At this point, you are bound to go back! Just like when you stretch a piece of elastic you can only stretch it so far before you have to shrink it back again – at some point you must go back to the qualities of me. For whenever you attempt to explain the actual being denoted by me you must necessarily do so via your qualities and attributes. This is what Sufism refers to as the return from the state of Absolute Essence to the state of the Attributes.
Thus, it is impossible to contemplate and comprehend the Absolute Essence of Allah!
As such, Allah the Ahad, testifies Himself to the fact that there is no other than He.
“ShahidaLlaahu annahu laa-ilaaha illaa-huwal-malaa’ikatahu wa’awlool-`ilmi …” (Quran 3:18)
“Allah knows with certainty that none exists other than He. He is HU, there is no other, only HU... And (so do) the forces (potentials) of His names (angels; compositions of qualities that manifest through the knowledge of reality) and those of knowledge (those who possess this knowledge also know, and thus testify to this reality)...”
There is a crucial point of which we must be mindful:
To think, ‘let me study about the existence, universe, space, etc. first, then I’ll get to know the One denoted by Allah’ is profoundly wrong!
In the past they used to refer to this retrospective approach as going from the artwork to the artist. This path is far too long, tortuous, dangerous and much too labyrinth-like! Once you embark on this journey, it is hardly possible to complete it.
There is no end to Allah’s words; there is no end to the meanings denoted by Allah’s names!
Hence, there is no end to the act of observing these meanings either!
This naturally brings us to the conclusion that, there is no end to existence!
The end that is proposed to existence is only relative, in respect to the Absolute Essence.
Manifest or unmanifest knowledge are not sufficient to allow the recognition and application of this reality.
External knowledge comprises all the sciences and areas of knowledge that depend on the five senses, including the science of symbology.
Internal knowledge incorporates everything that is beyond the five senses, that is, introspective knowledge based on intrinsic observation and discovery. Neither is sufficient to enable one to duly know Allah and live the reality.
Living and experiencing the reality is only possible through ilm-i ladun (knowledge disclosed directly from the presence of Allah). For the realization of Divine Attributes is only possible through ilm-i ladun.
In Sufi terms, the primary purpose is to know one’s self at the level of the Names, Attributes and Essence, and this can only be done when the point of destination is comprehended and its requirements are fulfilled.
Thus, the first place to start is knowing and understanding the One denoted by the name Allah!
When the journey begins from Allah, and goes to Allah, with Allah, it becomes increasingly short!
To conclude, the point is not to reach Allah via the creation, but to know the One denoted as Allah and observe the creation with His view.Otherwise, we will spend our lives wondering about in creation, veiled and unable to transgress the curtains that conceal the reality!
May Allah enable us to constantly engage in contemplation, to become free from assumptions, to attain the reality, and to realize our intrinsic divine realities and qualities.
14 November 1989