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The Divine Gnosis and the Words of Great Sufis - Concluding Part


By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam

07 December 2017

Read the First Part of the Article Here.

This is the concluding part of the English translation of the Sufis’ words on the divine Ma’rifa with some necessary explanations. In this part this writer has also tried to correct the misconception often propagated by anti-Sufi elements that Sufism is on the contrary to the Shariat based on the Quran and Sunnah. 

Hadrat Dhu al-Nun al-Misri said:

“Friendship with the gnostic/knower (‘Arif) is like friendship with Allah Almighty. He shows tolerance to you and treats you with kindness, thereby imitating the moral attributes of Allah Almighty.

Someone asked Ibn Yazdaniyar, “When does the gnostic (‘Arif) witness Allah- all praises be to Him? He answered, “When the witness appears, the perceptions become exterminated, the senses disappear, and sincerity fades away.”

Hadrat Husayn bin Mansur said, “When the servant reaches the station of gnosis (Marifa’), Allah Almighty endows him with good thoughts and protects his innermost mystery (Sirr), so that nothing other than good thoughts enters his mind.”

He also said, “The sign of the gnostic (Arif) is that he is devoid of (affection) for the world and the hereafter.”

Hadrat Sahl bin Abdallah al-Tustari said,

 “Gnosis has two goals: fear and mystification.”

Hadrat Dhu al-Nun al-Misri said,

“The most surprised of all the people is he who knows Allah Almighty the most”

Someone asked Abu Yazid al-Bistami “How did you attain this gnosis?” He responded, “With an empty stomach and a naked body.” This means that he wore clothe and ate food just for covering the body and being alive, and not more than that.

Hadrat Abu Yaqub Nahrajuri asked Abu Yaqub al-Susi, “Does the gnostic (A’rif) miss anything except Allah Almighty?” He answered saying, “Does he (A’rif) see anything but Allah to miss it?” Hadrat Abu Yaqub Nahrajuri asked him, “How does he see things?” He answered: “He sees them with the eye of [self-] extermination (Fana) and cessation (Zawal).”

Hadrat Abu Yazid said, “The gnostic (‘Arif) is (like) a flyer, whereas the ascetic (Zahid) is (like) a walker.” It is also said, “The eyes of the gnostic weep, while his heart laughs.”

Hadrat Junayd Baghdadi said, “One cannot be a Gnostic (A’rif) unless one has become like the earth, which is trodden down by both the righteous and the sinners, or like the cloud which casts its shadow on everything, or like the rain that quenches the thirst of those it likes and those it does not like.”

Hadrat Yahya bin Mua’adh said, “The gnostic leaves this world without getting enough of two things: weeping over his self and praising his Lord Almighty.”

Hadrat Abu Yazid said, “The great Sufis attained their gnosis (Marifa’) by forsaking what belongs to them and keeping what is due to Allah Almighty.” The purport of Hadrat Abu Yazid is that the Sufis acquired the gnosis by exercising according to the rulings of Allah Almighty and abandoning his own desires.

Hadrat Yusuf bin Ali said, “One cannot become a true gnostic unless when given the wealth equal to that of [king] Solomon – peace be upon him– he would not be distracted from Allah Almighty for the blink of an eye.”

Hadrat Ibn ‘Ata said,

“Gnosis (Marifa’) is based on three pillars: awe, humility, and intimacy.”

Someone asked Hadrat Dhu al-Nun, “How have you acquired gnosis of your Lord?” He answered, “I have recognised my Lord through the blessing of my Lord. Had there not been the blessing of my Lord, I would not have recognised Him.” This indicates that the servant cannot recognise Allah Almighty but it is the blessing of Allah that enables him to recognise Him Almighty.

It is said, “The scholar (‘Alim) serves as an example for other people, whereas the gnostic (A’rif) serves as their guide.”

Hadrat Shibli said, “The gnostic does not pay attention to anything other than Allah Almighty; nor speaks anything other than the speech of Allah, nor does he see his protector in anyone but Allah Almighty.”

 It is said that “The gnostic finds intimacy in the remembrance of Allah, and He Almighty  estranges him from [the rest of] His creatures; the Gnostic (‘Arif) needs Allah, and He Almighty makes him independent from His creatures; he (‘Arif) shows humility toward Allah, and He Almighty grants him a high position among His creatures.”

Hadrat Abu Tayyib al-Samari said,

“Gnosis is the Lord Almighty’s appearance in the innermost souls of His servants by enlightening them with a continuous beam of lights.”

It is also said that “The Gnostic (A’rif) stands above the things he says, whereas the scholar (the ‘Alim’ who has not yet attained the gnosis) stands below the things he says.”

Hadrat Abul Qasim al-Qushayri writes that when Someone Abu Hadrat Yazid was asked about the Gnostic (Marifa’), he answered, “It is he who, even in his sleep as well as waking hours, sees none other Allah; he does not agree with anyone but Allah and nor does he contemplate anyone but Allah Almighty.”

Hadrat Abu Uthman al-Maghribi said, “The light of knowledge falls upon the Gnostic (‘Arif), whereby he observes the marvels of the unseen.”

Hadrat Abu Ali al-Daqqaq said,

“The gnostic is lost in the sea of veracious realization (Tahqiq), or, as one of them put it, ‘Gnosis is the waves of the sea that sometimes plunge down and sometimes rise only to collapse again’.”

When Hadrat Yahya bin Muadh was asked about the Gnostic, he said, “This is someone who despite being (outwardly) present (with the creatures) is absent. On another occasion he also said, “The ‘Arif was sometime with the creatures, then he got separated.”

Hadrat Dhu al-Nun said, “The gnostic has three signs;

1.       The light of his gnosis does not extinguish the light of his piety

2.       He does not adhere to an inner knowledge that may contradict an outward [religious] injunction

3.       And the plenitude of divine graces does not push him towards violating any of Allah’s prohibitions.

Hadrat Muhammad bin Fadl said,

 “Gnosis is the heart’s life with Allah Almighty.”

Someone asked Hadrat Abu Said Kharraz, “Can the gnostic reach a state in which weeping becomes a burden for him?” He answered, “Yes, weeping [is necessary] during their [gnostics’] travel to Allah Almighty. However, once they have arrived at the true realities of closeness [with Allah Almighty] and tasted the victuals of union with Him through His grace, weeping no longer remains with them.”

(Source of the Study: Risala Qushariya by Hazrat Abul Qasim Qushayri, Arabic edition and Urdu translation by Allama Siddiq Hazarvi)

Having presented the great Sufis’ words on the divine Ma’rifa, this writer would like to correct a misconception often propagated by anti-Sufi elements that Sufism has no relation with the Shariat associated with the Quran and Sunnah.

The man holding this misconception must put in his mind that Shariat is the injunctions for living made by Allah Almighty and guided by the Sunnah of the prophet (peace be upon him). Tariqat is the path to realization also guided by the Sunnah; this path discloses the true meaning or interpretation of Shariat and leads to Haqiqat of everything. Haqiqat is the process of realization achieved only by those who walk on the path of Tariqat with holding Shariat tightly and next to this is the Marifat that is the actual realization of Allah Almighty. For example, if Namaz is performed according to its outward acts, movements, essentials and terms based on Quran and Sunnah as explained by the great jurists of Islam, this can be described as Shariat. And if humbleness, humility and the presence of heart (i.e. the heart is saved from satanic attacks and remains involved in remembrance of Allah) are achieved during Namaz, this will be called Haqiqat; and this is the spirit of Namaz.

Crystal clear as it is now that the outward performances of Namaz are like its body whereas humbleness and presence of heart in Namaz are its spirit. The body is useless without the spirit. Just as the body needs spirit for its establishment, so the spirit, too, requires the body. As Allah Almighty says, “Establish prayer [Namaz] and pay Zakat” (2:110). Establishing Namaz means that it should be performed with its body and spirit. That is why Allah Almighty says “Establish prayer” and He does not ask us to read Namaz.  

The first stage is Shariat where a believer studies the Quran and Sunnah and if he takes the right message out of his study, he can then be described as one travelling on the path known as Tariqat. Similarly Tariqat takes the Salik (traveller on the path of Sufism) to the Haqiqat and then to the fourth that is Marifat (gnosis). When a believer attains perfection in all these four stages, it is said he has become a Sufi or Wali (saint) and thereby acquiring the blessing of Allah Almighty.

It is intelligible now that the relation between Shariat and Tariqat is as deeper as between the body and the spirit. The believers attain perfection by comprehending both Shariat and Haqiqat and act according to them. This is the essential education to which the Sufi saints and Friends of Allah [Auliya] guide. They act according to Quran and Sunnah and follow in the footsteps of the holy companions [Sahaba-e-Karam may Allah be pleased with them].  

It is necessary to further clarify here that Shariat is the root in Islam and Tariqat is its offshoot. Shariat is the fountainhead while Tariqat is the river emanating from Shariat. It is wrong to imagine separation of Tariqat from Shariat. Tariqat is based on Shariat. Shariat is the criteria by which the path of Tariqat is maintained and judged.

There is unanimous agreement among all Sufis and saints that, anything, if it is, against Shariat will not be acceptable, but only the thing conforming to the Shariat. 

(May Allah have mercy upon all the above mentioned Sufis and Saints)

Read the First Part of the Article Here.

Related article:

The Interrelationship between Shariat, Tariqat and Haqiqat,-new-age-islam/the-interrelationship-between-shariat,-tariqat-and-haqiqat/d/110901


URL for the Urdu version of this article:,-new-age-islam/the-divine-gnosis-and-the-words-of-great-sufis--concluding-part--معرفت-الہی-اورصوفیائے-عظام-کے-اقوال---آخری-قسط/d/113322


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