The Language of the Future
Sufi Terminology
by Murshid F.A. Ali ElSenossi


(Safa). The higher teaching is Purity. The word Sufi derives from safa. The Sufi is the slave of Allah whose self, heart, spirit and secret have been purified, through the Remembrance of Allah, through sincere spiritual endeavour and ultimately by Allah's Grace. His heart has become the dwelling place of Allah. He is the perfect locus of manifestation for the All-Comprehensive Name 'Allah'. An indication to the purification of the self from the human qualities.

See also: Ascetic discipline Beautiful character traits Beautiful Model Remembrance of Allah Secret Secret of Secrets Self Servitude Slave Spirit Spiritual Struggle Subtle Centres Throne Travel
(Riyada). Throughout the initial stages of the Journey of Return to Allah, when the traveller is in a condition of disequilibrium, he is required to exert himself in spiritual struggle and ascetic discipline (riyada). By applying himself to the discipline of his ego and opposing its desires, he may come to a greater understanding of his purpose in life. With Allah's Grace this will bring him to a state of greater harmony and balance. As with all of the methods of the higher teaching, ascetic discipline is a 'means' and not an 'end in itself'. When perfect balance is attained the knower of Allah replaces his asceticism with moderation. The greatest riyada of the knowledgeable slave is to refrain from denying Allah in any form and from delimiting Allah by Incomparability. Allah is absolutely incomparable with any declaration of His Incomparability, because such a declaration delimits Allah!
(Husn al Akhlaq). The beautiful character traits with which the Holy Prophet Muhammad was sent and of which he is the perfect embodiment. The assuming of these beautiful character traits is the alchemical work of the Islamic Spiritual Path. Under the direction of a qualified Master (Murshid, Shaykh, Pir) the disciple (murid/seeker) is given the means by which he can transform his base character traits into the beautiful and noble ones and, in so doing, fulfill his 'reason for being'.
(Uswa hasana). The Holy Prophet Muhammad al Mustapha (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace) is the beautiful model. Through his perfect example man is given the means of drawing closer, and yet closer, to Allah. The degrees of such nearness depend upon the manner and attitude in which one follows the beautiful model. Those who love Allah and His Messenger more than anything, more than life itself, are the slaves who follow Muhammad al Mustapha in their outer lives and in their inner realities. To approach Allah, the slave must first meet the Holy Prophet Muhammad. This meeting is a Mystery. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, the beautiful model, becomes the slave's inner reality through the unveiling of the Reality of Muhammad. The hadith says, "Who has seen me has seen Allah".
(Dhikrullah). Invocation of Allah through one of His Names or through His Words. The perfect dhikrullah, in which Allah becomes the seeing, the hearing, the speaking, the grasping of the one who remembers, is attained when every atom of the dhakir's being is absorbed and annihilated in the Remembrance of Allah. The dhakir becomes internally unified with the Absolute. Only then does Allah sit totally with the one who remembers Allah.
(Sirr). The secret or mystery is a subtle substance of Allah's Grace. It is the innermost consciousness, the point of secret communication between the Lord and His slave. It is the hidden place where Allah manifests His mystery to Himself.
(Nafs). The ego or the self or the soul. The nafs is that dimension of man which stands between the spirit which is light, and the physical body which is darkness. The spiritual struggle or combat is waged against the downward-pulling tendencies of the nafs which seduce the heart away from Allah. The nafs is also the domain of imagination. Allah is within our own selves, yet we do not see Allah. The work of the higher teaching is directed towards transforming the 'Lower Self' into the Higher 'Perfect Self' and 'seeing' Allah everywhere. There are seven stages of the self, seven postures in the ritual prayer, seven verses or 'signs' in the opening chapter of The Qur'an, and seven levels of knowledge, all of which are finely interconnected. Shaykh Mahmoud Taha of Sudan writes concerning the self: "This soul is immortal in essence despite the changes that befall it through different forms and at different times and places. At no time does the soul cease its quest for immortality - to be immortal in form as it is in essence. This story is . . . the story of every human being. However, we all have forgotten it. By 'forgetting' it is meant that it settled at the bottom of the unconscious and was then covered by a thick layer of illusions and fears that we inherited from the times of ignorance and superstition. There is no way that we can achieve our happiness unless we break through this thick layer. . . which prevents the forms of the unconscious to be reflected in the mirror of the conscious and hence reveal the greater truth, the truth of truths that is shrouded by the veils of light. This long story that flows from the unconscious is made of the same stuff as that of dreams. The Qur'an is made out of the same stuff. It was brought into existence only to remind us of our extraordinary story. He who remembers it will acquire knowledge beyond which there is no ignorance and an immortality beyond which there is no perishing".
('Ubada). Servitude and bondage. This is the fulfilment and consummation of slavehood ('ubudiyya) when the slave loses himself in the Will of his Lord. 'Ubada is 'the Nearness of obligatory works' which is one of the four stations of Perfection. To realize 'ubuda is to be gifted with a very high degree of Knowledge of Allah. To know that 'the slave is the slave and the Lord is the Lord' is the supreme form of spiritual courtesy towards Allah. The Holy Prophet Muhammad al Mustapha (May the Salutations of Allah be upon him and Peace) is the Beloved of Allah and His Chosen One. No one is more perfect than him. No one can attain to his Knowledge. Yet Allah says in The Qur'an, "Glory be to Him Who carried His slave by night" (17:1). The slave is in bondage ('ubuda). Bondage is Perfection. Bondage is Knowledge.
('Abd). The slave (and worshipper) is the one who is in a state of total and utter submission to the Will of Allah. After having been annihilated in Allah where all duality vanished and distinctions were erased, he returns to creation with perfect courtesy and with the Truth of Certainty that 'the Lord is the Lord and the slave is the slave'. When 'abd is translated as 'servant' it carries the implication that the servant can leave the service of his Master, if he so desires. However, the 'slave' is in total bondage, being utterly dependent upon his Master. All buying and selling transactions have been terminated. The slave belongs to Allah, completely, perfectly and unconditionally.
(Ruh). The Ruh is that centre within man which is attracted and drawn back to its Source. The spirit endeavours to pull the heart towards Allah, while the lower self exerts a downward pull on the heart. The human spirit is also Allah's Spirit because Allah breathed His Spirit into man. In being both 'uncreated' and 'created' the Ruh makes its descent. On the Night of Power, "Therein descend the angels and the Spirit, by Allah's permission" (Qur'an 97:4). The 'uncreated' spirit is equated with the Reality of Muhammad and the 'created' spirit extends from the Divine Throne down to the Perfect Man. The Ruh cannot be seen except by the man who has outstripped 'both the worlds'. The spirit is neither within nor without the body, neither detached from it or attached to it. It is both within and without, detached and attached. The luminosity which radiates from a man depends upon the degree of activity of his Ruh.
(Mujahadah). The spiritual struggle and endeavour against the passions and downward-pulling tendencies of the lower self. Mujahadah is the ceaseless combat called the Greater Holy War. The war is fought with the celestial weapons of the Remembrance of Allah. The mature ones of the Path, those who 'know Allah', say that mujahadah is child's play! The real work of Men is Divine Knowledge.
(Lata'if). This term generally refers to the subtle essences (or centres) in the body. The cleansing of the subtle centres forms the spiritual struggle of the Path. The cleansing of each separate latifah marks a stage in the Journey of Return. Lata'if also defines the subtleties within the being of the knower and lover of Allah. The mystical vision during the spiritual concert prepares a thousand of these lata'if within the ecstatic.

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