By Shaykh Adeyinka Mendes
When you embark on a journey it is necessary to know your starting point and ultimate destination, along with the way stations in between. Islam, the Divine Way of Love, the Way of the Prophets (peace and blessings rest upon them and their folk), is essentially a spiritual path. It is the oldest and most universal Spiritual Path, as ancient as our earliest ancestors. Its masters have appeared in every part of the world, in every community, and in every epoch calling people to discover the shoreless ocean of the Oneness of our Compassionate Creator, embrace the oneness of creation, and experience infinite and eternal bliss. Their invitation and initiation has not only been to heavenly salvation but also to earthly sanctification, divine friendship. Although this truth has been called by different names through the ages because every divine messenger addressed his community with its own language, its reality has always been one and unchanging.
Islam is neither one dimensional nor even two or three dimensional. The treatise below declares that it has seven fundamental dimensions that are open to human beings to experience. The caricature of Islam as nothing more than a backward, radically monotheistic, misogynistic, hyper-ritualistic religion that was nothing more than a tool of Arab imperialism and patriarchy could not be further from the truth. While there are Muslims who have had imperial ambitions, Muslims who have been racist and sexist, none of these people are measures of Islam, rather it is they who are to be measured by it. Truth be told, Islam is much more than a mere religion, it is the pure science and art of becoming a truly human being in body, mind, and soul through meditation on the Book of Divine Revelation, the Book of Nature, and the Book of the Universes within the Human Heart. This short treatise is a testament to this truth.
I was blessed to translate the following profound delineation of the seven levels of this Religion of Love from a rare Arabic manuscript found in Black Africa by one of my early beloved teachers, Shaykh Muhammad Shareef, founding director of the Sankore’ Institute of Islamic-African Studies International (http://siiasi.org/
). I pray it inspires us all with humility, gratitude, and yearning for the Divine Presence.
May Almighty God Allah, our All-Merciful and Loving Savior, make this of some help on your own journey.
Seek and find. Knock and enter.
A Map of Human Potential: The Seven Levels of Muslims and Their Characteristics
1-THE SERVANTS OF GOD (Muslims):
They publicly declare that there is no creator except The True and Living God and that Muhammad bin Abdullah is the final immaculate messenger of God (peace and blessings upon him and his folk); they also establish the daily Meditative-Prayers, give the Purifying Charity, fast the sacred month of Ramadan, and perform the Great Pilgrimage to the most ancient Shrine of God if they are able, along with believing in the roots of faith.
2-THE BELIEVERS (Mumins):
They have absolute certainty in God, His angels, His revelations, His immaculate messengers, the ultimate end of this world, and the divine decree, along with realizing all of the above.
3-THE RIGHTEOUS (Salihs):
They fulfill the divine obligations, avoid the divine prohibitions; are steadfast in serving others, regularly performing optional acts of devotion to God, and giving charity; along with realizing all of the above.
4-THE BEAUTIFUL (Muhsins):
They are steadfast in repentance from sins of the body, repentance from sins of the soul, indifference towards material things, depending completely on God alone for success while exerting their best efforts, contentment that the final outcomes of their endeavors is the sole affair of God, pleasure with the decree of God, and sincerity with God, along with realizing all of the above.
5-THE WITNESSES OF THE UNSEEN (Shaheeds):
They are those who want nothing except God (mureeds), those who experience the permanence of divine love without any deficiency, the perpetuity of divine awareness without any break, who are relentless in opposing the ego without any exemption, along with realizing all of the above.
6-THE FAITHFUL (Siddeeqs):
They are the gnostics (‘arifs), those granted knowledge of God by God.
This divine gnosis (ma’rifah) has three dimensions:
a) knowledge of divine certainty,
b) the perception of divine certainty, and
c) total annihilation in divine certainty.
Each of these dimensions has seven conditions:
a) perceiving and serving creation through divine gnosis,
b) perceiving nothing except God,
c) divine gnosis of the Divine Essence from the manifestations of the Divine Names,
d) divine gnosis of the Divine Essence from the manifestations of the Divine Attributes,
e) divine gnosis of the Divine Essence from the manifestation of the Divine Essence,
f) divine gnosis of the Divine Essence from the manifestations of the Divine Names and Attributes through the Divine Essence, and
g) being characterized by their respective spiritual secrets, along with realizing all of the above.
7-THE NEAR (Muqarrabs)
They are those who have attained perfect spiritual realization. This is the greatest station of divine friendship. It has four dimensions:
a) the dimension of Love,
b) the dimension of Slavehood,
c) the dimension of Creation, and
d) the dimension of the Seal, along with realizing all of the above.
“Whoever polishes his soul with consistent adherence to the sublime manners of the daily speech, actions, and character of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings on him and his folk), God will illuminate his heart with the Light of Divine Gnosis.” ~ The Principles of Sainthood by Imam Uthman ibn Fodio (God be pleased with him)
© 2011 Adeyinka Mendes. All rights reserved.
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