CHAPTER XVI
THE UNCOVERING OF THE SECOND VEIL: CONCERNING UNIFICATION (tawhid)

God said, "Your God is one" (Qur.xvi,23); and again, "Say, 'God is one"' (Qur.cxii,!). And the Apostle said: "Long ago there was a man who did no good work except that he pronounced God to be one. When he was dying he said to his folk: 'After my death burn me and gather my ashes and on a windy day throw half of them into the sea, and scatter half of them to the winds of the earth, that no trace of me maybe left.' As soon as he died and this was done, God bade the air and the water keep the ashes which they had received until the Resurrection; and when He raises that man from the dead, He will ask him why he caused himself to be burnt, and he will reply: 'O Lord, from shame of Thee, for I was a great sinner,' and God will pardon him."
Real unification (tawhid) consists in asserting the unity of a thing and in having a perfect knowledge of its unity. Inasmuch as God is one, without any sharer in His essence and attributes, without any substitute, without any partner in His actions, and inasmuch as Unitarians (muwahhidan) have acknowledged that He is such, their knowledge of unity is called unification.

Unification is of three kinds: (1) God's unification of God, i.e. His knowledge of His unity; (2) God's unification of His creatures, i.e. His decree that a man shall pronounce Him to be one, and the creation of unification in his heart; (3) men's unification of God, i.e. their knowledge of the unity of God. Therefore, when a man knows God he can declare His unity and pronounce that He is one, incapable of union and separation, not admitting duality; that His unity is not a number so as to be made two by the predication of another number; that He is not finite so as to have six directions; that He has no space, and that He is not in space, so as to need a substance, nor a substance, which cannot exist without another like itself, nor a natural constitution (tab'i), in which motion and rest originate, nor a spirit so as to need a frame, nor a body so as to be composed of limbs; and that He does not become immanent (hall) in things, for then He must be homogeneous with them; and that He is not joined to anything, for then that thing must be a part of Him; and that He is free from all imperfections and exalted above all defects; and that He has no like, so that He and His creature should make two; and that He has no child whose begetting would necessarily cause Him to be a stock (asl)\ and that His essence and attributes are unchangeable; and that He is endowed with those attributes of perfection which believers and Unitarians affirm, and which He has described Himself as possessing; and that He is exempt from those attributes which heretics arbitrarily impute to Him; and that He is Living, Knowing, Forgiving, Merciful, Willing, Powerful, Hearing, Seeing, Speaking, and Subsistent; and that His knowledge is not a state (hal) in Him, nor His power solidly planted (salabat) in Him, nor His hearing and sight do detached (Mutajarrid) in Him, nor His speech divided in Him; and that He together with His attributes exists from eternity; and that objects of cognition are not outside of His knowledge, and that entities are entirely dependent on His will; and that He does that which He has willed, and wills that which He has known, and no creature has cognisance thereof; and that His decree is an absolute fact, and that His friends have no resource except resignation; and that He is the sole predestinator of good and evil, and the only being that is worthy of hope or fear; and that He creates all benefit and injury; and that He alone gives judgment, and His judgment is all wisdom; and that no one has any possibility of attaining unto Him; and that the inhabitants of Paradise shall behold Him; and that assimilation (tashih) is inadmissible; and that such terms as "confronting" and "seeing face to face" (muqabalat u muwajahat) cannot be applied to His being; and that His saints may enjoy the contemplation (mushahadah) of Him in this world.

Those who do not acknowledge Him to be such are guilty of impiety. 1, 'Ali b. 'Uthman aFJullabi, said at the beginning of this chapter that unification consists in declaring the unity of a thing, and that such a declaration cannot be made without knowledge. The Sunnis have declared the unity of God with true comprehension, because, seeing a subtle work and a unique act, they recognized that it could not possibly exist by itself, and finding manifest evidences of origination (huduth) in every thing, they perceived that there must be an Agent who brought the universe into being — the earth and heaven and sun and moon and land and sea and all that moves and rests and their knowledge and speech and life and death. For all these an artificer was indispensable.

Accordingly, the Sunnis, rejecting the notion that there are two or three artificers, declared themselves satisfied with a single artificer who is perfect, living, knowing, almighty, and unpartnered. And inasmuch as an act requires at least one agent, and the existence of two agents for one act involves the dependence of one on the other, it follows that the Agent is unquestionably and certainly one. Here we are at variance with the dualists, who affirm light and darkness, and with the Magians, who affirm Yazdan and Ahriman, and with the natural philosophers (taba'i'iyan), who affirm nature and potentiality (quwwat), and with the astronomers (falakiyan), who affirm the seven planets, and with the Mu'tazilites, who affirm creators and artificers without end, I have briefly refuted all these vain opinions in a book, entitled Al-Ri'ayat li-huquq Allah,' to which or to the works of the ancient theologians I must refer anyone who desires further information. Now I' will turn to the indications which the Shaykhs have given on this subject.

SECTION

It is related that Junayd said: "Unification is the separation of the eternal from that which was originated in time," i.e. you must not regard the eternal as a locus of phenomena, or phenomena as a locus of the eternal; and you must know that God is eternal and that you are phenomenal, and that nothing of your genus is connected with Him, and that nothing of His attributes is mingled in you, and that there is no homogeneity between the eternal and the phenomenal. This is contrary to the above mentioned doctrine of those who hold the spirit to be eternal. When the eternal is believed to descend into phenomena, or phenomena to be attached to the eternal, no proof remains of the eternity of God and the origination of the universe; and this leads to materialism (madhhab-i dahriyan). In all the actions of phenomena there are proofs of unification and evidences of the Divine omnipotence and signs which establish the eternity of God, but men are too heedless to desire only Him or to be content only with keeping Him in remembrance. Husayn b. Mansur (al- Hallaj) says: "The first step in unification is the annihilation of separation (tafrid)," because separation is the pronouncement that one has become separated from imperfections (afat), while unification is the declaration of a thing's unity: thererfore in isolation (fardaniyyat) it is possible to affirm that which is other than God, and this quality maybe ascribed to others besides God; but in unity (wahadaniyyat) it is not possible to affirm other than God, and unity may not be ascribed to anything except Him. Accordingly, the first step in unification is to deny (that God has) a partner (sharik) and to put admixture (mizaj) aside, for admixture on the way (to God) is like seeking the highway with a lamp (mizaj andar minhaj chun talah-i minhaj bashad ba-siraj). And Husri says: "Our principles in unification are five: the removal of phenomenality, and the affirmation of eternity, and departure from familiar haunts, and separation from brethren, and forgetfulness of what is known and unknown." The removal of phenomenality consists in denying that phenomena have any connexion with unification or that they can possibly attain to His holy essence; and the affirmation of eternity consists in being convinced that God always existed, as I have already explained in discussing the saying of Junayd; and departure from familiar haunts means, for the novice, departure from the habitual pleasures of the lower soul and the forms of this world, and for the adept, departure from lofty stations and glorious states and exalted miracles {karamat); and separation from brethren means turning away from the society of mankind and turning towards the society of God, since any thought of other than God is a veil and an imperfection, and the more a man's thoughts are associated with other than God the more is he veiled from God, because it is universally agreed that unification is the concentration of thoughts {jam'-i himam), whereas to be content with other than God is a sign of dispersion of thought (tafriqa-i himmat); and forgetfulness of a thing which is known or unknown means the unification of that thing, for unification denies whatever the knowledge of mankind affirms about it; and whatever their ignorance affirms about it is merely contrary to their knowledge, for ignorance is not unification, and knowledge of the reality of unification cannot be attained without denying the personal initiative (tasarruj) in which knowledge and ignorance consist. A certain Shaykh relates: "While Husri was speaking to an audience, I fell asleep and dreamed that two angels came down from Heaven and listened for some time to his discourse. Then one said to the other, 'What this man says is the theory ('ibn) of unification, not unification itself ('ayn).s When I awoke he was explaining unification. He looked at me and said, 'O So-and-so, it is impossible to speak of unification except theoretically,'" It is related that Junayd said: "Unification is this, that one should be a figure (shakhs) in the hands of God, and figure over which His decrees pass according as he in His omnipotence determines, and that one should be sunk in the seas of His unity, self-annihilated and dead alike to the call of mankind to him and his answer to them, absorbed by the reality of the Divine unity in true proximity, and lost to sense and action, because God fulfils in him what He hath willed of him, namely, that his last state should become his first state, and that he should be as he was before he existed." All this means that the Unitarian in the will of God has no more a will of his own, and in the unity of God no regard to himself, so that he becomes like an atom as he was in the eternal past when the covenant of unification was made, and God answered the question which He Himself had asked, and that atom was only the object of His speech.2 Mankind have no joy in such a one that they should call him to anything, and he has no friendship with anyone that he should respond to their call. This saying indicates the annihilation of human attributes and perfect resignation to God in the state when a man is overpowered by the revelation of His majesty, so that he becomes a passive instrument and a subtle substance that feels nothing, and his body is a repository for the mysteries of God, to whom his speech and actions are attributed; but, unconscious of all as he is, he remains subject to the ordinances of the religious law, to the end that the proof of God maybe established. Such was the Apostle when on the night of the Ascension he was borne to the station of proximity; he desired that his body should be destroyed and his personality be dissolved, but God's purpose was to establish His proof. He bade the Apostle remain in the state that he was in; whereupon he gained strength and displayed the existence of God from out of his own non-existence and said, "I am not as one of you. Verily, I pass the night with my Lord, and He gives me food and drink"; and he also paid, "I am with God in a state in which none of the cherubim nor any prophet is capable of being contained with me." It is related that Sahl b. 'Abdullah said: "Unification is this, that you should recognize that the essence of God is endowed with knowledge, that is not comprehensible nor visible to the eye in this world, but that it exists in the reality of faith, infinite, incomprehensible, non-incarnate; and that He will'be seen in the next world, outwardly and inwardly in His kingdom and His power; and that mankind are veiled from knowledge of the ultimate nature of His essence; and that their hearts know Him, but their intellects cannot reach unto Him; and that believers shall behold Him with their (spiritual) eyes, without comprehending His infinity." This saying includes all the principles of unification. And Junayd said: "The noblest saying concerning unification is that of Abu Bakr: 'Glory to God, who has not vouchsafed to His creatures any means of attaining unto knowledge of Him except through impotence to attain unto knowledge of Him.'" Many have mistaken the meaning of these words of Abu Bakr and suppose that impotence to attain to gnosis is the same thing as agnosticism. This is absurd, because impotence refers only to an existing state, not to a state that is non-existent. For example, a dead man is not incapable of life, but he cannot be alive while he is dead; and a blind man is not incapable of seeing, but he cannot see while he is blind. Therefore, a gnostic is not incapable of gnosis so long as gnosis is existent, for in that case his gnosis resembles intuition. The saying of Abu Bakr maybe brought into connexion with the doctrine of Abu Sahl Su'luki and Master Abu Ali Daqqaq, who assert that gnosis is acquired in the first instance, but finally becomes intuitive. The possessor of intuitive knowledge is compelled and incapable of putting it away or drawing it to himself. Hence, according to what Abu Bakr says, unification is the act of God in the heart of His creature. Shibli says; "Unification veils the Unitarian from the beauty of Oneness," because unification is said to be the act of Man, and an act of Man does not cause the revelation of God, and in the reality of revelation that which does not cause revelation is a veil. Man with all his attributes is other than God, for if his attributes are accounted Divine, then he himself must be accounted Divine, and then Unitarian, unification, and the One become, all three, causes of the existence of one another; and this is precisely the Christian Trinity. If any attribute prevents the seeker of God from annihilating himself in unification, he is still veiled by that attribute, and while he is veiled he is not a Unitarian, for all except God is vanity. This is the interpretation of "There is no God but God."3

The Shaykhs have discussed at large the terms by which unification is denoted. Some say that it is an annihilation that cannot properly be attained unless the attributes subsist, while others say that it has no attribute whatever except annihilation. The analogy of union and separation (jam' u tafriqa) must be applied to this question in order that it maybe understood. I, Ali b. 'Uthman al- Jullabi, declare that unification is a mystery revealed by God to His servants, and that it cannot be expressed in language at all, much less in high-sounding phrases. The explanatory terms and those who use them are other than God, and to affirm what is other than God in unification is to affirm polytheism.

1 "The Observance of whai is due to God."
2 Qur. vii, 171.
3 Here the author cites an anecdote of Ibrahim al-Khawwas and al-Hallaj which has been related above. See p.205.

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