Allah, the Almighty, said:

{Then he approached and descended * And was at a distance of two bow lengths or nearer.}764 [an-Najm 53:8-9]
He caused the intellects to lose hope by saying, “or closer.” 765

قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: "ثُمَّ دَنَا فَتَدَلَّى * فَكَانَ قَابَ قَوْسَيْنِ أَوْ أَدْنَى"
آيَسَ الْعُقُولَ بِقَوْلِهِ: "أَوْ أَدْنَى."

Connection is of three levels:

  1. the first is the connection of i‘tiṣâm (seeking refuge)

  2. then the connection of shuhood (witnessing)

  3. then the connection of wujood (actuality)

وَالِاتِّصَالُ ثَلَاثُ دَرَجَاتٍ، الدَّرَجَةُ الْأُولَى:

  1. اتِّصَالُ الِاعْتِصَامِ، ثُمَّ

  2. اتِّصَالُ الشُّهُودِ، ثُمَّ اتِّصَالُ الْوُجُودِ.

The connection of i‘tiṣâm (seeking refuge) is about:

  1. rectification of one’s intent

  2. purification of one’s will

  3. realization of one’s ḥâl (inner state)766

وَاتِّصَالُ الِاعْتِصَامِ:

  1. تَصْحِيحُ الْقَصْدِ

  2. ثُمَّ تَصْفِيَةُ الْإِرَادَةِ

  3. ثُمَّ تَحْقِيقُ الْحَالِ

The second level is the connection of shuhood (witnessing), which is about:

  1. riddance from the flaws 767

  2. needing no proofs 768

  3. termination of the diaspora of inner thoughts769

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّانِيَةُ: اتِّصَالُ الشُّهُودِ، وَهُوَ:

  1. الْخَلَاصُ مِنَ الِاعْتِلَالِ

  2. وَالْغِنَى عَنْ الِاسْتِدْلَالِ

  3. وَسُقُوطُ شَتَاتِ الْأَسْرَارِ

The third level is the connection of wujood (actuality),770 and this connection cannot be realized by descriptions or qualifications, but can be pointed to only by borrowed names 771 and gestures.

والدَّرَجَةُ الثَّالِثَةُ: اتِّصَالُ الْوُجُودِ، وَهَذَا الِاتِّصَالُ لَا يُدْرَكُ مِنْهُ نَعْتٌ وَلَا مِقْدَارٌ، إِلَّا اسْمٌ مُعَارٌ، وَلَمْحٌ إِلَيْهِ مُشَارٌ.

764 The sheikh understood this verse to be speaking about God, as understood by some exegetes, but the stronger position of the majority is that it is about Jibreel. The point is clear, though. When you draw closer to the Lord, He draws closer to you, as established in the Sunnah.
765 Based on the sheikh’s interpretation, he means to say here that His mention of “or closer” is to cause the intellects to despair of knowing the reality of that encounter.
766 When knowledge leads to devoted action, and that leads to an elevated inner state of alertness, care, concern, trust, and love.
767 The flaws of a‘mâl and aḥwâl are many, but the most important of them is the feeling of entitlement.
768 The signposts are not needed after one reaches their destination. The knowledge of God is irresistible (ḍaroori), but it is only the fog of sin, bias, blind following, and ulterior motives that bar some from seeing the Truth.
769 The togetherness is now external and internal; even one’s inner thoughts will be collected and unified.
770 Wujood could be a noun, meaning ‘existence,’ or a verbal noun, meaning ‘finding.’ It is used to mean the second with a hint from the first. It means finding God, Who is the Real, the Necessarily Existent, and the Maker and Sustainer of all existences. This is the level the sheikh dedicates to fanâ’ (self-annihilation), or losing yourself to find it: losing your nafs to find your rooḥ, to subsist only with Him, for Him, by Him. See Station 96: Actuality.
771 These names that are borrowed from our human language, which is limited by our human experiences, simply point us towards concepts whose ontological reality is completely beyond our apprehension.

Manâzil as-Sâirin


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

Translation and Footnotes


Hatem al-Haj