Allah, the Almighty, said:
{Surely in that there is indeed a reminding to him who has a heart, or is eager on hearing, and is a constantly present witness (to the truth).} [Qâf 50:37] 697

قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: "إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَذِكْرَى لِمَنْ كَانَ لَهُ قَلْبٌ أَوْ أَلْقَى السَّمْعَ وَهُوَ شَهِيدٌ"

Witnessing is the complete dropping of the veil. It is above al-mukâshafah (disclosure) because al-mukâshafah attends to the attributes, so it has some remains of the images,698 while al-mushâhadah attends to the (Divine) ipseity (dhât).699 It is of three levels:

الْمُشَاهَدَةُ سُقُوطُ الْحِجَابِ بَتًّاوَهِيَ فَوْقَ الْمُكَاشَفَةِلِأَنَّ الْمُكَاشَفَةَ وِلَايَةُ النَّعْتِ، وَفِيهِ شَيْءٌ مِنْ بَقَايَا الرَّسْمِ، وَالْمُشَاهَدَةَ وِلَايَةُ الْعَيْنِ وَالذَّاتِ. وَهِيَ عَلَى ثَلَاثِ دَرَجَات.

The first level is the witnessing of ma‘rifah (recognition), 700 which transcends the boundaries of knowledge701 in the tablets of the light of actualization, 702 making their mount kneel down in the front courtyard of (the citadel of) jam‘ (togetherness).

الدَّرَجَةُ الْأُولَى مُشَاهَدَةُ مِعْرِفَةٍ،تَجْرِي فَوْقَ حُدُودِ الْعِلْمِ، فِي لَوَائِحِ نُورِ الْوُجُودِ، مُنِيخَةً بِفِنَاءِ الْجَمْعِ.

The second level is the eye witnessing, which cuts off the ropes of signposts,703 wears the attributes of holiness,704 and silences the tongues of symbolism. 705

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّانِيَةُ مُشَاهَدَةُ مُعَايَنَةٍ، تَقْطَعُ حِبَالَ الشَّوَاهِدِ، وَتَلْبَسُ نُعُوتَ الْقُدْسِ، وَتُخْرِسُ أَلْسِنَةَ الْإِشَارَاتِ.

The third level is the witnessing of jam‘, which pulls towards the locus of jam‘, possessing certainty of the advent706 and sailing the ocean of full actualization. 707

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّالِثَةُ مُشَاهَدَةُ جَمْعٍ. تَجْذِبُ إِلَى عَيْنِ الْجَمْعِ، مَالِكَةً لِصِحَّةِ الْوُرُودِ، رَاكِبَةً بَحْرَ الْوُجُودِ.

697 Translation by Dr. Muhammad Maḥmūd Ghâli.
698 Since the names and attributes manifest in temporal existences and phenomena, which are the images that veil the reality.
699 Imam Ibn al-Qayyim points out in Madârij that observing the dhât which is described by all attributes of perfection and majesty is the way of the prophets and messengers who did not attempt to strip the dhât from the attributes or behold the attributes in isolation from the dhât, which is ontologically impossible. However, observing some of the attributes and not all is inferior to observing the dhât in which subsist all the attributes. Finally, observing the variant manifestations of the attributes, like the manifestations of His power or mercy in the temporal existence, should not distract the seeker from observing Him (exalted is He) and His oneness.
700 The beneficial knowledge of the heart, not merely technical knowledge of the intellect.
701 The seeds of knowledge await the water of recognition to yield the fruits of devotion and full actualization. Spiritual experiences complement knowledge rather than substitute for it.
702 Actualization of realization and devotion.
703 The indicants to Allah are likened to ropes that pull the servant towards Him; when he or she reaches Him, the ropes are of no use.
704 The virtuous attributes that Allah will bestow on him or her. While these are not the attributes of the Divine Himself, it is recommended to pursue the human manifestations of His attributes where this is befitting, such as gentleness, mercy, and generosity. His attributes of majesty are His alone. Conversely, there are virtuous attributes for humans that are unbefitting of God, such as humility, brokenness, and poverty.
705 There is no more pointing after actualization.
706 Having complete confidence in the road and the destination.
707 Being without the self—all for God, with God, by God—where God becomes one’s hearing with which one hears, one’s sight with which one sees, one’s hand with which one strikes, and one’s leg with which one walks.

Manâzil as-Sâirin


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

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj