The Language of the Future
by Murshid F.A. Ali ElSenossi
(Khawf). Fear acts as a warning of something terrifying in the future. In the initial stages of the Spiritual Journey the murid experiences great fear of the treachery of his own self, and also the fear of falling short of his Murshid's directions. However, when this fear is complimented with hope the murid finds the courage and the strength with which to attack the inner enemies. Fear of Allah leads to Knowledge of Allah which opens into Love of Allah. The lover who has found Allah fears losing Allah. Such a fear may overcome the lover who has found Allah in ecstasy during the sama'.
(Ma'rifa) is a light which Allah casts into the heart of whomsoever He Wills. This is the true knowledge which comes through unveiling, witnessing and tasting. This knowledge is from Allah, it is not Allah Himself, because He Is Unknowable in His Essence. The triad on the Sufi Path of Return is comprised of Fear, Knowledge and Love. Fear leads to Knowledge which leads to Unconditional Love of Allah. It is said that spiritual struggle is child's play while ma'rifa is men's work.
(Raja') is the anticipation of Allah's Mercy (which actually surrounds us constantly, but is rarely perceived). During estrangement and separation, the lover is stretched to the extremity in his hope that the Beloved will either 'arrive' or 'speak' or 'approach' or simply just 'glance'. He fears that this separation is permanent, yet he hopes that it is temporary. On the wings of fear and hope the lover ceaselessly pursues the Beloved.
(Hubb). Love is the motivating force of Allah's Self-disclosure which is His creation of the creation. This is indicated in the Hadith Qudsi "I was a Hidden treasure and I loved to be known and so I created the creation". It is this love (Hubb) which motivates the lover (Muhibb) to turn towards the Beloved (Mahbub) with a total turning.
(Mutaqqi). 'The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Allah' (Hadith). There are many levels of fear, the lower being closely related to the fear of punishment and Hellfire. The higher degrees of fear include the fear of 'losing' Allah after having 'found' Allah, as happens to the ecstatic after his ecstasy has subsided, and the fear of committing even the slightest lapse of courtesy towards Allah, the Beloved, and the fear of ever wanting there to appear in a given moment anything other than what Allah has made manifest within that moment. But, these higher degrees of fear ensure that the slave clings to his slavehood.
(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".
(Sama'). The spiritual concert or 'audition' or 'listening'. This term refers specifically to the Sufi gatherings where music and song are employed as a means of opening the heart to inrushes of knowledge and awareness. During the spritual concert, the listener may experience ecstasy and find Allah, The Real within that ecstasy. However, before true ecstasy can be experienced the listener must be spiritually mature, having been prepared through discipline and perpetual Remembrance of Allah. Without this initial contraction of spiritual endeavour the expansion of ecstasy will not be real. The Spiritual Concert is not suitable for the novice. True Sama' is a bird which flies from Allah to Allah. Allah is the singer and Allah is the hearer. At this Divine Feast the singer and the hearer become One.
(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.