Sunday, July 31, 2016

FANAA or EGO DEATH ( (fana fi 'Allah')

Enlightenment equals ego death.

For millennia this equation has held true. While the term "ego," meaning "I" in Latin, is obviously a relatively recent addition to the English lexicon, just about every major enlightenment teaching in the world has long held that the highest goal of spiritual and indeed human life lies in the renunciation, rejection and, ultimately, the death of the need to hold on to a separate, self-centered existence.

From Shankara's rantings against the ego as a "strong and deadly serpent" to Prophet Muhammad's declaration of a "holy war against the nafs [ego]" to the Zen masters' fierce determination to use any means necessary to break the ego's grip on their students.

In sufi path Bayazid Bastami was one of the first to speak of "annihilation of the self in God" (fana fi 'Allah') and "subsistence through God" (baqa' bi 'Allah).


Fanaa is the Sufi term for extinction. It means to annihilate the self, while remaining physically alive. Persons having entered this state are said to have no existence outside of, and be in complete unity with, Allah. Fanaa is equivalent to the concept of nirvana in Buddhism and Hinduism or moksha inHinduism which also aim for annihilation of the self.

Abu Yazid al-Bistami approached the Divine Presence and “knocked on the gate”. He was asked, “Who is there?” “I have come, Oh my Lord”, replied Abu Yazid. He was told: “There isn’t any place here for two. Leave your ego behind and come”. When Abu Yazid once again approached the Divine Presence and was asked who it was, he said: “You, oh Lord”.

The "annihilation of the self" (fana fi 'Allah') refers to disregarding everything in this world because of one's love towards God. When a person enters the state of fana it is believed that one is closest to God.

The Qalaba( heart) is sandwiched between the nafs( EGO) and the Rooh(SOUL) The entire objective of annihilation is to destroy the nafs to that Heart can recognise the soul.Sudi's say soul has the spark of divine as in Quran, its mentioned" all souls come from God".

The nature of fanaa consists of the elimination of evil deeds and lowly attributes of the flesh. In other words, fanaa is abstention from sin and the expulsion from the heart of all love other than the Divine Love; expulsion of greed, lust, desire, vanity, show, etc. In the state of fanaa the reality of the true and only relationship asserts itself in the mind. 

One realizes and feeds that the only real relationship is with Allah Ta'ala fanaa means to destroy your self. if you destroy your self in the love of Allah then that fanaa will convert into entire life means abdi zindgi. and for that one you have to destroy your will and yourself on the will of Allah.

In the death of the ego love is born, God is born, light is born. In the death of the ego you are transformed; all misery disappears as if it had never existed. Your life right now is a nightmare. When the ego dies nightmares disappear and a great sweetness arises in your being, and a subtle joy, for no reason at all. Beyond this is the stage of intimacy (uns) at which the immanence of the Lord is perceived:

And I am closer to man than his jugular vein” QURAN;

On the path of ego annhilation; Bayazid said:

I became like an iron master for twelve years. I put my nafs and ego in the stove of discipline, and prepare it with the fire of striving, mold it on the platform of remorse, hammer it with regret until my nafs became my mirror. I was my own mirror for five years. Until one day when I thought I was the greatest among great learned. As soon as this thought came to my mind, I packed up and went to Khorasan. I stayed in a shelter and promised myself that I would not leave this place unless I receive a message from Allah. On the fourth day I saw a camel rider coming towards me. A thought passed my mind that I could stop that camel right there. The rider looked at me and said: Do not make me to destroy Bastam and Bayazid altogether. I lost my senses. When my senses came back to me I asked him: Where are you coming from? he said: From the side where your promise is kept. The he said: Bayazid, keep and protect your heart; then he left. It is said after this incident whatever passed through Bayazid ’s mind would appear in front of him.

What Bayazid is explaining in this story is that;

He who recognizes himself.. recognizes GOD;

In Bayazidian Sufism, one has to get rid of the pseudo-personality that one has created for oneself. We all want to be accepted and respected by others. Most of the time we are led by society and our own cultural norms to create a false sense of ourselves.

Whenever you are now and here, there is no ego to be found. You are a pure silence. Ego is the center of the false mind.

Your ego is your hell, your ego is your misery, your ego is the cancer of your soul.

When desiring ceases, the other world opens. The other world is hidden in this world. But because your eyes are full of desire, full of the ego, you cannot see it.

This was the lost secret of the ages..the divine lies within you, if only you would listen to it.all mystical paths really aim to remove ego from the self so only name of God remains.

God tells Bayazid that He doesn't care if he sees the world or not. He only cares if Bayazid doesn't see himself. And it's only when he ceases to see himself that Bayazid can truly say that he has seen God.

This is when Bayazid says ;
The final clue is buried in your stare:
So long as 'I' continues to exist
The sun I seek is shrouded in "I's" mist 
Bayazid repents first from thinking he has seen God, and second he repents from that repentance for this is just another manifestation of his being; finally, he repents from seeing his own existence altogether.

He addresses GOD;"Oh, Allah, this is how I see myself. I am not offering You my life's mortification, my constant prayers, my day and night fasting, You know that nothing will take me from You. I confess that I am shameful, I have nothing, You are the One who has given me all this fortune. I witness that there is no god but You. Your have accepted me. Purify me from my errors, forgive my faults, wash away my shortcomings.

A prayer remained from Bayazid:

Oh, Allah, how long this “you” and “I” remain between You and I. Take this “I” from me so all that remains is “You”.
Oh, Allah, when I am with You I am greater than all; when I am without You I am nothing.
Oh, Allah, my poverty took me to you and Your blessings protected my poverty.


How, though, does one go about doing such things?

The goal is part of the desiring mind and bliss is a state of no-mind. Desiring is a barrier: non-desiring is the bridge. And all goals are egoistic because they are ambitions. Ambitions are shadows of the ego, and wherever ego is bliss is not. When the ego completely disappears, when not even a trace is left behind, bliss is found.

In Bayazidian sufism, from the stories about him, one can gather that there are two ways of going against the ego, though they are not separate but rather very much intertwined.

These are

  1. selfless service 
  2. kindness to others
  3. attracting the blame of others on the other. 
Consider the following story concerning the meaning of selfless service in Bayazidian Sufism. Again, this story happens in the context of yet another pilgrimage to Mecca. This is no accident, as Bayazidian Sufism is always a reaction to conventional ritualistic practices:


In one of his pilgrimages to Mecca there was such a shortage of water that people were dying of thirst. Bayazid came across a place where people were gathered around a well, so thirsty that they were fighting among one another. In the middle of all this commotion he saw a wretched dog that was clearly dying of thirst. The dog looked at Bayazid and somehow conveyed to him that Bayazid's real mission should be getting water for the dog. 

He came up with a plan and began announcing, "Does anyone want to buy the merit of a hajj pilgrimage in exchange for some water?" Not receiving any response from people, he began to increase his part of the bargain, raising his hajj journeys to five, six, seven and finally to seventy in exchange for some water. 

At last, someone said that he was willing, giving Bayazid the water in exchange for the merits of seventy hajj journeys. It is at this point in the story that Bayazid's ego gets him into trouble. Right after the transaction took place, he began to feel proud of his action and pleased with himself for doing such a noble act of selflessness. Full of himself and proud of his action, Bayazid put the bowl of water in front of the dog, but the dog did not accept the water and turned away.

Now a man of Bayazid's caliber looks for the divine message even from a dog, and Bayazid felt sorely ashamed of himself for his pride. 

At this point, he heard a message from God, "How long are you going to say I have done this and I have done that? Don't you see that even a dog does not accept your charitable act?" At once, Bayazid repented of his act of self-seeing (Adapted from Aflaki 1983, vol. II, p. 671).
The selfless service alluded to here is not just a charitable act. It is not on a par with giving money to a charity or doing volunteer work for the poor and the needy. It is far more subtle and difficult than that. True selfless service begins when one does not feel proud of one's act of charity and is complete when one is not conscious of oneself as the agent of that charitable act. True selfless service as it was realized by Bayazid is a major way to get rid of the ego.

Bayazid is not saying that a person should drop out of society for him that is the easy way out. On the contrary, he is asking people to continue doing whatever they are doing and do it to the best of their ability. 'Seeing the world' is nothing other than enjoying the world, appreciating the beauty of the world. God doesn't want Bayazid to be an ascetic. "See the whole world, but don't see yourself," was what God told Bayazid. And here we see a profound ethical principle: Do what you may, but do it selflessly.

In the following story, we get yet another example of how Bayazid goes against his ego by means of a simple act of kindness:

One night Bayazid was passing through a cemetery in Bastam when he came across a young nobleman playing a lute. Upon seeing the youth, Bayazid exclaimed, "There is no power and force in the world other than God's." 

Thinking that Bayazid was criticizing him for playing music in the cemetery, the young man hit Bayazid on the head with his lute thereby breaking both Bayazid's head and his own musical instrument. Upon returning to his quarters, Bayazid summoned one of his disciples and gave him some money and sweets and told him to go to the young man's house and tell him tile following: "Bayazid asks your forgiveness for what happened last night and requests that you use this money to buy another lute and then eat this sweet to remove from your heart the sorrow over the lute's being broken.

" When he heard this message, the young man realized what he had done and went to Bayazid to apologize (Adapted from 'Attar 1976, p. 117).
To return an act of aggression with kindness is to go against the ego. Our ego wants revenge or at least some kind of compensation when we are wronged. But for Bayazid, to seek compensation is to play into the hands of the ego, thereby becoming further removed from God.

This is why Jesus also asked his disciples to turn the other cheek, so that  EGO may go unsatisfied.

The second major way to overcome the ego for Bayazid is to attract other people's blame and to disgrace oneself in the eyes of society. This may sound pretty silly to us now. 
Why would anyone want to disgrace himself?
 In our contemporary western influence  culture, the emphasis is on the promotion and glorification of the ego, not its demise. 

But first, let's examine an example of what Bayazid means by attracting the blame of others:
In the city of Bastam where Bayazid made his home, there lived a very respected and venerable ascetic. He enjoyed Bayazid's circle, though he never became one of his disciples. One day he said to Bayazid, "0 master! For the last thirty years I have been fasting from the world and keeping vigils at night, but I have to be honest with you: I do not find in myself that knowledge you have been talking about, though I acknowledge your wisdom and I would like to understand it." 

Bayazid replied, "O Sheikh, even if you continue your ritual prayer and fasting for the next three hundred years, you would still not be able to understand the smallest portion of this wisdom." "Why?" asked the ascetic. "Because you are a prisoner of your own ego," responded Bayazid. "Is there any remedy for my condition?" asked the ascetic. "There is, but you won't be able to do it," replied Bayazid. "I promise I will accept whatever you suggest, for I have been seeking this knowledge for years," insisted the ascetic. "Then," continued Bayazid, "You must first take off your ascetic clothes and wear rags instead; let down your hair and go sit with a bag full of walnuts in a neighborhood where people know you best. Then call all the children around you and tell them, I will give a walnut to whoever smacks me on the face, two walnuts for two smacks and so on'. After you finish with that neighborhood, go to other neighborhoods until you have covered the whole town. 

This is your remedy." Completely bewildered and shocked the ascetic cried, "Glory be to God! There is no god but God," which was a way of expressing amazement in those days. "If an unbeliever had uttered these words," Bayazid declared, "he would have become a
Moslem, but by uttering such words you have become an unbeliever!" "But why?" asked the ascetic. "Because in saying those words, you worship yourself not God," replied Bayazid. "Please give me some other counsel, Bayazid," pleaded the ascetic. "This is your only remedy, and as I said, you would not be able to do it," responded Bayazid (Adapted from 'Attar 1976, pp. 112-113).


Bayazid felt that religious life lived for public purposes  was far too superficial and hypocritical, for it was all geared towards the salvation of the individual in this world and the hereafter. For Bayazid, the conventional religious attitude is tainted with self-interest and ego, for it is ultimately construed for the sake of one's ego. But, according to Bayazid, the realm of the ego is the opposite of that of God.

Bayazid is warning us here about the dangers of identifying with what we do or what we project about ourselves. He is asking us to let go of the story our ego has created about it , of it is righteous and good and virtuous.Only when you would let go the story of your ego , would you witness the divine Or you will always be busy pleasing your ego and its needs.Our sense of self occupies all the space inside of us.

The only way we can make sure we are not attached to the sense of self that we have created for ourselves is to attract other people's blame, to make ourselves disgraceful.That way our ego takes a beating and the shell breaks a little.

 According to Bayazid, if it is the Truth we are after, then we should let others shatter this false image ..this shell....we have created for ourselves.The ego must be starved of praise and identification.

To follow Bayazid in his search for the Truth, we have to demolish this pseudo-personality, and his way of demolishing it is by means of public disgrace. 
Everyone should judge you a madman, phony, or hypocrite. 
This is the price one has to pay for the Bayazidian Truth.
This is the price he paid himself.


  1. I love this ..EGODEATH is the central theme in buddhist and vedanta thought,but I was not aware sufism's aim was egodeath too.all mystical paths really lead to just one door.

  2. I love this, too, safoora."Self-seeing" -a perfect description. I tremble inside a little as I read because I am also steeped in the literature of the Christian mystics and have spent much time in the last year learn about Kaballah, and Iknow, I know, I know that if could all even Begin to stop self-seeing we could be the sisters and brothers that God/Allah/G-d is waiting, wanting us to be. Thank for clear, enlightened writing. I pray holy drunkenness for us all.. :)

    1. Thanks David,I am touched that my words had an effect and could show you any light.Keep the journey!

  3. Thank you David,I really appreciate that.The path of every mystic tradition is undoing of self.... Sufi's,Christians fathers and Buddhists monks..ALL aim to purify the soul so that only divine remains.That is our real aim in this existence is just a drama.

  4. I am deeply moved by the concept of Fana and for several years I have been searching for a calligraphic representation fo the term in Arabic or Pharsi. I would be very grateful if you could help me find one. I will check back on your impressive site but if you would prefer to write me at then I would welcome this.
    Be So Very Well

  5. I was doing a paper for my Islamic thought and culture class about Mansur al-Hallaq and i had to go over the concepts of fanaa and baqaa. It is very interesting to see the similarities between the mystical traditions of many religions. I am a religious Jew and it is interesting to see the paralells between Sufiism and Kabbalistic traditions as portrayed in the Tanya written by a European Rabbi in the 18th century. The body is simply a garment over the eternal truth that lies in the soul. Beautiful stuff, much blessings on your spiritual journey.

  6. Thankyou there are indeed similarities between sufism and Kabbalah as both traditions influenced each other in Spain during the muslim reign.

  7. Great piece Safoora. However, Self-realization or as you put it ego-death should not just be limited to mere concepts or theories. As a Muslim/Sufi I was looking for something that can used as an applied way for awhile until I happened to come across a great method taught by the Sage of Arunachala, Sri Ramana Maharshi(1880-1950). He taught practicing constant self-inquiry "who am I?" as a sure way that will lead to the eternal Self that dwells in all of us.

    1. Thanks, I haven't explored the teachings of Sri but self introspection is definitely a way to keep the nafs in check.

    2. The one keeping the nafs in check is still the "nafs'' just wearing a different mask. There is no realisation, because there is nothing to do. Therefore, there is no enlightment.

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  9. Another amazing read. Thanks. I'm speechless and would love to share your work with others with your permission.
    A small suggestion, the color scheme is not very comfortable for longer reads, eyes start hurting soon. Try black text over gray background, will be real easy of all of us. :) Thanks.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Faraz, sure go ahead share anything. I will experiment with different color schemes.

  10. Fana Fi Allah is KUFR. Whoever says these words is a Kaafir beyond a shadow of a doubt. These Soofee Madmen use these pathetic evil shirky kufry points to make money. May Allah guide them, or destroy them.

  11. Fana Fi Allah means that the person is now Allah. That the difference between the created and the Creator no longer exist. Whoever believes in this crap is a kaafir.

  12. Fanah Fi Allah , does not mean KUFAR . It means the person never existed. though one's personality never exist , we think it does exist. The moment the ego die a true understanding comes.The person never turn anything . The person was no there - this is understood. Allah only existed always. The false person only thought he existed. Allah is not any person or personal. Allah existed everywhere , no one add or subtract from Allah. Allah is always here covered everyone. FANAH FI ALLAh menas the person is inexisting , this is always truth but we did not accepted it. With wisdom it is understood and can be experienced.
    MAN NEVER TURNS GOD. GOD remain as it is always. MAn only can understand this for great salvation and overthrow sufferings.

  13. FANA FI ALLAH does not mean person now ALLAH. Person is not ALLAH - never ever. The feelings that we ( body mind complex ) exists is false, temporary. When one discard his ego , the darkness is gone , the sufferings evaporates. Allah is well understood in reality. Allah remain as Allah , no one shares Allah's authority ever, ALLAH one and only. Whole annihilation of EGO of all people on the earth does not make any difference to Allah. Only the suffered personnel is understood the truth that Allah is the real existence , rest of the existence are just illusion. The Ego free mind is calm , still and clear . Natural wisdom flows through as usual but clarity of mind gets it. Mind never gets blank or shut , it just does not have thought , so clarity exists.

  14. Pls change the back ground , head spinning . Difficult reading !

  15. Pls change the back ground , head spinning . Difficult reading !

  16. Masha Allah sister...what a great eye opener. I'm simple speechless thinking about the ego and the harm its doing to us.

  17. Your blogs and accumulation attracts me to arrive rearward again n again. Keep sharing. If you are looking for Umrah Packages, you get online many travel agency providing best services

  18. I love this, too, safoora."Self-seeing" -a perfect description. I tremble inside a little as I read because I am also steeped in the literature of the Christian mystics and have spent much time in the last year learn about Kaballah, and Iknow, I know, I know that if could all even Begin to stop self-seeing we could be the sisters and brothers that God/Allah/G-d is waiting, wanting us to be. Thank for clear, enlightened writing. I pray holy drunkenness for us all.. :) if u are looking for Indian hero history then u can visit this site.

  19. I define the thoughts as a disturbance in brain which distorts the spontaneous or automatic flow of ideas and drives us toward abnormal act. This disturbance may be in the shape of hate, anger, confusion, envy, malice, fear, regret, disappointments, desires etc. I always stop this disturbance by saying to myself: “Don’t think about anything, leave everything on God”. In this way I regain the default flow of ideas for normal act.

  20. In oneness all is lov - I AM

  21. I willing to write a book that associated fana and Nirvana and publish in my country in thailand

  22. Hate, Anger , Fear , confusion , envy , regret , disappointment , desires, unfeeling, bossing, sadness, distress, depression all are just rooted from EGO , the idea of separate self, which is false. Proof is ANNIHILATION of Ego sense or 'I' thought removes all of them .
    Accepting the unacceptable vanish ego.
    When we are blamed falsely, and we accept it , ego get smashed.
    When we are humiliated in public , ego get smashed.
    Whoever all are seeking the final freedom and joy and beauty of truth , must discard ego .
    Ego is very very shrewd, must keep a sharp eye on it.
    Never to say I have done this , or that.

  23. "selfless service
    kindness to others
    attracting the blame of others on the other."

    Principles to live life by!