by Murshid F. A. Ali ElSenossi

Stages of the self chart

"And He giveth you of all that ye ask for. But if ye count the favours of Allah, never will ye be able to number them. (Qur'an 14.34)

"I was a Hidden Treasure and I loved to be known, so I created the creations, and through Me they knew Me". (Holy Saying of Allah from the Prophet MuhammadSalutations on The Prophet, (May the blessings of Allah be upon him and peace).

The great Sufi Masters in Islam and Muslims in general know that the cause for the creation of the worlds is love and the stamp of the last message that has been given to humanity, the Holy Qur'an, is "In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful".

What is Sufism? Sufism is a system of development which provides access to the silence hidden at the centre of man's being. The silence that is the most beautiful form of music heard only by the sages and is the source of all meaningful activities and actions. It is the origin of life and of man's own existence. It is a key given to man with which he can unlock the secret of his own existence and come to possess the forgotten and neglected treasure hidden within his being.

Sufism gives man the means to know himself and thus to know The Real; to listen to the music of silence. Sufism is able to lead mankind to that quiet and peace which is hidden at the centre of his being and whose attainment is possible at all times and places. It can deliver him from the crushing storm of events in this life and the uproar of the external world without necessitating abandonment of that world.

In Sufism, man is delivered by means of an inner transformation which takes place here and now, within the framework of his normal life. As a result he is enabled to hear the inward music of all beings, and above the noise of everyday life, to listen to the music of the Silence of Eternity.

Millions across the globe have embraced it and use it as a means to find belief, knowledge and realisations of the truth which the Holy Prophet MuhammadSalutations on The Prophet mentioned in the tradition which says that Allah has sent 124,000 prophets and messengers of God to humanity. These special people were sent to show us the best and safest way to return back to the Source of life, love and knowledge. The Holy ProphetSalutations on The Prophet has made the statement that "The best which I have brought and all the prophets before me is 'There is no god but one God' La ilaha il Allah. The Sufis take this formula of the Unity of Being as their starting point. They see that within this formula is the key to reach the ultimate aim, with Unity of the self, Unity of time, Unity of place and Unity of essence.

Every salik (traveller) on the path of Allah, to reach the state of realisations, travels through the seven stages of the self. All of these stages (maqamat un nafs) have been mentioned in great clarity in the Holy Qur'an and in the practice of the Prophet of Allah, peace be upon him.

These stages begin with:
1) Surrender (Islam)
2) Belief (Iman)
3) The way to perfection (Ihsan)
4) The knowledge of certainty ('Ilm ul yaqin)
5) The eye of certainty ('Ayn al yaqin)
6) The realisations of certainty (Haqq ul yaqin).

The last stage which is not known to many in the lower circles of the teaching is called Hayat as shaur (the life of the senses). The life of the senses is the highest state of realisation of Allah. It is the seventh sense through which the entire body is spiritualised within Allah. It is the state of "seeing without eyes" and "hearing without ears" and "speaking without tongue". All of the senses are activated and become operative through one sense alone. For example, when "seeing", one also "hears" and "feels" through the faculty of sight. Allah "Sees" without Eyes. Allah "Hears" without Ears. Allah "Speaks" without "Tongue". The Holy Prophet Muhammad (May the Blessings of Allah be upon him and Peace) indicated this Ultimate Life of the Senses when he said, "I see you from my back the same as I see you from my front". "Hayat ash-shaur" is the highest level of baqa (abiding). All of the senses are Allah's.

The contributions of the Saints of Allah throughout the 1400 years from the time of the Holy ProphetSalutations on The Prophet right up to this moment have been to improve the condition and the state of humanity. To make people reach the stage where they become able to think - what they think they should say and what they say should bring benefit, harmony, peace and love to oneself and to all creations.

The method of the great Prophet and Master MuhammadSalutations on The Prophet contains within it all the other traditions par excellence in the most simple and powerful way. If someone were to say that Tasawwuf is similar to or belongs to other traditions, then we would have to agree. All of these teachings come from the same Source. The only difference with regards to the last message is that it is a balanced method and that the message and Teaching with regards to the Divinity and Unity of Allah is of the highest clarity. The link which connects all the great Prophets is Divine Unity. As far as we know, this message shows the best way to return and unite man within himself. With regards to the Unity of Allah, He does not need our confirmation as this is imprinted in all of the creations, especially the human being. At the level of the mind and the ego, to deny or accept is man's problem. Allah would like to see us in a state of unity voluntarily, of our own free will. He would like to see us develop from what He wants to what He loves, for what He wants, no one escapes from. The Holy Qur'an says that "everything in the heavens and the earth glorifies Allah".

To be close to the Essence of God, we must make an effort in the proper manner, as has been shown by the Prophet MuhammadSalutations on The Prophet. The glad tidings to humanity in the 21st century are in the completeness of the Divine message to humanity and the fact that it is still so alive, fresh and unadulterated. That is the miracle of the Holy Qur'an itself and the miracle of the last Prophet and Messenger of GodSalutations on The Prophet.

One thing that the people of Allah always remind us of is that the Merciful and Beloved Allah gave every man and woman the chance to undo what has been done through genuine exercise of determination, to gain access to the ultimate realisation of the Truth within ourselves. Determined will is Allah's gift to all of us and when we turn our will to the will of Allah, in a nutshell, when we learn the art of surrendering our will to Allah, success and peace become our inheritance. One should look without prejudice or preconceived ideas and with the greatest respect to the teaching of the last Prophet and Messenger of Allah to humanity. The Great Master of all ages, Muhammad al Mustapha, may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him. It is one of the keys to the mystery of all. May Allah fill the hearts of humanity with love and inner considering so that the 21st century will be a real celebration for the good of all.

In the words of the Holy Prophet, "The most beloved to Allah is the one who makes the creation love Allah".

Wa ma taufiq illa billah. And there is no success except with Allah.

Murshid F. A. Ali ElSenossi