Islamic Mysticism

 

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 Islamic Mysticism

ISLAMIC MYSTICISM

by Mohammad Manzoor Nomani

A very special branch of Faith, through which it is carried to perfection, is Ehsan as the Prophet's Traditions describe it, or Tasawwuf, as it is known in common parlance. In plain words, it means the creation of a real, living consciousness of God -- a consciousness so strong and vivid as if one had actually seen Him, sweeping aside every trace of doubt and uncertainty. When this consciousness becomes complete it forges a bond of loyalty with God that fills the heart with His remembrance, His love and an intense awareness of His Might; it becomes the essence, the ruling spirit, of one's existence, of all one's thought and action, in prayer, in morality, in social behaviour, in monetary dealings, and, so forth. All that one does then is inspired, governed and regulated by this all-embracing belief and overpowering realization. One's external life gets completely pervaded by this internal feeling.

Ehsan or Tasawwuf, thus, represents the very pinnacle of Faith. It is the supreme standard of one's spiritual state. One is perfect in his faith [or] not according to the measure with which he is blessed with this wealth. The famous Tradition of the Prophet consisting of the dialogue between Him and the Archangel Gabriel is a pointer in this direction. The manner in which the term Ehsan occurs in it after Iman and Islam testifies to the truth of the assertion that Ehsan marks the ultimate stage in the evolution of Faith.

Briefly, the Tradition says that one day the holy Prophet was sitting with some of the Companions that Gabriel came in, disguised as a traveler from a far-off place. He took his seat close to the Prophet and began to ask him some questions. The first was, "What is Iman (Faith) ?" And, the second, What is Islam?" The Prophet gave suitable replies to his questions. Then he asked, "What is Ehsan ?" The Prophet answered, "Ehsan means to worship God as if one is actually seeing Him or is being seen by Him." (In other; words, the stage of Ehsan is reached when awareness of God becomes the greatest reality [of] one's life and one's every act is performed under a constant sense of His presence for although man cannot see God - it is just not possible in this material world-God does see him all the time). This state of sublimity can exist only when faith has worked itself out to the highest degree and become one's life-breath. It was for the attainment of this state that the Prophet would beg fervently to God. "O God!" he would say, "Let such be my state that I feared Thee and revered Thee as if I was seeing Thee constantly till (at last) my time came and I went up to join Thee,"

This condition is known among the Sufis (Muslim mystics) as Huzoori (presence) and Yad-Dasht (remembrance) and Nisbat (affinity), and when anyone is described by them as Saheb-i-Nishbat it denotes that he has arrived at it in a considerable way. When this state of spirituality is reached, a person gets permanently attuned to God and becomes immune to all kinds of doubts and misgivings concerning His Being. Setting forth his own experience in one of his letters, Hazrat Mujaddid Alf-Sani says: "Acting on the postulate: 'Acknowledge publicly the boons conferred by God,' a Dervish of this (Naqshbandi) school narrates about himself that all doubts and fears have totally disappeared from his heart, so much so that even if he lives for a thousand years like the (Hebrew) Prophet, Nooh 1 even if he himself strives for it for many a long year. As a natural outcome of this all-pervading effulgence of faith, this all engulfing sense of Divine presence all other ties and attachments are merged and lose their identity the one great allegiance to the Almighty, and external acts, such as, love, friendship, enmity and social and business intercourse begin to be gone through and carried out for His sake alone. A Tradition of " the Prophet on the subject of Ehsan tells that "a person whose state may be that when he loves, he loves for the sake of God and when he hates, he hates for the sake of God, and when he gives, he gives for the sake of God, and when he withholds his hand from giving, he withholds it for the sake of God - he has attained perfection in his faith."

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