English translation of Maktubat Imam Rabbani (selective 100) | Mujaddid Alf sani | Sheikh Ahmad sirhindi

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Fana and baqa, and the five latifas (from Imam-i Rabbani (rahmat-Allahu 'alaih) in his book Ma'arif-i Ladunniyya)

Imam-i Rabbani (rahmat-Allahu 'alaih) in his book Ma'arif-i Ladunniyya, in the Twenty- sixth Marifat [Religious knowledge that cannot be comprehended through the five senses or through the intellect can be learned from the Prophet's words. Within religious information there is such knowledge which cannot be written down in books or which cannot be explained through words. No words can be found to explain them. They are called marifats. The owner of these marifats is called "Murshid." They can be obtained only as a result of flowing from the murshid's heart or from the dead ones' souls into the hearts of those who desire them. There are some conditions to be fulfilled for attaining this.], explains 'fana' as follows:

Fana means to forget everything except Allahu ta'ala. Each of the five latifas in alam-i amr has a picture, a likeness in man. These five latifas have been given the names of heart, soul, sir, khafi and akhfa. The majority of Awliya, being unable to differentiate between them, called all of them "the soul." When referred to as "the soul," these five things are understood. [We are made of matter, and live among material beings. Beings that are made of matter consist of the seven skies and the kursi and arsh. These nine classes of beings are one within the other, like the layers of an onion. The outermost one is the arsh. Each layer is very much larger than the one within it. It is like the greatness of the ocean in comparison to a drop of water. There is no matter outside the ninth layer, which is the arsh. These beings which are not material are called "alam-i amr" (beings of command) because they were created with the single command "Be!" Classes of material beings that consist of the nine layers are called "alam-i khalq." 'Khalq' means 'dimension,' that is, matter. Alam-i khalq was created in seven days. The building stone of alam-i khalq is matter. The building stone of alam-i amr is called "latifa." Alam-i amr is made of various latifas. Out of these, samples of five of them were given to men. Profound Islamic savants were able to understand these latifas and even their originals in the alam-i amr. Today there is no such profound savant left on the earth. These five latifas existing in men were given the names of heart, sir, soul, khafi, and akhfa. Even the great savants such as Imam-i Ghazali were unable to differentiate them from one another and called all of them "the soul." Very few savants, such as Imam-i Rabbani, were able to recognize them one by one.] The soul, that is, the latifas, used to know Allahu ta'ala before it united with this body. It used to have a little inclination, knowledge and love towards Allahu ta'ala. It had been given the strength and potential to become exalted and promoted. But it could not improve before uniting with this body; to improve it had to unite with the body. For this reason, first the soul was given an affection towards this body. Then, it was allowed to go towards the body. It threw itself upon the body. Being very fine and very expansive, it sank and penetrated all parts of the body. It became unrecognizable, unknown in the body. It forgot about itself. It came to think of itself as the body. It lost itself in the body. Thus, most people consider themselves only as bodies. Being unaware of the existence of the soul, they disbelieve it.

Allahu ta'ala, being very merciful, sent messages to men, that is, to souls, through prophets ('alaihimussalawatu wattaslimat). He invited them to Himself. He prohibited them from being dependent upon this dark body. He who was predestinated to be good in eternity obeys Allahu ta'ala's commandments and puts an end to his dependence upon the body. He bids farewell to it and goes back up to his former heights. His love towards his asl (origin), which he used to feel before uniting with the body, increases gradually. His love towards a transient being decreases. When he thoroughly forgets about this dark and obscure darling of his, that is, when there is no love left, he will have attained the Fana of the body. Thus he will have passed beyond one of the two basic steps on the way of tasawwuf. From then on, if Allahu ta'ala favors and blesses him, he will make progress and henceforth will begin to forget about himself, too. As this oblivion increases, he will forget himself thoroughly. No longer will he know of any being besides Allahu ta'ala. Thus, he will also attain the Fana of the soul. He will thus pass beyond the second step. The soul's coming to this world is intended to attain this second fana. It could not attain this without coming to this world.

If the latifa of the heart, which is called "Haqiqat-i Jamia," [see article 31] passes beyond these two steps together with the soul, it will attain its own fana together with the soul. If the nafs accompanies the heart in this way, it will be purified too. That is, it will attain its own fana. But, when the nafs reaches the heart's grade, if it remains there instead of getting exalted and passing beyond these two steps, it will not attain oblivion. It will not become mutmainna.

A person who has attained the fana of the soul may not attain the heart's fana. The soul is like a father to the heart. And the nafs is like a mother to the heart. If the heart has an inclination towards the soul, who stands for its father, and turns away from the nafs who stands for its mother, and if this inclination increases and draws the heart towards its father, it will reach its grade. That is, it will pass beyond these two steps. When the heart and the soul attain fana, the nafs does not necessarily attain fana. If the nafs has an affection, an inclination towards her son, and if this inclination increases and makes her reach near her son, who has reached his father's grade, she will be like them. The case is the same with attaining fana for the latifas of sir, khafi, and akhfa. The memories and thoughts being rubbed out and removed from the heart signify the fact that it has forgotten the things other than Allahu ta'ala. Not to be able to remember anything means that knowledge and everything else is gone. In fana, knowledge has to be wiped out.