There Are Three Degrees…

Peace, one and all…


In his commentary on Ayat al-Kursi, Ismail Hakki Bursevi explores the declaration of divine unity (to say La ilaha illa Allah, ‘there is no god but God’).

May the hearts of the lovers be opened.

‘There are three degrees to the declaration of divine unity. The declaration of divine unity of the beginners is ‘there is no god but God’. The declaration of divine unity of the intermediates is ‘there is no god but You’, because they are in the station of contemplation (shuhud) which requires speech. But as for the perfect ones, they hear the declaration of divine unity from the One who is declared One (muwahhad) [i.e. of God Himself], ‘there is no god but Me’, because they are in the station of complete annihilation (fana kulli) and so nothing at all issues from them’
(Quoted in An Anthology of Quranic Commentaries, page 227)

This passage speaks deeply to me. When we begin our journey, we believe in a God that is outside of ourselves, an exalted other. At this stage, our belief is focused on an external concept, on a God who issues arbitrary commands and prohibitions from on high.  As we wander a little further along the road, we come to understand that our unfolding journey is to God. Thus, we enter on to the Spiritual Way (tariqa), in which we contemplate our relationship with the Divine. We seek to cleanse ourselves of the automatic processes and unhelpful behaviours that impair our inward eyes. We begin to understand that each Divine Name denotes a particular energy, a particular frequency of our unfolding journey with God. We thus come to contemplate each of these ‘positions’, or way stations, of our journey, as each facet of our souls is touched by God’s Infinitude. We see that we are actually travelling in God, and that we always have been.

And then, so the great ones tell us, our sense of self dissolves and separation evaporates. At this stage, there is only God. The subjective and separate identity of the person has been utterly and irrevocably erased. Their nothingness in God has been realised, and they return only to help other wayfarers along the road.

And praise be to God, who maketh it so.

Ask olsun! May love increase!

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