Mushtaque B Barq

Creation and composition

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In order to understand the concept of creation of the world Abd al- Karim al-Jili, a Muslim Sufi saint and mystic born in 1366 at Jil in Bagdad writes: “God created the forms of Muhammad SAW from the light of His name al-Badi-u’l Qaadir (that is: the Almighty God) and contemplated them with His name al- Mannanu’l Qahir (the giver of overwhelming riches). Then He shone upon them with His name al- Latifu’l Ghafir (the forgiving One). On this, because of this irradiation it broke into two parts, so that it was divided into two halves. From that half on His right God made paradise and established it as an abode of bliss and from that half on His left He made the Fire, setting it up as a place of misery for the erring ”. The Sufi doctrine reveals that the creation has: Microcosm ( Alami-i- Saghir) and Macrocosm (Alam-i- Kabir) , Akhfa (Hidden) and Sirr (Secret), Qalb (Heart) and Ruh (Spirit). These constitute the world of creation (Alam-i- Khalq) and (Alam-i- Amr), the world of command.  Man is regarded as ( Alami-i- Saghir) and possess five elements of (Alam-i- Khalq) and five elements of (Alam-i- Amr). The Alam-i- Khalaq consists of Nafs (ego, soul as translated by Dr. Iqbal as Khudi), Earth, Water, Fire and Air. These elements constitute the physical side of human life. The elements of Alam-i- Amr are: Qalb (Heart), Ruh (Spirit), Sirr (Consciousness), these elements represent vehicles of spiritual communion with God. Heart in Sufi doctrine is considered as the vehicle of the Divine Glory and the place for His Light. The Qalb is the treasure of God’s Illumination and an ‘intermedium’ ( Barzakh) between the Alam-i- Amr and Alam-i- Khalq.

‘O heart’, I said, ‘may it bless thee

To have entered the circle of lovers.

To look beyond the range of the eye,

To penetrate the windings of the bosom?

Whence did this breath come to thee, O my soul,

Whence the throbbing, O my heart?

O bird, speak the language of the birds:

I can understand thy hidden meaning……..

(Rumi: Diwan-i- Shams-i- Tabriz, tr. R.A. Nicholson)

Khawaja Khan in Studies in Tasawuf is of the opinion that Heart is compounded of the subtle Ruh and the coarse body, and has thus established connection between the two. It receives impressions from the external world through five senses (Thought, Instinct, Memory, Reasoning and Fancy). According to Ghazzali, there are two servants of the heart which, when they serve it perfectly, are helpful. These are wrath and appetite (Desire). The heart considers these two companions for its journey to God, but at times these turn disobedient to the heart and rebel against it and enslave it.  Sathya Sai Baba reveals that the human being should realize that God is the most important of all, and not the other earthly desires. If God is dwelling in the highest position in the heart, all other trifles will be facilitated. What is most important to know is that God is within human being because human being came from God and will return to Him alone. The benefit of the spiritual knowledge for a devotee comes at fore when he feels the presence of Divine Love which if owned, the roads leading to Him are diverted to his own self because God abides in all hearts.  Nasir Khusro, a famous Persian poet referring to the knowledge of one’s real self, discloses:

Know thyself, for knowing truly thine own heart

Thou knowest that good and ill in thee are part.

Discern the work of thine own being, and then

Walk with pride amidst the common run of men.

Know thyself, and the whole world thus discovered

Then from all ill shall thyself delivered,

Arouse thyself! How long more wilt thou slumber?

See thyself, full of marvels without number.

From Titus Burckhardt’s classical text on Sufism: Sufi Doctrine and Methods, a section of the text reveals that The Spirit (ar-Ruh) and the soul (an-nafs) engage in battle for the possession of their common son the heart (al-qalb). By ar-Ruh, the intellectual principle which transcends the individual nature and by an-nafs the psyche, the centrifugal tendencies of which determine the diffuse and inconstant domain of the “I”. The heart represents the central organ of the soul, corresponding to the vital center of the physical organisms. Al- qalb is in sense the point of intersection of the “vertical” ray, which ar-Ruh, with the “horizontal” plane, which is an-nafs.

Raza Arasteh while referring to Rumi says man’s reason has found itself challenged by Man’s animal tendencies; out of its contradictions man must either go beyond reasons to attain the state of certainty  (Nafs-e-Mutma’inna), or fall downward into Nafs-e-Ammar).

Nafs stands for the element of evil in man. Passion and lust are its constituents. The Nafs confirming to the degree of purity attained is categorized as:

1)     Nafs-e- Ammara, the deprived soul

2)     Nafs-e- Lawwama, the accusatory soul

3)     Nafs-e- Mulhama, the inspired soul

4)     Nafs-e- Mutma, inna, the soul in tranquility

5)     Nafs-e- Radiyya, the satisfied soul

6)     Nafs-e- Safiyya wa Kamila, the perfect cleansed soul

The man is enshrined with a divine secret and to explore this secret one has to attain knowledge of both Creator and of the creation. Sufi’s have derived means and ways to explore one’s own being by entering into the ambits of Sufism and the masters of the trade have set different paths to know ‘The Known’.  Hazrat Muhammad SAW   says: That every soul is born on this earth as a believer and with a natural tendency to believe. This belief is the basis of faith in God.  God has promised the faithful and God holds his promise, but the ungrateful do not know the right. They are fully ignorant. The Holy Quran says:

Haven’t they thought about themselves and that God rightfully created the heavens and the earth and what lies between them (for) a fixed time. And a lot of people deny their coming meeting with their Lord. My earth and my heavens contain me not, but the heart of my faithful lover contains me.

The Holy Quran talks of three degrees of certainty about God.  The first, Ilm-ul- yaqeen, a pondering over the universe and nature, the study of these ‘signs of God’ leads to knowledge of God. The second degree, Ain-ul-yaqeen, certainty by sight. It is granted to the one who sees God with his spiritual eye. The third degree, Haqq-ul-yaqeen, certainty of realization, it comes to one with God by knowing himself. The Sufi believes that the three organs of spiritual communication with God are the soul, which thinks about Him, the spirit, which knows Him and the heart, which loves Him.  Al Ghazali, the mystic poet states that one’s heart is his soul! It is a heavenly spiritual comeliness related to this bodily heart. It is the thought of man or it is a knowledgeable part of man and that part which is addressed and requested.

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