Friday, October 6, 2017

Imam Hussain in Sufism

I grew up in a household infused with Shi'ism.I still remember the first Persian poem I heard  my Grandfather reciting during Muharram, it was Qaani's elegy:

What is raining?

 Blood.
Who? 
The eyes.
How? 
Day and night.
Why? 
From grief.
Grief for whom?
Grief for the king of Kar

For Sufi's Imam Hussein is the symbol of a process of spiritual development of man and the long periods of suffering which are required for the growth of everything that aspires to perfection.

As Anne Marie Schimmel writes  “Husayn b. 'Ali,  is a model for the Sufi; he is the suffering lover,  enamoured by God, sacrificing himself on the Path of divine love as an  ideal lovers of God whom the pious should strive to emulate.

The keynote of Sufism is the union, the identification of God and man.The highest good to which the Sufis can attain is the annihilation of the physical to keep the soul pure--to forget that they have a separate existence, and to lose themselves in the Divinity as a drop of water is lost in the ocean.In order to obtain this end, Imam Hussein achieved baqa by his martyrdom in the name of Allah. The use of ‘Karbala’ as a metaphor expands the horizons so much that it becomes almost impossible to limit the connotations.

In all the Sufi lands from Persian to Turkey to Subcontinent---Sufi interprets the fate of the Imam Husayn as a model of suffering love for Allah, and thus as a model of the mystical path.He is the symbol of ego annihilation for all those who want to pursue the path of Divine love
.

This is echoed in the Divan of 'Attar (nr. 376) in which he calls the novice on the path to proceed and go towards the goal, addressing him:

Be either a Husayn or a Mansur.

In one of the central poems of his Divan, Sufi poet Sanai describes his Hero Husain, as the foundation for the development of man and the long periods of suffering that are required by those aspiring spiritual perfection.

In some of the earliest popular Turkish Sufi songs, composed by poets like Yunus Emre in the late 13th or early 14th century, the Prophet's grandsons have found a pivotal and special place. They are described by Yunus in a lovely poem as the 'fountain head of the martyrs', the 'tears of the saints', and the 'lambs of mother Fatima'. Both of them, as the 'kings of the eight paradises', are seen as the helpers who stand at ‘Kausar’ and distribute water to the thirsting people, a beautiful inversion of Husain suffering in the waterless desert of Karbala'.) Yunus has also covered in his poetry the popular legend of Prophet witnessing angel Gabriel bringing a red and a green garment for his grandsons and then informing him that the color of garments pointed to their future deaths through the sword and poison.

Husayn b. ‘Ali is ‘the secret of God’, the ‘light of the eyes of Mustafa’ (thus Seher Abdal, 16th cent.), and his contemporary, Hayreti, calls him, in a beautiful marthiya, ‘the sacrifice of the festival of the greater jihad’. 

Has not his neck, which the Prophet used to kiss, become the place where the dagger fell?

The inhabitants of heaven and earth shed black tears today.
And have become confused like your hair, O Husayn.

Dawn sheds its blood out of sadness for Husayn, and the red tulips wallow in blood and carry the brandmarks of his grief on their hearts … (Ergun, Bektasi sairleri, p. 95).

In subcontinent poetry, From the broken threads of  Karbala's catastrophe, poets and writers have weaved narratives of hope and optimism, reaching out to people throughout the ages.One of the most recited and famous persian poetry in the Honour of Hz.Imam Hussain was written by the great Sufi master Hz.Khawaja Moinuddin Chishty (ra) :
Shah ast Hussain, badshah ast Hussain
Deen ast Hussain, deen panaah ast Hussain
Sar daad, na daad dast dar dast-e-yazeed
Haqu-e-binney la ilaahaa ast Hussain
–Translation–
King is Hussain ,King of Kings is Hussain
Faith is Hussian ,Protector of Faith is Hussain
He gave his Head ,but not his Hand in the hand of Yazid Verily ,truth is nothing but Hussain:

The truth, according to this thirteenth-century Sufi (Chisti), is that the very core of Islam, its essential creed of tawhid, or Divine Unity, ‘la ilaha illa lah Muhammadan rasul Allah,’ or ‘there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger,’ is Hussain. 

In the words of the great Indian Sufi of Iranian origin, Khwajah Mu'in-al-Din Chishti: 

He gave his life but wouldn't give his hand in the hand of Yazid (for allegiance, bay'ah) Verily Husayn is the foundation of la ilaha illallah
Since Hussain refused to pay allegiance to Yazid, in spite of having to make innumerable sacrifices, he is projected as an embodiment of Islam’s creed that refuses to acknowledge any power other than that of God; he is the symbol of Tawheed for a Sufi.

Your religion is [pure] like Hussain
And your desires like pigs and dogs
Yet you kill Hussain with thirst and feed these two
How can you keep cursing the evil Yazid and wicked Shimr?
You are Shmir and Yazid of your own Hussain.

– Rumi on Imam Hussain R.A.

Rumi is addressing the Muslims world enamored with Greed and materialism ---laments that man has sunk to such a lowly state that he thinks only of his selfish purposes and wishes and does everything to fondle the material aspects of his life, while his religion, the spiritual side of his life, is left without nourishment, withering away, just like Husayn and the martyrs of Karbala' were killed after nobody had cared to give them water in the desert.It echoes the indifference of that age and the choice Yazidi army made when they decided to extinguish the flame of prophet’s family---and the materialism and greed which still reigns the Islamic world.

Another Persian poet Hayreti, calls him, in a beautiful marthiya, 'the sacrifice of the festival of the greater jihad'. And asks Has not his neck, which the Prophet used to kiss, become the place where the dagger fell?

The inhabitants of heaven and earth shed black tears today.
And have become confused like your hair, O Husayn.

GhalibGod has kept the ecstatic lovers like Husayn and Mansur in the place of gallows and rope, and cast the fighters for the faith, like Husayn and 'Ali, in the place of swords and spears: in being martyrs they find eternal life and happiness and become witnesses to God's mysterious power.

Muhammad Muhsin, who lived in the old, glorious capital of lower Sind, Thatta, with whose name the Persian marthiya in Sind is connected. During his short life (1709-1750), he composed a great number of tarji'band and particularly salam, in which beautiful, strong imagery can be perceived:


The boat of Mustafa's family has been drowned in blood;
The black cloud of infidelity has waylaid the sun;

The candle of the Prophet was extinguished by the breeze of the Kufans.

In a beautiful manqabat (Sufi devotional poem) written by Pakistani poet Hafeez Jalandhari and sung by the late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Imam Hussain’s defiance is expressed in vivid detail:
Libaas hai phata hua, ghubaar mein ata hua
Tamaam jism-e-nazneen, chida hua, kata hua
Yeh kon ziwiqaar hai, bala ka shahsawaar hai
Ke hai hazaar qaatilon ke samne data hua
Yeh bilyaqeen Hussain hai
Nabi ka noor-e-ain hai
(Translated from Urdu)
His dress is torn, with mud it is worn
His splendid, delicate body is cut, slashed, and torn
Who is this dignified, master horseman?
Who is standing his ground in front of an army of thousands?
Indeed it is Hussain, it is Hussain
The Light of the Prophet’s eyes, it is Hussain

But in the modern poets, no one understood Hussain’s sacrifice better than IQBAL. 
It is from Husayn, says Iqbal, that we have learned the mysteries of the Qur'an, and when the glory of Syria and Baghdad and the marvels of Granada may be forgotten, yet, the strings of the instrument of the Muslims still resound with Husayn's melody, and faith remains fresh thanks to his call to prayer.IN Rumuz-i bekhudi  Iqbal praised  Husayn as the imam of the lovers, the son of the virgin, the cypresso of freedom in the Prophet's garden. While his father, Hazrat 'Ali, was, in mystical interpretation, the b of the bismi'llah, the son became identified with the 'mighty slaughtering', a beautiful mixture of the mystical and Qur'anic interpretations.
As he passionately articulates in Persian:
Ramz-e-Qur’an az Hussain amukhtim
za-atish-e-ou shola ha andukhtim
I learned the lesson of the Qur’an from Hussain
In his fire, like a flame, I burn

Husayn  embodies all the ideas which a true Sufi should possess, as Iqbal draws his picture: bravery and manliness, and, more than anything else, the dedication to the acknowledgement of God's absolute Unity; not in the sense of becoming united with Him in fana as the Sufi poets had sung, but, rather, as the herald who by his shahada, by his martyrdom, is not only a shahid, a martyr, but at the same time a witness, a shahid, for the unity of God, and thus the model for all generations of Muslims.

For Iqbal, the position of Husayn in the Muslim community is as central as the position of the surat al-ikhlas in the Holy Book.It is true, as Iqbal states, that the strings of the Muslims' instruments still resound with his name, and I am going to end this blog with the  last verse of the chapter devoted to Hussain in the Rumuz-i bekhudi:
O zephir, O messenger of those who are far away
Bring our tears to his pure dust.
Ronay wala hoon Shaheed-e-Kerbala key gham men main,
Kya durey maqsad na dengey Saqiye Kausar mujhey
I am one who weeps at the plight of the Martyr of Kerbala
Won’t the reward be given to me by the Keeper of Kauser

AS HUSSAIN(AS) SAID
Some people worship God to gain His gifts; this is the worship of the merchants.  Some worship Him to avoid His punishment; this is the worship of the slaves.  Some worship Him solely to show gratitude towards Him; this is the worship of the free!

He gave a speech to people the day before his departure and said:


"... Death is a certainty for mankind, just like the trace of necklace on the neck of young girls. And I am enamored of my ancestors like eagerness of Jacob to Joseph"

Quran welcomes souls like him into heaven and says:

O The satisfied peaceful Soul return to your Lord pleased with His Goodwill. So enter among My (beloved) servants and  My paradise.
 (Surahe Fajr: 27, 28, 29)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Fatima Fatir: The Divine Feminine within Islam


Years before on the night of my Sufi initiation, I had dreamed of Fatima who initiated me in the Mundus Imaginalis, or the Imaginal World. I dreamed I had entered the sacred precincts of the Ka'aba, in Mecca, on a Night of the Full Moon and there was no one there but me. The doors of the Ka'aba suddenly opened up and a female voice bade me to enter the inner sanctum of the Ka'aba. I entered the Ka'aba and there seated dressed in emerald green and wearing a white headdress, with the words Al-Hayy, translated as “the Living” written in Arabic on the headdress, was Fatima. She bade me to sit in front of Her and then commanded me to open my mouth. Laying next to Her was the double-edged sword of 'Ali, Zu'l-Fiqar. I opened my mouth and She grabbed my tongue and pierced it with Zu'l-Fiqar. Instead of pain, however, I felt ecstasy and was transported in the next scene of the dream to a dazzling desert landscape whose sands consisted of flakes of pure lustrous gold. I stood in this desert watching the Sunrise and as the Sun rose Fatima's face shone from within it fully unveiled. The higher this Imaginal Sun rose to its meridian, the more it formed itself into various shapes and forms, until it finally became the World Tree, the Tree of Life, or the Tree of Reality as I call it, whose roots reached into every expanse of Heaven and earth. I woke up! It was such a vivid dream I can never forget it!

- Wahid Azal, Fatimiyya Sufi Order


Fatima tul Zehra (Fatima the Radiant, Fatima the Brightest Star, Fatima-Star of Venus, Fatima-The Evening Star) the daughter of the Prophet, is the secret in Sufism.

She is the Hujjat of 'Ali:
In other words, she establishes the esoteric sense of his knowledge and guides those who attain to it. 


Through her perfume, we breathe Irfan. 
Fatima (the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad) was considered to be of pure angelic essence by Sufi mystics----- several variations of a major hadith describe how she was conceived on the night of Mi'raj (ascension) and was given to Prophet as a divine gift of Allah's blessing.On this night Gabriel took Muhammad( PBUH) to Jerusalem and then to Heaven. 
I have always taken solace in her symbology even before my Sufic initiation because her biography contained threads for me to hold on to. She grew up motherless like me and then she died at a very young age( martyred)  because patriarchy could not accept that she ( a woman) was Prophet's spiritual and legal heir. So laws were passed to disinherit her, a false history was written( is still being written ) to show she was not Prophet (PBUH) only daughter -----and grave markings are removed from her grave so you cant even pray at her grave. Such was the envy of her station, that her funeral was in the dark of the night and attended by very few because a heavily attended burial would have been a cause for insecurity for men who had become guardians of her father's message.

Lady Fatima (as) has various names , they are: 

  • Siddiqah (the honest) 
  • Al-Mubarakah (the blessed one)
  •  Al-Tahirah (the pure) 
  •  Az-Zakiyah (the chaste)
  •  Ar-Radhiatul Mardhiah (she who is gratified and who shall be satisfied)
  •  Al-Mardiyyah (the one pleasing to Allah ) 
  •  Al-Muhaddathah (a person other than a Prophet, which the angels speak to) 
  •  Az-Zahraa (the splendid)
  •  Fatir ( the createrix) 

Her Divine Feminine soul is concealed within the name  'Fatima Fatir'. 

Only very few Sufi Circle's know the secret of this mystery( the Bektasi & Mvelvi) . I met them in Washington DC, and during  Zikars of her name,  I was opened to receive the mysteries of her station. 
To understand Hazrat Fatima's special role in Sufism and the sacred mysteries of Imamat and transmission of sacred knowledge--- you have to first grasp that the process of giving birth to the spirit is the feminine principle( as explained by Sufi Frithjob Schuon in hos books about Hazrat Maryam and Fatima)
That to which has been given birth is the masculine. Its the sacred Yin and Yang dance of creation. Which is why, in spiritual transformation and rebirth, only the masculine principle can be born, for the feminine principle is the process itself. Once birth is given to the spirit, this principle remains as Fatima, the Creative Feminine, the Daughter of the Prophet, in a state of potentiality within the spirit reborn. The spirit of Imamat was born within her and the line of sacred knowledge ( transmitted to Sufi's) starts from her.


This is the secret of a cryptic Hadith in which Prophet Muhammad( PBUH) called her Um Abi'ha (mother of her father).
What mystery was the Prophet hinting at by this statement?
While Fatima Zehra was Prophet Muhammad's daughter, the Rasulullah (Prophet of God ) understood that his gnosis was bestowed upon him from the Divine Feminine source.
As such, Hazrat Fatima is directly associated with Sophia, the divine wisdom, which gives birth to all knowledge from God. She has thus become another symbolic equivalent of the Great Mother. 
Lady Fatima was chosen from all women to be The Mother source of Prophet Muhammad's lineage, the core of the generation of Prophet. Through her, the progeny of the Prophet multiplies — through a woman and became guardians of his message. 
She is considered to be the source of the Imam's wisdom because she is lawh mahfuz or 'the hidden tablet; upon which Allah wrote. She is the source of Imamat and Batini!
It is said by some Sufis that there is another great secret regarding Fatima(AS)
After the Prophet's death, Fatima lived seventy-five days. During this time the Archangel Gabriel came to her and consoled her by telling her what her father was doing in the spiritual worlds, what his status was, and what would come about in the Islamic community after her death.Imam 'Ali wrote down what Fatima dictated to him. Her words were collected into what is known as Fatima's book: it contains what makes people need us and makes us in need of no one,' stated Imam Sadiq. 

When you are alone, feel helpless and oppressed by a man tormenting you --- call upon her by feeding to an orphan for 10 days. 
Legend says, that after 10, 30, and 60 days ---she would appear on your dream and heal your soul from despair.
 Laila tul qadar is her night, Sufi's believe she is Qadr and calling out to her can guarantee redemption.

She is the helper of the alone woman; the grieving mother and the suffering daughter because she has been all three: she lost her mother as a child: she lost her father when quite young and then she lost her sons.


Her sons were martyred; her daughter lived alone atop a mountain and descendants of Yazid still try to bomb her shrine.

But she will be revered till all the Muslims has not become Isis robots because she is the personification of divine feminine of Islam. 


She is the soul of the mysteries!
The wife of the door to all the unknowable!
The mother of the king of martyrs!
She contains multitudes within her!
Ponder upon her life and your heart would open and you will surrender your pain to her!
Send salam to her and she would light up your dark nights and perfume your solitude!
Call her when the world of men pushes you down and she will give you strength!

And if you ever get a chance, visit her grave and say Fatiha for Fatima Fatir!

Friday, September 22, 2017

The sweet loving saint: Baba Farid

 Laden with my load of misdeeds, I move about in the garb of black garments. 
And the people see me and call me a dervish.

These lines are by FARID, one of the most followed mystic in Punjab . where thousands go to his tomb every year.He was a contemporary of Kabir, Nanak and others.He was a 12th-century Sufipreacher and saint of the Chishti Order.

Baba Farid’s poetry was later to influence the Sikh religion and especially their Holy Book "Sri Guru Granth Sahib" by the founder Guru Nanak. Such was the universality of Baba Farid, the Sufi poet laureate from Punjab.Revered by Muslims and Hindus, he is also considered one of the fifteen Sikh Bhagats within Sikhism and his selected works form part of theGuru Granth Sahib, the Sikh sacred scripture


Some call him Ram, some Khuda
Some say Gosain, some Allah.



Farid has not written a book, but his songs have been written down by his people. His songs are tremendously beautiful, but you have to listen to them sung by a Punjabi

He is generally recognized as the first major poet of the Punjabi language and is considered one of the pivotal saints of the Punjab region.

Laden with my load of misdeeds,
I move about in the garb of black garments.
And the people see me and call me a dervish
My promise to my love, a long way to go and a muddy lane ahead
If I move I spoil my cloak; if I stay I break my word

He lived in the Punjab, and his songs are in Punjabi, not even in urdu. Punjabi is very different from Urdu. Urdu is mild, the language of a businessman. Punjabi is like a sword, the language of a soldier. It is so penetrating. When you hear Farid′s songs sung in Punjabi your heart starts breaking.


Fareed, this world is beautiful, but there is a thorny garden within it.
Fareed, do not turn around and strike those who strike you with their fists.
Fareed, when there is greed, what love can there be? When there is greed, love is false.
I love his poetry.

In my childhood in the Punjab, I used to ask people, "Can you sing Farid for me?" - and once in a while, I found a singer who was ready, who knew how to sing Farida. 

And all those beautiful singers... all those beautiful moments.... Punjabi has a quality of its own. Every language has a quality of its own. But Punjabi is certainly a sword, you cannot sharpen anything more.He is very modern and echoes every emotion, alienation, Doubt.

For instance, read this couplet;


Says Farid,
I thought I was alone who suffered.
I went on top of the house,

And found every house on fire.



 I went on top of the house, / And found every house on fire." The "top of the house" is the crown, the place of light, the point of awareness where divine union is recognized. From that pure, elevated awareness, one has a truer perception of reality. And, as he looks about himself in this awakened state, Farid sees clearly that everyone -- and everything! -- is already engulfed by that same "fire," everything is already consumed in divine union. 

The only difference between him and "every house" around him is that he has finally surrendered to the process and his awareness has been swept up to the top of the house where the "fire" is recognized as bliss and not suffering, fullness and not loss. There, standing atop the burning house, we finally realize our true nature: We are the fire and not the house at all. And the entire universe is already lit up!

In his songs he calls himself Farida. He always addresses himself, never anybody else. 

He always starts, "Farida, are you listening?
 Farida, be awake! Farida, do this, do that!" 

In punjabi, when you use the name Farid it is respectable. When you use the name Farida it is not respectable; one only calls the servants in that way. Farid calls himself Farida of course because he is the master; the body is the servant.


Says Farid,
Why do you roam the jungles with thorns pricking your feet?
Your Lord dwells in your heart.
And you wander about in search of Him.

The great king King Akbar used to come to Farid to listen to his songs. Akbar once received a gift, a very precious gift, a pair of golden scissors studded with diamonds. Gudia would have loved them - any woman would. Akbar also loved them, so much so that he thought they would be a good present for Farid. He came and gave the precious scissors to Farid. Farid looked at them, turning them this way and that, then returned the gift to Akbar saying, "This is of no use to me. If you want to give something to me as a gift, bring a needle."

Akbar was puzzled. He said, "Why a needle?"


Farid said, "Because the function of scissors is to cut things into pieces, and the function of a needle is to join pieces together. My function is not that of the scissors, it is that of the needle. I join things together, I synthesize."


He says in his poetry;



Had I known the sesame seeds were so small in quantity
I should have been liberal in filling my fist.
Had I known my Lord was not yet an adult,
I would have prided less in myself.

In yet another verse, he says again:
Had I known the end would slip,
Tighter would I have made the knot.
Nobody matters to me as much as You,
Though I have traversed a whole world.

A student asked Baba Farid if singing was lawful and proper. He replied that, according to Islam, it was certainly unlawful, but its propriety was still a matter of discussion.

Nizam-ud-Dauliya told Nasir-ud-din, a disciple of his, that one day when he went to visit Baba Farid he stood at his door, and saw him dancing as he sang the following :
I wish ever to live in Thy love, O God. If I become the dust under Thy feet, I shall live I thy slave desire none but Thee in both worlds; For Thee I will live and for Thee I will die.
The following couplet was a favorite of Baba Farid’s:
Not every heart is capable of finding the secret of God’s love. There are not pearls in every sea; there is not gold in every mine


This world indeed appears to Baba Farid to be an obstacle in the way of man's union with God. 
He says:
The lanes are muddy and far is the house
of the One I love so much.
If I walk to Him I wet my rug, and
remaining behind, I fail in my love!
Life in this world is a period of separation from God, which is full of sorrow, and pain:
Sorrow is the bedstead,
Pain the fiber with which it is woven,
And separation is the quilt
See this is the life we lead, O Lord.

Absorption in the affairs of the world, in forgetfulness of God, is regarded by Farid as desertion by a woman of her husband and going over to an alien house.
Give it not me, Oh Lord, that I should
seek alien shelter.
If that is what You have willed,
Rather take the life out of this body.
Man's duty in this life is to win the love of God as it is the woman's to win the love of her husband, and as such, youth or age should not matter;

Those who have not wooed Him when their hair was dark,
May do so when their hair is grey.
For if you love the Lord
The newness of youth will be yours again.



http://babafarid.org/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YH920FoOVN0&feature=related


This 1st Muharram, I decided to visit his shrine on my visit to Pakistan. When one enters into the city of Pakpattan in Punjab,one soon learns that most of the city of Pakpattan is named after Fareeduddin Shakarganj, or Baba Farid, as he is widely known. 


shrine counrtyar

Families who have come together separate here and then meet inside after passing the rigorous security search: there are metal detectors and the frisking hands of policemen; for women the frisking is done by policewomen inside a curtained enclosure. No cameras are allowed inside the shrine. 

A devotee at shrine
 ttered all around and engaged in different activities. From the top one gets a panoramic view of the city below. On the left side is the huge mosque, a recent construction. 

.






This new-looking mosque, built by the Auqaf Department, was the site of an historical mosque said to be from the time of Baba Fareed. 


Next to this chamber are ancient waan trees whose fruit Baba Fareed is said to have eaten. Waans can live up to several centuries. There are a few graves underneath. The great irony is that rich people have purchased the right to be buried next to the wealth-renouncing Sufi. The grave of Baba Fareed is inside a modest building, which is adjacent to the waan trees. 

So I offered Fatiha there and hoped I could also welcome Death as a friend as Baba Farid did;


I did not sleep with my love tonight
And every bit of my body aches.
Go ask the deserted ones,
How they pass their nights.
I am not afraid of the passing of my youth,
If the love of my Lord does not pass with it.
So many youths have withered away without love.

The fear of death is perhaps a more forceful emotion in Sheikh Farid's poetry---- image is that of death as the bridegroom and the human soul as the bride, and subordinate figures, the reduction of the body to dust, the greying of the hair, the trembling of the limbs and drying away of the bones have been used to reinforce the argument that life is trasitory and death is the ultimate reality!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Sufi Interpretations ( Tafsir) of Quran

Prophet Muhammad himself was the “speaking Qur’an” and the ultimate authority over the meaning and practical application of whatever he recited as qur’an (recitation) was always in his hands.
 When the Prophet lived, the Qur’an was not a “read text”; it was a prophetic “recitation” only directly accessible through him. This is why the Qur’an itself (verses 2:151, also 62:2, 3:164), when seen as a witness to history, declares that Prophet Muhammad “recites to you Our Signs, purifies you (yuzakkikum),  teaches you (yu‘allimukum) the Book (al-kitab) and Wisdom (al-hikmah), and teaches you that which you do not know. 

Sufis believe that Quran's initial letters (Muqatta'at) conceal mysteries that can not be fully expressed in words and should be understood by means of mystic experiences.In Sufi commentaries of the Quran, Sufism concepts are commonly related such as the hierarchical levels of realities in human experience (human, supra-sensible, and Divine levels), the various states of consciousness such as passing away in God (fana) and subsisting through God (baqa).

According to Sufi's, the Qur’an is a ” book ” but a living book  in which each “word” is as a “living cell”. In other words, the Qur’an should be considered a “living organic system of words“, a living Book---- this means the Qur’an, due to its formless Arabic language and its complex text , both combine to always give new answers to new circumstances, and contains an occult Batin which only opens its doors to the select few with a pure heart. 

Baatin of Quran: Is Quran open to Interpretation?

One area of disagreement for Muslim interpreters and exegetes of the Qur’an is whether the Qur’an has an esoteric, hidden or spiritual meaning that goes beyond the literal and surface meaning of the Arabic words. In pre-modern times, most Qur’anic exegetes from the Mu‘tazilis, Ash‘aris, Twelver Shi‘as, Sufis, Philosophers and Isma‘ili Shi‘as maintained that the Qur’an does indeed have hidden (batini) spiritual meanings and esoteric interpretations (ta’wil). 

Only the literalists and the Hanbalis disagreed with this. 
Today, however, many interpretations of the Qur’an, including those of the fundamentalists, literalists, ( Wahabi)and even mainstream translations---funded by wahabi's---- are impoverished because they remain at the literal and surface meaning of the Qur’an. 
Such a state of affairs was predicted by the Prophet Muhammad himself when he said:
There will come a time for my people when there will remain nothing of the Qur’an except its outward form and nothing of Islam except its name and they will call themselves by this name even though they are the people furthest from it. Their mosques will be full of people but they will be empty of right guidance.

.The Qur’an confirms that it has an esoteric and spiritual interpretation called “ta’wil”:
It is He who has sent down to you [O’ Muhammad] the Book; in it are clear (muhkamat) verses – they are the mother of the Book. And others are ambiguous (mutashabihat). As for those in whose hearts is deviation, they follow what is ambiguous from it, seeking discord and seeking its ta’wil (esoteric interpretation). But no one knows its ta’wil except God and those who are firmly rooted in knowledge (rasikhun fi’l-‘ilm), saying (yaquluna): ‘

According to this verse, the people of Muttaqin are those who hold on to Spiritual Self-Discipline at the highest level of spiritual development. Because, they believe and have faith in the Unknown World. Thus, by not being mentioned specifically, in detail or extensively in the Qur’an, this does not imply that some of those unknown realities do not, in fact, exist.

We believe in it. All is from our Lord.’ And no one will be reminded except the possessors of inner understanding (ulu’l-albab).
– Holy Qur’an 3:7

Certainly, did God confer a great favor upon the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from themselves, reciting His Signs, and purifying them, and teaching them the Book and the Wisdom, although they had been before in manifest error.
– Holy Qur’an 3:164 (see also 62:2, 2:129, 2:151)

According to Sufi Philosphers, God is both the outward (Al-zahir) and the inward (Al-batin) and His favours are given in both Zahir and Batin; thus, the Qur’an, as God’s revelation and His supreme favour, likewise has a batin (hidden) meaning revealed through esoteric interpretation (ta’wil).
He is the First and the Last, the Zahir (outward) and the Batin (inward), and He is, of all things, Knowing

– Holy Qur’an 57:3


And We have sent down unto you (also) the Reminder; that you may explain clearly (li-tubayyina) to mankind what was sent down for them, and that they reflect.
– Holy Qur’an 16:44 (see also 16:64, 14:4)

The believers are told to refer any questions and disagreements to God and His Messenger in order to obtain the ta’wil:

On the Day of Judgment, the ta’wil of all of God’s messages revealed through the Prophets will be shown to the people, including disbelievers, and they will all recognize this ta’wil and realize the inner truth of God’s revelations:

Do they await anything except for its ta’wil? 
The Day its ta’wil comes those who had ignored it before will say: “The Messengers of our Lord had come with the truth (bi’l-haqq), so are there now any intercessors to intercede for us or could we be sent back to do other than what we used to do?” They will have lost themselves, and lost from them is what they used to invent.
– Holy Qur’an 7:53

All of the above verses testify that the ta’wil of the Qur’an exists and Prophets and servants of God in the past were aware of the ta’wil – including the Prophet Yusuf, Hazrat Khidr, and Prophet Muhammad – and that in the present time, a special group called rasikhun fi’l-‘ilm are the possessors of the ta’wil of the Qur’an.The Qur’an contains verses with words and expressions such that a deeper esoteric meaning (Baatin) is required for the message in the verse to be true.

Are you not aware that God has made subservient to you whatever is in the heaven and whatever is in the earth, and has bestowed His favours upon you both in zahir and in batin.
– Holy Qur’an 31:20

There are also valuable works of ta’wil in the Sufi traditions of Islam. The various Sufi mystics and saints (awliya’) have produced works that disclose the ta’wil of the Qur’an in Sufi metaphysical frameworks and poetry. The Sufis have been responsible for transmitting some of the esoteric teachings that go back to the Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq.
There is a statement made by the Imam, Jafar Sadiq (d. 765 CE):


"The book of God comprises four things: the statement set down, the allusions, the hidden meanings relating to the supra-sensible world, and the exalted spiritual doctrines. The literal statement is for the ordinary believers. The allusions are the concern of the elite. The hidden meanings pertain to the friends of God. The exalted spiritual doctrines are the province of the prophets."

 The mystical Qur’an commentary attributed by the Sufis to Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (d. 148/765)  constitutes arguably the earliest extant mystical commentary on the Qur’an. It was preserved and transmitted by the Sufís of the early centuries of Islam, and it excerpts were found in the 4th-5th/ 10th-11th-century compendium compiled by M. b. al-Husayn al-Sulamí (d. 412/1021), and other Sufi exgesis of his students. 

Attar of Nishapur, the 12th-century mystical poet, gives a mystical interpretation of the Quranic story of the descent of Adam and Eve from Paradise to Earth. According to Attar, "the man whose mind and vision are ensnared by heaven's grace must forfeit that same grace, for only then can he direct his face To his true Lord." 
In Sufi terminology, the esoteric interpretation of the Qur’an [what Sufi call ta’wil] is often called ta’bir (literally: “to cross over”), isharat (allusions) and rumuz (secrets). Sufi Tawil is allegorical and symbolic, rather than the meaning of words, the atmosphere of a surah and its spiritual essence is given precedence.Occasionally a verse may be interpreted in a sense very different from its conventional meaning.
Listen to a lecture about the Master Sufi Qushayri to understand  muhkam and mutashabih (clear and ambiguous) Qur’an verses, naskh (abrogation), the ascension narrative (Q. 53.1-18) comparing al-Qushayri’s Kitab al-Mi’raj and the Lata’if, the disconnected letters in the Qur’an (al-huruf al-muqatta’a), the narrative of Job, anthropomorphism, and the Master and aspirant (Shaykh and murid) relationship.
 For example, Hamadani in his book Tamheedat ('Preludes') interprets 104:6–7 ("It is a fierce fire created by God, to penetrate into the hearts.") which conventionally refers to the punishment in hell, as passion of divine love. Hamadani interprets 14:48 ("On the Day when the earth is changed into another earth, and the heavens, and they will emerge before God"), which conventionally describes the day of judgment as a description of the moment of spiritual awakening or enlightenment.
Some examples of Sufi esoteric interpretation of the Qur’an are found in the ( I have tried to link to online translations for the seeker's convenience) 

The first three are very dense works that only an advanced student of Sufism might comprehend, as they are perfumed by concepts of Unity of Beings and theories of Sufi Cosmology and creation of Universe but the last two a personal favorite and most easily accessible for a modern reader. 

Numerological Interpretation (Ta'wil) of Quran

One branch of Sufi's interested in deciphering Quranic Baatin, were the Harufi; students of Kabbalah and Greek philosophy used numbers to divine the meaning of every Quranic surat. They believed Allah had revealed the Maktoob in numbers through Quran. Many eminent Islamic philosophers and mathematicians like Omar Khayyam and AlBeiruni were adherents.Why, it was asked, were letters of the alphabet written beneath the headings of some surahs (scriptures), in a half-opened manner, like senseless scribbles. 

Eminent Islamic scholars who were engaged with “hurufi”, such as Mansur Al Hallaj (858-922), Ibn Al Nadim, Ibn Arabi (1165-1240), Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) were always at the forefront to provide an exegesis of “Holy Texts”.  Hallaj Mansur was the first Islamic Lettrist to discuss the secret content of letters and numbers in his tract “Kitab al-Tavasin” and his divan.

The 'science of letters'had nothing to do with divination or magic; it is merely a path to the discovery of the truths hidden behind the symbols. 

Muhyiddin Ibn-i Arabi demonstrated (point by point), vast numbers of Lettrist abstractions in his seminal text “El Fütuhat El Mekkiye” (The Meccan Illuminations)Ibn 'Arabī explains how, guided by the First Intellect, he visited this manzil which contains five chambers (buyūt). In each of these chambers chests (khazā'in) are shut away. Each chest has locks (aqfāl) each lock has keys (mafātih) and each key has to be turned a specific number of times (harakāt). 

In his work Kitab khawass al-huruf (Book of the Characteristics of Letters), Ibn Masarra appears as an esoteric (batini) philosopher investigating the esoteric meanings of the nuraniya, the fourteen separate letters which introduce certain surahs of the Qur'an, basically following the tradition of Islamic gnosis. 

The mysterious letters, according to the harufinschool, represented the universe so that its entirety is a book whose letters are God's words. In this he was inspired by the work of Sahl al-Tustari (d. ah 283/ad 896), the author of a similar work on the science of letters.

According to these sufi's---- reflections (i'tibar) allows us to decipher the principles of all beings. The basic idea is to show that the different degrees that constitute beings, in general, correspond to the surah's fawatih (opening letters) as well as to the order of being. The letters are twenty-eight in number, equal to the length of the lunar phases. So these 28 arabic letters are used by Allah to express the essence of creation and Quran is a secret code to the mysteries of universe which can only be opened when this secret code with numbers is used.



Fourteen are exoteric and the remaining fourteen are esoteric. These are used by God to manifest his knowledge: their secret meanings have been bestowed upon the Prophet Muhammad as expressed in the Qur'an, and consequently, the Qur'an is the source of all knowledge, old and new. The steps leading to paradise and salvation are equal in number to the Qur'anic verses and to the number of God's beautiful names, excepting the great name of Allah
.If for example, the names of the five letters constituting the name “Allāh” in Arabic script are written out in full, the total is fourteen, as is the case with the five letters that make up the name “Moḥammad;” the two names together thus have a numerical value of twenty-eight. Since these two names are pivotal to the creed (šahāda), it will be appropriate to add to them the four letters constituting ašhadu (“I bear witness”), leading to a grand total of thirty-two. 

The numerological tafsir of Quran can be found in many Sufi Tafsir and demands re-engagement; it opens up the brain to think in ways about the universe that a literal tafsir does not; any true seeker would find these readings invigorating. Quran contains great mysteries of the message of peace and mercy within it and yet----there are those who use its words to justify the murder of innocents and enslavement of women in sexual slavery ( ISIS).