Dust Under Your Feet

4 July 1987

Q:  Can you explain the states of Fana and Baqa. Some prefer Fana and some Baqa. Which is better, to die in Fana or Baqa? Is there any controversy on this matter among the Mashaikhs?

A: There is a lot of misunderstanding about the states of Fana and Baqa, not only among the novices, but the elites are also divided on it. But the difference is only verbal not real. There is no denying the fact that Fana is the highest achievement as it is the state of extreme nearness, presence or union with the Divine Beloved. But since a man in Fana is no more useful for society and he is unable to worship the Lord in that state, Islam recommends voluntary separation to resume the state of duality so that the lover is able to love and worship the Lord. Therefore, the question has become controversial among the Mashaikh (plural of Shaikh) of Islam. Some prefer Fana and some like Baqa. For instance, Hadrat Junaid Baqhdadi and his school favored Baqa, while Hadrat Bayazid Bustami was in favour of Fana. This is only a controversy for the sake of accuracy and hair-splitting. The actual fact is that there is another state of Divine relationship known as Jamiyyiat in which the seeker is both in Fana and Baqa simultaneously and only the Shaikhs of the highest caliber can enjoy it. And by the grace of Allah s.w.t, a vast majority of Auliya Allah in Islam have been of this category. It is only a handful of the Sufis in the whole history of Islam who gat stranded in Fana and were called Qalandars and Majdhub. In that stage one goes above controversy as to which is higher – Fana or Baqa? If I go into details and quote the poetical expressions of various Mashaikh  on the beauties of Fana and Baqa submerged in the same person and at the same time, it will need a huge book to describe. I will quote here one or two Persian verses showing the incidence of Fana and Baqa together at one and the same time.

Mirza Bedil a famous Sufi poet says:

“O my dear Beloved, although I have been drinking the cups of Divine Union with Thee for the whole of my life, my thirst has not yet been quenched. How cruel Thou art that Thou do not come into my embrace from my embrace.” 

The whole force is on: “Why don’t you come to my embrace from my embrace.” It means that the Beloved is already in his embrace but the lover is not satisfied, because the storm of love raging in his heart is not satisfied at any stage of Nearness, and wishes to get closer and closer every moment. Now since, there is no end to Divine Nearness (being limitless), the lovers go on crying, weeping and wailing for closer and closer Nearness, and this craving becomes eternal because there is no end to Zat Allah (Divine Essence) and also no end to lovers’ crying!

Says Saadi, one of the greatest Persian Sufi poet:

“Neither there is any limit to His Beauty nor is an end to Saadi crying. The result is that the lover, like a patient suffering from thirst-disease, drinks and drinks and dies at the bank of the river, and the river flows on.”

And Saadi has also said:

“The wonder is not that I am loving and crying; the wonder is this, that I am united and separated at the same time.”

So this Union in Separation, Fana and Baqa, simultaneously is called Jamiyyiat which literally means combination of both.

Khwaja Ghulam Farid, a contemporary Shaikh of our area says:

“My state of spiritual experience has undergone two turns. That is to say my Fana has become Baqa and Baqa has become Fana.”

This is Jamiyyiat. So, you can now decide for yourself which state is better to die in. I prefer Jamiyyiat in which one can enjoy both the pleasures of Union and pangs of Separation at the same time. It is in this state that one is perfect Abd (slave) of the Lord and enjoys worshipping Him in spite of the fact that he is submerged in Zat Allah (Divine Essence).

Q: You said that a seeker of Truth should not go into “hal” (getting overpowered by Divine Intoxication) or get up and dance (called Raqs) while listening to Qawwali. But the last moment of Hadrat khawaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaaki (r) was while listening to Qawwali, he got up and dance to death. Could you explain?

A: Yes, I do remember. I said and still say that a Sufi who is stuck up in a state of Fana (Divine Intoxication) permanently is not capable of guiding others. But Hadrat Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaaki (r) of Delhi was not of that type. He was far above. He was of the stage of Jamiyyiat as explained above to your earlier question. His dance to death was not like that of a beginner. He was the finalist because he combined both the states of Fana and Baqa simultaneously. He spent his life in guiding murids and making them superb Shaikhs. Hadrat Baba Fariduddin Shakar Ganj (r) of Patpattan Sharif is the result of his guidance among so many others. The fact that he (r ) went into “hal” and danced to death, is true. But this “hal” was not of the type of a novice or a beginner or even that of a Sufi of Fana stage. It was of the kind of Abdiyat, Baqa, and Jamiyyiat. The storm of love in his heart was so great that it could not be satiated at any stage of Qurb (Divine Nearness). And you know what the verse on which he gave his life was? It was also of the stage of Jamiyyiat, and the author of the poem was no less a Shaikh than Hadrat Ahmad Jam, one of the most prominent Shaikhs of Islam.

The verse was: “For the lovers who have been slain by the sword of submission to the lord, there is a new life every moment.”

This verse is the very life and blood of Jamiyyiat which means Union and Separation simultaneously. And Hadrat Qutub (r) who heard this Qawwali was also a man of Jamiyyiat. So the result was that he continued to dance (the proper Sufi term for dance is “Raqs”) for four days and four nights on end till his limbs were torn, his body was shaken, his life was at stake, and the whole metro pole Delhi was shaking. But being a man of the stage of Baqa-bi-Allah and Abdiyat, he never missed a single Salat during these four days and nights. When the time came for each Salat, he would get aside and say the salat, and then resume his dance. When he used to hear the first verse: “for the lovers who have been slain by the sword of submission”, he would die, but when he heard the second verse: “he gets a new life every moment”, he would come to life and dance. This went on for four days so that the whole city of Delhi was in the danger of being destroyed. So his (r) companions thought it better to tell the Qawwals (singers) not to recite the second verse which was the source of giving him a new life, and he fell a martyr to the love of the Divine Beloved. Hadrat Qutub (r) is still so deep in love that, you have seen yourself, he seldom pays attention to the visitors except those very high in spiritual status. However, Hadrat Qutub’s (r) mission was continued by Hadrat Baba Farid (r), his disciples and the disciple of their disciples (Khulafa) and it is continuing up to this time, and will continue forever, InshaAllah Taala.

Q: Can you explain about the tremendous Faizan (spiritual inspiration/blessings) received at all the various Lataif and at times it is like “bursting.” Should we give up at this bursting point?

A: Yes, salik (seekers) do receive tremendous Faizan at the various latifa – latifa Nafs, Qalb, Ruh, Sirr, khafi and Akhfa (for more details on Lataif-i-Sitta, readers may refer my book “Islamic Sufism”, chapter 3 & 10) after doing regular spiritual works as prescribed by his Shaikh may experience it at all time round the clock to the point of bursting. But I can assure you that you will not come to burst. You have asked for the way to control it. The best way is to enlarge the “spiritual vessel.” One comes to the bursting point only when his spiritual vessel (capacity) is jam-packed and the Faizan starts to overflow. The best way to deal with it is to be courageous, and not to get overwhelmed. Your courage and determination should be so great that instead of being overwhelmed by it, you should overwhelm it. The more you work hard in spiritual exercises, worship and prayers, the greater will your spiritual vessel (capacity) grow and the greater will be the power of resistance. It is again the storm of love which carries everything before it! You should not worry about it much. You are being looked after.

 Allah s.w.t says in the Holy Quran:

“Those who strive hard to reach Us, we open for them the ways to come to Us.”

So the more you keep yourself busy in the spiritual exercises prescribed for you, the more avenues you will see opened to you. You should know that you are dealing with the Lord who wishes you to come to Him and He does not like to kick you back.

Q: The Holy Prophet (pbuh) received Wahy (revelation) through the medium of Angel Jibril a.s. Is this receiving of Wahy same as the Faizan received by ordinary people?

A: Wahy (revelation) is not like Faizan. It is much more, and much stronger. It is the direct conversation with the Divine Lord. As ordinary people are overwhelmed with the ordinary Faizan (spiritual inspiration/blessings) received from Allah Almighty, His Rasool (pbuh) and the Auliya Allah, it is not surprising that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) used to get overwhelmed by direct address from the Almighty specially the first Wahy. But later on the Prophet (pbuh) received it with courage and strength although the camel the Prophet (pbuh) rode could bear it and would sit down under its weight. How the Prophet (pbuh) could be overpowered by it when he (pbuh) was dictating it at the same time to others. So there is a difference between the first Wahy the Prophet (pbuh) received and the subsequent Wahyis.

Q: It is possible to go into Fana-fi-Zat Allah before going through Fana-fi-Sifat Allah?

A: Yes, it is possible and easier. But Zat (Divine Essence) does include Sifat (Attributes of God) as well. So when one (seeker of Truth, salik) is in Fana-fi-Allah he is automatically in Fana-fi-Sifat Allah. In our Silsala (Chishti Spiritual Order) the seeker (salik) is blindfolded and not allowed to see the effects of Fana-fi-Sifat, but he is allowed to experience the effects of Fana-fi-Zat.

Q: Is there a situation where a seeker (salik) is thrown back or rejected by God during his Spiritual Journey or when he is in the stage of Fana-fi-Allah (Journey/absorption in God)?

A: It is generally believed and said by the Mashaikh that he (salik) who enters the stage of Fana-fi-Allah even though it is the very beginning; he is NOT misled after it. As there are so many degrees and stages of Fana, the more one advances, the greater is the security.

Q: Can you tell me which is highest Maqam (Spiritual Status)?

A: The answer is that there is no such thing as the end point, as there is no end to Zat (Divine Essence) and there is no end to flight. When we say Jamiyyiat is the highest, it said in a relative sense. Even Jamiyyiat has so many stages.

Q: Can you advise whether a salik (seeker of God) can a visit the Shrines (Mazar) of Qalandars.

A: As regards Qalandars they are mostly not the finalist but are middlers. It is not advisable to visit their graves because the Qalandars are always in a mood to pour forth (Faizan) all at once without caring whether you can digest it or not. How to know them? Mostly the Mazars of the Qalandars are well known in the world of Islam. But if you do not know it, they can be identified by their Faizan (spiritual inspiration/blessings). Their Faizan is always intoxicating. I mean over-intoxicating. If you feel it tries to remain away from them (their Mazars). If you find them living, do not go near them. Same goes to Majdhub and their graves. They are so overwhelmed by some spiritual experience (over-intoxication) that they are not in full possession of their senses, and their neglect of the Shariat is due to this.

Q: What is Allah’s greatest Name (Ism-i-Azam)?

A: This is a controversial point. Some say it is “Allah”, some say it is “Rahman.” But I have a different indication which is secret. I cannot disclose it. Every seeker is told about it. You will also be told.

Q: This is about Nafs and Shaitan. Which is stronger, Nafs or Shaitan?

A: Some say they are synonymous. Your Nafs is your Shaitan. It is supported by the Hadis: “Umar has over-mastered his Shaitan.” But since man is a microcosm, he includes what is out in the Universe. So Shaitan is both in you and out of you.

Q: Can you explain, under what circumstances one should be strict with his wife.

A: Why wife alone? Why not be strict with yourself first? Why poor wife? Is it because she is a slave in your house? A Sufi or a seeker has the duty to be most strict to himself if he has to reach the goal. He should be thankful to his wife who serves him and enables him to do spiritual work and make spiritual progress.

A Shaikh has said:

“If you want to be a breaker of statues, break yourself first.”

This is because men are mostly busy worshipping themselves. Everybody loves himself over others, he wants to possess more, to own more, amass more wealth, to enjoy more, etc. Therefore, his first duty is to oppose himself because it is he himself who stands between himself and God.

Hadrat Jami (r) has said:

“O man thou art the real veil between you and God, so try and remove that veil as soon as possible if you want to reach Him.”

Therefore, it is yourself that you must be most strict with. Why poor wife out of the whole world? If you want to improve her also, tell her gently to say salat, fast, recite Quran, etc. What is the use of being overlord on the poor thing! Man feels like dominating others. It is his nature. But since his wife is the easiest to be dominated, he goes in first to dominate her. This should be avoided!

Q: What are the adab (conduct) of teaching?

A: The first question is or should be: Have you finished with the adab of learning that you are now to embark on teaching? You are still going through a course of training and are still a pupil, a student. One’s foremost duty is to start reformation from the nearest end which is “self.” Think of perfecting others when you have perfected yourself, because half-baked teachers produce only half-baked students.

Q: Why Allah s.w.t is so harsh on a person who harms His friends, to the point of declaration of war? There is a hadith related to this matter.

A: This is because Allah s.w.t loves His lovers so much. When He loves His lovers, it means the lovers of Allah become His beloveds. So, who is dearer to Him than His beloved? Hence, result in His harshness. No doubt He is so Merciful.  But He is Merciful to forgive peoples’ sins. He is not Merciful to those who hurt His beloveds.