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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CHISHTIYYAH

SUFI DHIKR: ANALYSIS AND


EXPLANATIONS

BY

ALIAS MOHAMED BIN ABD. GHANI

INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY


MALAYSIA

2008

ABSTRACT

This is a modest attempt to explain the significance of Chishtiyyah Sufi dhikr which is
known as Maqlid as-amwti wal-Ar, The Keys of the Treasures of the Heavens
and the Earth. The analysis and explanations are conducted in accordance with
semantic analysis of the keywords and the elaborations of the dhikr formula. The
Chishtiyyah Sufi Order is one of the oldest and the biggest order in India founded by
Mun ad-Dn Chishti (1142-1236A.D.) A Sufi makes constant attempt at recollection
and remembrance of Allh, so that by His Grace, eventually, he is, as it were,
effaced in the One Remembered. Sufism is the inward or the esoteric dimension of
Islam, while the sharah is its exoteric order. A Sufi who has arrived at the required
spiritual stations (maqmt) passsing the various established stages in the purification
of his soul is usually called wali, meaning beloved friend of Allh. Before
achieving such stations of spirituality, the seeker is required to possess a very high
degree of spiritual commitment and extremely intense concentrations in his spiritual
devotions. Of course, success is in the Hand of Allh.The study attempts to examine
and explain the significance of dhikr as properly known in the Chishti spiritual order.
This involves the study of the dhikr formula, its focus word and keywords and its
implied weltanschauung which has transformed Shaykh Mun ad-Dn Chishti from a
seeker of Truth to the station of the beloved friend of Allh. The objectives of the
proposed research are: to consider Sufism and its doctrine, to study the life of Shaykh
Mun ad-Dn Chishti and his thoughts, to study one of the most important aspects of
Sfi ritual, the dhikr, and to study the weltanschauung implied in the keywords of the
dhikr formula. Regarding the methodology of the study, only one technique is used,
namely library research. Books and materials on Sfism in general, the Chishtiyyah
dhikr order and other relevant data will be gathered and examined in the analysis and
explanations of the study.

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APPROVAL PAGE

I certify that I have supervised and read this study and that in my opinion, it conforms
to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and
quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Master of Islamic Civilization.
...
Uthman El-Muhammady
Supervisor

I certify that I have supervised and read this study and that in my opinion, it conforms
to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and
quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Master of Islamic Civilization.
...
Baharudin Ahmad
Examiner

This thesis was submitted to the Kuliyyah of ISTAC and is accepted as a partial
fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Islamic Civilization.
.
Ibrahim M. Zein
Dean,
International Institute of Islamic
Thought and Civilization

iv

DECLARATION

I hereby declare that this thesis is the result of my own investigations, except where
otherwise stated. I also declare that it has not been previously or concurrently
submitted as a whole for any other degrees at IIUM or other institutions.

Alias Mohamed Bin Abd. Ghani


Signature ..

Date ...

INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY MALAYSIA

DECLARATION OF COPYRIGHT AND


AFFIRMATION OF FAIR USE OF UNPUBLISHED
RESEARCH
Copyright 2008 by Alias Mohamed Bin Abd. Ghani. All rights reserved.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CHISHTIYYAH SUFI DHIKR: ANALYSIS


AND EXPLANATIONS
No part of this unpublished research may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior written permission of the
copyright holder except as provided below:
1.

Any material contained in or derived from this unpublished research


may only be used by others in their writing with due acknowledgment.

2.

IIUM or its library will have the right to make and transmit copies
(print or electronic) for institutional and academic purposes.

3.

The IIUM library will have the right to make, store in a retrieval
system and supply copies of this unpublished research if requested by
other universities and research libraries.

Affirmed by Alias Mohamed Bin Abd. Ghani.

