Allah, the Almighty, said:

{Then flee to Allah...} [adh-Dhâriyât 51:50]

قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وجَلَّ: "فَفِرُّوا إِلَى اللهِ"

Fleeing to Allah means escaping from that which did not exist97 to the One Who has always existed. It is of three levels:

الْفِرَار هُوَ الْهَرَبُ مِمَّا لَمْ يَكُنْ إِلَى مَا لَمْ يَزَلْ، وَهُوَ عَلَى ثَلَاثِ دَرَجَاتٍ:

The fleeing of the public, which is

  1. from ignorance to knowledge, with certainty and industry

  2. from lethargy to enthusiasm, with vigilance and determination

  3. from tightness to vastness, with trust and hope98

فِرَارُ الْعَامَّةِ

  1. مِنَ الْجَهْلِ إِلَى الْعِلْمِ عَقْدًا وَسَعْيًا،

  2. وَمِنَ الْكَسَلِ إِلَى التَّشْمِيرِ حَذَرًا وَعَزْمًا

  3. أ‌. وَمِنَ الضِّيقِ إِلَى السَّعَةِ ثِقَةً وَرَجَاءً

And the fleeing of the select few:

  1. from hearing to seeing99

  2. 2. from images to realities100
  3. from (attachment) to desirables to shedding them off101

وفرار الْخَاصَّةِ

  1. مِنَ الْخَبَرِ إِلَى الشُّهُودِ

  2. وَمن الرُّسُومِ إِلَى الْأُصُولِ

  3. أ‌. وَمِنالحُظُوظِ إِلَى التَّجْرِيدِ

And the fleeing of the topmost:

  1. from all that is other than the True One to the True One alone102

  2. then, from beholding one’s fleeing to beholding the True One

  3. then, fleeing from fleeing (to the True One) to the True One 103

وفِرارُ خَاصَّةِ الخَاصَّةِ

  1. مِمَّا دُونَ الْحَقِّ إِلَى الْحًقِّ

  2. ثمَّ مِن شُهُودِ الْفِرَارِ إِلَى الْحَقِّ

  3. أ‌. ثمَّ الْفِرَارُ من الْفِرَارِ إِلَى الْحَقِّ

97 The creations which had a beginning, before which they did not exist.
98 Only certainty in God and the hereafter and hope in the pleasure and reward of the Most High will allow you to escape from the tightness of this world to the vastness of ultimate reality.
99 From ‘ilm al-yaqeen (knowledge based on certainty and evidence) to ‘ayn al-yaqeen (knowledge based on eyesight). The disbelievers asked for that, but they had not accepted faith first so they were not answered. Ibrâheem (peace be upon him) asked for it after accepting faith and deserving it, so he was answered.
The final level of certainty is haqq al-yaqeen (the truth of certainty), which is by feeling. For example, seeing the fire is one thing and feeling its flames is another.
100 Some of the images are to be honored and revered, such as the Sunni form of praying. However, khushoo‘of the heart and the feeling of connectedness to Allah are the essence of praying. Such are the realities to which we must pay more attention. Both the king and the soldiers should be in service. What would you think of a king whose soldiers disperse and run away from him? Also, the foundations in the previous level, such as knowledge and action consistent with it, are not to be demolished in this level, but must be built upon.
101 The word ‘tajreed’ (تجريد) means stripping, and it refers to what may be called minimalism; however, this is not limited to possessing few clothes or less furniture, but goes beyond that to wanting less of all the desirables such as wealth, strength, fame, distinction, recognition, acceptance, etc. Our contracted awareness of the desirables that compete with the pleasure of God in our hearts could be devastating, particularly for those who are able to control their desires for obvious carnal pleasures.
Imam Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) points out that these desirables are not all the same. Those which help you on your journey to God are to be sought, and those which impede you or distract you are to be shunned.
102 That is, when nothing distracts you from seeking Him and journeying to His nearness.
103 That is, when your will vanishes into His and subsists by His, so there is no more fleeing.
Imam Ibn al-Qayyim expounds on these degrees and says that the best condition is to behold one’s fleeing by Allah (His support), from Allah (His displeasure), to Allah (His pleasure), and to fulfill the requirements of servitude in every vision.

Manâzil as-Sâirin


Shaykhul-Islam Abu Isma‘il Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-Ansari al-Harawi (396-481H)

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj