We observe an explicit rebellion against Deen, depressing downfall and catastrophe
i.e. deterioration of human values. While investigating the causes of decline, we
should not lose sight of this reality that system of human life is based on three
foundations: Belief, Knowledge and Compliance. These three foundations put together
are called Deen. When these are complied with, the life can be termed as a balanced
Belief: The dogmas or beliefs are the ideological determinants, which
are retained in the heart after comprehension; they are executed at internal or
external level. For instance: Allah is one Who is the Creator. He has sent the Prophets
(D) for guidance of the humanity. After death, we will be brought back to life on
the Day of Resurrection. On that Day every person will be awarded paradise or hell
according to his or her good or evil performance. So on and so forth. These determinants
are the constituents of Islamic faith or belief. We, Muslims, keep the foundation
of our faith on the Qur'an and Sunnah. The other religions have the dogmas according
to their Books. Some people hold the hereditary belief while others base it upon
their insight. Every one behaves and acts under some ideological determinants, ingrained
in one’s mind.
Knowledge: The second foundation of the system of life is knowledge. We
gather it through our five or more senses. (Parapsychology claims there are as many
as seventeen senses). After this sensory process, our experiences and observations
are advanced to the intellect. The intellect sorts out comprehension of the sensory
data, which is transformed into its quintessence called knowledge. The sources of
knowledge are, therefore, observations, experiences and apperception. Belief integrates
a being into personality and becomes a vital force in human life. The second force
is knowledge, which takes its roots from observations and experiences. The belief
precedes knowledge. If knowledge endorses genuineness of belief, the belief gets
validated and invigorated. It then becomes a strong base of dynamics of a personality.
Compliance: All actions are deeply rooted in belief and knowledge. A contradiction
between the two can jeopardize an action or execution. Such a situation is sufficient
to shatter a belief. The individual falls prey to doubts, ambiguities and develops
into a skeptic. The standards of fair and foul get confused and vision blurs when
the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper. In his private meditation, he finds
faults either with faith or the reality on ground. When the belief in Allah is ingrained
in heart that He is the Creator and Omnipotent, a passion incites man to worship
Him. But if one does not experience the versatility of Allah in this world, his
belief gets impaired and a contradiction in belief and knowledge about Allah comes
to fore. Such an unfortunate state of mind benumbs the impetus and passion for the
subservience to Allah. The belief actually charges all acts like electric current
and becomes a driving force. But if not affirmed by external reality it gasps its
last. A total spiritual devastation.
Where Do We Stand?
Reward, retribution, Paradise and Hell are our faith. Every good deed, it is
observed, does not, at times, produce good results. Similarly, every bad deed does
not, every time, bring about bad results. It is a deceptive situation. All depends
upon the social dynamics. But when our observation does not conform to our faith,
and knowledge too does not come to our rescue, we lose confidence and go astray.
The foundation of our faith is laid on the unseen:
Those who believe in the unseen.
(Qur'an (al-Baqarah) 2:3.)
We have not seen Allah, His Angels, the Day of Judgement, Paradise and Hell,
but we believe in them because the Prophet (A) has told us, ‘they are.’ Our faith
is based on the unseen. The common man’s faith is based on the unseen, which intrinsically
warrants the endorsement. If the faith is not endorsed, it gets weakened with the
passage of time. The faith is an impetus for action. If faith is strong, action
will also be strong and vice versa.
An educated young Muslim today cannot deny existence of Allah and the Holy Prophet
(A) because he is born in a Muslim family. But he falls victim to the worst type
of uncertainty of faith for he is not well grounded in it. Many of us particularly
youngsters, who apparently do not deny Doomsday, do not accept it completely because
they have not experienced any creditable result of believing in Allah and His Prophet
(A). They doubt even the credibility of resurrection for he has yet to experience
the credibility of things related to his belief in the unseen. His heart forces
him to believe but his intellect spurns it. This contradiction between heart and
intellect exists incessantly.
We deny the reality while performing the acts. We claim to follow the Sunnah
of the Prophet (A) but do not practice it. Our subtle denial is exhibited through
our actions. Although we proclaim that Allah is One yet we worship our ambitions
and lusts and put them equal to Allah.
This is scientific era and people are free from stronghold of superstitions.
The inquisitive scientific mind raises questions. The modern man wants to see the
facts with naked eye. Any thing that conforms to observation is easy to believe
in. The scientists substantiate their claims by demonstrating facts in laboratories.
It is believed that hydrogen and oxygen form water because it is proved in laboratories.
For the materialists and empiricists, every spiritual thing is vague or non-existent.
The human intellect is accustomed to proof. The scientific way of judgment, evaluation
and believing things has become the way of life. We daily observe that if rules
of business conduct are followed, business prospers. Otherwise it declines and ends
up in loss. In a like manner, when every matter is subjected to practical tests
and proved, it becomes believable. If a faith does not prove its credibility, it
is not truly believed in. In this way, faith remains vacillating and unsettled.
The Reassured Belief
We are obliged to think whether or not the Qur'an approves of the prevailing
scientific method and that the consistency of faith depends upon experiments and
observations. Does the Qur'an allow to subject our faith to the analytical experimentation.
Hadrat Ibrahim (D) implored Allah in the following words:
My Lord, show me how You revive the dead.
(Qur'an (al-Baqarah) 2:260.)
Hadrat Ibrahim (D) intended to subject his belief to observation and experiment
so that his faith might become undeniable. There might not be any doubt in believing
that Allah can resurrect the humans and the animals. Allah, however, provided complete
experimentation of resurrection. Besides this, Allah also showed His matchless and
unequaled powers and kingdom of the earth and heavens so as to strengthen his faith
to the strongest footings beyond any doubts, obscurity or uncertainty. Allah says:
Therefore, We showed Ibrahim sovereignty over Heavens and Earth so he might
(Qur'an (al-An‘am) 6:75.)
Hadrat Ibrahim (D) was shown the kingdom of heavens and the earth to ascertain
his faith to the superlative degree. The firmest faith provides the utmost delight
and bliss. Allah has said:
It is incumbent upon Us to help the believers.
(Qur'an (ar-Rum) 30:47.)
It is the promise of Allah to help the believers. Allah helped the believers
and furnished them with victory subduing the disbelievers:
When Allah’s support comes as well as victory, and you see mankind entering
Allah’s religion in droves.
(Qur'an (an- Nasr) 110:1-2.)
The Prophet (A) saw the people thronging to embrace Islam in multitudes. He (A)
witnessed the benefaction of Allah. This was an observation and experience too that
provided unassailable strength to faith and the Muslims gained tremendous boost.
When the faith reached the stage of certainty, Allah said to the Prophet:
Then hymn your Lord’s praise and beg Him for forgiveness, since He is so Relenting.
(Qur'an (an-Nasr) 110:3.)
After the observation, Allah decrees to resort to His praise and forgiveness.
This explicit command to the Prophet (A) implies that the Muslim Ummah requires
to glorify Allah more subsequent to a resplendent observation that ascertains their
faith. Sura An-Nasr reveals that the unseen faith becomes firm and unquestionable
What is Mysticism (Tasawwuf)? (Observation and
This cannot be refuted that faith becomes a driving force of life after experimentation
and observation have endorsed it. The question arises as to how can this culmination
of faith be achieved. How can a person get ascertained of his faith through experimentation
and observation? The scientists do carry out experimentation of their expounded
theories for validation. Are there any means to reassure faith in the tenets of
Islam through observation and experiments? The answer is in affirmative. There is
a system, which brings about tangible results of faith through experimentation and
observation. This system based on spiritual experiments and observations is called
‘Tasawwuf’, which is a spiritual discipline and which the English term ‘mysticism’
perhaps cannot fully describe. However, for reader’s convenience, we henceforth
call it mysticism. The experts and preceptors of this system are the spiritual incumbents
conventionally known as saints or Auliya Allah. Mysticism is the only means of the
internal experiences and observations. When the belief in the unseen passes through
the evolutionary processes, it changes into the firmest belief. Mysticism brings
about the internal observation of the faith to the zenith of certainty.
When mysticism, through observation, endorses faith, the faith becomes firm and
unequivocal. The Auliya Allah, pass through rigors and tribulations for ascertaining
their faith. They see the miraculous feats of Allah in their lives. Their actions
excel the force of action of millions of people in the world. Their action is vitalized
by Benefaction and Beneficence of Allah. Their action is based on observation and
experimentation while layman’s action is based on the theoretical assumptions and
Imam Ghazali’s Precedence
Imam Ghazali, being a versatile erudite, great scholar, subtle thinker and an
enviable personage in the Islamic learning felt still a deficiency and unsatiety
in comprehending the reality of Deen. He approached the religious preceptors to
inquire into the reality of Deen but could not find the ‘truth’. Then he resorted
to the philosophers but badly failed to learn reality of Deen. So he turned for
help to the incumbents of the batiniyah sect (seclusion group); but in vain. Eventually
he made his way to mystics (sufiya and sages) and inquired about the truth. They
persuaded him to follow their way. He did so and found the reality.
Imam Ghazali narrates:
The vicissitudes of life, family affairs and financial constraints engulfed
my life and deprived me of the congenial solitude. The heavy odds confronted me
and provided me with few moments for my pursuits. This state of affairs lasted for
ten years but wherever I had some spare and congenial moments I resorted to my intrinsic
proclivity. During these turbulent years, numerous astonishing and indescribable
secrets of life were unveiled to me. I was convinced that the group of Aulia (holy
mystics) is the only truthful group who follow the right path, display best conduct
and surpass all sages in their wisdom and insight. They derive all their overt or
covert behaviour from the illumining guidance of the holy Prophet(A), the only guidance
worth quest and pursuit.”
(Imam Ghazali, al-Munqidh min-ad-dalal, p.50)
Imam Ghazali was completely convinced that the path of Aulia (holy mystics) was
the only gainful and genuine course and the remaining ones were all stray paths.
They are scrupulous and pre-eminent in their talk, conduct and affairs. They surpass
all the people in wisdom and scholarship. The life of Aulia reflects the model of
the holy Prophet in sitting, standing, sleeping, awakening, walking and all chores
of life. Their whole life is permeated with the holy enlightenment of the Prophet’s
teachings and his love. They seek guidance from the Prophet (A). They do not follow
their whims. They follow the holy footsteps of the beloved Prophet (A), and perceive
as if the curtain is lifted and the divine light dazzling at the doorsteps of the
adorable Messenger (A) illumines their real self. Hence, life of the Auliya Allah
is the best life and their course of life leads straight to Allah.
“This is the best course which fully substantiates the Prophetic stature.
If you analyse and engross the Qur'an and other relevant literature, you will find
out the reality evident and effulgent like sunshine.”
(Imam Ghazali, al-Munqidh min-ad-dalal, p.75)
The state of certainty in faith, therefore, can only be achieved through mysticism.
It ignites the spiritual force inside you and bestows the observation explicitly
to the extent of certainty as if there is something tangible in your hand.
According to Imam Ghazali, this state begins with the onset of true dreams. As
the innerself gets purged, true dreams start and unveil the reality of life. With
that the spiritual enlightenment and awareness gets activated. The holy Prophet(A)
has termed true dreams as fortieth part of Prophethood.
The Prophet (A) said:
Nothing is left of the Prophethood except ‘Al-Mubashshirat’. They enquired
about ‘Al-Mubashshirat?’ He replied, “true good dreams. (that convey glad tidings)
(Related by Bukhari in his as-Sahih, b. of ta‘bir
(interpretation of dreams) ch. 5 (6:2564 # 6589); and Muhammad Khatib Tabrizi in
Mishkat-ul-masabih, b. of ru’ya (dreams) 2:519 # 4606).
Through true dreams, facts of life are revealed. The Prophet (A) spent several
weeks at the ‘Hira Cave’. The Prophet (A) used to go into retreat for several days
in the remembrance of Allah. In the wake of this, he used to vision true dreams.
Whatever he dreamt, it used to be manifest during daytime. This evinced Prophethood.
When true dreams start emerging, it should be deemed that Prophetic benefaction
has initiated. Says Imam Ghazali:
In ‘tariqat’ (the tasawwuf discipline), dreams start in the beginning. The
mystics see spirits of the Prophets (D) and the angels in their wakeful moments,
listen to their voices and acquire vision from them.
(Imam Ghazali, al-Munqidh min-ad-dalal, p.50.)
This state approves one’s faith and the faith culminates into certainty. The
fortunate ones treading this path find the truth of life and their belief gets reassured.
The barriers are removed and a spiritual contact is established with the beloved
holy Prophet (A).
Imam Jalal-ud-Din Suyuti (RA) says:
I had the sight of the Prophet (A) seventy times during my wakeful moments.
The scholars of Ahadith in moments of ambiguity used to resort to the Prophet
(A) and get genuine guidance. The human intellect is unable to encompass such a
psychic state of Auliya Allah. They take guidance directly from the Prophet (A)
during their lifetime and vision the reality. There is a difference between seeing
and listening. Allah guards the communication and actions of His Friends, Auliya.
Allah fulfils all they say.
The holy Prophet (A) declares about such holy persons:
There are some of Allah’s slaves who, if take an oath by Allah, are responded
to by Allah (i.e. their oath is fulfilled).
(Bukhari, as-Sahih, b. of sulh (reconciliation)
Ch. 8 (2:962 # 2556).
In fact, mysticism brings observation, which in turn validates faith. At this
stage, even impossible things become possible, the unseen becomes discernable and
inaudible becomes audible. A friend of Allah then perceives in full and gets beyond
time. These experiences also have their scientific bases.
The people who have not experienced the mystic state cannot achieve thorough
confirmation of their faith. That is why a common believer is left far behind while
a Friend of Allah, a Wali, accomplishes a century’s assignment in twinkling of an
This is how we need to look at the significance of spiritual discipline in modern
scientific era. The true validation of our faith in the unseen can only be acquired
through a mystic psychic effort fulfilling all the requisites of scientific method.
Science, although, does not accept or confirm the existence of spiritual visions,
contacts and accomplishments, yet the evident and tangible results brought about
through spiritual and mystic experiences only bewilder scientific investigators;
spiritualism cannot be gainsaid.
The subsequent chapters take an account of some experiences of laymen, non-Muslims,
common and psychologically and physically normal people that put the scientists
in awe and surprise. A positive investigation into the reality was then initiated
to understand the phenomenology of these experiences. Science has failed to deny
the reality and has made an advance to find and confirm more to it. In comparison
to these common place events, the spiritual reality is a far superior phenomenon
that rather helps science to reach its faith in transcendent reality.