Since the very beginning of the planet earth when the human being stepped on it, the questions like, as given below, have always been arising in his mind.
- Who am I?
- What is my origin?
- What is my end?
- What is my reality?
- What is my identity?
- If there exists a creator who has created me, who is He and how would I recognize Him?
- What is the purpose of my life?
Whenever man strived to find the answers of these questions, Allah sent His prophets and messengers to guide him in every age and part of the world, who have been answering these questions. However, when the advancement took place and the progress of the world reached the stage that communication became faster and easier, Allah sent His beloved Prophet Muhammad Mustafa Sall’Allahu Alayhi Wa’alihi Wasallam, the reason for the creation of the universe. Allah, through his Prophethood sent His ultimate message and provided an absolute guidance to mankind in the form of the Holy Quran, the complete code of life. Hazrat Muhammad Sall’Allahu Alayhi Wa’alihi Wasallam is the guide for all human beings till the Doomsday. Allah says about his Prophet Sall’Allahu Alayhi Wa’alihi Wasallam that he does not say anything on his own will. So, the Quran along with Hadith-e-Qudsi (the saying of Allah stated by the Holy Prophet) and Hadith-e-Nabawi (the statements of the Holy Prophet) have been preserved till the Day of Judgment for the guidance of the men of Allah. The fortunate one who returned to this code of life attained to the true guidance and found the purpose of his life.
Allah tells the purpose of the human being’s life and creation in the following Qudsi hadith:
Meaning: I was a Hidden treasure, I desired to be known, so I created the Universe.
So, it is obvious by the above mentioned hadith that the purpose of the creation of man is to get the knowledge and recognition of Allah. Now the question arises, how will man attain to the recognition of Allah? The method of gaining recognition of Allah is told in the following hadith:
Meaning: Whoever recognized his self, undoubtedly, recognized his Rub (Allah).
The explanation of this hadith is that Allah created the sacred soul of Mohammad Sall’Allahu Alayhi Wa’alihi Wasallam from His Own Divine Light and the souls of all the rest of creation from the soul of Muhammad Mustafa Sall’Allahu Alayhi Wa’alihi Wasallam in Alam-e-Lahut (the Divine Realm). At this stage, the soul of humans is called “Ruh-e-Qudsi” (the Holy Soul) and this is the same state of the soul about which Allah expressed “man is My secret and I am his secret”. The souls were absorbed in the Vision of Allah at this stage because at that time there was no veil between the souls and Allah, so they were submerged in seeing the Divine Beauty. Neither was there earth nor heavens, so they were not attracted by the pleasures of the material world or the Paradise. At the same stage, the pledge of the human spirits “The Bala” () was taken.It is mentioned in the surah Al A’raf, Allah says
Meaning: From whose proud solitude arose the voice of “” and from whose musical instrument arose the tune of the song of ““?
Alam-e-Lahut (The Realm of the Divinity) is that hidden world which is prohibited for all the creatures except the human souls. At the border of the same world, Hazrat Jibrael (The arch angel Gabriel) said to Hazrat Muhammad Sall’Allahu Alayhi Wa’alihi Wasallam on the night of Meraj (the Ascension to the Divine Presence), “if I step ahead a little more, I would be burnt”. From Alam-e-Lahut Allah descended the human soul to Alam-e-Jabarut (the world of Invincibility or Domination) dressing it in Jabaruti clothes because in which ever realm or world the soul will be sent, it needs the required cover of that world to survive in it. Here, it was named as Ruh-e-Sultani (the Kingly soul). Then the soul was descended in Alam-e-Malakut (the celestial and angelic world) and was clothed in Malakuti dress and called “Ruh-e-Nurani” (soul with celestial light). Then, it was permeated into the mortal body and was dressed with fleshly body, where it was called as “Ruh-e-Jismani or Hewani” (the soul with corporeal physical body or bestial one). Therefore, the soul is said to be the “Amr-e-Rabi” (Divine Command) as it descended to the material world from the Divine world by the command of Allah. In the Divine world it is just the Noor (Light) of Allah and completely Divine, that is why, it is said that every child is born on the Divine Nature. It means, its soul is pure, illuminated and un-inclined to the impurities and worldly pleasures.
Now the actual human elevation is to be sanctified and exalted to such an extent that he can achieve his original soul i.e. Ruh-e-Qudsi by progressing spiritually and returning to the Divine Realm. When he reaches there, only then can he recognize his true self which is surely not the physical body made of matter, but the inner soul created from the Noor of Muhammad Sall’Allahu Alayhi Wa’alihi Wasallam. On reaching Alam-e-Lahut, the original home and the actual destination of human soul, the soul finds such closeness to Allah, as is required for His Deedar (Vision) and Pehchan (recognition). Here a man can find recognition of his true self, as well as his Creator’s, that is why it is said . So, the same exaltation is the purpose of human life. The Ruh-e-Qudsi (Holy Spirit) is given different names.
- Some of the mystics and sufies named the spiritual being of the human being as “the esoteric self”, Batin, “inner man”, “Ruh”, “Inward Self” “spiritual man” or “the esoteric being of man”.
- In some of the Hadiths and the statements of mystics, the soul is called as ‘Qalb’, ‘Dil’ (heart) or ‘Mun’. The heart or qalb of man is not that piece of flesh which is placed at the left side of the chest. This piece of flesh is also present in the chests of animals and the deceased and can be seen with the physical eye. How can it have the knowledge of the ‘inner world’? As, it is the thing which can be seen with the physical eye, so it is related to the physical world and has to decay with the other physical parts of the body after death. In fact, the soul is symbolically entitled with the name “Qalb”.
- Iqbal Rehmat-ul-Allah Alayh entitled the soul or the inner being of man as “Khudi” and he calls the intrinsic knowledge of the inner self (Irfan-e-Nafs) as the “recognition of Khudi” or Khud Shanasi (Self realization). Most of the interpreters of Iqbal have blundered by misinterpreting “Khudi” as “Ego” instead of “Soul”. Perhaps, they could not understand that “the ego” (pride or vanity) leads the man away from Allah and the soul brings him close to Allah. However, Iqbal has used the terms “Mun”, “Dil”, and “Ruh” as well.
- A lay man terms the inner being or soul as “conscience”. When a person does anything wrong or commits a sin, it is the soul which regrets and repents, because sin is not inherent in its nature, so the man exclaims, “my conscience is pricking me”.
- The recognition of Ruh-e-Qudsi (the Holy Soul) is actually called Khud Shanasi (self realization), Haqeeqat-e-Insan (Reality of Man) or Irfan-e-Nafs (the intrinsic knowledge of inner self) and same is the meaning of ‘Deen’ or the True Faith.
‘Deen’ means “the recognition of the essence (soul) of human being and its accomplishment”, and the attainment to this level is actually, the true and complete Faith (Deen). In other words, self knowledge, self realization and self completion is called the True Faith (Deen).
Self realization is that a person must know that he is created with two things, firstly, it is the outer being which is also called body and which can be seen and touched, with eyes and hands respectively. Secondly, it is the batin (esoteric self) which is also termed as ‘Ruh’, ‘Qulb’ or ‘Dil’ (the soul, inner core or heart) by Arifeen (knowers of Allah) and it can neither be seen nor touched, with physical eyes and hands respectively. It can only be seen with the inner eye as it does not belong to this physical world, rather, it is related to the invisible realm. It is everlasting, and stays even after the death of the physical body as it is answerable to Allah for everything its possessor human being had been doing in the world during his physical life.
Just as physical body desires physical pleasures, soul desires to gain knowledge of Allah and to have the pleasure of Vision of the Divine Beauty. Only it is ordained to worship. Reward and punishment are only for it and only it is destined to be humble and submissive. That is to say, all the attributes and qualities of a human being are related to his soul, not to his physical body. The awareness to this reality is the key to the Marifat (gnosis) and closeness of Allah. In the present age, the main difficulty is that whenever, issues related to the esoteric knowledge arise, the people pass by the Quranic verses which consist of the explicit and enlightened instructions about the esoteric knowledge, by calling them ambiguities or similes. It is the main reason of our waywardness that we have forgotten our real esoteric self and diverted our attention only towards our exoteric or superficial self. Alas! today’s man is lost in the external world, if he recognizes his actual inner being, he would see Allah, as well as the universe within himself.
In Quran, man’s attention is directed again and again towards his inner-self.
Meaning: And I am within your selves. So do you not notice? (Surah Adh-Dhariyat-21)
Meaning: And I am nearer to the man than his jugular vein. (Surah Qaf-16)
Meaning: Have you seen him who has made his desires (of nafs, lower inner self) his god. (Surah al-Jathiya-23)
Meaning: Have they not meditated within themselves. (Surah ar-Raum-8)
Allah has turned our attention towards the inner self (Nafs), in this Holy Hadith:
Meaning: Neither earth can possess Me nor the skies but only the heart of Momin (the true believer) can.
The Holy Prophet Sall’Allahu Alayhi Wa’alihi Wasallam has also frequently referred to the esoteric self in his sayings:
- No doubt! Allah neither sees your faces nor your actions, rather, He checks your intentions and hearts. (Bukhari, Muslim)
Meaning: Acts depend upon your intentions.
Meaning: The heart of Momin (the true believer) is Allah’s Throne.
There are several such verses and hadiths in which human attention is drawn towards the heart and the inner self, which are the center of imagination and contemplation. And in this very heart or soul is placed the faith, as Allah says:
Meaning: In their hearts (qalb, soul) Allah has inscribed faith. (Surah Al-Mujadala-22)
Even the cursed satan creates the misconceptions and wrong beliefs in the same esoteric self, as said in Quran.
Meaning: (I seek refuge of Allah from the cursed Satan) who creates false illusions into the hearts of the mankind. (Surah an-Nas-5)
Whenever in the world a true philosopher, a recognizer of the Reality or a saint familiar to the Divine secret is born, he definitely unveiled this reality that the real awareness is gained through the intrinsic knowledge of the inner self (Nafs), and has also revealed the Quranic reality that, not only Allah and His created world but the whole universe (rather all the worlds) are present in the human heart in a quite delicate and subtle form. This is not merely a philosophical rule which is fabricated for the intellectual enjoyment or for the satisfaction of the mental exercise, rather, this is the reality of life which is strongly based on the teachings and experiences of the Prophets and the perfect mystics along with the teachings of the Quran and Hadith.
- Maulana Rome Rehmat-ul-Allah Alayh says to man while unveiling this reality that:
Meaning: You are a little world by appearance but in reality you are a great world.
He further says:
Meaning: Although the human body is worthless regarding his physical being yet, a man possesses a “large realm” within his esoteric self.
- Khawaja Hafiz Rehmat-ul-Allah Alayh says:
Meaning: Oh Hafiz! My Beloved is with me day and night, just like life is within my veins and muscles.
- Hazrat Bu Ali Shah Qalander Rehmat-ul-Allah Alayh tells us:
Meaning: Your Beloved (Allah) is within you, why are you so oblivious.
- Imam Ghazali explains the verse as:
“Oh man! nearest to you is your very own entity. So, if you do not know yourself, how can you recognize others? Merely to know, “these are my hands, these are my feet, these are my bones and this is my body” is not the recognition of your real entity. This much recognition is possessed even by other animals. Neither, it is merely to know that you have to eat something if hungry, quarrel when angry, have sex when overpowered by lust. All these things are equally found in animals as well. Then, how are you better and nobler than them? The requirement of the gnosis and recognition of your own self is to know your real inner self (Nafs) and your true identity as, what you are actually and where have you come from, where would you go from this world? If you have come in this world, what is the purpose of your being here? Why have you been given birth? What is the aim of your life? What are your virtues and good fortune sand in which things do these exist? What is your misfortune and what is its source? Among the qualities, collected in yourself, some are bestial and brutal, some are devilish and demoniac but some of them are celestial and angelic too. Just ponder over it, to find which among them are your virtuous possessions? Which are nearer to your reality? Which qualities have poor, exotic or temporary status in your inner self (Nafs)? Unless, you do not recognize these facts, you will remain deprived of your identification. You will never find your good fortune because each one of them has different virtue and nourishment to grow in yourself.
The nourishment and virtue of animals are to eat, drink, sleep and to indulge in having sex. If you are the same too, then struggle day and night to fill your stomach and satisfy your appetite. The nourishment and virtue of beasts are in fighting, killing, brutality and violence. The nourishment and virtue of devils are in evil, maliciousness, wickedness and cunningness. If you are one of them, then adopt their nature to attain to your so called required pleasures and good fortune.
The nourishment and virtue of angels are in glorification and Tawaf (circumambulation) of Allah. Whereas, the nourishment and virtue of man lies in the nearness to Allah and witnessing the Anwar-e-Jamal (Divine Lights of Beauty). If you are a human being, try to have the recognition of Zaat (The Essence) of Allah. So you can have the observation of the Divine Lights and Beauty and then you can rid yourself of bestial anger and appetite. If you seek something, seek only The One, The Unique, so you can come to know, who is the Creator of your internal bestial and wild qualities? And, you may also be enlightened of the reality that if the Creator has created such qualities within you, does it mean, they should overpower and imprison you and become victorious over you? Or, rather, they are for you to imprison and enslave them and become the conqueror. By overpowering them, you can convert some of these slaves and captives into a horse of your journey (towards Allah) and use some of them as your weapons (to fight with satan). So, a few days that you have to stay in this mortal world, you may use these slaves to get the seed of your good fortune. When you get the seed of your good fortune, just trample over your slaves to enter the eternal calm and tranquil place which is called Hazoor-e-Haq (Divine Presence) by the virtuous persons. You must know these facts, the one who does not know them remains far away from Deen (the True Faith). Certainly, the reality of the True Faith is veiled for him. (Keemiya-e-Sa’adat)
- Shaikh Akber Mohiyuddin Ibn-e-Arabi Rehmat-ul-Allah Alayh says:
“Oh seeker! Recognize your essence; what are you and what is your reality? What is your relation to Allah? On what basis are you called Haq (the Truth) and on what basis are you called Alam (the world). (Fasoos al-Hakam Wal Aiqan)