Allah, the Almighty, said:

{…So, as soon as they saw him, they were greatly (amazed) at him…}554 [Yoosuf 12:31]

قالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: "فَلَمَّا رَأَيْنَهُ أَكْبَرْنَهُ"

Bewilderment is a shock that seizes the servant upon a surprising incident that overwhelms his/her intellect, his/her patience, or his/her knowledge.555 It is of three levels:

الدَّهَشُ بَهْتَةٌ تَأْخُذُ الْعَبْدَ عِنْدَ مُفَاجَأَةِ مَا يَغْلِبُ عَلَى عَقْلِهِ، أَوْ صَبْرِهِ، أَوْ عِلْمِهِ. وَهُوَ عَلَى ثَلَاثِ دَرَجَاتٍ:

The first level is the bewilderment of the mureed upon:

  1. the state overpowering his or her knowledge556

  2. the ecstasy overpowering his/her tolerance557

  3. the disclosure overpowering his/her drive558

الدَّرَجَةُ الْأُولَى دَهْشَةُ الْمُرِيدِ عِنْدَ صَوْلَةِ :

  1. الْحَالِ عَلَى عِلْمِهِ

  2. وَالْوَجْدِ عَلَى طَاقَتِهِ

  3. وَالْكَشْفِ عَلَى هِمَّتِهِ

The second level is the bewilderment of the traveler upon:

  1. the union overpowering his/her identity559

  2. the antecedence overpowering his/her time560

  3. the beholding overpowering his/her soul561

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّانِيَةُ دَهْشَةُ السَّالِكِ عِنْدَ صَوْلَةِ :

  1. الْجَمْعِ عَلَى رَسْمِهِ

  2. وَالسَّبْقِ عَلَى وَقْتِهِ

  3. وَالْمُشَاهَدَةِ عَلَى رُوحِهِ

The third level is the bewilderment of the lover upon:

  1. the communion overpowering the favors562

  2. the light of nearness overpowering the light of kindness563

  3. the yearning of eyewitness overpowering the yearning that is a result of (hearing) reports564

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّالِثَةُ دَهْشَةُ الْمُحِبِّ عِنْدَ صَوْلَةِ :

  1. الِاتِّصَالِ عَلَى لُطْفِ الْعَطِيَّةِ

  2. وَصَوْلَةِ نُورِ الْقُرْبِ عَلَى نُورِ الْعَطْفِ

  3. وَصَوْلَةِ شَوْقِ الْعِيَانِ عَلَى شَوْقِ الْخَبَرِ

554 ‘Dahash’ is the verbal noun of ‘dahisha’ in the active voice or ‘duhisha’ in the passive voice. Both mean that one became bewildered by the shock of an astonishing encounter. The word is not used in the Revelation. The sheikh cites this verse because the amazement of the women reported in this verse resulted in them cutting (wounding) their hands. The sheikh wants to address in this chapter the forceful impact of certain spiritual states that may lead to astonishment and bewilderment.
555 In Madârij, Ibn al-Qayyim contends that while this state may incidentally occur on the path of devotion, its occurrence and continuity are not to be sought, nor is it a virtue in itself to be desired. Immersion in the seerah of the Prophet ﷺ and his Companions demonstrates beyond doubt their sobriety at all times and grounded-ness in reality without this detracting from their exaltation of their Lord or unwavering pursuit of His pleasure.
556 While the apparent implication may be problematic, we assume that the sheikh did not intend to create a conflict between knowledge and one’s spiritual state; they must complement rather than counter one another. The spiritual state may expose defective knowledge. However, the established Shari‘ah must rule over one’s interior and exterior and supersede one’s intuitions. Its sovereignty is the distinction between the genuine seekers and the misguided or corrupt ones. If the spiritual state overwhelms one’s knowledge— for instance, if they favor seclusion over the congregational prayer—the most that could be said about that person is that they may be excused, but the Revelation is the ultimate determinant of the rankings of deeds.
557 He or she may scream or exhibit agitation if he/she was unable to maintain his/her composure.
558 Because the disclosure brings near what was being sought by the drive.
559 His or her togetherness with Allah will leave him/her numb to his/her own presence.
560 The antecedence of the First without beginning will make his/her time fade out.
561 The soul may not bear with the beholding of the Beloved.
562 The communion with Allah obscures the favors of Allah.
563 Similar to the previous concept.
564 The yearning that was caused by exposure to the reports (of the Revelation) is now surpassed by that which is caused by his/her own spiritual experience of the Divine.

Manâzil as-Sâirin


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

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj