The Sword of “No”


Shams al-Din of Tabriz was an exacting taskmaster and a stern teacher, but he specifically disavows the notion that he would have been able to act as Rumi’s shaykh – no one could do that.  But they both shared an impatience with scholarship, and its institutions, which were caught up more in the appearance than the essence and purpose of knowledge.  Sufism was rather a preparation for self-awareness and reunification with the source of all-knowledge.  One may distinguish these domains of knowing as acquired science and gnosis, attained respectively by taqlid (imitation or following of acknowledged authorities) and tahqiq (realization).  The realization of truth progresses through various stages of certainty (yaqin):  ‛elm al-yaqin, or the knowledge of certainty; ‛ayn al-yaqin, or the eye of certainty – knowing by sight; and haqq al-yaqin (truth of certainty), which is union with the truth itself.  Acquired knowledge cannot lead philosophers, theologians or jurists the final truth of things as they are. Whereas the Shari‛at and Tariqat can both be known through imitation (taqlid), haqiqat cannot be known by second hand, but must be experienced first hand.  This epistemological outlook is linked to the Muslim concept of Tawhid, and epitomized by the shahâda’s idea of negation (there is no god) and affirmation (but God).  The article then ties the cutting of the sword of negation to everything in the world, except for the affirmation of the beauty of God and love of the divine. 


ویلیام چیتیک
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