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[Scanned, proofed, and formatted in HTML by Chris Weimer, December 2001; graciously donated to for publication. This text is in the public domain in the US. Original pagination has been retained; footnotes have been embedded into the text within braces and in a smaller font({i.e.}). Characters with diacritics have been mapped to the closest ASCII character (e.g. Sûfî is transliterated Sufi). Greek letters have also been eliminated, and (the two) words in Greek in the original are enclosed in French quotes («»). All references to the 'Koran' in the text have been linked to the Pickthall English Version of the Qur'an at this site. Many of the verse references given by Nicholson are one or two off from Pickthall and other translations; the hyperlinks have been adjusted but the original citation retained in these instances.] THE title of this book sufficiently explains why it is included in a Series 'exemplifying the adventures and labours of individual seekers or groups of seekers in quest of reality.' Sufism, the religious philosophy of Islam, is described in the oldest extant definition as 'the apprehension of divine realities,' and Mohammedan mystics are fond of calling themselves Ahl al-Haqq, 'the followers of the Real.' {Al-Haqq is the term generally used by Sufis when they refer to God.} In attempting to set forth their central doctrines from this point of view, I shall draw to some extent on materials which I have collected during the last twenty years for a general history of Islamic mysticism--a subject so vast and many-sided that several large volumes would be required to do it anything like justice. Here I can only sketch in broad outline certain principles, methods, and characteristic features of the inner life as it has been lived by Moslems of every class and condition from the eighth century of our era to the present day. Difficult are the paths which they threaded, dark and bewildering the pathless heights beyond; but even if we may not hope to accompany the travellers to their journey's end, any information that we have gathered concerning their religious environment and spiritual history will help us to understand the strange experiences of which they write. In the first place, therefore, I propose to offer a few remarks on the origin and historical development of Sufism, its relation to Islam, and its general character. Not only are these matters interesting to the student of comparative religion; some knowledge of them is indispensable to any serious student of Sufism itself. It may be said, truly enough, that all mystical experiences ultimately meet in a single point; but that point assumes widely different aspects according to the mystic's religion, race, and temperament, while the converging lines of approach admit of almost infinite variety. Though all the great types of mysticism have something in common, each is marked by peculiar characteristics resulting from the circum- stances in which it arose and flourished. Just as the Christian type cannot be understood without reference to Christianity, so the Mohammedan type must be viewed in connexion with the outward and inward development of Islam. The word 'mystic,' which has passed from Greek religion into European literature, is represented in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, the three chief languages of Islam, by 'Sufi.' The terms, however, are not precisely synonymous, for 'Sufi' has a specific religious connotation, and is restricted by usage to those mystics who profess the Mohammedan faith. And the Arabic word, although in course of time it appropriated the high significance of the Greek--lips sealed by holy mysteries, eyes closed in visionary rapture--bore a humbler meaning when it first gained currency (about 800 A.D.). Until recently its derivation was in dispute. Most Sufis, flying in the face of etymology, have derived it from an Arabic root which conveys the notion of 'purity'; this would make 'Sufi' mean 'one who is pure in heart' or 'one of the elect.' Some European scholars identified it with «sophós» in the sense of 'theosophist.' But Nöldeke, in an article written twenty years ago, showed conclusively that the name was derived from suf (wool), and was originally applied to those Moslem ascetics who, in imitation of Christian hermits, clad themselves in coarse woollen garb as a sign of penitence and renunciation of worldly vanities. The earliest Sufis were, in fact, ascetics and quietists rather than mystics. An overwhelming consciousness of sin, combined with a dread--which it is hard for us to realise--of Judgment Day and the torments of Hell-fire, so vividly painted in the Koran, drove them to seek salvation in flight from the world. On the other hand, the Koran warned them that salvation depended entirely on the inscrutable will of Allah, who guides aright the good and leads astray the wicked. Their fate was inscribed on the eternal tables of His providence, nothing could alter it. Only this was sure, that if they were destined to be saved by fasting and praying and pious works--then they would be saved. Such a belief ends naturally in quietism, complete and unquestioning submission to the divine will, an attitude characteristic of Sufism in its oldest form. The mainspring of Moslem religious life during the eighth century was fear--fear of God, fear of Hell, fear of death, fear of sin--but the opposite motive had already begun to make its influence felt, and produced in the saintly woman Rabi‘a at least one conspicuous example of truly mystical self-abandonment. So far, there was no great difference between the Sufi and the orthodox Mohammedan zealot, except that the Sufis attached extraordinary importance to certain Koranic doctrines, and developed them at the expense of others which many Moslems might consider equally essential. It must also be allowed that the ascetic movement was inspired by Christian ideals, and contrasted sharply with the active and pleasure-loving spirit of Islam. In a famous sentence the Prophet denounced monkish austerities and bade his people devote themselves to the holy war against unbelievers; and he gave, as is well known, the most convincing testimony in favour of marriage. Although his condemnation of celibacy did not remain without effect, the conquest of Persia, Syria, and Egypt by his successors brought the Moslems into contact with ideas which profoundly modified their outlook on life and religion. European readers of the Koran cannot fail to be struck by its author's vacillation and inconsistency in dealing with the greatest problems. He himself was not aware of these contradictions, nor were they a stumbling-block to his devout followers, whose simple faith accepted the Koran as the Word of God. But the rift was there, and soon produced far-reaching results. Hence arose the Murjites, who set faith above works and emphasised the divine love and goodness; the Qadarites who affirmed, and the Jabarites who denied, that men are responsible for their actions; the Mu‘tazilites, who built a theology on the basis of reason, rejecting the qualities of Allah as incompatible with His unity, and predestinarianism as contrary to His justice; and finally the Ash‘arites, the scholastic theologians of Islam, who formulated the rigid metaphysical and doctrinal system that underlies the creed of orthodox Mohammedans at the present time. All these speculations, influenced as they were by Greek theology and philosophy, reacted powerfully upon Sufism. Early in the third century of the Hegira--the ninth after Christ--we find manifest signs of the new leaven stirring within it. Not that Sufis ceased to mortify the flesh and take pride in their poverty, but they now began to regard asceticism as only the first stage of a long journey, the preliminary training for a larger spiritual life than the mere ascetic is able to conceive. The nature of the change may be illustrated by quoting a few sentences which have come down to us from the mystics of this period. These ideas--Light, Knowledge, and Love--form, as it were, the keynotes of the new Sufism, and in the following chapters I shall endeavour to show how they were developed. Ultimately they rest upon a pantheistic faith which deposed the One transcendent God of Islam and worshipped in His stead One Real Being who dwells and works everywhere, and whose throne is not less, but more, in the human heart than in the heaven of heavens. Before going further, it will be convenient to answer a question which the reader may have asked himself--Whence did the Moslems of the ninth century derive this doctrine? Modern research has proved that the origin of Sufism cannot be traced back to a single definite cause, and has thereby discredited the sweeping generalisations which represent it, for instance, as a reaction of the Aryan mind against a conquering Semitic religion, and as the product, essentially, of Indian or Persian thought. Statements of this kind, even when they are partially true, ignore the principle that in order to establish an historical connexion between A and B, it is not enough to bring forward evidence of their likeness to one another, without showing at the same time (1) that the actual relation of B to A was such as to render the assumed filiation possible, and (2) that the possible hypothesis fits in with all the ascertained and relevant facts. Now, the theories which I have mentioned do not satisfy these conditions. If Sufism was nothing but a revolt of the Aryan spirit, how are we to explain the undoubted fact that some of the leading pioneers of Mohammedan mysticism were natives of Syria and Egypt, and Arabs by race? Similarly, the advocates of a Buddhistic or Vedantic origin forget that the main current of Indian influence upon Islamic civilisation belongs to a later epoch, whereas Moslem theology, philosophy, and science put forth their first luxuriant shoots on a soil that was saturated with Hellenistic culture. The truth is that Sufism is a complex thing, and therefore no simple answer can be given to the question how it originated. We shall have gone far, however, towards answering that question when we have distinguished the various movements and forces which moulded Sufism, and determined what direction it should take in the early stages of its growth. Let us first consider the most important external, i.e. non-Islamic, influences. It is obvious that the ascetic and quietistic tendencies to which I have referred were in harmony with Christian theory and drew nourishment therefrom. Many Gospel texts and apocryphal sayings of Jesus are cited in the oldest Sufi biographies, and the Christian anchorite (rahib) often appears in the rôle of a teacher giving instruction and advice to wandering Moslem ascetics. We have seen that the woollen dress, from which the name 'Sufi' is derived, is of Christian origin: vows of silence, litanies (dhikr), and other ascetic practices may be traced to the same source. As regards the doctrine of divine love, the following extracts speak for themselves: The Syrian mystic, Ahmad ibn al-Hawari, once asked a Christian hermit: Another hermit was asked by some Moslem ascetics: The influence of Christianity through its hermits, monks, and heretical sects (e.g. the Messalians or Euchitæ) was twofold: ascetic and mystical. Oriental Christian mysticism, however, contained a Pagan element: it had long ago absorbed the ideas and adopted the language of Plotinus and the Neo-platonic school. Aristotle, not Plato, is the dominant figure in Moslem philosophy, and few Mohammedans are familiar with the name of Plotinus, who was more commonly called 'the Greek Master' (al-Sheykh al-Yaunani). But since the Arabs gained their first knowledge of Aristotle from his Neoplatonist commentators, the system with which they became imbued was that of Porphyry and Proclus. Thus the so-called Theology of Aristotle, of which an Arabic version appeared in the ninth century, is actually a manual of Neoplatonism. Another work of this school deserves particular notice: I mean the writings falsely attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite, the convert of St. Paul. The pseudo-Dionysius--he may have been a Syrian monk--names as his teacher a certain Hierotheus, whom Frothingham has identified with Stephen Bar Sudaili, a prominent Syrian gnostic and a contemporary of Jacob of Saruj (451-521 A.D.). Dionysius quotes some fragments of erotic hymns by this Stephen, and a complete work, the Book of Hierotheus on the Hidden Mysteries of the Divinity, has come down to us in a unique manuscript which is now in the British Museum. The Dionysian writings, turned into Latin by John Scotus Erigena, founded medieval Christian mysticism in Western Europe. Their influence in the East was hardly less vital. They were translated from Greek into Syriac almost immediately on their appearance, and their doctrine was vigorously propagated by commentaries in the same tongue. "About 850 A.D. Dionysius was known from the Tigris to the Atlantic." Besides literary tradition there were other channels by which the doctrines of emanation, illumination, gnosis, and ecstasy were transmitted, but enough has been said to convince the reader that Greek mystical ideas were in the air and easily accessible to the Moslem inhabitants of Western Asia and Egypt, where the Sufi theosophy first took shape. One of those who bore the chief part in its development, Dhu ’l-Nun the Egyptian, is described as a philosopher and alchemist--in other words, a student of Hellenistic science. When it is added that much of his speculation agrees with what we find, for example, in the writings of Dionysius, we are drawn irresistibly to the conclusion (which, as I have pointed out, is highly probable on general grounds) that Neoplatonism poured into Islam a large tincture of the same mystical element in which Christianity was already steeped. Though little direct evidence is available, the conspicuous place occupied by the theory of gnosis in early Sufi speculation suggests contact with Christian Gnosticism, and it is worth noting that the parents of Ma‘ruf al-Karkhi, whose definition of Sufism as 'the apprehension of divine realities' was quoted on the first page of this Introduction, are said to have been Sabians, i.e. Mandæans, dwelling in the Babylonian fenland between Basra and Wasit. Other Moslem saints had learned 'the mystery of the Great Name.' It was communicated to Ibrahim ibn Adham by a man whom he met while travelling in the desert, and as soon as he pronounced it he saw the prophet Khadir (Elias). The ancient Sufis borrowed from the Manichæans the term siddiq, which they apply to their own spiritual adepts, and a later school, returning to the dualism of Mani, held the view that the diversity of phenomena arises from the admixture of light and darkness. The following version of the doctrine of the seventy thousand veils as explained by a modern Rifa‘i dervish shows clear traces of Gnosticism and is so interesting that I cannot refrain from quoting it here: Before the Mohammedan conquest of India in the eleventh century, the teaching of Buddha exerted considerable influence in Eastern Persia and Transoxania. We hear of flourishing Buddhist monasteries in Balkh, the metropolis of ancient Bactria, a city famous for the number of Sufis who resided in it. Professor Goldziher has called attention to the significant circumstance that the Sufi ascetic, Ibrahim ibn Adham, appears in Moslem legend as a prince of Balkh who abandoned his throne and became a wandering dervish--the story of Buddha over again. The Sufis learned the use of rosaries from Buddhist monks, and, without entering into details, it may be safely asserted that the method of Sufism, so far as it is one of ethical self-culture, ascetic meditation, and intellectual abstraction, owes a good deal to Buddhism. But the features which the two systems have in common only accentuate the fundamental difference between them. In spirit they are poles apart. The Buddhist moralises himself, the Sufi becomes moral only through knowing and loving God. The Sufi conception of the passing-away (fana) of individual self in Universal Being is certainly, I think, of Indian origin. Its first great exponent was the Persian mystic, Bayazid of Bistam, who may have received it from his teacher, Abu ‘Ali of Sind (Scinde). Here are some of his sayings: This, it will be observed, is not Buddhism, but the pantheism of the Vedanta. We cannot identify fana with Nirvana unconditionally. Both terms imply the passing-away of individuality, but while Nirvana is purely negative, fana is accompanied by baqa, everlasting life in God. The rapture of the Sufi who has lost himself in ecstatic contemplation of the divine beauty is entirely opposed to the passionless intellectual serenity of the Arahat. I emphasise this contrast because, in my opinion, the influence of Buddhism on Mohammedan thought has been exaggerated. Much is attributed to Buddhism that is Indian rather than specifically Buddhistic: the fana theory of the Sufis is a case in point. Ordinary Moslems held the followers of Buddha in abhorrence, regarding them as idolaters, and were not likely to seek personal intercourse with them. On the other hand, for nearly a thousand years before the Mohammedan conquest, Buddhism had been powerful in Bactria and Eastern Persia generally: it must, therefore, have affected the development of Sufism in these regions. While fana in its pantheistic form is radically different from Nirvana, the terms coincide so closely in other ways that we cannot regard them as being altogether unconnected. Fana has an ethical aspect: it involves the extinction of all passions and desires. The passing-away of evil qualities and of the evil actions which they produce is said to be brought about by the continuance of the corresponding good qualities and actions. Compare this with the definition of Nirvana given by Professor Rhys Davids: Apart from the doctrine of Karma, which is alien to Sufism, these definitions of fana (viewed as a moral state) and Nirvana, agree almost word for word. It would be out of place to pursue the comparison further, but I think we may conclude that the Sufi theory of fana was influenced to some extent by Buddhism as well as by Perso-Indian pantheism. The receptivity of Islam to foreign ideas has been recognised by every unbiassed inquirer, and the history of Sufism is only a single instance of the general rule. But this fact should not lead us to seek in such ideas an explanation of the whole question which I am now discussing, or to identify Sufism itself with the extraneous ingredients which it absorbed and assimilated in the course of its development. Even if Islam had been miraculously shut off from contact with foreign religions and philosophies, some form of mysticism would have arisen within it, for the seeds were already there. Of course, we cannot isolate the internal forces working in this direction, since they were subject to the law of spiritual gravitation. The powerful currents of thought discharged through the Mohammedan world by the great non-lslamic systems above mentioned gave a stimulus to various tendencies within Islam which affected Sufism either positively or negatively. As we have seen, its oldest type is an ascetic revolt against luxury and worldliness; later on, the prevailing rationalism and scepticism provoked counter-movements towards intuitive knowledge and emotional faith, and also an orthodox reaction which in its turn drove many earnest Moslems into the ranks of the mystics. How, it may be asked, could a religion founded on the simple and austere monotheism of Mohammed tolerate these new doctrines, much less make terms with them? It would seem impossible to reconcile the transcendent personality of Allah with an immanent Reality which is the very life and soul of the universe. Yet Islam has accepted Sufism. The Sufis, instead of being excommunicated, are securely established in the Mohammedan church, and the Legend of the Moslem Saints records the wildest excesses of Oriental pantheism. Let us return for a moment to the Koran, that infallible touchstone by which every Mohammedan theory and practice must be proved. Are any germs of mysticism to be found there? The Koran, as I have said, starts with the notion of Allah, the One, Eternal, and Almighty God, far above human feelings and aspirations--the Lord of His slaves, not the Father of His children; a judge meting out stern justice to sinners, and extending His mercy only to those who avert His wrath by repentance, humility, and unceasing works of devotion; a God of fear rather than of love. This is one side, and certainly the most prominent side, of Mohammed's teaching; but while he set an impassable gulf between the world and Allah, his deeper instinct craved a direct revelation from God to the soul. There are no contradictions in the logic of feeling. Mohammed, who had in him something of the mystic, felt God both as far and near, both as transcendent and immanent. In the latter aspect, Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth, a Being who works in the world and in the soul of man. It was a long time ere they saw. The Moslem consciousness, haunted by terrible visions of the wrath to come, slowly and painfully awoke to the significance of those liberating ideas. The verses which I have quoted do not stand alone, and however unfavourable to mysticism the Koran as a whole may be, I cannot assent to the view that it supplies no basis for a mystical interpretation of Islam. This was worked out in detail by the Sufis, who dealt with the Koran in very much the same way as Philo treated the Pentateuch. But they would not have succeeded so thoroughly in bringing over the mass of religious Moslems to their side, unless the champions of orthodoxy had set about constructing a system of scholastic philosophy that reduced the divine nature to a purely formal, changeless, and absolute unity, a bare will devoid of all affections and emotions, a tremendous and incalculable power with which no human creature could have any communion or personal intercourse whatsoever. That is the God of Mohammedan theology. That was the alternative to Sufism. Therefore, "all thinking, religious Moslems are mystics," as Professor D. B. Macdonald, one of our best authorities on the subject, has remarked. And he adds: "All, too, are pantheists, but some do not know it." The relation of individual Sufis to Islam varies from more or less entire conformity to a merely nominal profession of belief in Allah and His Prophet. While the Koran and the Traditions are generally acknowledged to be the unalterable standard of religious truth, this acknowledgment does not include the recognition of any external authority which shall decide what is orthodox and what is heretical. Creeds and catechisms count for nothing in the Sufi's estimation. Why should he concern himself with these when he possesses a doctrine derived immediately from God? As he reads the Koran with studious meditation and rapt attention, lo, the hidden meanings--infinite, inexhaustible--of the Holy Word flash upon his inward eye. This is what the Sufis call istinbat, a sort of intuitive deduction; the mysterious inflow of divinely revealed knowledge into hearts made pure by repentance and filled with the thought of God, and the outflow of that knowledge upon the interpreting tongue. Naturally, the doctrines elicited by means of istinbat do not agree very well either with Mohammedan theology or with each other, but the discord is easily explained. Theologians, who interpret the letter, cannot be expected to reach the same conclusions as mystics, who interpret the spirit; and if both classes differ amongst themselves, that is a merciful dispensation of divine wisdom, since theological controversy serves to extinguish religious error, while the variety of mystical truth corresponds to the manifold degrees and modes of mystical experience. In the chapter on the gnosis I shall enter more fully into the attitude of the Sufis towards positive religion. It is only a rough-and-ready account of the matter to say that many of them have been good Moslems, many scarcely Moslems at all, and a third party, perhaps the largest, Moslems after a fashion. During the early Middle Ages Islam was a growing organism, and gradually became transformed under the influence of diverse movements, of which Sufism itself was one. Mohammedan orthodoxy in its present shape owes much to Ghazali, and Ghazali was a Sufi. Through his work and example the Sufistic inter- pretation of Islam has in no small measure been harmonised with the rival claims of reason and tradition, but just because of this he is less valuable than mystics of a purer type to the student who wishes to know what Sufism essentially is. Although the numerous definitions of Sufism which occur in Arabic and Persian books on the subject are historically interesting, their chief importance lies in showing that Sufism is undefinable. Jalaluddin Rumi in his Masnavi tells a story about an elephant which some Hindoos were exhibiting in a dark room. Many people gathered to see it, but, as the place was too dark to permit them to see the elephant, they all felt it with their hands, to gain an idea of what it was like. One felt its trunk, and said that the animal resembled a water-pipe; another felt its ear, and said it must be a large fan; another its leg, and thought it must be a pillar; another felt its back, and declared that the beast must be like an immense throne. So it is with those who define Sufism: they can only attempt to express what they themselves have felt, and there is no conceivable formula that will comprise every shade of personal and intimate religious feeling. Since, however, these definitions illustrate with convenient brevity certain aspects and characteristics of Sufism, a few specimens may be given. The reader will perceive that Sufism is a word uniting many divergent meanings, and that in sketching its main features one is obliged to make a sort of composite portrait, which does not represent any particular type exclusively. The Sufis are not a sect, they have no dogmatic system, the tariqas or paths by which they seek God "are in number as the souls of men" and vary infinitely, though a family likeness may be traced in them all. Descriptions of such a Protean phenomenon must differ widely from one another, and the impression produced in each case will depend on the choice of materials and the prominence given to this or that aspect of the many-sided whole. Now, the essence of Sufism is best displayed in its extreme type, which is pantheistic and speculative rather than ascetic or devotional. This type, therefore, I have purposely placed in the foreground. The advantage of limiting the field is obvious enough, but entails some loss of proportion. In order to form a fair judgment of Mohammedan mysticism, the following chapters should be supplemented by a companion picture drawn especially from those moderate types which, for want of space, I have unduly neglected. MYSTICS of every race and creed have described the progress of the spiritual life as a Journey or a pilgrimage. Other symbols have been used for the same purpose, but this one appears to be almost universal in its range. The Sufi who sets out to seek God calls himself a 'traveller' (salik); he advances by slow 'stages' (maqamat) along a 'path' (tariqat) to the goal of union with Reality (fana fi ’l-Haqq). Should he venture to make a map of this interior ascent, it will not correspond exactly with any of those made by previous explorers. Such maps or scales of perfection were elaborated by Sufi teachers at an early period, and the unlucky Moslem habit of systematising has produced an enormous aftercrop. The 'path' expounded by the author of the Kitab al-Luma‘, perhaps the oldest comprehensive treatise on Sufism that we now possess, consists of the following seven 'stages', each of which (except the first member of the series) is the result of the 'stages' immediately preceding it--(l) Repentance, (2) abstinence, (3) renunciation, (4) poverty, (5) patience, (6) trust in God, (7) satisfaction. The 'stages' constitute the ascetic and ethical discipline of the Sufi, and must be carefully distinguished from the so-called 'states' (ahwal, plural of hal), which form a similar psychological chain. The writer whom I have just quoted enumerates ten 'states'--Meditation, nearness to God, love, fear, hope, longing, intimacy, tranquillity, contemplation, and certainty. While the 'stages' can be acquired and mastered by one's own efforts, the 'states' are spiritual feelings and dispositions over which a man has no control: The Sufi's 'path' is not finished until he has traversed all the 'stages,' making himself perfect in every one of them before advancing to the next, and has also experienced whatever 'states' it pleases God to bestow upon him. Then, and only then, is he permanently raised to the higher planes of consciousness which Sufis call 'the Gnosis' (ma‘rifat) and 'the Truth' (haqiqat), where the 'seeker' (talib) becomes the 'knower' or 'gnostic' (‘arif), and realises that knowledge, knower, and known are One. Having sketched, as briefly as possible, the external framework of the method by which the Sufi approaches his goal, I shall now try to give some account of its inner workings. The present chapter deals with the first portion of the threefold journey--the Path, the Gnosis, and the Truth--by which the quest of Reality is often symbolised. The first place in every list of 'stages' is occupied by repentance (tawbat). This is the Moslem term for 'conversion,' and marks the beginning of a new life. In the biographies of eminent Sufis the dreams, visions, auditions, and other experiences which caused them to enter on the Path are usually related. Trivial as they may seem, these records have a psychological basis, and, if authentic, would be worth studying in detail. Repentance is described as the awakening of the soul from the slumber of heedlessness, so that the sinner becomes aware of his evil ways and feels contrition for past disobedience. He is not truly penitent, however, unless (1) he at once abandons the sin or sins of which he is conscious, and (2) firmly resolves that he will never return to these sins in the future. It he should fail to keep his vow, he must again turn to God, whose mercy is infinite. A certain well-known Sufi repented seventy times and fell back into sin seventy times before he made a lasting repentance. The convert must also, as far as lies in his power, satisfy all those whom he has injured. Many examples of such restitution might be culled from the Legend of the Moslem Saints. According to the high mystical theory, repentance is purely an act of divine grace, coming from God to man, not from man to God. Some one said to Rabi‘a: The question whether sins ought to be remembered after repentance or forgotten illustrates a fundamental point in Sufi ethics: I mean the difference between what is taught to novices and disciples and what is held as an esoteric doctrine by adepts. Any Mohammedan director of souls would tell his pupils that to think humbly and remorsefully of one's sins is a sovereign remedy against spiritual pride, but he himself might very well believe that real repentance consists in forgetting everything except God. Sin appertains to self-existence, which itself is the greatest of all sins. To forget sin is to forget self. This is only one application of a principle which, as I have said, runs through the whole ethical system of Sufism and will be more fully explained in a subsequent chapter. Its dangers are evident, but we must in fairness allow that the same theory of conduct may not be equally suitable to those who have made themselves perfect in moral discipline and to those who are still striving after perfection. Over the gate of repentance it is written: The convert now begins what is called by Christian mystics the Purgative Way. If he follows the general rule, he will take a director (Sheykh, Pir, Murshid), i.e. a holy man of ripe experience and profound knowledge, whose least word is absolute law to his disciples. A 'seeker' who attempts to traverse the 'Path' without assistance receives little sympathy. Of such a one it is said that 'his guide is Satan,' and he is likened to a tree that for want of the gardener's care brings forth 'none or bitter fruit.' Speaking of the Sufi Sheykhs, Hujwiri says: Shibli was a pupil of the famous theosophist Junayd of Baghdad. On his conversion, he came to Junayd, saying: Shibli asked what he must do. At the end of a year he said to Shibli: During a whole year Shibli wandered through the streets of Baghdad, begging of the passers-by, but no one heeded him. Then he returned to Junayd, who exclaimed: Shibli obeyed and spent four years in going from door to door, until he had obtained an acquittance from every person except one, whom he failed to trace. On his return, Junayd said to him: Every day Shibli used to bring the alms that were given him to Junayd, who bestowed them on the poor and kept Shibli without food until the next morning. When a year had passed in this way, Junayd accepted him as one of his disciples on condition that he should perform the duties of a servant to the others. After a year's service, Junayd asked him: I need not dwell on the details of this training--the fasts and vigils, the vows of silence, the long days and nights of solitary meditation, all the weapons and tactics, in short, of that battle against one's self which the Prophet declared to be more painful and meritorious than the Holy War. On the other hand, my readers will expect me to describe in a general way the characteristic theories and practices for which the 'Path' is a convenient designation. These may be treated under the following heads: Poverty, Mortification, Trust in God, and Recollection. Whereas poverty is negative in nature, involving detachment from all that is worldly and unreal, the three remaining terms denote the positive counterpart of that process, namely, the ethical discipline by which the soul is brought into harmonious relations with Reality. The fatalistic spirit which brooded darkly over the childhood of Islam--the feeling that all human actions are determined by an unseen Power, and in themselves are worthless and vain--caused renunciation to become the watchword of early Moslem asceticism. Every true believer is bound to abstain from unlawful pleasures, but the ascetic acquires merit by abstaining from those which are lawful. At first, renunciation was understood almost exclusively in a material sense. To have as few worldly goods as possible seemed the surest means of gaining salvation. Dawud al-Ta’i owned nothing except a mat of rushes, a brick which he used as a pillow, and a leathern vessel which served him for drinking and washing. A certain man dreamed that he saw Malik ibn Dinar and Mohammed ibn Wasi‘ being led into Para- dise, and that Malik was admitted before his companion. He cried out in astonishment, for he thought Mohammed ibn Wasi‘ had a superior claim to the honour. "Yes," came the answer, "but Mohammed ibn Wasi‘ possessed two shirts, and Malik only one. That is the reason why Malik is preferred." The Sufi ideal of poverty goes far beyond this. True poverty is not merely lack of wealth, but lack of desire for wealth: the empty heart as well as the empty hand. The 'poor man' (faqir) and the 'mendicant' (dervish) are names by which the Mohammedan mystic is proud to be known, because they imply that he is stripped of every thought or wish that would divert his mind from God. "To be severed entirely from both the present life and the future life, and to want nothing besides the Lord of the present life and the future life--that is to be truly poor." Such a faqir is denuded of individual existence, so that he does not attribute to himself any action, feeling, or quality. He may even be rich, in the common meaning of the word, though spiritually he is the poorest of the poor; for, sometimes, God endows His saints with an outward show of wealth and worldliness in order to hide them from the profane. No one familiar with the mystical writers will need to be informed that their terminology is ambiguous, and that the same word frequently covers a group, if not a multitude, of significations diverging more or less widely according to the aspect from which it is viewed. Hence the confusion that is apparent in Sufi text-books. When 'poverty,' for example, is explained by one interpreter as a transcendental theory and by another as a practical rule of religious life, the meanings cannot coincide. Regarded from the latter standpoint, poverty is only the beginning of Sufism. Faqirs, Jami says, renounce all worldly things for the sake of pleasing God. They are urged to this sacrifice by one of three motives: (a) Hope of an easy reckoning on the Day of Judgment, or fear of being punished; (b) desire of Paradise; (c) longing for spiritual peace and inward composure. Thus, inasmuch as they are not disinterested but seek to benefit themselves, they rank below the Sufi, who has no will of his own and depends absolutely on the will of God. It is the absence of 'self' that distinguishes the Sufi from the faqir. Here are some maxims for dervishes: The Sufi teachers gradually built up a system of asceticism and moral culture which is founded on the fact that there is in man an element of evil--the lower or appetitive soul. This evil self, the seat of passion and lust, is called nafs; it may be considered broadly equivalent to 'the flesh,' and with its allies, the world and the devil, it constitutes the great obstacle to the attainment of union with God. The Prophet said: "Thy worst enemy is thy nafs, which is between thy two sides." I do not intend to discuss the various opinions as to its nature, but the proof of its materiality is too curious to be omitted. Mohammed ibn ‘Ulyan, an eminent Sufi, relates that one day something like a young fox came forth from his throat, and God caused him to know that it was his nafs. He trod on it, but it grew bigger at every kick that he gave it. He said: The nafs of Hallaj was seen running behind him in the shape of a dog; and other cases are recorded in which it appeared as a snake or a mouse. Mortification of the nafs is the chief work of devotion, and leads, directly or indirectly, to the contemplative life. All the Sheykhs are agreed that no disciple who neglects this duty will ever learn the rudiments of Sufism. The principle of mortification is that the nafs should be weaned from those things to which it is accustomed, that it should be encouraged to resist its passions, that its pride should be broken, and that it should be brought through suffering and tribulation to recognise the vileness of its original nature and the impurity of its actions. Concerning the outward methods of mortification, such as fasting, silence, and solitude, a great deal might be written, but we must now pass on to the higher ethical discipline which completes the Path. Self-mortification, as advanced Sufis understand it, is a moral transmutation of the inner man. When they say, "Die before ye die," they do not mean to assert that the lower self can be essentially destroyed, but that it can and should be purged of its attributes, which are wholly evil. These attributes--ignorance, pride, envy, uncharitableness, etc.--are extinguished, and replaced by the opposite qualities, when the will is surrendered to God and when the mind is concentrated on Him. Therefore 'dying to self' is really 'living in God.' The mystical aspects of the doctrine thus stated will occupy a considerable part of the following chapters; here we are mainly interested in its ethical import. The Sufi who has eradicated self-will is said, in technical language, to have reached the 'stages' of 'acquiescence' or 'satisfaction' (rida) and 'trust in God' (tawakkul). 'Trust in God,' in its extreme form, involves the renunciation of every personal initiative and volition; total passivity like that of a corpse in the hands of the washer who prepares it for burial; perfect indifference towards anything that is even remotely connected with one's self. A special class of the ancient Sufis took their name from this 'trust,' which they applied, so far as they were able, to matters of everyday life. For instance, they would not seek food, work for hire, practise any trade, or allow medicine to be given them when they were ill. Quietly they committed themselves to God's care, never doubting that He, to whom belong the treasures of earth and heaven, would provide for their wants, and that their allotted portion would come to them as surely as it comes to the birds, which neither sow nor reap, and to the fish in the sea, and to the child in the womb. These principles depend ultimately on the Sufistic theory of the divine unity, as is shown by Shaqiq of Balkh in the following passage: The 'trusting' Sufi has no thought beyond the present hour. On one occasion Shaqiq asked those who sat listening to his discourse: In view of the practical consequences of attempting to live 'on trust,' it is not surprising to read the advice given to those who would perfectly fulfil the doctrine: "Let them dig a grave and bury themselves." Later Sufis hold that active exertion for the purpose of obtaining the means of subsistence is quite compatible with 'trust,' according to the saying of the Prophet, "Trust in God and tie the camel's leg." They define tawakkul as an habitual state of mind, which is impaired only by self-pleasing thoughts; e.g. it was accounted a breach of 'trust' to think Paradise a more desirable place than Hell. What type of character is such a theory likely to produce? At the worst, a useless drone and hypocrite preying upon his fellow-creatures; at the best, a harmless dervish who remains unmoved in the midst of sorrow, meets praise and blame with equal indifference, and accepts insults, blows, torture, and death as mere incidents in the eternal drama of destiny. This cold morality, however, is not the highest of which Sufism is capable. The highest morality springs from nothing but love, when self-surrender becomes self-devotion. Of that I shall have something to say in due time. Among the positive elements in the Sufi discipline there is one that Moslem mystics unanimously regard as the keystone of practical religion. I refer to the dhikr, an exercise well known to Western readers from the careful description given by Edward Lane in his Modern Egyptians, and by Professor D. B. Macdonald in his recently published Aspects of Islam. The term dhikr--'recollection' seems to me the most appropriate equivalent in English--signifies 'mentioning,' 'remembering,' or simply 'thinking of'; in the Koran the Faithful are commanded to "remember God often," a plain act of worship without any mystical savour. But the Sufis made a practice of repeating the name of God or some religious formula, e.g. "Glory to Allah" (subhan Allah), "There is no god but Allah" (la ilaha illa ’llah), accompanying the mechanical intonation with an intense concentration of every faculty upon the single word or phrase; and they attach greater value to this irregular litany, which enables them to enjoy uninterrupted communion with God, than to the five services of prayer performed, at fixed hours of the day and night, by all Moslems. Recollection may be either spoken or silent, but it is best, according to the usual opinion, that tongue and mind should co-operate. Sahl ibn ‘Abdallah bade one of his disciples endeavour to say "Allah! Allah! the whole day without intermission. When he had acquired the habit of doing so, Sahl instructed him to repeat the same words during the night, until they came forth from his lips even while he was asleep. "Now," said he, "be silent and occupy yourself with recollecting them." At last the disciple's whole being was absorbed by the thought of Allah. One day a log fell on his head, and the words "Allah, Allah" were seen written in the blood that trickled from the wound. Ghazali describes the method and effects of dhikr in a passage which Macdonald has summarised as follows: Another Sufi puts the gist of the matter in a sentence, thus: Recollection can be aided in various ways. When Shibli was a novice, he went daily into a cellar, taking with him a bundle of sticks. If his attention flagged, he would beat himself until the sticks broke, and sometimes the whole bundle would be finished before evening; then he would dash his hands and feet against the wall. The Indian practice of inhaling and exhaling the breath was known to the Sufis of the ninth century and was much used afterwards. Among the Dervish Orders music, singing, and dancing are favourite means of inducing the state of trance called 'passing-away' (fana), which, as appears from the definition quoted above, is the climax and raison d'être of the method. In 'meditation' (muraqabat) we recognise a form of self-concentration similar to the Buddhistic dhyana and samadhi. This is what the Prophet meant when he said, "Worship God as though thou sawest Him, for if thou seest Him not, yet He sees thee." Anyone who feels sure that God is always watching over him will devote himself to meditating on God, and no evil thoughts or diabolic suggestions will find their way into his heart. Nuri used to meditate so intently that not a hair on his body stirred. He declared that he had learned this habit from a cat which was observing a mouse-hole, and that she was far more quiet than he. Abu Sa‘id ibn Abi ’l-Khayr kept his eyes fixed on his navel. It is said that the Devil is smitten with epilepsy when he approaches a man thus occupied, just as happens to other men when the Devil takes possession of them. This chapter will have served its purpose if it has brought before my readers a clear view of the main lines on which the preparatory training of the Sufi is conducted. We must now imagine him to have been invested by his Sheykh with the patched frock (muraqqa‘at or khirqat), which is an outward sign that he has successfully emerged from the discipline of the 'Path,' and is now advancing with uncertain steps towards the Light, as when toil-worn travellers, having gained the summit of a deep gorge, suddenly catch glimpses of the sun and cover their eyes. GOD, who is described in the Koran as "the Light of the heavens and the earth," cannot be seen by the bodily eye. He is visible only to the inward sight of the 'heart.' In the next chapter we shall return to this spiritual organ, but I am not going to enter into the intricacies of Sufi psychology any further than is necessary. The 'vision of the heart' (ru’yat al-qalb) is defined as "the heart's beholding by the light of certainty that which is hidden in the unseen world." This is what ‘Ali meant when he was asked, "Do you see God?" and replied: "How should we worship One whom we do not see?" The light of intuitive certainty (yaqin) by which the heart sees God is a beam of God's own light cast therein by Himself; else no vision of Him were possible. According to a mystical interpretation of the famous passage in the Koran where the light of Allah is compared to a candle burning in a lantern of transparent glass, which is placed in a niche in the wall, the niche is the true believer's heart; therefore his speech is light and his works are light and he moves in light. "He who discourses of eternity," said Bayazid, "must have within him the lamp of eternity." The light which gleams in the heart of the illuminated mystic endows him with a supernatural power of discernment (firasat). Although the Sufis, like all other Moslems, acknowledge Mohammed to be the last of the prophets (as, from a different point of view, he is the Logos or first of created beings), they really claim to possess a minor form of inspiration. When Nuri was questioned concerning the origin of mystical firasat, he answered by quoting the Koranic verse in which God says that He breathed His spirit into Adam; but the more orthodox Sufis, who strenously combat the doctrine that the human spirit is uncreated and eternal, affirm that firasat is the result of knowledge and insight, metaphorically called 'light' or 'inspiration,' which God creates and bestows upon His favourites. The Tradition, "Beware of the discernment of the true believer, for he sees by the light of Allah," is exemplified in such anecdotes as these: Abu ‘Abdallah al-Razi said: Sari al-Saqati frequently urged Junayd to speak in public, but Junayd was unwilling to consent, for he doubted whether he was worthy of such an honour. One Friday night he dreamed that the Prophet appeared and commanded him to speak to the people. He awoke and went to Sari's house before daybreak, and knocked at the door. Sari opened the door and said: "You would not believe me until the Prophet came and told you." Sahl ibn ‘Abdallah was sitting in the congregational mosque when a pigeon, overcome by the intense heat, dropped on the floor. Sahl exclaimed: "Please God, Shah al-Kirmani has just died." They wrote it down, and it was found to be true. When the heart is purged of sin and evil thoughts, the light of certainty strikes upon it and makes it a shining mirror, so that the Devil cannot approach it without being observed. Hence the saying of some gnostic: "If I disobey my heart, I disobey God." It was a man thus illuminated to whom the Prophet said: "Consult thy heart, and thou wilt hear the secret ordinance of God proclaimed by the heart's inward knowledge, which is real faith and divinity"--something much better than the learning of divines. I need not anticipate here the question, which will be discussed in the following chapter, how far the claims of an infallible conscience are reconcilable with external religion and morality. The Prophet, too, prayed that God would put a light into his ear and into his eye; and after mentioning the different members of his body, he concluded, "and make the whole of me one light." {The reader should be reminded that most, if not all, mystical Traditions ascribed to Mohammed were forged and fathered upon him by the Sufis, who represent themselves as the true interpreters of his esoteric teaching.} From illumination of gradually increasing splendour, the mystic rises to contemplation of the divine attributes, and ultimately, when his consciousness is wholly melted away, he becomes transubstantiated (tajawhara) in the radiance of the divine essence. This is the 'station' of well-doing (ihsan)--for "God is with the well-doers" (Kor. 29.69), and we have Prophetic authority for the statement that "well-doing consists in worshipping God as though thou wert seeing Him." I will not waste the time and abuse the patience of my readers by endeavouring to classify and describe these various grades of illumination, which may be depicted symbolically but cannot be explained in scientific language. We must allow the mystics to speak for themselves. Granted that their teaching is often hard to understand, it conveys more of the truth than we can ever hope to obtain from analysis and dissection. Here are two passages from the oldest Persian treatise on Sufism, the Kashf al-Mahjub of Hujwiri: I take the following quotation from the Mawaqif of Niffari, an author with whom we shall become better acquainted as we proceed: Explanation by the commentator: So much concerning the theory of illumination. But, as Mephistopheles says, "grau ist alle Theorie"; and though to most of us the living experience is denied, we can hear its loudest echoes and feel its warmest afterglow in the poetry which it has created. Let me translate part of a Persian ode by the dervish-poet, Baba Kuhi of Shiriz, who died in 1050 A.D. The whole of Sufism rests on the belief that when the individual self is lost, the Universal Self is found, or, in religious language, that ecstasy affords the only means by which the soul can directly communicate and become united with God. Asceticism, purification, love, gnosis, saintship--all the leading ideas of Sufism--are developed from this cardinal principle. Among the metaphorical terms commonly employed by the Sufis as, more or less, equivalent to 'ecstasy' are fana (passing-away), wajd (feeling), sama‘ (hearing), dhawq (taste), shirb (drinking), ghaybat (absence from self), jadhbat (attraction), sukr (intoxication), and hal (emotion). It would be tedious and not, I think, specially in- structive to examine in detail the definitions of those terms and of many others akin to them which occur in Sufi text-books. We are not brought appreciably nearer to understanding the nature of ecstasy when it is described as "a divine mystery which God communicates to true believers who behold Him with the eye of certainty," or as "a flame which moves in the ground of the soul and is produced by love-desire." The Mohammedan theory of ecstasy, however can hardly be discussed without reference to two of the above-mentioned technical expressions, namely, fana and sama‘. As I have remarked in the Introduction (p-19), the term fana includes different stages, aspects, and meanings. These may be summarised as follows: 1. A moral transformation of the soul through the extinction of all its passions and desires. 2. A mental abstraction or passing-away of the mind from all objects of perception, thoughts, actions, and feelings through its concentration upon the thought of God. Here the thought of God signifies contemplation of the divine attributes. 3. The cessation of all conscious thought. The highest stage of fana is reached when even the consciousness of having attained fana disappears. This is what the Sufis call 'the passing-away of passing-away' (fana al-fana). The mystic is now rapt in contemplation of the divine essence. The final stage of fana, the complete passing-away from self, forms the prelude to baqa, 'continuance' or 'abiding' in God, and will be treated with greater fullness in Chapter VI. The first stage closely resembles the Buddhistic Nirvana. It is a 'passing-away' of evil qualities and states of mind, which involves the simultaneous 'continuance' of good qualities and states of mind. This is necessarily an ecstatic process, inasmuch as all the attributes of 'self' are evil in relation to God. No one can make himself perfectly moral, i.e. perfectly 'selfless.' This must be done for him, through 'a flash of the divine beauty' in his heart. While the first stage refers to the moral 'self,' the second refers to the percipient and intellectual 'self.' Using the classification generally adopted by Christian mystics, we may regard the former as the consummation of the Purgative Life, and the latter as the goal of the Illuminative Life. The third and last stage constitutes the highest level of the Contemplative Life. Often, though not invariably, fana is accompanied by loss of sensation. Sari al-Saqati, a famous Sufi of the third century, expressed the opinion that if a man in this state were struck on the face with a sword, he would not feel the blow. Abu ’l-Khayr al-Aqta‘ had a gangrene in his foot. The physicians declared that his foot must be amputated, but he would not allow this to be done. His disciples said, "Cut it off while he is praying, for he is then unconscious." The physicians acted on their advice, and when Abu ’l-Khayr finished his prayers he found that the amputation had taken place. It is difficult to see how any one far advanced in fana could be capable of keeping the religious law--a point on which the orthodox mystics lay great emphasis. Here the doctrine of saintship comes in. God takes care to preserve His elect from disobedience to His commands. We are told that Bayazid, Shibli, and other saints were continually in a state of rapture until the hour of prayer arrived; then they returned to consciousness, and after performing their prayers became enraptured again. In theory, the ecstatic trance is involuntary, although certain conditions are recognised as being specially favourable to its occurrence. "It comes to a man through vision of the majesty of God and through revelation of the divine omnipotence to his heart." Such, for instance, was the case of Abu Hamza, who, while walking in the streets of Baghdad and meditating on the nearness of God, suddenly fell into an ecstasy and went on his way, neither seeing nor hearing, until he recovered his senses and found himself in the desert. Trances of this kind sometimes lasted many weeks. It is recorded of Sahl ibn ‘Abdallah that he used to remain in ecstasy twenty-five days at a time, eating no food; yet he would answer questions put to him by the doctors of theology, and even in winter his shirt would be damp with sweat. But the Sufis soon discovered that ecstasy might be induced artificially, not only by concentration of thought, recollection (dhikr), and other innocent methods of autohypnosis, but also by music, singing, and dancing. These are included in the term sama‘, which properly means nothing more than audition. That Moslems are extraordinarily susceptible to the sweet influences of sound will not be doubted by any one who remembers how, in the Arabian Nights, heroes and heroines alike swoon upon the slightest provocation afforded by a singing-girl touching her lute and trilling a few lines of passionate verse. The fiction is true to life. When Sufi writers discuss the analogous phenomena of ecstasy, they commonly do so in a chapter entitled 'Concerning the Sama‘.' Under this heading Hujwiri, in the final chapter of his Kashf al-Mahjub, gives us an excellent summary of his own and other Mohammedan theories, together with numerous anecdotes of persons who were thrown into ecstasy on hearing a verse of the Koran or a heavenly voice (hatif) or poetry or music. Many are said to have died from the emotion thus aroused. I may add by way of explanation that, according to a well-known mystical belief, God has inspired every created thing to praise Him in its own language, so that all the sounds in the universe form, as it were, one vast choral hymn by which He glorifies Himself. Consequently those whose hearts He has opened and endowed with spiritual perception hear His voice everywhere, and ecstasy overcomes them as they listen to the rhythmic chant of the muezzin, or the street cry of the saqqa shouldering his waterskin, or, perchance, to the noise of wind or the bleating of a sheep or the piping of a bird. Pythagoras and Plato are responsible for another theory, to which the Sufi poets frequently allude, that music awakens in the soul a memory of celestial harmonies heard in a state of pre-existence, before the soul was separated from God. Thus Jalaluddin Rumi: The formal practice of sama‘ quickly spread amongst the Sufis and produced an acute cleavage of opinion, some holding it to be lawful and praiseworthy, whilst others condemned it as an abominable innovation and incitement to vice. Hujwiri adopts the middle view expressed in a saying of Dhu ’l-Nun the Egyptian: He declares, in effect, that audition is neither good nor bad, and must be judged by its results. One whose heart is absorbed in the thought of God cannot be corrupted by hearing musical instruments. So with dancing. Hujwiri, however, lays down several precautionary rules for those who engage in audition, and he confesses that the public concerts given by dervishes are extremely demoralising. Novices, he thinks, should not be permitted to attend them. In modern times these orgiastic scenes have frequently been described by eye-witnesses. I will now translate from Jami's Lives of the Saints the account of a similar performance which took place about seven hundred years ago. Grotesque and ignoble features--not to speak of grosser deformities--must appear in any faithful delineation of the ecstatic life of Islam. Nothing is gained by concealing their existence or by minimising their importance. If, as Jalaluddin Rumi says: let us acknowledge that the transports of spiritual intoxication are not always sublime, and that human nature has a trick of avenging itself on those who would cast it off. THE Sufis distinguish three organs of spiritual communication: the heart (qalb), which knows God; the spirit (ruh), which loves Him; and the inmost ground of the soul (sirr), which contemplates Him. It would take us into deep waters if we were to embark upon a discussion of these terms and their relation to each other. A few words concerning the first of the three will suffice. The qalb, though connected in some mysterious way with the physical heart, is not a thing of flesh and blood. Unlike the English 'heart,' its nature is rather intellectual than emotional, but whereas the intellect cannot gain real knowledge of God, the qalb is capable of knowing the essences of all things, and when illumined by faith and knowledge reflects the whole content of the divine mind; hence the Prophet said, "My earth and My heaven contain Me not, but the heart of My faithful servant containeth Me." This revelation, however, is a comparatively rare experience. Normally, the heart is 'veiled,' blackened by sin, tarnished by sensual impressions and images, pulled to and fro between reason and passion: a battlefield on which the armies of God and the Devil contend for victory. Through one gate, the heart receives immediate knowledge of God; through another, it lets in the illusions of sense. "Here a world and there a world," says Jalaluddin Rumi. "I am seated on the threshold." Therefore man is potentially lower than the brutes and higher than the angels. Less than the brutes, because they lack the knowledge that would enable them to rise; more than the angels, because they are not subject to passion and so cannot fall. How shall a man know God? Not by the senses, for He is immaterial; nor by the intecllect, for He is unthinkable. Logic never gets beyond the finite; philosophy sees double; book-learning fosters self-conceit and obscures the idea of the Truth with clouds of empty words. Jalaluddin Rumi, addressing the scholastic theologian, asks scornfully: This knowledge comes by illumination, revelation, inspiration. "Look in your own heart," says the Sufi, "for the kingdom of God is within you." He who truly knows himself knows God, for the heart is a mirror in which every divine quality is reflected. But just as a steel mirror when coated with rust loses its power of reflexion, so the inward spiritual sense, which Sufis call the eye of the heart, is blind to the celestial glory until the dark obstruction of the phenomenal self, with all its sensual contaminations, has been wholly cleared away. The clearance, if it is to be done effectively, must be the work of God, though it demands a certain inward co-operation on the part of man. "Whosoever shall strive for Our sake, We will guide him into Our ways" (Kor. 29.69). Action is false and vain, if it is thought to proceed from one's self, but the enlightened mystic regards God as the real agent in every act, and therefore takes no credit for his good works nor desires to be recompensed for them. While ordinary knowledge is denoted by the term ‘ilm, the mystic knowledge peculiar to the Sufis is called ma‘rifat or ‘irfan. As I have indicated in the foregoing paragraphs, ma‘rifat is fundamentally different from ‘irfan, and a different word must be used to translate it. We need not look far for a suitable equivalent. The ma‘rifat of the Sufis is the 'gnosis' of Hellenistic theosophy, i.e. direct knowledge of God based on revelation or apocalyptic vision. It is not the result of any mental process, but depends entirely on the will and favour of God, who bestows it as a gift from Himself upon those whom He has created with the capacity for receiving it. It is a light of divine grace that flashes into the heart and overwhelms every human faculty in its dazzling beams. "He who knows God is dumb." The relation of gnosis to positive religion is discussed in a very remarkable treatise on speculative mysticism by Niffari, an unknown wandering dervish who died in Egypt in the latter half of the tenth century. His work, consisting of a series of revelations in which God addresses the writer and instructs him concerning the theory of gnosis, is couched in abstruse language and would scarcely be intelligible without the commentary which accompanies it; but its value as an original exposition of advanced Sufism will sufficiently appear from the excerpts given in this chapter. {I am now engaged in preparing an edition of the Arabic text, together with an English translation and commentary.} Those who seek God, says Niffari, are of three kinds: firstly, the worshippers to whom God makes Himself known by means of bounty, i.e. they worship Him in the hope of winning Paradise or some spiritual recompense such as dreams and miracles; secondly, the philosophers and scholastic theologians, to whom God makes Himself known by means of glory, i.e. they can never find the glorious God whom they seek, wherefore they assert that His essence is unknowable, saying, "We know that we know Him not, and that is our knowledge"; thirdly, the gnostics, to whom God makes Himself known by means of ecstasy, i.e. they are possessed and controlled by a rapture that deprives them of the consciousness of individual existence. Niffari bids the gnostic perform only such acts of worship as are in accordance with his vision of God, though in so doing he will necessarily disobey the religious law which was made for the vulgar. His inward feeling must decide how far the external forms of religion are good for him. The commentator observes that the Sunna, being general in scope, makes no distinction between individuals, e.g. seekers of Paradise and seekers of God, but that in reality it contains exactly what each person requires. The portion specially appropriate in every case is discerned either by means of gnosis, which God communicates to the heart, or by means of guidance imparted by a spiritual director. This means that the gnostic need not be dismayed if his inner experience conflicts with the religious law. The contradiction is only apparent. Religion addresses itself to the common herd of men who are veiled by their minds, by logic, tradition, and so on; whereas gnosis belongs to the elect, whose bodies and spirits are bathed in the eternal Light. Religion sees things from the aspect of plurality, but gnosis regards the all-embracing Unity. Hence the same act is good in religion, but evil in gnosis--a truth which is briefly stated thus: Although works of devotion are not incompatible with gnosis, no one who connects them in the slightest degree with himself is a gnostic. This is the theme of the following allegory. Niffari seldom writes so lucidly as he does here, yet I fancy that few of my readers will find the explanations printed within square brackets altogether superfluous. The gnostic descries the element of reality in positive religion, but his gnosis is not derived from religion or from any sort of human knowledge: it is properly concerned with the divine attributes, and God Himself reveals the knowledge of these to His saints who contemplate Him. Dhu ’l-Nun of Egypt, whose mystical speculations mark him out as the father of Moslem theosophy, said that gnostics are not themselves, and do not subsist through themselves, but so far as they subsist, they subsist through God. The gnostic contemplates the attributes of God, not His essence, for even in gnosis a small trace of duality remains: this disappears only in fana al-fana, the total passing-away in the undifferentiated Godhead. The cardinal attribute of God is unity, and the divine unity is the first and last principle of gnosis. {According to some mystics, the gnosis of unity constitutes a higher stage which is called 'the Truth' (haqiqat). See above, .} Both Moslem and Sufi declare that God is One, but the statement bears a different meaning in each instance. The Moslem means that God is unique in His essence, qualities, and acts; that He is absolutely unlike all other beings. The Sufi means that God is the One Real Being which underlies all phenomena. This principle is carried to its extreme consequences, as we shall see. If nothing except God exists, then the whole universe, including man, is essentially one with God, whether it is regarded as an emanation which proceeds from Him, without impairing His unity, like sunbeams from the sun, or whether it is conceived as a mirror in which the divine attributes are reflected. But surely a God who is all in all can have no reason for thus revealing Himself: why should the One pass over into the Many? The Sufis answer--a philosopher would say that they evade the difficulty--by quoting the famous Tradition: "I was a hidden treasure and I desired to be known; therefore I created the creation in order that I might be known." In other words, God is the eternal Beauty, and it lies in the nature of beauty to desire love. The mystic poets have described the self-manifestation of the One with a profusion of splendid imagery. Jami says, for example: In another work Jami sets forth the relation of God to the world more philosophically, as follows: Phenomena, as such, are not-being and only derive a contingent existence from the qualities of Absolute Being by which they are irradiated. The sensible world resembles the fiery circle made by a single spark whirling round rapidly. Man is the crown and final cause of the universe. Though last in the order of creation he is first in the process of divine thought, for the essential part of him is the primal Intelligence or universal Reason which emanates immediately from the Godhead. This corresponds to the Logos--the animating principle of all things--and is identified with the Prophet Mohammed. An interesting parallel might be drawn here between the Christian and Sufi doctrines. The same expressions are applied to the founder of Islam which are used by St. John, St. Paul, and later mystical theologians concerning Christ. Thus, Mohammed is called the Light of God, he is said to have existed before the creation of the world, he is adored as the source of all life, actual and possible, he is the Perfect Man in whom all the divine attributes are manifested, and a Sufi tradition ascribes to him the saying, "He that hath seen me hath seen Allah." In the Moslem scheme, however, the Logos doctrine occupies a subordinate place, as it obviously must when the whole duty of man is believed to consist in realising the unity of God. The most distinctive feature of Oriental as opposed to European mysticism is its profound consciousness of an omnipresent, all-pervading unity in which every vestige of individuality is swallowed up. Not to become like God or personally to participate in the divine nature is the Sufi's aim, but to escape from the bondage of his unreal selfhood and thereby to be reunited with the One infinite Being. According to Jami, Unification consists in making the heart single--that is, in purifying and divesting it of attachment to aught except God, both in respect of desire and will and also as regards knowledge and gnosis. The mystic's desire and will should be severed from all things which are desired and willed; all objects of knowledge and understanding should be removed from his intellectual vision. His thoughts should be directed solely towards God, he should not be conscious of anything besides. So long as he is a captive in the snare of passion and lust, it is hard for him to maintain this relation to God, but when the subtle influence of that attraction becomes manifest in him, expelling preoccupation with objects of sense and cognition from his inward being, delight in that divine communion prevails over bodily pleasures and spiritual joys; the painful task of self-mortification is ended, and the sweetness of contemplation enravishes his soul. When the sincere aspirant perceives in himself the beginning of this attraction, which is delight in the recollection of God, let him fix his whole mind on fostering and strengthening it, let him keep himself aloof from whatsoever is incompatible with it, and deem that even though he were to devote an eternity to cultivating that communion, he would have done nothing and would not have discharged his duty as he ought. It is an axiom of the Sufis that what is not in a man he cannot know. The gnostic--Man par excellence--could not know God and all the mysteries of the universe, unless he found them in himself. He is the micro- cosm, 'a copy made in the image of God,' 'the eye of the world whereby God sees His own works.' In knowing himself as he really is, he knows God, and he knows himself through God, who is nearer to everything than its knowledge of itself. Knowledge of God precedes, and is the cause of, self-knowledge. Gnosis, then, is unification, realisation of the fact that the appearance of 'otherness' beside Oneness is a false and deluding dream. Gnosis lays this spectre, which haunts unenlightened men all their lives; which rises, like a wall of utter darkness, between them and God. Gnosis proclaims that 'I' is a figure of speech, and that one cannot truly refer any will, feeling, thought, or action to one's self. Niffari heard the divine voice saying to him: Logically, these doctrines annul every moral and religious law. In the gnostic's vision there are no divine rewards and punishments, no human standards of right and wrong. For him, the written word of God has been abrogated by a direct and intimate revelation. From this standpoint all types of religion are equal, and Islam is no better than idolatry. It does not matter what creed a man professes or what rites he performs. Amidst all the variety of creeds and worshippers the gnostic sees but one real object of worship. And Hafiz sings, more in the spirit of the freethinker, perhaps, than of the mystic: Sufism may join hands with freethought--it has often done so--but hardly ever with sectarianism. This explains why the vast majority of Sufis have been, at least nominally, attached to the catholic body of the Moslem community. ‘Abdallah Ansari declared that of two thousand Sufi Sheykhs with whom he was acquainted only two were Shi‘ites. A certain man who was a descendant of the Caliph ‘Ali, and a fanatical Shi‘ite, tells the following story: Superficial observers have described Babism as an offshoot of Sufism, but the dogmatism of the one is naturally opposed to the broad eclecticism of the other. In proportion as the Sufi gains more knowledge of God, his religious prejudices are diminished. Sheykh ‘Abd al-Rahim ibn al-Sabbagh, who at first disliked living in Upper Egypt, with its large Jewish and Christian population, said in his old age that he would as readily embrace a Jew or Christian as one of his own faith. While the innumerable forms of creed and ritual may be regarded as having a certain relative value in so far as the inward feeling which inspires them is ever one and the same, from another aspect they seem to be veils of the Truth, barriers which the zealous Unitarian must strive to abolish and destroy. The great Persian mystic, Abu Sa‘id ibn Abi ’l-Khayr, speaking in the name of the Calendars or wandering dervishes, expresses their iconoclastic principles with astonishing boldness: Such open declarations of war against the Mohammedan religion are exceptional. Notwithstanding the breadth and depth of the gulf between full-blown Sufism and orthodox Islam, many, if not most, Sufis have paid homage to the Prophet and have observed the outward forms of devotion which are incumbent on all Moslems. They have invested these rites and ceremonies with a new meaning; they have allegorised them, but they have not abandoned them. Take the pilgrimage, for example. In the eyes of the genuine Sufi it is null and void unless each of the successive religious acts which it involves is accompanied by corresponding 'movements of the heart.' A man who had just returned from the pilgrimage came to Junayd. Junayd said: This anecdote contrasts the outer religious law of theology with the inner spiritual truth of mysticism, and shows that they should not be divorced from each other. Middle ways, though proverbially safe, are difficult to walk in; and only by a tour de force can the Koran be brought into line with the esoteric doctrine which the Sufis derive from it. Undoubtedly they have done a great work for Islam. They have deepened and enriched the lives of millions by ruthlessly stripping off the husk of religion and insisting that its kernel must be sought, not in any formal act, but in cultivation of spiritual feelings and in purification of the inward man. This was a legitimate and most fruitful development of the Prophet's teaching. But the Prophet was a strict monotheist, while the Sufis, whatever they may pretend or imagine, are theosophists, pantheists, or monists. When they speak and write as believers in the dogmas of positive religion, they use language which cannot be reconciled with such a theory of unity as we are now examining. ‘Afifuddin al-Tilimsani, from whose commentary on Niffari I have given some extracts in this chapter, said roundly that the whole Koran is polytheism--a perfectly just statement from the monistic point of view, though few Sufis have dared to be so explicit. The mystic Unitarians admit the appearance of contradiction, but deny its reality. "The Law and the Truth" (they might say) "are the same thing in different aspects. The Law is for you, the Truth for us. In addressing you we speak according to the measure of your understanding, since what is meat for gnostics is poison to the uninitiated, and the highest mysteries ought to be jealously guarded from profane ears. It is only human reason that sees the single as double, and balances the Law against the Truth. Pass away from the world of opposites and become one with God, who has no opposite." The gnostic recognises that the Law is valid and necessary in the moral sphere. While good and evil remain, the Law stands over both, commanding and forbidding, rewarding and punishing. He knows, on the other hand, that only God really exists and acts: therefore, if evil really exists, it must be divine, and if evil things are really done, God must be the doer of them. The conclusion is false because the hypothesis is false. Evil has no real existence; it is not-being, which is the privation and absence of being, just as darkness is the absence of light. "Once," said Nuri, "I beheld the Light, and I fixed my gaze upon it until I became the Light." No wonder that such illuminated souls, supremely indifferent to the shadow-shows of religion and morality in a phantom world, are ready to cry with Jalaluddin: It must be borne in mind that this is a theory of perfection, and that those whom it exalts above the Law are saints, spiritual guides, and profound theosophists who enjoy the special favour of God and presumably do not need to be restrained, coerced, or punished. In practice, of course, it leads in many instances to antinomianism and libertinism, as among the Bektashis and other orders of the so-called 'lawless' dervishes. The same theories produced the same results in Europe during the Middle Ages, and the impartial historian cannot ignore the corruptions to which a purely subjective mysticism is liable; but on the present occasion we are concerned with the rose itself, not with its cankers. Not all Sufis are gnostics; and, as I have mentioned before, those who are not yet ripe for the gnosis receive from their gnostic teachers the ethical instruction suitable to their needs. Jalaluddin Rumi, in his collection of lyrical poems entitled The Divan of Shamsi Tabriz, gives free rein to a pantheistic enthusiasm which sees all things under the form of eternity. But in his Masnavi--a work so famous and venerated that it has been styled 'The Koran of Persia'--we find him in a more sober mood expounding the Sufi doctrines and justifying the ways of God to man. Here, though he is a convinced optimist and agrees with Ghazali that this is the best of all possible worlds, he does not airily dismiss the problem of evil as something outside reality, but endeavours to show that evil, or what seems evil to us, is part of the divine order and harmony, I will quote some passages of his argument and leave my readers to judge how far it is successful or, at any rate, suggestive. The Sufis, it will be remembered, conceive the universe as a projected and reflected image of God. The divine light, streaming forth in a series of emanations, falls at last upon the darkness of not-being, every atom of which reflects some attribute of Deity. For instance, the beautiful attributes of love and mercy are reflected in the form of heaven and the angels, while the terrible attributes of wrath and vengeance are reflected in the form of hell and the devils. Man reflects all the attributes, the terrible as well as the beautiful: he is an epitome of heaven and hell. Omar Khayyam alludes to this theory when he says: --a couplet which Fitz Gerald moulded into the magnificent stanza: Jalaluddin, therefore, does in a sense make God the author of evil, but at the same time he makes evil intrinsically good in relation to God--for it is the reflexion of certain divine attributes which in themselves are absolutely good. So far as evil is really evil, it springs from not-being. The poet assigns a different value to this term in its relation to God and in its relation to man. In respect of God not-being is nothing, for God is real Being, but in man it is the principle of evil which constitutes half of human nature. In the one case it is a pure negation, in the other it is positively and actively pernicious. We need not quarrel with the poet for coming to grief in his logic. There are some occasions when intense moral feeling is worth any amount of accurate thinking. It is evident that the doctrine of divine unity implies predestination. Where God is and naught beside Him, there can be no other agent than He, no act but His. "Thou didst not throw, when thou threwest, but God threw" (Kor. 8.17). Compulsion is felt only by those who do not love. To know God is to love Him; and the gnostic may answer, like the dervish who was asked how he fared: This is the Truth; but for the benefit of such as cannot bear it, Jalaluddin vindicates the justice of God by asserting that men have the power to choose how they will act, although their freedom is subordinate to the divine will. Approaching the question, "Why does God ordain and create evil?" he points out that things are known through their opposites, and that the existence of evil is necessary for the manifestation of good. Moreover, the divine omnipotence would not be completely realised if evil had remained uncreated. In reply to the objection that a God who creates evil must Himself be evil, Jalaluddin, pursuing the analogy drawn from Art, remarks that ugliness in the picture is no evidence of ugliness in the painter. Again, without evil it would be impossible to win the proved virtue which is the reward of self-conquest. Bread must be broken before it can serve as food, and grapes will not yield wine till they are crushed. Many men are led through tribulation to happiness. As evil ebbs, good flows. Finally, much evil is only apparent. What seems a curse to one may be a blessing to another; nay, evil itself is turned to good for the righteous. Jalaluddin will not admit that anything is absolutely bad. Surely this is a noteworthy doctrine. Jalaluddin died only a few years after the birth of Dante, but the Christian poet falls far below the level of charity and tolerance reached by his Moslem contemporary. How is it possible to discern the soul of goodness in things evil? By means of love, says Jalaluddin, and the knowledge which love alone can give, according to the word of God in the holy Tradition: Although it will be convenient to treat of mystical love in a separate chapter, the reader must not fancy that a new subject is opening before him. Gnosis and love are spiritually identical; they teach the same truths in different language. ANY one acquainted, however slightly, with the mystical poetry of Islam must have remarked that the aspiration of the soul towards God is expressed, as a rule, in almost the same terms which might be used by an Oriental Anacreon or Herrick. The resemblance, indeed, is often so close that, unless we have some clue to the poet's intention, we are left in doubt as to his meaning. In some cases, perhaps, the ambiguity serves an artistic purpose, as in the odes of Hafiz, but even when the poet is not deliberately keeping his readers suspended between earth and heaven, it is quite easy to mistake a mystical hymn for a drinking-song or a serenade. Ibn al-‘Arabi, the greatest theosophist whom the Arabs have produced, found himself obliged to write a commentary on some of his poems in order to refute the scandalous charge that they were designed to celebrate the charms of his mistress. Here are a few lines: It has been said that the Sufis invented this figurative style as a mask for mysteries which they desired to keep secret. That desire was natural in those who proudly claimed to possess an esoteric doctrine known only to themselves; moreover, a plain statement of what they believed might have endangered their liberties, if not their lives. But, apart from any such motives, the Sufis adopt the symbolic style because there is no other possible way of interpreting mystical experience. So little does knowledge of the infinite revealed in ecstatic vision need an artificial disguise that it cannot be communicated at all except through types and emblems drawn from the sensible world, which, imperfect as they are, may suggest and shadow forth a deeper meaning than appears on the surface. "Gnostics," says Ibn al-‘Arabi, "cannot impart their feelings to other men; they can only indicate them symbolically to those who have begun to experience the like." What kind of symbolism each mystic will prefer depends on his temperament and character. If he be a religious artist, a spiritual poet, his ideas of reality are likely to clothe themselves instinctively in forms of beauty and glowing images of human love. To him the rosy cheek of the beloved represents the divine essence manifested through its attributes; her dark curls signify the One veiled by the Many; when he says, "Drink wine that it may set you free from yourself," he means, "Lose your phenomenal self in the rapture of divine contemplation." I might fill pages with further examples. This erotic and bacchanalian symbolism is not, of course, peculiar to the mystical poetry of Islam, but nowhere else is it displayed so opulently and in such perfection. It has often been misunderstood by European critics, one of whom even now can describe the ecstasies of the Sufis as "inspired partly by wine and strongly tinged with sensuality." As regards the whole body of Sufis, the charge is altogether false. No intelligent and unprejudiced student of their writings could have made it, and we ought to have been informed on what sort of evidence it is based. There are black sheep in every flock, and amongst the Sufis we find many hypocrites, debauchees, and drunkards who bring discredit on the pure brethren. But it is just as unfair to judge Sufism in general by the excesses of these impostors as it would be to condemn all Christian mysticism on the ground that certain sects and individuals are immoral. said Jalaluddin. Ibn al-‘Arabi declares that no religion is more sublime than a religion of love and longing for God. Love is the essence of all creeds: the true mystic welcomes it whatever guise it may assume. Commenting on the last verse, the poet writes: Most of the great medieval Sufis lived saintly lives, dreaming of God, intoxicated with God. When they tried to tell their dreams, being men, they used the language of men. If they were also literary artists, they naturally wrote in the style of their own day and generation. In mystical poetry the Arabs yield the palm to the Persians. Any one who would read the secret of Sufism, no longer encumbered with theological articles nor obscured by metaphysical subtleties--let him turn to ‘Attar, Jalaluddin Rumi, and Jami, whose works are partially accessible in English and other European languages. To translate these wonderful hymns is to break their melody and bring their soaring passion down to earth, but not even a prose translation can quite conceal the love of Truth and the vision of Beauty which inspired them. Listen again to Jalaluddin: The love thus symbolised is the emotional element in religion, the rapture of the seer, the courage of the martyr, the faith of the saint, the only basis of moral perfection and spiritual knowledge. Practically, it is self-renunciation and self-sacrifice, the giving up of all possessions--wealth, honour, will, life, and whatever else men value--for the Beloved's sake without any thought of reward. I have already referred to love as the supreme principle in Sufi ethics, and now let me give some illustrations. Nuri, Raqqam, and other Sufis were accused of heresy and sentenced to death. On another occasion Nuri was overheard praying as follows: In proportion as the Sufi loves God, he sees God in all His creatures, and goes forth to them in acts of charity. Pious works are naught without love. The Moslem Legend of the Saints abounds in tales of pity shown to animals (including the despised dog), birds, and even insects. It is related that Bayazid purchased some cardamom seed at Hamadhan, and before departing put into his gaberdine a small quantity which was left over. On reaching Bistam and recollecting what he had done, he took out the seed and found that it contained a number of ants. Saying, "I have carried the poor creatures away from their home," he immediately set off and journeyed back to Hamadhan--a distance of several hundred miles. This universal charity is one of the fruits of pantheism. The ascetic view of the world which prevailed amongst the early Sufis, and their vivid consciousness of God as a transcendent Personality rather than as an immanent Spirit, caused them to crush their human affections relentlessly. Here is a short story from the life of Fudayl ibn ‘Iyad. It would be touching if it were not so edifying. The higher Sufi mysticism, as represented by Jalaluddin Rumi, teaches that the phenomenal is a bridge to the Real. And Jami says, in a passage which has been translated by Professor Browne: Emerson sums up the meaning of this where he says: Inevitably such a man will love his fellow-men. Whatever cruelty they inflict upon him, he will perceive only the chastening hand of God, "whose bitters are very sweets to the soul." Bayazid said that when God loves a man, He endows him with three qualities in token thereof: a bounty like that of the sea, a sympathy like that of the sun, and a humility like that of the earth. No suffering can be too great, no devotion too high, for the piercing insight and burning faith of a true lover. Ibn al-‘Arabi claims that Islam is peculiarly the religion of love, inasmuch as the Prophet Mohammed is called God's beloved (Habib), but though some traces of this doctrine occur in the Koran, its main impulse was unquestionably derived from Christianity. While the oldest Sufi literature, which is written in Arabic and unfortunately has come down to us in a fragmentary state, is still dominated by the Koranic insistence on fear of Allah, it also bears conspicuous marks of the opposing Christian tradition. As in Christianity, through Dionysius and other writers of the Neoplatonic school, so in Islam, and probably under the same influence, the devotional and mystical love of God soon developed into ecstasy and enthusiasm which finds in the sensuous imagery of human love the most suggestive medium for its expression. Dr. Inge observes that the Sufis "appear, like true Asiatics, to have attempted to give a sacramental and symbolic character to the indulgence of their passions." I need not again point out that such a view of genuine Sufism is both superficial and incorrect. Love, like gnosis, is in its essence a divine gift, not anything that can be acquired. "If the whole world wished to attract love, they could not; and if they made the utmost efforts to repel it, they could not." Those who love God are those whom God loves. "I fancied that I loved Him," said Bayazid, "but on consideration I saw that His love preceded mine." Junayd defined love as the substitution of the qualities of the Beloved for the qualities of the lover. In other words, love signifies the passing-away of the individual self; it is an uncontrollable rapture, a God-sent grace which must be sought by ardent prayer and aspiration. Jalaluddin teaches that man's love is really the effect of God's love by means of an apologue. One night a certain devotee was praying aloud, when Satan appeared to him and said: Divine love is beyond description, yet its signs are manifest. Sari al-Saqati questioned Junayd concerning the nature of love. Love,'the astrolabe of heavenly mysteries,' inspires all religion worthy of the name, and brings with it, not reasoned belief, but the intense conviction arising from immediate intuition. This inner light is its own evidence; he who sees it has real knowledge, and nothing can increase or diminish his certainty. Hence the Sufis never weary of exposing the futility of a faith which supports itself on intellectual proofs, external authority, self-interest, or self-regard of any kind. The barren dialectic of the theologian; the canting righteousness of the Pharisee rooted in forms and ceremonies; the less crude but equally undisinterested worship of which the motive is desire to gain everlasting happiness in the life hereafter; the relatively pure devotion of the mystic who, although he loves God, yet thinks of himself as loving, and whose heart is not wholly emptied of 'otherness'--all these are 'veils' to be removed. A few sayings by those who know will be more instructive than further explanation. Love, again, is the divine instinct of the soul impelling it to realise its nature and destiny. The soul is the first-born of God: before the creation of the universe it lived and moved and had its being in Him, and during its earthly manifestation it is a stranger in exile, ever pining to return to its home. All the love-romances and allegories of Sufi poetry--the tales of Layla and Majnun, Yusuf (Joseph) and Zulaykha, Salaman and Absal, the Moth and the Candle, the Night- ingale and the Rose--are shadow-pictures of the soul's passionate longing to be reunited with God. It is impossible, in the brief space at my command, to give the reader more than a passing glimpse of the treasures which the exuberant fancy of the East has heaped together in every room of this enchanted palace. The soul is likened to a moaning dove that has lost her mate; to a reed torn from its bed and made into a flute whose plaintive music fills the eye with tears; to a falcon summoned by the fowler's whistle to perch again upon his wrist; to snow melting in the sun and mounting as vapour to the sky; to a frenzied camel swiftly plunging through the desert by night; to a caged parrot, a fish on dry land, a pawn that seeks to become a king. These figures imply that God is conceived as transcendent, and that the soul cannot reach Him without taking what Plotinus in a splendid phrase calls "the flight of the Alone to the Alone." Jalaluddin says: 'A man comes to be the thing on which he is bent': what, then does the Sufi become? Eckhart in one of his sermons quotes the saying of St. Augustine that Man is what he loves, and adds this comment: The Moslem mystics enjoyed greater freedom of speech than their Christian brethren who owed allegiance to the medieval Catholic Church, and if they went too far the plea of ecstasy was generally accepted as a sufficient excuse. Whether they emphasise the outward or the inward aspect of unification, the transcendence or the immanence of God, their expressions are bold and uncompromising. Thus Abu Sa‘id: Jalaluddin Rumi proclaims that the soul's love of God is God's love of the soul, and that in loving the soul God loves Himself, for He draws home to Himself that which in its essence is divine. "Our copper," says the poet, "has been transmuted by this rare alchemy," meaning that the base alloy of self has been purified and spiritualised. In another ode he says: And yet more plainly: Where is the lover when the Beloved has displayed Himself? Nowhere and everywhere: his individuality has passed away from him. In the bridal chamber of Unity God celebrates the mystical marriage of the soul. LET us suppose that the average Moslem could read English, and that we placed in his hands one of those admirable volumes published by the Society for Psychical Research. In order to sympathise with his feelings on such an occasion, we have only to imagine what our own would be if a scientific friend invited us to study a treatise setting forth the evidence in favour of telegraphy and recording well-attested instances of telegraphic communication. The Moslem would probably see in the telegraph some kind of spirit--an afreet or jinni. Telepathy and similar occult phenomena he takes for granted as self-evident facts. It would never occur to him to investigate them. There is something in the constitution of his mind that makes it impervious to the idea that the supernatural may be subject to law. He believes, because he cannot help believing, in the reality of an unseen world which 'lies about us,' not in our infancy alone, but always and every- where; a world from which we are in no wise excluded, accessible and in some measure revealed to all, though free and open intercourse with it is a privilege enjoyed by few. Many are called but few chosen. The Sufis have always declared and believed themselves to be God's chosen people. The Koran refers in several places to His elect. According to the author of the Kitab al-Luma‘, this title belongs, firstly, to the prophets, elect in virtue of their sinlessness, their inspiration, and their apostolic mission; and secondly, to certain Moslems, elect in virtue of their sincere devotion and self-mortification and firm attachment to the eternal realities: in a word, the saints. While the Sufis are the elect of the Moslem community, the saints are the elect of the Sufis. The Mohammedan saint is commonly known as a wali (plural, awliya). This word is used in various senses derived from its root-meaning of 'nearness'; e.g. next of kin, patron, protector, friend. It is applied in the Koran to God as the protector of the Faithful, to angels or idols who are supposed to protect their worshippers, and to men who are regarded as being specially under divine protection. Mohammed twits the Jews with professing to be protégés of God (awliya lillah). Notwithstanding its somewhat equivocal associations, the term was taken over by the Sufis and became the ordinary designation of persons whose holiness brings them near to God, and who receive from Him, as tokens of His peculiar favour, miraculous gifts (karamat, «charísmata»); they are His friends, on whom "no fear shall come and they shall not grieve" {Kor. 10.63}; any injury done to them is an act of hostility against Him. The inspiration of the Islamic saints, though verbally distinguished from that of the prophets and inferior in degree, is of the same kind. In consequence of their intimate relation to God, the veil shrouding the supernatural, or, as a Moslem would say, the unseen world, from their perceptions is withdrawn at intervals, and in their fits of ecstasy they rise to the prophetic level. Neither deep learning in divinity, nor devotion to good works, nor asceticism, nor moral purity makes the Mohammedan a saint; he may have all or none of these things, but the only indispensable qualification is that ecstasy and rapture which is the outward sign of 'passing-away' from the phenomenal self. Anyone thus enraptured (majdhub) is a wali {Waliyyat, if the saint is a woman.}, and when such persons are recognised through their power of working miracles, they are venerated as saints not only after death but also during their lives. Often, however, they live and die in obscurity. Hujwiri tells us that amongst the saints "there are four thousand who are concealed and do not know one another and are not aware of the excellence of their state, being in all circumstances hidden from themselves and from mankind." The saints form an invisible hierarchy, on which the order of the world is thought to depend. Its supreme head is entitled the Qutb (Axis). He is the most eminent Sufi of his age, and presides over the meetings regularly held by this august parliament, whose members are not hampered in their attendance by the inconvenient fictions of time and space, but come together from all parts of the earth in the twinkling of an eye, traversing seas and mountains and deserts as easily as common mortals step across a road. Below the Qutb stand various classes and grades of sanctity. Hujwiri enumerates them, in ascending series, as follows: three hundred Akhyar (Good), forty Abdal (Substitutes), seven Abrar (Pious), four Awtad (Supports), and three Nuqaba (Overseers). We are studying in this book the mystical life of the individual Moslem, and it is necessary to keep the subject within the narrowest bounds. Otherwise, I should have liked to dwell on the external and historical organisation of Sufism as a school for saints, and to describe the process of evolution through which the wali privately conversing with a small circle of friends became, first, a teacher and spiritual guide gathering disciples around him during his lifetime, and finally the head of a perpetual religious order which bore his name. The earliest of these great fraternities date from the twelfth century. In addition to their own members--the so-called 'dervishes'--each order has a large number of lay brethren attached to it, so that their influence pervades all ranks of Moslem society. They are "independent and self-developing. There is rivalry between them; but no one rules over the other. In faith and practice each goes its own way, limited only by the universal conscience of Islam. Thus strange doctrines and grave moral defects easily develop unheeded, but freedom is saved." {D. B. Macdonald, The Religious Life and Attitude in Islam, .} Of course, the typical wali is incapable of founding an order, but Islam has produced no less frequently than Christendom men who combine intense spiritual illumination with creative energy and aptitude for affairs on a grand scale. The Mohammedan notion of the saint as a person possessed by God allows a very wide application of the term: in popular usage it extends from the greatest Sufi theosophists, like Jalaluddin Rumi and Ibn al-‘Arabi, down to those who have gained sanctity only by losing sanity--victims of epilepsy and hysteria, half-witted idiots and harmless lunatics. Both Qushayri {Author of a famous work designed to close the breach between Sufism and Islam. He died in 1074 A.D.} and Hujwiri discuss the question whether a saint can be conscious of his saintship, and answer it in the affirmative. Their opponents argue that consciousness of saintship involves assurance of salvation, which is impossible, since no one can know with certainty that he shall be among the saved on the Day of Judgment. In reply it was urged that God may miraculously assure the saint of his predestined salvation, while maintaining him in a state of spiritual soundness and preserving him from disobedience. The saint is not immaculate, as the prophets are, but the divine protection which he enjoys is a guarantee that he will not persevere in evil courses, though he may temporarily be led astray. According to the view generally held, saintship depends on faith, not on conduct, so that no sin except infidelity can cause it to be forfeited. This perilous theory, which opens the door to antinomianism, was mitigated by the emphasis laid on fulfilment of the religious law. The following anecdote of Bayazid al-Bistami shows the official attitude of all the leading Sufis who are cited as authorities in the Moslem text-books. Many walis, however, regard the law as a curb that is indeed necessary so long as one remains in the disciplinary stage, but may be discarded by the saint. Such a person, they declare, stands on a higher plane than ordinary men, and is not to be condemned for actions which outwardly seem irreligious. While the older Sufis insist that a wali who breaks the law is thereby shown to be an impostor, the popular belief in the saints and the rapid growth of saint-worship tended to aggrandise the wali at the expense of the law, and to foster the conviction that a divinely gifted man can do no wrong, or at least that his actions must not be judged by appearances. The classical instance of this jus divinum vested in the friends of God is the story of Moses and Khadir, which is related in the Koran (18.64-80). Khadir or Khizr--the Koran does not mention him by name --is a mysterious sage endowed with immortality, who is said to enter into conversation with wandering Sufis and impart to them his God-given knowledge. Moses desired to accompany him on a journey that he might profit by his teaching, and Khadir consented, only stipulating that Moses should ask no questions of him. After Moses had broken his promise of silence for the third time, Khadir resolved to leave him. The Sufis are fond of quoting this unimpeachable testimony that the wali is above human criticism, and that his hand, as Jalaluddin asserts, is even as the hand of God. Most Moslems admit the claim to be valid in so far as they shrink from applying conventional standards of morality to holy men. I have explained its metaphysical justification in an earlier chapter. A miracle performed by a saint is termed karamat, i.e. a 'favour' which God bestows upon him, whereas a miracle performed by a prophet is called mu‘jizat, i.e. an act which cannot be imitated by any one. The distinction originated in controversy, and was used to answer those who held the miraculous powers of the saints to be a grave encroachment on the prerogative of the Prophet. Sufi apologists, while confessing that both kinds of miracle are substantially the same, take pains to differentiate the characteristics of each; they declare, moreover, that the saints are the Prophet's witnesses, and that all their miracles (like 'a drop trickling from a full skin of honey') are in reality derived from him. This is the orthodox view and is supported by those Mohammedan mystics who acknowledge the Law as well as the Truth, though in some cases it may have amounted to little more than a pious opinion. We have often noticed the difficulty in which the Sufis find themselves when they try to make a logical compromise with Islam. But the word 'logic' is very misleading in this connexion. The beginning of wisdom, for European students of Oriental religion, lies in the discovery that incongruous beliefs--I mean, of course, beliefs which our minds cannot harmonise--dwell peacefully together in the Oriental brain; that their owner is quite unconscious of their incongruity; and that, as a rule, he is absolutely sincere. Contradictions which seem glaring to us do not trouble him at all. The thaumaturgic element in ancient Sufism was not so important as it afterwards became in the fully developed saint-worship associated with the Dervish Orders. "A saint would be none the less a saint," says Qushayri, "if no miracles were wrought by him in this world." In early Mohammedan Vitæ Sanctorum it is not uncommon to meet with sayings to the effect that miraculous powers are comparatively of small account. It was finely said by Sahl ibn ‘Abdallah that the greatest miracle is the substitution of a good quality for a bad one; and the Kitab al-Luma‘ gives many examples of holy men who disliked miracles and regarded them as a temptation. "During my novitiate," said Bayazid, "God used to bring before me wonders and miracles, but I paid no heed to them; and when He saw that I did so, He gave me the means of attaining to knowledge of Himself." Junayd observed that reliance on miracles is one of the 'veils' which hinder the elect from penetrating to the inmost shrine of the Truth. This was too high doctrine for the great mass of Moslems, and in the end the vulgar idea of saintship triumphed over the mystical and theosophical conception. All such warnings and scruples were swept aside by the same irresistible instinct which rendered vain the solemn asseverations of Mohammed that there was nothing supernatural about him, and which transformed the human Prophet of history into an omnipotent hierophant and magician. The popular demand for miracles far exceeded the supply, but where the walis failed, a vivid and credulous imagination came to their rescue and represented them, not as they were, but as they ought to be. Year by year the Legend of the Saints grew more glorious and wonderful as it continued to draw fresh tribute from the unfathomable ocean of Oriental romance. The pretensions made by the walis, or on their behalf, steadily increased, and the stories told of them were ever becoming more fantastic and extravagant. I will devote the remainder of this chapter to a sketch of the wali as he appears in the vast medieval literature on the subject. The Moslem saint does not say that he has wrought a miracle; he says, "a miracle was granted or manifested to me." According to one view, he may be fully conscious at the time, but many Sufis hold that such 'manifestation' cannot take place except in ecstasy, when the saint is entirely under divine control. His own personality is then in abeyance, and those who interfere with him oppose the Almighty Power which speaks with his lips and smites with his hand. Jalaluddin (who uses incidentally the rather double-edged analogy of a man possessed by a peri {One of the spirits called collectively Jinn.}) relates the following anecdote concerning Bayazid of Bistam, a celebrated Persian saint who several times declared in ecstatic frenzy that he was no other than God. After coming to himself on one of these occasions and learning what blasphemous language he had uttered, Bayazid ordered his disciples to stab him with their knives if he should offend again. Let me quote the sequel, from Mr. Whinfield's abridged translation of the Masnavi (): Here is the poet's conclusion: The life of Abu ’l-Hasan Khurqani, another Persian Sufi who died in 1033 A.D., gives us a complete picture of the Oriental pantheist, and exhibits the mingled arrogance and sublimity of the character as clearly as could be desired. Since the original text covers fifty pages, I can translate only a small portion of it here. It would be an almost endless task to enumerate and exemplify the different classes of miracles which are related in the lives of the Mohammedan saints--for instance, walking on water, flying in the air (with or without a passenger), rain-making, appearing in various places at the same time, healing by the breath, bringing the dead to life, knowledge and prediction of future events, thought-reading, telekinesis, paralysing or beheading an obnoxious person by a word or gesture, conversing with animals or plants, turning earth into gold or precious stones, producing food and drink, etc. To the Moslem, who has no sense of natural law, all these 'violations of custom,' as he calls them, seem equally credible. We, on the other hand, feel ourselves obliged to distinguish phenomena which we regard as irrational and impossible from those for which we can find some sort of 'natural' explanation. Modern theories of psychical influence, faith-healing, telepathy, veridical hallucination, hypnotic suggestion and the like, have thrown open to us a wide avenue of approach to this dark continent in the Eastern mind. I will not, however, pursue the subject far at present, full of interest as it is. In the higher Sufi teaching the miraculous powers of the saints play a more or less insignificant part, and the excessive importance which they assume in the organ- ised mysticism of the Dervish Orders is one of the clearest marks of its degeneracy. The following passage, which I have slightly modified, gives a fair summary of the hypnotic process through which a dervish attains to union with God: An excellent concrete illustration of the process here described will be found in the well-known case of Tawakkul Beg, who passed through all these experiences under the control of Molla-Shah. His account is too long to quote in full; moreover, it has recently been translated by Professor D. B. Macdonald in his Religious Life and Attitude in Islam (p ff.). I copy from this version one paragraph describing the first of the four stages mentioned above. Here is a case of autohypnotism, witnessed and recorded by the poet Jami: The following anecdote presents greater difficulties: ‘Ala’uddin's son, Khwaja Hasan ‘Attar, possessed such powers of 'control' that he could at will throw any one into the state of trance and cause them to experience the 'passing-away' (fana) to which some mystics attain only on rare occasions and after prolonged self-mortification. It is related that the disciples and visitors who were admitted to the honour of kissing his hand always fell unconscious to the ground. Certain saints are believed to have the power of assuming whatever shape they please. One of the most famous was Abd ‘Abdallah of Mosul, better known by the name of Qadib al-Ban. One day the Cadi of Mosul, who regarded him as a detestable heretic, saw him in a street of the town, approaching from the opposite direction. He resolved to seize him and lay a charge against him before the governor, in order that he might be punished. All at once he perceived that Qadib al-Ban had taken the form of a Kurd; and as the saint advanced towards him, his appearance changed again, this time into an Arab of the desert. Finally, on coming still nearer, he assumed the guise and dress of a doctor of theology, and cried, "O Cadi! which Qadib al-Ban will you hale before the governor and punish?" The Cadi repented of his hostility and became one of the saint's disciples. In conclusion, let me give two alleged instances of 'the obedience of inanimate objects,' i.e. telekinesis: I am well aware that in this chapter scanty justice has been done to a great subject. The historian of Sufism must acknowledge, however deeply he may deplore, the fundamental position occupied by the doctrine of saintship and the tremendous influence which it has exerted in its practical results--grovelling submission to the authority of an ecstatic class of men, dependence on their favour, pilgrimage to their shrines, adoration of their relics, devotion of every mental and spiritual faculty to their service. It may be dangerous to worship God by one's own inner light, but it is far more deadly to seek Him by the inner light of another. Vicarious holiness has no compensations. This truth is expressed by the mystical writers in many an eloquent passage, but I will content myself with quoting a few lines from the life of ‘Ala’uddin ‘Attar, the same saint who, as we have seen, vainly tried to hypnotise his pupil in revenge for a disrespectful trick which the latter had played on him. His biographer relates that he said, "It is more right and worthy to dwell beside God than to dwell beside God's creatures," and that the following verse was often on his blessed tongue: No one can approach the subject of this chapter--the state of the mystic who has reached his journey's end--without feeling that all symbolical descriptions of union with God and theories concerning its nature are little better than leaps in the dark. How shall we form any conception of that which is declared to be ineffable by those who have actually experienced it? I can only reply that the same difficulty confronts us in dealing with all mystical phenomena, though it appears less formidable at lower levels, and that the poet's counsel of silence has not prevented him from interpreting the deepest mysteries of Sufism with unrivalled insight and power. Whatever terms may be used to describe it, the unitive state is the culmination of the simplifying process by which the soul is gradually isolated from all that is foreign to itself, from all that is not God. Unlike Nirvana, which is merely the cessation of individuality, fana, the passing-away of the Sufi from his phenomenal existence, involves baqa, the continuance of his real existence. He who dies to self lives in God, and fana, the consummation of this death, marks the attainment of baqa, or union with the divine life. Deification, in short, is the Moslem mystic's ultima Thule. In the early part of the tenth century Husayn ibn Mansur, known to fame as al-Hallaj (the wool-carder), was barbarously done to death at Baghdad. His execution seems to have been dictated by political motives, but with these we are not concerned. Amongst the crowd assembled round the scaffold, a few, perhaps, believed him to be what he said he was; the rest witnessed with exultation or stern approval the punishment of a blasphemous heretic. He had uttered in two words a sentence which Islam has, on the whole, forgiven but has never forgotten: "Ana ’l-Haqq"--"I am God." The recently published researches of M. Louis Massignon {Kitab al-Tawasin (Paris, 1913). See especially p-141.} make it possible, for the first time, to indicate the meaning which Hallaj himself attached to this celebrated formula, and to assert definitely that it does not agree with the more orthodox interpretations offered at a later epoch by Sufis belonging to various schools. According to Hallaj, man is essentially divine. God created Adam in His own image. He projected from Himself that image of His eternal love, that He might behold Himself as in a mirror. Hence He bade the angels worship Adam (Kor. 2.32), in whom, as in Jesus, He became incarnate. Since the 'humanity' (nasut) of God comprises the whole bodily and spiritual nature of man, the 'divinity' (lahut) of God cannot unite with that nature except by means of an incarnation or, to adopt the term employed by Massignon, an infusion (hulul) of the divine Spirit, such as takes place when the human spirit enters the body. {Massignon appears to be right in identifying the Divine Spirit with the Active Reason (intellectus agens), which, according to Alexander of Aphrodisias, is not a part or faculty of our soul, but comes to us from without. See Inge, Christian Mysticism, p, 361. The doctrine of Hallaj may be compared with that of Tauler, Ruysbroeck, and others concerning the birth of God in the soul.} Thus Hallaj says in one of his poems: And again: This doctrine of personal deification, in the peculiar form which was impressed upon it by Hallaj, is obviously akin to the central doctrine of Christianity, and therefore, from the Moslem standpoint, a heresy of the worst kind. It survived unadulterated only amongst his immediate followers. The Hululis, i.e. those who believe in incarnation, are repudiated by Sufis in general quite as vehemently as by orthodox Moslems. But while the former have unhesitatingly condemned the doctrine of hulul, they have also done their best to clear Hallaj from the suspicion of having taught it. Three main lines of defence are followed: (1) Hallaj did not sin against the Truth, but he was justly punished in so far as he committed a grave offence against the Law. He "betrayed the secret of his Lord" by proclaiming to all and sundry the supreme mystery which ought to be reserved for the elect. (2) Hallaj spoke under the intoxicating influence of ecstasy. He imagined himself to be united with the divine essence, when in fact he was only united with one of the divine attributes. (3) Hallaj meant to declare that there is no essential difference or separation between God and His creatures, inasmuch as the divine unity includes all being. A man who has entirely passed away from his phenomenal self exists quâ his real self, which is God. It was not Hallaj who cried "Ana ’l-Haqq," but God Himself, speaking, as it were, by the mouth of the selfless Hallaj, just as He spoke to Moses through the medium of the burning bush (Kor. 20.8-14). The last explanation, which converts Ana ’l-Haqq into an impersonal monistic axiom, is accepted by most Sufis as representing the true Hallajian teaching. In a magnificent ode Jalaluddin Rumi describes how the One Light shines in myriad forms through the whole universe, and how the One Essence, remaining ever the same, clothes itself from age to age in the prophets and saints who are its witnesses to mankind. Although in Western and Central Asia--where the Persian kings were regarded by their subjects as gods, and where the doctrines of incarnation, anthropomorphism, and metempsychosis are indigenous--the idea of the God-man was neither so unfamiliar nor unnatural as to shock the public conscience very profoundly, Hallaj had formulated that idea in such a way that no mysticism calling itself Mohammedan could tolerate, much less adopt it. To assert that the divine and human natures may be interfused and commingled {Hulul was not understood in this sense by Hallaj (Massignon, op. cit., ), though the verses quoted on readily suggest such an interpretation. Hallaj, I think, would have agreed with Eckhart (who said, "The word I am none can truly speak but God alone") that the personality in which the Eternal is immanent has itself a part in eternity (Inge, Christian Mysticism, , note).}, would have been to deny the principle of unity on which Islam is based. The subsequent history of Sufism shows how deification was identified with unification. The antithesis--God, Man--melted away in the pantheistic theory which has been explained above {see p ff.}. There is no real existence apart from God. Man is an emanation or a reflexion or a mode of Absolute Being. What he thinks of as individuality is in truth not-being; it cannot be separated or united, for it does not exist. Man is God, yet with a difference. According to Ibn al-‘Arabi {Massignon, op. cit., .} the eternal and the phenomenal are two complementary aspects of the One, each of which is necessary to the other. The creatures are the external manifestation of the Creator, and Man is God's consciousness (sirr) as revealed in creation. But since Man, owing to the limitations of his mind, cannot think all objects of thought simultaneously, and therefore expresses only a part of the divine consciousness, he is not entitled to say Ana ’l-Haqq, "I am God." He is a reality, but not the Reality. We shall see that other Sufis--Jalaluddin Rumi, for example--in their ecstatic moments, at any rate, ignore this rather subtle distinction. The statement that in realising the non-entity of his individual self the Sufi realises his essential oneness with God, sums up the Mohammedan theory of deification in terms with which my readers are now familiar. I will endeavour to show what more precise meaning may be assigned to it, partly in my own words and partly by means of illustrative extracts from various authors. Several aspects of fana have already been distinguished {See p, 61.}. The highest of these--the passing-away in the divine essence--is fully described by Niffari, who employs instead of fana and fani (self-naughted) the terms waqfat, signifying cessation from search, and waqif, i.e. one who desists from seeking and passes away in the Object Sought. Here are some of the chief points that occur in the text and commentary. Waqfat is luminous: it expels the dark thoughts of 'otherness,' just as light banishes darkness; it changes the phenomenal values of all existent things into their real and eternal values. Hence the waqif transcends time and place. "He enters every house and it contains him not; he drinks from every well but is not satisfied; then he reaches Me, and I am his home, and his abode is with Me"--that is to say, he comprehends all the divine attributes and embraces all mystical experiences. He is not satisfied with the names (attributes), but seeks the Named. He contemplates the essence of God and finds it identical with his own. He does not pray. Prayer is from man to God, but in waqfat there is nothing but God. The waqif leaves not a rack behind him, nor any heir except God. When even the phenomenon of waqfat has disappeared from his consciousness, he becomes the very Light. Then his praise of God proceeds from God, and his knowledge is God's knowledge, who beholds Himself alone as He was in the beginning. We need not expect to discover how this essentialisation, substitution, or transmutation is effected. It is the grand paradox of Sufism--the Magnum Opus wrought somehow in created man by a Being whose nature is eternally devoid of the least taint of creatureliness. As I have remarked above, the change, however it may be conceived, does not involve infusion of the divine essence (hulul) or identification of the divine and human natures (ittihad). Both these doctrines are generally condemned. Abu Nasr al-Sarraj criticises them in two passages of his Kitab al-Luma‘, as follows: In the second passage he makes use of a similar argument in order to refute the doctrine of ittihad. Hujwiri characterises as absurd the belief that passing-away (fana) signifies loss of essence and destruction of corporeal substance, and that 'abiding' (baqa) indicates the indwelling of God in man. Real passing-away from anything, he says, implies consciousness of its imperfection and absence of desire for it. Whoever passes away from his own perishable will abides in the everlasting will of God, but human attributes cannot become divine attributes or vice versa. In another part of his work Hujwiri defines 'union' (jam‘) as concentration of thought upon the desired object. Thus Majnun, the Orlando Furioso of Islam, concentrated his thoughts on Layla, so that he saw only her in the whole world, and all created things assumed the form of Layla in his eyes. Some one came to the cell of Bayazid and asked, "Is Bayazid here?" He answered, "Is any one here but God?" The principle in all such cases, Hujwiri adds, is the same, namely: Then he quotes these verses of Hallaj: The enraptured Sufi who has passed beyond the illusion of subject and object and broken through to the Oneness can either deny that he is anything or affirm that he is all things. As an example of 'the negative way,' take the opening lines of an ode by Jalaluddin which I have rendered into verse, imitating the metrical form of the Persian as closely as the genius of our language will permit: The following poem, also by Jalaluddin, expresses the positive aspect of the cosmic consciousness: What Jalaluddin utters in a moment of ecstatic vision Henry More describes as a past experience: For some Sufis, absorption in the ecstasy of fana is the end of their pilgrimage. Thenceforth no relation exists between them and the world. Nothing of themselves is left in them; as individuals, they are dead. Immersed in Unity, they know neither law nor religion nor any form of phenomenal being. But those God-intoxicated devotees who never return to sobriety have fallen short of the highest perfection. The full circle of deification must comprehend both the inward and outward aspects of Deity--the One and the Many, the Truth and the Law. It is not enough to escape from all that is creaturely, without entering into the eternal life of God the Creator as manifested in His works. To abide in God (baqa) after having passed-away from selfhood (fana) is the mark of the Perfect Man, who not only journeys to God, i.e. passes from plurality to unity, but in and with God, i.e. continuing in the unitive state, he returns with God to the phenomenal world from which he set out, and manifests unity in plurality. In this descent for he brings down and displays the Truth to mankind while fulfilling the duties of the religious law. Of him it may be said, in the words of a great Christian mystic: ‘Afifuddin Tilimsani, in his commentary on Niffari, describes four mystical journeys: The first begins with gnosis and ends with complete passing-away (fana). The second begins at the moment when passing-away is succeeded by 'abiding' (baqa). He who has attained to this station journeys in the Real, by the Real, to the Real, and he then is a reality (haqq) {See above.}. Thus travelling onward, he arrives at the station of the Qutb {See .}, which is the station of Perfect Manhood. He becomes the centre of the spiritual universe, so that every point and limit reached by individual human beings is equally distant from his station, whether they be near or far; since all stations revolve round his, and in relation to the Qutb there is no difference between nearness and farness. To one who has gained this supreme position, knowledge and gnosis and passing-away are as rivers of his ocean, whereby he replenishes whomsoever he will. He has the right to guide others to God, and seeks permission to do so from none but himself. Before the gate of Apostleship was closed {I.e. before the time of Mohammed, who is the Seal of the Prophets.}, he would have deserved the title of Apostle, but in our day his due title is Director of Souls, and he is a blessing to those who invoke his aid, because he comprehends the innate capacities of all mankind and, like a camel-driver, speeds everyone to his home. In the third journey this Perfect Man turns his attention to God's creatures, either as an Apostle or as a Spiritual Director (Sheykh), and reveals himself to those who would fain be released from their faculties, to each according to his degree: to the adherent of positive religion as a theologian; to the contemplative, who has not yet enjoyed full contemplation, as a gnostic; to the gnostic as one who has entirely passed-away from individuality (waqif); to the waqif as a Qutb. He is the horizon of every mystical station and transcends the furthest range of experience known to each grade of seekers. The fourth journey is usually associated with physical death. The Prophet was referring to it when he cried on his deathbed, "I choose the highest companions." In this journey, to judge from the obscure verses in which ‘Afifuddin describes it, the Perfect Man, having been invested with all the divine attributes, becomes, so to speak, the mirror which displays God to Himself. The light in the soul, the eye by which it sees, and the object of its vision, all are One. We have followed the Sufi in his quest of Reality to a point where language fails. His progress will seldom be so smooth and unbroken as it appears in these pages. The proverbial headache after intoxication supplies a parallel to the periods of intense aridity and acute suffering that sometimes fill the interval between lower and higher states of ecstasy. Descriptions of this experience--the Dark Night of the Soul, as it is called by Christian authors--may be found in almost any biography of Mohammedan saints. Thus Jami relates in his Nafahat al-Uns that a certain dervish, a disciple of the famous Shihabuddin Suhrawardi, Does personality survive in the ultimate union with God? If personality means a conscious existence distinct, though not separate, from God, the majority of advanced Moslem mystics say "No! As the rain-drop absorbed in the ocean is not annihilated but ceases to exist individually, so the disembodied soul becomes indistinguishable from the universal Deity. It is true that when Sufi writers translate mystical union into terms of love and marriage, they do not, indeed they cannot, expunge the notion of personality, but such metaphorical phrases are not necessarily inconsistent with a pantheism which excludes all difference. To be united, here and now, with the World-Soul is the utmost imaginable bliss for souls that love each other on earth. Strange as it may seem to our Western egoism, the prospect of sharing in the general, impersonal immortality of the human soul kindles in the Sufi an enthusiasm as deep and triumphant as that of the most ardent believer in a personal life continuing beyond the grave. Jalaluddin, after describing the evolution of man in the material world and anticipating his further growth in the spiritual universe, utters a heartfelt prayer--for what?--for self-annihilation in the ocean of the Godhead.

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1 Cary W = "Though there may be truth in this statement, that our fate be inscribed on the eternal tables of His providence", yet the reason we are here is to perfect our faith, refine the use of our will, purify our heart and learn responsibility with the use of our free will.  So not everything is so set in stone, that the evolution of an individual be impeded."
2 Cary W = "It is interesting the parallels between Christianity and Muslim evolution, include the fear of God, hell, and sin during the first and part of the second century A.D., and gradually shifts to a more internal work of the Most High."
3 Cary W = "This example of Christian Gnostic having contact and influence upon early Sufism demonstrates the incredible impact those of us from different religions have on each other to this day."