What is Wahdatul Wujood (Part Two)?


[Continued from: What is Wahdatul Wujood (Part One)?]

Mr. al-Madhkali avers:

“….it has become combined with the saying that everything in existence is in reality Allaah (wahdatul wujood)….”

The writer has made  Ibn Arabi’s writings the fulcrum for his criticism of Tasawwuf. Having understood Ibn Arabi’s view in the concept of  Wahdatul Wujood  to be kufr, he (the writer) has brazenly and baselessly attributed it (Ibn Arabi’s concept) to all the Sufiya. At this juncture we are not elaborating on this concept in terms of the understanding stemming from Ibn  Arabi’s writings. However, attention is drawn to the gross injustice which this al-Madkhalee character has rendered to  all the Sufiya from the era of the Salaf-e-Saaliheen to recent times.

Ibn Arabi flourished in the fifth century Hijri. He died in 543 Hijri. Tasawwuf or Sufi’ism was in existence more than five centuries prior to the advent of Ibn Arabi. By what stretch of logic or hallucination is it intelligent to align all the Akaabir Sufiya  who had adorned Islam’s firmament of  Tazkiya-e-Nafs and Taqwa with the view expounded by Ibn Arabi  five hundred years later?

Furthermore,  in the  9 centuries after Ibn Arabi, there were millions of Sufis. On what basis does the writer claim that all these  millions of Sufiya from the pre and post Ibn Arabi age had all subscribed to Ibn Arabi’s concept of  Wahdatul Wujood?  And, what is the evidence  for the contention that the Sufi technical term, Wahdatul Wujood had the same meaning  for  all the Sufiya who came after Ibn Arabi?

One of the fundamental basis  of the errant writer for his baatil refutation of Sufi’ism is Ibn Arabi’s Wahdatul Wujood  concept. Who of the Akaabir Sufiya before Ibn Arabi and after Ibn Arabi had espoused his peculiar concept? And, if  there are isolated  Sufis who had adopted Ibn Arabi’s version of Wahdatul Wujood, on what does the writer base his charge that  all the Sufiya subscribe to Ibn Arabi’s view?

Why did the writer not view Tasawwuf in the light of the expositions and practices of  the great Auliya such as Ibn Mubaarak, Sufyaan Thauri, Fudhail Bin Iyaadh, Imaam Maalik, Imaam Ahmad,  Junaid Bagdhaadi, Sirri Saqati, Dawood Tai, Sayyid Abdul Qaadir Jilaani, Haji Imdaadullah, Hadhrat Maulana Rashid Gangohi, Hadhrat Thaanvi and thousands of other Sufiya before and after Ibn Arabi?

It is bigotry and spiritual aridity  which have constrained the writer to condemn Tasawwuf  en toto. He has illogically, irrationally and stupidly made Ibn Arabi the pivot for his rejection of Suf’ism. Ibn  Arabi is an individual who by no means was the originator of Tasawwuf. The Founder of Tasawwuf is none other than the Founder of the Shariah, viz., Muhammadur Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), for Tasawwuf is nothing other than Tazkiya-e-Nafs which is a Waajib obligation on every Mu’min.

Let all anti-Tasawwuf morons understand that Wahdatul Wujood is a technical term in the terminology of the Sufiya. Elaborating on the meaning of  this term, Hakimul Ummat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanvi  (rahmatullah alayh) who was the Mujaddid of Sufi’ism in this century, says:

“Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:

(1)“Allah Ta’ala said: ‘The son of Aadam (i.e. man) causes distress to Me. He abuses Time whilst I am Time. Affairs are in My Hand. I alternate night and day.” (Bukhaari, Muslim and Abu Dawood)

Continuing his elaboration of Wahdatul Wujood, Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) writes:

“All actions and effects are in the control of Allah Ta’ala. The Actual Operator and the Independent Existent  are only Allah Ta’ala. The Hadith  clearly substantiates the contention of the Sufiya. Besides Allah Ta’ala no creation has an independent existence. Entire creation depends on Him for its existence. This concept has been designated Wahdatul Wujood.

The meaning is not that Allah Ta’ala and creation is one. It  merely  means  that the being of creation has no independent existence. All existences despite existing, but in relation to the Divine Existence, their existence is superficial, not  original and independent. Whilst the Divine Existence is perfect, that of creation is defective. Whilst all creation exists by virtue of the existence bestowed to it by Allah Ta’ala, this (created) existence has no significance in relation to the Divine Existence. In fact, all existences in relation to the Divine Existence are non-existent. Thus, there is only One True Being Who Exists independently. This concept  is called Wahdatul Wujood to convey  emphasis on the One True Existing Being.

A narrational (Naqli) daleel for this  concept is the Qur’aanic verse:

“Everything will perish except His Face.”  

(Obviously when everything is perishable, then there is only One real Existing Being Whose existence is independent.)

Night and day are constituents of Time which Allah Ta’ala attributes to Himself. Whatever is in time, and which man attributes  to it (time) is in Allah’s power Who is the One Who gives effect to all affairs. Hence, abusing affairs which happen is tantamount to abusing Allah Ta’ala.  It is quite apparent that Allah Ta’ala and Zamaanah (Time) are not a single entity or a Unity.  However, despite the non-existence of unity, the effect of unity has been stated in terms of an interpretation. On the basis of this ta’weel, the Muhaqqiqeen have  stated the concept of Wahdatul Wujood.”  End of Hadhrat Thaanvi’s summarized explanation.

The concept of Wahdatul Wujood explained by Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) as well as other Akaabir Sufiya is explicitly affirmed by  the tafseer of aayat 3 of Surah Hadeed presented by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).

“He is the Awwal (The First), the  Aakhir (The Last), the Zaahir (The Manifest) and the Baatin (The Hidden).”  (Aayat 3, Surah Hadeed).   Tafseerul Mazhari, presenting the tafseer of this aayat states:

“He is Awwal: He was before everything. There was nothing before Him. Verily, He is the Originator (The One Who brought into existence) all things.

“He is Aakhir:  He will remain after everything perishes (and is annihilated). Verily the existence of Allah Ta’ala is Original (True and Independent). There is no possibility of separation of existence from him and of annihilation. The existence of things besides Him is borrowed in the decree  of Allah Ta’ala…..He will remain after everything, and nothing will be after Him.

“He is Zaahir: He is above everything. Nothing is above Him. The objective of zuhoor (being manifest) is existence. There is no zuhoor (manifestation) for the ma’doom (that which is non-existent). The existence of everything is acquired from Him, and is a shadow by virtue of His existence. Thus the manifestation of everything is  a branch of His Manifestation.

“He is Baatin: He is the Hidden by virtue of the perfection of His Zuhoor (Manifestation), and also because of the Baatin of His Essence.. There is nothing besides Him……

Muslim, Abu Daawood, Tirmizi, Nisaa’, Ibn Maajah and Ibn Abi Shaibah narrated from Abu Hurairah (radhiyallahu anha), and Abu Ya’la Musali narrated  from Aaishah (radhiyallah anha) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said whilst he was lying down:

“O Allah! Rabb of the heavens and the earth, and Rabb of the glorious Throne! Our Rabb and the Rabb of everything; The One  Who splits the seed; The One who revealed the Taurah, Injeel and Furqaan! I seek refuge with You from the evil of everything which You  grab by its forelock. O Allah! You are the First, and nothing was before You. You are the Last, and nothing will be after You. You are the Manifest, and there is nothing above You. You are the Hidden, and there is nothing besides You…….”

Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) himself negated the existence of everything. This negation is in relation to Allah’s Existence. This is the meaning of Wahdatul Wujood – only One True Existing Being.  The Sufiya never believed that Allah Ta’ala is incarnate in human beings or in any of  His creation or creation is Allah – Nauthubillaah!   

Another basis for the concept of Wahdatul Wujood as explained by the Sufiya, and which concept is fully within the confines of the Qur’aan and Sunnah, is the following Hadith-e-Qudsi.  Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), reporting a Hadith Qudsi, said that Allah Ta’ala said:

“Whoever bears animosity for My Wali, verily, I  issue to him an ultimatum of war. There is nothing  more beloved to Me for a servant gaining My proximity than that which I have made obligatory on him. The servant incrementally  gains My proximity with Nawaafil until I love him. Then when I love him, I become his ears with which he hears; his eyes with which he sees; his hands with which he touches, and his feet with which he walks.”  (Bukhaari)

In another narration, reported by Abdul Waahid, it also appears:

“And (I become) his heart with which he  thinks and his tongue with which he speaks.”

Another Hadith also affirming the correctness of the Sufiya’s concept is the following Hadith:

Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:  “Verily, on the Day of Qiyaamah Allah Ta’ala will say to a man: ‘O son of Aadam! I was sick, but you did not visit Me.’ The man will say: ‘O my Rabb! How could I visit you whilst you are Rabbul Aalameen?’ Allah Ta’ala will say: ‘Don’t you know that My certain  friend was sick and you did not visit him? Don’t you know that if you had visited him, you would have found Me by him?’

‘O son of Aadam! I asked food from you, but you did not feed Me.’ The man will say: ‘O my Rabb! How can I feed You whilst You are Rabbul Aalameen?’ Allah Ta’ala will say: ‘Did you not know that a certain friend of Mine had asked you for food, but you did not feed him? Did you not know that if you had fed him, you would have found Me by him?’

‘O son of Aadam! I had asked you for water to drink, but you did not give it to Me.’ The man will say: ‘O my Rabb! How can I give You water to drink when You are Rabbul Aalameen?’ Allah Ta’ala will say: ‘A certain friend of Mine asked you for water, but you did not give it to him. If you had given him water to drink, you would have found that by Me.” (Muslim)

Similarly, as Hadhrat Thaanvi has elucidated, in the second Hadith (above) Allah Ta’ala explicitly states that He becomes the ears, eyes, heart, hands and feet  of His devotee, and that it is He who is doing all the actions emanating from His devotee.

Despite this unification (Wahdatul Wujood – Unity of Existence) expressed in the Hadith,  there is no real or actual  unification or hulool of Allah Ta’ala into the person or into any of His creation. The extreme and lofty level of Divine Proximity which the devotee is bestowed with by virtue of his love and obedience for Allah Ta’ala, is in fact the meaning of Wahdatul Wujood. It means nothing else.

It does not refer to the kufr concept of  hulool or incarnation or of Allah’s pervasion in insaan or in any aspect of His creation.

Likewise, in the third Hadith, Allah Ta’ala attributes the devotee’s sickness to Himself, saying that He was sick, and He was hungry and He was thirsty.

Any Muslim in possession of some  brains not deranged by stupidity will understand that these are metaphorical expressions denoting  the lofty state of Divine Proximity (Qurb-e-Ilaahi) and Divine Acceptance (Maqbooliyat) the devotee enjoys. It is this metaphorical ‘unity’ which is termed Wahdatul Wujood of the Sufiya-e-Kiraam, which the spiritually barren baboons of crass materialism have interpreted to mean divine hulool/incarnation/pervasion, but such  conception of kufr did not dawn in the pure Souls of the Auliya of Allah Azza Wa Jal.

It is a technical term having a methaphorical connotation. Never did the Sufiya intend thereby  hulool ( i.e. the pervasion/incarnation of Allah Ta’ala physically into the being of the devotee) Nauthubillaah!

When Hadhrat Mansur Al-Hallaaj (rahmatullah alayh) during a state of spiritual Sukr experienced certain mukaashafaat which are inexplicable in human language, and in consequence exclaimed: ‘Anal Haqq!’, which statement is in conflict with the Zaahir of the Shariah, he was sentenced  to death and executed.

Hadhrat Junaid Baghdaadi (rahmatullah alayh), his Shaikh and the Chief of the Auliya of all ages, and  the noblest of the Sufiya, despite understanding the spiritual mystery (Sirr) of Mansur’s utterance, in deference of the Shariah and for the safety of the Imaan of the masses endorsed the verdict of execution. It is therefore contemptible injustice to accuse the Sufiya of  propagating any concept of kufr and shirk.

