By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam
30 November 2017
This writer is presenting to his readers the English translation of the great Sufis’ words on the divine Ma’rifa with reference to ‘Risala Qushayria’ with some necessary explanations.
The Arabic term Ma’rifa can be translated linguistically as ‘gnosis or ‘knowledge’. Ma’rifa in Sufism indicates the mystical intuitive knowledge of spiritual truth by way of continuous ecstatic experiences, sincere endeavour, using one’s conscience and inquiring into one’s inner world, rather than revealed or rationally acquired. A seeker of Ma’rifa is known as ‘Arif or ‘Gnostic’ i.e. the one who knows or ‘knower’.
Allah Almighty says, “And they did not realise (or appreciate) the importance of Allah as was required” (6:91)
It is written in a commentary that this means: “They have not known Allah Almighty as He must be known”.
It is reported on the authority of Aisha – May Allah be pleased with her- that the Prophet – peace be upon him- said: “The support of the house is its foundation and the support of the faith is the knowledge of Allah Almighty, certitude, and a restraining intelligence.” (Hazrat Aisha) asked him: “By my mother and my father, what is the restraining intelligence?” He answered: “Refraining from disobedience to Allah and eagerness to obey Him”.
Succinctly defining ‘gnosis, the Sufi master Abul Qasim al-Qushayri said, “As per the Islamic scholars (Ulema), ‘gnosis’ (Ma’rifa) means knowledge (‘Ilm). Hence all knowledge is gnosis and all gnosis is knowledge. Every person who is cognizant of Allah (‘Arif) is a knower (‘Alim). However, according to the Sufi Masters, ‘Ma’rifa is the attribute of the person who is cognizant of Allah Almighty, His names and attributes. It is he who then puts his trust in Allah Almighty in his everyday behaviour and gets rid of his bad morals and transgressions. He then proceeds to reside at the door [of Allah’s mercy] with his heart striving constantly for the nearness of Allah, whereby he becomes beloved of Allah Almighty and trusts Him in everything he experiences in his entire life. The illusions of his [lower] self go away from him. The thoughts that call him towards other than Allah never enter his heart. So when he becomes a stranger to all other creatures, fully innocent of any sins of his [lower] self, and free from any recourse to or concern for other [than Allah], he enters into an undisturbed proximate conversation with Allah Almighty and does not accept anything but what is true. He then starts speaking on behalf of Allah Almighty Who endows him with the mysteries of the dispensations of His foreordained decrees. It is only then that he is called a ‘Gnostic’ (‘arif) and his condition is called gnosis. In short, the more stranger he becomes to his own self, the more acquainted he becomes with his Lord Almighty”.
Expressing the views of the great Sufi masters on the subject of ‘gnosis’ (Ma’rifa), Hazrat Abul Qasim al-Qushayri (may Allah be pleased with him) writes,
“Sufi masters have profusely discussed ‘gnosis’, each speaking from his personal experience and referring to the views he has learned of in his own mystical observation.”
The Sufi master Abu Ali al-Daqqaq (may Allah have mercy on him) used to say, “Fear is one of the signs of the divine gnosis (Ma’rifat-e-Ilahi); the more gnosis you attain, the greater is your fear.”
He also said, “Gnosis (Ma’rifa) brings peace and tranquillity to your heart in the same way as the knowledge does bring tranquillity to the heart. So the more gnosis you acquire, the greater is your tranquillity.”
Hazrat Shibli (may Allah have mercy upon him) say, “The Gnostic (Arif) has no relation [with other than Allah], the lover has no complaint, the slave has no claim, the person who fears (Allah Almighty) has no rest, and nobody has any escape from Allah.”
When someone asked Hazrat Shibli about ‘Marifat’ (gnosis), he replied, “It (Ma’rifa) begins with Allah Almighty, and it has no whatsoever end.”
Hazrat Abu Hafs (may Allah have mercy upon him) said, “Since I acquired the gnosis of Allah Almighty, neither truth nor falsehood have ever come in my heart.”
Commenting on the above mentioned statement of Hazrat Abu Hafs, the mystical master Hazrat Abul Qasim al-Qushayri (may Allah have mercy on him) says,
“There is difficulty in understanding what Abu Hafs said. What this most likely means is that, as per the great Sufi masters, ‘gnosis’ (Ma’rifa) makes the servant completely unconcerned for his own self because of his being preoccupied with the remembrance of Allah Almighty. Thus he witnesses no one except Allah Almighty – and does not turn to anyone else other than Allah. Just as the mind (‘Aql) in all matters and mystical situations that happen to it turns to his heart, his thinking faculty and memory, so too the gnostic (‘Arif) turns to his Lord. In the state of being preoccupied only with his Lord, he will not turn to his heart. So, the person who has no heart, how can any idea enter his heart? This is the difference between the person who lives with his heart and the person who lives with his Lord.”
Hazrat Abu Yazid (may Allah have mercy upon him) says, “The human beings have conditions, whereas the Gnostic (‘Arif) does not have any condition, because his personal traits are completely removed, his personality is totally eradicated by the personality of the Other, and his attributes are erased by the attributes of the Other.”
Hadrat Wasiti (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “As long as the man is content with his Lord and is in need of Him, his gnosis is not perfect”
Explaining the above mentioned statement of Hazrat Wasiti, Hazrat Abul Qasim Qushayri (may Allah have mercy upon them) says,
“Wasiti wants to say that, being in need of Allah (Iftiqar) and content with Him (Istighna) are signs of the slave’s wakefulness and of the persistence of his personal traits, because both of them are the traits of the slave. The Gnostic (‘Arif) is fully preoccupied with remembrance of the personality whose ‘gnosis’ he attains. Then how can it be true (i.e. how can the idea of ‘Istighna’ and ‘Iftiqar’ be true?), while he is completely consumed by His existence and submerged in the deep thought of Him? If he can not feel his own existence, it is only because he has lost the sense of his personal characteristics.”
It is crystal clear from the explanation of Hazrat Abul Qasim Qushayri (may Allah have mercy upon him) that when a slave becomes completely preoccupied with the remembrance of Allah Almighty, he forgets all matters related to his own self. The writer (Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi) wants to write in brief details that Hazrat Wasiti (may Allah have mercy upon him) means to say that when a servant are busy doing the remembrance of Allah Almighty, he forgets his sense of being in need of Allah (Iftiqar) and content with Him (Istighna). But the ordinary and lay men should not derive out the meaning that the servant does not need Allah Almighty; as the fact is that he is in need of Allah even while being preoccupied with the remembrance of Allah. Being in need of Allah is one of the traits of the servants. However what is needed here to understand that while being engaged in the remembrance of Allah Almighty (Fana fi Allah), he forgets the sense of his reality of “being in need of Allah”. Allah Almighty knows the best!
Therefore Hazrat Wasiti also said, “Whoever attains the gnosis of Allah Almighty has no attachment with other than Allah. Not only that but he even becomes mute and subdued.” The purport of Hazrat Wasiti’s statement is that whoever attains the gnosis of Allah Almighty does not see any way other than that turns to Allah Almighty and his tongue is busy praising his Lord. It is in that sense that despite having eyes and a tongue he becomes mute and subdued.
The beloved Prophet –peace be upon him– said, “(O’ Allah) I cannot count your praises.” (Sunan Ibne Majah, the book of Dua). With reference to this Hadith, it is written in the book “Risala Qushayria” that these are the traits of those who have acquired the furthest reaches. As for those who have not yet reached this limit, they have talked much about the divine gnosis (Marifat e Ilahi).
Referencing the views of the great Sufi masters with the complete chains of narrators (Isnad) on the subject of ‘gnosis’ (Ma’rifa), Hazrat Abul Qasim al-Qushayri (may Allah be pleased with him) writes,
Hazrat Ahmad bin Asim Antaki says, “Whoever attains the gnosis of Allah most is most afraid of Him.”
Some Sufis said, “Whoever attains the gnosis of Allah Almighty is vexed with living further life, and this world, despite its breadth, becomes too narrow for him.”
It is also said: “Whoever attains the gnosis of Allah is blessed with a pure livelihood and a good life. Everyone fears him, while he himself does not fear any creatures, because he becomes the beloved friend of Allah Almighty.”
It is also said: “Whoever attains the gnosis of Allah loses desire for the worldly things. In that case he does not value attachment or detachment whatever”.
Someone said, “Gnosis (Ma’rifa) demands both humility (Haya) and exaltation (Tazim) in the same way as the declaration of oneness of Allah demands both contentment and surrender [to Allah].”
Hazrat Ruwaym (may Allah have mercy upon him) said, “Gnosis for the Gnostic (‘arif) is like a mirror. Whenever he looks into this mirror, the reflection of his Lord’s glory appears to him.”
(Source of Study: Risala Qushariya by Hazrat Abul Qasim Qushayri, Arabic edition and Urdu translation by Allama Siddiq Hazarvi)
A regular Columnist with www.NewAgeIslam.com , Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar) with a Sufi background, Islamic writer and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator.
URL for Urdu version of the article: http://newageislam.com/urdu-section/ghulam-ghaus-siddiqi,-new-age-islam/the-divine-gnosis-and-the-words-of-great-sufis--part-1--معرفت-الہی-اورصوفیائے-عظام-کے-اقوال---پہلی-قسط/d/113300
URL for this article: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-ideology/ghulam-ghaus-siddiqi,-new-age-islam/the-divine-gnosis-(marifa’)-and-the-words-of-great-sufis---part-1/d/113407
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سیدنا سعید بن جبیر شاگرد عبد اللہ بن عباس رضی
اللہ عنہم کو راستہ میں ایک بد مذہب ملا ، کہا کچھ عرض کرنا چاہتا ہوں، فرمایا میں
سننا نہیں چاہتا ، عرض کی ایک کلمہ ، اپنا انگوٹھا چھنگلیاں کے سرے پر رکھ کر
فرمایا و لا نصف کلمۃ یعنی آدھا لفظ بھی نہیں۔ لوگوں نے عرض کی اس کا کیا سبب ہے
، فرمایا ازیشاں منہم ہے۔
امام محمد سیرین شاگرد انس رضی اللہ تعالی عنہ
کے پاس دو بد مذہب آئے عرض کی کچھ آیات کلام اللہ آپ کو سنائیں ، فرمایا میں
سننا نہیں چاہتا ، عرض کی کچھ احادیث نبی صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم سنائیں ، فرمایا میں
سننا نہیں چاہتا ، انہوں نے اصرار کیا ، فرمایا تم دونوں اٹھ جاو یا میں اٹھ جاتا
ہوں، آخر وہ خائب و خاسر چلے گئے، لوگوں نے عرض کی اے امام ! آپ کا کیا حرج تھا
اگر وہ کچھ آیتیں یا حدیثیں سناتے ، فرمایا میں نے خوف کیا کہ وہ آیات و احادیث
کے ساتھ اپنی کچھ تاویل لگائیں اور میرے دل میں رہ جائے تو ہلاک ہو جاوں۔
ائمہ کو یہ خوف تھا اور اب عوام کو یہ جرات ،
ولا حول ولا قوۃ الا باللہ۔ اور ایسی جگہ مال دنیا وہی پسند کرے گا جو دین نہیں
رکھتا جو عقل سے بہرہ نہیں، یکے نقصان مایہ دگر شماتت ہمسایہ ( یعنی ایک تو مال کا
نقصان اور دوسرے ہمسایہ کی خوشی ، ت) وہ بئس القرین شیطان لعین کیسا خوش ہوگا کہ
ایک ہی کرشمے میں دونوں جہان کا نقصان پہنچایا ، مال بھی گیا اور آخرت میں عذاب
کا بھی مستحق ہوا ۔۔۔۔خسر الدنیا والاخرۃ ھو الخسران المبین ۔۔۔۔یعنی دنیا اور
آخرت دونوں کا گھاٹا ، یہی ہے صریح نقصان ۔(۲۲:۱۱)
(الدلائل القاھرہ ص ۵)
The reason can be
perfect or corrupt, depending on the way as to how the human being takes it. The
example of corrupt reason can be seen in your last comment in which you say, “Ghazali’s concept of God and His attributes is
defective which has had a telling impact on his followers who believe in a
capricious God who abrogates His own word or does not mean what He says or
contradicts Himself freely! His followers are therefore deaf to all arguments
based on reason. They rationalize their irrationality with vain arguments. They
understand neither the meaning of reason or of intuition.”
of great scholars of reason, when I used my reasoning capability to study the
God-gifted reasoning power of Imam Ghazali, I found him on the high position.
‘‘بعض علوم کے برا ہونے کی وجوہات: (سوال) علم کے معنی
ہیں کیس چیز کو جیسی وہ ہے اسی طرح جاننا اور علم اللہ تعالی کی صفات میں سے بھی
ہے تو یہ کیسے ہو سکتا ہے کہ کوئی چیز علم ہو کر مذموم اور بری ہو۔(جواب) علم کی
برائی خود علم کے بری ہونے کی وجہ سے نہیں ہوتی بلکہ بندوں کے حق میں تین وجہوں
میں سے کسی کے پائے جانے سے برا کہا جاتا ہے۔ (۱)وہ عالم کے حق میں یا دوسرے کے حق
میں انجام کو مضر ہوتا ہے۔ جیسے علم سحر اور طلسمات کو برا کہتے ہیں حالانکہ علم
سحر حق ہے۔اس لئے کہ قرآن مجید اس کا شاہد ہے کہ سحر ایک سبب ہے جس کو خاوند اور
بیوی میں جدائی ڈالنے کا ذریعہ بنایا جاتا ہے۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔(۲) وہ علم غالبا دنیا کے
حق میں مضر ہو مثلا علم نجوم کہ وہ خود اپنی ذات سے برا نہیں کیونکہ وہ یا تو حساب
کے متعلق ہے اور قرآن مجید میں صاف صاف اللہ رب العزت نے فرمادیا ہے کہ سورج اور
چاند کی چال حساب سے ہے ، چنانچہ ارشاد فرمایا: ‘‘الشمس والقمر بحسبان’’ (سورہ
رحمن آیت ۵) ترجمہ : سورج اور چاند حساب سے ہیں’’ اور ارشاد فرمایا : ترجمہ ‘‘اور
چاند کے لئے ہم نے منزلیں مقرر کیں یہاں تک کہ پھر ہو گیا جیسے پرانی کھجور کی ڈال
’’ (سورہ یس ۳۹)۔ یا احکام میں جن کا
خلاصہ ان واقعات کا بتانا ہے ۔یہ ایسا ہے جیسے طبیب نبض سے سے بتا دیتا ہے کہ یہ مرض عنقریب پیدا ہوگا
۔خلاصہ یہ کہ اس کا جاننا اللہ تعالی کی
عادات معلوم کرنا ہے مگر شرع نے اس کو برا کہا ہے۔چنانچہ حضور صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم
نے ارشاد فرمایا کہ جب تقدیر کا معاملہ ہو تو چپ ہو جاو اور جب نجوم کا ذکر ہو تو
چب رہو اور جب میرے اصحاب کا ذکر ہو تو سکوت کرو فرمایا کہ میں اپنی امت پر تین
باتوں سے ڈرتا ہوں (۱) حاکموں کا ظلم کرنا (۲) نجوم کا معتقد ہونا (۳) تقدیر کی
تکذیب۔(اس دوسری وجہ کو امام غزالی نے مزید وضاحت کے ساتھ پیش کیا ہے جو قابل
مطالعہ ہیں) (۳) اور وہ علم جس سے فائدہ نہ پہنچے، امر فضول میں غور کرنا جس کی
ضرورت نہیں اور ایک امر بے فائدہ میں عمر جیسی نفیس شئی کو فضول میں ضائع کرنا
۔۔یہ انتہائی درجہ کا نقصان ہے۔(احیا العلوم ج ۱ ص ۱۰۰، ناشر شبیر برادرز)
The idea that I
deduce from the above passages of Imam Ghazali is that we should not misuse our
reasoning ability in the name of reason.
There are many things to know about the secondary source of Islam,
Hadith. I would like to suggest the readers interested in enjoying critical
analysis of Hadith to study a very popular book “’Al-Asrar Al-Marfua fil Akhbar
al-Maudua’by Mullah Ali Qari also available in English translation titled “Encyclopedia
of Hadith Forgeries”.
The author Mullah Ali Al-Qari (d. 1605/1606) is considered in Hanafi
circles to be one of the masters of hadith and Imams of fiqh, Qur'anic
commentary, language, history and tasawwuf. He was a hafiz (memorizer of the
Qur'aan) and a famous calligrapher who wrote a Qur'aan every year. He has
discussed a total of three thousand reports covering doctrinal and juridical
forgeries, racial forgeries, misogynistic forgeries, food forgeries, ‘Israelite’
forgeries, medical forgeries, sex forgeries etc. I have its original Arabic
version while I have not yet checked the accuracy of its English translation by
Gibril Fouad Haddad.
The Quranic verses which you have quoted clearly say that the muttaqin are on the right path. Yes indeed, the sufis and awliyas are muttaqin and hence on the true guidance from their Lord. But these verses (by the blessing of Allah) do not support your wahabi or non-wahabi agenda against true Sufism.
(2:2) This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, for the Muttaqin;
(3) Who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them;
(4) And who believe in the Revelation sent to thee, and sent before thy time, and (in their hearts) have the assurance of the Hereafter.
(5) They are on (true) guidance, from their Lord, and it is these who will prosper.
The Quran provides a very direct answer to the question of who is on true guidance from Allah and those who will prosper right after Surah Fateha, in which we pray for being guided on the straight way. The straight way is shown immediately after so that it is not missed by anyone:
Where is the scope for any mystical mumbo jumbo when the Quran answers the question explicitly? Those who talk of anything besides the above are on misguidance. They reject the straight path shown in the Quran by Allah and take devious paths.
Terrorists have targeted sufism and its followers, centres etc with the accusation that they are doing the things different from the Quran, while in fact, the mystical knolwedge is the blessing of Allah Almighty not given unless when the mystic has understood the depth and true knowledge of the Quran, unless when he has attained excellence in experiencing or excersing what is fully in conformity with the Quran.
The first stage of mystical knowledge is called shariat where a man studies the Quran and Sunnah and if he is able to take the right message out of his study (by the blessing of Allah), he gets the second stage that is termed as tariqat. This tariqat takes the salik to the third stage that is marifat and then the fourth that is haqiqat.
The reasoned knowledge may be right or wrong coincidentally in the world of haqiqat. The one who gets the right reasoned knolwedge deserves being called the true follower of shariat. In the same way if he is on the right tariqat, he will get right marifat and if he gets right marifat he will reach the haqiqat. This way he will thank his Lord Almighty for endowing him with all these four stages of mystical path.
But one should remember that it is possible only when one purely devots his heart and mind to attain the blessing of Allah. Otherwise there were and are many who, unluckily due to being, perhaps, devoid of this God-gifted blessing—taunt mystical knowledge. If he had got this blessing, he would surely not have taunted it.
The Interrelationship between Shariat, Tariqat and Haqiqat
It is said that the mystics have a
kind of knowledge or illumination different from ordinary sensous or reasoned
knolwedge. It is, they insist, an indescribable experience and therefore to
understood only by being felt. It is difficutl to be communicated. It is
another sort of conciousness, another sense, beyond the normal attributes of
the self. It is regarded to be superior to all other forms of knolwedge. By this
boulevard man is believed to get the
surest and most adequate access to Relity, to the Lord. The closet relation
between this unique illumination and common experience is found in states of
One writer states it thus:
“It is a matter of experience that
in our moments of deep emotion, transtory though they be, we plunge deeper into
the reality of things than we can hope to do in hours of the most brilliant
argument. At the touch of passion doors fly open which logic has battered on in
vain: for passion rouses to activity not merely the mind, but the whole
vitality of man. It is the lover, the poet, the mourner, the convert, who
shares for a moment the mystic’s privilege of lifting that Veil of Isis which
science handles so helplessly, leaving only her dirty finger-marks behind.” (see
Edward Scribner Ames’s Mystic Knolwedge published by The University of Chicago
There is nothing above reason. If this
was not so, God would not have created a Universe that is subject to very
precise unchanging laws nor would God have willed for Himself that He would
never change His Word. God has created the Universe having unerring order and perfect causality
so that people may both understand and benefit. His signs consisting of
the Book or the Quran and His signs consisting of the signs in the form of laws
of the universe are both Mubeen or clear, without ambiguity and without
Ghazali’s concept of God and His
attributes is defective which has had a telling impact on his followers who
believe in a capricious God who abrogates His own word or does not mean what He
says or contradicts Himself freely! His followers are therefore deaf to all
arguments based on reason. They rationalize their irrationality with vain
arguments. They understand neither the meaning of reason or of intuition.
The Quran is most eloquent with what it
leaves unsaid and what is left unsaid, cannot be understood by all, but only by
those who have truly contemplated on the Quran deeply. For example:
did God not ensure perfect justice on
Why did God not send a sign to the
people of Muhammad?
Why did God not send the final message
(Quran) to all people in their own language through a prophet from among their
the Christians who believe in Jesus as son of God and in Trinity be forgiven?
about the Mushrikin? Will the good people among them and those who were not
deliberate deniers/rejecters of monotheism enter heaven?
the meanest among the Muslim better than the best among the disbelievers or is
a Muslim who does not give charity or is unmindful of his prayers worse than
the meanest among the disbelievers?
is the meaning of Ayat al-Nur
did God allow sex with female slaves?
are the best among the Muslims?
are the principles of war?
did God mean by saying man/jinn could never produce a surah like that of any
surah of the Quran?
we possess an immortal soul?
answers to all the questions are based not on intuition or implicit knowledge
but based on explicit knowledge and reason which the mystics are incapable of.
Their mumbo jumbo of Alam-e-arwah, alam-e-barzakh etc. is not knowledge, but a camouflage
for their ignorance and confusion.
There are some people who call
themselves Mu‘tazilah and they slander Ahlus-Sunnah and all their supporters
saying they are hypocrites. Who are the Mu‘tazilites? How can we refute them?
perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is
none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
Mu‘tazilah is an Islamic sect that
originated at the end of the Umayyad era and flourished during the Abbasid era.
They were affected by the books and views of philosophers and consequently gave
precedence to reason over revealed texts in understanding ‘Aqeedah (creed).
They also caused confusion among people by spreading their deviant creed
through the power of the ruling authority.
They are also known as Qadariyyah,
‘Adliyyah, Muqtasidah and Wa‘eediyyah.
Their ideology is based on five
pillars: Tawheed (Islamic monotheism), promise, threat, the in-between degree,
enjoining good and forbidding evil.
Muslim scholars of their time refuted
their arguments. Some of those scholars were Abul-Hasan Al-’Ash‘ari who was the first one to associate with
them but later he renounced their beliefs and refuted their arguments using
their method in argument and debate. Imaam Ahmad also refuted them and suffered greatly
because of their statements regarding the creation of the Quran. Later, Ibn Taymiyyah examined their statements and exposed
them in his books.
Some contemporary writers and
thinkers want to revive this thought in the hope of disuniting the Ummah
(Muslim nation), stirring up doubts about the foundations of Islam and making
the Muslims vulnerable to their enemies.
These people work under the slogans
of rationalism, enlightenment, renewal, enlightened religious thought and
The most dangerous aim of Mu‘tazilite
thought is the endeavor to change the Sharee‘ah (Islamic law) rulings that are
indisputably established in the Quran and the Sunnah (Prophetic tradition),
such as the prescribed punishment for apostasy, the obligation of Jihaad, the
general prescribed punishments, divorce, inheritance and Hijab.
We advise the questioner to read literature
that exposes their corrupt beliefs so that he may understand them and refute
their allegations and arguments if he is qualified to do so. Otherwise, If this
is beyond his ability , then it would be sufficient for him to
disassociate himself from them, and this was the same method followed by Ibn ‘Umar Forsaking them is the best remedy for them
until they repent.
Allaah Knows best.