Separation and Isolation
The two basic spiritual stages
It is common observation that medical, psychology, business, law, engineering or any other field has its own special terminology. They are very different from regular conversation but the experts of any specific field are fully aware of its terminology. Faqr is the highest degree of spiritual education and like other branches of knowledge, Faqr and mysticism has its own terminology. Perfect Fakirs have been using them in their books and sermons to spread their message among people. The wisdom behind it is that the real message would reach to those people who accept the truth and it would also not seem unpleasant to the people who are not able to bear it.
Isolation and separation are also among the terminology of Sufism.
Separation is translation for mystic term Tajreed. Allah says in Qudsi Hadith:
- Be separated (from everyone) and find Me.
In Faqr separation does not mean to adopt monastic life. Faqr is the heritage of the Holy Prophet and his Sunna is perfectly followed in Faqr. The Holy Prophet only adopted inward separation that is he had none in his inward but Allah. However, alongside he also fulfilled all his worldly responsibilities in a very fine manner whether it was regarding his relations, fighting the battles, doing trade or guiding the umma. Hence, separation actually means to get salvation from other than Allah inwardly and gaining Divine presence before Allah. As, the Holy Prophet said;
- I have times of such closeness with Allah when neither any Prophet nor any archangel can come between us.
Isolation is for the mystic term Tafreed which is derived from Fard meaning ‘single’. The station of isolation is where the true seeker of Allah steps in the station of Oneness progressing from duality. Apparently he lives among people and interacts with them but actually he is drowned in Singleness and Lordship.
In simple words, isolation refers to the state where the seeker becomes indifferent to the world and hereafter. Whatever he does is purely for Allah, neither he seeks worldly benefits not the rewards of hereafter. The inspirations that he achieves by the grace of Allah, he considers them only the bestowal of Allah rather than his own marvel. He must consider all his virtuous deeds as the blessing of Allah and should not attribute them to himself.
An important point to keep in mind is that the seeker can never attain to the stations of separation and isolation on his own. It is only the spiritual guide who leads the seeker to these spiritual stations.
State of the Seeker During Separation
At the station of separation the seeker is crossing the stages of annihilation in Allah. Hence, he appears crazy and lunatic to others because he is perpetually engrossed in the vision of Allah and does everything according to His will.
There is a tradition that once Abdullah ibn Umar was circumambulating Kaaba. Meanwhile someone greeted him but he did not respond. That person mentioned this to a friend of him. When Abdullah ibn Umar heard this he answered, “I was absorbed in witnessing Allah.”
Annihilation and immortality with Allah
Shaikh Shahab al-Din Sohrawardi says:
- Annihilation and immortality with Allah is the highest spiritual level and the ultimate destination of spirituality. A seeker can never attain to this greatest level unless he renounces his authority and planning. Hence Allah Himself blesses him with authority. Because renouncing one’s authority means to annihilate oneself and this is the station of annihilation. Afterwards when Allah blesses him back with his authority then this is the station of immortality. This means that the seeker has annihilated his mortal being and has become One with Allah. On reaching this station there remains no imperfection in the seeker and his esoteric as well as exoteric self become righteous in slavehood. Further, he becomes replete with inward and outward knowledge and virtuous deeds. Now he is at the station of closeness to Allah where he is utterly humble and an embodiment of Faqr depicting the Holy Prophet’s words;
“O Allah! Please do not let me and my innerself get involve with anyone from your creation otherwise I will be wasted. Please protect me like you protect any newborn and do not leave me alone.”
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman says:
- On annihilating in Allah, the human element of a person ends. When he returns from annihilation, he achieves immortality. Here he becomes the Universal Divine Man and the perfect human. Hence, his every action is a form of devotion.
How the Saints define Separation and Isolation
Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani says:
- Separation means to annihilate the human attributes and achieve immortality by acquiring the Divine attributes. (Sirr-ul-Asrar, sec. 15)
Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi says:
- Separation is negation of everyone other than Allah and isolation is negation of one’s ownself.
Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman says:
- The state of separation is where seeker becomes separated by crossing all the spiritual levels and gains salvation from Satan and innerself. Hence, achieves the station of Divine presence. Becoming successful in the court of Allah, he attains the state of peaceful innerself. At this station Satan has no access. This is the station of annihilation in Allah).
Isolation is that state in which the seeker esoterically alone and One with Allah. However physically he lives among people and interacts with them like others. This is the station of immortality with Allah where the seeker becomes the Universal Divine Man. (Shams-ul-Fuqara)
Waystations of Faqr
Faqr is a destination. To reach a destination a traveller has to cross many waystations. He stops somewhere to rest and get ready for the next waystation. Likewise, separation and isolation are two waystations to reach the ultimate destination of Oneness with Allah. Unless a seeker attains Oneness with Allah, he remains endangered. As a poet says:
کھول آنکھ اپنی دیکھ عیاں حق کا نور ہے
ہر برگ و ہر شجر میں اسی کا ظہور ہے
جس جا نور حق کا ہووے تم پہ جلوہ گر
سمجھوں میں اس زمین کو وہی کوہِ طور ہے
ساجد اٹھا قدم نہیں جاے قیام ہے
اپنا مقام جو ہے وہ منزل تو دور ہے
Explanation: Open your inner eyes so that you may watch that the light of Allah is spread everywhere. Each creation is only His manifestation. The place where you behold His light, I consider it as the mount Sinai where Prophet Moses beheld Allah. However you must not stay at this waystation as the real destination fixed for us i.e. Oneness with Allah is far away.
To say, the seeker who does not reach perfect Oneness crossing the waystations of separation and isolation, there remains a danger that he may get depraved from the right path towards Allah or trapped in levels and ranks he may lose his focus upon Allah. That is why, the Sufis and Saints always persuade to keep one’s attention perpetually and only towards Allah.
The three Paradisiacal levels
Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani writes in his book Sirr-ul-Asrar that there are three levels of paradise:
1. Janat al-Mawa
First level is the paradise of the physical world that is called Janat al-Mawa (it is for those people who acted upon sharia for the consent of Allah but did not desire for the closeness of Allah. So they remained imprisoned in physical world and did not reach the next levels i.e. angelic realm, realm of power and the realm of Divinity).
Second level is the paradise of angelic realm that is called janat-an-naeem (people of angelic realm are those who liberated themselves from the prison of physical realm through excessive devotions and by following the laws of mysticism got free from the desires of innerself).
Third level is the paradise of realm of power that is called janat-ul-Firdous (people of realm of power are those who strived for the purification of innerself and sanctity of inward by acting upon the teachings of mysticism and reached the realm of power gaining the angelic light. However could not attain the level of closeness to Allah where they could have Divine vision and which is fixed for the human soul).
All these blessings are physical
All these blessings are physical (means that these blessings are for those people who are busy doing physical deeds instead of striving for their soul, that is why their soul could not overcome their body). The body could not reach these three paradises without three respective knowledges i.e. knowledge of shariah, knowledge of mysticism and knowledge of gnosis. (Sirr-ul-Asrar)
But O man, these levels are just a deceit. Achieving them is not the purpose of your life. Allah has not created you for them but them for you. Do not get betrayed by them and remember you are created just for the gnosis and love of Allah. Your place is not this world but your real homeland is realm of Divinity, the paradise of Divine vision and union where no creation can enter, where no canals of milk and honey are flowing but only the beautiful vision of Allah. A Hadith verifies it:
اَنَّ لِلّٰہِ جَنَّۃَ لَا فِیْھَا حُوْرٌ وَّلَا قُصُوْرٌ وَلَا عَسَلٌ وَلَا لَبَنٌ بَلَ اَنْ یَنْظُرَ اِلٰی وَجْہِ اللّٰہِ تَعَالٰی۔
Meaning: There is such a paradise of Allah where there are no houris or palaces, no (canals of) milk and honey but only Divine vision.
Ali bin Abi Talib says about the Divine vision and gnosis:
مَانَظَرْتُ فِیْ شَیْئٍ اِلَّا وَرَاَیْتُ اللّٰہُ فَھُوَ فِیْہِ عِیْنٌ
Meaning: Wherever I beheld, I beheld Allah because everything is the manifestation of Allah.
Allah says about that person who is living without his gnosis that:
وَ مَنۡ کَانَ فِیۡ ہٰذِہٖۤ اَعۡمٰی فَہُوَ فِی الۡاٰخِرَۃِ اَعۡمٰی وَ اَضَلُّ سَبِیۡلًا۔ بنی اسرائیل
Meaning: And whoever remains blind (to the truth) in this (world) will be blind in the Hereafter as well, distracted from the path (of deliverance). (17:72)
If people do not come to the path of gnosis and recognition of Allah in spite of this warning, then they are doing injustice to themselves. This does not make any difference to Allah because He is Independent. May Allah provide us opportunity to walk on the path of His gnosis and recognition and let us reach the destination by passing every stage safely. Ameen.
Tajreed o Tafreed is an Urdu article of the magazine “Mahnama Sultan-ul-Faqr Lahore” for the month of October 2019. Originally penned by Faiza Gulzar is presently in English by Zainab Moghees exclusively for the website. Do not forget to visit the original article to which you only have to click the link
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