Astuteness 459


Allah, the Almighty, said:

{Indeed in that are signs for those who discern.} [al-Ḥijr 15:75]

قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: "إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّلْمُتَوَسِّمِينَ"

Tawassum (discernment) is synonymous with firâsah (spiritual astuteness). It is realization of a matter of the unseen without obvious indication or empirical experience.460 It is of three levels:

التّوَسُّمُ التَّفَرُّسُ وَهُوَ اسْتِئْنَاسُ حُكْمِ غَيْبٍ مِنْ غَيْرِ اسْتِدْلَالٍ بِشَاهِدٍولا اختِبَارٍ بِتَجْرِبَةٍ. وَهِيَ عَلَى ثَلَاثِ دَرَجَاتٍ.

The first: transient and rare firâsah, which descends on the uncultivated tongue once in a lifetime for the need of a sincere seeker to hear it. The reason for its utterance is not traceable and the one who utters it is insignificant. This is something that cannot be differentiated from fortunetelling and its likes because it does not refer to certainty, does not emanate from knowledge, and is not driven by an existent state.461

الْأُولَى: فِرَاسَةٌ طَارِئَةٌ نَادِرَةٌ، تَسْقُطُ عَلَى لِسَانٍ وَحْشِيٍّ فِي الْعُمْرِ مَرَّةً، لِحَاجَةِ سَمْعِ مُرِيدٍ صَادِقٍ إِلَيْهَا. لَا يُتَوَقَّفُ عَلَى مُخْرِجِهَا، وَلَا يُؤْبَهُ لِصَاحِبِهَا. وَهَذَا شَيْءٌ لَا يَخْلُصُ مِنَ الْكَهَانَةِ وَمَا ضَاهَأَهَا، لِأَنَّهَا لَمْ تُشِرْ عَنْ عَيْنٍ، وَلَمْ تَصْدُرْ عَنْ عِلْمٍ. وَلَمْ تُسَقْ بِوُجُود.

The second level:

  1. firâsah that is the fruit of eemân,

  2. that sprouts from the true ḥâl (state),

  3. and shines with the light of disclosure

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّانِيَةُ:

  1. فِرَاسَةٌ تُجْنَى مِنْ غَرْسِ الْإِيمَانِ

  2. وَتَطْلُعُ مِنْ صِحَّةِ الْحَالِ

  3. وَتَلْمَعُ مِنْ نُورِ الْكَشْفِ

The third level:

  1. a most noble firâsah,

  2. that is not produced by deliberation,

  3. but comes forth from the chosen tongues, either explicitly or through symbolism

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّالِثَةُ:

  1. فِرَاسَةٌ سَرِيَّةٌ

  2. لَمْ تَجْتَلِبْهَا رَوِيَّةٌ

  3. عَلَى لِسَانٍ مُصْطَنَعٍتَصْرِيحًا أَوْ رَمْزًا

The unseen is the exclusive domain of Allah. He said:

{قُل لَّا يَعْلَمُ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ الْغَيْبَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ}

{Say: None in the heavens and earth knows the unseen except Allah…} (an-Naml 27:65)
He would sometimes allow the prophets access to some of it. He said:
{وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُطْلِعَكُمْ عَلَى الْغَيْبِ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَجْتَبِي مِن رُّسُلِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ}

{…Nor would Allah reveal to you the unseen. But [instead], Allah chooses of His messengers whom He wills…} (Âli ‘Imrân 3:179)
The difference between the knowledge of the messengers and that of Allah is that their knowledge is contingent upon His permission and limited. This is why Allah instructed His Prophet ﷺto say:
{قُل لَّا أَمْلِكُ لِنَفْسِي نَفْعًا وَلَا ضَرًّا إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ ۚ وَلَوْ كُنتُ أَعْلَمُ الْغَيْبَ لَاسْتَكْثَرْتُ مِنَ الْخَيْرِ وَمَا مَسَّنِيَ السُّوءُ}

Some people may be given access to some of the knowledge of the unseen through inspiration (ilhâm) or disclosure (kashf). Their knowledge is different from that of the messengers in two major ways:
1. It is not certain. The muḥaddath (inspired man) of this Ummah, ‘Umar, was still unable to see what Abu Bakr saw at the time of Ḥudaybiyah or at the time of apostasy.
2. It is not to be shown off to establish credibility. The messengers required mu‘jizât (miracles: temporary suspension of the natural order through Divine intervention) because they needed the people to submit to the guidance they brought forth from God. This is not the same concerning the karamât (graces), which are supernatural like miracles, but meant only to honor their recipient or assist them or someone else.
461 A good shot by a bad shooter. Wisdom may still be harvested from uncultivated hearts.

Manâzil as-Sâirin


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

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj