in observance of the Divine commands, and ayn al-yaqin is the station of Gnostics, for they are everready for death, and haq al-yaqin is the annihilation point of lovers on account of their rejection of all created things. Hence ilm al-yaqin is obtained by self-mortification, and ayn al-yaqin by intimacy and love, and haq al-yaqin by contemplation. The first is common, the second is elect, and the third is super-elect.
Ilm علم (Knowledge) and Marifat معرفت (Gnosis)
Theologians have made no distinction between ilm علم (knowledge) and marifat معرفت (Knowledge of Allah) except when they say that Allah may be called Alim عالم (knowing), but not arif عارف (Gnostic). The Sufi Sheikhs give the name of marifat (gnosis) to knowledge that includes both religious practices and states, and the knower of which could expresses his state, and the knower thereof they call arif عارف. On the other hand, knowledge devoid of states and practice is called ilm علم and knower of it is called Alim عالم (knowing). In short one who knows merely the verbal expression and keeps it in his memory without keeping the spiritual reality they call him Alim, and one who has the knowledge of meaning and reality of a thing they call him arif (Gnostic)
For this reason, when the Sufis wish to laugh at a rival they call him Danishmand (possessing knowledge). The common people consider this objectionable, but the Sufis do not intend to blame the man for having acquired knowledge, they blame him for neglecting the practice of religion, because the Alim depends on himself, but the Arif depends on his Lord. This question has been discussed at length in the chapter entitled “The removal of the Veil of Gnosis”.
Shariat شريعت (Religious Law) and Haqiqat حقيقت (Truth)
From Shariat شريعت Sufis mean soundness of the outwardly state and from Haqiqat حقيقت they mean maintenance of the inwardly state. Two groups err in this matter. Firstly, the formal theologians, who assert that there is no distinction between Shariat (religious law) and Haqiqat (Truth), since the Religious Law is the Truth and the Truth is the Religious Law. Secondly, some heretics, who hold that it is possible for one of these to subsist without the other, and declare that when the Truth is revealed the Religious Law is abolished. This is the doctrine of the Carmathians and the Mashiaha and their satanically inspired followers. They argue that the Shariat is separate from the Truth, lies in the fact that in faith belief is separate from verbal profession, and the proof that the Law and Truth are not fundamentally separate, but are one, lies in the fact that belief without profession is not faith, and conversely profession without belief is not faith; and there is a manifest difference between profession and belief.
Thus Haqiqat signifies a reality which does not admit of abrogation and remains in force from the time of Adam to the end of the world, like knowledge of Allah and like religious practice, which is made perfect by sincere intention.
The Shariat signifies a reality which admits of abrogation and alteration, like ordinances and commandments. Therefore Shariat is man’s act, while Haqiqat is Allah’s keeping and preservation and protection. Whence it follows that Shariat cannot possibly be maintained without the existence of Haqiqat, and Haqiqat cannot be maintained without observance of Shariat. Their mutual relation may be compared to that of a body and spirit, for when the spirit departs from the body the living body becomes a corpse and the spirit vanishes like wind, therefore, their value depends on their conjunction with one another. Similarly, the Law without the Truth is ostentation, and the Truth without the Law is hypocrisy. Allah has said:
وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا
“And those who strive in Our (Cause) – We will certainly guide them to Our Paths:” (Q 29:69).
Devotional practice is Shariat and guidance it’s Haqiqat. The former consists in a man’s observance of the external ordinances, while the latter consists in Allah’s maintenance of a man’s spiritual feelings. Hence the Shariat is one of the acts acquired by man, but the Haqiqat is one of the gifts bestowed by Allah and difference between both is self evident.
Another class of terms and expressions are used by the Sufis metaphorically. These metaphorical terms are more difficult to analyze and interpret, but I will explain them concisely.
Al-Haq الحق: By Haq the Sufis mean Allah, for Haq is one of the names of Allah, as He has said,
ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْحَقُّ
this is so, because Allah is the Reality” (Q 22:6).
Al-Haqiqat الحقيقة: Man’s abode in the place of union with Allah, and the rest of his heart in the place of abstraction.
Al-Khatarat الخطرات: The states which pass through heart while in observance of religious law.
Al-Watnat الوطنات: Divine influence in regards to marifat that descends on the heart.
Al-Tams الطمس: Negation of a substance in such totality that it leaves no marks on the heart.
Al-Rams الرمس: Negation of a substance in such a way that its influence subsists.
Al-Alaiq العلاءق: Such causes because of which seekers of the Truth fail to gain the object of their desire.
Al-Wasait الوساءط: Such causes because of which seekers of the Truth gain the object of their desire.
Al-Zawaid الزواءد: The excess of splendor in the heart (spiritual illumination).
Al-Fawaid الفواءد: The understanding of own inward influences.
Al-Malja الملجاء: The confidence of the heart in the attainment of its desire.
Al-Manja المنجاء: The liberty of the heart from the place of affliction.
Al-Kulliyyat الكلية: The absorption of the attributes of humanity in the Universal.
Al-Lawaih اللواءح: Affirmation of the object of desire but advent of negation thereof.
Al-Lawami اللوامع: The manifestation of (spiritual) light to the heart while its beneficence continues to subsist.
Al-Tawali الطوالع: The descending of the splendors of (mystical) knowledge on the heart.
Al-Tawariq الطوارق: That which comes into the heart, either with glad tidings or with rebuke, in secret converse (with Allah) at night.
Al-Lataif اللطيفة: A symbol of subtleties of feeling presented to the heart.
Al-Sirr السر: Concealment of the feelings of love.
Al-Najwa النجوي: Concealment of trials and afflictions from the knowledge of others (than Allah).
Al-Isharat الاشارة: Giving information to another of the object of desire through tongue of state.
Al-Ima الايما: Addressing anyone allusively, without spoken or unspoken explanation.
Al-Warid الوارد: The descending of spiritual meanings upon the heart.
Al-Intibah الانتباه: Warning to the heart on its heedlessness.
Al-Ishtibah الاشتباه: Perplexity felt in deciding between truth and falsehood.
Al-Qarar القرار: The departure of indecisiveness from the reality of one's feeling.
Al-Inziaj الانزعاج: Agitation of the heart in the state of ecstasy.
Another class of technical terms is those which the Sufis employ, without metaphor in unification (tawhid) and in setting forth their firm belief in spiritual realities.
Al-Alam العالم: It denotes the creatures of Allah. It is said that there are 18000 or 50000 worlds. Philosophers say that there are two worlds, heavenly world and lower world, while theologian say that alam is whatever exists between the Throne of Allah and the earth. In short, alam is the collective mass of created things. The Sufis speak of the world of spirits and the world of souls, but they do not mean the same thing as the philosophers. What they mean is the collective mass of spirits and souls.
Al-Muhdath المحدث: Posterior in existence, i.e. it was not and afterward was.
Al-Qadim القديم: Anterior in existence, i.e. it always was, and its being was anterior to all beings. This is nothing but Allah.
Al-Azal الذل: Which has no beginning.
Al-Abad العبد: Which has no end.
Al-Dat الذات: The being and reality of a thing.
Al-Sifat الصفة: That which does not admit of qualification, because it is not self-subsistent.
Al-Ism الاسم: That which is not the object named.
Al-Tasmiyat التسمية: Information concerning the object named.
Al-Nafi النفي: That which entails the non-existence of every object of negation.
Al-Ithbat الاثبات: That which entails the existence of every object of affirmation.
Al- Shiyyan الشيان: The possibility of the existence of one thing with another.
Al-Didan الضدان: The impossibility of the existence of one thing simultaneously with the existence of another.
Al-Ghairan الغيران: The possibility of the existence of either of two things, notwithstanding the annihilation of the other.
Al-Jawhar الجوهر: The basis of a thing that which is self-subsistent.
Al-Arad العرض: That which subsists in jawhar (substance).
Al-Jism الجسم: That which is composed of separate parts.
Al-Swal السوال: Seeking a reality.
Al-Jawab الجواب: Giving information concerning the subject-matter of a question.
Al-Husn الحسن: That which is conformable to the (Divine) command.
Qubh البقيع: That which is not conformable to the (Divine) command.
Al-Safah السفه: Neglect of the (Divine) command.
Al-Zulm الظلم: Putting a thing in a place that is not worthy of it.
Al-Adl العدل: Putting everything in its proper place.
Al-Malik الملك: He with whose actions it is impossible to interfere.
Another class of terms requiring explanation is that which are commonly used by the Sufis in a mystical sense that is not familiar to philologists.
Khatir خاطر (passing thought)
By khatir the Sufis signify the occurrence of something in the mind which is quickly removed by another thought, and which its owner is able to repel from his mind. Those who have such phenomena follow the first thought in matters, for they perceive it comes directly from Allah to man without any cause.
A thought occurred to Khair Nassaj that Junaid was waiting at his door, but he wished to repel it. The same thought returned twice and thrice, whereupon he went out and discovered Junaid, who said to him:
“If you had followed the first thought and tradition of Sheikhs it would not have been necessary for me to stand here all this time.”
How was Junaid acquainted with thought which occurred to Khair? This question was asked, and answered by the remark that Junaid was spiritual director of Khair, and a spiritual director is always acquainted with all that happens to his disciples.
It signifies a thought which descends in ones mind and unlike khatir remains there, and which the seeker under no circumstances is able to repel. Thus they say,
“It descended in my mind”, but “it sank into my mind.”
All minds are subject to khatir (passing thought), but waqia is possible only in a mind that is entirely filled with the notion of Allah. Hence, when any obstacle appears to the novice on the Way to Truth, they call it “a fetter” and say, “a waqia has befallen him.” Philologist’s means by this term “is to get entangled in some question” and when it is solved satisfactorily they say, “the waqia is solved.” But the mystics say that waqia is that which is insoluble, and that whatever is solved is a khatir not a waqia, for waqia is an important event. The Sufis do not consider a thing valuable which has continually varying judgments and which is also subject to variation.
By ikhtiyar they signify resigning from their preference and accepting of Allah’s choice to their own, i.e. they are content with the good and evil which Allah has chosen for them. And then man’s preference of Allah’s choice is again because of Allah’s choice for him, for has it not like this he would never have let his own choice go. When Abu Yazid was asked that who was the ruler? He replied, “He to whom no choice is left, and to whom Allah’s choice has become the only choice.”
Once Junaid, having caught fever and when he implored Allah to give him health, a voice spoke in his heart:
”Who are you to plead in My kingdom and make a choice? I can manage my kingdom better than you. Do you choose My choice instead of coming forward with thine.”
By imtehan they signify the probation of the hearts of the saints by diverse afflictions which come to them from Allah, such as fear, grief, contraction, awe, etc. Allah has said:
أُوْلَئِكَ الَّذِينَ امْتَحَنَ اللَّهُ قُلُوبَهُمْ لِلتَّقْوَى لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ
“Their hearts has Allah tested for piety: for them is forgiveness and a great Reward.” (Q 49:3).
This is a lofty grade.
By bala (affliction) they signify the probation of the bodies of Allah’s friends by diverse troubles, sickness and tribulations. The more severely a man is afflicted the nearer does he approach unto Allah, for affliction is the clothing of the saints and cradle of the pure and nourishment of the Prophets. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
اشد البلاء الانبياء ثم الاولياء ثم الامثل ثم الامثل نحن معاشر الانبياء اشد الناس بلاء
“The prophets are the most afflicted then the saints, and then others who are close to them. We the Prophets are the most afflicted of mankind.”
Bala is a tribulation, which descends on the heart and body of a true believer. It is really a blessing, although the mystery thereof is concealed from him, and he is divinely recompensed for bearing the pains thereof. Tribulation that befalls on unbelievers is not affliction, but misery, and unbelievers never get relief from misery. The degree of bala is more honorable than imtehan, for imtehan affects the heart only, whereas bala affects both the heart and the body.
To imitate of praiseworthy people in word and deed is called tahalli. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
ليس الايمان بالتحلي والمتني ولكن ما وقربالقلوب وصدقه العمل
“Faith is not acquired by tahalli (adoring one's self with the qualities of others) and wishes but it is that which sinks deep into the heart and is verified by actions.”
In short tahalli is to imitate people without really acting like them. Those who seem to be what they are not will soon be put to shame, and their secret character will be revealed.
Al- Tajalli التجلي
Tajalli is the blessed effect of Divine splendor on the hearts of the blest, whereby they are made capable to have vision of Allah with the eyes of their hearts.
The difference between spiritual vision and actual vision is that those who experience tajalli (manifestation of Allah) see or do not see, accordingly as they wish, or see at one time and do not see at another time, while those who experience actual vision in Paradise cannot but see, even though they wish not to see; for it is possible that tajalli should be hidden, whereas ruyat (vision) cannot possibly be veiled.
Takhalli is turning away from distractions which prevent a man from attainting proximity to Allah. The distractions are:
- The foremost is this world, of which one must empty his hands.
- The desire of the next world, of which he must empty his heart.
- Then frequent indulgence in vanity, of which he must empty his spirit and his association with created beings, of which he should empty himself and from the thought of which he should disengage his mind.
Shurud is to seek the Truth restlessly by escaping from worldly corruption, veils and anxiety, for all the misfortunes of the seeker arise from his being veiled. Thus all the efforts of the seeker like struggle, traveling etc to remove veils, falls under this term. The one who at the initial stage feels more anxiety he at the end attains proximity of the Truth and becomes more steadfast.
By qusud (aims) they signify perfect resolution to seek the reality of the object of search. The aims of the Sufis do not depend on motion and rest, because the lover, he may be at rest in love, is still pursuing an aim. This is contrary to the aim of common people, as their aims produce some affects on them outwardly or inwardly, whereas the lovers of Allah seek Him without any cause and pursue their aim without movement of their own, and all their qualities are directed towards that goal.
By this term they mean that Allah makes a man faultless through the annihilation of all his selfish interests and sensual pleasures and transforms in him the attributes of his lower soul, so that he becomes selfless. This degree belongs exclusively to the Prophets, but some Sheikhs hold that it may be attained by the saints also.
This signifies that Allah makes a man’s heart empty to receive the knowledge of Him, so that His knowledge diffuses its purity through his heart. In this degree all believers, the common people as well as the elect are alike, whether they are sinful or pious or saints or Prophets, for Allah has said:
ثُمَّ أَوْرَثْنَا الْكِتَابَ الَّذِينَ اصْطَفَيْنَا مِنْ عِبَادِنَا فَمِنْهُمْ ظَالِمٌ لِّنَفْسِهِ وَمِنْهُم مُّقْتَصِدٌ وَمِنْهُمْ سَابِقٌ بِالْخَيْرَاتِ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ
“Then We have given the Book for inheritance to such of Our servants as We have chosen: But there are among them some who wrong their own souls; some who follow a middle course; and some who are, by Allah’s leave, foremost in good deeds.” (Q 35:32).
Istilam is the manifestations of splendor of Allah which causes a man to be entirely overpowered by a merciful probation, while his will is reduced to naught. Qalb-aI mumtahan, “a proved heart,” and qalb-aI mustalam, “a destroyed heart,” bear the same meanings, although in the current usage of Sufi phraseology istilam is more particular and exquisite than imtehan.
It is a veil on the heart, which cannot be removed except by faith. This is the veil of infidelity and deviation. Allah has said, describing the hearts of the unbelievers,
كَلَّا بَلْ رَانَ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِم مَّا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ
“By no means! But on their hearts is the stain of the (ill) which they do!” (Q 83:14).
Some says that rayn is that veil which cannot be removed by any manner, for the infidel does not embrace Islam and that who embraces Islam is already a true believer.
Ghayn is that veil on the heart which can be removed by asking pardon of Allah. It is of two kinds, i.e. it may be either thin or may be dense. The latter is for those who forget (Allah) and commit great sins. The former is for all, including saints and prophets. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
لاستغفر الله في كل يوم ماءة مرة
“Verily, some times my heart is obscured, and I ask pardon of Allah one hundred times every day.”
For removing the dense veil a proper repentance is necessary, and for removing the thin veil a sincere return to Allah is must. Repentance is turning back from disobedience to obedience, and return is a turning from self to Allah. Repentance is made from sins. The sin of common men is opposition to Allah’s command, while the sin of lovers (of Allah) is opposition to Allah’s will. Therefore, the sin of common men is disobedience, and that of lovers in consciousness of their own existence. If anyone turns back from wrong to right, they say, “he is repentant (taib);” but if anyone turns back from what is right to what is more right, they say, “He is returning (aaib).” All this I have set forth in the chapter on repentance.
The appearance of a thing when its appearance is contrary to its reality is named talbis, as Allah has said:
وَلَوْ جَعَلْنَاهُ مَلَكًا لَّجَعَلْنَاهُ رَجُلاً وَلَلَبَسْنَا عَلَيْهِم مَّا يَلْبِسُونَ
“If We had made it an angel, We should have sent him as a man, And We should certainly have caused them confusion in a matter which they have already covered with confusion.” (Q 6:9).
This quality of deception cannot possibly belong to anyone except Allah, who shows the unbeliever in the guise of a believer and the believer in the guise of an unbeliever, until the time shall come for the manifestation of His decree and of reality in every case. When a Sufi conceals good qualities under a mask of bad, they say, “He is praising deception,” but they use this term in such instances only, and do not apply it to ostentation and hypocrisy, which are fundamentally talbis, because talbis is not used except in reference to an act performed by Allah.
The Sufis call the sweetness of piety, the delight of miraculous grace and the pleasure of intimacy shrub (drinking), and they can not do anything without the delight of shrub. As water is the drink of the body, so the heart’s drink is spiritual pleasure and sweetness. My Sheikh used to say that a novice without shrub and a Gnostic with shrub are strangers to gnosis. Someone has said that the novice must derive some pleasure from his actions in order that he may fulfill the obligations of a novice who is seeking the Truth, but the Gnostic ought not to feel such pleasure, lest he should be transported with that pleasure instead of with Allah, for if he turn back to his lower soul he will not rest (with Allah).
Dhawq resembles shrub, but shrub is used solely in reference to pleasure, whereas dhawq is applied to pleasure and pain alike.
It is said,
ذقت الحلاوة و ذقت البلاء و ذقت الراحة
“I tasted sweetness, I tasted affliction, and I tasted delight also.”
And they also say,
شربت بكاس الوصل و بكاس الود
“I drank the cup of union, and I drank the cup of love,”
كُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا هَنِيئًا
“(To them will be said) eat and drink ye, with profit and health,” (Q 52:19)
ذُقْ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْكَرِيمُ
“taste thou (this) truly wast thou Mighty, full of honor!” (Q 44:49),
and also said,
ذُوقُوا مَسَّ سَقَرَ
“taste ye the touch of Hell!” (Q 54:48).