..
Signature

vi

Date

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


Bismi Llh ir-Rahmn ir-Rahm
I wish first to give thanks to Allh, Exalted is He, for the very excellence of His
creation, and for His mercies which exist and are bestowed in abundance upon His
humanity. His benefits are epitomized in the creation, life, and teachings of all of His
Prophets (may His blessings be upon them all), and perfected in the form of His last
Prophet, the master of humanity, chief of both the worlds, Sayyidina Muammad
(Peace and blessings of Allh be upon him). I am happy to be able to complete my
thesis on The Significance of the Chishtiyyah Sufi Dhikr: Analysis and
Explanations. Certainly my dua and prayer to Allh has been answered. I am,
therefore, unable to express my gratitude to Allh through whom this thesis has
become possible. A special debt of gratitude is hereby acknowledged and expressed
for my supervisor and dear friend Ust. (Dr.) Muhammad Uthman El-Muhammady,
ISTAC, IIUM who has shared with me his spiritual and intellectual possessions, for
which honour and favour I could never adequately express my appreciation. May
Allh grant him long life and health and strength in service to His cause, and bless his
efforts and reward him aptly for all the good that he has done. My wife, Hajjah Wan
Inehas and children, listened with love and concern to my ideas and efforts while I
was writing this thesis, and I must thank the All-Merciful for their endless support and
forbearance. It has been my good fortune to receive so much assistance in the
preparation of this thesis that it would be impossible to thank personally all those who
have contributed to it. However, I would particularly like to thank Brother Farid and
Sister Ros for their help in the technical aspects of this work. May Allh the Merciful
reward them all with His choicest blessings!Amin!Amin!Amin!
Wa khiru dawn an al-hamdu li-Llhi Rabb il-lmin! Wa altu
was-salmu al raslihil-karm! Rabban taqabbal minn innaka
anta-Sam- ul-lim! Subhna Rabbika rabb il-izzati amm yaifn
Wa salmun all-mursalin Wal amdu li Llhi rabbi l-lamn! Amin!
In the end our claim is that all praise be to Allh, the Lord of the worlds,
and blessings and greetings to the Prophet (s.a.w.). Our Lord! Accept
from us this duty! Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower!
Gloried be thy Lord, the Lord of Majesty From that which they attribute
(unto Him!) Peace be upon His Messengers! Praise be to Allh the
Almighty Lord of the Worlds! Be it so!

vii

CONTENTS

Abstract ...................................................................................................................ii
Abstract in Arabic ...................................................................................................iii
Approval Page.........................................................................................................iv
Declaration Page .....................................................................................................v
Copyright Page........................................................................................................vi
Acknowledgements.................................................................................................vii

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION........................................................................1
1.1 Background of the Research .................................................................1
1.2 Keys of the Treasures of the Heavens and the Earth .............................1

CHAPTER 2: SUFISM.........................................................................................5
2.1 Nature of Sufism....................................................................................5
2.1.1 Al-Tasawwuf................................................................................5
2.1.2 Sufism and Pantheism.................................................................7
2.1.3 Sufism and Mysticism.................................................................7
2.1.4 Knowledge and Love ..................................................................9
2.2 The Doctrinal Foundations ....................................................................10
2.2.1 The Aspects of Unity ..................................................................10
2.2.2 Creation .......................................................................................12
2.2.3 The Archetypes ...........................................................................13
2.2.4 Universal Man.............................................................................15
2.3 Spiritual Realization ..............................................................................16
2.3.1 Three Aspects of the Ways .........................................................16
2.3.2 The Intellectual Faculties ............................................................18
2.3.3 Rites ............................................................................................19
2.3.4 Meditation ...................................................................................20

CHAPTER 3: CHISHTIYYAH...........................................................................22
3.1 History ...................................................................................................22
3.1.1 Personality Shaykh Mun al-Dn Chishti ..............................22
3.2 Doctrine .................................................................................................31
3.2.1 Philosophy...................................................................................31
3.2.2 Aphorisms Shaykh Baba Farid ..............................................34
3.3 Method...................................................................................................37
3.3.1 Theory and Practice ....................................................................37
3.3.2 Social Ethics................................................................................42
3.3.3 Chishti Rituals.............................................................................43
3.3.4 ariqat .........................................................................................44

viii

CHAPTER 4: T. IZUTSU SEMANTIC ANALYSIS ........................................51


4.1 Principle of Semantic Analysis..............................................................51
4.2 The Application of Semantic Analysis ..................................................55

CHAPTER 5: EXPLANATIONS AND ANALYSIS OF CHISHTIYYAH.....56


5.1 Dhikr Formula .......................................................................................56
5.1.1 L ilha ill Llh as a Formula of Dhikr ..................................56
5.1.1.1 The Inward Meanings of L ilha illaLlh .....................57
5.1.1.2 The Exoteric Meaning of L ilha illaLlh ....................59
5.1.1.3 Polytheism (Shirk) ............................................................60
5.1.1.4 On Unification (Tawd) ..................................................62
5.1.2 Takbir, Tasbh, Tahmid ...............................................................65
5.1.2.1 Ascribing Power and Ability ............................................67
5.1.3 Astaghfiru Llh ..........................................................................70
5.1.3.1 A Distinction between Subtle Gradation of Sins..............71
5.1.3.2 On Presence with Allh ....................................................73
5.2 The World-Views of the Keywords.......................................................76
5.2.1 Allh: The Focus-Word ..............................................................76
5.2.1.1 Divine Names: The Most Beautiful Names......................76
5.2.1.2 Tawhd: The Core Doctrine of Islam................................82
5.2.1.3 Ontological Relation Between Allh and Man.................86
5.2.1.4 Jahiliyyah and Islam.........................................................90
5.2.1.5 Allh from Sufi Perspective .............................................94
5.3 The Impact of Creed on the Individual and Society ..............................108
5.3.1 Islam: The Weltanschauung........................................................108
5.3.2 What Constitutes a Mumin (True) Muslim................................111
5.3.3 Five Pillars of Islam ....................................................................111
5.3.4 Fundamental Rights in Islam ......................................................112
5.3.5 Status of Women in Islam...........................................................114
5.3.6 Islamic Principles: Its Universal and Eternal Application ..........115
5.3.7 Islam and Challenges of Science and Technology......................117
5.4 Dhikr Allh (Remembrance of Allh) ...................................................123
5.4.1 Two Forms of Remembrance of Allh .......................................123
5.4.2 Stipulations for Remembrance of Allh......................................124
5.4.3 Most Important Formulae of Remembrance of Allh.................125
5.5 Love and Attachment.............................................................................128
5.6 Death and Subsequent Events................................................................136
5.6.1 The Reason for Existence ...........................................................136
5.6.2 Islamic Perspective on Death ......................................................139
5.6.3 Suicide.........................................................................................141
5.6.4 The Soul and the Death Process..................................................142
5.6.5 Al Ghaib the Unseen ..............................................................145
5.6.6 Al Barzakh the Barrier............................................................148
5.6.7 The Day of Judgment ..................................................................150
5.6.8 Repentance ..................................................................................153

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SUMMARY ...........................................................................................................156
BIBLIOGRAPHY .................................................................................................163
APPENDICES .......................................................................................................167
Appendix I ...................................................................................................167
Appendix II..................................................................................................168
Appendix III ................................................................................................171
Appendix IV ................................................................................................175

CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

1.1

BACKGROUND OF THE RESEARCH

This thesis in an endevour to explain the significance of Chishtiyyah Sufi dhikr which
is known as Maqli as-amwti wal-r: The Keys of the Treasures of the
Heavens and the Earth.The scope of the research involves the study of the dhikr
formula, its focus-word, key-words and its implied weltanschauung.
The Chishtiyyah Sufi Order is one of the oldest and the biggest order in India
founded by Mun ad-Dn Chishti (1142-1236A.D.). Shaykh Mun ad-Dn himself as
Sufi as well as a wali beloved friend of Allh made constant attempt at
reciting the said dhikr, so that by His Grace, eventually, he is, as it were effaced in
the One Remembered. But he also displayed a very high degree of spiritual
commitment and extremely intent concentrations in his spiritual devotions. Then,
Allh transformed Shaykh Mun ad-Dn Shishti from a seeker of Truth to the station
of the beloved friend of Allh.

1.2

THE KEYS OF THE TREASURES OF THE HEAVENS AND THE

EARTH








There is none worthy of worship except Allh.

And Allh (the Almighty) is the greatest.


And glory be to Allh and all Praises is to Allh
And I ask Allh for forgiveness.
There is none worthy of worship except Him. He is the First and the
Last.
And He is the Apparent and the Hidden.
And He imparts and takes away life.
And He is the Ever-Living who never dies.
In His Hand (of Power) is all Good.
And He has power over all things.1
The above dhikr is known on Maqli as-amwti wal-r; the Keys of the
Treasures of the Heavens and the Earth.
It is reported that Uthmn ibn Affan, may Allh be pleased unto him,
requested further information about Allhs injunction of the Keys of the Treasures of
the Heavens and the Earth (mentioned several times in the Qurn).2
The Prophet (s.a.w.) continued.
O Uthmn! Whoever recites it one hundred times every day will be
rewarded by ten graces. First, all his previous sins will be forgiven.
Second, his suffering from the hellfire will be written off. Third, two
angels are appointed to guard him day and night from his sufferings and
diseases. Fourth, he is granted a treasure of blessing as someone who
would have set free one hundred slaves from the offspring of the
Prophet Ishmael (a.s.). Sixth, he would be rewarded of blessings as if he
had read the entire Qurn, the Psalms, the Torah, and the Bible.
Seventh, a house will be constructed for him in the Heaven. Eight, he
will be married to a pious heavenly maiden. Ninth, he will be honoured
with the crown of honour. Tenth, his recommendation for forgiveness of
seventy of his relatives will be accepted.
O Uthmn! If you were strong enough you would not miss this
remembrance on any day. You will be one of the successful ones and
you will surpass everybody before and after you.
The formula for the Keys of the Treasures of the Heavens and the Earth may be
recited twenty one times after each daily prayer and requires not more than three or

1
Shaykh Hakim Moinuddin Chishti, The Book Of the Sufi Healing (Vermont: Inner Traditions
International,1991), 156.
2
Al-Qurn, Al-Anm: 59; l-i-Imrn: 180; Al-Munfiqn: 7; Al-Baqarah: 116; Al-Baqarah: 107.

four minutes to do so. Allh says: As for those who strive in Us, surely We guide
them to Our paths. 3
Mun ad-Dn Chishti (r.a.) the founder of Chishtiyyah Sufi order made
constant and incessant recitation of the above verses for the past thirty years up to the
night of his death on the fifth Rajab 633AH. On that night as usual, he retired to his
meditation cell after the night prayer (ish) and instructed his murids not to disturb
him that night. They stayed away, but heard through the door a sound expressing
unparallel ecstasy throughout the night. In the early hours of the morning, this sound
ceased. When the door of his cell did not open at the time of morning prayer (fajr),
anxiety was felt by everyone. Ultimately, the door was forced open by his students,
who to their astonishment, found that the soul of the great saint had relinquished his
mortal body. The following sentence was radiantly glittering upon his forehead, as
light:
Hadh abbu Llh
Mta f hubbi Llh
He is the beloved of Allh
And he died in Allhs Love.4
Shaykh Abu Anees Barkat Ali of Dar-ul-Ehsan, Pakistan had achieved a
unique position among the men of piety by reciting this sacred formula. He has
erected a large board upon which the words of this invaluable formula are written.
This he placed at the entrance way of his spiritual sanctuary. The shaykh who is now
in his seventy-sixth year has achieved much by way of this dhikr. First, he has
personally adopted more than ten thousand Hindus of the lowest caste and provided
them with a complete training and education in life. Second, he maintains a clinic that

Al-Qurn, Al-Ankabt: 69.


