One of the stages in Sufism is known as fana fi ‘l-shaikh (“the passing away of the self in the master”). Some of those who travel the Path become so thoroughly attracted (majzub) to the master by the perfection of their iradah or love (‘ishq) that they become annihilated in the being of the master, and in everyone and everything they see only him. It is at such a point that themorid (disciple) is said to have reached the station of fana fi ‘l-shaikh. Many of the great sufis attained this station, the most outstanding of whom was Rumi:. It was in the station of being totally attracted to his master, Shams-i Tabrizi, that Rumi declared:
My shaikh, my morad/ My affliction, my remedy!
Let me divulge the secret:
My Sun (Shams), my God!
Until thou gazest at me, I am bewildered by Love
For thou art the king of the two worlds:
My Sun, my God!
I will become extinguished before Thee
so that no trace of me remains;
Such is the requirement of decorum:
My Sun, my God!
Ghazaliyat-i Shams-i Tabrizi
It should be noted here, though, that fana fi ‘l-shaikh is but a preparatory step for the station of fanafi’llah (“passing away of the self in God”).
Self-Love and Iradah
As indicated above, the seeker must be both mentally and physically mature and healthy in order to be qualified as a novice on the Path and as one who can put his iradah into practice.
The first effect of iradah upon the disciple is that his attention is turned away from the world and its affairs and becomes focused solely upon the master. Thus, the first step that a novice takes with the help of iradah is that he becomes free from selflove as his attention is directed towards the master. For those who are deeply entangled in self-love and self-adoration, however, not only will this initial step be impossible, but iradah will have a negative effect. In fact, this entanglement will eventually become a great hindrance in the development of genuine iradah and consequently to the attainment of the final goal of the Path. As Hafiz has put it:
Going to the door of the Tavern
is the work of those who are spiritually integrated.
Those who boast of their own worth
are not given entrance to the quarters of the wine-merchants.
In terms of a patient’s relationship with his analyst and the transference phenomenon, Freud concluded much the same thing:
Experience shows that persons suffering from narcissistic neurosis have no capacity for transference, or only insufficient remnants of it. They turn from the physician, not in hostility, but in indifference.
Morid and Morad
Just as the morad (master) is the manifestation of the Divine Name al-Morad, so is the morid (disciple) the manifestation of the Divine Name al-Morid. Since both morid and morad are manifestations of Divine Names, the object of worship in iradah is in fact God and not an individual person. Iradah is then, in essence, a divine relationship between two attributes of God, the personal and material aspects of the relationship between master and disciple being irrelevant.
Aquired Knowledge (Ilm-i Husuli) and “Presential” Knowledge (Ilm-i Huduri)
As noted above, the patticular intellect is formed as a result of acquiring knowledge in the sensible world. Not only do the sufis renounce this kind of intellect , but they consider the knowledge acquired by it to be the greatest hindrance in understanding the Truth. This is the significance of the saying, “knowledge is the greatest veil (to the Truth).” In other words , the sufis reject all knowledge not connected with Love and approve only the knowledge of the heart, knowledge which is “presential” (beyond the distinction between subject and object). As has been said, “knowledge is a light which God casts into the heart of whomsoever He Will.” From the perspective of the sufis, acquired knowledge only increases one’s self-love and egotism and consequently separates one further from an understanding of the Truth.
The sufi’s book is not (composed of) ink and letters;
it is nought but a heart as white as snow.
The scholar’s provision is pen-marks (written letters and words);
what is the sufi ‘s provision? Footmarks.
Rumi, Mathnawi (Vol. IV, p. 366)
- A Comparison Between Sufism and Psychoanalysis (1) by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh (mycaravanofdreams.com)
- A Comparison Between Sufism and Psychoanalysis (2) by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh (mycaravanofdreams.com)
- Sufi Practices of Remembrance, Contemplation, Meditation, and Self examination (mycaravanofdreams.com)
- Who is a Sufi by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh (mycaravanofdreams.com)
- Must sufis live without wealth? – By Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh (mycaravanofdreams.com)
- Do sufis dance as part of their practice? (mycaravanofdreams.com)
- How Many Sufis Are There in Islam? by Stephen Schwartz (mycaravanofdreams.com)