Who can deny that there is only One Independent Original Existent – Allah Azza Wa Jal? And who can deny that the entire creation of mankind, jinnkind, the world of the countless trillions and ‘impossibillions’ of Malaaikah, the innumerable worlds of other species of creation –intelligent and superficially unintelligent, the billions of universes with their billions of stars, suns, moons and Allah Alone knows what else, are all dependent for their existence on the One Eternal Existing Being?

Who can deny that the shadow is dependent  for its existence on the body casting the shadow? And who can deny that the reflection in the mirror is dependent for its existence on the object portrayed in front of the mirror? All these ‘existences’ are in relation to AllahAzza Wa Jal superficial, secondary and entirely dependent on His command.  This is the meaning of  Wahdatul Wujood – the unity of existence.

By existence in this context is meant Independent Existence – uncreated existence – an is The Existence which has neither beginning nor ending, and that Existence is only Allah Azza Wa Jal. If morons fail to comprehend this simple issue, it will be the effect of some curse having settled on their brains. And that curse has destroyed what is termed Noor-e-Fahm. If   the brain is not adorned with this spiritual glitter,  it cannot understand the meaning of mukaashafaat. About such noxious brains, the Qur’aan states:

“And Allah casts rijs (filth) in those who lack intelligence.”

However, with regards to mukaashafaat of the Auliya, the Sufiya themselves emphasize abstention from even reading  their writings on this subject. Just as medical books and other textbooks of technical and academic import are valid terrain for only their respectives experts, so too, it is not permissible for morons and the masses at large to even read  books of the Sufiya which  discuss Asraar (spiritual mysteries) and mukaashafaat (spiritual revelations).

Once when some people praised Ibn Arabi in the presence of Hadhrat Shuhaabuddeen Suharwardi (rahmatullah alayh), he said:

“Beware! Never go even near to him, for you will become  zindeeq.” (Zindeeq is a kaafir).

When Ibn Arabi died and Shaikh Shahaabuddeen was informed, he said:

“The Qutb of the age and Allah’s Wali has died.”

Amazed at this comment, people  said:

‘Hadhrat, then why did you deprive us of his suhbat?’

The noble Shaikh responded:

“His statements are beyond your intellectual comprehension. If you had listened to his statements, you would have  gone astray. It was therefore imperative (for the safety of your Imaan) to prevent you from his suhbat.”

In fact, Ibn Arabi himself  said:

“Those lacking in comprehension should not study my kutub.”

There is much to comment and write about Shaikh Ibn Arabi. However, the present treatise is not a defence of Ibn Arabi. It is in defence of Tasawwuf which is an integral constituent of Islam, and with which the Qur’aan and Sunnah are replete. Tasawwuf is not the consequence of Ibn Arabi’s writing. He appeared on the Islamic scene five centuries after the inception of Islam.

The mukaashafaat  (revelations in spiritual trances and states) are unrelated to Tasawwuf. The subject matter of Sufi’ism is not mukaashafaat nor miracles and the like. Tasawwuf deals with Tazkiya-e-Nafs and the experts of this department of the Deen are the Auliya-e-Kiraam (the Sufiya).

To condemn Tasawwuf and the entire  Jamaat of Sufiya on the basis of the writings of a few  Sufiya is portrayal of jahaalat. Since Ibn Arabi’s writings have no relevance to Sufi’ism, there is no need in this refutation to respond to the attack  on him. If necessary, and if Allah Ta’ala grants the taufeeq,  the subject of Ibn Arabi’s views could be tackled in a separate treatise.

On the topic of Wahdatul Wujood it suffices to say that this is a technical term in the language of the Sufiya. The Qur’aan and Ahaadith are replete with its meaning. The  views of a few Sufis which conflict with the Shariah may not be presented for dismissing and negating this simple concept.

Allah Ta’ala Himself has  affirmed  Wahdatul Wujood by declaring that He becomes the ears, eyes, heart, limbs – the very being – of  His devotee. Allah Ta’ala  says with clarity in the  Hadith-e-Qudsi that He acts through the organs and limbs of His devotee.  Just as  every Muslim is obliged to accept this affirmation of  Wahdatul Wujood by AllahAzza Wa Jal, so too is the very same concept expressed by the Sufiya acceptable. Considerable brains are not necessary for understanding  that the unity of existence in this context is in a metaphorical sense…

The Fuqaha, Muhadditheen and Mufassireen all upheld the practices of the Sufiya, and they went to great lengths to present suitable interpretations  to explain even such utterances of  the Sufiya which appear to be in conflict with the Shariah – statements which they made in states of ecstasy, which in Sufi terminology is called Sukr.  Ibn Hajar Haitami (rahmatullah alayh) has written a very beneficial treatise in defence of the Sufiya. If Allah Ta’ala  bestows to us the taufeeq, it shall, Insha’Allah, be translated and published.

The grave injustice  which al-Madkhalee committed in his drivel  attack against Tasawwuf is that he has made the statements of Sukr  of a few maghloobul haal Buzrugs the fulcrum of his tirade and criticism against the entire body of Auliya and Sufiya. He has ignored the teachings of the Sufiya and clings to the statements of a few Sufiya whose statements appear in conflict with the Shariah. Such statements do not justify criticizing, slandering and rejecting all the Sufiya and their ta’leem which is nothing but the Qur’aan and Sunnah.

His argument would have  seemed intelligent if he had restricted his tirade to the statements  which he believed are blasphemous.  For his criticism he should have confined himself to  Ibn Arabi, Al-Hallaaj and some others. When Hadhrat Suhurwardi (rahmatullah alayh), the Founder of the Suharwardiyyah Sufi Silsilah  would  say  that Ibn Arabi is a ‘zindeeq’, then by what stretch of justice and intelligence does the moron Salafi  criticize all the Sufiya and brand them as heretics, etc.?…

Anyhow, the seemingly blasphemous statements of some Sufiya are a subject apart which the Salafi morons should tackle separately. Then a separate treatise could be prepared  on such statements made by  some Sufiya.  But to condemn all the Sufiya as the moron Salafi does only displays his jahaalat and ghabaawat.

Since this treatise is not in defence of Ibn Arabi and the other Sufiya whose statements al-Madhkalee has made a target, we shall bypass his criticism of these Sufiya and concentrate on the subject of Tasawwuf or Sufi’ism to show its validity and necessity in Islam.

Hafiz Ibnul Qayyim on Fanaa (Annihilation) and Shatahat (Words Uttered in Ecstasy)

Back to Contents

6 thoughts on “What is Wahdatul Wujood (Part Two)?

  1. Student of Tasawwuf

    Assalamu alaikum warahmatullah

    I found Ibn Arabi works is very enlightening ONLY IF you could understand what he actually meant behind his terminology. Ignoramuses should never approach Ibn Arabi without proper knowledge or a guidance from a buzrug lest they will be fall into kufr and shirk. In this stance they should avoid his works like a plague and follow the Prophet (SAW) “part of a good muslim is to leave something which is of no concern for him”.

    Ibn ‘Arabi had stated in Futuhat, Chapter Al Isra, where he condemned hulool and ittihad (pantheism/ literal unification of Allah and Creations/ incarnation of God into human being) :

    “Whoever believe in hulool, verily he has been misguided. People who had a belief of hulool has an incurable sickness (of heart). Whoever make distinction between oneself and Allah, then verily you had made a fair distinction (difference of Reality) between your Self and Allah’s. Don’t you hear the Prophetic saying “and I shall become his hearing with which he hears”. He had pointed you to yourself in that hadith.

    “Whosoever believe in ittihad is an atheist, just like those who believe in hulool, is a jahil and a transgressor. For he had ascribed (to Allah) something that is impossible (for Him). Whoever distinguish his Self with Allah, then he is the one upon the haqq”

    Also Ibn Arabi wrote that his works should never be approached literally :

    “It’s haraam for any ignoramuses to approach the books of Sufiya because they cannot be interpreted literally the way one read Sacred Law book. Anyone who reads and interprets my books and books of Sufiya LITERALLY will commit kufr and unbelief”.

    And if one observed Ibn ‘Arabi works, either in Fussus and Futuhat he emphasized the importance of tanzih in aqeedah, i.e. sanctifying Allah from any resemblance (tashbih), comparison or contrast, and need of creations. For example, in Futuhat the shaykh dedicated one chapter alone to explain the meaning of supposedly anthropomorphic verses and hadiths. And the hadith “Adam is created in the image/form of Allah”, he interpreted the “image/form” as “God-given subtle inspiration”. But he didn’t explain it in Fussus and so people who read the latter will assume the shaykh believed that Adam has literally “same form” as Allah. This is just one example where one could be stunted in understanding Ibn Arabi works fully.

    Further, Shaykh Al Bouti and some Deobandi scholars has interpreted Wahdatul Wujud of Ibn ‘Arabi as Wahdatul Shuhood. Because that is what Ibn Arabi actually intended.

    Allah knows best.

    1. admin Post author


      JazakAllahu Khayr for your informative comment. Do you have a reference for the following statement you quoted above?

      “It’s haraam for any ignoramuses to approach the books of Sufiya because they cannot be interpreted literally the way one read Sacred Law book. Anyone who reads and interprets my books and books of Sufiya LITERALLY will commit kufr and unbelief”.

      1. Student of Tasawwuf

        That is taken from a commentary by William Chittick. Titus Buckhardt, if I recall, also mention this quote as well, saying that Ibn ‘Arabi forbids people who has no “arcane knowledge on Sufism” to read his books. Insha Allah I still look for the book of Ibn ‘Arabi that he used in the said reference. Unfortunately Mr. Chittick doesn’t give further detail where he quote that from.

  2. Student of Tasawwuf

    I still don’t get the Chittick version, though. But in “Reliance of Traveler”, there is a similar sounding quote of him :

    “It is unlawful to read the books of Sufiya unless one attains to their level of character and learns the meaning of their words in comformity (terminology) with their technical usages, neither of which is found except in someone who has worked assiduously, rolled up his sleeves, abandoned the sins/ wrongdoings, tightened his belt, filled himself replete with the outward Islamic Shariah, and purified himself from every lowly nafs connected with dunya. It is just a person who comprehends what is being said (what the Sufis truly meant) and is allowed to enter when he stands at the door”

    Pardon I clutter your comment box!

    Barakallah feek.

    1. admin Post author

      JazakAllah khayr,

      Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai also quotes something similar (though without reference) from Ibn Arabi in the article above:

      “In fact, Ibn Arabi himself said:

      “Those lacking in comprehension should not study my kutub.”

      There is much to comment and write about Shaikh Ibn Arabi. However, the present treatise is not a defence of Ibn Arabi. It is in defence of Tasawwuf which is an integral constituent of Islam, and with which the Qur’aan and Sunnah are replete. Tasawwuf is not the consequence of Ibn Arabi’s writing. He appeared on the Islamic scene five centuries after the inception of Islam.”

  3. Abu Maryam

    It’s utter stupidity that these Salafis and not just Mr. Madkhali paint all the Sufis with the same Ibn ‘Arabi brush. “Sufism is misguidance because Ibn ‘Arabi say this and say that”, “Sufi is misguidance because Ibn ‘Arabi teach this”. Then there are people who going like, “Sufism is deviant because this and that Sufis doing singing and break dancing at masjid, or doing tawaf at their awliya grave”. Well, then let’s paint all the Salafis with the same brush, shall we? How if I say something like “all Salafis are Madkhalis” or “all Salafis are Osama fans” for example?

    Don’t get me wrong. I disagree with Salafis, but they are my brothers and sisters. But it’s really unfair that they judge tasawwuf from focusing to one figure Ibn Arabi alone. How about other shining examples like Hasan Al Basri and his disciple Rabia Bisri, or Junaid Baghdadi and Sirri Saqari, or Al Ghazali.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *