One of the most precious books written on the reality of Sufism is the “Universal Man” by Abd al-Kareem al-Jilani. Its Ottoman Turkish translation is done by Abdulaziz Mecdi Tolun and its Turkish translation is done by Abdulkadir Akçiçek. It contains paramount information regarding the Great Spirit (Ruh al-Azam) and the Grand Spirit (Ruh al-Quds).
Abdulkareem al-Jili is a descendant of Abdulqadir Jilani and the Rasul of Allah (saw). In his “Universal Man” he talks about the Ruh al-Quds, one of the dimensions of existence that permeates through the entire universe. He says:
“Let it be known that the Grand Spirit is the Spirit of Spirits” that is, the essential Spirit forms all other individual spirits, i.e. that of humans.
“And, It is free from being subject to the command “Be!” You cannot call it a creation. For it is one of the pure faces of Allah. Existence subsists with that face. It is a Spirit but nothing like other spirits! For it is the Spirit of Allah and it was this spirit that was blown into Adam. As the verse says, “I have breathed into him of my spirit” (Quran 38:72)
As can be seen from this meaning, the spirit of Adam was created but the spirit of Allah was not! For it is the Grand Spirit, it is free from all creational deficiencies.”
Creational deficiencies, i.e. the limitations pertaining to the compositional make-up. The Grand Spirit is free from such constraints.
“This Spirit is that which is referenced as the face of Allah of creation, and the verse refers to it as:
SO WHEREVER YOU TURN, THERE IS THE FACE OF ALLAH (Quran 2:115)
Another way of saying this is, the Grand Spirit is that with which Allah has given life to existence and keeps it alive.”
Existence depends on this Spirit as it comprises the essence of all life.
“Hence wherever you turn with your external senses in this world of emotions and wherever you turn your thoughts and intellect there is the Grand Spirit with all its perfection and grandeur.
For it is the divine face! And existence subsists with the divine face. The divine face encompasses everything. For it is the spirit of Allah. The spirit of a thing is one and the same of that thing, it is its being. Hence in this case existence subsists with the being of Allah, i.e. with Allah. The being of Allah is the Absolute Essence.
Know that everything has a spirit and its form depends on it. The spirit of a form is like the meaning of a word, its existence depends on it. This spirit is the Grand Spirit. When one looks at the Grand Spirit and sees it through the eyes of a human he will see it as a creation. For it is not possible for two superiors to come together.
Now let’s take the human being as an example; it has a body, that is its form… It has a spirit, its meaning… It also has a face that is the Grand Spirit, the divine mystery.
When the requirements of the human form, the body, takes precedence the spirit begins to adopt natural (animalistic) qualities. Since the spirit is the essence and source of the form, its world begins to get mixed up due to the bodily qualities placed in its form. Its spiritual freedom is lost and becomes dependent on the form. It thus enters the prison of nature. Its life in this World resembles the sijjin (underworld dungeon) in the hereafter. Perhaps it is the same as the sijjin of the hereafter. However, the dungeon of the hereafter is within a perceivable flame! In other words, ‘sijjin’ is hell. Hell is experienced as its meaning (i.e. suffering) in this world, but in the hereafter all meanings have an actual, physical, observable form. Understand this well!
Now on the other hand…
If spiritual practices take precedence over someone, whereby they eat less, talk less, sleep less, and contemplate more… and abandon the things pertaining to the body!
Then the form (body) also becomes light. It may become so light that one may walk on water, levitate and fly. Walls will not hide its form, distant places will become near. His spirit will reach a state where it will overcome the obstacles pertaining to the body.
Thus, he will reach the highest of stations, the realm of the spirits; freedom. He will become free from all dependency to form. Some may even go further than this. The state of observing the names and attributes of Allah. Such a person is a noble elevated being, both in respect to his form and spirit.
The requirements of the human form are the things that are necessary to keep the body alive. As for the nature and spirit, one may desire honorable things like rank and status. For the spirit of man is noble and thus seeks nobility. But if one leaves all of this aside and observes the secret (mystery) of his essence instead, then the divine secret may begin to reveal itself. Then the form and spirit of the person will come out of the bog of the body and elevate to the pinnacle of nobility, where the One will become his ear, eyes, hands, and tongue…”
What the sage is trying to say in short is: You have a specific temperament and a world of emotions shaped by your compositional make-up. This is your human nature! That is, your humanoid or homo sapien aspect!
As long as one is bound by these natural and emotional tendencies he will continue to live within the boundaries of his composition. He may contemplate, imagine, and observe all he likes, he will not be able to overcome the limits of his composition!
He may even know his essential reality. He may know that his being is comprised of the names of Allah. He may be aware of the reality “He who knows his Rabb will know himself” and that his “Rabb” is the Divine names … He may be fully aware of the fact that these Names are driving and administrating his being. He will even observe the reality that his existence is nothing other than the divine names!
Yet despite all of this, his nature and emotions will dominate over him! He will be driven by events rather than driving the events himself! Because the composition will be in charge and thus will rule over him.
One who is ruled and driven by events in this world will be prone to the suffering of hell in the hereafter. One who is able to take charge and drive the events himself today, will be in paradise tomorrow. He will be able to escape hell because he will be able to come out of the blind-follower state and overcome his natural tendency and thus go to paradise as “Allah manifests Himself anew at every instant.”
Otherwise, just because one knows the reality of his being does not mean he knows himself.
To know the reality of your being is to know your Rabb.
To know Allah, your real self, your quintessential reality, is only possible by overcoming your composition, reaching a state of being able to shape, modify, drive and transform events, and abandoning the desires of your nature and emotions.
To comply with these is to allow the composition to execute itself. In this case, you will be subject to the laws of your Rabb, the essence of your composition, and this will form your hell.
What does it mean to be driven by events?
You have a specific composition!
This natural composition activates particular circuitry in the brain and thus certain habits and tendencies are formed. When you encounter a particular situation, you give an automatic habitual reaction determined by your composition. This is what it means to be driven by events; you have no control over it.
So how to take control and drive the events instead of being driven by them? How must one act?
Your actions should not be the result of your automated-habitual tendencies and conditionings. Rather, you must observe the divine order and mechanism at play and do the most appropriate action you are capable of. The action you output should aid with your bliss and happiness! It should not be done out of habit and conditioned data, lest you become driven by events and hence prone to suffering.