21. Bast: Expansion
One text has "Intoxication". They mean the same. It is when the joy, happiness and expansion of the heart obliges movement and expansion. It is the opposite of contraction. Ibn 'Ajiba mentioned that one of the Sufis said, "Stand on the carpet (bisat) and beware of expansiveness (inbisat)." Ibn 'Ajiba also says:
Expansion has adab (correct
behaviour). When you do not observe this,
your feet slip and your heart will follow
Its adab consists of humility,
esteem, and great respect for blessing,
and restraining the wayward tongue.
When the murid senses expansion, he should place the reins of silence on himself and adorn himself with tranquillity and gravity. He should enter his retreat and stay in his house and mention Allah often. Abu Madyan al-Ghawth said in his Hikam, "When Allah desires good for His servant, He makes him at home with His dhikr and gives him success in being thankful to Him." He said, "Whoever is at home with creatures is alienated from the Truly Real. It is through negligence that appetites are obtained. We say that being at home with creatures indicates alienation from Allah because they either make you neglect obeying Allah or they open for you the door of desire and acts of disobedience.
Whoever does not observe the adab of expansion is moved on to Desire:
22. Tama': Desire
Desire for creation. Desire here means to seek the thing without adopting the means to acquire it. The one who does that in respect of Allah is blameworthy and is described as stupid. So how much more so it is in the case of someone who desires creatures who are described with poverty, powerlessness, abasement and death! Abu Bakr al-Warraq said,"If desire were to be asked, 'Who is your father?' it would say, 'Doubt about what is decreed.' If it were to be asked, 'What is your profession?' it would reply, 'Earning abasement.' If it were to be asked, 'What is your end?' it would reply, 'Deprival.' So his desire for creation obliged him to love them and have passion for them. Ibn 'Ata' says in the Hikam::
"You are free when you despair of it.
You are a slave when you are eager for it."
That moves him to Metaphorical Passion:
23. al-'Ishq al-Majazi: Metaphorical Passion
He becomes passionately in love with beauty and good in creation. When metaphorical passion becomes firm in his heart, that elevates him to Real Passion and he jumps through twenty-one stages in a single step, or in his ascent he passes over an end of the Sought Object of Desire and Powerlessness and ends up in Real Passion. If he becomes fixed in Metaphorical Passion, that moves him on to the Sea:
24. The Sea (al-Bahr)
This alludes to confusion. He is drowning in the sea of bewilderment, confused about how to reach the object of his passion. This sea is immense in his eyes and its waves are crashing together. He seeks deliverance from it. Since he is a land animal who only lives on land, part of his nature is to incline to the land and the land attracts him. The land of the sea is its bottom and so the sea wants to bring him down to its land, therefore fear of drowning and destruction in the sea cause him to flee and to cling to whatever means he has to hand to save himself from drowning and to reach dry land alive because the sea will not convey him to dry land until he suffocates and his spirit leaves his body. That is why he flees to the earth:
25. Ard: Earth, Land
Dry land. When he reaches it alive, wild animals, insects and hornets comesto him as it is their custom to come to eat every corpse cast up onto land by the sea. He defends himself with whatever strength he has and they go off some distance to wait for him to die or go to sleep. That moves him to Fear:
26. Khawf: Fear
Fear of them. Then an unseen voice says to him, "Do not fear them. Fear Me if you are believers," i.e. I am with you wherever you are. That moves him to Fearfulness.
27. Khashya: Fearfulness
This is fear of Allah. One text calls it "Alienation", meaning alienation from what is other than Allah. He fears Allah and flees to him from everything and that moves him to the Ramparts.
28. al-A'raf: The Ramparts
It is the wall between the Garden and its Fire. Its people are men who see both the People of the Garden and the People of the Fire and recognise each group by their marks. That leads to him Calling on the Real:
29. Calling on the Real
In one text, "Releasing the Tongue". When Allah wants to give to His slave, He releases his tongue with supplication and he hears the words of the Almighty, "Call on Me and I will answer you." (40:60) He calls on the Real, i.e. asks Him to save him from the disgrace of this world and the punishment of the Next World and to let him enter the Garden, or He calls on Him as the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did: "O Allah, I ask You for all good, sooner and later, what I know of it and what I do not know. I seek refuge with You from all evil, sooner or later, what I know of it and what I do not know. I ask for the Garden and what will bring me near to it in word and deed, and I seek refuge from the Fire and what will bring me near to it in word and deed," or like the words of the Prophet, "O Allah, protect me from the Fire," "O Allah, admit us into the Garden."
Allah calls him to the path of the Garden and keeping the company of its people as He says, "O you who believe, fear Allah and be with the truthful." (9:119)
If he looks at company and thinks that it what he desires, that moves him to Ruinous Company.
30. Ruinous Company
He does not know that some company is ruinous and some good. There are various kinds of ruinous company. Some of it is such that its corruption is evident to everyone: like the people who commit clear acts of disobedience against Allah so that their wretchedness is apparent to all. However, in some cases the corruption is inward and so their wretchedness is inward and concealed. This is the most harmful type since it is concealed, even for those who are described with it. They fall into three sub-categories: ignorant false Sufis, preachers who are hypocritical sycophants, and heedless tyrants. The most harmful are the ignorant Sufis, then the false preachers, then the heedless tyrants, and then people who commit evident acts of disobedience.
When someone remains there and tarries there, the hooks of ignorance catch him and pull him down from Ruinous Company to Ignorance, and so he falls twenty-four stages and in his fall passes through Treachery, Blameworthy Actions and Malice to land in Ignorance, which is the seventh stage.
If Divine Concern surrounds him when he sees the ruinous company, he flees from it to the Desert.
31. The Desert
The Desert alludes to withdrawal from all of his fellow human beings so that he is on his own and considers himself to be stupid. That moves him to Unsound Intellect:
32. Unsound Intellect
Since he does not see any good in people's company, he has a bad opinion of Allah since, in his view, He commands him to ruinous company. He has a bad opinion of the servants of Allah since he does not believe that any of them are good. The company of those who are bad brings about a bad opinion of the good. It says in hadith, "There are two characteristics above which there are no better characteristics: good opinion of Allah and good opinion of the servants of Allah. There are two characteristics below which there is nothing worse: bad opinion of Allah and a bad opinion of the servants of Allah."
If he stops in this stage and remains in it, the hooks of abasement catch him and pull him down from Unsound Intellect to Abasement and he falls twenty-eight stages, passing through Prohibitions and the Immense Sea in his fall, and ends up in abasement, the fifth stage. If he does not stop there, he is saved from that fall and that moves him on to Rashness and ignorance.
33. Jahl: Rashness and Ignorance
He suffers from ignorance of Allah and ignorance of His promise and threat, and so he betrays his trust, breaks his contract and transgresses Allah's limits. When he stops in this stage and remains there, the hooks of Under the Earth catch him and pull him down from Rash Ignorance to Under the Earth and he falls eighteen stages, passing between Jahannam and Prohibitions, and lands in Under the Earth, which is the sixth stage.
If he does not stop and is saved from it, that moves him to Envy.
34. Hasad: Envy
He envies people for the success and well-being which Allah has given them out of His bounty and hopes that that will be taken away from them since he lacks that blessing. If he stops in this stage and remains there, the hooks of the Immense Sea will catch him and pull him down from Envy to the Immense Sea. He will fall twenty stages, passing through Air, Fear and Earth and land in the Immense Sea, which is the sixteenth stage.
If he does not stop there and is safe from Envy, that moves him to Air.
One text calls this stage 'the Sky". He wants to fly in the air since he sees how harsh the constriction of the earth is for him. When he is unable to fly through the air, that moves him to Hatred.
36. Kurh: Hatred
One text calls this "the Mountain". He hates this world and hates himself and hates his life so that he hopes for death but does not find it. That moves him to Powerlessness.
37. 'Ajz: Powerlessness
He has no power to help himself and save himself from the plight in which he finds himself. He recognises his powerlessness and clings to it and frees himself of his strength and power. That moves him to the Sought Object of Desire.
38. The Sought Object of Desire (al-Murad al-Matlub)
This is what is desired in the servant. It is the full realisation of his attributes, which include powerlessness and poverty. It says in the Hikam,
Firmly identify your
and He will help you with His qualities.
When he realises this, that moves him to Mercy for the Naked.
39. Mercy to the Naked
He feels mercy and tenderness in his heart for those he sees are naked or hungry. Nakedness designates the appearance of need and loss. When he remains in this stage and stays in it, that moves him to Good Character and he passes through eighteen stages in one step and in his ascent passes through the Sought Object of Desire, Turbidity and Real Passion and arrives in the stage of Good Character.
If he does not stop there, he moves on to Good Company.
40. Good Company
Through the knowledge he has obtained through these experiences, he recognises that there must be company and that must be good company because the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace said, "A man will be gathered on the deen of his close friend, so let each of you examine the one he takes as a close friend." One of them said:
Choose someone who
obeys Allah as your companion,
Nature steals nature.
The People (i.e. the Sufis) said, "By Allah, the one who achieves success only does so by the company of those who have achieved success, and the one who loses only loses through the company of those who have lost." One of them said, "The companion is the master."
When he obtains good company and remains there, that moves him up to Good Actions, and he passes through twenty-four stages in one step, and in his ascent he passes through Mercy to the Naked, the Subtle Voice, Turbidity, the Brain, and Good Character to alight in Good Actions, which is above the station of the Perfect Guide. Lying between him and the station of the Perfect Guide is Intrinsic Belief which is a dividing veil between them.
The Perfect Guide sees him and wants for him to obtain perfection and so he calls on him to return to him so that he can make him ascend to Going-on by Allah in a single step. But the traveller says to him through his state or with his actual tongue, "I am two stations above you. How can I descend to you when I can see certainty before me and I do not see the perfections in you which I see in myself. I kept the company of those who were greater than you."
So the Perfect Guide excuses him since he knows what his station has given him and he knows of the words of Allah. "Consummate wisdom but warnings are profitless," (54:5) and His words, "You will not guide the one you love." (28:56) He tells him, "You are excused in what you say because you are ignorant of the benefits of the means, following and having a companion on the Path to Allah. You are ignorant of the perils of independently following your own opinion and turning away from the prescribed means. You are ignorant of the perils of travelling alone. You think that I am making claims for myself and you are better than me because you have reached this station which you do not claim it for yourself and so you have more scrupulousness and circumspection in your deen than me. You do not know that I am commanded and responsible for conveying this to you and that I will be questioned about that before Allah Almighty. My scrupulousness is to guide you in order to carry out my trust and obey what I am commanded. The messenger only has to convey. But I ask you to testify for me before Allah that I have conveyed it to you." He says, "O Allah, I have conveyed it." He says, "I will testify to that for you."
If there is prior Divine Concern for him, he will descend from his station and return, even by way of experience, when he sees his eagerness for him. Then the Perfect Guide will enable him to reach Going-on by Allah and he will cross twenty-four stages in one step. If he does not return, that moves him to Certainty.
If he does not stop, he will miss a lot of its good, although not entirely deprived of all of it since Allah says, "And if heavy rain does not fall then there is dew." (2:265) Good Company then moves him to Pleasing Trustworthiness.