Allah, the Almighty, said:
{…Hast thou not turned thy vision to thy Lord? —How He doth prolong the shadow!...}708[al-Furqân 25:45]

قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: "أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى رَبِّكَ كَيْفَ مَدَّ الظِّلَّ"

There are three types of beholding:
The first is the beholding of the eyesight.709

الْمُعَايَنَةُ ثَلَاثٌ:
إِحْدَاهَا: مُعَايَنَةُ الْأَبْصَارِ.

The second is the beholding of the eye of the heart,710 and this is the realization of the essence of things in accordance with their attributes, a realization that ends doubt and that is unaccompanied by ambivalence. This is the beholding through the indicants of knowledge.711

الثَّانِيَةُ: مُعَايَنَةُ عَيْنِ الْقَلْبِ، وَهِيَ مَعْرِفَةُ عَيْنِ الشَّيْءِ عَلَى نَعْتِهِ، عِلْمًا يَقْطَعُ الرَّيْبَةَ، وَلَا تَشُوبُهُ حَيْرَةٌ،وهذه مُعَايَنَةٌ بِشَوَاهِدِ الْعِلْمِ.

The third is the beholding of the eye of the spirit, and this is the eye that beholds the reality712 with complete clarity. In fact, the spirits become pure and honored with subsistence713 only to behold the light of the [Divine] presence and witness the splendor of the [Divine] might and pull the hearts714 to the vicinity of the [Divine] presence.715

الثَّالِثَةُ: مُعَايَنَةُ عَيْنِ الرُّوحِ، وَهِيَ الَّتِي تُعَايِنُ الْحَقَّ عِيَانًا مَحْضًا، وَالْأَرْوَاحُ إِنَّمَا طَهُرَتْ وَأُكْرِمَتْ بِالْبَقَاءِ لِتُعَايِنَ سَنَاءَ الْحَضْرَةِ، وَتُشَاهِدَ بَهَاءَ الْعِزَّةِ، وَتَجْذِبَ الْقُلُوبَ إِلَى فِنَاءِ الْحَضْرَةِ.

708 Yusuf Ali’s translation. It is possible that the sheikh alludes to seeing the Lord through the manifestations of His actions and attributes.
709 This would be the beholding of the external realities of the shahâdah with our eyes. This empirical knowledge is at the bottom because unless it leads to the following levels, it will not avail us.
710This is the insight of the heart versus the sight of the eye in the previous level. This is more important because it sees the realities behind the forms. Allah said:

" فَإِنَّهَا لَا تَعْمَى الْأَبْصَارُ وَلَٰكِن تَعْمَى الْقُلُوبُ الَّتِي فِي الصُّدُورِ"

{…For indeed, it is not eyes that are blinded, but blinded are the hearts which are within the breasts.} (al-Ḥajj 22:46)
711 This is a realization that is based on guided reflection and al-khabar aṣ-ṣâdiq (truthful reports). It is the fruit of knowledge of the created signs of Allah (in the universe) and His spoken signs (in the Book).
712 This is the reality (with a small ‘r’) in reference to the realities of existence, according to most commentators. If this is in reference to God, then it refers to the purified souls who have such ultimate certainty and strong connection that they behold the Lord with their spiritual eyes in the dunyâ.
713 As Ibn al-Qayyim states in Madârij, this subsistence (after thorough purification) is the highest of stations and ontological self-annihilation is neither possible nor required, even though some aspects of self-annihilation (fanâ’) may be a required bridge to this sanctified subsistence (baqâ’).
714 ‘Nafs’ and ‘spirit’ have been used interchangeably in the Revelation, but in the terminology of the sulook scholars, when they say the nafs becomes a heart and the heart becomes a spirit, they mean that when the nafs is purified from its flaws, it is referred to as a heart; when that is also purified, it is referred to as a spirit, making the spirit the seat of the highest stations and grants.
715The Prophet ﷺ said:

"تَعَلَّمُوا أَنَّهُ لَنْ يَرَى أَحَدٌ مِنْكُمْ رَبَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ حَتَّى يَمُوتَ"

“Be well informed that none of you will see their Lord until they die.” (Muslim)

All forms of witnessing and beholding refer to the increased certainty and the vividness of the mental¬¬, then spiritual, representation of one’s object of attention, worship, and adoration.

Manâzil as-Sâirin


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

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj