Discourse (Dars) on the Essence

By Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi

Yesterday we got to a very significant point of approaching understanding of this great central claim of the people of tasawwuf from the Qur’an al-Karim. We found it in the event of Sayyiduna Musa, ‘alayhi salam, in his quest for this ultimate knowledge of Divine reality. In unfolding this we came on uncertain things that we have to clarify in order that there should not be confusion. We also came on certain things which we might say are contrary claims which are true. But we remember that the sufis say that this knowledge cannot be proved by logic. In other words, it is a precarious path which scorns logic in the sense that it leaps over it because we are not anymore concerned with demonstration or proof, we are concerned with confirmation of experience. If someone has something that is beyond their experience, up to that point all that remains is confirmation of the experience.

We find that the people of knowledge of Allah, by the separate paths that they have come to it, all confirm the goal. The Ahl al-Haqiqat in one place will say something and other people of haqiqat without connection with these people confirm the same thing. Those who have examined the matter even more deeply in terms of the human record find confirmation of exactly the same story in the communities before Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Allah has never left a people without a prophet and therefore he has never left them without access to the unitary reality.

Firstly we have to understand the more important thing which is that this realisation, this unveiling of its nature obliterates the one who looks on it. It is like the one who stares at the sun and becomes blind. So also the people of haqiqat claim in the end their knowledge, yet they also claim with it, in this extraordinary position Allah has put them, a total ignorance. They put themselves beneath everybody while they are making the most grandiose claim possible in their ecstasy-folded up in the great claim is the most menial claim. We say it is a talisman sewn up, bounded and sealed in a mundane cloth. But we also saw that at this point of illumination, the opposite attributes clashed together into a point of unification, so that jamal and jalal met at the point of this annihilation. We end saying that the attributes are darknesses because, for example, you can see the act of strength but you cannot see strength itself, you cannot the see the qudra. You can see the effect of will but you cannot see the will.

Attributes are the darkness and therefore the Essence itself is a luminosity, it is an illumination and therefore it is in itself form. So the sourceness of the attributes, which coming into mulk manifest form, is darkness. The core of the darkness is the luminosity of the Essence-the lights, the tajalli, the self-manifestation from the Essence, but the self-manifestation from the Essence is division. Therefore in an inner chamber of the palace, there is a hidden room with a key. We say that there is an inscription in a talisman that is sealed. There is light upon light and there is outline, there is vision, there is identification but the key to all of it is that when this mountain-self disintegrates and dust remains, that is the confirmation of the recognition of what happens in the process of the annihilation, and in the return from the annihilation. Annihilation has, if you like, three phases: it has the ecstasy and the swooning and the passing away. It has the obliteration and it has the return. This is as far as we can go. We cannot take the matter further than this.

We must make the journey back, as it were, from this condition to what we are able to recognise of the cosmology of this situation that is the existence of the world because at this point we have broken the barrier between the self and the cosmos. We have recognised that self-cosmos is one reality. We are now dealing with the whole creation, you as all the creation. The mountain and Sayyiduna Musa have one knowledge between them-he knows what the mountain knows! The dust and the clay know what the dust and the clay know. The secret therefore of the smallest atom is the secret of all existence. What man discovers, the atom already knew! In Qur’an Allah says that every creature invokes Allah, every creature praises Allah, only you do not know.

This situation we must look at more finely. We have said that Allah is One in His acts, His attributes and His Essence. In reference to the unity of the act of Allah we confirm it by the line of the Diwan of Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib, rahimahullah, “The multiplicity of actions do not multiply the Actor.” In other words, there appear to be many actions but in reality, “Allah is the Creator of you and your actions”-Qur’an. This in itself rips away the veil of qudra and the fantasy of the creatures control over the human situation. In every situation he is utterly dependent and in it we see most clearly that the ruler, the monarch, the leader, the tyrant is most at the mercy of the human situation. The man of destiny, the Mao Tse Tung, Napoleon, Ghengis Khan is most at the mercy because Allah raises him up and Allah brings him down as He wants and when He wants. He does not have knowledge-his very frenzy of activity is the evidence of his ignorance. He is trying to set up a kingdom that is other than the kingdom of Allah in knowledge.

We will say of the attributes that the one who goes from act to attribute has already made a tremendous leap because they have gone from outward appearances to what allows the outward appearance to happen. It is a very crucial zone because it is in this zone that the intelligent seeker realises that all the elements by which man makes something happen are not his. We have said of the act, have we not, that all actions are really one action. This in itself removes from man the fantasy of power, kingdom and achievement. It is what places the governments of existence under shari’at and not under the politics of any kingdom. That is the meaning of Madina al-Munawarra and not what people have said it is today.

When we realise the unity of the attributes we already come to this impossible situation where we realise that all the elements and energies of creation are under the command of Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an, “He makes people laugh and He makes people cry.” These are two names of Allah. “He brings to life and He makes die.” In the Qur’an this ayat is followed by that ayat. This is an actual confirmation of the saneness of weeping and the saneness of laughing. We cannot end up with the same view of existence when we understand this. They are different in experience but they are the same in reality. So a real knowledge would be one in which these two experiences would be understood to be the same.

The sufis say that the common people get the sting but they do not get the honey. The elite get the honey and they do not get the sting. But the elect of the elite get the sting and get the honey and they do not care. In other words they experience the sensory in its fullness but the meanings so dominate their experience that it has made them the same for them. Like Sayyiduna Ayyub, ‘alayhi salam, the pain becomes a du’a. At that point worship and suffering are not different and at that point there is no suffering properly speaking. The opposites have met. One of the great awliya said, “I reached Allah by the opposite names.” Meaning that by placing them together and placing them together he finally broke through to understanding what existence was like.

The oneness of the Essence is a secret which contains a secret. Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, has warned against contemplation of the Essence because you are not going to decode it. You are going to unlock a lock. You will go into a room, you will go out of a room. You will pass from one phase to another phase. You will join and you will separate. You will extinguish the outline and you will replace the outline but in that chamber, in that secret garden there is only you. There is nothing that is not you, because that is the unitary reality. You, the experiencing slave, will vanish and it will manifest. So you will pass in and out of that secret garden through the gate. You will smell these fragrances and you will smell those fragrances and that is the most that we can say.

This annihilation contains a period of swooning between these realms. What are these realms? Now we come to precisely what designates all of existence. We have designated these by three terms: mulk, malakut and jabarut. There are two systems by which this is explained by the Ahl al-Haqiqat: the first places as it were jabarut at the pinnacle. So they talk about ahadiyya, al-wahdat and wahidiyya. In other words, ahadiyya is pure, uncontaminated unity without form, without distinction, without condition, without definition. Where was Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, before the creation of the universe? Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, replied, “He was in the great ama, the great mist,” beyond what may be stated. He was inaccessible for there was no-one and no thing to have access. This is ahadiyya.

Then you have wahidiyya as the third of the three. Wahidiyya is the potential of all the elements of the attributes, all the names of Allah, Asma was-Sifa-names and attributes, as this capacity from which all existence will unfold. Their effulgence cascades from the Unseen into the phenomenal universe. Wahdat is between these two. Wahdat is the one form from which all the forms come. It is that primary form from which the forms come. Properly speaking it is not a realm but a barzakh, an interspace between ahadiya and wahidiya. Remember that these are not three realms in reality but in description between because Allah’s Essence cannot be divided. Allah’s unity cannot be separated. It is our way of coming at this subtle, fine matter. But we must be able to recognise these three elements in order to realise the tremendous nature of the Divine Creator. So its essential reality we define as indefinable – the Name that cannot be named, the great name of the Name. The ultimate name, the supreme name.

We come to the barzakh of the wahdat which is Nuri Muhammad, the light of Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, taken from the hadith which confirms this primal reality of the meaning of Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. We are not talking about the dhat of Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, but about his haqiqat, about his ma’nawiya, his meaning, his reality, because his essence is like your essence and my essence in the sense that our essences have no reality in themselves, they are only reflections. The only existent is Allah.

What about the reality, the meaning of him, the light of him? Let us for the moment say that the Nuri Muhammad is this interspace between completely indefinable, inaccessible, inexplicable sublimity and the vast fountain-head of all the energies of all the attributes. He is the first of the lights manifesting from the Essence of Allah because he is the ultimate form. Sayyiduna Adam is the pinnacle of creation and the adamic perfection is completed in the lastness of the adamic which is Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Therefore that is the ultimate form of what maybe form than which there is no higher. Therefore it is by him that the whole thing has meaning.

As Sayyiduna ‘Ali, karamullahu wajhahu, said, “The evidence of tents in the desert, of camels being barbecued, of silken tents, of carpets laid out, of goblets, of trays, of houris, of youths, of armies-all this is evidence that the king has arrived, all this is in order that the king should take his place. So all of existence is in order that Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, should manifest. There is a hadith qudsi that says, “If it were not for you I would not have created the universe, oh Muhammad!” Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He is therefore in this picture, this barzakh between the ineffable and the plenitude of all the attributes. There is the mist and the peacock emerges, and then the peacock opens its tail and the tail of the peacock shows all its variegated colours, and all its splendour is unfolded which is the unfolding of the names and the attributes. These are the three stages of ilahiya, of godness, of the divinity. Again, we are not referring to the Prophet of Madina or his essence, but of the nur of Muhammad, the haqiqat al-Muhammadi.

Now let us look at the three creational realms. We have mulk and malakut and, as I say, some people put jabarut at the pinnacle, and then there is the descent to malakut and the descent to mulk. Shaykh al-Akbar, radiyallahu ‘anhu, says–because these are only in description, Allah is One, not dividable-“It is better understood that if between the mulk, the visible realm and the malakut, the invisible realm, you put the jabarut and make jabarut the interspace, you will understand everything.

Before we topple over what can be held in the intellect let us pull back from that and return again to Qur’an. We find in Surat ar-Rahman that there are two seas, one bitter and one sweet, and there is an interspace between them. One does not run into the other. There is a barzakh between them, is that not correct? So they do not mingle but they meet in this interspace and interspace is that which does not take up space. The line between one and another is the barzakh. Just as we say that insanu kamal, the perfect man, is the complete interspace between two seas. He is the barzakh between the knowledge of shari’at of the phenomenal world and the haqiqat, the hidden world, the subtle world, the spiritual reality. He is between the two, and he does not deny the one and he does not deny the other. He obeys the obligations of the one and he confirms the secret of the other. He is outwardly a man of shari’at and inwardly and man of haqiqat.

If we look at these realms, not from the man’s point of view of knowledge but in the creational sense of cosmos, we find a visible world and an invisible world and there is a barzakh between them. Let us go further. In ordinary imagination, if you look out of the window you see a tree. You see tree as solid and around it is nothing, air. It is by that space that you recognise the object. Then of course along comes a scientist and says, “That is solid, and that is a gas.” So in a sense the whole thing is a lie. So it is a mode of perception: I see the tree in its separateness. So you have another dual, you have samawati wal-ard, the heavens and the earth in the physical sense but then we take it further than that-the sky is ard. You go from the simple condition of the bedouin woman whom they wanted to accuse of shirk and was asked by the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “Where is Allah?” because he had confirmed that Allah has no where-ness because he cannot be associated with anything and therefore cannot be associated with a place, and yet he asked her this question to see if she was mushrik and she pointed to the sky. But in her intellect that meant no place because the tree is the object, the river is the object, the person is the object but up there is nothing. So that was the purest non-mushrik situation. She was not an idolater. That is the non-idolatry of the common people in which samawat is the space between the object, and that already purifies one from the gross shirk.

Then we are told that the space is also in fact a gas, it is also form, and because we want a pure tawhid, remember that shirk goes through three stages: it goes through worshipping a form, an object, to worshipping an element to worshipping a person. In other words, the mushrik tries to obey tawhid from a crude to a subtle to a mysterious. Worshipping an object-when the jews went off the path they worshipped gold. The worship of the jews is the pure evidence of the shirk because in worshipping the car they in fact bow down to the gold. They were looking beyond the form to its substance. The worship of the element is the very high shirk like the zoroastrians-fire, earth, air or wind, and some believe that running water is inhabited by divine capacity. The tibetans, when they deviated from what they were taught, ended up worshipping the wind power which blew the prayer wheel. They turned the wheels to show that the wind would blow them and they put up flags because they lived under the power of the wind on top of the Himalayas. The zoroastrians worshipped fire and the event of the end of zoroastrianism is the coming of Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

The worship of the present society is not an atheist society but a deeply religious society and it is a zoroastrian society. The guardians of zoroastrian power are the people who are at present the occupiers of the Haramayn because they worship oil which is fire. They take their living by it, their power from it and their importance from it. This is shirk. They depend on it therefore it is their god, therefore the occupiers of the Haramayn today are mushrik because this is open worship, it is not nafs.

This is not leaving our point, it is very germane** to what we are examining-the subtlest shirk is the worship of a person, that someone is a deity, because obviously if you say that someone is a deity you do not mean their body so you have to explain away their body in some crazy doctrine, because if you had just meant the body you could have made it of clay or of wood but you have left that domain, it is primitive. The people who are most wise about these idols of stone and so on are the muslims because they know that it leads to these other ones. When the christian missionaries went to Africa they let them continue with their idols, they never removed the idols, saying, “It is just a step from that idol to this idol of a living person with a history. So you have a black Jesus, a chinese Jesus, a south american indian Jesus, a’udhu billahi min ash-shaytan ir-rajim, because they say that he is a divinity. In other words they have exalted him up and so they have to take his body with him and say that godhood is embodied. They lie who say he is one of two-Qur’an.

Our doctrine can have no taint of these elements. Our tawhid can have no taint of either of these three elements, these conditions of shirk. We have to arrive at something which is devoid of that and this is why in description the Ahl al-Haqiqat have made these three dimensions in speaking of the Divine reality in order to make quite clear that you cannot identify the Prophet Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, with the Divinity. We have to deal with the secret and that secret is the secret of Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, but that secret is therefore the secret of existence, the secret of the universe, only we are speaking in gradations to get the matter finer and finer so that there is not any taint or shred or shadow of connection so that we have pure tanzih and confirm Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, as one who walked in the market place and so on and so on-the qualities of bani Adam.

Let us return then to these three realms of mulk, malakut and jabarut. We say that jabarut is between mulk and malakut. We have then gone one step further, if you recall, which is that mulk on first examination is the outline of the solid form. In other words we have identified ‘out’ (or ard?)** with malakut and samawat with malakut but this is the primitive tawhid of the bedouin woman. We then realise that the whole cosmic reality including the air-because otherwise we will again end up worshipping the air, worshipping the subtle elements-is also form. Air is made of oxygen and nitrogen, so already it is form, just as running water is oxygen and hydrogen. The ocean is apparently limitless but in fact it has form, a distinct viscose silhouette, yet so does the air and so does the volatile fire that is somewhere and is not anywhere. And obviously with the earth as we have seen.

Therefore we avoid this by refining our understanding of it to its furthest limits and the scientist confirms to us that the air is form so we were on the right track before the scientist demonstrated it. We were on the right track from our Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, confirmed by the great awliya and salihun like Muhyiddin Ibn al-’Arabi. He was writing a tawhid for an age that was lying seven hundred years ahead of him because he we preparing people for the discovery that scientists were going to make about matter because the next thing would be that they would make people worship the power of matter. He prepared us for this because the vision of the ‘arif is beyond the knowledge of the constituencies, the nature, the identity of the underlying substance of stuff.

So we now reach this next stage of samawati wal-ard. By ard we mean all that is cosmic and by samawat we mean all that is ghayb, hidden, because properly speaking if we go to the sublime Qur’an, samawati is from asma’. So the heavens is a place of names, a place of meanings, and the earth is a place of sensory. “We have taught Adam all the names,” we have taught him the heavenly realities, we have given him a heavenly dimension in his ‘aql, that Allah asked him to identify and name. Language is between the two kingdoms of mulk and malakut, between the hidden and the visible. So asma’ is the realm of the samawat. So the samawat is the malakut in this higher knowldge. We have a creature who is between the visible world and the invisible world and that is why, right at the beginning of Qur’an, Allah says, “This book is for people who believe in the Unseen.” If you do not believe in the Unseen you are not going to break through to tawhid.

This elevates us up to a state of knowledge. You believe in the Unseen until you see it and then you do not have to believe in it. If you tell me, “There is someone I would like you to meet,” I believe in that person, I believe that they exist. The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, confirmed the Ghayb and he is a trustworthy person and so you believe him. Once I have met so-and-so I do not have to believe in him, I have the evidence. Madness is when you do not believe yourself-you do not accept what you tell yourself, you cannot bear it, so you say you are someone else and split in two. This is a knowledge. You go from ‘Ilm al-Yaqin to ‘Ayn al-Yaqin. Allah says in Qur’an, “Do not say, ‘I am mumin,’ say, ‘I am muslim.’” Submit! Take the message! Believe in the Ghayb! When you have ‘Ayn al-Yaqin, do not brag, do not boast, because it is based on a subtle moral and spiritual quality. Do not say, “I am mumin, I have iman,” what is iman? Iman is trust. What is trust in? It is in the Books, the Messengers, the Angels-all the elements of the Unseen-the Balance, the Qudra of the destiny, the Last Day, the Garden and the Fire. In other words, malakut.

This brings us to the finest element of all of this which is that between mulk and malakut there is a division, a barzakh has been set up. The nature of a barzakh is that it has one face facing one way and one face facing the other way and yet it is really one and it is not really an existent. It is a non-existent simply by these two coming together but there has to be a barzakh. This barzakh between mulk and malakut is jabarut. Jabarut is from jabr. Allah is Al-Jabaru. This is the tremendous might of Allah. Jabr is what cannot be penetrated, it is like a wall that cannot be breached, it is that kind of power-impenetrable, unbreakable. So then, Qur’an comes into all its fullness because if you read Qur’an with awareness of the description of cosmology of existence, it just pours the information onto you, it floods you. You cannot open the Qur’an but that you will find it. If you open it ten times you will find it seven out of ten as it is so common to the basic news that the Book contains, and it is the secret of the realm of the jabarut, the realm of the lights. We have defined that it is the jabarut that sets up the outlines.

Let us take it again in the simple bedouin sense: between the man and the sky there is a silhouette, an outline, but he is that outline. One is dense and one is subtle. I see his outline by the air and I see the air by his outline. Between the visible and the invisible-between this man and outline, and the Unseen, there is a similar division. Between cosmos, man and sky, and heaven, and the ruh there is a similar outline. That is the mithal of that.

Now let us make it easier. In daytime the earth outlines between man and sky which we are now holding to as both being cosmos are visible. When night comes, sky and man have been gathered. So in another condition which is night, there is no difference. I cannot see the difference, I cannot even see them but they are there and they have been unified by the night. Let us take another example: a landscape with a house, trees, cattle, fences and roads-the snow falls and it all is unified. It is covered over and the outlines are gone, but it is all earth, so the snow had only made true what was true anyway. That is one condition in which all the separate things are gathered, and the night is a condition which makes all the separate things which are still there gathered, undifferentiated.

In malakut there is the same thing only it happens the other way around. In malakut it begins as a darkness, begins as snow, everything is unified, then the form emerges, the outline emerges. Let us take it further. On the earth we see darknesses by light. We see solid forms by the light of the sun, or an artificial sun. So by light you see darknesses. This is our condition on the earth. If you were to go into the depths of the ocean-and we shall take this as our mithal-at first it would be complete darkness. If you were a scuba diver you would at first distinguish absolutely nothing, but as you grow accustomed to this condition there are certain fish in the depths of the ocean that from within themselves have luminosity. Allah has given them an outline of light so that in their darkness they are lights. So you would begin to discern the lights of these creatures of the deep by their darkness. So in malakut, by being annihilated in the darkness of the attributes there begin to emerge the lights of the Essence, which are the subtle forms. From the lights, all the lights come to one light. Nuri Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

Make no misunderstanding and imagining that we are saying anything that would permit people to say that we are worshipping Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, him, and that we are making any claim for him. We are not making any claim for anyone except Allah. But we want a tawhid that will have the Rabb and marbu-the Lord and the lorded over, and not a tawhid that leaves us with an unexplained universe and an unexplained master of the universe, the human being. Otherwise we have set up the total existence as a god, or we will deviate and become pantheists which all the muslims try to say that the sufis are. ‘God is the cosmos.’ But by this delineation we are not saying so, how could it be so when we are saying that everything perishes except the face of Allah. Nor are we monist, we are not saying that there is only One and nothing exists and there is only Allah and that is the end of it, because we say that the final position of knowledge has to be two. It has to be the Lord with nothing associated with Him, and the dependent, utterly reliant, utterly helpless slave-cosmic slave in slave cosmos obeying His rules. We must remember that this is our final position that we must aim for.

To clarify this last confusion-because if we made a mistake about Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, we would then end up making the mistake about ourselves and our own identity-we go back to the statement that the essences of the things have no reality. Let us take the human creature. We have seen that the human creature has the core attributes: speech, hearing, sight, knowledge, will, power and life. These are the mother attributes, umm as-sifat, the source attributes. But we have also confirmed that these belong to Allah. They belong to Allah in perfection and in endless time, in the beyond time, and they belong to the creature in the in-time imperfectly and therefore with living. And also because they do not belong to him independence by dependence while they belong to Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, with independence-He is not dependent on any thing or source for these energies.

Therefore this creature with these acts is this creature with His attributes. But attributes are impossible without His Essence. We are a cell-source from which these attributes come. They have to unify up to one source otherwise there would not be identity. Essence means ‘coming from’, attributed to this one or that one, so we attribute to an essence. This essence is not a reality, it does not exist. We have confirmed that there is only one Essence, Allah is One in His Essence, not multiple in His Essence. But Allah has created existence bil-Haqq, with the Truth. To explain this, to clarify this, the people of clear vision have created a technical vocabulary so that we can understand this and arrive at a position where we make sense of the universe and do not attribute specific and identifiable power and reality and divinity to the creature, and return all sublime elements to the Divine Creator-after all, everything in the universe indicates these spectacular attributes. We have to be very clear not to end up in shirk which is what unfortunately the modern muslims have allowed themselves to do, essentially because their political social shari’at behaviour is deeply involved in the shirk of worshipping petrol.

So a term has been created for the sources of the created beings and that is Ayan ath-thabita-the source-form, the source-outline. Ayan ath-thabita are the essences of the individual creatures, but it exists in description but not in reality. It exists from one point of view and not from another point of view. As Shaykh al-Akbar puts it, “If you say it exists, it exists, if you say it does not exist, it does not exist.” Then to make this clear, the people of unveiling take a very spectacular proof of demonstration-I say proof because it is a proof that there are signs in the self and on the horizon if you only knew-so they take from the horizon something that will explain the self. They let the one explain the other because these are two signs of one Lord. We will come back to this expression ‘the signs of the Lord’ inshallah.

They say that the source of the creature, the essence of the creature is like a mirror. If you think about the mirror, there is nothing in it, it is a barzakh, it is glass with silver and black on it. What happens is that if this mirror is placed before something it reflects it. In front of the light it reflects the light. In that sense it is a receptacle of the light but it is not the light. There is no fusion, no incarnation, no joining. It is not that and that is not this. Yet if you look there, you will say that there is light there, and this is that light. Equally you might say that in the eclipse if I look at the sun I will be blinded but if I look through the smoked glass I will not be blinded. So we say that I cannot look on the shamsul-haqiqat, I cannot look on the Essence but I can look on the Nuri Muhammad because its meaning is to filter this to allow it to be reflected. Or if you like, the Reality is a sun and Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is a moon. From the Divine the light issues, and this planet takes its reflected light from it. We are on the earth and we look up and we can see the moon. We can look at the moon but we cannot look at the sun. If we look at the moon we are seeing the light of the sun by the moon, but we are not saying that the moon is the sun. In fact, the moon is a bit of the earth.

So we will say something further: each mirror will show what it shows according to its shape and its density. One mirror will be very wide and clear and will show a wide, clear reflection. Another will show a long image, another will show a short image, another will show a curved image, another will show convex, another will show concave-in other words, according to the shape of the mirror there will be a different encapturing of this light, but reflected. That is the most that can be said about the essences of the individual creatures. But all the mirrors are taking from one light.

To change the metaphor: the sufis say ‘Many flowers from one water.’ The source is one, the manifestations are many. This is the way in which we encompass speaking about the final, uttermost limit of what may be said. This understanding the nature of this barzakh that makes this mirror this and that mirror that-because it is by barzakh that each mirror has its form-this is the limit to which the intellect can go, in knowing that between mulk and malakut the lights make the differences, outline the differences, outline the outlines. This is called the place of the sidrat al-muntahar. Sidrat al-muntahar is a desert plant of spikes which, when you see it against the horizon, breaks up the sky so that the sky is all outlines. Sidrat al-muntahar is all outlines, it is like a line drawing on a blank page. That is its silhouette. So arriving at sidrat al-muntahar is arriving at that place where the outlines emerge in the clarity and finality beyond which there is only obliteration. Sidrat al-muntahar also has a fruit and if you take it it creates ecstasy and yearning for the homeland. In other words it creates a drunkenness, it creates an intoxication and it creates a yearning for the homeland, and the homeland of the bani Adam is Alastu bi-Rabbikum-“Am I not your Lord?” The homeland of the bani Adam is the Dhar** which is referred to in the Qur’an, when you reach the ultimate abode, when you reach the last home, which is the vision of your Lord.

Then we go to the description in Qur’an of the highest gnostic experience which was Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam-his vision, his passing from his adamic, non-existent essence of reflected light to this barzakh reality of his own ma’nawiya, of his own meaning, of his own nur. He, therefore, had the gnosis that is the highest gnosis and Allah says a very significant thing in Qur’an: “He did not waver.” In other words, his ecstasy did not stop him having access to the knowledges that came from it. You see, a man can have a drunkeness that obliterates him so that he does not remember anything. We say that a drunkenness that has forgetfulness in it is not the same as a drunkenness that has remembering in it. So Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, did not waver. Allah says, “You certainly saw him on the furthest horizon.” So whom did he see? Whom did he see!

Surat an-Najm: “‘Indaha Jannatu ma’wa”-Near it is the Garden of Refuge. Allah says that the lote-tree, the sidrat al-muntahar was misted over, but his eye did not waver nor did he look away.” Then Allah says, “Laqad raa min ayati Rabbihil-kubra.” ‘He saw some of the Greatest Signs of his Lord.’ So we would say that this vision of the Essence-this is not Allah, because you can never, never say that this is Allah because we are agnostics and this is the secret of gnosis-indicates Him. So he saw the greatest sign of his Lord, and what is the greatest sign of his Lord? Himself. But not Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, who is buried in Madina, or his identity, but his secret, his meaning.

So then we go from there to the core of the matter which is of course the famous Ayat an-Nur, the Sign of light. The greatest sign of the Lord. Allah says, “Allahu nuru samawati wal-ard.” Now we have explicated that in detail and we now take it in its highest meaning.

“The metaphor of His Light is that of a niche
in which there is a lamp, the lamp inside a glass,
the glass like a brilliant star, najm…”

I say najm to remind you of the surat we have just been looking at. Now here we have already that the secret is an enfolded secret. There is a niche, in it is a lamp and in the lamp there is a glass, and the glass itself is like a star. So this knowledge is a knowledge enfolded and enfolded. Allah’s light is like a niche, and if you like you could say that the niche is like the universe in which there is a lamp, which you could say is man, and then there is a glass which is like a star, which is his secret.

“…lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east nor of the west,”

in other words it is a ruhani light. We have said that the niche we could say is the world, the lamp we have said is the person, the glass is the ruh and the light is the secret of the secret because that light is not lit from a olive tree from the east or the west, that light is a secret. If you consider the olive, the secret of the olive is that out of impossible material this extraordinary thing happens. From the driest, driest, driest tree on the driest, driest, driest land comes a fruit which is basically of no use unless you transform it from what it was into something else. Then to get its secret you have to crush it until there is nothing left of it and when you have obliterated it, then you get the oil. So this very secret is based on the obliteration of its sources in the physical and the intellectual world. Our meeting with him is based on our abandoning on what we have come from. Sayyiduna Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, says in a famous hadith, “The search for the haqq is an exile.” So to reach this gnosis this crushing has to happen, this rejection of everything we possess has to happen to get to this oil, to this essence that is the light from which the light comes.

“…its oil all but giving off light even if no fire touches it.”

It is light in itself before the fire has even touched it. The human being’s secret is light before it is even ignited. Man is the khalif of Allah, if he only knew! “Truly man is in loss,” Qur’an says. Why is he is loss? Because he does not know his own secret. Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib, radiyallahu ‘anhu, says in his Diwan, “Truly if a man knew the secret of his own heart he would never speak again, he would shed a tear with every breath he took.” It is already luminous before it is even lit and the gnosis lights it.

“Light upon Light.”

In other words, once this point is reached of illumination then it is Nurun ’ala Nur. Then all the effulgence of the lights of Allah manifest and, again, everything is turned around the other way-from the blinding illumination of the sun is the clear outline of the Nuri Muhammad. From the Nuri Muhammad all the attributes which were darknesses show their face, show their power, show their qualities-unveil them to the seeker. He sees the power of Allah in the witnessing of what he sees and in the amr of Allah in the creation of the universe, whether it is the chromosomes or the crystals or the stars.

“Allah guides to His Light whomever He wills…”

He guides them to this knowledge. He does not guide everybody so whomever denies it is denying Qur’an. If what they say is true, Allah is not guiding anybody because that is the claim of the people who deny the Ahl as-Sufiya. And here it says that Allah guides whom He wants to this ruhani knowledge that speaks of Nurun ‘ala Nur. If they are denying that man can be guided to this knowledge they are denying Qur’an.

“…and Allah makes metaphors for mankind…”

in other words Allah gives access to this knowledge. The mithal is to take you to the knowledge. What I am saying indicates for you the whole of the way. There only remains for you after this the khalwa. There only remains for you after this the tasting, the experience.

“…and Allah has knowledge of all things.”

That is the situation of the human being. That is why he is called khalif. And it is this tremendous power that has kept Islam alive for over fourteen hundred years despite the ignorance and darkness of people who claim to be ‘ulama in this day and age and despite the ignorance and darkness of the people who rule over the muslims when they are in clear, open shirk in the worship of powers that do not return authority to Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala.

Shaykh Abdalqadir as-Sufi ad-Darqawi


~ by The Murabit Blog on 12/02/2009.

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