Accueil English pages Articles written The Contemporary Sufi Heritage of Shaykh Ahmad Ibn Mustafa al-‘Alawī : The Seven Spiritual Stages of the Sufi Path - 1- The Spiritual Stage of Fear and Vigilant Awareness of God (al-Khashya wa-l- Murāqaba)
The Contemporary Sufi Heritage of Shaykh Ahmad Ibn Mustafa al-‘Alawī : The Seven Spiritual Stages of the Sufi Path - 1- The Spiritual Stage of Fear and Vigilant Awareness of God (al-Khashya wa-l- Murāqaba)
English - Articles written
Écrit par Omneya Nabil Muhammad Ayad   
Jeudi, 22 Mai 2014 00:00
Index de l'article
The Contemporary Sufi Heritage of Shaykh Ahmad Ibn Mustafa al-‘Alawī : The Seven Spiritual Stages of the Sufi Path
Chapter 1 : Introduction
Literature Review
Martin Lings'' Work on Shaykh al-‘Alawī
Thesis purpose
Primary Sources
Historical brief on the French Colonialism in Algeria (1830-1900) and the role of the Sufi orders in Algeria
Brief Biography on Shaykh al-‘Alawī
A comprehensive list of all the written books of Shaykh al-‘Alawī
History of the al-‘Alawī Sufi Order
Chapter Two : The Historical Background of the Sufi Spiritual Stages in Major Works
The History of the Development of the Spiritual Stages in Major Sufi Works
1- The Spiritual Stage of Fear and Vigilant Awareness of God (al-Khashya wa-l- Murāqaba):
2- The Spiritual Station of Satisfaction and Submission (al-Riḍa wa-l- Taslīm)
3- The Spiritual Station of Reliance on God (al-tawakkul)
4- The spiritual station of Poverty (al-Faqr):
5- The spiritual station of Sincerity (al-Ikhlās)
6- The Spiritual Station of Love (Hubb)
7- The Spiritual Station of Oneness (al-Tawhīd)
Chapter 3 : The Sufi Spiritual Stages in the Work of Shaykh al-‘Alawī
1- The Spiritual Stage of Fear and Vigilant Awareness of God (al-Khashya wa-l- Murāqaba)
2-The Spiritual Station of Satisfaction and Submission (al-Rida wa-l- Taslīm)
3-The Spiritual Station of Reliance on God (al-tawakkul)
4-The spiritual station of Poverty (al-Faqr)
5-The spiritual station of Sincerity (Ikhlās)
6-The Spiritual Station of Love (Hubb)
7-The Spiritual Station of Oneness (al Tawhīd)
Toutes les pages

1- The Spiritual Stage of Fear and Vigilant Awareness of God (al-Khashya wa-l- Murāqaba)

The first stage that the wayfarer has to encounter is the stage of al-Khashya wa-l- Murāqaba or fear and vigilant awareness of God. Shaykh al-‘Alawī started this stage by quoting Shaykh Abū Madyan''s aphorism which says: "The Truth (God) perceives the inner thoughts as well as the apparent ones in every breath and state". God''s ability to perceive the inner deep down thoughts and the apparent manifestations alike is due to the truth of His essence which combines both concealment al-butūn and appearance al-ḍhuhūr.

Nothing can hide from God''s knowledge as His knowledge of things is all encompassing and is not preceded with prior ignorance. Therefore nothing in this universe no matter how small it is can go below God''s divine radar as God is closer to things than themselves. In other words God is with every soft being softer than its softness till He became out of eye sight and with every thick thing He is thicker than its thickness.185 Al Shushtarī (d. 668 H.1269 CE)186 echoed the same meaning in poetry as he said:

You appeared so You are not concealed from anyone
And You were concealed so you were not apparent to everyone

Shaykh al-‘Alawī continues that If the wayfarer occupied himself with contemplating over the meanings of God''s superseding knowledge of everything at every moment, his heart will be filled with vigilant awareness which leads him to constant self accountability with every breath he takes.

Therefore, Shaykh al-‘Alawī placed self accountability as a result of contemplation over God''s superseding knowledge. On the contrary, al-Qushairī placed self accountability to be the first step towards attaining vigilant awareness of God but Shaykh al-‘Alawī explained that human beings are heedless by nature so it would be better to shift the focus from one self to God.

The state of constant watchfulness of God yields to the improvement of the relationship with the Divine as the wayfarer favors God in most of his actions over others and this sense of preference is due to the wayfarer''s feeling of God''s constant watchfulness over him. When God sees a heart that favors Him over all else, He takes care of it and guards it against all hardships. This is a state which the wayfarer can only feel as it is a secret between God and him. The degree of this secret differs based on the degree of preference of God in his heart over all else. The beginner in the path for example would favor God''s commandments over anything so he will limit his preference of God to preserving his limbs and apparent senses from wrongdoings. A higher degree of preference is that of Gnostics whose hearts are not occupied with anything save God. These types of hearts are purified from all else so they become an eligible habitat for God to dwell in.187

The Gnostic''s agony only occurs due to the slightest divergence of his heart from the sole witnessing of God. This divergence of the heart is accompanied with the drawing of the veils of connection and the pain of separation from the divine presence which is excruciating for the Gnostics as some Sufi poet recorded saying:188

Torment me with anything You want except driving me away
You will find me the most loyal lover, thrilled with whatever pleases you

The heart is only veiled from God when it leaves its rein to the lower self which subjugates the body''s organs to its lustful demands. The wayfarer is entrapped in the tricks of the lower self when he loosens his tight grip over himself to keep a constant vigilance of God at all times. Therefore, the stronger his constant vigilance of God, the closer he gets to God till he reaches a stage with which the veil of separation is lifted and the constant vigilance yields to its final fruit of direct witnessing of God (al-mushāhadah). Direct witnessing of God is the first stage in the spiritual station of excellence ihsān which was stated by Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him when he said: "worship God as if you see Him, and if you don''t see Him, He sees you". 189 In other words, the wayfarer has to keep remembering that God is watching him all the time190 as it is stated in the Quran: "and He is with you wherever you are".191

Shaykh Abū Madyan in his next aphorism advised the wayfarer to watch God''s vigilant awareness of him not vice versa. Furthermore, being alert to the uninterrupted constant watchfulness of God to one self prevents the wayfarer from getting involved in any wrongdoing or becoming busy with anyone else. It also leads to lifting the veil of separation between the Creator and the created. On the other hand if the wayfarer paid attention to God through the wayfarer''s vigilant awareness of God, the veils of separation will not be removed because the human''s nature is characterized with inadvertence, dereliction and heedlessness. This meaning was mentioned by Shaykh al-Harawī and thus turned our attention to the necessity of getting rid of our vigilant awareness as it is highly associated with our feeling of self existence and acts as an indication of his remaining; a fact which goes against the ultimate aim of the wayfarer which is self annihilation in God.

Shaykh al-‘Alawī elaborated on what Shaykh al-Harawī stated regarding the importance of getting rid of our vigilant awareness. He explained that the wayfarer can be present with God in one moment and heedless in the very next. For the Gnostics they reach a state of perfection which is the state of utter connection with God where they are not heeded away from being in a constant state of vigilance to God. In this state they watch God with their conscious vigilant awareness of Him. When the Gnostics get back to their senses they watch God with His vigilant awareness of them so in all cases they are well preserved from heedlessness. For this reason the Sufis say: "Be with God wherever He is with you".192

Shaykh al-‘Alawī added further that the origin of vigilant awareness of God is fear and the greater the fear the wayfarer has, the closer he gets to his Lord. Veneration does not capture the heart unless it is accompanied with proximity to God which leads to greater fear of God (khashya) and the wayfarer is elevated till he reaches a point of being squashed and vanished in the divine reverence of God. Gnostics believe that fearing God is a grace which deserves thankfulness because it is a sign of love. Fear prevents the wayfarer from falling into heedlessness or sins and encourages him towards goodness and to be watchful of God. Wrongdoing darkens the heart and diminishes the space of light which is created by fearing God. When the wayfarer indulges himself in wrongdoing and allows the lower self to tighten its grip over him, lights are driven away and they hardly ever come back. Therefore the Gnostics are dressed with fear and when they are in the divine presence, they are overwhelmed with a state of modesty and timidity (Hayā). This noble state is called infallibility (al-‘esmah) for prophets and preservation (al-Hefz) for Gnostics. 193

The sense of fearing God dwells in the Gnostic''s heart as the heart is the central commander in chief and the rest of the body is like soldiers who abide by his orders and do not have the audacity to go against the heart''s commands. For this reason the Gnostic would consult his heart before committing any act because of its purity and its containment of God''s secret.194 Shaykh al-‘Alawī advised the wayfarer who seeks proximity to God, to occupy himself with purifying his heart because it is God''s divine dwelling.195

Shaykh Abū Madyan differentiated between two kinds of preservation: the first has to do with preserving the body and the second is concerned with preserving the heart. The preservation of the body is related to safeguarding the body parts from committing sins. The preservation of the heart is attained through abandoning any attachments to others save God. Declaring attachment solely to God entails utter submission to God''s destiny.196
In conclusion Shaykh al-‘Alawī explained what Shaykh al-Harawī briefly stated regarding the stage of Khashya as it combines both longing and awe. Reverence and awe do not depart from the hearts of the Gnostics, the more they feel expansion (bast), the more they feel contraction (qabd) and the closer they feel God''s beauty (al-jamāl), the closer they draw near to God''s majesty (al-jalāl).

Ibn ‘Arabī stated in this regard that in this stage the wayfarers have contradicting feelings as they fear both from the veil of separation and from lifting it alike. Shaykh al-‘Alawī explained the words of Ibn ‘Arabī as the more God makes them feel secure and safe, the more they feel afraid of separation. For this reason although some Gnostics would say that the hardship of religious obligations has been lifted from their shoulder yet we find them the keenest to worship.

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