Allah, the Almighty, said:

{…Allah is most knowing of what is within their souls…}625 [Hood 11: 31]

قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: }اللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ{

The private people626 are the discreet ones about which accounts were reported.627 They are of three tiers, at three levels:

أَصْحَابُ السِّرِّ هُمُ الْأَخْفِيَاءُ الَّذِينَ وَرَدَ فِيهِمُ الْخَبَرُ، وَهُمْ عَلَى ثَلَاثِ طَبَقَاتٍ عَلَى ثَلَاثِ دَرَجَاتٍ:

The first tier: those people with high aspirations, pure intentions, and correct conduct. Their forms and footsteps cannot be traced,628 they are not given any designations,629 and they are not pointed out by the fingers.630 They are truly Allah’s stockpiles631 wherever they are.

الطَّبَقَةُ الْأُولَى: طَائِفَةٌ عَلَتْ هِمَمُهُمْ، وَصَفَتْقُصُودُهُمْ. وَصَحَّ سُلُوكُهُمْ. وَلَم يُوقَفَ لَهُمْ عَلَى رَسْمٍ. وَلَمْ يُنْسَبُوا إِلَى اسْمٍ. وَلَمْ يُشَرْ إِلَيْهِمْ بِالْأَصَابِعِ. أُولَئِكَ ذَخَائِرُ اللَّهِ حَيْثُ كَانُوا.

The second tier: those who pointed out a station while they were in another, alluded to an affair while they embarked on another, and advocated for a matter while they entertained another.632 They are between the cover of His protectiveness, the protection of their proper etiquette, and the refinement of their geniality.

والطَّبَقَةُ الثَّانِيَةُ: طَائِفَةٌ أَشَارُوا عَنْ مَنْزِلٍ وَهُمْ فِي غَيْرِهِ، وَوَرُّوا بِأَمْرٍ وَهُمْ لِغَيْرِهِ، وَنَادَوْا عَلَى شَأْنٍ وَهُمْ عَلَى غَيْرِهِ فَهُمْ بَيْنَ غَيْرَةٍ عَلَيْهِمْ تَسْتُرُهُمْ وَأَدَبٍ فِيهِمْ يَصُونُهُمْ وَظُرْفٍ يُهَذِّبُهُمْ.

The third tier: a group that the True One had hid them from them,633 so He showed them a vision that made them too bewildered to recognize their state, and too mystified to behold what they had set out for,634 and protected their inner state from their awareness of it,635 so they became veiled from themselves, while witnessing signs of the uprightness of their station.636 All this resulted from a pure intention stirred by an unseen goal, a true love hidden from the intellect, and a strange wajd (ecstasy) whose kindler is concealed. This is one of the finest stations of the people of walâyah (Allah’s friendship).

والطَّبَقَةُ الثَّالِثَةُ: طَائِفَةٌ أَسَرَهُمُ الْحَقُّ عَنْهُمْ، فَأَلَاحَ لَهُمْ لَائِحًا أَذْهَلَهُمْ عَنْ إِدْرَاكِ مَا هُمْ فِيهِ وَهَيَّمَهُمْ عَنْ شُهُودِ مَا هُمْ لَهُ، وَضَنَّ بِحَالِهِمْ عَنْ عِلْمِهِمْ مَا هُمْ بِهِ، فَاسْتَسَرُّوا عَنْهُمْ مَعَ شَوَاهِدَ تَشْهَدُ لَهُمْ بِصِحَّةِ مَقَامِهِمْ، عَنْ قَصْدٍ صَادِقٍ يُهَيِّجُهُ غَيْبٌ وَحُبٌّ صَادِقٌ يَخْفَى عَلَيْهِ عِلْمُهُ، وَوَجْدٌ غَرِيبٌ لَا يَنْكَشِفُ لَهُ مُوقِدُهُ، وَهَذَا مِنْ أَرَقِّ مَقَامَاتِ أَهْلِ الْوِلَايَةِ.

625 Knowing what is in their hearts, He bestowed on them His greatest favor: guidance to faith.
626 The literal translation of the Arabic original is “the possessors/keepers/people of the secret.” It is these who are private in their relationship with Allah. They are discreet, inconspicuous, and unpretentious.
627The Prophet ﷺ said:

"إِنَّ اَللَّهَ يُحِبُّ اَلْعَبْدَ اَلتَّقِيَّ اَلْغَنِيَّ اَلْخَفِيَّ".

“Allah loves the pious, self-sufficient servant who is discreet.” [Muslim, from Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqâṣ.]
The Prophet ﷺ also was reported to have said:
"إِنَّ يَسِيرَ الرِّيَاءِ شِرْكٌ وَإِنَّ مَنْ عَادَى لِلَّهِ وَلِيًّا فَقَدْ بَارَزَ اللَّهَ بِالْمُحَارَبَةِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الأَبْرَارَ الأَتْقِيَاءَ الأَخْفِيَاءَ الَّذِينَ إِذَا غَابُوا لَمْ يُفْتَقَدُوا وَإِنْ حَضَرُوا لَمْ يُدْعَوْا وَلَمْ يُعْرَفُوا قُلُوبُهُمْ مَصَابِيحُ الْهُدَى يَخْرُجُونَ مِنْ كُلِّ غَبْرَاءَ مُظْلِمَةٍ.‏“‏

“A little showing off (riyâ’) is polytheism (shirk); and whoever shows enmity towards a friend of Allah has declared war against Allah. Allah loves those who are righteous, pious, and discreet (unostentatious); those who, if they are absent, are not missed, and if they are present, they are not invited or acknowledged. Their hearts are lamps of guidance and they emerge (unscathed) from every dark and confounding (trial).” [Ibn Mâjah reported it from Mu‘âdh ibn Jabal through a questionable chain.]
628 They are not bound by forms because they are after the realities. Also, because they are far ahead of others, their footsteps may no longer be traceable.
629 No titles, memberships, or allegiances other than to Allah, His Messenger ﷺ, and His chosen religion: Islam.
630 Because of their modesty and discreetness, they are not recognized by those around them. '
631 The ones He elected and saved for Himself.
632 They actively hide their private ḥâl and relationship with their Lord.
633 For they are too busy beholding Him to behold their deeds or states. They become unaware of themselves because of their absorption into the Divine. They neither perceive the people around them nor perceive themselves.
634 If they have intended to reach a certain station, now their focus is on Him alone so completely that they don’t even remember what they set out for.
635 Your knowledge of your own state could impede your progress and delay your arrival by taking away from your focus on the goal: Divine pleasure.
636 Their adherence to the Sunnah never faltered and their compliance with the Shari‘ah never waned.

Manâzil as-Sâirin


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

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj