The Other Side Of Sufism
Al-Kashf (Unveiling) It is the ultimate end which the murid looks forward. He tolerates khalwah and succumbs to the will of his shaikh precisely to become one of the people of kashf, who are privileged with Divine manifestation. The literal meaning of the word kashf is "unveiling," but in Sufi terminology it means to expose the heart to metaphysical illumination or "revelation" unattainable by reason.(64) There is supposed to be yet a higher stage beyond kashf which is called al-tajalli, or Divine manifestation: the appearance of God to man.(65) There are two points against the Sufi interpretation of kashf and tajalli. First, conceiving metaphysics by kashf is impossible, yet Sufis claim otherwise, contending against the truth. The fact is that whatever exists can be conceived of only within the realm of reason. Once man loses reason, he loses the ability to conceive of anything of its reality, and turns to hallucination and utter nonsense. Secondly, any claim that the Divine essence can appear, whether in existence or beyond it, whether materially or transcendentally, is a flagrant lie. The Prophet and Messenger of Allah, Musa, peace be upon him, whom Allah had favoured with the privilege of speaking to him directly, was denied his request to see him, as indicated in the verse: meaning,
"And when Musa came at Our appointed time, and his Lord spoke to him, he said, 'My Lord, show (Yourself) to me that I may look to You.' He (Allah) said, 'You shall not see Me, but look at the mountain; if it remains in its place, then you shall see Me.' And when his Lord manifested Himself on the mountain, He made it level, and Musa fell down unconcious. And when he recovered he said, meaning, "Far removed are You from every imperfection, I repent to You, I am the first to believe."(7.143)It is an essential fact, held unanimously by Sunni Muslim, that it is impossible for any creature to witness the Divine manifestations in this world as confirmed by the words of Allah: meaning, according to Ibn Kathir,
"Eyes cannot reach Him, but He can reach everything the eyes of His creatures can reach and perceive of."(6.103)The Prophet indicated the impossibility of seeing Allah when he was asked by his companions whether he had seen Allah. He responded objectingly, "There was just light; How could I see Him?" There is further emphasis on such impossibility in the following hadeeth as reported by Abu Musa:
The Messenger of Allah spoke to us of five things. He said, "Verily, Allah the Exalted and Mighty does not sleep, and does not befit Him to sleep. He lowers down the scale and lifts it up (i.e., He makes ample the means of subsistence to whom He wills and makes scanty to whom He wills). The deeds (of His slaves committed by) night are taken up to Him before the deeds committed in the day (following), and the deeds of the day are taken up to Him before the deeds of the subsequent night. His veil is the light." In the hadeeth narrated by Abu Bakr, the veil of Allah "is fire. If He lifted it, His splendor and majesty would burn out all of his creation."(66)A Sufi leader by the name Abu Mansoor al-Hallaj went so far in disbelief as to claim he was god himself. He was crucified for his blasphemous claim, and for his defiance of shari'ah, or Islamic jurisprudence, in Baghdad, Iraq, in 309 A.H. (922 A.D.) He said,
"I am He Whom I love; He Whom I love is I; we are two souls co-inhabiting one body. If you see me you see Him and if you see Him you see me."(67)Abdul-Karim el-Jili, Ibn Arabi's closest disciple, went a step ahead of his master, claiming that he was commanded by Allah to bring to the people his own book, The Perfect Man, the theme of which is pantheism. He claimed that the perfect man could represent all the attributes of God, even though Allah the Exalted is far above the qualities of men. El-Jili went on to purport to prove that nothing in essence exists in the universe other than Allah, and that all other things, human, animan and non-living are only manifestations of God Almighty Allah. He further asserted in his book that the Prophet Muhammad is the perfect man and the perfect god. From these blasphemous theories, el-Jili went on to declare himself to be a god also, and exclaimed, "To me belongs sovereignty in both worlds." (68) This assertion is blatant enough to condemn anyone who utters it of clear kufr, or disbelief. Whenever such zindiqs, or heretics are mentioned, Sufis live up to their beliefs by invoking Allah's mercy on them, unaware of the fact that tolerance of kufr is itself an act of kufr, and that whoever invokes Allah's mercy on an unbeliever commits a grave sin.
Footnotes: 64. R.S. Nicholson, The Idea of Personality in Sufism, 1923 p.30 65. Fatemi, op. cit 66. Muslim, Ibn Majeh & Ahmad Fakhruddin Iraqi, Divine Flashes, p.24 67. R.A. Nicholson cit. fn.#64 68. Fatemi op.cit.