Knowledge 433


Allah, the Almighty, said:

{…and [We] had taught him from Us a [certain] knowledge.} [al-Kahf 18:65]

قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: "وَعَلَّمْنَاهُ مِن لَّدُنَّا عِلْمًا"

Knowledge is that which is established through evidence and erases ignorance. It is of three levels:

الْعِلْمُ مَا قَامَ بِدَلِيلٍ وَرَفَعَ الْجَهْلَ. وَهُوَ عَلَى ثَلَاثٍ دَرَجَاتُ.

The first level is apparent (exterior) knowledge, which is established through:

  1. eyesight, or

  2. true concurrence, or

  3. validated experience434

الدَّرَجَةُ الْأُولَى عِلْمٌ جَلِيٌّيَقَعُ

  1. بعِيَانُ

  2. وَاسْتِفَاضَةٌ صَحِيحَةٌ

  3. أَوْ صِحَّةُ تَجْرِبَةٍ قَدِيمَةٍ

The second level is hidden (interior) knowledge, which:

  1. emanates from the purified (secrets)435 of the purified bodies436 by the purified water of (spiritual) training/discipline

  2. manifests in the sincere souls with highest aspirations in the unoccupied times of attentive listening

  3. is a knowledge that makes the unseen manifest and makes the manifest disappear and points to the union437

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّانِيَةُ عِلْمٌ خَفِيٌّ

  1. يَنْبُتُ فِي الْأَسْرَارِ الطَّاهِرَةِ، مِنَ الْأَبْدَانِ الزَّاكِيَةِ، بِمَاءِ الرِّيَاضَةِ الْخَالِصَةِ

  2. وَيَظْهَرُ فِي الْأَنْفَاسِ الصَّادِقَةِ، لِأَهْلِ الْهِمَّةِ الْعَالِيَةِ، فِي الْأَحَايِينِ الْخَالِيَةِ، وَالْأَسْمَاعِ الصَّاخِيَةِ

  3. وَهُوَ عِلْمٌ يُظْهِرُ الْغَائِبَ وَيُغَيِّبُ الشَّاهِدَ وَيُشيرُ إِلَى الْجَمْعِ

The third level is the ‘ladunni’438 knowledge:

  1. its reference is its existence 439

  2. its realization is through observation440

  3. its identifiers are innate441

No veil comes between it and the unseen.

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّالِثَةُ عِلْمٌ لَدُنِّيٌ

  1. إِسْنَادُهُ وُجُودُهُ

  2. وَإِدْرَاكُهُ عِيَانُهُ

  3. وَنَعْتُهُ حُكْمُهُ

لَيْسَ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ الْغَيْبِ حِجَابٌ.

434 The concurrence or common knowledge must be based on an irrefutable premise, such as the common knowledge that China exists, which is based on the concurrence of so many people who have actually visited it. In addition to eyesight, the rest of the senses establish knowledge. In addition to experimentation, the intellect can reach knowledge through induction or deduction as well. In addition to all that, there is the knowledge of the Revelation, relayed by the one whose truthfulness is established, and there is the innate knowledge that is built into our spirits, like the existence of a Creator, the whole being bigger than the part, and the law of non-contradiction (LNC).
435 Subtle-most element of the souls.
436 Bodies that are nurtured by ḥalâl sustenance and complaint with Divine guidance.
437 Togetherness with Allah in the Sunni sense. See the Chapter on Devotion (at-Tabattul).
438 Of Divine origin. In the verse the sheikh started the chapter with, it refers to the knowledge granted to al-Khaḍir directly, not through Moosâ (peace be upon him). However, Moosâ (as) was sent to Bani Isrâ’eel, not to all humanity, and al-Khaḍir may have been a prophet. Ibn al-Qayyim points out in Madârij that it is pure heresy and clear apostasy to claim that one is not bound by the Shari‘ah of Muhammad ﷺ like al-Khaḍir was not bound by the Shari‘ah of Moosâ. There should be no disagreement about this. The knowledge our hearts receive from Allah only complements our knowledge of Shari‘ah by guiding us to the right understanding and application of it and helping us make the right choices. This is where inspiration (ilhâm) and intuitive perception (dhawq), as Imam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah be pleased with him) stated, may help.
439 This is not to belittle the knowledge of the Revelation transmitted through chains of narration. No Sunni sheikh like Imam al-Harawi would attempt that, although many deviant (or misinformed) claimants of Sufism have. Abiding by the Qur’an and Sunnah, as understood by the righteous predecessors and transmitted to us by the great imams of ahl-us-Sunnah, is the distinction between Sunni Sufism and heretical Sufism.
440 Unlike other types of knowledge that can be reached through the senses and contemplation, this can be realized only by the heart-sight after it has been granted to the servant by their Lord.
441 Meaning you know its attributes only after you know it; you cannot reach it by following a map.

Manâzil as-Sâirin


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

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj