Introduction

 

قُلْ ھُوْاللّٰہُ اَحَدٌ

Meaning: Proclaim! “He is Allah, Who is the One.” (Al-Ikhlaas 1)

All praises are for Allah Who created everything and Who is the light of the heavens, the earth, every creation and realms.

According to a Qudsi Hadith:

کُنْتُ کَنْزًا مَخْفِیًّا فَاَحْبَبْتُ اَنْ اُعْرَفَ فَخَلَقْتُ الْخَلْقَ لِاُعْرَفَ۔

Meaning: I was a hidden Treasure, I intended to be recognized so I created the creation.

Sultan Bahoo adds following words with the Qudsi Hadith in his renowned book Risala Roohi Sharif:

ذاتِ سَرچشمہ چشمانِ حقیقتِ ھاھویت۔

Meaning: The Fountain Head and Eye of the Reality of Incomparable and Unknowable realm (HaHooiyat).

The Sufis describe the levels or stages of Divine descent with reference to each word of the said Hadith as:

 

The Incomparable and Unknowable Realm (Alam Al-HaHooiyat)

It is the world beyond all the worlds and station beyond all the stations. Moreover one even cannot call it a ‘world’ or ‘station’. Here Allah is All Alone and hidden in His Own veil and no one can understand the Essence of Allah at this level. Also nothing related to the creation can reach here as it is the point of non-creation. Here Allah is as the verse states:

لَیسَ کَمِثْلِہٖ شَیْئٌ

Meaning: There is nothing like Him. (Ash Shura 11)

A Hadith also points to the same:

کَانَ اللّٰہ وَلَمْ یَکُنْ مَّعَہُ شَیْئٌ

Meaning: Allah was (Alone) and nothing was with Him.

Most importantly in this realm He has not revealed or manifested His Essence and any of His attributes. Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) said about this level:

تَفَکَّرُوْٓا فِیاٰیَتِہٖ وَلَا تَفَکَّرُوْٓا فِیْ ذَاتِہٖ

Meaning: Think about the signs of Allah not the Essence.

Sultan Bahoo says about this level:

“To understand the quiddity of the Divine Essence countless efforts of wisdom went in vain.” (Risala Roohi Sharif)

In addition this is the transcendent level of Essence which is beyond anybody’s intellect, knowledge and frame of reference. For the ease of understanding the Essence of Allah is called Hoo (ھُو) at this level.

 

The Realm of First Manifestation (Alam al-YaHoot)

In this realm the Divine Essence manifested in the form of light of Mohammad and it is the first step towards Divine descent. In fact the said light is not a creation rather it is ‘the Treasure’ that was hidden in Essence and was eager to manifest. Hence it is the Mohammadan Reality and following Hadiths points towards the same:

اَوَّلَ مَا خَلَقَاللّٰہُ نُوْرِیْ۔

Meaning: First of all Allah manifested my light.

 اَنَا مِنْ نُّوْرِاللّٰہِ تَعَالٰی وَ کُلُّ خَلَائِقِ مِن نُّوْرِیْ۔

Meaning: I am from the light of Allah and all the creation is from my light.

اَوَّلَ مَا خَلَقَ اللّٰہُ رُوْحِیْ۔

Meaning: First of all Allah manifested my soul.

Sultan Bahoo says about this level:

“Know! When the Divine light of Ahad (the One – Attributive name of Allah) coming out of His isolated Oneness intended to manifest Himself in multiplicity, He graced (all the worlds) with the theophany of His splendid sight of the pure Divine beauty. Both the worlds started burning like a moth on the candle of His blazing beauty concealed in the veil of ‘M’ of Ahmad (Prophet Mohammad) manifested Himself as Ahmad.” (Risala Roohi Sharif)

“When Allah desired (to be recognized), he separated Ism-e-Allah Zaat from Himself (manifested Himself in the form of Ism-e-Allah Zaat). Hence from Ism-e-Allah Zaat the Mohammadan light appeared and when the Divine Nature (Allah) beheld His reflection in the mirror of His Oneness (tauheed) in the form of Mohammadan light, he was fascinated and became fond of Himself and received the titles of ‘Lord of the lords’ and ‘the beloved of Allah’ from His Own Divine court.”  (Ain-ul-Faqr)

Allah says:

 لَوْلَاکَ لَمَا اَظْھَرْتُ الرَّبُوْبِیَّۃ

Meaning: If it was not for you (O My beloved Mohammad) I would not have manifested My Lordship.

 

The Realm of Divinity (Alam al-LaHoot)

It is the third step and the second level of descent. At this level in the Mohammadan light is the whole universe and all the creation as a unit and is eager to manifest. Specifically it is the level where the soul of Prophet Mohammad manifested from the Mohammadan light. It must be remembered that this purest soul is the Divine soul and the Trust granted by Allah. Therefore Allama Iqbal points towards it in the following verses:

اے طائر ِ لاھوتی اس رزق سے موت اچھی
جس رزق سے آتی ہو پرواز میں کوتاہی

Explanation: O Divine soul! Avoid the sustenance that may hinder your flight (towards the realm of Divinity).

In other words this flight is only possible by the invocation and contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat which is true sustenance to strengthen the soul.  One condition to oblige is that the Universal Divine Man (al-Insan al-Kamil) grants the invocation and contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat.

 

The Realm of Power (Alam al-Jabarut)

This is the fourth step and the third level of descent. Here the kingly soul was created from the Divine soul and it has the qualities and attributes of angels because both were created at the same level. Additionally this realm acts like a bridge and is a source of connection between Prophets and Allah.

 

The Realm of Angels (Alam al-Malakut)

The fifth step is the fourth level of descent of the Essence. Before this level the soul had no form but it took a recognizable form for the first time. However there is no restriction for the soul to take any particular form and it can appear in any from or shape though all these are immaterial, symbolic and intangible. Also they cannot be touched, captured, torn or patched and are immaterial like ideas, thoughts or feelings. Dreams are from this world.

 

The Physical World (Alam an-Nasut)

It is the sixth step and the fifth level. Thus Allah manifested Himself in the physical world descending from the realm of Incomparable and Unknowable. However, the Divine descent does not mean that Allah descended in this world and is not present in other worlds. He is Omnipresent. Every world is His world. He is here as well as everywhere.

 

Human Being

The seventh step and the sixth level contains all the levels. Sultan Bahoo says:

“Allah be Glorified! He has manifested the signs of Divine beauty and majesty of His perfect nature through thousands of earthen elemental bodies that are His perfect manifestations. Moreover, by making them pure and sanctified mirrors, He is observing His Own beautiful countenance. In fact He is experiencing His Own love. He Himself is the Sight, the Beholder and the Beheld. To enumerate He is the Love, the Lover and the Beloved and if you remove the veil from yourself you will find the only One Entity that exists. Therefore the duality (the variety of material things) you see is due the lack of your (spiritual) insight.” (Risala Roohi Sharif)

Ibn Arabi writes:

“Allah created man in His picture like a fruit is hidden in seed. Hence the Universal Divine Man is His picture and comprehensive of the Divine Essence and all the attributes. As He has manifested Himself in the form of the Universal Divine Man therefore everything is under his command as Allah says:

وَ سَخَّرَلَکُمْ مَّافیِ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَمَافِیْ الْاَرْضِ جَمِیْعًا مِّنْہٗ

Meaning: (O My beloved!) Everything in the heavens and the earth has been made subservient to you.”

 

The Two Theories

Oneness of Allah (tauheed) is the basic pillar of Islam. For a common Muslim it is quite simple and easy but Fakirs and Mystics find great depth and profoundness in its meanings. For the masses first part of shahada is merely the proclamation of Oneness of Allah which means, “There is no God but Allah.” He has no partners and is Alone. He deserves all praise and adoration. He is the Creator and the Master.

On the other hand the interpretation of Sufis, Fakirs and Mystics consists of so many implications and graveness which at times overwhelm the scholars and theologians with admiration while at times they simply pass religious verdicts of paganism and heresy.

‘There is no God but Allah’ is negation as well as affirmation. It is quite true that He is the One God but if He is the One God then what is the need to negate any other? In the presence of One there cannot be another. If there is no one like Him or He has no partner, He is incomparable and unprecedented then the very concept of any other ‘god’ is only meaningless. ‘There is no God but Allah’ actually means that there is no one but Allah. If there is only He then what is all that we see around?

Two theories are widely found in this regard which are:

  • The Oneness of Being (Wahdah al-Wujud)
  • Oneness of Witnessing (Wahdah ash-Shuhud)

 

The Oneness of Being (Wahdah al-Wujud)

First of all Husayn ibn Ali presented this theory in his book Mirat-ul-Arifeen. This is the very first writing on the theory of Oneness of Being which is in fact the interpretation of sura al-Fatihah. He wrote it as an answer to his son Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin. Not only did Husayn ibn Ali write the interpretation of Oneness of Being but also established the term al-Insan al-Kamil (the Universal Divine Man).

The Mystics are all mutually consented on the point that whatever books on the Oneness of Allah (tauheed) are published till now are only the exegesis of Mirat-ul-Arifeen. Then Shaikh Abu Saeed Mubarak Makhzoomi the spiritual guide of Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani described the Oneness of Being and Sufi cosmology in detail in his book Tohfa Mursala Sharif but this theory received popularity due to the writings of Shaikh al-Akbar Mohiyuddin ibn Arabi. He explained the term al-Insan al-Kamil very comprehensively and elaborated this doctrine so explicitly that there remained no need to write about it anymore.

Prior to understanding the concept of Oneness of Being, it is essential to comprehend the theories of transmigration (Halul حلول) and alliance (Itehad اتحاد). Dual beings are essentially required in transmigration and alliance but according to the theory of Oneness of Being actual Existence is only one and that is the Divine Truth. To slander the unitarian for being a transmigrator or theory of alliance theory is utterly an ignorance and nonsense.

 

Extracts from Ibn Arabi’s books

Ibn Arabi writes:

  • Only the Divine Essence exists, nobody but He can comprehend Himself. Nobody recognizes Him other than Himself, His veil is His Own Singularity, and His veil is His very Existence. His Unity has veiled Him in such a manner that it cannot be elaborated. Apart from Him, no one witnesses Him whether a Prophet, Messenger, perfect Saint or a dearest angel. He Himself is His Prophet and Himself is His Messenger, He is His word, He sent His word to Himself, on His Own behalf through His Own medium, without any mediation apart from Himself. Except Him none other exists. Therefore He cannot annihilate.
  • Man and the Lord are unified at the level of their ultimate existence. Thus in spite of their elevation and descension respectively, slave remains slave and Lord remains the Lord. (Al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya Interpreter Saim Chishti Vol III)
  • The explorers of Divine gnosis and the true seekers of the realization of the Essence see clearly that the existing multiplicity in the universe is present in that single Reality Who is the Absolute Existence and has manifested in the form of multiplicity just like the existence of drops in the river, the existence of fruit in the tree and that of the tree in the seed. (Fusus al-Hikam, exegesis by Sha’abi)

 

Oneness of Witnessing (Wahdah ash-Shuhud)

Shahabuddin Suhrawardi has explained Wahdah ash-Shuhud or Oneness of witnessing which is the gnosis of attributes.  He called Divine Essence as the Absolute light according to the verse:

اللّٰہُ نُوْرُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالْاَرْضِ

Meaning: Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth. (An-Nur 35)

He says:

“Divine light is the manifestation and the excellence of manifestation as well. None is superior to this, hence It adores only Its Own Essence and Its perfection is revealed upon Its Own Essence and is the most accomplished and beautiful than everything.”

 

Difference between both doctrines

Actually there are two types of gnosis, the first one is the gnosis of Divine attributes and the second is the gnosis of Divine Essence. The former belongs to multiplicity and the latter to Unity. The gnosis of attributes consists of overpowering and attracting the creation for worldly purposes. Whereas the gnosis of Divine Essence consists of engrossment in the observation of Divine Essence (the station of annihilation in Allah). Since the revelation of multiplicity is the reflection of Divine light of the Essence hence what can a possessor of grades say apart from ‘everything exists due to Him’ or ‘every object is a witness to the Divine Existence!’ Hence a person can only talk about the stage where he is at.

The Mystic of the gnosis of attributes is the man of hard mystic exercises while Mystic of the gnosis of Divine Essence is the possessor of Divine secret. The man of hard mystic practices is the holder of high grades while the possessor of secret is the man of Divine Essence. The extreme destination of gnosis of attributes is the conversation with Allah at the Lote Tree and reading the Guarded Tablet while the early stage of the gnosis of the Essence is annihilation in Allah and the eternal presence in the Mohammadan Assembly. The possessor of gnosis of attributes only remains in multiplicity and cannot enter the Oneness (tauheed) whereas the possessor of gnosis of Essence starts his journey from the station of Unity. (Shams-ul-Fuqara)

 

Invitation

One can truly understand the concepts of Oneness (tauheed) and Wahdat al-Wujud if innerself (an-nafs) has been purified by joining the company of the perfect and accomplished spiritual guide. He grants the seeker gnosis and proximity of Allah ultimately blessing with actually experiencing it.

The present leader of Sarwari Qadri order and the perfect spiritual guide is Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman. On the first day of pledging allegiance (al-bayah) he grants the invocation and contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat.  The invocation and contemplation of Ism-e-Allah Zaat and the beneficence of the effective spiritual sight of Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen removes the veils of innerself leading a seeker of Allah towards Oneness (tauheed) and observing of Oneness of Being. Open invitation to everyone to join his company to not only enlighten the inward and the soul but to experience Oneness. May Allah grant us with His favour! Amin.

 

Note

This blog is English translation of an Urdu article of the magazine ‘Mahnama Sultan-ul-Faqr Lahore’ for the month of January, 2020. The title of the Urdu article is:

وحدت الوجود | Wahdat al-Wujud

This article is extracted from Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman’s Urdu book Shams-ul-Fuqara which is translated in English by Sahibzadi Muneeza Najib Sarwari Qadri exclusively for the website. Do not forget to visit the original article to which you only have to click the link

https://www.mahnama-sultan-ul-faqr-lahore.com/january-2020-wahdat-ul-wajood/

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