(Bu'd). Distance from Allah. There can be two aspects to bu'd. One is the distance which comes about through forgetfulness of, or even disbelief in, Allah. Such a distance is Hell in this life and in the Hereafter. The other distance is in fact a profoundly sweet distance. It occurs when the slave truly knows, through unveiling, that 'the slave remains the slave and the Lord remains the Lord'. Such a distance as this is one of the means by which the slave attains nearness to Allah. And nearness to Allah is Paradise here and now.
(Qurb). Proximity or nearness to Allah. Qurb is the reality of the Station of Perfection, 'Two Bows' Length'. It is the limit of the slave's ascent before annihilation in Allah. One of the bewilderments of the Journey is that through having knowledge of his distance from Allah the slave is actually brought near. Slavehood indicates this distance which brings nearness. The slave must cling to perfect courtesy by honouring and respecting the Truth that, 'the slave remains the slave and the Lord remains the Lord'.
(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.
(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".
('Assa). The staff of Prophet Musa (Peace be upon him). The staff symbolizes the (corporal) world which it is to be feared when it controls and dominates. However, the knower of Allah can take it up, as did the Prophet Musa, and use it in the Way of Allah, to bring benefit to himself and to humanity.