Daily News
Hazrat Khwaja Ghulam Fareed URS celebration beginning .  -  Three-days Ceremonies Of URS Of The Famous Saint And Sufi Poet Of the South Punjab Hazrat Khwaja Ghulam Fareed will be Starting  From 6th February.KFF is The Host Of The Celebration Ceremony.  Diwan-e- Fareed new research, which the Author is Mr. Mujahid Jatoi are celebration ceremony will be held on February 7th in Qaser-e-Fareed. KFF is the  host of the celebration ceremony. The Delegation Of Khwaja Farid College Rahim Yar Khan, Visit The Kot Mithan. A Delegation Of The Professors And Lecturers In The Leadership Of Mr. Chaudhry Mohammad Akram Principal Khwaja Fareed College Rahim Yar Khan Visited The Kot Mithan. After Darbar –e-Fareed Thay Also Visit The Khawaja Fareed Museum And Then They Attended a Ceremony Arranged by KFF, in Qaser-e-Fareed.  

  What is the Essence of Poetry?*

The modern man is such an addict to the world of the existent that any talk of essence seems to be a voice lost in the wilderness. The surrender of science and philosophy to the concrete, finite has violated the essence of religion, art and literature. In this gust of profanity, poetry has to make an earnest attempt to light the candle of essence. In the luminosity of beauty, one can have an encounter with truth.

The word ‘essence’ has been used by the thinkers with such a diversity of meaning that its pristine purity has been lost. The Empiricists, Rationalists, Realists, Idealists, Positivists, Logical Empiricists, Linguistic Analysts, Phenomenologists, Dialectical Materialists and other constellation of thinkers have imposed their limited perspective thereby veiling the Reality of essence. By dint of various methodologies, essence, as such, remains concealed. The veil is visible in the spheres of art and literature. The confusion is so profound that Heidegger has to use the term “inessential essence” and ‘essential essence’ to differentiate, perhaps, from the ordinary meaning of the word. The logical absurdity of such an attempt is self-evident. No true reasoning can justify such a play with words. Here, the writer faces a great dilemma. He is condemned to oscillate on the spectrum of language. This crisis in the Western world is quite understandable. Since the West lacks metaphysical or intellectual foundations, therefore, it is precluded, in principle, to attain true understanding of essence. With essence gone, existence too becomes hazy.

*     Reproduced from the author’s book: Of Intellect and Reason, Institute of Islamic Culture, Lahore, Pakistan, 1990.

The same failure is manifest with regard to transcendence. The loss of the metaphysical and traditional perspective is mainly responsible for this miscarriage. The Western world owes its origin to the Greeks. It is a strange irony of fate that what genuine lessons the Greeks learnt from the ancient world were neither appropriated by them nor passed on to the modern world. Speculative reason and an anti-intellectualist stance: these were the two things which the West inherited from the Greeks. “It is almost as if the Greeks, at a moment when they were about to disappear from history, wished to avenge themselves for their own incomprehension by imposing on a whole section of mankind the limitation of their own mental horizon.”[1]

The history of Western philosophy is the tragic disclosure of this fundamental betrayal. Thales initiated a phase in philosophy which found its culmination in Hegel. The subsequent philosophy is a revolt against Hegel. This revolt has taken many forms. For our purposes, we shall mainly delve on the existential one. “Hegel made famous his aphorisms that all the rational is real and all the real rational; but there are many of us who, unconvinced by Hegel, continue to believe that the real, the really real, is irrational, that reason builds upon irrationalities. Hegel, a great framer of definitions, attempted with definitions to reconstruct the universe, like the artillery sergeant who said that cannon were made by taking a hole and enclosing it with steel.”[2]

Kierkegaard laid the foundations of an existential polemic against Hegel’s system. He commented on his works in these words. ‘It is like reading out of cookbook to a man who is hungry’. Armed with existential concrete, he attacked the bastion of speculative reason. The existential thinkers did score a few major points against Hegel and other philosophers but, in the ultimate analysis, it was Pyrrhic victory. The phenomenological method locked them in the world of human subjectivity devoid

[1]     Guenon, Rene, Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines.

[2]     Unamuno, Miguel De, The Tragic Sense of Life.

of true transcendence. Kierkegaard’s understanding of transcendence was a kind of diving back to human subjectivity to absurdity. Transcendence was placed within immanence. Jaspers suffered the same fate. Both these thinkers along with Martin Buber, Gabriel Marcel, Nikolai Berdyaev, Paul Tillich and many others remained at the threshold of transcendence. Since they were moving on the Western track, therefore, their transcendence got enmeshed in immanence.

Other existential thinkers proved to be more militant. The revolt against transcendence was mainly initiated by Nietzsche. He understood transcendence in reference to the eternal recurrence and superman. “All gods are dead: now we want the Superman to live’—let this be our last will one day at the great noon tide.”[1] He is endorsed by Camus in these words: “I have Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”[2] Sartre cuts the roots of Transcendence in these words: “But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion.”[3] Maurice Merleau- Ponty narrates the same story: “...the only pre-existent Logos is the world itself... Phenomenology, as a disclosure of the world, rests on itself, or rather provides its own foundation. All knowledge is sustained by a “ground” of postulates and finally by a communication with a world as primary embodiment of rationality.”[4]

The basic limitation of all the existential thinkers, in the ultimate analysis, is their succumbing to finitude. J. Von

[1]     Nietzsche, Friedrich, Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

[2]     Camus, Albert, The Myth of Sisyphus.

[3]     Sartre, Jean Paul, Being and Nothingness.

[4]     Ponty, Maurice Merleau-, Phenomenology of Perception.

Rintelen has pointed out the inflated role of finitude which these thinkers assume in the use of such expressions as “intensified finiteness”, “radical finiteness’, “enhanced finiteness’, “immanent transcendence”, “finitism’, “Logos of finite objectivity”, “unactual transcendence”, “essentially finite”, so on and so forth. They could not extricate themselves from the net of phenomenology entwined by Brentano and Husserl. Rather, they added more knots to it. All the systems of philosophy in the Western world are grounded in profanity. The ghost of the Greeks still haunts the modern man.

How could Art survive in such a world? Our archaeological task is still not over. We have to dismantle many a notions before reaching the essence of poetry. Our critique of Heidegger shall further provide a clearing of the way. For him, the primary philosophical problem was the problem of Being. But Being was finite. And it was not God. He did not deny the existence of God but only affirmed His absence thereby establishing a subtler form of atheism. By dint of phenomenological method, he turned his philosophy into “phenomenological Ontology”. His concept of transcendence was tied to finitude and remained immersed in the world. This is visible too in his thought on Art and Poetry. He says: “Poetry, creative literature, is nothing but the elementary emergence into worlds, the becoming– uncovered of existence as being– in-the-world.”[1]

In his essay, “The Origin of the work of Art”, he says, “Origin here means that from and by which something is what it is and as it is. What something is, as it is, we call its essence or nature.”[2] On the face of it, the observations seem to be very innocent. But a searching analysis of the statement marks a qualitative difference between the ancient and the modern world. In the traditional perspective, origin or

[1]     Heidegger, Martin, The Basic Problems of Phenomenology.

[2]     Heidegger, Martin, Poetry, Language, Thought.

original is differently construed. Essence is understood in reference to true transcendence. “But only a work of art that is ancient in spirit can properly be called ‘original’ because it alone is effectively attached to its real origin. The newer kind of originality assumes that man, and not God is the origin, the creator, and that inspiration is individual and not universal.”[1]

Heidegger says: “In the art work, the truth of what is has said itself to work...To gain access to the work, it would be necessary to remove it from all relations to something other than itself, in order to let it stand on its own for itself alone. But artist’s most peculiar intention already aims in this direction. The work is to be released by him to its pure self-subsistence. It is precisely in great art ... that the artist remains inconsequential as compared with the work, almost like a passageway that destroys itself in the creative process for the work to emerge.”[2] For us the notion of “pure self subsistence” violates the essence of art. That art which is based on the negation or absence of the Infinite is nothing but the projection of the infernal world. It is a broken transcendence caught in the net of history. “If renaissance art lacks on opening onto universal and is altogether imprisoned in its own epoch, this is because its outlook is humanistic; and humanism, which is the revolt of the reason against the intellect, considers man and other earthly objects entirely for their own sake as if nothing lay behind them.’’[3]Also: “in painting the creation, for example, Michelangelo treats Adam not as a symbol but as an independent reality; and since he does not paint in the image of God, the inevitable result is that he paints God in the image of man. There is more divinity underlying Simone Martini’s painting of St. Francis than there is in Michelangelo’s representation of the Creator Himself.”[4] Next, in great art the artist remains ‘inconsequential’ in reference to the work due to a different reason than spelled

[1]     Northbourne, Lord, Religion in the Modern World.

[2]     Heidegger, Martin, Poetry, Language, Thought.

[3]     Lings, Martin, The Secret of Shakespeare.

[4]     Ibid.

out by Heidegger. It is the presence of Universal which makes this exit possible. It is not the destruction of the passageway by itself but the act of true transcendence which lets the sun shine. “A masterpiece of traditional art is at once perfect, orderly, and mysterious. It reflects the perfection and goodness of the Source, the harmony and order which are also reflected in the cosmos and which are the imprint of the absoluteness of the Principle in manifestation and the mystery and inwardness which open onto the Divine Infinitude Itself.”[1] Heidegger says: “Thus art is the creative preserving of truth in the work. Art then is the becoming and happening of truth.”[2] But truth severed from its transcendent roots merely becomes a ‘brute fact’. Art is degraded to the level of the demoniac. Beauty desecrates. Schuon says: “...if the intelligence directly has need for rigour, it also indirectly has need of beauty.”[3]

Heidegger considers art, ‘as the setting-into-work of truth’ as essentially poetry. He says: “Poetry is the saying of the unconcealedness of what it is.”[4] He further says: “Poetry is founding in the triple sense of bestowing, grounding, and beginning.”[5] Here the poet seems to be caught in the vertigo of human situation. “Not only have the gods and the god fled, but the divine radiance has begun extinguished in the world’s history. The time of the world’s night is the destitute time, because it becomes even more destitute. It has already grown so destitute; it can no longer discern the default of God as a default.”[6] Thus he denies vertical transcendence. He says: “...this surpassing, this transcending does not go up and over into something else; it comes up to its own self and back into the nature of its truth. Being itself traverses this going over

[1]     Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, Knowledge and the Sacred

[2]     Heidegger, Martin, Poetry, Language, Thought.

[3]     Schuon, Frithjof, From the Divine to the Human.

[4]     Heidegger, Martin, Poetry, Language, Thought.

[5]     Ibid.

[6]     Ibid.

and is itself its dimension.”[1] He further says: “Poetry does not fly above and surmount the earth in order to escape it and hover over it. Poetry is what first brings man onto the earth, making him belong to it, and thus brings him into dwelling.”[2]

Heidegger locks the poet in the world of the finite where true transcendence is absent. The poet’s search for Being is purely a temporal quest. It is far removed from the essence of poetry. Kathleen Raine says: “Truly understood the entire world is one great symbol, communicating, in a sacramental manner, by outward and visible signature, an inward and spiritual essence.”[3] Heidegger claims a right for poetry which the tradition does not allow. Schuon says: “...the principle, the range and the development of science or an art is never independent of Revelation nor of the demands of spiritual life, not forgetting those of social equilibrium; it is absurd to claim unlimited rights for something in itself contingent, such as science or art.”[4]

Heidegger chooses the poet Holderlin for spelling out the essence of poetry. He calls him ‘poet of the poets’. For Holderlin, ‘the art of writing poetry is the most innocent of all occupations’. Next, language the most dangerous of possessions, has been given to man ‘so that he may affirm what he is’. For Heidegger, both these pointers taken together reveal the essence of poetry. “Holderlin writes poetry about the essence of poetry—but not in the sense of a timelessly valid concept. This essence of poetry belongs to a determined time. But not in such a way that it merely conforms to this time, as to one which is already in existence. It is that Holderlin, in the act of establishing the essence of poetry, first determines a new time. It is the time of the gods that have fled and the god that is coming. It is the time of need,

[1]     Heidegger, Martin, Poetry, Language, Thought.

[2]     Ibid.

[3]     Raine, Kathleen, The Poetic Symbol and Tradition.

[4]     Schuon, Frithjof, Light on the Ancient Worlds.

because it lies under a double lack and a double Not: The No-more of the gods that have fled and the Not-yet of the god that is coming.”[1] The nature of time has been a great stumbling block for the Western thinkers. Time has been reduced to pure quantity. Even the existential dimension of time has no trace of eternity: the fount of all things. Failure to appreciate the metaphysics of time has been mainly responsible for the loss of transcendence. Poetry is no exception.

Heidegger has given a serious thought to the problem of language. He says: “...language alone brings what is, as something that is, into the open for the first time. When there is no language, as in the being of stone, plant, and animal, there is also no openness of what is…”[2] He further says: “Language is the precinct (templum), that is, the house of Being.”[3] Language, no doubt, is a dangerous possession for instead of revealing, it may conceal. However, his phenomenological approach does not let him appreciate that higher symbolism opens the door to the Infinite. The traditional symbols used in higher poetry do touch the chord of essence. Poetry upgrades language by appreciating its divine origin. It provides a link between the divine and the human. Sufi poetry is a pertinent example of this deep intimacy.

In a profane climate, talk of ‘gods’ and of ‘holiness’ is wide off the mark. No place of the holy can be recognised. The search for holy in the absence of transcendence can lead to madness. Holderlin is a classical example. “In the absence of the control which Tradition alone can exercise, it is extremely dangerous to venture into the territory of these powerful, ill-defined and deceptive psychic forces.”[4] The sacred scenario, on the other hand, reflects transcendence. Martin Lings says: “...a truly inspired art indeed a kind of white

[1]     Heidegger, Martin, Holderlin And the Essence of Poetry.

[2]     Heidegger, Martin, Poetry Language, Thought.

[3]     Ibid.

[4]     Northbourne, Lord, Religion in the Modern World.

magic which casts a spell over man and momentarily changes him, doing as it were the impossible and making him quite literally excel himself.”[1]

The profane man lives in a closed world. He looses the vertical dimensions of Art. Schuon says: “Sacred art is vertical and ascending, whereas profane art is horizontal and equilibrating.”[2] He further says: “The error in the thesis of ‘art for art’s sake’ really amounts to supposing that here are relativities which bear their adequate justification within themselves, in their own relative nature, and that consequently there are criteria of value inaccessible to pure intelligence and foreign to objective truth. This error involves abolishing the primacy of the spirit and its replacement either by instinct by taste, by criteria that are either purely subjective or else arbitrary... the definition, laws and criteria of art cannot be derived from itself...the intrinsic principles of art are essentially subordinate to extrinsic principles of a higher order.’’[3] The philosophy of dialectical materialism is another protagonist of profane art. Sartre says: “Real transcendence requires one to want to change certain specific aspects of the world, and the surpassing is coloured and particularized by the concrete situation it aims to modify.”[4] For Christopher Caudwell: “All art is produced by this tension between changing social relations and outmoded consciousness.”[5] He explains the essence of poetry in these words: “Poetry is to be regarded then, not as anything racial, national, genetic or specific in its essence, but as something economic. We expect cultural and therefore, poetical development to increase with the complexity of the division of labour on which it is based.”[6] He sums up the entire argument in these words: “Communist

[1]     Lings, Martin, The Secret of Shakespeare.

[2]     Schuon, Frithjof, Esoterism As principle And As Way.

[3]     Schuon, Frithjof, Castes and Races.

[4]     Sartre, Jean Paul, What is Literature.

[5]     Caudwell, Christopher, The Concept of Freedom.

[6]     Caudwell, Christopher, Illusion and Reality.

poetry will be complete because it will be man conscious of his own necessity as well as that of outer reality.”[1]

This radical concept of art and poetry is based on the total negation of transcendence. Its approach is one-dimensional. It loses the vertical dimension in favour of the horizontal one. It cuts man from the roots of his being. “In his negation of all spirituality, Marxist man comes to the point that he loses even the consciousness of ‘me’. For, despite centuries of profane humanistic preaching, this later leads to the loss of the consciousness of one’s self, because it separates itself from the source of self-consciousness which is our immortal soul.”[2] A.H. Coomarswamy says: “things made by art answer to human needs, or else are luxuries. Human needs are the needs of the whole man, who does not live by bread alone...the whole needs things well made to serve at one and the same time needs of the active and contemplative life.”[3] The profane world has paid no heed to the soul. Kathleen Raine says: “...any attempt to bring order to the inner worlds, to nourish the specifically human, has gone by default.”[4] All great art is celestial in origin. It is sacred. “It is of angelic origin because its models reflect supra-formal realities. It recapitulates the creation—the “Divine Art”—in parables, thus demonstrating the symbolical nature of the world, and delivering the human spirit from its attachment to crude and ephemeral facts.”[5]

Poetry is a passionate-openness-onto-Transcendent. It is a committed passion: a passion intimately linked with knowledge “Even the Arabic word for poetry (al-shi’r) is related to the root meaning consciousness and knowledge rather than making as is the case with poiesis.”[6] Martin Lings says: “Poetry is not written with ink but with the heart’s

[1]     Caudwell, Christopher, Illusion and Reality.

[2]     Lindbom, Tage, The Tares and the Good Grain.

[3]     Comaraswamy, A.K., On the Traditional Doctrine of Art.

[4]     Raine, Kathleen, What is Man?

[5]     Burckhardt, Titus, Sacred Art in East and West.

[6]     Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, Knowledge and the Sacred.

blood.”[1] Each drop of this blood is a key to the Eternal. But poetry is not metaphysics for it thrives on the sentiment. Schuon says: “...when a sentiment is such that it neither contradicts nor limits truth in any way the reference here being to spiritually sufficient truth—it is entirely legitimate; it then represents, not a natural fact that is simply to be tolerated, but the passive mode of intuition or participation. If it were not so, the symbolism of love would not be conceivable, nor would the use of music or poetry.”[2]

[1]     Lings, Martin, The Elements and other Poems.

[2]     Schuon, Frithjof, Logic And Transcendence.


  Introduction to the Metaphysics of Khawaja Ghulam Farid with 
Reference to Mansur Al-Hallaj,
      Bayazid Bistami and Ibn’ Arabi*

Khawaja Farid (1845-1901) is a metaphysician in the tradition of Muhy-ud-Din Ibn Arabi. His thought is the melting point of the entire tradition which embraces Mansur Hallaj, Bayazid Bistami and others. It tends to form a spiritual constellation. He makes his own original contribution to the fundamental idea envisaged by the tradition. He manifests an intellectual-spiritual-religious understanding of God, Man and Universe. The vertical and horizontal dimensions of his thought reverberate in totality. Existentiality permeates his whole thought. He inhabits the castle of Eastern metaphysics. One who is steeped in Western philosophy may find it difficult to appreciate this formless metaphysics for he is condemned to consider it as a system. Anything which is not systematic is repudiated to be unsystematic, arbitrary and unmethodical. But this constitutes the basis error of the contemporary world. The tradition, on the other hand, does not necessitate such categories. It rightly transcends them thereby providing an occasion for the poetic mode of metaphysics to flower on the sacred soil. The hymns recorded in the Adi Granth, for instance, by virtue of their poetic form succeed in structuring the Golden temple of metaphysics.

In the process of spelling out the metaphysics of Khawaja Ghulam Farid, it is imperative to have a general idea

*       Reproduced from the author’s book: Of Intellect and Reason, Institute of Islamic Culture, Lahore, Pakistan, 1990 

of Mansur Al Hallaj, Bayazid Bistami and Ibn’ Arabi whom the master openly acknowledges in his Diwan. Mansur-Al-Hallaj (858-922) succeeded in attaining intellectual intuition or inner illumination. It taught him the essentiality of ‘oneness of being’ from which he never retreated even at the cost of his crucifixion. “Toward the end of the 3rd/9th century we find the sober school of Baghdad headed by Junaid around whom such figures as Nuri and Shibli assembled and with whom the martyr of Sufism, Hallaj associated. This great Sufi, who is quite well known in the Western world, thanks to the many studies that Massignon devoted to him, represents in many ways the spiritual type of Christ within the Islamic tradition and his “passion”, as Massignon calls it, presents certain similarities to that of Christ. It was the vocation of Hallaj to divulge esoteric doctrines before the common crowd and to be witness to the conscience of the Islamic community as it stood before the reality of the spiritual life contained within Sufism. Hallaj left some beautiful Arabic poems behind; he also uttered certain phrases, which have never ceased to dominate the horizon of Sufism. His Ana’l-haqq (I am the Truth) has become perennial witness to the fact that Sufism is essentially gnosis and ultimately it is God within us who utters “I” once the veil of otherness has been removed”.[1] Hallaj says “Between I and Thou my “I-ness” is the source of torment. Through Thy “I-ness” lift my “I-ness” from between us”.[2] It is mentioned in the Quran “Wherever ye turn, there is the Face of God. Thus when the rapt one turneth his face unto himself and seeth in the mirror of his existence the Face of God, he saith as Al-Hallaj said: “In my cloak is none but God”; and it is not the cloak alone which is meant, but all bodies, the higher and lower, the sensible and spiritual”.[3] The same message is found

[1]     Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, Three Muslim Sages, pp. 86-87

[2]     Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, Knowledge And the Sacred, p. 327

[3]     Lings, Martin, A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Alawi, p. 195

in the following Holy Tradition ‘My earth hath not room for Me, neither hath my Heaven, but the Heart of My believing slave hath room for me’....the poem of the Sufi Hallaj....begins ‘I saw my Lord with the Eye of the Heart. I said....’Who art thou?’ he answered, ‘Thou’”.[1] It is a process of annihilation wherein the Divine self is alone Real. Hallaj says: “ You have wasted your life in cultivating your spiritual nature: what has come of annihilation in Unification (al-fana f’l tauhid)?”.[2] He further says: “Whose claimeth to affirm God’s Oneness thereby setteth up another beside him”.[3] It means that no one can affirm truly the Oneness of God for the very process of affirmation creates a duality through the intrusion of one’s own person. “If there were anything which, in the Reality of the Eternal Present, could show itself to be other than God, than God would not be Infinite, for Infinity would consist of God and that particular thing”.[4] Hallaj says “it is Thou that hast filled all “where” and beyond “where” too. Where art Thou then?[5]

Mansur-al-Hallaj has written The Tawasin which is a great Sufi text on the Unity of Reality. It deals with the ta’sin’ of the prophetic lamp; the ta’sin of understanding; the ta’sin of purity; the ta’sin of the circle; the ta’sin of the point; the ta’sin of before endless-Time and equivocation; the ta’sin of the Divine will; the ta’sin of the declaration of Unity; the ta’sin of the self-awareness in Tawhid; the ta’sin of the disconnection from forms and the garden of gnosis. This metaphysical treatise is an explication of Shahadah and it lays foundation for the theory of the Perfect man later developed by Ibn Arabi and Abd al-Karim al-Jili. “God looked into eternity, prior to all things, contemplated the essence of His splendour, and

[1]     Lings, Martin, What is Sufism, p. 49

[2]     Perry, Whittal N., A Treasury of Traditional Wisdom, p. 114

[3]     Lings, Martin, A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century, Shaikh Ahmad Al Alawi, p. 128.

[4]     Ibid., p. 123.

[5]     Ibid.

then desired to project outside Himself His supreme Joy and love with the object of speaking to them. He also created an image of Himself with all His attributes and names. This image was Adam whom God glorified and exalted”.[1] E. Affifi says that “Hallaj theory was a theory of incarnation based on the Jewish tradition which states that “God created Adam in His own image”--a tradition which the Sufis attributed to the Prophet. He distinguished between two natures in man; the divine (al-lahut) and the human (al-nasut). The two natures are not united but fused, the one in the other, as wine is fused into water....the Hallajan idea was taken up by ibn Arabi, but completely transformed and given wider applications. First, the duality of lahut and nasut became a duality of aspects of one reality, not of two independent natures. Secondly, they were regarded as actually present not only in man but in everything whatever; the nasut being the external aspect of a thing, the lahut, its internal aspect. But God who reveals himself in all phenomenal existence is revealed in a most perfect and complete way in the form of the perfect man, who is best represented by prophets and saints”.[2] From our point of view, it is not correct to impute the notion of infusion or incarnation (hulul) to Mansur al-Hallaj. The so-called duality of lahut and nasut is nothing but the manifested aspect of the universal Essence. And this is precisely the meaning of Ana’l Haqq (I am the Truth).

Mansur al Hallaj has been differently interpreted in the course of history. “Farid al-Din, Attar celebrated al-Hallaj’s martyrdom as the “apex” of Sufism....Independent Muslim Philosophers, Balkhi, Mantiqi, abu Hayyan Tahidi, and abu al-Hassan Dailami, set off the metaphysical originality of Al-Hallaj’s spiritual experiences. Inspite of his adversaries classifying him among the adepts of existential unity (wahdat

[1]     Tawasin quoted in Affifi, E., A History of Muslim Philosophy, ed. M.M. Sharif, p. 416.

[2]     Ibid., p. 415.

al-wajud), al Hallaj has been proved to be a vindicator of cognitive unity (wahdat al-shuhud), ‘Abdl Qadir Jilani, Razbehan Bagili, and Fakhr al Din Farisi have given convincing explanations of and commentaries on the doctrine of Unity, in spite of the subtleties of ibn ‘Arabi’s school. Jalal al-Din Rumi and after him the great mystics of India, Semnani, Ali Hamadani, Makhdum-i-Jehaniah, Gisudaraz, Ahmed Sirhindi, and Bedil have considered Al-Hallaj to be a believer in cognitive unity (shuhudi). In his Javid Nameh, the great poet philosopher of Pakistan, Iqbal, stated that the al-Hallaj was a kind of “Promethean” personality”.[1] We do not accept the Orientalist’s theory that Al-Hallaj did not believe in wahdat al-wujud (Oneness of being), and that he was an adept in wahdat-al-shuhud, cognitive unity. It is instructive to point out that it is wrong to translate wahdat al-wujud as “existential unity”. Its accurate translation is ‘Unity of Being’ or ‘Oneness of Being’.

Bayazid Bistami (d. 260/874) has left a deep impact on later Sufis including Kh. Ghulam Farid. His “antinomian utterance,” or “theophanic locutions” based on his experience of ultimate union have made him celebrated as a representative of the most intellectual form of Sufism”.[2] He reaches the divine unity by the process of abstraction (tajrid) till his personal attributes vanish and there only remains the One. He says: “I went to pray with the devotees, and did not feel in my place. I went among those who mortify themselves....among those who fast, and still I did not feel in my place. I said, ‘O my God! what then is way to thee’? And the answer given to me was ‘Abandon thyself and come’”.[3] “If I am asked in the place of Judgement why I have not done something, I shall be more pleased than if I am asked why I have done something i.e.. there is egoism in every act of mine, and egoism is dualism, and dualism is worse than

[1]     Massignon, Louis, A History of Muslim Philosophy, ed. M.M. Sharif, p. 348.

[2]     Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, Three Muslim Sages, p. 86.

[3]     Perry, Whittal N., A Treasury of Traditional Wisdom, p. 220.

sin, except as regards a pious act that is done upon me and in which I have no part”.[1]“Forgetfulness of self is remembrance of God”.[2] “For thirty years, I went in search of God, and when I opened my eyes at the end of this time, I discovered that it was really He who sought for me”.[3] “I thought that I had arrived at the very throne of God and I said to it ‘O Throne, they tell us that God rests upon thee’. ‘O Bayazid’ replied the throne, ‘we are told here that He dwells in a humble heart”.[4] “Once He raised me up and stationed me before Him, and said to me ‘O Abu Yazid, truly My creation desire to see thee’. I said ‘Adorn me in Thy Unity, and clothe me in Thy Selfhood, and raise me up to thy Oneness, so that when Thy creation see me they will say, We have seen Thee, and Thou wilt be That, and I shall not be there at all”.[5] “I went from God to God, until they cried from me in me. ‘O Thou I’”.[6] “God summoned me before Him and said: “With what comest thou unto Me?’ ‘With renunciation of the world’. ‘The world for Me is only the wing of an insect. It is no great thing to renounce it’ ‘l ask Thy pardon! I come with the abandonment of all self-pursuit! ‘Am I not guarantee for what I have promised?’. ‘I ask Thy pardon! I come with Thyself’. ‘It is in this way that We receive thee”’.[7] “For thirty years God Most High was my mirror, now I am my own mirror and that which I was I am no more, for I and ‘God’ represent polytheism, a denial of his Unity. Since I am no more, God Most High is His own mirror. Behold, now I say that God is the mirror of myself, for with my tongue He speaks and I have passed away”.[8] “The knowledge of God cannot be attained by seeking but only those who seek it find

[1]     Perry, Whittal N., A Treasury of Traditional Wisdom, p. 344.

[2]     Ibid., p. 492.

[3]     Ibid., p. 559.

[4]     Ibid., p. 825.

[5]     Ibid., p.894.

[6]     Ibid., p. 894.

[7]     Ibid., p. 892.

[8]     Ibid., p. 830.

it.”[1] “The knower receives from God, as reward, God himself”.[2] “Whosoever enters into God, attains the truth of all things and becomes himself the Truth (al-Haqq = God), it is not cause for surprise that he then sees in himself, and as if it were him, everything that exists outside God”.[3] “Nothing is better for man than to be without aught, having no asceticism no theory, no practice. When he is without all, he is with all”.[4] “Glory to me! How great is my majesty”.[5]

Bayazid Bistami by dint of love and gnosis establishes the Absolute Thou and pays no heed to the reality of paradise. “For Bayazid, “the true knowers are the ornaments of Paradise, but for them Paradise is a place of torment” or again “Paradise loses its value and brightness for one who knows and loves God”, a statement which metaphysically possesses an impeccable logic, since from the standpoint of happiness, as in every other respect, there is no common measure between the created and the Uncreated. The verbal audacities encountered in Bayazid and others are explained by a constant concern to escape from all inconsistency and “hypocrisy” (nifaq), and all told they do no more than follow the line of the great Testimony of Islam: “There is no God if it not the only God”. Despite its positive aspect of “nearness” (qurb), the “Garden” is not God; there is therefore in Paradise a negative element of “remoteness” (bu’d). Bayazid moreover provides the key to his language when he says that “the love of God is that which causes thee to forget this world and the beyond”.[6]

Bayazid has given a beautiful description of his experience which he calls ascension (mi’raj) and its account has been set forth in Attar’s Tadhkirah. We shall quote a few

[1]     Schuon, Frithjof, Logic and Transcendence, p. 212.

[2]     Ibid., p. 213.

[3]     Ibid.,

[4]     Sharif, M.M., (ed.), A History of Muslim Philosophy.

[5]     Ibid.,

[6]     Schuon, Frithjof, Logic and Transcendence, p. 216.

passages from this account in order to show the process by which a Sufi of the type weaves religious metaphysics “When I attained the stage of indifference (istighna) towards the things of this world and was lighted up by the light of God, several mysteries were revealed to me. I looked from God towards myself and found that my light was utter darkness in comparison with God’s light, my loftiness was utter lowliness, it was all purity there and all darkness here. But when again I looked, I found my light in His light, my loftiness in His loftiness, and that whatever I did I did through His power. His light shone in my heart and I discovered that in truth all worship was from God and not from me, though all the time I had thought that it was I who worshipped. I felt perplexed and received the explanation, All that is, is I and not not I...I looked from God and saw him as the only reality. I remained in this stage for long, left all efforts and all acquired knowledge. Grace from God began to flow and I got eternal (azli) knowledge. I saw that all things abide in God.

“Then I was given wings and I began to fly in the air and saw strange and wonderful things. When he noticed my weakness, He strengthened me by His strength and put the crown of honor on my head. He opened the gate of the avenue of divine unity (tauhid) before me. Then I stayed in the stage of malakut till the apparent and hidden aspects of I-ness vanished. A door was opened into the darkness of my heart and I got an eloquent tongue to express tauhid and tajrid (abstract unity). Now, my tongue came from God, my heart felt the effulgence of His light, and my eyes reflected His creativity. I spoke through Him and talked through His power. As I lived through Him I became eternal and immortal. When I reached this stage, my gestures and my worship became eternal; my tongue became the tongue of unity (tauhid) and my soul the soul of abstraction (tajrid). It is He who moves my tongue and my role is only that of an interpreter: talker in reality is He, and not I.

“My soul passed through all the world of the unseen. Paradise and hell were shown to it but it paid no attention to them. It traversed the different spheres where it met the souls of prophets. When it reached the sphere of the soul of Muhammad, it saw millions of rivers of fire without end and a thousand veils of light. If I had put my foot into them, I would have been burnt. I lost my sense through awe and fear. I tried hard to see the ropes of Muhammad’s tent, but could not, till I reached God. Everybody can reach God according to his light for God is with all; but Muhammad occupies a prominent position, and so unless one traverses the valley of tauhid, one cannot reach the valley of Muhammad, though as a matter fact both valleys are one”.[1]

Both Mansur Al-Hallaj and Bayazid Bistami treat metaphysical questions pertaining to the transcendent unity of Being (wahdat-al-wujud) and the Universal Man (al-insanal-Kamil) but there was no complete exposition of metaphysics as such. It was left to Ibn’ Arabi to make further explanation and greater clarification in respect of the metaphysical doctrines. “The early generations needed only a hint or directive (isharah) to understand the inner meaning of things; men of later centuries needed a full-fledged explanation. Through Ibn’ Arabi Islamic esotericism provided the doctrines which alone could guarantee the preservation of the Tradition among men who were always in danger of being led astray by incorrect reasoning and in most of whom the power of intellectual intuition was not enough to reign supreme over other human tendencies and to prevent the mind from falling into error. Through Ibn’ Arabi, what had always been the inner truth of Sufism was formulated in such a manner that it has dominated the spiritual and intellectual life of Islam ever since”.[2]

Ibn’ Arabi (b.560/1165) was blessed with the theophanic vision of the spiritual world and the metaphysical truths he attained by virtue of intellectual intuition made him al-Shaikh al-akbar (Doctor Maximus) and he was called Muhyi al-Din

(The Revivefier of Religion). He wrote numerous books on various subjects. “The largest and most encyclopaedic of Ibn’ Arabi’s works is the Futuhat which consists of 560 chapters treating of the principles of metaphysics, the various sacred sciences as well as Muhyi al-Din’s own spiritual experiences. It is a veritable compendium of the esoteric sciences in Islam which surpasses in scope and depth anything of its kind that has been composed before or since... Without doubt Muhyi al-Din’s most widely read work and his spiritual testament is the Fusus al-Hikam, the Bezels of Wisdom, which has twenty seven chapters, each devoted to the basic doctrines of Islamic esotericism.... The very title, Bezels of Wisdom, symbolizes the content of the book in that each “bezel” contains a precious jewel which symbolizes an aspect of Divine Wisdom revealed to one of the prophets. Metaphorically speaking, each bezel is the human and spiritual nature of a prophet which serves as a vehicle for the particular aspect of Divine wisdom revealed to that prophet”.[1]

Ibn’ Arabi knits metaphysics and gnosis in the most unique way. He is not a systematic philosopher for no system can encompass his vision of Reality. He writes under direct inspiration and uses a symbolic language. “His aim is not to give an explanation that is mentally satisfying and rationally acceptable, but a real theoria or vision of reality, the attainment of which depends upon the practice of the appropriate methods of realization”.[2] His “thinking is fundamentally Platonic; thus it is not surprising that in his day he was given the surname “Son of Plato” (Ibn Aflatun)... His thought has a special stamp and lacks a certain cohesion because it is a blending of intellectual speculation, in the true sense of the word speculative: to reflect on intellectual reality beyond the reach of the senses; this reflection is accompanied by ecstatic visions. Now speculation is answerable to objective knowledge, while ecstatic vision derives from

[1]     Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, Three Muslim Sages, p. 99.

[2]     Ibid., p. 102.

subjective and mystical inspiration. Such inspiration is not, however, in any sense unreal”.[1]

Ibn’ Arabi’s thought is a theoretic description of the entire world of Being with its corresponding reflection in the eye of the Perfect Man. “The concept of Being in the double meaning of ens and esse is the highest key-concept that dominates his entire thought. His philosophy is theological, but it is more ontological than theological. That is why even the concept of God (Allah) itself which in Islam generally maintains its uncontested position is given here only a secondary place.... God is a ‘phenomenal’ i.e., manifesting, form assumed by Something still more primordial, the Absolute Being. Indeed, the concept of Being is the very foundation of this world-view”.[2]

Unlike the Western chain of Being, “Ibn’ Arabi did not start his philosophizing from the concept of Being on concrete level of ordinary reality. For him, the things of the physical word are but a dream. His ontology begins and ends with an existential grasp of Being at its abysmal depth, the absolute Being which infinitely transcends the level of common sense and which is an insoluble enigma to the minds of ordinary men. It is, in short, an ontology based on mysticism, motivated by what is disclosed only by the mystical experience of ‘unveiling’ (kashf)”.[3] In other words, the theoretic understanding of Being is primarily based on intellectual intuition, a non-human faculty which is above reason.

The absolute Being grasped through intellectual means manifests itself in degrees or stages. Ibn’ Arabi classifies these degrees or stages as five planes of Being and designates each of these planes of Being hadrah or ‘presence’. Each hadrah is construed as a particular ontological dimension in which the absolute Being manifests itself. The first, second, third, fourth

[1]     Burckhardt, Titus, Preface to Ibn’ Arabi’s book: The Bezels of Wisdom.

[2]     Izutusu, Toshihiko, Sufism And Taoism, p. 19.

[3]     Ibid., p. 19.

and fifth hadrah correspond to the Absolute in its absoluteness; the Absolute manifesting itself as God; the Absolute manifesting itself as Lord; the Absolute manifesting itself as half-spiritual, and half-material things and the Absolute manifesting itself as the sensible world, respectively. It is instructive to note that “everything in Ibn’ Arabi’s world view, whether spiritual or material, invisible or visible, is a tajalli of the absolute except the Absolute in its absoluteness which is, needless to say, not a tajalli but the very source of all tajalliyat”.[1] The absolute Being (al-wajud al-mutlaq) in all the forms of self-manifestation is designated by the term haqq.

Muhy-al-Din expounds the doctrine of wahdat al-wujud (Oneness of Being) with great subtlety delicacy and refinement. The aforesaid doctrine neither denies the transcendence nor the unity of God. “Ibn’ Arabi, who is often accused of pantheism, goes as far as the human language allows to affirm the transcendence and Unity of God. As is written in the Risalat al-Ahadiyah (Treatise on Unity: ‘He is, and there is with Him no after nor before, nor above nor below, nor far nor near, nor union nor division, nor how nor where nor when, nor time nor moment, nor age nor being nor place. And He is now as He was. He is the One without oneness and the Single without singleness. He is not composed of name and named, for His name is He and His named is He....Understand therefore....He is not in a thing nor a thing in Him, whether entering in or proceeding forth. It is necessary that thou know Him after this fashion, not by knowledge nor by intellect, nor by understanding, nor by imagination, nor by sense, nor by perception. There does not see Him, save Himself, nor perceive Him save Himself. By Himself He sees Himself, and by Himself He knows Himself; None sees Him other than He, and none perceives Him other than He. His veil is (only a consequence and effect of) His oneness; nothing veils other than He. His veil is (only) the

[1]     Izutusu, Toshihiko, Sufism And Taoism, p. 20.

concealment of His existence in His oneness, without any quality. None sees Him other than He--no sent prophet, not saint made perfect, nor angel brought nigh know Him. His Prophet is He, and His sending is He, and his word is He. He sent Himself with Himself to Himself. It seems difficult to accuse one of pantheism who goes to such extremes in asserting the transcendence of God. What Ibn’ Arabi wishes to assert is that the Divine Reality is distinguished from its manifestations and is transcendent with respect to them, but that the manifestations are not in every respect seperate from the Divine Reality which somehow encompass them”.[1]

Ibn’ Arabi’s doctrine of transcendent unity of Being (wahdat al-wujud), has nothing to do with pantheism panentheism, existential monism and natural mysticism. Pantheism implies a substantial continuity between God and the Universe and has no understanding of God’s absolute transcendence over every form of manifestation. There is no substantial identity and continuity between the manifested order and the ontological principle except their essential identification. Panentheism errs in understanding God’s dwelling in things and mistakes it for the notion that the world ‘contains’ God. Existential monism displaces the essential continuity of the things with their Principle, with the substantial one. Also, monism is a rational and philosophical category opposed to dualism and it is inapplicable to the metaphysical truth in question. “The unity of the Sufis is the integration of paradoxes and ontological contrasts’; it is the union of all the diverse qualities which characterize the order of multiplicity and has nothing to do with philosophical monism of which Ibn’ Arabi and others have been accused.”[2]

The Divine Essence is “a center in which all oppositions are united and which transcends all the polarizations and contradictions in the world of multiplicity. It is the center of

[1]     Nasr, Seyyed Hossein,Three Muslim Sages, p. 107.

[2]     Ibid., p. 105.

the circle in which all is unified and before which the mind stands in bewilderment for it involves a coincidentia oppositorum which cannot be reduced to categories of human reason and cannot be explained away as monism which annihilates ontological distinctions and which overlooks the transcendent position the center occupies vis-a-vis all the oppositions that are resolved in it. The Exterior (ahir) and the Interior (batin) the First (awal) and the Last (akhir), the Truth (haqq) and the creature (khalq), the Lover (ashiq) and the Beloved (mushuq), the intellect (aqil) and the intelligible (ma’qul), are all apparent oppositions that are resolved in the Divine Essence which encompasses and contains all those polarities without being reduced to them”.[1] Lastly, natural mysticism cannot be attributed to Ibn’ Arabi for there is no absolute cleavage between the natural and the supernatural.

The Divine Essence (al-dhat) means absolute Being (wajud mutlaq). It is conditioned neither by non-determination nor by determination. It is absolutely transcendent and has no quality, nor delimitation. It is beyond all differentiation and distinction. But on the stage of its first self-determination it manifests certain modalities. “In his state of absolute Unity, God is above all qualities, and so this plane is called that of indivisible and unconditional Unity (ahadihah). But on the plane of unicity, or “oneness” (wahidyah), there are principial modalities, or qualities, from which all qualities of being and all modalities of knowledge derive. God is thus above all qualities and yet is not devoid of them, as is implied by the famous Sufi adage that the Divine Qualities ‘are neither He nor other than He”.[2] The relation between the Qualities and the Divine Essence is understood by the categories of tanzih and tashbih. The former posits God’s transcendence whereas the latter roots the manifestations in the Absolute. “These Names are the Divine

[1]     Nasr, Seyyed Hossein,Three Muslim Sages, p. 108.

[2]     Ibid., pp. 108-109.

possibilities immanent in the Universe; they are the means by which God manifests Himself in the world just as He describes Himself in the Qur’an through them. The Names are thus the pathways leading towards God and the means by which one can ascend to the unitive knowledge of the Divine Reality. And since they are fundamental aspects of knowledge as well as of being, they manifest themselves in the Universe and in the spiritual life in which they become the object of contemplation”.[1] It is theophany of the Divine Names and Qualities contained in the Universal Man which initiates the process of creation. It is through this process that non-being is given externalized existence. It is a perpetual creation termed as the “Breath of the Compassionate” (nafas al-rah man).

In Ibn’ Arabi’s world view, Man is understood both at the microcosm and the macrocosm level. The universal Man (al-insan al-kamil) or the Logos entails the total theophany of the Divine Names and thus becomes the medium for the most perfect self-manifestation of the Absolute. “In Ibn’ Arabi’s doctrine, the Universal Man has essentially three different aspects, namely, the cosmological, the prophetic, and the initiatic. Cosmologically and cosmogonically, he is the prototype of creation containing all the archetypes of Universal Existence within himself so that all of the levels of cosmic existence are no more than so many branches of the “Tree of being” which has its roots in heaven, in the Divine Essence, and its arms or branches, spread throughout the cosmos. From the point of view of revelation and prophecy, the Universal Man is the World, the eternal Act of God, each particular “dimension” of which is identified with one of the prophets. As such, each chapter of the Fusus is dedicated to an aspect of the Universal Man, to a prophet who reveals to the world an aspect of the Divine Wisdom whose embodiment he is in his inner reality. Seen in this light, the

[1]     Nasr, Seyyed Hossein,Three Muslim Sages, p. 109.

Universal Man is the Reality of Muhammad (al haqiqat al-muhammadiyah), which found its terrestrial realization in the Prophet of Islam. Just as a seed when sown in the ground first shoots at a stem, then branches, then leaves, then flowers, and finally a fruit which again contains that seed, so did the Universal Man, or the Reality of Muhammad, who was “the first creature of God, “manifest itself fully on earth in Muhammad, the last of the prophets of the present cycle of humanity.... From the point of view of spiritual realization, the universal man is the model of the spiritual life for he is the person who has realized all the possibilities, all the states of being, inherent within the human state and has come to know, in all its fullness, what it means to be a man. As such, the Universal Man, is first of all, the prophets especially the Prophet of Isalm; and secondly the great saints, and especially “Poles (qutb) of each age.... Potentially every man is Universal Man, but in actuality only the prophets and the saints can be called by such a title and can be followed as prototypes of the spiritual life and guides on the path of realization.”[1]

Man’s love for Divine Beauty ultimately leads to union with the Divine. It amounts to realization of the doctrine. But it cannot be construed in terms of “annihilation” (fana) and “subsistence “(baqa) in the Divine for in the very first instance it is wrong to presume a ceasing of existence and a ceasing of that ceasing. According to Ibn’ Arabi, “knowledge of God and union with Him in the supreme state of contemplation does not mean a ceasing to exist individually (fana), or a ceasing of that ceasing (baqa) as most gnostics have asserted. Rather, it means to realize that our existence from the beginning belonged to God, that we had no existence to start with which could cease to be. It means the realization that all existence as such is a ray of the Divine Being and that nothing else possesses any existence whatsoever”.[2]

[1]     Nasr, Seyyed Hossein,Three Muslim Sages, pp. 110-111.

[2]     Ibid., p. 114.

Supreme Union is a mutual interpenetration of Divinity and man (‘God’ is mysteriously present in man and man is obliterated in God! This means that God knows through man’s faculties of perception and acts through his faculties of action. And to each human faculty there corresponds a Divine aspect. “This is expressed in the sacred utterance (hadith qudsi). ‘He who adores Me never ceases to approach Me until I love him and, when I love him I am the hearing by which he hears, the sight by which he sees, the hand with which he grasps and the foot with which he walks”.[1]

The illumination of individuality and its immersion in the Divine Light in the state of union is the fruit “of the prayer of the heart and of the inner purification which gradually attracts the Divine unto Itself by that “sympathy” which draw! all theophanies towards their source and origin.... Ultimately therefore, the Lord (Rabb) remains the Lord and the servant (marbub), the servant, but at the same time God becomes the mirror in which the spiritual man contemplates his own reality and man in turn becomes the mirror in which God contemplates His Names and Qualities, so that in the heart of the saint the purpose of creation is achieved in that God comes to “know” the essences which had been in the “hidden treasure” a knowledge for the sake of which the Universe was created”.[2]

Khawaja Farid’s existential awareness posits the ‘transcendental Unity of existence’ (wahdat al-wujud) in unique way. Existence in its undifferentiated form is the metaphysical Mystery. It is only known by the Absolute in it Absoluteness. However, when the Absolute in Its Self Manifestation turns to the world of the contingent object then It gives rise to the hierarchical order of the “existents”. The gradation of Reality runs its own course. The lowest stage in this manifestation or theophany (tajalli) is that of the material world which is open to the empirical senses. The soul’s quest for the Absolute reflects the presence of the Principle itself. The Absolute or the ‘haqq’ is the Unmanifest ground of manifestation; the

[1]     Burckhardt, Titus, An Introduction to Sufi Doctrine, p. 79.

[2]     Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, Three Muslim Sages, p. 116.

Unmovable structure of change; the Formless foundation of forms; the Transcendent edifice of immanence; the Infinite support of finity; the Light source of luminosity and the origin of the Divine Names, and Attributes, Rabb or Lord, Permanent Archetypes, Creation and Man. All reality is metaphysically One (ahad). Oneness is the metaphysical foundation of his thought. The root meaning of the word ‘one’ is not understood here in its ordinary numerical sense. Metaphysically speaking, it is not a quantitative number but a qualitative symbol of wholeness. It means the Transcendent or Supreme Unity which has no trace of the created. But it also seems many (wahid) when perceived from the manifestation point of view. Divine Uniqueness (al­wahidiyah) appears in the differentiated form. Khawaja Ghulam Farid says:


It’s the absolute Self

that’s manifest in all

forms and shades and sounds and colours.

Behold! It’s no other than He

that exists!

The fall of Adam

or Satan’s inducement

is only a legend that has falsely created

the inexistent ‘good and evil’

while real Existence is really beyond

good and evil.

Whatever exists

or you think that exists

besides the almight God

is but an illusion,

a false perception of impure senses.

So, don’t associate your heart

with the other that never existed

nor ever could exist.

Ever since my birth

my skill-less heart could never

be attracted by otherwise obvious

and oft-recommended Two-ness in things!

Whatever you name as beautiful or ugly

is mere projection of your own inward duality.

Mark, it’s one, the Real, The Beautiful,

the changeless essence of transient shadows![1]


See, Punnal’s present everywhere—

All mystics mark and hear!

‘There is nothing resembling Him’

Know only He is here.

‘The visage of your Lord endures,

All else shall disappear,

‘To want for nothing, only God’

Confirms the true fakir.

That ‘nought exists save God alone’

Our faith is sure and clear.

That ‘all but God is vain and false’

Should be your one idea.

Mere knowledge, lacking mystic art,

Can only interfere’[2]


He further delves on the idea in these beautiful verses:

The world is but an idle dream,

It shapes a film upon a stream.

If you would know reality,

[1]     Farid, Khawaja Ghulam, Kafees, translated by Gilani Kamran and Aslam Ansari, p. 103.

[2]     Farid, Khawaja Ghulam, Fifty Poems of Khawaja Farid, translated by Dr. C. Shackle, p. 18.

Then listen carefully, mark and see

That oneness is a mighty sea,

Where pluralism’s bubbles teem.

Duality of base is bare,

Which pride alone as child can bear:

It vanishes when picked of air,

And all again does water seem.[1]


‘Tis One who’s manifest

in all diversity

of shape and content.

Strange are His ways indeed;

at times He chooses

to shine in graces

of a beautiful beloved,

at times He likes

to yearn and weep

for the self same beauty,

and yet by His divine decree

at times He prefers

to transcend these all

and remain aloof!

Behold the beauty,

eternal and absolute,

manifest in all

from all directions,

within and without.

Indeed it’s He

who’s eager to be

in unison with Himself;

and again it’s He

who cares the least

for such reunion!

[1]     Farid, Khawaja Ghulam, Fifty Poems of Khawaja Farid translated by Dr. C. Shackle, pp. 22-23.

Since love has tutored

my soul, O Fareed,

my all illusory knowledge

and pretended virtues

have been shattered

and dashed down to dust;

but thanks to Teacher,

my kingdom of heart

is filled with bliss![1]

His basic commitment is expressed in the following verses:

When taught the lesson ‘All is He’

Enlightenment I got.[2]


Or perhaps I’m led to another state

of awakening to the fact that all is He,

the King of kings that He is the moon

of eternal light and we the clouds.

Tear away the veil of cloudy I-ness

and lo, here is the moon,

the face of eternal light

smiling, illumining![3]


By knowing numbers all are One

Plurality is falsified.[4]


Except the One Reality

All things will surely disappear.[5]

[1]     Farid, Khawaja Ghulam, Kafees, translated by Gilani Kamran and Aslam Ansari, pp. 62-63.

[2]     Farid, Khawaja Ghulam, Fifty Poems of Khawaja Farid, translated by Dr. C. Shackle, p. 30.

[3]     Farid, Khawaja Ghulam, Kafees, translated by Gilani Kamran and Aslam Ansari, p. 36.

[4]     Farid, Khawaja Ghulam, Fifty Poems of Khawaja Farid, translated by Dr. C. Shackle, p. 42.

[5]     Ibid., p. 14.

From here one learns that it is the knowledge of the Immutable which blesses man with a higher perception of the visible and the invisible domains. The strength of his metaphysics lies in discovering the eternal pearls of wisdom (hikmat) and placing them in the heart of temporal reality.

Whether ‘existence’ has primacy over ‘quiddity’ or otherwise remains an open question in the tradition. Shihab al Din Suharwardi Maqtul the founder of the illuminationist (ishraqi) school of metaphysics considers ‘existence’ as a mere concept which has no corresponding reality in the external world. It means “the principality or ontological fundamentality of quiddity” (assalat-al-mahiya). Sadr al-Din Shirazi (Mulla Sadra) and Mulla Hadi Sabzavari on the other hand understand ‘existence’ as actual presence of things. It is ‘the principality or ontological fundamentality of existence’ (assalat-al-wujud). Khawaja Farid tilts towards the thesis of assalat-al-mahiya but with this reservation that the Reality behind the “existents” and “quiddity” is essentially the same.

A sage has observed: If it were possible to teach metaphysics to the people, no one would be an atheist. Khawaja Farid rose to the occasion and undertook the noble task of teaching the principle of Supreme Identity to the men of his times. He did not teach an abstract metaphysics for the people wanted a concrete experience of the Absolute. They could not remain content with the merely Impersonal. Thus, he made them existentially commit with the personal Aspect of the Absolute manifest in the form of Rabb or Lord. But such an immanence did not negate the transcendence of the Principle Itself. Rather, all manifestation was reintegrated in the Source of all sources. Man occupied a vital place in the scheme of Reality. It was through him that the Absolute became conscious of Itself. If man ceases to exist, then, the Self-Manifestation of the Absolute may become veiled. Hence, Rabb or Lord, in a certain sense is dependent on man. If there is no man or the universe, the reality of Rabb does not arise. Creation is the key to Mystery. Against this metaphysical background, Khawaja Farid points towards the microcosmic and the macrocosmic reality of man. He raises man from the fallen state and makes him prostrate before his own essential Self. Man, then understands his true vocation. This is the macrocosmic meaning of the dictum ‘Know Thyself’.

Where is the land from which you came?

From what domain did you arise, oh?

Why do you wander sick at heart,

Whose dwelling in love’s city lies, oh?

Why flee or seek the world’s delights?

Why turn from life like one in pain?

Why, rubbing ashes on your limbs,

Should you maintain a yogi’s guise, oh?

Now of yourself take careful stock

And see things as they truly are—

And whether He will come or not

Fret not yourself with vain surmise, oh!

You are identical with Him,

Not just alike or similar:

In essence and in attributes

Now learn yourself to recognize, oh!

Think deeply on these words of mine,

And hearken in your inmost heart—

Of both the worlds you are the lord,

Whose succour God alone supplies, oh.[1]


Why you name yourself

a part divided, a being

unclaimed by whole? when what you lack

is what you are: a whole, a vast


[1]     Farid, Khawaja Ghulam, Fifty Poems of Khawaja Farid, translated by Dr. C. Shackle, p. 16.

To you belong the gardens in

paradise; the singing-bird called

nightingale, and the rose

exist in you;

Allah’s throne on high,

and the earth’s surface

belong to you;

O you are high among those

who are praised, in value


When they crucified him,

the man of victory: Mansur,

they made noise; yes,

his brothers made noise to mark


O remember who you are?

You vindicate the truth, and keep

the spirit of truth

alive; there is none to follow you—

in this world, and in the worlds

that lie between

paradise and hell.

why go over wastes and hills,

When he you name

is here and now

with you.[1]


I am no more,

I and you remain no more,

you and I exist no more,

I am he;

and, he I am;

[1]     Farid, Khawaja Ghulam, Kafees, translated by Gilani Kamran and Aslam Ansari, pp. 79-80.

I loved him, and now

he I am;

come, see and wonder;

how Heer, has reached the highest


if you die in love,

you shall rise as Heer has risen

from dust to stars;

I met pain and sorrow,

I met suffering, and how

I stay in a world of peace;

whoever dies in love

and dies in life crosses the

river of life;

I erased

I and you, and found the pleasure

of being in him; and now

there is none, but me,

me throughout the world;

verily the man of victory

is he, O Fareed, who at last



The Western philosophies of Man inspite of their proud demeanour fail to understand the metaphysical status of the homosapien. Tradition teaches us that it is man’s alienation from his essential Self which makes him alienated both from God and the universe. He becomes estranged, de-personalized and de-humanized. Without transcendence, immanence leads to permanent despair. This is the basic limitation of the total philosophies of existence. Man becomes the victim of finitude and is completely enslaved by human subjectivity. Even the

[1]     Farid, Khawaja Ghulam, Kafees, translated by Gilani Kamran and Aslam Ansari, p. 104.

existential freedom turns into a bondage. The existential metaphysics of Khwaja Farid, on the other hand, is based on phenomenology which in turn is structured on objective intellectual principles. Man by virtue of transcendence attains wholeness. Through his experience of dread, the metaphysical reality of nothingness opens invisible doors to the fullness of Reality. Man has to make an ultimate choice: a choice on which hinges the essence of his humanity.

Khawaja Farid points towards man’s existential commitment with God. Sine God is not an object, therefore, all conceptional attempts to comprehend Him prove to be futile. He cannot be chosen as an object among other objects. Rather, He is the pulse of the contingent world. He has to be chosen in an absolute way reflecting inwardness, courage and passion. Choice entails anguish and without suffering choice remains barren. Suffering heightens the existential awareness of God. Passion (ishq) is the locomotive of suffering. He portrays the torment in the following verses:

Since you departed, my Ranjhan,

my whole existence is non-existence,

my innermost self is an endless desolate waste

of meaningless suffering, my being

a gloomier abode of pain and despair.

All that was aglow in me

is dark as death, and that which meant

the fruit and flower of life to me

is burnt to ashes.

My rose-dreams are withered

by the cruel wind of Time.

To me all world has ceased to be.

I cannot stay any more.

The vulgar tongues do sting my heart.

I must leave now, now and forever.

Ah, they are callous, these people around me!

Maliciously united against a helpless soul

my own playmates have found their joy

in tearing my heart into pieces

by cruel remarks uttered in no good faith.

Alas! I weep!

I fain would die

to-day, this moment

rather than tomorrow.

But live I must, it seems, to suffer

the agony of love unrealized!

O how I wish I could drown myself in the river

or just could return to dust as dust!

Alas! The friend has broken all ties of love![1]


Distress torments me ill

And roasts me on its grill,

To gnaw my bones and flesh, sir.[2]


The path of love is path

With thorns, with hills of darkness, and ways

unmarked by signs;

remember and know!

this sightless track of love

is track of fear,

of nameless dread;

the quest is hard; to meet

the sweetheart means to meet death,

to live in death;

no help, no aid, except


[1]     Farid, Khawaja Ghulam, Kafees, translated by Gilani Kamran and Aslam Ansari, pp. 77-78.

[2]     Farid, Khawaja Ghulam, Fifty Poems of Khawaja Farid, translated by Dr. C. Shackle p. 110.

[3]     Farid, Khawaja Ghulam, Kafees, translated by Gilani Kamran and Aslam Ansari, p. 29.

Each bone of mine and all my flesh

Are smitten by love’s steely edge.[1]


Amidst my ever-growing woes

All joy is lost today.[2]


What awaits me ahead

is, alas! a river of blood and fire

and swim I can’t, I weep in vain.

Action and non-action both do fail me!

I suffer in flesh and I suffer in soul

and tears in no way express my agony.[3]

Suffering ultimately leads to joy which testifies man’s intimate relation with God. Joy helps in inaugurating peace with oneself thereby ushering in the reign of peace in the entire universe. He expresses the state in these beautiful verses: ‑

With daily greater joy, Farid,

My heart more cheerful ever grows.[4]


My heart from all distress is free-

I burst in joy from my chemise![5]


I have seen the eternal

flame of love illumine

every street and bazar,

each nook and corner.

The eye of my soul has been opened,

[1]     Farid, Khawaja Ghulam, Fifty Poems of Khawaja Farid, translated by Dr. C. Shackle, p. 146.

[2]     Ibid., p. 142.

[3]     Farid, Khawaja Ghulam, Kafees, by Gilani Kamran and Aslam Ansari, p. 17.

[4]     Farid, Khawaja Ghulam, Fifty Poems of Khawaja Farid, translated by Dr. C. Shackle, p. 134.

[5]     Ibid., p. 138.

and all the inner most secret

have been revealed to me.

Wherever I see

I see the eternal light manifest,

wherever I look

I find but Tur or Aiman.

The distance is gone

and all is presence Divine,

my heart is in perfect

unison with the Beloved.

Strange visions I have

and voices I hear

and stranger still.

All is bliss and rapture.

This is the Night of Union,

this wonderful night!

The Otherness

has been burnt into ashes.

At times I ascend to the heights,

at times I descend to the lowest plains.

What was previously all separation

is all but harmony and unison now.

Pain and gloom

have been taken

away from me!


illusions, deceptions

have all been burnt into ashes;

the mere name of the Other

has been washed from my heart.

Eternal light and eternal existence

has made manifest itself to me.

Whether at home or whether on wayside

I can see Him now, see unchecked!

Whenever I open

my eyes, wherever I see,

a secret is opened unto my soul.

All seems rhythm and grace and beauty.

Now, Fareed, every pain

is a melody of soul to me.

The doctrine of “All is He”

has opened new vistas

and given new life to me.[1]

The search for God and the quest for one’s real Self is identical. The absence of God implies the absence of man from his essential Self. Likewise, man achieves fulfillment in the Presence of God.

Khawaja Farid enlightens us on the stages of existence which, in the spiritual terminology, are commonly known as the “Stations of the Qalb. Man descends to the infinite depths of his existence in order to achieve corresponding ascendance to the celestial heights: Extinction (fana) is likened to the milestone in the process of journey to the Ultimate whereas subsistence (baqa) is understood as the point of destination. In other words, extinction or evanescence is the withering away of any individual limitation in the way of self-realization which ultimately leads to subsistence in the Formless. In this voyage, the presence of the master (murshid) becomes exceedingly imperative. He knows the art of untying the knots of the unrealized possibilities of human existence. He is the archangel of his disciple (murid).

Since the European languages are bond to the subject-object structure of reality, therefore, they are inherently limited in conveying the total message of ‘Oneness’ or ‘Unification’. Even the concept of “transcendental Unity of existence” remains in the twilight zone. However, they can be treated as feeble pointers towards the Reality in issue. The traditional languages, on the other hand, are relatively successful in understanding the quintessence of metaphysics. In the Divine Realms, poetry is more successful than prose in deciphering the code of essences. Khawaja Farid’s ‘diwan,’ in the Saraiki language is vital enough to teach the celestial truth. It has the requisite lens to perceive the metaphysical landscape. The language is so pleasing that one wishes to plunge in the sea of Eternal Harmony. It has a great symbolic import. The ‘diwan’ abounds with symbols, allegories, parables, similes, analogies, metaphors and images. One feels the All-pervasiveness of Divinity. And in the contemporary world what else one can aspire for.

[1]     Farid, Khawaja Ghulam, Kafees, translated by Gilani Kamran and Aslam Ansari, pp. 86-87.



Previous Page | Next Page