Allah, the Almighty, said:
{…He multiplies you thereby…}733 [ash-Shoorâ 42:11]

قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: "يَذْرَؤُكُمْ فِيهِ"

Expansion is when [Allah] accords the exterior of the servant with the indications of knowledge and dresses their interior with the garment of devotion. These are the people of disguise.734 They have been expanded in the realm of expansion for one of three purposes; for each purpose a group is dedicated:

الْبَسْطُ: أَنْ يُرْسِلَ شَوَاهِدَ الْعَبْدِ فِي مَدَارِجِ الْعِلْمِ، وَيُسْبِلَ عَلَى بَاطِنِهِ رِدَاءَ الِاخْتِصَاصِ، وَهُمْ أَهْلُ التَّلْبِيسِ،وَإِنَّمَا بُسِطُوا فِي مَيْدَانِ الْبَسْطِ، لِأحَدِ ثَلَاثِ مَعَانٍ، لِكُلِّ مَعْنًى طَائِفَةٌ.

One group has been expanded as a mercy for the creation. They are pleasant towards them735 and mix with them so that they may find illumination in their light, while the realities are collected736 and the inner secrets are protected. 737

فَطَائِفَةٌ بُسِطَتْ رَحْمَةً لِلْخَلْقِ، يُبَاسِطُونَهُمْ وَيُلَابِسُونَهُمْ، فَيَسْتَضِيئُونَ بِنُورِهِمْ، وَالْحَقَائِقُ مَجْمُوعَةٌ، وَالسَّرَائِرُ مَصُونَةٌ.

Another group has been expanded for the strength of their beholding738 and the steadiness of their visions,739 for their insights are not scrambled by indicators740 and the winds of the forms do not attack their procurements,741 so they are expanded in the grip of qabḍ(constriction). 742

وَطَائِفَةٌ بُسِطَتْ لِقُوَّةِ مُعَايَنَتِهِمْ، وَتَصْمِيمِ مَنَاظِرِهِمْ؛ لِأَنَّهُمْ طَائِفَةٌ لَا تُخَالِجُ الشَّوَاهِدُ مَشْهُودَهُمْ، وَلَا تَضْرِبُ رِيَاحُ الرُّسُومِ مَوْجُودَهُمْ، فَهُمْ مَبْسُوطُونَ فِي قَبْضَةِ الْقَبْضِ.

Another group was expanded as flags on the path, imams of guidance, and beacons for the travelers.

وَطَائِفَةٌ بُسِطَتْ أَعْلَامًا عَلَى الطَّرِيقِ، وَأَئِمَّةً لِلْهُدَى، وَمَصَابِيحَ لِلسَّالِكِينَ.

733 The verse is about the expansion of provisions and offspring.
734 They act like ordinary people in their customs and habits, but they are completely unlike them in their inner state, manners, and etiquettes.
735The Prophet ﷺ said:

"إنَّ أحبَّكم إليَّ أحسانُكم أخلاقًا المُوطَّؤون أكنافًا الَّذين يألَفون ويُؤلفون وإنَّ أبغضَكم إليَّ المَشَّاؤون بالنَّميمةِ المُفرِّقون بين الأحبَّةِ الملتمِسون للبُرآءِ العنت."
“The most beloved to me of you are the those best in manners, those who are humble and easygoing, those who befriend and are befriended. The most hated to me of you are those who spread tales among people, separate between those who love each other, and seek to cause harm to the innocent.” (aṭ-Ṭabarâni; and it is corroborated by many other similar reports)
736 They are not distracted by mixing with them.
737 They do not uncover their special relationship with Allah, seeking to safeguard it.
738 Their beholding of the realities beyond the images and ultimately their beholding of the Real with the eyes of their hearts.
739 Their visions penetrated all the variables, so they became immune to change.
740 The indicators (signs) have taken them to His door. After they arrive, they do not depend on them anymore. They leave them in the front yard.
741 The exterior forms and transient phenomena do not ruin the purity of their spiritual procurements.
742None of the virtues of the last station of qabḍ (constriction) is lost by them. They straddle the stations with ease. Allah moves them between them to ensure their ultimate devotion in all conditions. Imam Ibn ‘Aṭâ’ (may Allah bestow mercy on him) says:
بَسَطَكَ كي لا يبقيك مع القبض، وقَبَضَك كي لا يتركك مع البسط، وأخرجك عنهما كي لا تكون لشيء دونه.
“He expanded you so as to not keep you in contraction; He contracted you so as to not keep you in expansion; and He took you out of both so that you do not belong to anything apart from Him.”

Manâzil as-Sâirin


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

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj