The Lantern of Guidance    

Chapter 3

Section 4

On Relationship Between The Divine Ma’refat (Gnosis) & Ma’refat of The Nafs (Psyche)

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Know that there is no Ma’refat (Gnosis & Cognition) nobler than that of the Divine Ma’refat and there is none more beneficial than that of human Ma’refat (Gnosis). Exclusively the human Ma’refat (Gnosis) is the precondition for Divine Ma’refat (Gnosis). As has been narrated in the Hadith (Prophetic Narration), “The one who is cognizant of his Nafs (Psyche) is cognizant of his Lord”. (The word Allah was not used in the hadith instead the word Rabb (Lord) was used that means Master or Owner with a sense of administration & management e.g. head of a household. The word Allah deals with the Divine Zhaat (Essence) and this hadith is about the mastery and dealings of the Lord & the man.)

If the word Nafs in this Hadith (Prophetic Narration) carries the meaning of Zhaat (Essence) or Haqiqat (Absolute Reality) then—Allah knows best—whoever sees his Zhaat (Essence) & Haqiqat (Absolute Reality) with attributes of dominance & ascendance governing all aspects & components of his Self, and observes that all heavenly & evil militia and all Haqiqat (Absolute Reality) of the/his physical & spiritual existence are under the rule of his own Zhaat (Essence) within the Saghir’s (Minor’s or this world’s) Realm, indeed similarly envisions the Absolute Divine Zhaat (Essence) rules all aspects & components of all beings—physical & spiritual existence, heavenly & evil beings, human or Djin species—within the Kabir’s (Major) Realm. (In Sufi literature there are different Realms, worlds or universes. The Saghir (Minor) Realm is our physical world. The Kabir (Major) Realm is the other universe where Allah reigns. Therefore if we can comprehend how our Nafs commands our life and all the components and people that are under its umbrella of influence in the minor world, then we have a paradigm for how Allah commands in the Major world. Again note the word ‘paradigm’ meaning this observation of “our own Self in command” is like a finger pointing towards the Lord.)

Therefore as the segmented-Rooh (Soul) [1], the segmented-Qalb (Heart), segmented-Nafs (Psyche) and segmented-‘Aql (Intellect) are seen as under his Zhaat’s (Essence’s) complete control, the Universal-Rooh (Soul) & the Universal-Qalb (Heart) which constitute the Divine Throne (?), and Universal-Nafs (Psyche) & Universal-‘Aql (Intellect) under the complete control of the Singleton Divine Zhaat (Essence), perpetually subjugated and contained. Note that there is no Zhaat (Essence) of any beingness in the entire cosmos that has such attribute i.e. the link to the Divine Ma’refat (Gnosis), except the Zhaat (Essence) of the human being. In conclusion, human Ma’refat (Gnosis) is a Dalil (Sign, Token, Evidence, Guide) for the Divine Ma’refat (Gnosis).

If the word Nafs carries the meaning “human psyche” then the above Hadith (Prophetic Narration) is interpreted as follows—and Allah knows best—Man is cognizant of his own Nafs (Psyche) that demands 'ubudiyaat (Serfdom & Servitude) similar to his cognizance of the Lord’s Rububiyat (Divinity). (Ceaselessly we want to be loved, adored, respected, praised, our dissatisfaction to be feared and in short you may say we want to be worshiped just like the Lord. And isn’t this demand of our Nafs the source of all our sorrow and distress?)

The reasoning is as follows: Nafs (Psyche) perpetually claims the false-godship (i.e. to be served), and assigns falsely to his Self the Divine attributes that are exclusive only to the Haqq (Absolute & True Reality, the Lord) beyond association to any creature, and believes in his imagination that all these Divine attributes are indeed exclusively his!? (Allah subjugates & controls all objects in the universe; nothing moves or acts without Its Divine Dictate and no one dares to oppose the regality of the Royal Highness. Somehow we want the same godship i.e. to be obeyed and stay in complete control. But looking at the list of the Divine Sifaat (Attributes) we find some of those attributes in a minor way within us e.g. power, mercy or generosity and therefore proper management of these attributes can shed light on the cognition of the Divine.)

And the darkness of this false claim can never be taken away unless by the effulgence of the Divine Rays of Tajalli (Manifestation) e.g. “And say: "Truth has (now) arrived, and Falsehood perished” (Koran [17:81]) or the call, “The light is made manifest and thus void is the fake & the false” (Hadith?). (Dervish you are not going to understand the meaning of these attributes within you and you will never comprehend why & how you are reacting to them. Until such time when the rays of the Divine Manifestation hits you, the falsehood vanishes the fake thoughts and edicts that you passed about your Self made null & void, and you are left with a peculiar sense of cognition as follows.)

In other words, once the Haqq (Absolute & True Reality) manifests one of Its Divine attributes upon the human Nafs (Psyche), the allegations of possessing that attribute which was placed upon the Nafs (Psyche) by the Nafs shall arise, and the human Zhaat’s (Essence’s) attributes e.g. submission, humility, humbleness, incapacity, lowliness and poverty shall confess to the crime of ignorance. (What was your arrogant & pompous edicts of yesterday when you declared yourself the most powerful in charge of this and that, after the Divine Rays shine upon you, dervish you accuse your past Self as a defendant in your own court prepared for the true judgment. Dervish then you are truly humbled and anxiously awaiting the sentencing as follows.)

For example if the Divine Sifat (Attribute) of Azim (Power & Might) is made manifest to the human Nafs (Psyche), the allegation of false attribution of power to the man shall arise, and the human Sifat (Attribute) of humility shall appear. Or if the Divine Sifat (Attribute) of Ezzat (Honor & Pride) is made manifest to the human Nafs (Psyche), the allegation of false attribution of honor & pride to the man shall arise, and the human Sifat (Attribute) of lowliness shall appear. Or if the Divine Sifat (Attribute) of Molk (Regality & Royalty) is made manifest to the human Nafs (Psyche), the allegation of false attribution of regality & royalty to the man shall arise, and the human Sifat (Attribute) of submissiveness & humbleness shall appear. Or if the Divine Sifat (Attribute) of Qudra (Capacity & Potency) is made manifest to the human Nafs (Psyche), the allegation of false attribution of capacity & potency to the man shall arise, and the human Sifat (Attribute) of incapacity & surrender shall appear. And the above can be deduced from the prayer of the Prophet peace be upon him, “Praise to the One whom all things are in humility compared to Its Azima (Power & Might); Praise to the One whom all things are lowly compared to Its Ezzat (Honor & Pride); Praise to the One whom all things are in submission to Its Molk (Regality & Royalty); Praise to the One whom all things are in surrender to Its Qudra (Capacity & Potency)”.

And because of the above argument, given all the Sifaat (Attributes) that are truly found within the Nafs (Psyche), if the ‘Aref (Divine Cognoscente) made cognizant of a particular Sifat (Attribute) within his Nafs (Psyche), comprehends that the said human Sifat (Attribute) originated from a Divine Sifat (Attribute). And if he does not comprehend the Sifat (Attribute) this way, and from the knowledge-form cannot reach the experience-form (i.e. true cognition of that particular Sifat (Attribute) via actual experience thus relating the Sifat (Attribute) to the Divine) therefore he did not truly understand & comprehend that Sifat (Attribute). (Dervish the book can tell you that your attribute of mercy is a minor derivative of the Divine Attribute of Rahma (Mercy). But this book-knowledge is not Ma’refat (Divine Gnosis), it is just surface knowledge of things. But if truly you could study your book of life, sift through the incidents and understand that particular attribute within the actual events and if you are able to find a link between those incidents involving the particular attribute and the Divine Attributes then you have gained a Ma’refat (Divine Gnosis). As is depicted by an example as follows.)

Dhannun Al-Masri was asked, “How did you get to know your Lord?” replied, “I came to know It each time when I was about to commit a wrongdoing by remembering the Divine Jalaal (Momentous Glory) & Divine Azima (Power & Might) and suddenly the Sifat (Attribute) of Hayaa (Shame & Diffidence) appeared, thus I became ashamed & timid facing It and finally dropped the wrongdoing”.  Therefore Dhannun observed Hayaa (Shame & Diffidence) as the impact of the Divine Sifaat (Attributes) of Jalaal (Momentous Glory) & Azima (Power & Might), a Dalil (Sign, Token, Evidence, Guide) towards Qorb (Divine Nearness) & Orf (Divine Gnosis). (Note that Dhannun’s observation of his state was not a 100% proof of anything. Instead this observation is a finger pointing towards the Divine Attributes.)

And this form of finding Ma’refat (Divine Gnosis) is fundamentally correct and no mistakes can deviate this method, because this form of obtaining Orf (Divine Gnosis) is solely based upon Zauq (Perceptivity, Personal Experience & Responsiveness) & Halaa (Momentary State of the Heart) and not obtained through knowledge or imagination. It benefited from the Kashf (Unearthing Secrets) & ‘Iyān (Observance & Eyewitness) and not from data, knowledge, sayings or reasoning.

In a different direction, if there is a Sifat (Attribute) within the Nafs (Psyche) that also has a Divine counterpart, would be an indicative of the nature of the Divine Perception of that person. For example, if the person within his Nafs (Psyche) finds the attribute of Redha (Contentment), he can conclude that the Lord is also is contented with him as well. And the verse, “Allah well pleased with them, and they with ‘It’” (Koran [98:8]) is Ishaarat (Hint) towards this example. Again if within his Nafs (Psyche) finds the Sifat (Attribute) of Mahab-bat (Divine Love), he is certain that Lord’s Love has been antecedent to his love. And the verse, “a people whom ‘It’ will love as they will love ‘It’” (Koran [5:54]) is Ishaarat (Hint) towards this meaning. And if within his Nafs (Psyche) finds Shawq (Anxious Yearning), he knows that the yearning is reciprocal, “Indeed is prolonged the Shawq (Anxious Yearning) of the righteous folk to meet Me (i.e. Allah) and I am deeply anxious to meet them (in return)” (Hadith). And if within his Nafs (Psyche) finds Dhikr (Remembrance) of the Lord, it means the Lord remembers him as well, “Then do ye remember Me; I will remember you” (Koran [2:152]). And this Dhikr (Divine Remembrance) that has been mentioned in the Koran, (human remembrance) though may be late or not worthy of the Lord, the Lord’s Remembrance of the slaves has been antecedent to theirs. Since if the Lord did not remember the slave first, the slave would have never succeeded in remembering the Lord. The present Dhikr (Divine Remembrance) of the slave shall bring him rewards (i.e. achieved) and the previous Dhikr i.e. Allah’s remembrance of him, an undisputed Divine gift.

In general whoever wants to know his status with the Lord, should first study the status of the Lord within his Self i.e. how he is feeling about the Lord and extrapolate from there. As has been mentioned in the Hadith (Prophetic Narration),”Whoever likes to know his status with Allah should observe Allah’s status within his own since Allah hosts within for the slave what the salve hosts within his Nafs (Psyche) for Allah”.


[1] There are two words that often are seen in the Sufi manuscripts perhaps more on the philosophical side, Kulli that means universal or aggregate and Juz’i that means a minor portion or segment of something larger. So what exists in the other universe i.e. the Azal (Sempiternity) are all Kulli and what exists in our Mohdath (Transient & Temporal) world are all Juz’i meaning a minor slice or segment from another universe. So segmented-Soul means there is an aggregate universal Soul in the other universe but we are given each a segment in this world for some period of time. 

© 2004-2002,  Dara O. Shayda