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On The Chess Game

Of The Gnostics
(Sufi Snakes And Ladders)
Muhammad Ibn

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The Stages of the Journey of the Servant of Allah

1. Al-'Adam: Non-existence

The possible which accepts possible existence. It is that to whose existence the knowledge
of Allah is connected. Thus it exists in knowledge, but its source is non-existent because it
is achieved by the Maker and is one of the effects of His power. Its existence and non-
existence are the same because it is one of possibilities which will accept existence. This
existence can move from non-existence to possible existence. That is subject to the power of
Allah by which He makes it emerge into existence by bringing it out from possible non-
existence to possible existence because Power and Will are only connected to possibles.

As for essential necessary non-existence of what is other than Allah logically and by
transmission, it is not possible for the person to emerge from it because it is the opposite of
necessary essential existence which belongs to Allah Almighty logically and by
transmission. Only Allah is described by this existence, and it is not possible for any other
to share in it or even catch a whiff of it. This moves him to the second stage through which
the servant of Allah passes in the journey to Allah by way of Divine Power which is:

2. Wilada al-Wujud: the Birth of Existence

Either by pure Divine Power, like our father Adam and the spirits and the angels or by
wisdom through parents as is the norm. This moves him to the third stage on the Path to
Allah by His Power. It is:

3. Bab ar-Rida: The Gate of Assent and Contentment

In this world. So the person is predisposed to satisfaction. This is why all that he sees
pleases him and he loves it. It is his first connection to this existence and then this propels
him to the fourth stage:

4. Shahwa: Appetite

Animal appetite which pushes the person towards the fifth stage:

5. Madhalla: Abasement

He subjugates his desires to the aim of obtaining and gratifying his appetites. He continues
to abase himself until he reaches the sixth stage:

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6. Under the Earth (Taht ath-Thara)

This alludes to reaching the utter limit of abasement. When he can go no further, that moves
him to the next stage:

7. Jahala: Ignorance

Then ignorance and causing harm to people appears in him. He treats people by returning
like for like, as a young man becomes involved with tit for tat retaliation. Then he is forced
to conceal this tendency and to wait for an opportunity to retaliate. That moves him to the
eighth stage:

8. Hiqd: Malice

He feels malice and resentment towards all who harm him because of his ignorance. When
he has sufficient power to do so, that moves him to the ninth stage:

9. Bad Actions

Bad actions emerge from him like abusing and harming people. This is because when
someone conceals a secret inside him, Allah garbs him in it outwardly. The appearance of
these bad actions moves him to the tenth stage:

10. Mihna: Trial

He falls into trials like prison, beatings, exile, poverty, and demeanment in people's
estimation of him. Falling into this trial moves him to the next stage:

11. Lack of Adab (Qillat al-Adab)

So he has little adab or proper courtesy and modesty and shame before creatures. He
behaves badly towards Allah and with all of Allah's creation. He is completely unaware of
the consequences of his actions and so the hooks of bad actions catch him and pull him
down from the stage of lack of adab and he falls two stages down to bad actions from which
he looks at trial yet again.

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If he takes note of what happened to him he will race through the trial without stopping for a
second and he will also race through lack of adab out of the fear of the hooks it contains.
"The believer is not bitten from the same hole twice." Fortunate is the one who is warned by
someone else and takes note, and wretched is one who must be admonished through what
happens to himself.

That moves him to the next stage.

12. Khiyana: Treachery

He betrays Allah and the Messenger and betrays the trust. Allah Almighty says, "O you who
believe! Do not betray Allah and His Messenger, and do not knowingly betray your trusts,"
(8:27) and Allah says, "Allah most surely does not guide the deviousness of the
dishonourable." (12:52) That moves him to to next stage.

13. Blameworthy Actions

Those actions which the Shari'a considers blameworthy and which are neither manly nor
chivalrous. He makes a public display of actions which involve disobeying Allah, but which
do not harm people, like drinking wine when its bad effect is confined to himself. That
moves him to Hellfire.

14. Jahannam: Hellfire

It is the Fire of Anger. Al-Hakim transmitted that the Prophet said, "Anger is a brand from
the Fire of Jahannam which Allah places in the heart of one of you. Do you not see that
when someone is angry, his eye becomes red, his face darkens and his veins puff out?" At-
Tirmidhi reported, "The Fire has a gate which is only entered by the one who who will only
be healed of his anger by the wrath of Allah." Ahmad and Abu Dawud transmitted: "Anger
is from Shaytan and shaytan was created from Fire. Water puts out fire. When one of you is
angry, he should perform wudu'." At-Tabarani reported, "If one of you were to say when he
is angry, 'We seek refuge with Allah from the Accursed Shaytan, his anger would leave
him." Abu Hurayra said, "A man said to the Prophet, 'Advise me.' He said, 'Do not get
angry.' He repeated the question several times and the Prophet said, 'Do not get angry.'" (al-

The prohibition against it is the prohibition against acting according to it. It is reported,
"Shaytan says, 'When a man is sharp-tongued, we toss him between us like children play
with a ball. Even if the dead were to be brought back to life by his prayer, we still would not
despair of him. He builds and we destroy in a single word."

That leads him to despair of the mercy of Allah and that pushes him to the Prohibitions.

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15. Prohibitions: al-Mahani

He commits all prohibited things without exception and persists in doing that, thinking that
Allah will not accept his repentance nor grant it. This continues until the appetite of his
lower self is broken and crushed. At that point he becomes bewildered and that moves him
to: the great sea (al-bahr al-'adhim)

16. The Great Sea (al-Bahr al-'Adhim)

One text calls it "Anger", which means the same. He is both angry and confused, and
becomes like someone who is drowning in an immense ocean, uncertain and confused as to
how he can deliver himself from his plight. He reflects on what he did in the past and that
moves him to:

17. Hasra: Regret

He is sorrowful and full of regret for what has been denied him in his moments. If his
sorrow and regret for what he has been denied causes him to undertake the means to achieve
that, that is the sorrow of the truthful about which Abu 'Ali ad-Daqqaq said, "The one with
sorrow achieves in a month what someone else cannot achieve in years." If he does not
undertake the means to achieve it, that is the sorrow of the liars.

If his regret and sorrow for what he missed makes him set out to obtain what he can of it,
that is the sorrow of the truthful. If he does not set out to obtain it, that is the sorrow of the
liars. Rabi'a al-'Adawiyya heard a man exclaim. "My sorrow!" She said to him, "Say: 'How
little is sorrow!' If your sorrow were real, you would not be able to breathe."

Sorrow over for lost opportunities to obey Allah while you do not undertake those actions to
it is a sign of self-delusion. When his sorrow is the sorrow of the liar, that does not help
him. Instead it moves him to bad character.

18. Bad character

One text calls this stage "Attack" (ta'n). They mean the same. His breast is constricted and
his character bad. Some of his friends censure him by saying things like, "Why do we see
you behaving badly with everyone?" He needs to conceal that from them, cover up his
condition, and avert their criticism. That moves him to hypocrisy.

19. Nifaq: Hypocrisy

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Linguistic hypocrisy it is when a person's outward differs from his inward. It is more
general that hypocrisy in the Shari'a. This is why Shaytan confuses him by saying, "This is
hypocrisy in the Shari'a, in either action or belief. That moves him to Whispering.

20. Waswas: Whispering

One text calls this stage "Taqwa" (Fearful Awareness of Allah), and they go together
because whispering only comes from being deep in taqwa so that he sees his incapacity and
his shortcoming in it. So he is overpowered inwardly by majesty and force whose effect
appears as contraction, and contraction moves a person towards expansion because they are
opposites which follow one another in man, like night and day. Whispering occurs about
worship, and the One worshipped and worshippers. That can lead to madness and complete
loss of sanity.

When Divine Concern touches him when things are hard for him and he is constricted,
Allah inspires him to return to Allah and to flee from everything as He says, "Flee to Allah"
(51:50) or distraction inspires him and he is diverted from the whispering by sitting with
cheerful brothers and by joy and expansion. This moves him to love of expansion and to
incline to it since he experiences rest in it from the attack of the Manifest Enemy (Shaytan).

Thus the result of contraction is that he looks at other and neglects the Master. The people
of joy only witness joy. That is why the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace,
said, "If anyone is afflicted by a worry or sorrow, he should say, 'Allah! Allah!,' and not
associate anything with Him, and Allah will remove his worry and sorrow." That moves
him to expansion.

21. Bast: Expansion

One text has "Intoxication". They mean the same. It is when the joy, happiness and
expansion of the heart obliges movement and expansion. It is the opposite of contraction.
Ibn 'Ajiba mentioned that one of the Sufis said, "Stand on the carpet (bisat) and beware of
expansiveness (inbisat)." Ibn 'Ajiba also says:

Expansion has adab (correct behaviour). When you do not observe this,
your feet slip and your heart will follow

Its adab consists of humility, esteem, and great respect for blessing,
and restraining the wayward tongue.

When the murid senses expansion, he should place the reins of silence on himself and adorn
himself with tranquillity and gravity. He should enter his retreat and stay in his house and
mention Allah often. Abu Madyan al-Ghawth said in his Hikam, "When Allah desires good
for His servant, He makes him at home with His dhikr and gives him success in being
thankful to Him." He said, "Whoever is at home with creatures is alienated from the Truly
Real. It is through negligence that appetites are obtained. We say that being at home with
creatures indicates alienation from Allah because they either make you neglect obeying
Allah or they open for you the door of desire and acts of disobedience.

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Whoever does not observe the adab of expansion is moved on to Desire:

22. Tama': Desire

Desire for creation. Desire here means to seek the thing without adopting the means to
acquire it. The one who does that in respect of Allah is blameworthy and is described as
stupid. So how much more so it is in the case of someone who desires creatures who are
described with poverty, powerlessness, abasement and death! Abu Bakr al-Warraq said,"If
desire were to be asked, 'Who is your father?' it would say, 'Doubt about what is decreed.' If
it were to be asked, 'What is your profession?' it would reply, 'Earning abasement.' If it were
to be asked, 'What is your end?' it would reply, 'Deprival.' So his desire for creation obliged
him to love them and have passion for them. Ibn 'Ata' says in the Hikam::

"You are free when you despair of it.

You are a slave when you are eager for it."

That moves him to Metaphorical Passion:

23. al-'Ishq al-Majazi: Metaphorical Passion

He becomes passionately in love with beauty and good in creation. When metaphorical
passion becomes firm in his heart, that elevates him to Real Passion and he jumps through
twenty-one stages in a single step, or in his ascent he passes over an end of the Sought
Object of Desire and Powerlessness and ends up in Real Passion. If he becomes fixed in
Metaphorical Passion, that moves him on to the Sea:

24. The Sea (al-Bahr)

This alludes to confusion. He is drowning in the sea of bewilderment, confused about how
to reach the object of his passion. This sea is immense in his eyes and its waves are crashing
together. He seeks deliverance from it. Since he is a land animal who only lives on land,
part of his nature is to incline to the land and the land attracts him. The land of the sea is its
bottom and so the sea wants to bring him down to its land, therefore fear of drowning and
destruction in the sea cause him to flee and to cling to whatever means he has to hand to
save himself from drowning and to reach dry land alive because the sea will not convey him
to dry land until he suffocates and his spirit leaves his body. That is why he flees to the

25. Ard: Earth, Land

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Dry land. When he reaches it alive, wild animals, insects and hornets comesto him as it is
their custom to come to eat every corpse cast up onto land by the sea. He defends himself
with whatever strength he has and they go off some distance to wait for him to die or go to
sleep. That moves him to Fear:

26. Khawf: Fear

Fear of them. Then an unseen voice says to him, "Do not fear them. Fear Me if you are
believers," i.e. I am with you wherever you are. That moves him to Fearfulness.

7. Khashya: Fearfulness

This is fear of Allah. One text calls it "Alienation", meaning alienation from what is other
than Allah. He fears Allah and flees to him from everything and that moves him to the

28. al-A'raf: The Ramparts

It is the wall between the Garden and its Fire. Its people are men who see both the People of
the Garden and the People of the Fire and recognise each group by their marks. That leads
to him Calling on the Real:

29. Calling on the Real

In one text, "Releasing the Tongue". When Allah wants to give to His slave, He releases his
tongue with supplication and he hears the words of the Almighty, "Call on Me and I will
answer you." (40:60) He calls on the Real, i.e. asks Him to save him from the disgrace of
this world and the punishment of the Next World and to let him enter the Garden, or He
calls on Him as the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did: "O Allah, I ask
You for all good, sooner and later, what I know of it and what I do not know. I seek refuge
with You from all evil, sooner or later, what I know of it and what I do not know. I ask for
the Garden and what will bring me near to it in word and deed, and I seek refuge from the
Fire and what will bring me near to it in word and deed," or like the words of the Prophet,
"O Allah, protect me from the Fire," "O Allah, admit us into the Garden."

Allah calls him to the path of the Garden and keeping the company of its people as He says,
"O you who believe, fear Allah and be with the truthful." (9:119)

If he looks at company and thinks that it what he desires, that moves him to Ruinous

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30. Ruinous Company

He does not know that some company is ruinous and some good. There are various kinds of
ruinous company. Some of it is such that its corruption is evident to everyone: like the
people who commit clear acts of disobedience against Allah so that their wretchedness is
apparent to all. However, in some cases the corruption is inward and so their wretchedness
is inward and concealed. This is the most harmful type since it is concealed, even for those
who are described with it. They fall into three sub-categories: ignorant false Sufis, preachers
who are hypocritical sycophants, and heedless tyrants. The most harmful are the ignorant
Sufis, then the false preachers, then the heedless tyrants, and then people who commit
evident acts of disobedience.

When someone remains there and tarries there, the hooks of ignorance catch him and pull
him down from Ruinous Company to Ignorance, and so he falls twenty-four stages and in
his fall passes through Treachery, Blameworthy Actions and Malice to land in Ignorance,
which is the seventh stage.

If Divine Concern surrounds him when he sees the ruinous company, he flees from it to the

31. The Desert

The Desert alludes to withdrawal from all of his fellow human beings so that he is on his
own and considers himself to be stupid. That moves him to Unsound Intellect:

32. Unsound Intellect

Since he does not see any good in people's company, he has a bad opinion of Allah since, in
his view, He commands him to ruinous company. He has a bad opinion of the servants of
Allah since he does not believe that any of them are good. The company of those who are
bad brings about a bad opinion of the good. It says in hadith, "There are two characteristics
above which there are no better characteristics: good opinion of Allah and good opinion of
the servants of Allah. There are two characteristics below which there is nothing worse: bad
opinion of Allah and a bad opinion of the servants of Allah."

If he stops in this stage and remains in it, the hooks of abasement catch him and pull him
down from Unsound Intellect to Abasement and he falls twenty-eight stages, passing
through Prohibitions and the Immense Sea in his fall, and ends up in abasement, the fifth
stage. If he does not stop there, he is saved from that fall and that moves him on to Rashness
and ignorance.

33. Jahl: Rashness and Ignorance

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He suffers from ignorance of Allah and ignorance of His promise and threat, and so he
betrays his trust, breaks his contract and transgresses Allah's limits. When he stops in this
stage and remains there, the hooks of Under the Earth catch him and pull him down from
Rash Ignorance to Under the Earth and he falls eighteen stages, passing between Jahannam
and Prohibitions, and lands in Under the Earth, which is the sixth stage.

If he does not stop and is saved from it, that moves him to Envy.

34. Hasad: Envy

He envies people for the success and well-being which Allah has given them out of His
bounty and hopes that that will be taken away from them since he lacks that blessing. If he
stops in this stage and remains there, the hooks of the Immense Sea will catch him and pull
him down from Envy to the Immense Sea. He will fall twenty stages, passing through Air,
Fear and Earth and land in the Immense Sea, which is the sixteenth stage.

If he does not stop there and is safe from Envy, that moves him to Air.

35. Air

One text calls this stage 'the Sky". He wants to fly in the air since he sees how harsh the
constriction of the earth is for him. When he is unable to fly through the air, that moves him
to Hatred.

36. Kurh: Hatred

One text calls this "the Mountain". He hates this world and hates himself and hates his life
so that he hopes for death but does not find it. That moves him to Powerlessness.

37. 'Ajz: Powerlessness

He has no power to help himself and save himself from the plight in which he finds himself.
He recognises his powerlessness and clings to it and frees himself of his strength and power.
That moves him to the Sought Object of Desire.

38. The Sought Object of Desire (al-Murad al-Matlub)

This is what is desired in the servant. It is the full realisation of his attributes, which include
powerlessness and poverty. It says in the Hikam,

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Firmly identify your qualities,
and He will help you with His qualities.

When he realises this, that moves him to Mercy for the Naked.

39. Mercy to the Naked

He feels mercy and tenderness in his heart for those he sees are naked or hungry. Nakedness
designates the appearance of need and loss. When he remains in this stage and stays in it,
that moves him to Good Character and he passes through eighteen stages in one step and in
his ascent passes through the Sought Object of Desire, Turbidity and Real Passion and
arrives in the stage of Good Character.

If he does not stop there, he moves on to Good Company.

40. Good Company

Through the knowledge he has obtained through these experiences, he recognises that there
must be company and that must be good company because the Prophet, may Allah bless him
and grant him peace said, "A man will be gathered on the deen of his close friend, so let
each of you examine the one he takes as a close friend." One of them said:

Choose someone who obeys Allah as your companion,

Nature steals nature.

The People (i.e. the Sufis) said, "By Allah, the one who achieves success only does so by
the company of those who have achieved success, and the one who loses only loses through
the company of those who have lost." One of them said, "The companion is the master."

When he obtains good company and remains there, that moves him up to Good Actions, and
he passes through twenty-four stages in one step, and in his ascent he passes through Mercy
to the Naked, the Subtle Voice, Turbidity, the Brain, and Good Character to alight in Good
Actions, which is above the station of the Perfect Guide. Lying between him and the station
of the Perfect Guide is Intrinsic Belief which is a dividing veil between them.

The Perfect Guide sees him and wants for him to obtain perfection and so he calls on him
to return to him so that he can make him ascend to Going-on by Allah in a single step. But
the traveller says to him through his state or with his actual tongue, "I am two stations above
you. How can I descend to you when I can see certainty before me and I do not see the
perfections in you which I see in myself. I kept the company of those who were greater than

So the Perfect Guide excuses him since he knows what his station has given him and he
knows of the words of Allah. "Consummate wisdom but warnings are profitless," (54:5)
and His words, "You will not guide the one you love." (28:56) He tells him, "You are
excused in what you say because you are ignorant of the benefits of the means, following
and having a companion on the Path to Allah. You are ignorant of the perils of

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independently following your own opinion and turning away from the prescribed means.
You are ignorant of the perils of travelling alone. You think that I am making claims for
myself and you are better than me because you have reached this station which you do not
claim it for yourself and so you have more scrupulousness and circumspection in your deen
than me. You do not know that I am commanded and responsible for conveying this to you
and that I will be questioned about that before Allah Almighty. My scrupulousness is to
guide you in order to carry out my trust and obey what I am commanded. The messenger
only has to convey. But I ask you to testify for me before Allah that I have conveyed it to
you." He says, "O Allah, I have conveyed it." He says, "I will testify to that for you."

If there is prior Divine Concern for him, he will descend from his station and return, even
by way of experience, when he sees his eagerness for him. Then the Perfect Guide will
enable him to reach Going-on by Allah and he will cross twenty-four stages in one step. If
he does not return, that moves him to Certainty.

If he does not stop, he will miss a lot of its good, although not entirely deprived of all of it
since Allah says, "And if heavy rain does not fall then there is dew." (2:265) Good Company
then moves him to Pleasing Trustworthiness.

41. Pleasing Trustworthiness (al-Amana al-Mardiyya)

This is preserving both the outward and inward limbs from falling into something which is
unlawful or disliked in the Shari'a because good company consists of people through whose
company someone is not made miserable and they are not treacherous. This is why keeping
their company moves him to pleasing trustworthiness and that in turn moves him on to the
Subtle Voice.

42. The Subtle Voice (as-Sawt al-Latif)

It is the voice of the Lord which is spoken by the tongue of the Spirit which addresses the
Soul with the like of Surat ad-Duha (93), Surat al-Inshirah (94) and Sura al-Kawthar. So
the soul delights in it and is joyous. He wants to act according to that in the most perfect
aspect, but his faculties and limbs does not help him to do that. The poet says:

This reality of the self connects to the Holy Presence

And the place impedes it, and it is from here that the ascent begins.

All of the selves of the living know and perceive things,

But bodies, lower selves, evil incitements and Shaytan impede them.

That moves him to Turbidity:

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43. Turbidity (Kadar)

Yahya ibn Mu'adh said, "The wretched son of Adam, who has a defective body and a
defective heart, wants to emerge from two defective things by action without defect when
the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, is reported as saying,
"Affliction, craving and appetite are kneaded into the clay of Adam." We read in the Hikam
of Ibn 'Ata'llah:

"If you could only reach Him after

the annihilation of your evil qualities and the eradication of your claims,
you would never reach Him.

But if He wants to bring you to Him,

He veils your attribute with His attribute.
So you reach Him by what comes from Him to you,
not by what goes from you to Him."

So His self becomes disturbed and turbid and he is pained by the predominance of
witnessing the sensory and the accumulation of terrors of this world and its events which
overwhelm a person: like death, illness, poverty, trials, separation, demise and other things
which recur in this world which is the abode of worry, anxiety, sorrow and turbidity. Ibn
'Ata'llah said in his Hikam:

Don't think that vexation and sorrow are unusual

as long as you are in this world.
It only brings out what its attribute and quality demand.

He also said:

He made this world a place for otherness,

a mine of impurities,
so as to encourage you to do without it.

So turn your entire being to Him and direct your aspiration to Him. Turning away from this
world and devoting yourself to the Next World what is desired of you is that you travel to
the world of spirits. That is why Allah has made the lower world constricted for you: so that
you travel from it by your aspiration (himma) to the celestial world. That moves you to Real

44. Real Passion (al-'Ishq al-Haqiqi)

It is that passion which is the passion of the souls and spirits for their Creator who helps
them with all sensory and spiritual blessings. We read in the hadith, "Love Allah for the
blessings with which He nourishes you." He is the One who really does what is good and
Who is described with every perfection and pure of any imperfection.

When the heart loves something, it turns to it and is humble to it and obeys all it commands.
The lover obeys the one he loves. The heart has only one direction it faces. Man only has

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one heart. Allah says, "Allah did not give a man two hearts in his breast." (33:4) Since the
heart has one direction it faces, whichever way it faces, if it turns away from any other
direction he is a true slave of Allah. If he turns to his desire and craving, he turns completely
away from His Master and is a slave of other-than-Him. Allah is not pleased for His slave to
be a slave of another. We read in the Hikam of Ibn 'Ata'llah:

When you love thing,

you are its slave.
He does not like for you to be a slave to other-than-Him.

Shaytan comes to him and says to him, "You will not be truly passionately in love with
Allah until you completely free your outward and inward of all that is other than Him and
are divested of anything which could distract you from Allah. You cannot accomplish this
while you have a wife, children, house, shop or garden. That moves him to the Ruins.

45. The Ruins

One text has Wabal (Unhealthy Climate as a result of Evil). He hates all the things which
distracted him from Allah and cuts off all phenomenal connections in his heart since we
already mentioned that the heart can only face one direction. When it faces Allah it turns
away from other than Him. So he thinks that he cannot combine making use of legal means
outwardly and being divested of them inwardly because he only recognises the outward and
only sees the sensory.

When he stops there and remains there, that moves him to his outward and he loses all the
wealth in his possession and and he no longer has any means of livelihood so this world,
which is the basis of his deen, becomes a ruin for him. So he becomes impoverished, his
breast is constricted, and his character becomes bad. Then the hooks of bad character catch
him and pull him down from the Ruins to Bad Character. In his fall, he passes through
twenty-two stages, passing by Hatred, Powerlessness, the Sea, and Metaphorical Passion to
land in Bad Character, the eighteenth stage.

If he does not stop, that moves him to Effacement in Effacement.

46. Effacement in Effacement (al-Mahw fi'l-Mahw)

This means total reliance on Allah so that it effaces phenomenal beings from his heart and
he sees that they have no existence, and no harm or or benefit. Seeing effacement is also
effaced from his heart. He sees that that is part of Allah's bounty to him and that moves him
to Perfect Intellect.

47. Perfect Intellect (al-'Aql al-Kamil)

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One text calls it "Realisation" (at-Tahqiq). The perfect intellect is the one which understands
the words of Allah and understands them in a manner which is pleasing to Allah and puts
everything in its proper place. That is realisation. So he sees that beings are firm by His
making them firm, and effaced by the unity of His Essence. So the portions of his self and
its appetites are transformed into rights which belong to Allah and he accepts them in order
to obey the command of Allah and out of love for Allah. The lover obeys the one he moves.

It is clear to him that there is no conflict between total reliance on Allah and using means
because the place for the use of the means is the outward to carry out the right of Divine
Wisdom while the place of reliance is in the heart to carry out the right of Divine Power. So
the Shari'a of the heart is total reliance and the Shari'a of the body is making use of means.
Whoever denies normal and legal means themselves attempts to nullify Divine Wisdom.
Whoever attributes effect to normal and legal means has associated something with Allah.
Whoever affirms normal and legal means by Allah's affirmation of them and denies that
they have any real effect and ascribes them to Allah alone is the true believer and is saved
by the bounty of Allah. We read in the Hikam:

Beings are fixed when He fixes them,

and obliterated by the oneness of His essence.

When you realise this important matter, that moves you to Realisations:

48. Realisations (at-Tahqiqat)

By the Perfect Intellect he realises that his lowest part of realisation is leave this world and
the highest is to not reflect about the Essence of Allah Almighty which thought cannot fully
encompass because thought is Allah's creation, and the creature cannot recognise the reality
of itself, let alone recognise the reality and true nature of its Creator. So he realises the the
truth of the words of the Almighty, "They do not measure Allah with His true measure."
(22:74, etc.) So he seeks the gnosis of Allah from Allah by Allah, not from the intellect and
thought, and not by the intellect and thought.

When he tarries and remains in this stage, that raises him to the Celestial World and he
passes through eighteen stages in one step. In his ascent, he passes through Perfect Intellect,
Repose and Courage and arrives in the Celestial World. He speaks to the angels and they
speak to him and he witnesses them with his inner eye. If he does not stop, he is moved to
the Sorrowful Heart.

49. The Sorrowful Heart

He experiences the sorrow of the truthful when he returns to his body and his self. He does
not find outwardly anything to indicate his realisations and his heart is saddened by that and
he sees no cure which can heal his heart except to surrender his self and property to Allah
Almighty because they originally belong to Allah and are His property. Their origin was
Allah's creation and His gift to him. Then He buys them from him by His words, "Allah has
bought from the believers their selves and their wealth in return for them having the

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Garden." (9:111) He is successful in what he does by the words of the Almighty, "I have
turned my face to Him who brought the heavens and earth into being, a pure natural
believer. I am no idolater." (6:79) "Say: 'My prayer and my rites, my living and my dying,
are for Allah alone, the Lord of all the worlds, Who has no partner.'" (6:162)

That moves him to In the Way of Allah.

50. In the Way of Allah

So he spends his person and his property in the Way of Allah, and all that befalls him of
good or evil is in the Way of Allah as the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him
peace, said, when his noble finger was wounded,

"You are only a finger which bleeds, and what you have met is in the Way of Allah."

He strives against every enemy of Allah whether it is internal, like his lower self and his
passions, or external, like his wealth, children and fellow human beings.

If he stops there and remains here, that raises him to the Garden and he passes through
twenty-four stations in a single step. In his ascent, he passes by the Sorrowful Heart, Earth,
Water, Jihad, and Assent and reaches the Garden.

If he does not stay, that moves him to Showing-off.

51. Showing-Off (Riya')

So he acts and abandons showing-off for creation and artifice for them to obtain their
affection, praise and esteem. When they do not give him what he wants from them and he
stops with them, he conceals his evil and malice towards them. So the hooks of Malice catch
him and pull him down from Showing-off to Malice, and he falls forty-four stages all at
once, passing by Unsound Intellect, Rash Ignorance, Blameworthy Actions and Jahannam,
to fall into Malice, the eighth stage.

If he does not stop, he moves on to Earth.

52. Turab: Earth

He sees all that is on the earth as dust, and does not notice creation in action or non-action.
He also sees himself as dust. Dust is trampled underfoot by pious and impious, believer and
unbeliever. Filth and dirt are thrown onto it and it transforms that into as flowers, fruits and
produce. When he realises this and takes on its character, that moves him to Water.

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53. Water

That by which the life of every living thing exists. So he flows in things as water flows and
by which the life of everything exists without burden or hardship. That moves him to

54. Repose: Raha

One test calls it "Endurance (Jalad)." All creation benefits from complete rest from toil with
himself and his follow human beings. He wants every good for them as he wants it for
himself. That moves him to Courage.

55. Courage

He obtains all its meanings and does not care about the perils and difficulties he encounters.
Sometimes he risks life and limb and property, and he leaps into perils and exposes himself
to destruction and death.

If he stops in this stage and remains it, that elevates him to Witnessing and he crosses thirty-
six stages in one step, passing by Repose, Assent, Jihad, the Greatest Earth and the Tariqa in
his ascent, and he arrives in the station of Witnessing. If he obtains it by death, and it was to
elevate the word of Allah, he has obtained eternal happiness. If he lives, his comrades and
enemies attest to that for him while he is saved from death when he was exposed to death
and seeking it. That moves him to Adornment.

56. Adornment

His courage in behaviour, knowledge, politics and war becomes an adornment for him by
which he is adorned and decked out before his comrades and kings. That moves him to
Good Character.

57. Good Character

He is noble and generous to those who are noble and generous to him and turns away from
the ignorant. That moves him to the Brain.

58. The Brain

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The thinking faculty. He reflects on the inward parts of matters and their ends and so he
discovers that all benefit and harm is in the hand of Allah. That moves him to Love.

59. Love (Hubb)

He loves all creatures for Allah. So he sees the true lover sees a guide to good and the
dogged enemy as a driver and so his love for all of Allah's creatures is intensified. That
moves him to the Fire.

60. The Fire

Which grows from intense love of Allah and yearning to meet Allah Almighty and obtain
His pleasure. That moves him to Forbearance.

61. Forbearance (Hilm)

He is good to those who are bad to him and maintains his ties with those who cut him off.
That moves him to the Perfect Guide.

62. The Perfect Guide (al-Mursid al-Kamil)

He is the living guide. The guide meets him with intense yearning and tells him, "Welcome
to the one I have long being waiting for and yearning for!" He invites to him to travel at his
hand and to enter the Presence of Allah. He gives him the good news that he will become
one of the people of witnessing and direct vision and going-on by Allah after annihilation in
Allah, while being completely safe and preserved in his intellect, deen and this world.

If there is prior Divine Concern for the traveller, he obeys him and follows him or he says to
him, "Sir, I am not worthy to come before Allah. I am the most insignificant of the slaves of
Allah and the most disobedient of them towards Him." The guide delights in what he says
and gives him the good news that if he is speaking the truth in this, he is worthy of every
good. He tells him, "Believe that you are worthy of gnosis of Allah and of obtaining His

If it is written that he will arrive by by his hand, he will obey and stay with him and he will
raise him to Going-on by Allah and he will pass through thirty-four stages in one step. In his
ascent, he will pass by the edge of the station of Intrinsic Belief which is his words, "You
are worthy of that," the station of Liberality, the station of the Domain of Worship, the
station of the Jabarut, and the station of Annihilation in Allah and will arrive in the station
of Going-on by Allah. Then he returns him to the Muhammadan Domain which is the most
perfect manifestation of true slavedom and undertaking the rights of lordship. That moves

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him to the Gate of the Throne and He sees, "The All-Merciful settled on the Throne." (20:5)
Then he moves him again back to the station of Going-on by Allah.

Then the Perfect Guide returns him to the Muhammadan Domain again and so he alternates
between the Muhammadan Domain and Going-on by Allah, and so gathering is witnessed in
his heart while separation exists on his tongue so that the foot of his outward is firm in the
Shari'a of Muhammad while the foot of his inward is firm in the reality of Going-on by
Allah. So his gathering does not veil him from his separation nor his separation from his
gathering, and so his outward is Muhammadan and his inward is Ahmadian.

Then with special permission, the Perfect Guide moves him to the Domain of Ibrahim after
teaching him the adab of that station. Then he quickly returns him to the Muhammadan
Domain. Then he again moves him to the Domain of Ibrahim, and then brings him back
again. That is so that he can learn its knowledges, secrets and perils. He commands him to
observe full adab with the Station of Ibrahim so that he does not claim it for himself to
show his proper behaviour with Allah and with his Friend Ibrahim, peace be upon.

Then, again with special permission, he moves him to the station of Mika'il after teaching
him the adab of the station, and then he immediately returns him to the Muhammadan
Domain, and then does that again and then returns him so that he can learn its knowledges,
secrets and perils, and he commands him to observe the full adab with Mika'il and not to
claim that station for himself. He does not command him to do anything because of the
proper adab with Allah and with the Keeper of His Treasures, even if he were to say to him,
"Command me whatever you will." That could be a delusion which draws one on. Allah
says, "Allah is the best of the plotters." (3:54; 8:30)

Then, again with special permission, he moves him to the station of 'Azra'il after teaching
him the adab of that station. Then he immediately returns him to the Muhammadan Domain
and then again takes him back to the station and so on so that he can learn the knowledges,
sciences and perils in it. He commands him to observe full adab with Allah and with His
angel who is entrusted with taking the souls of His creatures. He should not claim any of
that stage for himself nor command him to take the spirit of any of Allah's creatures, even if
he says to him, "Command me what you wish." That is drawing on from Allah and a trick.
Allah says, "Allah is the best of the plotters." (3:54; 8:30)

Then, again with special permission, he moves him to the station of Shaytan after teaching
him the adab of the station and warning him about its perils and instructing to flee often to
Allah. Them he immediately returns him to the Muhammadan Domain. Then again he takes
him to it and so on so that he can learn the knowledges, secrets and perils in it. Shaytan is
exasperated with him because of the frequency with which he flees to Allah and the
frequency of his returning to the Shari'a of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and
grant him peace.

He must be completely on guard against inclining to Shaytan and listening to his

whispering. Allah says, "As for those who are godfearing, when they are bothered by
visitors from Shaytan, they remember and immediately see clearly." (7:201) So Allah makes
him aware of the devices of Shaytan and the devices of the lower self. He sees that the
devices of Shaytan are weak in comparison to the devices, trickery, and machinations of the
lower self and its connection to him. The self is fouler than seventy shaytans. The self is not

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defeated nor is anyone safe from it except for the one who flees frequently to Allah from
everything. Allah says, "Flee to Allah." (51:50)

Fleeing to Allah is by the heart fleeing to Going-on by Allah and by the body fleeing to the
Muhammadan Domain which is true slavedom and undertaking the rights of lordship. So he
is one of the of the sincere slaves of Allah about whom Allah says "You have no authority
over any of My slaves." (15:42) He called them "My" slaves because of the frequency with
which they flee to Him from everything. We read in the Hikam of Ibn 'Ata'llah:

The gnostic is always in need

and cannot rest with other-than-Allah.

When he is fit for the Station of the Perfect Guide and truly looks at it, then he is only
lacking special permission to guide. When Divine Wisdom has decreed for this station to be
manifested for him in fact, permission for that comes to him from Allah Almighty and from
the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and from his teacher, and so the
station of Guidance actually is manifested on him and he is commanded to descend to the
station of the Perfect Guide to guide people and to help them in travelling to Allah and to
bring them near so that they can reach Him. He makes them love Allah and Allah will love

If Divine Wisdom has decreed that he remain as he is, then he helps and assists the Perfect
Guide and directs people to him by saying things like, "Take note of so-and-so. He is one of
the gnostics of Allah for whom there is permission to be guided." There is no greater
healing for the illnesses and faults of the hearts than the company of the gnostics of Allah
and entering into heir teaching and clinging to their care with truthfulness and love. By
Allah, those who have had success only achieved success by keeping the company of those
who have achieved success while observing complete adab with Allah and with the station
of the Perfect Guide with special permission.

In short, the judgement regarding the gnostic of Allah who reaches the station of right
guidance without having permission for it with the Perfect Guide who has permission to
guide resembles the judgement of the Prophet with the Messenger. This applies to the
person who has enjoyed prior Divine Concern and entered under the instruction of the
guide. There is also the case where he does not have a portion of that or did have but it is
not appear, or when he says to him, "I am like you, and we are together in this station which
I did not claim. I have learned a sublime wisdom from time, and I am acting by it and
because of it I do not need you or anyone else. It is: 'Believe and do not be led. You will not
achieve peace of mind by anyone.' So my belief has brought me to my Goal without me
owing a favour to anyone.Not being led to Allah and His lovers preserves me in my Path
from perils. Time has taught me, taught me and nurtured me until I reached your station.
You have no excellence over me by any aspect. That moves him to Intrinsic Belief.

63. Intrinsic Belief (al-I'tiqad adh-Dhati)

One text calls it Sincere Belief. He believes that he himself is perfect and that he is like the
perfect Guide, indeed more perfect than him because of his scrupulousness and

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circumspection about not laying claim to the station of Guidance. That moves him to Good

64. Good Actions

Like fasting, praying at night and charity to widows and orphans. That moves him to

65. Certainty: al-Yaqin

In knowledge. So he has unshakable knowledge of beliefs which he has heard through

multiple transmission as well as the proofs for them That moves him to the Celestial World.

66. The Celestial World

Which is the source of certainty. One text calls it Beneficial Knowledge. With his inner eye
He witnesses the angels and the Garden and the Fire and all the things he has heard about,
and that moves him to Assent.

67. Assent: ar-Rida

He is pleased with Allah as a Lord and Islam as a deen and Muhammad as a Messenger and
He is pleased with the judgements of Allah in respect of behaviour and obligation. That
moves him to Jihad.

68. Jihad

One text calls it "The Reckoning of the Deen". He strives with his lower self and calls it to
account. He demands that it return to what Allah loves and what pleases Him. He
admonishes with words like those of Allah, "No, by your Lord, they are not believers until
they make you their judge in the disputes that break out between them, and then find no
resistance within themselves to what you decide and submit themselves completely," (4:65)
and like what the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said: "None of you
will believe until his passion follows what I brought." That moves him to Knowledge.

69. Knowledge: al-'Ilm

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This designates "Beneficial Knowledge" about which the Prophet, may Allah bless him and
grant him peace, said, "There are two types of knowledge: knowledge of the tongue, which
is Allah's evidence against the son of Adam, and the knowledge of the heart, which is
beneficial knowledge."

When he stops in it and remains there, that raises him to the Muhammadan Domain and he
passes through twenty-five stages in one step. In his ascent, he passes by the Station of the
Tariqa, the Immense Earth, the Malakut and Sainthood and arrives in the Muhammadan
Domain. If he does not stop, that moves him to Faith.

70. Faith: Iman

This is Perfect Unseen Faith in Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day,
and His decree of good and evil. Useful Knowledge will convey all those who hold to it to
the Muhammadan Domain unless the traveller does not help himself with firm resolve to
follow in the footsteps of Muhammadan path. He is content himself with perfect unseen
faith and loves what Allah loves and hates what Allah hates. He travels commensurate with
to his weakness and seeks for indulgence for himself without imposition or hardship. That
moves him to the Shari'a.

71. The Shari'a

Which consists of the words of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and
so he learned from them and sustained them with seriousness and striving with firm
aspiration (himma) to which he was not accustomed before complete faith entered his heart.
That moves him to the Tariqa.

72. Tariqa

The Muhammadan Path which consists of the actions of the Prophet, may Allah bless him
and grant him peace. So he acts according to his knowledge and he experiences sweetness in
action. That moves him to the Greatest Earth.

73. The Greatest Earth

Which is the Outskirts of the Garden. One text calls it "The Greatest Reward". They mean
the same because the Greatest Reward is the reason for entering the Garden and its Path
which Allah has promised to His believing slaves who perform righteous actions. When
someone reaches the Greatest Earth, he enters the Garden, since there is nothing after it
except the Garden. Thus he is moved to the Garden.

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74. The Garden

He sees that it is adorned for him and he sees its houris and castles as it they were right
before him. He remembers what the Perfect Guide alluded to but he does not find it in his
Garden which is the Garden of the Greatest Reward. He he is certain that what he said was
the truth because in this Garden he does not find his goal which is to look at the Noble Face
of Allah. He cannot then return to the station of the Perfect Guide and so he is ascetic in the
Garden and the Reward and he yearns for the veil to be lifted. He is told, "There is no way
to reach that except after annihilation." He has missed annihilation in the Essence because
he is not able to achieve that without a Shaykh. Such is the Wisdom of Allah. The rare case
is not considered.

So he thinks that what is meant by annihilation is what he is looking up to. That moves him
to Annihilation in Existence.

75. Annihilation in Existence

He is annihilated in possible temporal existence. Since that does not quench his thirst and he
does not find his Goal there, his heart is not at peace and he looks towards another type of
annihilation thinking that it is the Goal. That moves him to Annihilation in the Shaykh.

76. Annihilation in the Shaykh

The Perfect Guide. He missed the opportunity for his company and cannot return to his
station. He cannot listen to his words or see his physical essence. So he begins to imagine
him in his thoughts and to summon him present in his heart until he is annihilated in him.
He begins to say, "The Shaykh said to me," and "I said to the Shaykh." Sometimes he says,
"I am Shaykh so-and-so." That does not help him at all in attaining his Goal, because his
annihilation is only movement from one phenomenal being to another phenomenal being.
That moves him to the Domain of Worship.

77. The Domain of Worship: Mulk al-'Ibada

This domain is the outward belief of the Shari'a and acting according to it. He begins to say
that there is only the outward Shari'a and all that the People [the Sufis] claim is nothing but
imagination and fantasy without reality. He says, "If there were anything other than the
outward Shari'a, I would have reached it. 'The incapacity to achieve perception is
perception.' Delving into the Essence of Allah is attributing partners to Allah (shirk)."

So he strives in outward worship like fasting and praying at night, and turns from the inward
part of the Shari'a believing that it is contrary to the outward and incompatible with it. and

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He believes that what conflicts with the outward is contrary to the Shari'a. Allah says, "
Whoever does an atom's weight of good will see it. Whoever does an atom's weight of evil
will see it." (99:7-8)

It is said to him, "Are not liberality and generosity part of outward actions?" Al-Bukhari and
al-Bayhaqi transmitted, "Generosity is one of the trees of the Garden whose branches hang
down into this world. If someone takes hold of a branch of it, that branch guides him to the
Garden. Miserliness is one of the trees of the Fire whose branches extend into this world. If
someone takes hold of a branch of it, that branch will lead him to the Fire." At-Tirmidhi and
al-Bayhaqi transmitted, "The generous person is near to Allah, near to people, near tot the
Garden and far from the Fire. The miser is far from Allah, far from people, far from the
Garden, and near to the Fire. The ignorant generous person is dearer to Allah than a
worshipping miser." Ibn 'Adi transmitted, "Faith and miserliness are not ever combined in
the heart of a believing man." Abu Ya'la transmitted, "Nothing obliterates Islam like
miserliness obliterates it."

That moves him to Liberality.

78. Liberality: as-Sakha'

Generosity and openhandedness. So he is generous with his money and rank. The benefit of
generosity is contagious. It is one of the qualities of Allah. If someone takes on one of the
qualities of Allah, that quality will guide to the Garden of Gnoses. That moves him to the

79. The Reality: al-Haqiqa

One text has "Gnosis". The one who used to refuse to acknowledge it and denied that it was
part of the Shari'a at all now he begins to become aware of the existence of a reality which
cannot be denied, as he is aware of the existence of his spirit in his body which he cannot
deny and whose true nature and reality he cannot know. We read in al-Mabahith al-Asliyya:

They are conscious of something other than mere bodies

which they call "the spiritual world".

So before the rational man of knowledge are gnoses

which are enigmas in what is transmitted.

That moves him to Gnosis.

80. Gnosis: Ma'rifa

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One text calls it "Reality". So he recognises that phenomenal Being has a Maker other than
it Who brought it into Being, Who is described by every perfection and free of every
imperfection. He says, "I must recognise the Maker of this Being. I cannot do that until I
recognise the difference between Being and the Maker of Being. If I can see the Maker of
Being then I will not fall short in my quest for Him.

'Allah exists and there is no doubt about it.

Every existent can be seen.'

Since I am in Phenomenal Being and Being is the guide, then I must recognise and learn the
guide before anything else. That moves him to Being.

81. al-Kawn: Being

By his existence in it, He finds that it is divided into dense and subtle. That moves him to
the Spirit.

82. ar-Ruh: the Spirit

He finds it the most extraordinary and immense things which Allah has created. It is one of
the most subtle of Allah's creation and the closest creation to Allah. It is the first of Allah's
creation, and it is part of the world of the Command. Allah Almighty says, "They will ask
you about the Ruh. Say: 'The Ruh comes from the command of my Lord.'" (17:85) His
command consists of words and words are His Attribute and the Attribute is not separate
from the One Described. That moves him to the Lahut.

82. Lahut

The Divine Nature, which is the Presence which gathers together all the meanings of the
Essence, Names and Attributes. Look at Mi'raj at-Tasawwuf ila Haqa'iq at-Tasawwuf by
Ibn 'Ajiba.

That moves him to the Jabarut.

83. Jabarut

Is is the Presence of the Unseen which helps everything and has no need of other than what
it contains of the Names and Attributes, let alone creatures. Look at Mi'raj at-Tasawwuf ila
Haqa'iq at-Tasawwuf by Ibn 'Ajiba.

That moves him to Annihilation in Allah.

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84. Annihilation in Allah

Annihilation to everything except Him. There he hears by Allah and sees by Allah and so he
hears the squeaking of the pens and witnesses the descent of judgements. That moves him to

85. Prophethood

Allah informs him about whatever knowledges and secrets He wishes and teaches him
wisdom and forbids him to disclose it to others. He preserves him from dispute and that
moves him to Sainthood.

86. Wilaya: Sainthood

Allah undertakes to preserve him, and he undertakes to obey Allah fully. That moves him to
the Malakut.

87. Malakut

It is that which is the return to subtle Being and so he sees the spirits and angels, and he
obtains some intimacy after toil and repose after striving. See Mi'raj at-Tasawwuf ila
Haqa'iq at-Tasawwuf by Ibn 'Ajiba.That moves him to Nasut.

88. Nasut

It is the return to dense Being and so he completes his return and descends and goes down to
the Mulk. When he has learned what is before of the stations and has taken what they
contain of knowledges and secrets, then his return to the Nasut, which is the Mulk, is only a
physical return. His spirit proceeds like the spirits of the martyrs who are "alive with their
Lord, provided for." That moves him to Witnessing.

89. Shahada: Witnessing

It is the the presence of creation dependent on the Real or the Presence of the Real manifest
by creation. So Allah acquaints him with the World of the Unseen and Visible World
without the intermediary of a creature or a favour which he owes to any of creation. That
moves him to Delusion.

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90. Ghurur: Delusion

He is deluded by relying on his lower self, its stations, ascent and its knowledges, secrets
and perfections. If he remains there, the hooks of Trial catch him and pull him down from
Delusion to Trial and he falls eighty-two stages and in his fall passes by Witnessing, Shari'a,
Faith, Showing Off, In the Way of Allah, the Desert, Ruinous Company and Lack of Adab
and lands in Trial. He cannot descend or abide in any station through which he passes
because the hooks of Trial will do not release him until he falls into Trial, the tenth station.

If he does not stop, that moves him to Israfil.

91. Israfil

The Presence of the Angel who is entrusted with the Preserved Tablet and blowing the
Trumpet which is a horn made of light in which are holes according to the number of the
souls of those who die. He will blow it twice. The first blast will annihilate all creatures
except whomever Allah wishes. There are seven who are excepted: the Throne, the
Footstool, the Preserved Tablet, the Pen, the Garden, the Fire and the Spirits. In the second
blast creatures will be resurrected. There are forty years between the two blast. So he
recognises this angel and recognises some of the knowledges and secrets which he has. That
moves him to Jibra'il.

92. Jibra'il

The Presence of the Noble Angel entrusted with knowledge and revelation, meaning the
news which comes from Allah to the Messengers and Prophets, peace and blessings be upon
them. So he recognises this noble angel and learns a portion of the knowledges and secrets
which he has, including the words of Allah, "When I inspired the Disciples to believe in Me
and in My Messenger, they said, 'We believe. Bear witness that we are Muslims.'" (5:111)

That moves him to the Muhammadan Domain.

93. The Muhammadan Domain: al-Mulk al-Muhammadi

It is the fount of mercy and the source of the Message and the place where praise is
manifested. So he praises and thanks Allah a lot because the Muhammadan Domain alludes
to perfection in since slavedom to Allah, or realisation of slavedom and undertaking the
rights of lordship, or undertaking the adab of lordship while witnessing the weakness of
humanity. (Look at Mi'raj at-Tasawwuf ila Haqa'iq at-Tasawwuf)

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The upshot is that slavedom is the noblest and highest of stations. That is why Allah praised
His Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, with it as He says in His Mighty
Book, "Glory be to Him who took His slave on a journey one night." (17:1) He did not call
him 'His Prophet' or 'His Messenger'. He also says, "Praise belongs to Allah Who has sent
down the Book to His slave." (18:1)

When someone realises and actualises this station and takes on its character, his Lord
summons him to His Throne. That moves him to the Throne.

95. The Throne: al-'Arsh

Which is the site of the manifestation of Immensity, the place of prescencing (tajalli)
manifestation and the special quality of the Essence. It is the Highest sight and the most
radiant place. It contains all types of existents and so it is Absolute existence as the body is
for human existence inasmuch as the physical world contains the spiritual, imaginative and
logical worlds and other things. We do not know of anything in existence above the Throne
except the All-Merciful. So He sees the All-Merciful on the Throne. That moves him to
Going-on by Allah.

96. Going-on by Allah: Baqa' billah

So it seems to him that the Going-on which he obtains after annihilation in Allah until this
point has been by himself and now he goes on by Allah. So the Perfect Guide contradicts
him by saying, "Your going-on is by yourself and you have obtained this going-on by Allah
in knowledge, not tasting. Knowledge cannot dispense with tasting. Return to the
Muhammadan Domain and stop there and be content with what Allah has allotted you and
do not go forward. There is immense danger before you. If you now enter the station of
Going-on by Allah by only the knowledge of what the station gives you, when you leave it
and enter the stations beyond it, you will enter by yourself alone. It is feared that now your
going-on by Allah is in order to draw you on and delude you. Allah says, "Allah is the best
of the plotters."

If he obeys him and returns, he enters under his teaching and Divine Concern embraces him,
and his annihilation in Allah in completed as his going-on by Allah. Then he is preserved, at
the beginning and end, by that by which Allah preserves His Awliya'.

If he admires his own opinion and prefers to be independent, he tells him, "I am more
perfect than you. I have more gnosis than you and I am closer to Allah than you. Here I am
speaking of realities of which you are incapable to speaking. If I were to listen to your
words, I would have listened when I passed by you. So how can I listen to you when you are
lower than me in the stations?" That moves him to the Domain of Ibrahim.

97. The Domain of Ibrahim

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The Friend, peace and blessings be upon him. So the All-Merciful takes him as a close
friend and the bounty of the Noble, Ever-Giving, Bestower appears on him and he is
overcome by submission, entrustment and generosity. That moves him to Mika'il.

98. Mika'il

It is the presence of the Angel entrusted with the rains, seas and provision, and the
formation of of the foetuses in the wombs. He has no effect in that and he pours forth the
blessings and goodness to all the slaves of the All-Merciful with no distinction between
believer and unbeliever, pious and impious. Mika'il recognises him and obeys him. He may
think that he has an effect on Mika'il and his giving since he is ignorant of the station of
Mika'il and he has come to him by himself. Some people who receive blessing there are the
noble who are thankful for the blessing, and the base who are ungrateful for them. One of
them said:

When You are good to the noble, you hold sway over him.
When You are good to the base, he is rebellious.

The souls which command to evil refuse to leave this world until they are bad towards the
One who was good to them. That moves him to 'Azra'il.

99. 'Azra'il

He is the Angel who is entrusted with taking the spirits of creatures, i.e. all of those who
have a spirit, even a flea, a gnat, or a louse. He has no effect in that. 'Azra'il recognises him
and obeys him while he is ignorant of the station of 'Azra'il since he has entered by himself.
The traveller see how few are thankful and sees the great number of unbelievers and so
jealousy impels him to say as Allah Almighty recounts that the Prophet Nuh said, "My Lord,
do not leave a single one of the rejectors on the earth!" (71:26) So he commands 'Azra'il to
take the souls of the unbelievers when Allah has commanded 'Azra'il to obey His command
in taking the souls of some of them according to what is in His knowledge. That is designed
to draw him on and delude him. Allah says, "Allah is the best of plotters." That moves him
to Shaytan.

100. Shaytan

We seek refuge with Allah! He whispers to him things like "You are everything and all
creation are your slaves. You have absolute free disposal and no one can avert what you
desire. So do whatever you wish. Command whatever you wish and desire. Your words will
be heard and your command obeyed.

Time obeys you and people are slaves.

Live every day of your time as a festival.

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So he likes this situation and finds it pleasant and inclines to it. He stops in it and Shaytan
completely overpowers him and he forgets to remember Allah Almighty. He sells him, "The
gnostics say, 'Is it not by dhikr of Allah that sins increase and the eyes and hears are
obliterated?' You have become one of the great gnostics of Allah who have been brought
near to Allah who are annihilated to all that is other than Allah and go on by Allah and
nothing of them remains for other than Him. They are described by the qualities of Allah
and their human attributes have completely left them. So leave all the stations, human
limitations and legal obligations because they are only for those who are veiled and now
you are not veiled. Pay attention to what occurs to your heart. It is inspiration from Allah
Almighty, and inspiration is one of the forms of Revelation. You should not disobey it."

So he leaves the circle of the slave of slavedom entirely and then the hooks of Appetite
catch him and pull him down to it, leaving all the stages and the stations. He falls through
ninety-six stages and falls into Appetite, which is the fourth stage. His appetite becomes
immense and his passion strong. He commands but his words are not heard nor is he
obeyed. He asks for help but there is no help. We say that he leaves the circle of the slave of
slavedom entirely, indicating that he cannot leave the circle of the slave of bringing-into-

The slave is the slave however much he rises.

The Lord is Lord, even if he descends.

If Shaytan makes him imagine that he has left it in order to misguide him and confuse him.
That which he does is to make him leave the stations of the slave of slavedom and put him
into the station of being a slave of this world, passion and appetites. That is why slavedom
appears on him when he fells to the station of Appetite which is the lowest of the low. He
looks ahead from Appetite to Abasement and what is beyond it, whether he likes that or not
because this type of travel is compulsory.

He must not despair of the mercy of Allah nor despair of the Spirit of Allah. He must renew
his repentance and set out on his journey again. He must renew his aspiration and resolve
and ask Allah Almighty for success in what He loves and what pleases Him. He must take
note of the tricks of the self and shaytan and strive hard to be careful not to fall into what he
fell into the first time since 'the believer is not stung from the same stone twice'. He should
learn fiqh in the deen by the words of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him
peace, "If Allah desires good for someone, He gives him understanding in the deen and
inspires him to right guidance."

So he must perform a lot of actions to expiate sins which will be mentioned in the
conclusion. He should seek the help of Allah and put all his trust in Allah Almighty and he
should proceed according to his weakness. Whoever travels on the Road arrives.

Praise belongs to Allah for His blessing which perfects righteous deeds. May Allah bless the
master of the masters, our master Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets and the Imam of the
Messengers, and his family and Companions, the guiding stars of those who are guided, and
bless those who follow them, wit the best until the Day of Rising. Praise belongs to Allah,
the Lord of the Worlds.

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We ask Allah for the good of it. There are five lessons here.

The first lesson is that anyone who claims to be a shaykh without permission is deluded,
bewitched and cheated, and an evil end is feared for him. The gnostics of Allah said that. It
is part of what contains impudence towards Allah and laying claim to being in intermediary
between Allah and His servants and claiming to act as a deputy for His Messengers in

The second lesson is that it is not permitted to keep the company of a majdhub [one who
is enraptured by Divine attraction) who continues with this divine attraction and does not
return to the realisation of stations because he has no responsibility and the person who is
responsible might be wrenched from the deen by that.

The third lesson is that when a man does not act in accordance with the will of another, it
is not correct that he can move from passion, even if he goes to great length in discipline
and striving because of the great density of the veil of his lower self. Furthermore,the murid
must yearn to recognise his hidden faults which are hidden from him, to seek them out and
to look for them. He must be concerned with them. It is, however, not possible for someone
to realise what his own faults are through himself because the human being only sees
himself as perfect.

See The Means of Uncovering the Faults of the Lower Self

The Means of Uncovering the Faults of the Lower Self

Even if he sees the faults of his lower self, he cannot deliver himself from them since he
feels compassion for himself. He needs someone to make efforts with it and treat it of its
faults. That is only the Shaykh. He is like the doctor who sees these faults and knows how to
treat them.

If he does not have a shaykh to counsel him, then he needs a righteous brother to watch over
his states and actions.

If he cannot find someone like that, then he needs to recognise the faults of his lower self
from his enemies. Ibn Hayyan said:

My enemies give me a boon and a favour.

May the All-Merciful not put the enemies far from me.

They seek out my error and so I avoid it.

They struggle against me, and so I obtain noble things.

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Or he learns his faults by mixing with people from since by that he becomes aware of their
evil qualities and in turn frees himself from them. The believer is the mirror of the believer.

Or he learns by reading the books of the People [the Sufis] like the books of al-Muhasibi, al-
Ghazali and ash-Sha'rani. Ibn Zakariyya said in the commentary on the Hikam, "This
method today is more beneficial and effective because today selves do not follow good
advisers nor accept their advice.Part of that is attending gatherings of knowledge which deal
with tafsir, hadith and tasawwuf. There is great benefit in that.

So these are five methods. There remains the sixth method which is for the person who does
not find a shaykh to instruct and teach him. He must do the prayer on the Prophet. It will
teach him, elevate him, discipline him and make him reach his goal. Shaykh Zarruq
mentioned that from his shaykh, Abu'l-'Abbas al-Hadrami, as did Shaykh as-Sanusi from
some of the Imams of tasawwuf.

The murid with high aspirations who is successful is the one whom Allah has made
successful in making use of all these six methods. So when he is with his shaykh, his habit
is submission, listening and following. When he is apart from the shaykh, he keeps the
company of a righteous brother as we said. When he is not with a righteous brother, he
recognises his own faults from his enemies so that he can avoid them and repent of them.
When he is far from his enemies, he recognises his faults from mixing with people and
becoming aware of their faults. He should also often read the books of the perfect gnostics
of Allah and should attend gatherings of knowledge of tafsir, hadith and tasawwuf with
those possessing sound belief which is free of deviation. He should do a lot of prayer on our
master Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, at all times.

As for the one who is fully connected to a shaykh, but does not cling to him like a shadow,
provided he has a sound intention, sincere love, good opinion, noble character, and stops at
his commands and prohibitions without change or alteration, or like a baby clings to its
mother or a invalid to his doctor, and sees everything as difficult and hard, especially in this
time, and that connection spares him having a righteous brother, and does not care what his
enemies say, even if it is true, and does not recognise his own faults by mixing with people,
and because of his mere connection foregoes reading the books of the complete Sufis or the
books of the masters of states among the People, thinking that it is the end of perfection and
that what they have is the Goal of Path, and because of his mere connection he also forgoes
attending the gatherings of the science of tafsir, hadith and tasawwuf, or attends those
gatherings with those whose dogma is deviation or who deny the science of tasawwuf and
its people, and has no portion of the prayer on Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant
him peace: such a person is deluded.

If it is asked, "Why did he only mention the gatherings of tafsir, hadith and tasawwuf, and
not those of tawhid and fiqh which should be mentioned more than others?" the reply is that
this is addressed to the murid who already knows what is obligatory for him in his deen and
wants to travel the Path of the People and to rise through the stations of Ihsan after
recognising what is obliged of him in his deen because knowledge of outward tawhid and
the rulings of the Shari'a connected to outward acts of worship is an individual obligation
for every responsible person. There is no difference between any responsible individual.
The same applies to the science of the transactions mentioned in the books of fiqh. Anyone
who is ignorant of any of that must have gaps in his faith or his Islam and how then can he
enter the station of tasawwuf which designated the journey through the stations of Ihsan

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which is one of the three pillars of the deen clearly stated in the hadith of Jibril which 'Umar
ibn al-Khattab reported and Muslim has in his Sahih.

It is reported that Malik said, "Anyone who learns tasawwuf and does not learn fiqh
becomes a heretic, and whoever learns fiqh and does not learn tasawwuf deviates. Whoever
combines them both has achieved realisation."

One of the People of Sufism said, "Tasawwuf is preservation of the laws of the deen,
surrendering one's will to the Lords of the Lords, and good behaviour with all creatures."

The People also say, "The Sufi is a faqih who acts by his knowledge by which Allah has
bequeathed to him a knowledge which he did not know since the Prophet, may Allah bless
him and grant him peace, said 'If anyone acts by what he knows, Allah will bequeathe to
him a knowledge which he did not know.' Allah says, 'Fear Allah and Allah will teach you.'
(2:282) It is well-known that taqwa is avoidance and obedience outwardly and inwardly,
and that is only possible after grasping the knowledge which is obligatory for individual
responsible people so that he knows what will give him fearful awareness of Allah in
dogma, action, and non-action. Part of that is that Allah will teach the godfearing because of
his taqwa, and that knowledge is the fruit of his taqwa and its result. It is the ascent through
the Stations of Ihsan which is commanded by his seeking that from Allah: 'Say Lord,
increase me in knowledge.' (20:114)"

The fourth lesson is to mention the practices which expiate prior and later wrong actions
as it says in the Book of the Healing of the Sickness and Pains by Muhammad ibn Ja'far al-
Kittani al-Hasani. I will only mention the practices themselves and not the evidence behind
them. Whoever wants to learn the evidence for them should read that book.

See The Practices which Expiate Wrong Actions

The Practices which Expiate Wrong Actions

1. The first practice is to do wudu' thoroughly, reaching all its defined places and washing
each limb fully.

2. When someone hears the adhan and hears the shahada in it, he should say, "I am pleased
with Allah as a Lord, Islam as a deen, and our master Muhammad as a Prophet and

3. Having the "Amen" of the person praying behind the Imam after he finishes the Fatiha
coincide with that of the angels in word and time, as stated in the Sahih collection.

4. After the final salam in Jumu'a, reciting the Fatiha, Surat al-Ikhlas and the last two suras
of refuge seven times each before moving from his place and speaking.

5. Praying the Duha prayer with faith and expectation of the reward promised for it, or out
of the desire to pray it with sincerity in it, without any showing-off or wanting to heard or
seen, or to store up a reward with Allah.

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6. The Glorification prayer which is well-known.

7. The funeral prayer.

8. Fasting Ramadan with faith and expectation of the reward.

9. Praying at night in Ramadan and performing other acts worship and devotion during it
with faith and expectation of the reward.

10. Staying up to pray in the last ten nights of Ramadan.

11. Staying up the Night of Power.

12. Fasting the Day of 'Arafa.

13. Going into ihram for the hajj or 'umra from the Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem.

14. Going on hajj to Makka for the sake of Allah Almighty and to obey His command.

15. Performing the practices of hajj and 'umra in full while other Muslims are safe from his
limbs and tongue.

16. The prayer of the two rak'ats at the station of Ibrahim after the tawaf.

17. Standing at 'Arafa and the Mash'ar al-Haram in the hajj.

18. Looking at the Ka'ba with faith and expectation of the reward.

19. Reciting the end of Surat al-Hashr.

20. Teaching one's child the Qur'an.

21. Saying "Subhanallah wa'l-hamdu lillah wa Allahu akbar" (Glory be to Allah. Praise
belongs to Allah and Allah is greater) 1000 times.

22. Saying the words, "Glory be to the One Who possesses the Kingdom and the Domain.
Glory be to the One who possesses Might and the Jabarut. Glory to the Living who does not
die, All-Perfect, All-Pure, the Lord of the angels and the Ruh," (Subhana dhi'l-Mulki wa'l-
Malakut. Subhana dhi'l-'izzati wa'l-Jabarut. Subhana'l-Hayy allahi la yamut, Subbuh,
Quddus, Rabbi'l-mala'ikati wa'r-Ruh). If anyone says once a day or once a month or once a
year or once in a lifetime, Allah will forgive him his past and future wrong actions.

23. Saying "There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah" with

24. Counting forty waves in the sea while saying "Allahu akbar".

25. Manning the frontiers of the Muslims.

26. Hurrying to fulfil a need of a Muslim whether it is fulfilled or not.

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27. Removing thorns from the road.

28. Illness while in exile.

29. Shaking hands with Muslims who love one another for Allah with the prayer on the

30-31. When eating food or putting on a new garment saying, "Praise belongs to Allah who
fed me this food," or "Praise be to Allah who clothed me in this garment and provided for
me without and strength or power on my part."

32. Guiding a blind person for forty steps.

33. A man reaching the age of ninety while a Muslim.

34. Saying the supplication of al-Khidr with sincerity and humility: It is: "O Allah, I ask
Your forgiveness for every sin and I turn to You from it. Then I return to you and I ask
Your forgiveness for all that my self promised You and did not fulfil, and I ask Your
forgiveness for every action I intended to do for Your sake and then others became mixed in
it for me. I ask Your forgiveness for every blessing You gave to me which I then used to
help disobey You. I ask Your forgiveness, O Knower of the Unseen and Visible worlds,
from every sin I have committed by the light of day or in the darkness of the night, in a
group or alone, secretly and openly, O Forbearing."

In Addition These Practices, There Are Some Reported To Ransom Someone From
The Fire:

1. Saying "La ilaha illa'llah" 70,000 times.

2. Saying "Subhanallah wa bi-hamdihi" 1000 times after Subh.

3. Reciting Surat al-Ikhlas with the basmala every time or once at the beginning 100 times,
or 1000 times, or 100,000 times.

4. Saying "La ilaha illa'llah wa Allahu akbar "4 times.

5. Saying "O Allah, I testify to you and to the Bearers of Your Throne, Your angels, and all
Your creation that there is no god but You alone with no partner, and that Muhammad is
Your slave and Messenger" 4 times.

6. Reciting the Fatiha with the basmala.

7. Reciting 100 or 1000 prayers on the Prophet using any of the expressions related from

8. Reciting the basmala 12,000 times

9. Saying "al-hamdu lillah" 1000 times after the Subh prayer.

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10. Saying "Ya Latif" 16,641 times.

Scholars Disagree About What Is Meant By What Is Mentioned

In The Book And Sunna About The Expiation And Forgiveness Of Wrong
Actions Through Certain Righteous Deeds

It is said that what is meant by "wrong actions" are both major wrong actions and minor
ones, according to the literal meaning of the ayat and many of the hadiths which state that
major wrong actions can be expiated through certain righteous actions and that the bounty
of Allah is vast - except for those things which are connected to the rights of people like
unlawful usurpation of property, slander, backbiting and the like. Those are only removed
by restoration and the victim putting the perpetrator in the lawful if possible. There is
nothing with more heinous consequences. However, if Allah so wishes and is pleased with
His slave, he may discharge his rights and avert the consequences from him, and make him
enter the Garden by His bounty. Then he will not be asked about what he did Allah says,
"Allah does not forgive partners being attributed to Him but He forgives whoever He wills
for anything apart from that." (4:48)

It is said that what is meant are minor sins in particular based on the other position that the
major wrong actions are neither forgiven nor expiated by righteous actions except by
repentance or bounty from Allah. Repentance is encouraged in ayats and hadiths. If a good
action could expiate all evil deeds, there would be no need for repentance and and the stress
on avoiding major wrong actions in some hadiths.

Then there must be no disagreement in what is reported by a sound text which makes
something particular or is general. One must follow the text and act according to it in its
proper place.

According to the statement that the statement is general, if there is something which
expiates, then it expiates all wrong actions. Then if there is another action which expiates
and it does not coincide with it, then good actions are written for him and he is
raised up some degrees. It is the same when it is said that it is particular when the action
does not coincide with any of it. If it coincides with one or more major wrong actions and
not with a minor wrong action, then we hope that major wrong actions will be lightened for
him the small amount as they are lightened for minor wrong actions. See the commentary on
Muslim by an-Nawawi and the Fath al-Bari by Ibn Hajar. All of this refers to actions which
are accepted by Allah based on what al-Bukhari reported in his Sahih collection where the
Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said "Do not be deluded and
commit a lot of bad actions based on the assumption that prayer will expiate them, The
prayer which expiates sins is the one which Allah accepts. How will the slave of Allah
know that?"

The fifth lesson is to clarify the branches of faith which are referred to briefly by Abu
Hurayra who reports from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace: "Faith
consists of some sixty branches, and modesty is a branch of faith.

See The Branches of Faith.

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The Branches of Faith
Ibn Hajar said in Fath al-Bari, the commentary on al-Bukhari and Qadi 'Iyad said that a
some people have attempted to enumerate these branches through ijtihad. That is quite
difficult to do.

Ibn Hajar said that there is not a single agreed-on manner of counting these branches. He
says that the most correction in his view is that which was followed by Ibn Hibban. There is
a summary of what they mention about these branches will are divided into: branches the
actions of the heart, the actions of the tongue, and the actions of the body.

The actions of the heart

These include beliefs and intentions. They consist of twenty-four qualities:

1. Belief in Allah, which includes belief in His Essence, Attributes, tawhid, and that there is
nothing like Him and that everything beside Him is in time.

2. Belief in His angels, His books and Messengers, and the decree of good and evil

3. Belief in the Last Day

4. Belief in the questioning in the grave, the Resurrection, the Gathering, Reckoning,
Balance, Sirat and the Garden and the Fire.

5. Love of Allah

6. Loving and hating in Allah.

7. Love for the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace,

8. The belief that he should be esteemed. That includes the prayer on him and following his

9. Sincerity

10. Lack of showing-off and hypocrisy

11. Repentance

12. Fear

13. Hope

14. Thankfulness

15. Fidelity

16. Steadfastness

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17. Contentment with the Decree

18. Reliance on Allah

19. Mercy

20. Humility, which includes respect for the old and mercy to the young

21. Abandoning pride and arrogance

22. Abandoning envy

23. Abandoning malice

24. Abandoning anger

The actions of the tongue

These include seven qualities:

1. Articulating tawhid

2. Recitation of the Qur'an

3. Teaching knowledge

4. Learning knowledge

5. Supplication

6. Dhikr, which includes asking forgiveness

7. Avoiding foolish talk

The actions of the body

They include thrity-eight qualities, of which fifteen apply to individuals:

1. Purification, physically and legally, which includes avoiding impurities and covering the
private parts

2. The prayer, obligatory and voluntary

3. Zakat

4. Freeing slaves

5. Generosity, which includes feeding people and being generous to the guest

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6. Fasting, obligatory and voluntary

7. Hajj

8. 'Umra

9. Tawaf

10. I'tikaf

11. Seeking the Night of Power

12. Fleeing for the sake of the deen which includes hijra from the Abode of shirk

13. Fulfilling vow

14. Care for oaths

15. Performing kaffara

They include what is connected to dependents, which are seven qualities:

1. Chastity in marriage

2. Taking care of the rights of the family

3. Dutifulness to parents, which include avoiding disobeying them

4. Care for children

5. Maintaining ties of kinship

6. Obeying masters

7. Gentleness to slaves

They include what is connected to general behaviour which consists of seventeen qualities:

1. Undertaking command with justice

2. Following the Community

3. Obeying those in authority

4. Making peace between people, which includes fighting rebels and Kharijites

5. Helping one another to piety, which includes commanding the correct and forbidding the

6. Establishing the hudud

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7. Jihad, which includes ribat (manning the frontiers)

8. Carrying out the trust, which includes performing the five prayers

9. Loans and repaying them

10. Generosity towards neighbours

11. Good behaviour, which includes getting money from what is lawful

12. Spending wealth properly, which includes lack of squandering and extravagance

13. Returning the greeting

14. Blessing the person who sneezes

15. Refraining from harming people

16. Avoiding diversion

17. Removing harmful things from the road

These are 69 qualities and they can be counted as 70.

In the version of Muslim, "The highest of them is 'There is no god but Allah' and the least is
removing something harmful from the road."

This indicates that there is disparity in their ranking. Allah knows best.

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Recompiled By Alexander Habeeeb

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