Anfas al-Arifin: Witnessing The Muhammadan Image
Salam. Looking through the very enjoyable ‘Anfas al-Arifin’ of Shah Waliullah al-Dihlawi I came across the following passage which caught my attention. I had read something similar to it on a discussion on the concept of ‘Tasawwur al-Shaykh’ as practised by some Sufi orders, and thought this passage may be of use in understanding what the ‘Akabir of the Akabirs’ viewpoint was on similar issues. Not least when some may hastily dismiss such a matters existence and the possibility of its occurence, or more dangerously venture to pronounce verdicts of polytheism regarding such incidents (and to Allah Most High is our complaint).
I would like thank brother TK for looking through this and suggesting improvements/changes. A scan of the page can be provided for those interested and any suggested improvements to the translation would be most welcome. Note: The term ‘buzurg’ means eminent, and is often used for a venerable personality and generically for people of Allah.
Shah Waliullah al-Dihlawi said in his ‘Anfas al-Arifin’ (pg.168-169):
My respected father said: One buzurg by means of the tawfiq of Allah isolated himself from worldly distractions and exerted all of his attention towards the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) by focussing on him and reciting salutations on him. After some days the Uwaisi connection (nisbat) became apparent on him and began to receive spiritual benefit (fayz) from Hazrat (Allah bless him and give him peace) and made himself well known by the name ‘Kamuni’. The reason being that ‘Kamun’ means veil and that Hazrat (Allah bless him and give him peace) by means of the Uwaisi order had lifted all the veils from the hidden secrets.
He said: I also had the honour of meeting and befriending this buzurg. One day I heard from him that: I see Hazrat (Allah bless him and give him peace) in solitude, on the earth, sitting and standing, speaking and walking, eating and drinking, in short in every state I see them. No blessed state of Hazrat (Allah bless him and give him peace) is hidden from me, and this a special blessing from God (Glorified and Exalted is He) upon this lowly one.
I said that: Due to your immense love Hazrats (Allah bless him and give him peace) noble image is embedded in your imaginative faculty and you have not been blessed with Hazrat (Allah bless him and give him peace) real vision.
Hearing this he said: Bring a proof for this so that I maybe able to confirm this.
I replied: Ask Hazrat (Allah bless him and give him peace) regarding such and such verse’s meaning, or the story of Badr and Uhud, if you receive such an answer which according to the scholars is certain and verified then it will have to be accepted that you have a real vision. But if nothing is learnt or other than the actual becomes apparent then understand that the imaginal form of Hazrat (Allah bless him and give him peace) is existing in your mind.
This buzurg then read some verses and ahadith and in accordance with his own imagination began to ask Hazrat (Allah bless him and give him peace) again and again, but received no answer.
I said: The reality has become clear that due to intense love in your minds thought Hazrat (Allah bless him and give him peace) imaginal form persists, not a real vision. From Hazrats companion another buzurg also experienced this state so he also told him the same.
The needy one (Shah Waliullah) presents at this point a verification (tahqiq) which is that sometimes such people of presence develop a complete connection with the illuminated soul of Hazrat (Allah bless him and give him peace). In such a state the distinction between the states of dreaming and wakefulness is lifted, and these people other than the time of looking can see in every particle of existence the Muhammadan image. If this state lasts all through life then it will be called a real vision (ruyah haqiqiyah) and there will be no difference between the state of receiving good news from Prophets and the righteous in a dream and the Sufi’s in this state.
In the above mentioned incident the mentioned person not being unable to request the meanings of verses and hadith from Hazrat (Allah bless him and give him peace) could be due to a number of reasons such as that this Buzurg’s nisbat was not of the level that he explain knowledge and secrets directly from Hazrat (Allah bless him and give him peace). Or that the person of connection (nisbat) is not fully developed, or that the person of nisbat developed a connection to Hazrat (Allah bless him and give him peace) in a few specific matters, and not developing a connection with the intention to obtain hidden knowledge from Hazrat (Allah bless him and give him peace).
The needy one (Shah Waliullah) thinks that the above mentioned buzurg person of nisbat’s claim of connection was rejected by my respected father due not to the impossibility of a real vision occurring but rather due to other reasons.