Shaykh Hakim Moinuddin Chishti, as reported by Shah Waliyullah Al-Dahlawi in Penawar Rohani
(Kota Bharu:Pustaka Aman Press,1987), 41; Shh Walyullah Ad Dahlawi, Al-Qawl al-Jaml maa
Shar Shif al-All, Calcutta, n.d), 50.
4

provides medical care and that has restored the sight of more than three thousand
persons so far, without charge of any kind. Third, he has written more than three
hundred books on Islam and Sufism, all of which have been distributed free of charge
(the jacket of one reads: These books are written for ourselves and you to read, but
not for sale. They have already been sold to Him for Whom they were meant).
Fourth, he is a shaykh to fourteen Sufi orders. The qualities and attributes of Sufi
Barakat Ali could be enumerated further, but anyone who views his life with an open
mind must conclude that he has exceeded the usual range of human accomplishments.
M Sh Allh!5

Shaykh Hakim Moinuddin Chishti, The Book Of the Sufi Healing, 157.

CHAPTER 2
SUFISM

2.1 NATURE OF SUFISM


2.1.1 Al - Taawwuf
ufism or Taawwuf is the inward or esoteric dimension of Islam while the sharah is
the exoteric order1. These two dimensions of Islam outward and inward are
more or less different but they have definite relationship to one another. This can be
explained as follows: The sharah may be seen as the circumstance of a circle. The
esoteric or the haqqah may be seen as the circles centre. The tarqah, the initiatic
path may be likened to that of radius moving from circumstance to the centre, that
leads from outward observance to inner conviction, from belief to vision, from
potency to act.2
The word Taawwuf is commonly thought to have been derived from the
Arabic word sf (wool), a reference for the woolen clothing worn by the earliest
fs,3 who preferred its symbolic simplicity to riches and more sophisticated
materials.
The Arabic word f strictly speaking refers to one who has attained the goal.
But now tends to include also who are still travelling towards it. To embark on the
spiritual path, a special rite of initiation is a required prerequisite.
A f makes a constant attempt at recollection and remembrance of Allh, so
that by His Grace, eventually, he is, as it were, effaced in the One Remembered.
1

Titus Burckhardt, An Introduction to Sufi Doctrine (Lahore: Sh. Muhammed Ashraf, 1998), 3.
The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, Sufism. (London: Stacy International, 1984), 377.
3
Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah, translated from Arabic by Franz Rosenthal (London:Routledge &
Kegan Paul, 1978), vol. 3, 76-77.
2

There are many branches of the spiritual family tree of fsm. But this
cannot be interpreted that there exist schisms or sects within fsm. The outward
sign of a sectarian tendency is always the quantitative and dynamic manner in
which propagation takes place. Authentic fsm can never become a movement for
the very good reason that it appeals to what is most static in man, to wit, the
contemplative intellect.4
Origins and ethos of f orders may differ; the actual method may vary; but
such fundamental rituals remain in so many of the Orders, linking and uniting them in
their sacred quest.
Victor Danner puts it like this:
The dhikr can be manifested in a variety of forms derived from the
Qurnic revelation, these forms depending on the perspectives of the
different Sf schools, the inspirations of particular masters, and other
conditions; but their variegated manifestation in no way detracts from
the fundamental character of the dhikr. Consequently, the elements of
the tarqa remain the same after the days of the Prophet, to be sure, but
their combinations and expressions can vary from master to master
and even within the lifetime of one master. Instead, it would seem that
one of the important functions of Sfism has been to furnish these
elements of the path to its seekers in the right proportions and in
accordance with the needs of each generation.5
To sum up, fsm consists of both esoterism and initiation, haqqah and
tarqah, doctrine and method; the inward dimension of Islam. In other words, there is
no fsm without Islam.

4
5

Burckhardt, An Introduction to Sufi Doctrine, 10.


Ian Richard Netton, Sufi Ritual: The Parallel Universe (Suwey:Curzone Press, 2000), 15.

2.1.2 fsm and Pantheism


One of the most famous f doctrine is the unity of being (wahdat-al-wjud). It has
been translated as pantheism. This is however, incorrect for pantheism as understood
by the West refers to substantial or existential continuity with the Divine Principle.6
Wahdat-al-wjud actually means that everything which exists can only exist
because it is an aspect of Divine Reality, hence an aspect of the Divine Unity itself.
Furthermore, it is, in fact, the intellectual consequence of the Qurns declaration that
Everywhere you turn, there is the Face of Allh.7
Wahdat-al-wjud does see Allh everywhere, but does not reduce Allh to
everything. Allh remains supremely transcendent; even though everything which
arises out of substance everything which exists resembles Him (tashbih), He
resembles nothing but Himself (tanzih).8
In connection with the above, Ibn Arabi has this to say.
None grasps Him save He Himself. None knows Him but
HimselfHe knows Himself by Himself. other-than-He cannot grasp
Him. His impenetrable veil is His own Oneness. Other-than-He does not
cloak Him. His veil is His very existence. He is veiled by His Oneness
in a manner that cannot be explained. Other-than-He does not see Him;
whether prophet, envoy, or perfected saint or angel near unto Him. His
prophet is He Himself. His envoy is He. His message is He. His word is
He. He has sent word of His ipseity by Himself, from Himself to
Himself, without intermediary or causality other than Himself. otherthan-He has no existence and so cannot bring itself to naught9

2.1.3 fsm and Mysticism


Certainly to define fsm as Muslim mysticism is a misnomer. Mysticism to the
Greek Fathers of the early Christian church refers to the knowledge of the

Burckhardt, An Introduction to Sufi Doctrine, 22.


Al-Qurn, Al-Baqarah: 115.
8
Cyril Glasse, 379.
9
Burckhardt, An Introduction to Sufi Doctrine, 23.
7

mysteries. But mysticism is also used to denote religious manifestations which are
strongly marked with individualistic subjectivity and governed by a mentality which
does not look beyond the horizons of exotericism.
Christian contemplatives, follow the way of spiritual love (al-maabbah)
lacking the contemplatives of a purely intellectual order. Again the distinction
between the true mysticism and purely religion mysticism in the Christian world is
unclear.
fsm or Taawwuf includes both the esoteric doctrine and transmission from
one master to another. There is a clear division between esotericism which always
involves a mystical view of things and the exotericism which is related to sharah.
Although a f is identified with the Divine Act, meaning a disposition to
open oneself to the essential Reality (al-haqqah), which transcends discursive
thought and also a possibility of placing oneself intellectually beyond all individual
subjectivity, he still conforms to the revealed Law, the sharah since his individual
human nature will always remain passive in relation to Divine Reality or Truth.10
The goal of the f determines the intellectual horizon and the spiritual means,
permit the contemplative to take up an active position in relation to his own psychic
form. By doing so, the contemplative ceases to be such-and such a person, that is his
empirical I and becomes the Truth on which he has meditated as the Divine Name
which he invokes.
Unlike moralistic conception of virtue, which is quantitative and
individualistic, fsm is based on religious virtues. Its intellectual essence is that of
human images or subjective traces of the universal Truth.

10

Ibid., 21.

The difference between fsm and religious mysticism can be reduced to a


question of doctrine. The religious mysticism the exotericism maintains a
fundamental and irreducible separation between Divinity and himself while f
recognizes the essential unity of all beings, or the unreality of all that appears separate
from Allh.
To arrive at this station of al-haqqah, or to remove veil (hijb) will not be
successful by human effort alone. It requires spiritual means which is initiatic and
are as it were, a prefiguring of the non-human goal of the Way.
Added to this the constant battle between the Spirit (ar-R) and the soul (annafs) to win the heart (al-qalb). By ar-R it is referring to the intellectual principle
which transcends the individual nature, while by an-nafs the psyche, the centrifugal
tendencies of which determine the diffuse and inconstant domain of the I. When the
Spirit gains the victory over the soul, then the heart will be transformed into Spirit and
will at the same time transmute the soul suffusing her with spiritual light. Then too the
heart reveals itself what it really is, that is as the tabernacle (mishkt) of the Divine
Mystery (sirr) in man.11

2.1.4 Knowledge and Love


Sufis identified three words towards Allh: makhfah (the way of fear, or
purification) maabbah (the way of love, or sacrifice and conformity); and
marifah (the way of knowledge).
True knowledge involves not just mental knowledge but also identity between
the knower and the object of knowing. The highest stage is called as the knower by
Allh (Arif bi Llh), whereby it is beyond temporary spiritual states of soul (sing.
11

Ibid.,12-21.

Hl, pl ahwl) but also beyond permanent stage of realization (sing. maqm, pl
maqmt). This is in fact the end of the path, and is perfected, or completely
divested of ignorance.
Marifah knowledge is often translated as gnosis. One aspect of marifah
is self knowledge as understood by the adth: He who knows his soul, knows his
Lord.12 Marifah involves direct metaphysical knowledge, spiritual psychology
(knowledge of the microcosm) and cosmology (knowledge of macrocosm). The
science under discussion does not refer to empirical science, rather the intuitive,
traditional science which understood clearly the supernatural Cause in all effects, and
the trace of the Absolute everywhere.13

2.2

THE DOCTRINAL FOUNDATIONS

2.2.1 The Aspects of Unity


Qurn, revealed to the Prophet Muammad (s.a.w.) is the ultimate source of Islamic
religion. The Sunnah which includes the customs and usage but also the sayings (or
Traditions) of the Prophet (adth, sing. adth) is the secondary source of Muslim
doctrine and practice. Another important type of adth is the adth quds in which
Allh Himself speaks through the mouth of the Prophet. Such sayings, although of
Divine inspiration are distinct from the Qurnic revelation.
The Central Message (rislah) of Islam is the declaration of faith (shahda):
There is no god but Allh; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allh (L ill Llh:
Muhammadur Raslu Llh). All Muslim doctrine, and above all, f doctrine,
derives from shahda.

12
13

Cyril Glasse, 378


Ibid.

10

The Islamic Law or sharah is contains above all the Five Pillars (arkn) of
Islam. These are faith, prayer, fasting, almsgiving and pilgrimage. Faith (mn) is
assent to the shahda. Prayer (salt) is the canonical prayer that is observed five times
daily (at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and night). Fasting (awm) is the abstention
from food and drink from dawn to sunset observed during the month of Ramadn.
Almsgiving (zakt) is the giving of a portion of ones goods for charitable purposes.
Pilgrimage (hajj) is the pilgrimage to Kaba at Mecca which a Muslim should made, if
possible, at least once in a lifetime. fsm adds to the literal dimension of each of the
Five Pillars a metaphysical and spiritual interpretation.
The practice of the religion of Islam involves the believers in the three great
categories of Islam (submission to the revealed law), wmn (faith in the shahda), and
Isn (virtue or sincerity). The following Tradition (adth) was reported by the caliph
Umar:
One day when we were with the Messenger of God there came unto us a
man whose clothes were of exceeding whiteness and whose hair was of
exceeding blackness, nor were there any signs of travel upon him,
although none of us had seen him before. He sat down knee unto knee
opposite the Prophet, upon whose thighs he placed the palms of his
hands, saying: O Muhammad, tell me what is the surrender unto God
(al-Islm). The Prophet answered: The surrender is that thou shouldst
perform the prayer, bestow the alms, fast Ramadn, and make if thou
canst, the pilgrimage to the Holy House. He said: Thou hast spoken
truly and we were amazed that having questioned him, he should
corroborate him. Then he said: Tell me what is faith (imn), and the
Prophet answered: It is that thou shouldst believe in God and His
Angels and His Books and His Apostles and the Last Day, and thou
shouldst believe that no good or evil cometh but by His Providence.
Thou hast spoken truly, he said, and then: Tell me what is excellence
(ihsn). The Prophet answered: It is that thou shouldst worship God as
if thou sawest Him, for if thou seest Him not, verily He seeth thee.
Then the stranger went away, and I stayed there long after he had gone,
until the Prophet said to me: O Umar, knowest thou the questioner,
who he was? I said: God and His Prophet know best, but I know not at

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all. It was Gabriel. Said the Prophet. He came to teach you your
religion. 14
The following of a spiritual way implies the inner illumination of Islam and

wmn by Isn. The f must have an awareness of understanding of the Five Pillars
of Islam (faith, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, pilgrimage) and practicing them in an
inward manner. This is indeed an aspect of the Way itself. alt is not merely a
ritual prayer but alsoan expression of mans slavehood (Ubudiya) towards his Lord
(Rabb),as well as the creatures participation in the song of praise that binds the whole
of creation to the Creator. alt is performed not only by the believers but also by
angels and leads them into the invisible channels along which flow the blessings
(alt) and the peace (salm) of God. Fasting (awm) is a reminder of the utter
dependence of the poor (fuqar) on Him who is rich beyond any need of all the
worlds (ghniyun anil- lamn). Almsgiving (zakt) reminds the f of his
initiatic vow that all his goods and his very life belong only to Allh, and also that he
and his brothers are members of one another. Finally, the pilgrimage (ajj) to the
Kaba in Mecca is the outward symbols of the inward journey to the heart (qalb),
which is the seat of the Intellect (aql) and is the mysterious centre where the Divine
Spirit (ar-R) touches the human soul.15

2.2.2 Creation
Why was the world created? In Islam the mystery of this existence is provided in the
hadith qudsi: I was a hidden treasure, and I wished to be known, so I created the
world.16

14

Translated by Martin Lings. See A Sfi Saint of the Twentieth Century (London: Allan & Uuwia,
1971), 44.
15
William Stoddart, Sufism (Great Britain: The Aquarian Press, 1976), 31-32 and 61-63.
16
Ibid., 48.

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However in Christianity the answer to this question is that Allh created the
world out of love.17
The differences in answering the question of creation between the two religions
can be found in the fact that Christian mysticism tends by and large to be
characterized by the way of love. (mahabba, in Islamic terminology) while Islamic
mysticism (i.e. fsm) comprises both the way of knowledge (marifah) and the
way of love (mahabba).

2.2.3 The Archetypes


Titus Burckhardt sums up the essential features of fsm as follows: Possessing as it
does the dual aspects of wisdom and the love of Allh [Sfism] finds its expression
not only in the mental forms of metaphysics but also in poetry and the visual arts, and
as its essence is communicated most directly in symbols and analogies, it can speak
without hindrance not only to learned believers, but also to the simple man of the
people: the craftsman and the Bedouin; in fact, it may often be received more easily
by the unlearned than by the learned.
Though Islamic mysticism as it persists, down to the present day, may be
compared in many respects with Christian mysticism and in other respects in the
Hindu and Far Eastern mysticism it is nevertheless founded entirely on the
religious form specific to Islam. Its point of departure is tawd, the doctrine of Divine
Unity. If Islamic law demands as the first duty of every believer, that he is a witness
to the Unity of Allh, Islamic mysticism requires that this witness (shahda) should
not merely be a form of lip service, nor even a mental assent, but that it should be,

17

Ibid., 48.

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beyond all reflections and sentiments, a total and immediate act of witness (shahda);
witness such as this means nothing other than knowledge of Allh.
Allh can only be known, however, when the human ego, which instinctively
regards itself as a self-sufficient centre a kind of divinity in addition to the
Divinity is extinguished before the infinitude of Allh, in accordance with the
words: There is no divinity but Allh. This does not mean that the immortal essence
of the soul has to be annihilated; what must be dissolved is that mental morass,
confounded of ego-determined passions and imaginings, the constant tendency of
which is to restrict consciousness to the level of ephemeral appearances. When this
veil of selfishness is lifted from the Spirit which is hidden underneath the Spirit
which sees through to the essence of things then for the first time things are seen as
they really are. Allh is seen in His all-embracing Presence, and the creature as a pure
possibility contained in the Divine Being.
The organ by means of which man takes cognizance of the presence of Allh
is, according to f teaching, not the brain but the heart. As with the Christian
Fathers, the heart is the seat, not of the sentiments, but of the Intellect or Spirit (arR), which penetrates to Reality and transcends mental forms.
Deflected from the true centre of his being, which has its roots in the Eternal,
the consciousness of the average man as if imprisoned in a kind of dream or state of
forgetfulness (ghafla). This is why man must be reminded (of that which he has
forgotten), and this is the reason for what is known as dhikr, which the f must
practise in a large variety of ways, and which means recollection or mindfulness
as well as contemplation and invocation. Dhikr is closely related to the prayer of
the heart of the Hesychasts of Eastern Christianity.

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