Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Soul in Islam

Category: SOUND

Each person is a whole entity, a union of mind, body, and soul. Islamic mystics/philosophers recognized this and using the Qur'an as a guideline, tried to map it out.

However, they start from complete scratch. The division isn't simply mind, body, and soul... those things are in there, but they are arranged more according to how they might literally be laid out, rather than simply having the most easiest abstract model to manipulate in your head.

There are three important terms. These are not the different parts, these are three completely different ideas described in the Qur'an. They are the Qalb (heart), the Nafs (Self), and the Ruh (soul).

I'll say it early here, the Ruh, or soul, is the thing encompassing our ideas of mind, body, AND soul... the literal thing. Who we are. And when using that word, it often refers to the highest levels of the Ruh, which has several levels... the lowest of which exist so that we can exist in this reality. So when you look at your hands, you are looking at literally YOU, your soul, in Islam. Perhaps a meaningless part of you, but one nonetheless as long as they are attached to your body.

The Qalb is kind of like the heart of the Ruh. The Ruh is the soul, but I can't use the word soul, because Ruh has a much more extensive definition. Imagine the Ruh as simply a body, and the Qalb as the heart/mind of it. If the Qalb is messed, the Ruh gets sick. We can directly act upon the Qalb which would then have an indirect effect upon the Ruh.

The Sufic goal is to develop a heart that is sincere, loving and compassionate, and to develop the heart's intelligence. This intelligence of the heart is deeper, and more grounded than the rational, abstract intelligence of the mind. It is said that when the 'eyes of the heart' open, one can see beyond the surface appearance of existence, and that when the 'ears of the heart' open, one can hear the reality of the truth behind the words.

-Sheikh Ragip

To do that, read the whole shebang above about Spiritual Intelligence. So while the Qalb concept resembles stuff we already know, it still is not a biological organ. Emotions, Sheikh Ragip says in one article, are not from the Qalb, they are from the Nafs or Self.

The Nafs is the philosophical Self. It can be ruled completely by our base desires or instincts, or be elevated into a really good representation of the deeper truths within (the divine connection of our soul). The Nafs was split into 5 aspects or levels in the Qur'an, but Islamic scholars have expanded those into 7. Going through the levels should be understood as a linear growth.


Level 1 - The Commanding Self (Nafs Al-Ammara)

The remembrance that is appropriate for its treatment is La Illah Illa Allah (There is no god except God). It is the lowest level of the self and the worst. In it is found extreme desire and lust for immortality and sovereignty. Thus it is attached to the worst of characteristics from which we have been warned by Allah and His Prophet. For example self-admiration, arrogance and pride, hardness of the heart, oppression of creatures, love for exposing the faults of others, lying, gossip, back-biting, envy, jealousy, criticism, undeserved self-praise, bitterness, attachment to what belongs to others even if it possesses what is better, lack of contentment, constant complaining, lack of gratitude, blindness to its blessings, wishing for increase without effort, extreme selfishness, greed and covetousness that knows no limit, love of control, and love of self and its desires, hatred for those who criticize it even if it is for its own good and love for those who praise it even if it is in hypocrisy, rejection of advice and counsel, and only talking about itself.

This Commanding Self is generally divided into two levels:

The Animal Self (Nafs Al Hayawaniyyah); this is the self that runs after sensual desires and material possessions without regard for right or wrong, justice or inequity, lawful or unlawful. It is drowned in the pleasures of possessions, sex, and adornments. It is characterized by lewdness, evil, and lack of humanity. It abhors religion and loves itself selfishly. It knows neither fullness, nor humility, nor thankfulness, nor honor, nor manners.

The Satanic Self (Nafs Al Iblissiyyah); is even lower than the Animal Self because its love for itself has taken it to the stage where it competes with Allah in His divinity and lordship. "I am your lord supreme…" as Pharaoh proclaimed, and "I am better than him…" as Iblis contended.

The Commanding Self is the one with the ill heart. If the heart is not healed, the nafs continues in its ways until the heart is blinded and then it is finally sealed.

The root of this level of the self is that it's convinced that it is perfect and that others are flawed and that everyone will die but it will remain immortal. It got its name because of its constant demands and its numerous calls to satisfy its desires. So it demands a thing and before it attains it, it demands another thing and so on without end. The human in this state is the friend and beloved of Satan and the enemy of the Merciful. "Except those upon whom Allah shows mercy."

Level 2 - The Blaming Self (Nafs Al Lawwama)

Its healing remembrance is Allah (God). This is the self in its original state of birth into the world as Allah says, "By the One who brought the self to equilibrium inspiring it with its transgression and its consciousness." (Shams-7:8)

This is the self that has been touched by Allah's Mercy so that when it commits a sin or falls into disobedience, it blames itself and turns to forgiveness and repents to its Sustainer. Then it holds on to obedience until it slips back into sin then it turns to forgiveness and repentance and so on.

It has grasped what the Prophet said, "All humans are prone to sin and the best sinners are those who repent."

It is a self that is in constant fluctuation between obedience and disobedience. One time it is heedless and falls and another it is aware and resists.

This is the natural station which we start from at birth and from there we descend or ascend. Its sign is the fluctuation between the characteristics of the people of this world and the people of the next world. It is not in the same evil condition as the Commanding Self but the two desires of immortality and sovereignty are still active in it although in a much reduced or weakened condition. This is the first stage of salvation for the self and the first step toward its purification and success.

Level 3 - The Inspired Self (Nafs Al Mulhamah)

Its remembrance is Hu (The Divine Pronoun HE). This is the self that has ascended through effort and commitment to its true way from the station of the Blaming Self to the station of the self that is constantly seeking forgiveness and repentance regardless of its guilt or innocence. This is due to its certainty that the root of its attributes is imperfection, fault, weakness and incompletion.

At this level the self is inspired with the early stages of love for good wholesome deeds (Amal Saleh), and for the Quran and Traditions of the Prophet. It is also inspired with love of remembrance (Zhikr) and to seeking forgiveness (Istighfar) and to correcting its intentions (Niyyah) and renewing its repentance (Tawbah).

This is the last level of danger for the self for it is still vulnerable to descending to the lower stages of Blame and Commanding. At this stage the two desires for immortality and sovereignty are dormant except in passing thoughts.

Level 4 - The Secure Self (Nafs Al Muttma'ina)

Its remembrance is Haqq (Truth). It is the self that has ascended to the first station of development and the ladders of light toward intimacy, contentment and love for Allah. Its refinement is attained through increasing commitment and honest and sincere fulfillment of its obligations with respect to the true way in all its aspects particularly with respect to human relationships and conduct before acts of worship as the Prophet said, "The Way (Deen) is in conduct," and, "The best of you in character is the best in faith."

The Secure Self has entered the pathways, methods and means of protection and healing through self-accounting, resistance, striving, and devotion. These efforts bear the fruit of certainty in the truth that Allah alone is the Actor. He is the cause and motivator of everything for there is no god but Him and no Lord but Him. And that Allah in all of his actions is merciful and generous. He knows the best interests of the self. This certainty leads to confidence in Allah. It leads to confidence in His mercy and generosity. The self becomes confident that what is with Allah is better and more enduring than whatever is in its possession or in the possession of others. In this way it reaches complete confidence in its Lord; He is the one who knows what is best for it and He is the best of Sustainers (Rabb) and the best of Trustees (Wakeel). So the self becomes secure and ceases to occupy itself with anything other than what it has reached confidence in, that is its Lord Allah.

The self in this station expands in its capacity beyond efforts and devotions toward repentance. Once it is secure with Allah it occupies itself with additional stations such as hope (Rajaa') and fear (Khawf) and trust in Him (Tawwakul). In this station the Secure Self is in constant remembrance of Allah both on the tongue and in the heart.

"Is it not through remembrance of Allah that hearts become secure?" (Raad-28)

This is the first level of completion (Kamal) of the self. The heart begins to shine with the light of consciousness. The ego's power begins to shrink so that purity, refinement, clarity, and light dominate the heart so that it becomes the Secure Self. In this station the desires of immortality and sovereignty become completely veiled and they are returned to their true owner who is Allah. Now the self begins to show its true attributes that were previously hidden; these are the attributes of servanthood (Ubudiyyah), helplessness ('Ajz), humility (Zhull), poverty (Faqr), need (Ihtiyaj), and annihilation (Fana').

Level 5 - The Content Self (Nafs Al Radiyah)

"Return to your Lord content…" (Fajr-28)

Its remembrance is Hayy (Living). As the Secure Self ascends to its Lord the lights of the heart increase and fill the entire body transforming the sensual desires of the ego to the desire for what the Prophet brought in the Quran and Traditions. Its desires are now solely for these things and it is totally content with its Lord. Now hardship and ease are the same to it as are harm and benefit, and withholding and giving because it has become certain after becoming secure that every action and deed is from Allah alone; He is its Master, Sovereign, and Creator. He is the one who grants it Mercy and Compassion. He is the one who is Tender and Benevolent toward it. Everything that is from its Beloved is accepted by it and it is content with it. It is content with whatever Allah wishes to do with it.

At this level the self's creed is that if it is tried it is patient, and if it is given it is thankful, and if it is deprived it is accepting, and if it is wronged it is forgiving. It has now become the self with a wholesome and sound heart. It fluctuates in all its states between trust (Tawwakul) and relegation (Tafweed), and contentment (Ridah) and surrender (Tassleem) to Allah. The characteristic of this self is constant cheerfulness, gratitude, and thankfulness no matter what happens.

This is the second stage of the Complete Self (Nafs Al Kamilah), which is the station of servanthood. By ascending to this level the Content Self has entered into the first stage of "…the most beautiful station." This station is connected to the station above it.

Level 6 - The Gratified Self (Nafs Al Mardiyyah)

"Return to your Lord Content and Gratified." (Fajr-28)

Its remembrance is Qayyum (Self-Subsistent). At this stage the self is not only content with its Lord it is also gratified by Him.

"Allah is content with them and they are content with Him." (Bayyinah-8)

The Prophet was asked "When shall we attain Allah's contentment with us?" he replied, "When you are content with your Lord."

At this stage the light of the heart is completed. The heart advances from wholesomeness (Qalb Saleem) to a heart that is in total awe (Khashiyah) of Allah, constantly inclined (Muneeb) toward Him, imbued with modesty (Hayaa') toward Him in every condition.

"Whoever is secretly in awe of the Merciful and comes to Him with a sound heart. Enter it in peace! This is the day of immortality. In it they shall have whatever they wish, and with Us is more." (Qaf-33:35)

The folk of this station are the people of witnessing of the manifestations of the actions of the names of Allah (Mushahadat Tajalliyyat Afa'al Allah). Their witnessing in their hearts to the manifestations of Allah's power results in their awe in the face of Allah's greatness and majesty in all of His actions that are essentially the manifestations of His names. The folk of this station are also gifted with unveiling and miracles to enable them to call people to the love of Allah. These miracles are essentially for those who deny and reject the truth but who are at the same time called to Allah. So He sends to them miracles through the folk of this station so that the egos of these people will submit to these miracles and thus return through Allah back to the path of Allah. For when Allah loves one of His servants He seeks Him and calls him to Him. If once called the servant responds then he is brought near otherwise Allah seeks him through trials, or through miracles. For Allah's command must come to be and is utterly irresistible.

This station is the last of the stations of faith (Iman) and through it the self enters the presence of the station of "…the most beautiful station" (Ihsan) which is the goal and desire of the heart of every servant.

Level 7 - The Complete Self (Nafs Al Kamilah)

Also known as the Self of Light (Nafs Al Nuraniyyah), the Muhammadan Self (Nafs Al Muhammadiyyah), and the Loving Self (Nafs Al Muhibbah).

"Allah will bring folk whom He loves and who love Him; they will be humble towards the faithful and stern toward the deniers. They shall strive in the way of Allah and will not fear any blame from the blamers. This is the favor of Allah that He grants whomever He wishes among His servants. Allah is All-Encompassing and All-Knowing." (Maa'idah-54)

"Then follow me and Allah will love you and forgive your sins. Allah is the Forgiving and Merciful." (Al Imran-31)

Its outer remembrance is Qahhar (Compelling) and its inner remembrance is Wadud (Loving). This is the station of the completeness of servanthood to Allah through the completeness of following the teachings of His beloved, Muhammad, peace be upon him. The one who reaches this station is blessed with knowing the complete love of Allah for him and for His Prophet.

This is the Station of Beauty (Maqam Al Ihsan) and it is above all the stations of faith that preceded it. In this station the servant has completely attained the level of "…the most beautiful station." And so enters into the light of His beloved, the Chosen, in the station of "Two bow's lengths or nearer." in the footsteps of the beloved, Muhammad, peace be upon him.

It is the final level in the stations of the self. This station has no end to its ascension and refinement. The people of this station have nothing in their hearts but the love of Allah and His Messenger and those who are loved by Allah and His Messenger. At this level the Completed Self becomes the mirror of the light of the essential Prophetic Muhammadan self so that it attains the complete attributes of love and servanthood. In this station the self enjoys the lights of manifestation of the Attributes and Essence of Allah (Tajaliyat Al Siffat wa Al Zhat Al Illahiyyah) so that it fluctuates in the lights of bliss in all its stations and states. It is an angelic self of light inside human bodies. The truth is that it is selfless; it has no choice and if given a choice it would chose only what Allah loves and is pleased with. If it is asked whether it is receiving or deprived it would not know because love has overpowered it and so it is totally unoccupied with causes. It is annihilated through love (Hubb), fascination (Walah), and passion (Ishq) into the light of the beauty of the essence of the Lord of causes who is its Beloved and Protector. The people of this station are the people of Divine Love and Passion. They are the people who follow the true footsteps of Muhammad.

They are busy with their love and worship of the Truth and are not distracted by creation except to fulfill their obligations. And since they have become a mirror of the Muhammadan light they are constantly in the Prophetic Presence. All their motions, stillness, words, and deeds are from Allah, through Him, to Him. All of their hearts follow the Beloved and Elect, peace be upon him because they have come to know through Allah that he (the Prophet) is the first beloved, the first light that prostrates, worships, and serves Him. Whoever of the lovers obeys him, and loves him, and models his example in character, deeds, and worship, gains the love of Allah.

The likes of these folk are the servants of Allah who have been brought near (Muqarrabun) and have been selected and have gained certainty that their first obligation, after servanthood, is to love Allah and His Messenger. This is while keeping the Law, and upholding its tenets. They are leaders of religious knowledge and they are lights of gnosis in Truth. Through the lights of their hearts the hearts of those around them are illuminated, and through their remembrance mercy descends. They have all they desire and they only desire love of Allah and His Messenger. They do not seek this world, nor are they occupied by the next world. All their concern is intimacy with Allah, to hear from Him, to be near Him for they regard even a moment of separation as torment greater than Hell.

"Truly, the God-conscious ones are in gardens and rivers, in a place of truth in the presence of an Able Sovereign" (Qamar 54:55)


The Ruh is also split into 7 levels. But rather than stages of being like Nafs (our philosophical Self), these are more like stages of actual existence. What really is. Our actual physical/metaphysical self.

The soul or ruh is directly connected with the Divine, even if one is unconscious of that connection. The soul has seven levels or facets of the complete soul. These levels are: mineral, vegetable, animal, personal, human, secret and secret of secret souls. Each level represents the stages of evolution, and the process that it goes through in its growth. The soul is wholistic, and extends to all aspects of the person, ie: the body, the mind and the spirit. Each level of the soul has valuable gifts and strengths, as well as weaknesses. The goal is to develop the strengths and to achieve a balance between these levels, not forgoing the lower ones to focus only on the higher ones.

-Sheikh Ragip


The Mineral Soul

Basically, our tangible existence. Our atomic (matter) selves. Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physics, etc.

The Vegetable Soul

This is related to our anatomy and physiology. This is our 'growing' self. Just like plants simply grow. This is us as we just go about the action of any living creature... self-sustainment and growth (although for humans that also implies emotional/intellectual growth too because of our nature). The Western idea of Behavioral Psychology starts here.

The Animal Soul

Our bodies. The 'body' of 'mind, body, and soul'. Desires, passions, fears, emotions, etc. An unbalance here would be like an emotional unbalance. In traditional Sufi orders, this is the first thing they 'fixed' in their students or mureeds. Ya, Sufis were basically some of the first 'psychologists' who recognized the specificity of these problems (emotional), and utilized techniques to 'heal' them. This 'soul' is the same essence as that of Behavioral Psychology (conditioned functioning) and Ego Psychology (all things Freudian).

The Personal Soul

Our minds. The brain and the nervous system. It allows us to come up with complex reactions to the environment through the use of planning and developing complex models of thought. This includes the the ego and the sense of self. This would correspond roughly to Cognitive Psychology.

The Human Soul

This is basically the Qalb described earlier. Humanistic Psychology parallels this.

The Secret Soul

The inner consciousness. The most deep-rooted sentience within us. It remembers our divine origin and it's inside the Qalb.

"And verily, ye know of the first form of creation. Do ye not remember?"
Qur'an, 56:62

This is what remembers that. The first form of creation, another massive topic on its own but it's when all the souls were created and were made to bear witness.

This is the origin of spiritual values, such as spiritual inspiration and creativity.

The Secret of Secrets Soul

I'm not sure if it's Secret of Secrets or Secret of Secret, but whatever. This is our divine connection. God knows.

These last two (if the last one can even qualify) would be grouped under Transpersonal Psychology.


Each level, or soul, has positive and negative aspects. Negative being when there is unbalance within that level. There must also be a balance between levels.

I also read that the last 3 souls or levels of Ruh can be damaged by substance abuse. Very seriously so. Maybe even irrevocably (the 'heart' can indeed be sealed and completely signed off after a certain point as described in the Qur'an). This means drugs, alcohol, or other chemical addictions that alter your perception and basically ANYTHING that disconnects you from reality, even mood-altering substances. You have to "keep it real". All things spiritual are synonymous with Truth. If reality is ugly, suffer it and you will undergo spiritual growth. We all know that and have heard it repeated in every human culture, civilization, or religion that ever was. Your body is a part of your soul as outlined above. That outline of Ruh shows WHY Spiritual Intelligence as described in the original thread works as it does. You can 'feed' input up through the souls but it HAS to start at the most BASIC levels (physical).


Source: Sheikh Ragip is also known as Dr. Robert Frager, who is a Harvard-trained psychologist and founder of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. The other quotes under Nafs were from a translation of a classic text by Mahmoud Mustafa. Props to Google.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Spiritual Intelligence (Spirituality)

Category: SOUND

(disclaimer: these things are notoriously hard to relate. one thing might make no sense, but one other thing might strike a chord and reveal the entire concept clearly, so its best when relating to offer a variety of approaches. sorry if i can't do that properly here, feel free to ask questions and i'll see if i can't help)

-Spiritual Intelligence

There's IQ, EQ (emotional intelligence), even social intelligence now. But what about Spiritual Intelligence?

First lets mention normal knowledge. There are three sources of knowing:

divine revelation,
rational investigation,
unveiling (percieving through your soul, the Self and all that, knowing from your heart, 'imagination' if you will)

Divine Revelation is the best according to Islamic principle, but we need the other two in order to understand it.

Now, Spiritual Intelligence comprises three things:

1) experience
2) reflection on that experience
3) right practice based on divinely revealed guidelines and inner knowing

The completion of one 'cycle' through these steps results in an increase of spiritually aware perception and even a spiritual knowledge, which then is compounded through the next cycles.


It is best to understand this in the literal form. When we say 'life experience' we mean literally having gone through life a bit. Observation is not experience to us. But when you think about this from a spiritual perspective, it can be misleading. It holds true, an observation is not experience, but in the spiritual realm, even the act of reading a book can be a spiritual experience. It's your soul that's doing the experiencing, not your body or life. However, that's a really esoteric interpretation that doesn't really matter initially. For all intents and purposes, this basically means just any experience you go through. People think of big experiences first, and that's fine.


To truly roll the experience around in your head and understand what happened, and why it happened, and that what happened happened and couldn't have happened any other way. Remove the 'if' and the 'doubt'. You might only remove them from your mind and not your 'heart' because you might still be feeling the 'if's and the 'doubt's.

Right Practice:

This is the important part. Think about it. Just as you experience something for the first step, how do you suppose you would act on or upon your own soul freely? You can't put yourself into experiences because you know you're manufacturing them and it's not the same. This is where right actions and practice come in. The 'Right' implies divinely revealed to Prophet Muhammad(saw). So this is a pretty comprehensive step then. You have to investigate what is truly right, and then act upon it. Approach it as... it doesn't matter if you THINK it's right, it HAS to be right. Even if God is Merciful and may forgive you for mistakes, if you count on that, you forfeit it. So don't count on it. Don't be lazy. Learn the Deen. The basics must be upheld. The basics that everyone already knows. Ritual prayer, fasting, charity, and pilgrimmage (Hajj). And of course, Shahadah, which implies also Aqeedah (doctrine). Your doctrine must be right. The stuff from our world, our existence, can ONLY be translated to our soul in the language of Truth. Anything that is not 'True' will not escape the boundaries of this transient existence and won't make it to your soul. Too much 'untruth' will leave the soul neglected (for which you will be called out eventually). The reason it HAS to be 'right', is because your reflection may be WRONG. But as long as a heartfelt (or brainfelt) attempt at reflection was undertaken, the right practice part will seal the deal. Over time your reflection ability is honed.

These simple principles can be elaborated on in impossibly many different ways. I like the works of Ibn Arabi, who though famous for his really esoteric insights (this dude helped invent the idea of the 'Perfect Man', and fleshed out the ideas of people with 'saint-like' powers, even some principles that we only see today in quantum physics, and a lot of the philosophy that we only saw in Western civilization with Nietzsche and the like so he got into some pretty crazy stuff), wrote perfectly fine and understandable insight on the more 'generally agreed upon' things. Rumi and the other Sufis wrote the same, but Ibn Arabi's language conveys spiritual ideas without having to worry about his language or poetry first. That's why he is so popular in the West for spirituality (whereas Rumi is more reknown in literary circles). Most books on him are written by non-Muslims (mostly Europeans) who incredibly seem to have no problem talking about the Qur'an and Sunnah with such insight that most normal Muslims can't even muster.

I'll use the example of spiritual journeying. Mostly ripping out paragraphs he wrote with some slight interpretations. This stuff can be found on any website or most of the books devoted to him. This is really just the tip of the iceberg.

-Spiritual Journeying

The Hajj aside, the Qur'an uses four words for travel that can be understood in a context of spiritual journey. I once said that you could (and probably would need to) write a book about each single word in there. I wasn't too far off.

1) sara/sayr - God making things move or 'travel'
This is the most general usage. The verses using this root imply the necessity of reflection for have they not "travelled through the Earth?" which is an oft-repeated theme. And observe the patterns of the manifestation of God's Will (punishments in this case) on the people that came before them, which is what you're observing when you travel through the Earth.

Have they not traveled in the Earth, so that they have Hearts
with which they understand or ears with which they hear?!
For it is not the eyes that are blind, but the hearts in the
breasts which are blind!
Surah al-Hajj, 22:46

"Travel through the earth and see what was the end of those before (you): Most of them worshipped others besides Allah."

And here:

"See they not how Allah originates creation, then repeats it: truly that is easy for Allah.
Say: "Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things."

Again, instructing to 'travel' with the goal of seeing/reflection. In this case, like many verses in the Qur'an that have boundless depth and meaning, that also doubles as a travel of its own. A spiritual journey inwards (or rather, upwards) towards the soul and where one can become aware of a Divine 'background noise' of the non-stop manifestations of God's divine attributes or Names. Otherwise known as the nature of reality.


2) safara/safar - travelling towards a particular 'goal'

our conscious goals and intentions

3) salaka/suluk - travelling a path (wrong path)

4) saha/siyaha - 'wandering' and 'solitary devotion'

This is it.

It occurs 3 times in the Qur'an.

"Those that turn (to Allah) in repentance; that serve Him, and praise Him; that wander in devotion to the cause of Allah,: that bow down and prostrate themselves in prayer; that enjoin good and forbid evil; and observe the limit set by Allah;- (These do rejoice). So proclaim the glad tidings to the Believers."

And then specifically to describes the spiritually ideal woman:

"It may be, if he divorced you (all), that Allah will give him in exchange consorts better than you,- who submit (their wills to Allah), who believe, who are devout, who turn to Allah in repentance, who worship (in humility), who travel (for Faith; wander in devotion) and fast,- previously married or virgins."

"So wander in the earth for four months, and know that you all cannot get away from Allah and that Allah will bring disgrace to the unbelievers."

This last one could refer to the specific historical context of the revelation of the verse. But could also suggest an imperative for all human beings. The significance of 4 months could indicate that the first part of the spiritual journey is wandering and is the first stage of three? That discussion's not important here.

The essential principle behind spiritual journeying is in this famous saying:

"...If (My) servant comes close to Me by a hand's breadth, I will approach him by an arm's length; and if he approaches Me by an arm's length, I will come nearer to him by a mile; and if he comes to Me walking, I will come to him running."

Says Ibn Arabi:

"... Now since this proximity (to God) is through traveling and voyaging towards Him, that (comes about) through His Attribute of being The Light (al-nur), so that we might be guided along the path. For as He said (6:97): "He placed the stars for you, so that you might be guided by them in the shadows of the earth"--which is the external journey through the actions of the body--"and of the sea"--which is the inner spiritual journeying through the actions of the soul."

When man begins to understand the world, his first thought will be escape. People will mistakenly at first, associate their desire to be closer to God with a desire to be away from other people. This is because they want to free themselves of the rights that other people have over them, even family. These will start to feel like bonds holding them back.

This means a literal wandering. Famously usually into the wilderness so one can be away from everything.

This eventually is realized to be an illusion. The literal travel itself is an illusion. The real travel is through actions with both the soul and the corporeal form. "There is no power except through God", which emphasizes actions.

Says Ibn Arabi:

"For they are called (by God) to this journeying, and therefore they journey both upard ('uluwwan: or 'on the higher, spiritual planes'), by responding to the Call given through divinely revealed prescription (al-da'wa al-mashru'a, which is the divine command to spiritual responsibility or amr taklifi) and downward, through their responding to the (divine) "existentiating Command" (the amr iradi or takwini). And they do so without knowing (their ultimate destiny and station) until after the divine Will has been fulfilled.

Therefore the traveling of every individual person among the jinn and humans ends up at their station known (by God) (37:164) for which that individual was created--both the blessed and the tormented among them (11:105). But every being except for them is already created in its station (and therefore cannot really be said to "journey" to it)...."

And again, he talks about the solitary wanderers:

"Some of them, or indeed most of them, are unable to keep people from meddling and speaking of what does not concern them. So this burden drove them to avoid people, preferring solitude and isolation from people through spiritual retreats--locking their doors against the intrusion of people. Still others (have sought) isolation through wandering in the mountains and gorges, seashores and canyons. There God relieves and comforts them with His Name the All-Compassionate in various ways of intimate communion with Him that are granted to them by this "Breath of the All-Compassionate" (nafas al-Rahman).

So he causes them to hear the spiritual invocations (dhikr) of the rocks and stones, the murmurs of the rippling waters, the whistling of the stormy winds, the conversations of the birds, the praises and glorifications of each community among the creatures, and their greetings and conversations among them. Thus these wanderers do find companionship with (those creatures), instead of their (original) loneliness, and they return to community and other creatures."

He even went on to warn those starting off to avoid even the company of wild animals if God should make them talk to you, and stick to focusing on dhikr in their hearts.

A person has to understand God's rahma (Loving Compassion), not through taqlid (outward belief), but through dhawq (tasting). "Painfully and slowly acquired through life's revealing trials and situations of spiritual testing."

The Revealed Pathway

The Pathway meaning that which helps draw and guide along the believer during the beginning of the quest. It could be literally a path, a path of events, or even a person (i.e, spiritual guide).

"Every soul desires the pilgrimage to God, which is seeing and reflecting on the inner awareness of God that comes from direct witnessing (shuhud). But can the murid, the spiritual seeker, set out on that Pilgrimage by himself? Or can he only set out with the aid of a guide (murshid), which is either a comprehensive intelligence... or knowledge of the revealed Pathway (shar', in its root sense)? The right answer is that this seeker must be either "desired and pulled" (directly by God: murad majdhub), in which case it is the divine Grace and providential Caring ('inaya) that accompanies the seeker, so that he does not need a human guide--which is extraordinarily rare. Or if the seeker is not drawn directly by God, then he must necessarily set out with the help of a guide, which is either his intellect or the revealed Pathway."

He (Ibn Arabi) says that even the most perfect human intellect can only lead a person initially to the first stage which is to recognize the shar', or the Pathway. This recognition is spiritual and an inner confirmation of the truth of it. The shar' leads them then to a confirmation of ithbat al-Haqq, the Truly Real, or basically a broader spiritual awakening.

This is also notable because these passages came out of the chapter where he was addressing the legal question of a woman 'pilgrim' needs a male guardian or family companion. This is notable because nearly all of his writing is in this form. It starts with a discussion of Islamic fiqh (law), in which he was very well versed (probably the level of a major Mufti today), and all of his answers end with spirituality. This principle, this idea of a spiritual side to the Shariah has been lost. It's the reason why Islamic Law or fiqh was so important back in the day. The law is from God, so in it, there is divine wisdom and room to explore. It was the inspiration for spirituality and all the progress in academic/scientific research/exploration by the Muslims of the day. Simply the law. And as he later goes on to say, what motivates the pilgrim to start the journey also affects upon him spiritually until he awakens in the divine Presence. Meaning the loss of Islamic scholarship, especially with regards to fiqh, is not unrelated to the sad spiritual state of the Ummah as a whole. Shariah is a joke nowadays. I'm almost embarassed that we use the same word to describe it today as what it really was back in the time of men like Ibn Arabi.

In another case, when confronting the legal issue of shortening prayers when travelling, he comes up with some stuff about all beings and entities "coming back to God". He mentions that a traveller who is in a state of sin can only be classified as disobedient if he had faith to disobey. And by having this faith, he is in fact, obedient. Ya, that's hard to wrap your head around, but it basically says if you recognize truth it's made easier for you to not slip out of it. A Mercy from God.

Spiritual Knowing

Ibn Arabi does not say that one must become a religious scholar well-versed in fiqh in order to undertake this spiritual journey or to understand the true nature of the Deen, or to 'know' the Deen. Not at all.

"The only thing really required is to "act in accordance with the real meaning and intention of the revelations, which is a 'knowing' of an entirely different order."

For instance, a quote by an older Sufi that has the potential to be misinterpreted goes: "this knowing of ours is limited by the Book and the Sunna!" (al-Junayd). How Ibn Arabi interprets it is that "this saying means that (spiritual knowing) is the result of the divinely prescribed action--by which Junayd meant to distinguish it from what is arrived at by those who rely on their intellects."

I cannot emphasize the importance of that enough. In that is the key to many, many, things. "Inspired knowing flowing directly from the spiritually appropriate actions." Do you know what this is? This is the end of doubt and confusion, the kind that we suffer from deep within.

Before I end off here (this could go on for literally volumes... for such a small collection of words (the Qur'an and Sunnah), these men wrote libraries of insight and experience), he also mentioned that this 'spiritual knowing' defeats doubt and defeats 'chance'. Spiritual knowing implies Spiritual which implies your Spirit. Your soul. Your soul is not of this world, though it is inexorably attached to your corporeal form. It is exposed to the divine Spirit and can be influenced by It. Meaning insights and knowledge can be picked up at ever-increasing paces once the 'Soul' is awakened, and these come to people in the here and now suddenly as insights or through whatever means. God could reveal even to people, the sins they commit, before they commit them. He describes a possible exchange between Allah(swa) and Iblis (Shaitan) whereby Allah(swa) asks him why he refused to bow down. Iblis 'says' because Allah(swa) did not really want him to. Then Allah(swa) 'asks' when was this, before or after you refused? And Iblis says after. And Allah(swa) says that He only punished him because of that. This is a kind of a muse from Ibn Arabi in order to illustrate this principle that he experienced.


The world or existence flows from one state to another non-stop, as our existence 'ascends' towards God. And God 'descends' towards our existence in the form of the states which are the 'descending' self-expressions of God. The world is lost and regained at every moment as God self-manifests Himself (His divine attributes or Names) in the form of the Divine archetypes (potentialities for the essences of all things, fixed before time). Imagine it like a kaleidoscope-kind of effect. These archetypes or 'potential states of things' manifest themselves first as infinite possibilities in our existence, which then become actual creation (al-khalq-ul-jadid), which then breaks into the next cycle.

Qadar is God's predestination for things. The time for when things occur, or creation exists or becomes it's archetypal state as described above.

According to the book Sufism and Taoism, by Toshihiko Izutsu (California 1983):

"... Ibn Arabi remarks that 'the mystery of qadar is one of the highest knowledges, which God grants only to (a small number of) men who are privileged with a perfect mystical intuition'. If a man happens to obain the true knowldege of qadar, the knowledge surely brings him a perfect peace of mind and an intolerable pain at the same time.

The unusual peace of mind arises from the consciousness that everything in the world occurs as it has been determined from eternity. ... Instead of struggling in vain for obtaining what is not in his capacity, he will be happy ...

He must be tormented, on the other hand, by an intense pain at the sight of all the so-called 'injustices', 'evils', and 'sufferings' that reign rampant around him, being keenly conscious that it is not in his 'preparedness' to remove them from the world. ...".

So, from the Divine to us it's 'wujudiya', or an ontological cycle of Divine self-manifestations:

God (Ultimate Unity, ahadiya) -> His Oneness (wahidya, His Divine Names or Attributes) -> fixed archetypes (thabita) ->

[ (all possible things (mumkinat) correlates with all the universes in the Multiverse or the worlds of the Many-Worlds idea in quantum mechanics/physics... basically the infinite, and the border of our reality...) -> in this mess, God's qada or judgements, corresponding to the fixed archetypes are 'made', which corresponds to a quantum decoherence of a superposition of possibilities or which world of the many-worlds comes about (multiple states existing at once resolving itself into one state) -> qadar (the outcome of the judgement, the new creation) ]

<-> al-khalq-ul-jadid (the new existence created at the occurrence of any event, a.k.a. branching of the Worlds from the Many-Worlds theory... the constantly moving/shifting reality which we inhabit)

FOOTNOTE #2 (Misc quotes)

"a spiritual 'knower' ... (arif) ... Perfect man ... can, if he likes, affect any object by ... concentrating all his spiritual energy upon it; he can even bring into existence a thing which is not actually existent ... This extraordinary power is known as himmah, meaning a concentrated spiritual energy ... [an] object ... created by himmah continues to exist only so long as the himmah maintains it ... In brief, a 'knower' is ... endowed with the power of taskhir ...[Ibn Arabi says]... A true "knowledge" does not allow himmah to be freely exercised. And the higher the knowledge, the less possibility there is for a free exercise of himmah ...
... even the most perfect of all Apostles (akmal al-rusul), Muhammad(saw), did not exercise himmah ... For, being the highest 'knower', he knew better than anybody else that 'miracles' were, in truth, ineffective ..."

"I shall answer your question, O noble friend and intimate companion,
concerning the Journey to the Lord of Power (may He be exalted) and
the arrival in His presence and the return, through Him, from Him
to His Creation, without separation."

FOOTNOTE #3 (love and Satan-consciousness)

I'm throwing this in, because it is related fundamentally to everything else which is related to everything else. And I'm saying this, because if it appears that it is not, you aren't getting it quite yet. This is something everyone can easily understand talking about.

I'll forego with an intellectual definition of it (though it exists). Love and Will are divine things that we have lousy images of. God's Love, and God's Will > *.

Love and will move together and not against one another. You can't love against will, because your will will refuse to fight it. Love makes your will betray you. If you can will against love, then that's a strike on that love's 'trueness' although that only ultimately applies when talking about love for God. Love for worldy things takes priority, will motivated by God that strikes against your love for um... junk food... is fine. Will motivated even by a parent that might strike against your love for a person is also 'fine'. (That makes the parents and the whole context of their decision a factor too).

Ok, so. Love is almost like surrendering will. When Sufis say they LOVE God, they are basically saying they are Muslims (who submit their wills), but they are so God-conscious they had no choice but to submit their wills which makes it essentially... "surrendering" your will. This is suggesting that God took away their Free Will (freedom to err) like as some sort of personal help to them. Thus, they call God their 'Beloved' and other things, and this usage becomes applicable because they are still talking on a basic doctrinal sense (i.e, submitting of the will).

The 'little love' is made of the same stuff, and modelled on the same structure. You all know how it is, when you 'love' something, you have trouble pulling away. Your willpower's sapped, etc. etc. But here's where it can help to understand the little love in order to master the larger, and vice-versa. For instance, take negative emotions like anger, bitterness, whatever. And say these things are pulling you away from a 'pure' feeling of love. Now this is common here as basically self-defense. Looking out for #1. If someone is slighted, they'll get angry. But really, where is this emotion from? It sure as hell isn't from love. Love for self? That's useless. Pure love, all of it, comes from God and back to Him. Basically, you can think of it as a doubt or whisper from... ya. None other than the devil (Satan).

This might be weird. But think about it. There are 3 entities you MUST be conscious of. Your Self, God, and Satan. Satan can get into your head. From my quotes:

With intelligence comes the need for not just responsibility [as a power], but also personal vigilance [as a vulnerability]. Vigilance against the exploitation of Satan, whose whispers are in the language of logic and rationalization.

"Satan circulates in the human mind as blood circulates in it"

You have to 'clean' out your feelings in order to get a good look at what it (love) really is. Then you can apply it better and focus in on it better, especially when it comes to God. Anger, for instance, is a selfish act. Not selfless. Selfless = spiritual growth. Selfish = nothing, maybe even stunting your spiritual growth. And there is no limit to these within the context of divinely revealed prescription. When you get angry, your brain's doing it for YOU. When you recognize this, you should learn to drop the emotion suddenly because hey... that's not from anything good, not from you. Other things like bitterness, doubt, confusion, whatever are also similar.

So that's unadulterated love. But how does love get going and keep going? Like I said earlier, love takes over and employs will in its service. A spiritually conscious will can be the most powerful progenitor of a purified love. Your character is the shadow of your soul in your corporeal form. Character is sticking to worthy decisions even after the emotions of making them have passed. Basically, it's Free Will. By using all the spiritual intelligence stuff above, your Will is empowered and enlightened and can be a powerful tool to sustain Love. Really, unless you have control of your soul, you don't know how to love. And if you don't know how to love, you just can't do it right. Loving then, becomes an unconscious action of a conscious Soul. Ugh, I don't want to reduce this into the 'little' love again (anything not for God), but take an Islamic marriage (an ideal marriage in an ideal society in an ideal time). The bride and groom have had zero contact. Sure, they can choose to fuck it up (even unconsciously choose, if they were corrupted by a society). But they won't. You can go through the scenario in your head and figure out how the emotions play out and how Will is a factor. That 'but they won't' holds in it, the secret of Qadar (predestination) and how it plays out with Free Will. It also holds in it, the power of the arif, the perfect man, or 'super'man (Prophet Muhammad(saw) being the highest station). The same Ibn Sina who wrote the first medical textbook used for centuries in the Islamic and Western world believed in saints with the same conviction. These 'phenomena' would natural precipitate out of the correct atmosphere, of which Shariah/Fiqh/etc. was a huge part (basically the Sunnah).

As Allama Iqbal used to philosophize... change who you are, and your destiny (the written 'unchangeable' thing) also changes. Because it never really 'changed' at all. It was always the destiny for THAT person. (This also means time is removed as a factor, since you need 'time' for something to actually change and God is timeless).

To summarize this entire thing into ONE line... meaning if you took this ONE line, you could then deduce EVERYTHING above and much more... turn your hearts towards the Qur'an and Sunnah.