Accueil English pages Articles written The Contemporary Sufi Heritage of Shaykh Ahmad Ibn Mustafa al-‘Alawī : The Seven Spiritual Stages of the Sufi Path - 7-The Spiritual Station of Oneness (al Tawhīd)
The Contemporary Sufi Heritage of Shaykh Ahmad Ibn Mustafa al-‘Alawī : The Seven Spiritual Stages of the Sufi Path - 7-The Spiritual Station of Oneness (al Tawhīd)
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)
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7-The Spiritual Station of Oneness (al Tawhīd)

Shaykh Abū Madyan started this spiritual station with affirming the fact that when God is manifest no one else remains with Him. Shaykh al-‘Alawī commented on this saying that if God manifested Himself to the Gnostics with His essence and attributes, everything else ought to diminish to nothingness and the only thing that remains for the Gnostic to see is the One. For this reason it is said that when the contingent meets with the everlasting, the contingent dissolves and the everlasting remains. God may manifest Himself to the Gnostic in a way that is inexplicable through words but intellectually understandable. This state is called quashing and annihilation (al sahq wa al mahq).272

Ibn al Fārid referred eloquently to this state in his poem saying:

My mountains were demolished….out of awe from the Manifest
And a concealed secret was revealed… known only by someone like myself

Therefore, nothing stands with God as all else is a mere illusion and for this reasons some Sufis would say: "If I tried to compel myself to see anything save God, I wouldn’t be able to". A Sufi poet said in this regard, 273

You were manifest so no one denies You
Except for a blind who does not see the moon
But you were concealed with your manifestation
Veiling Yourself so how can someone
Concealed with veneration be known?

More importantly, when God manifests Himself to the Gnostic, he finds no one else save Him and God''s manifestation is not preceded with prior concealment as he is the All Manifest (al-zāhir). For Sufis, God''s manifestation refers to the Gnostic''s awareness and feelings of Him. Therefore, reaching God is interpreted to mean reaching the knowledge of God because otherwise when was He ever concealed to become manifest? And where did He go in the first place to return?274

Shaykh Abū Madyan elaborated further on the issue of reaching out to God and defined the essence of reaching for the Gnostic to be immersed in God''s attributes and stripped off his own traits. Shaykh al-‘Alawī explained that the existence of the wayfarer is merely an illusion or pure mirage with no substantial reality. Therefore when God appears to the Gnostic with His essence and attributes, the wayfarer''s traits simply fade away and mount to nothing.

Shaykh Abū Madyan went further explaining the difference between regular eyesight with which creation is seen and between intuition (basīra) with which God can be recognized. Shaykh al-‘Alawī elaborated on the definition of intuition and said that it is sort of a divine light with which one can realize the reality of things. Everything surrounding us has a certain reality that can only be recognized with intuition, as for the eyesight it can only see what lies before it without being able to see through its essential reality. 275

Therefore, intuition does not see or recognize the existence of creation because created beings lack substantial reality and their visibility is limited to the regular eyesight, so they are seen metaphorically. As for the Gnostics they reach a point where their eyesight is folded within their intuition which makes some Gnostics claim that they have seen God with their own eyes. The truth of the matter is that the Gnostics used their intuition instead of their eyesight in an attempt to see creation and they simply realized the reality of creation which mount to nothingness and recognized that the true real existence belongs to God and they mistakenly thought that they saw Him with their eyesight but all they did was seeing God through their intuition.276

Shaykh Abū Madyan in his next aphorism explained how the wayfarer can attain this unique type of intuition with which he can see God. The first condition for the wayfarer is to die and unless he does, he won''t be able to see God. Shaykh al-‘Alawī elaborated on the concept of death in Sufi terms and defined it as denying one''s existence or to cease realizing his own being because the veils of separation between the Creator and the created will not be lifted up as long as the wayfarer recognizes the dual existence of himself with God. Therefore death for the Gnostics mean to ceasee recognizing creation or themselves and this is attainable when God takes them away from all else with no turning back. This real death symbolizes the real life and through it real vision of God is attained.277

Shaykh al-‘Alawī said in this regard: "The Real is not encompassed by vision. It is He that encompasses it [all vision]. How could it encompass Him while He is closer to it than itself? Is it possible for the eye to view the eye?"278

So death metaphorically is a condition for the ability of seeing God and whoever claims seeing God without dying on his own existence is a liar because how can the wayfarer see the One that nothing is unto like him if he still sees the existence of a thing which is himself.279

Shaykh al-‘Alawī said in one of his aphorisms: "Two opposites which can never co-exist: if you are, He is not; and if He is, then you are not. So discard your being, that you may be called to Him."280

Shaykh Abū Madyan in his next aphorism iterated the meaning of death in the Sufi technical language and defined it as isolation from all creation.281 Therefore Shaykh Abū Madyan provided the wayfarer with a divine formula for enjoying an eternal life. This is attained through being totally annihilated from one''s self and immersed in God. Shaykh al-‘Alawī calls this formula the mysterious treasure because the multiplicity of existence is deemed impossible and once the wayfarer establishes the Sole existence of God, he will start recognizing the existence of all else through God. In other words, the establishment of all existents is not coming out of its own self because they amount to nothing. Therefore the whole universe on its own is a mere nothingness because it could not stand alone without the sustenance and providence of its Creator. Once the wayfarer acknowledges the unity of existence, he gets to recognize all existents. 282 This meaning is eloquently reflected in poetry,

You made Yourself manifest in all what You created…and without Your existence, nothing would have existed.

The One real being is not veiled by the existence of anything and His existence is manifest in all else. 283 Shaykh Abū Madyan iterated the concomitant consequences of knowing no one else save God and stated that if the wayfarer recognized the independent existence of anyone, failed to recognize the One. Shaykh al-‘Alawī commented on this by saying that whoever acknowledges the Oneness of God will not associate anything else with Him because He is the Absolute Being. His mentor Shaykh Buzaidī used to say that if the wayfarer had only a lock of hair left stranded outside the Absolute Being i.e. not proven by the wayfarer to owe its existence to God, he remains veiled from God"284

Shaykh Abū Madyan tried to delve into the mysterious treasure of the Real Being (God) in his next aphorism by trying to attach some description to Him. He characterized God as being not connected to anything and not separated from anything. Shaykh Al-‘Alawī added that the divine Oneness refuses all kinds of attachments to it as it is a self independent being. 285

Shaykh Abū Madyan defined God as the All -Knowing and explained that knowledge is never separated from His own essence and was never connected to His essence. In other words as Shaykh al-‘Alawī explained knowledge is attached to God''s essence and gains glorification with the glory of the essence. Therefore, whenever the essence exists, knowledge is its attribute because the essence surrounds its attribute and not vice versa. This means that the attribute cannot encompass or surrounds the true essence of God because it is not confined into a certain space to be surrounded with anything. 286 Therefore nothing can be attached or connected to the essence of God out of absolute glory which leaves no room for confinement. In other words, if anything were to exist with God''s essence, confinement, sides and limits would exist.287

Shaykh Abū Madyan continued saying that whoever takes pleasure in the company of creation, would feel lonely in the presence of God. Shaykh Al-‘Alawī explained further that whoever leans towards people, will be a stranger in the presence of God because opposites can''t be combined. Also whoever looks at existents without seeing God before and after and with them is far apart from Him. The Gnostics only recognize existents because of God''s manifestation in them otherwise they wouldn''t have lifted their eyes up to see any of the existents in the first place.288 Shaykh al-‘Alawī said in this regard in one of his aphorisms: "He who has attained to the truth of Infinite-Self Sufficiency (al-ṣamadāniyya) finds no room for otherness."289

Al-Junayd when he was asked about the Oneness of God, he said that the best definition is the one that was given by Abū Bakr when he said: "Praise be to the One who did not make a way for knowing Him except through inability to know Him." Al-Qushairī commented on that saying that Abū Bakr did not mean that he does not know the answer because inability is the inability of an existent not of inexistent. Same as a crippled person, he is unable to sit down because he is compelled on it with no willingness or prior action. Therefore the Gnostic is unable to define his knowledge of God because it is embodied in him.290

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