Allah, the Almighty, said:

{…so take a straight course to Him…} [Fuṣṣilat 41:6]239

The Almighty’s saying ‘to Him’ is an inference to the true essence of tafreed (beholding His singularity).

قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: "فَاسْتَقِيمُوا إِلَيْهِ"
قَوْلُهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ "إِلَيْهِ" إِشَارَةٌ إِلَى عَيْنِ التَّفْرِيدِ.

Straightness is a spirit through which all aḥwâl (states) come to life, and it is that through which the deeds of the common people increase and blossom. It is a zone in the middle, between the pits of divergence and the peaks of union.240It is of three levels:

والِاسْتِقَامَةُ رُوحٌ تَحْيَا بِها الْأَحْوَالُ، كَمَا تَرْبُو لِلْعَامَّةِ عَلَيْهَا الْأَعْمَالُ، وَهِيَ بَرْزَخٌ بَيْنَ وِهَادِ التَّفَرُّقِ، وَرَوَابِي الْجَمْعِ. وَهِيَ عَلَى ثَلَاثِ دَرَجَاتٍ:

The first level is straightness upon striving in moderation:

  1. without contravening the scheme of knowledge241

  2. or overstepping the bounds of devotion242

  3. or deviating from the way of the Sunnah243

الدَّرَجَةُ الْأُولَى: الِاسْتِقَامَةُ عَلَى الِاجْتِهَادِ فِي الِاقْتِصَادِ :

  1. لَا عَادِيًا رَسْمَ الْعِلْمِ

  2. وَلَا مُتَجَاوِزًا حَدَّ الْإِخْلَاصِ

  3. وَلَا مُخَالِفًا نَهْجَ السُّنَّةِ

The second level is the straightness of the aḥwâl (states); it concerns:

  1. beholding the truth, not as a personal achievement244

  2. disowning all claims, not only out of/in compliance with knowledge245

  3. staying in the light of wakefulness, without beholding one’s guardianship (of the light)246

الدَّرَجَةُ الثَّانِيَةُ: اسْتِقَامَةُ الْأَحْوَالِ وَهِيَ:

  1. شُهُودُ الْحَقِيقَةِ لَا كَسْبًا

  2. وَرَفَضُ الدَّعْوَى لَا عِلْمًا

  3. وَالْبَقَاءُ مَعَ نُورِ الْيَقَظَةِ لَا تَحَفُّظًا

The third level is straightness247 by:

  1. not watching (one’s) straightness

  2. being distracted from the pursuit of straightness by beholding the guardianship and straightening of the Truth, mighty is His name 248

الدَّرَجَةُ الثَّالِثَةُ: اسْتِقَامَةٌ:

  1. بِتَرْكِ رُؤْيَةِ الِاسْتِقَامَةِ

  2. وَبِالْغَيْبَةِ عَنْ تَطَلُّبِ الِاسْتِقَامَةِ بِشُهُودِ إِقَامَة الْحَقِّ وَتَقْوِيمِهِ عَزَّ اسْمُهُ

239 When Sufyân ibn ‘Abdullâh came to the Prophet ﷺ, as reported by Muslim, and said to him, “O Messenger of Allah, tell me something of Islam about which I will not ask anyone else.”
He ﷺ said, “Say, ‘I believe in Allah’ and then be straight.”

The power of the word ‘straightness’ and the miraculous spontaneity, eloquence, and precision of the Prophet’s response becomes clear when you look up some of the synonyms of this word: candor, fairness, faithfulness, honor, integrity, loyalty, morality, probity, rectitude, responsibility, sincerity, trustworthiness, veracity, virtue, conscientiousness, genuineness, goodness, incorruptibility, justness, openness, right, soundness, uprightness. (
240 It is your way from the bottoms of dispersion, divergence, and distraction where your sight is concealed from the sun of the truth to the heights of union and togetherness where you can behold it.
241 The map of the entire journey is drawn in accordance with the knowledge of Shari‘ah.
242 The other condition is that of sincerity and devotion; once you act upon the guidance of His Shari‘ah, seeking His pleasure, you would have fulfilled the requirements of acceptance.
243 The way of the Messenger ﷺ is either mandatory (which is part of the requirements of acceptance) or preferable (which is necessary for your excellence and conducive to speed and stamina on your journey). The way of the Messenger ﷺ strikes the perfect balance between all extremes. Also, unlike any other guide, following his footsteps will assure you safety, because as he walked, he watchednot only for himself, but also for all those who would walk behind him ﷺ. This is not true for any scholar, imam, or sheikh. They may jump over a hole because of their strength or other virtues, while those behind them may fall into it.
244 So, after you behold the truth, which is the oneness of the One and His complete control over all things, you do not attribute that milestone to yourself or see it as something you earned; rather, be certain that it is His gift to you, and be careful because the One who gave it to you may take it back if He pleases.
245 Any good state that you experience may lead you into claiming that state. Such claims must all be disowned, not only when you know they are untrue (because that is expected of all people), and not only in conformity with the adab (etiquette) of humbleness (because then you would have made the claim and given it up out of humbleness), but rather you should be cognizant of your complete lack of ḥawl (influence) and quwwah (power).
246 If you were given that light, do not move away from it. Stay where it is. It is not inherent in you. It is from Him. You do not guard it yourself, but He keeps it on.
247 The third level is usually devoted to those in the station of self-annihilation (see the wholesome meanings of this station in previous chapters). Here, one will not be watching the path, the signposts, their straightness, or anything—including their own vision of the One; all will be eclipsed by Him.
248 This is the station of beholding His actions, not ours. Our straightness is merely His straightening of us.
Notice that this level does not contradict or nullify the previous ones upon which it was built. One must still be compliant with the requirements of the first level; however, in this pinnacle level, one will not watch their own doing; their will should have by now conformed to His as if it vanished into it. They see no ghayr (others)—and they will not, except that which He wills and pleases.

Manâzil as-Sâirin


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

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj