The Seal of the Wisdom of the Real in the Word of Ishaq (Issac)

The ransom of a Prophet by an animal's sacrifice

     as an offering!

How can the bleating of a ram be equal

     to the voice of a man?

Allah Almighty magnified the ram out of concern for us or for it,

     but I do not see by what measure.

There is no doubt that the bodies

     of cows and camels are larger,

but they relinquished the rank of sacrifice

     to the offering of the ram.

Would that I knew how a ram

     replaced the khalif of the All-Merciful with its small body!

Do you not see that the command to sacrifice

     implies correspondence and promises gain and diminishes loss?

There is no creature higher than the mineral,

    and after it comes the plant according to its ranks and measures.

The animal comes after the plant,

    and each one had gnosis of its Creator by unveiling and evident proof.

As for the one named Adam, he is limited

    by intellect, thinking, and the conventions of belief.

It is that which Sahl (at-Tustari)1 and the realizer

     said as we do2 - because we and they are in the degree of Ihsan.

Whoever witnesses the matter I have witnessed

     will say what I have said, both secretly and openly.

Do not pay any attention to words

     which contradict our words and do not sow grain in the land of the blind!

They are the "deaf and dumb" in the text of the Qur'an

     which the one protected from wrong action brought for our ears.

Know, may Allah support us an you! that Ibrahim, the intimate friend, peace be upon him, told his son, "I saw in a dream that I must sacrifice you." (37:102) He did not interpret it although the dream is the presence of the imagination (khayâl). It was a ram which appeared in the form of IbrahimÕs son, and Ibrahim confirmed the vision. So his Lord ransomed his son from IbrahimÕs illusion with the "mighty sacrifice", which was the interpretation of the vision with Allah, but Ibrahim was not aware of it.

The tajalli of form in the presence of the imagination requires another knowledge by which one can perceive what Allah means by that form. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to Abu Bakr when he interpreted a dream, "You have guessed part of it rightly, and you have missed part of it it." Abu Bakr asked him to inform him of what was right in it and what was wrong, but the Prophet did not do so.

Allah said to Ibrahim when He called him, "Ibrahim, you have discharged your vision." (37:105) He did not say to him, "You have confirmed the vision that it is your son" because he did not interpret it. He took what he dreamt literally, whereas dreams require interpretation. That is why the 'Aziz, the ruler of Egypt, said, "...if you can interpret dreams." (12:43) The meaning of interpretation is the transposition from the form of what one dreamt to another form. The cattle represented the hard years and the fertile years. If Ibrahim had been faithful to the dream, he would have sacrificed his son, since he believed in the dream that it really was his son, whereas with Allah it meant the "mighty sacrifice" in the form of his son. He ransomed him by what occurred in Ibrahim's mind, but it was not ransomed in actuality with Allah.

There is a common form to the sensory form of the sacrifice and the imaginary form of Ibrahim's son. If he had seen a ram in his imagination, he would have interpreted it as his son or something else. Then Allah said, "This was a most manifest trial," (37:106) i.e. his clear test, meaning his experience in knowledge - whether or not he knew what the perspective of the dream required in the way of interpretation. He knew that the place of the imagination required interpretation, but he neglected it and the condition inherent in it, and for this reason he believed in the vision.

Taqi ibn Mukhallad, the transmitter of traditions, did so too, having heard in a tradition he was sure of, that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Whoever sees me in a dream, sees me when awake, for Shaytan cannot assume my form."3 So Taqi ibn Mukhallad saw the Prophet in a dream in which the Prophet gave him milk to drink. Taqi ibn Mukhallad believed his dream, but he made himself vomit and threw up the milk. If he had interpreted the dream, he would have known that milk means knowledge, equal to the quantity that he drank. Do you not see that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, received a goblet of milk in a dream and he said, "I drank it until satiety came out of my nails, and then I gave the surplus to 'Umar." It was said, "Messenger of Allah, what do you interpret it as?" He replied, "Knowledge."4 He did not leave it as milk in its dream form since he had knowledge of the state of dreams and how they must be interpreted.

It is known that the form of the Prophet, peace be upon him, which the senses see, is buried in Madina, and that the form of his spirit and his subtle form have never been seen by anyone nor by himself. For this reason, the spirit of the Prophet takes on material existence in the form of his body as he died, and nothing is missing from it. So it is Muhammad, peace be upon him, who appears in dreams through his spirit in a bodily form which resembles his buried body, for Shaytan cannot assume the form of his body,5 may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and Allah protects the one who sees him. For this reason, whoever sees this form takes from it all that it orders or prohibits or gives good news of, even as he takes judgements from him in the life of this world - according to what they indicate from text, immediate or implicit. If he gives him something, that thing is subject to interpretation, unless it is manifest in the senses as it is in the imagination, and so does not require interpretation. It is based on this aspect that Ibrahim, the intimate friend, relied, even as Taqi ibn Mukhallad did. The vision has these two aspects.6

Allah taught us adab in what He did with Ibrahim and what He said to him when He gave him the station of prophethood. We know that when we see Allah in a form which logical reason rejects, we must interpret that form according to the Sharî'a, whether it is in the state of the one who sees Him, or in the place in which He is seen, or the two together. If logical reason does not refute it, then we take it as we saw it, just as when we see Allah in the Next World.

So the One, the All-Merciful,

     has forms in every place from what is hidden and what is manifest.

If you said, "This is the Real!" you spoke truly;

     and if you said, "It is something else," you interpreted.

His principle is not in one place rather than another,

     but it brings the Real to the creatures.

When He manifests Himself to the eyes,

     the intellects deny him by insistent proofs.

He is accepted in the tajalli to the intellects,

     and in that which is called the imagination (khayâl).

That which is sound is the seeing.

Abu Yazid,7 may Allah be pleased with him, says of this station,8 "Had the Throne, and all it contains a hundred million times over, been in one of the corners of the heart of the gnostic, he would not have felt it." This is the magnitude of Abu Yazid in the world of bodies, but I say, "If the limitlessness of that which exists could be conceived of as being limited, and had it been contained as an existent source in one of the corners of the heart of the gnostic, he would not have been aware of it in his knowledge." For it is confirmed that the heart contains Allah, although it is not described by satiety. Had it been filled, it would have saturated.

Abu Yazid also said, "We have pointed to this station, saying:

O Creator of things in Yourself,

     You encompass all You have created!

You create that whose being has no end in You,

     for You are narrow and vast!

Had that which Allah created shone in my heart,

    this shining dawn would not have shone.

But that which contains Allah

     does not exclude creation.

How is that, O Hearing?

Anyone can create by illusion in his imagination that which has no existence save in the imagination. This is a common matter. By aspiration (himma), the gnostic creates that which has an outside existence in his aspiration. However, it continues only as long as the aspiration continues to preserve it without being tired by preserving what it created.9

When it happens that the gnostic neglects to preserve what he created by concentration, that creature ceases to exist, unless the gnostic has mastered all the presences and does not neglect anything. Rather, he must witness at least one of these presences. If the gnostic creates something by his aspiration and possesses this encompassment, that creature¹s form will appear in every presence, and the form will preserve itself. If the gnostic neglects a presence or many presences while seeing one of the presences, and while preserving the form of what he created in the presence he is in, all the forms will be preserved by the preservation of that form in the presence which he does not neglect. For neglect is never universal, either among the common or the elite.

I have exposed a secret here which the People of Allah have guarded jealously, for it contains a refutation of their allegation of being the Real. For the Real is never unconscious of anything, and the slave must be unconscious of something in favour of something else. Inasmuch as he preserves that which he has created, he says, "I am the Real,"10 but he does not maintain it the way the Real maintains it – that is the difference. Inasmuch as he is unconscious of any form and its presence, the slave is distinguished from the Real. He must be distinct, although all the forms are maintained by his preservation of a single one of these in the presence of which he is conscious. This is preservation by inclusion, and the preservation of the Real of what He created is not like that. Rather, His preservation is of each form in particular. This matter which I have just communicated has never been written about by anyone - neither by me nor by any others - except in this book. It is unique in time. Take care lest you forget it!

The presence which you remain conscious of, with the form which resembles it, is like the Book about which Allah said, "We have not omitted anything from the Book." (6:38) It therefore integrates the tangible and the intangible. None will recognise what we have said except the one who is himself a Qur'an.11 The one who fears Allah will have a furqân,12 which is, as we mentioned, this matter in which the slave is distinct from the Lord. This furqân is the highest furqân.

At one moment, the slave is the Lord without a doubt,

    and at another the slave is most certainly the slave.

If he is the slave, he is vast by Allah,

    and if he is the Lord, he is in a restricted life.

Insofar as he is the slave,

    he sees the source of himself,

and without a doubt

     his hopes expand from him.

Inasmuch as he is a lord, he sees all of creation,

     from the presence of angels and the kingdom, demanding from him,

And he is unable to answer their demands by his essence.

     For this reason, some of the gnostics weep.

Be the slave of a Lord, and do not be the lord of His slave,

     so you will not be suspended and tested in the fire.

1. Famous Sufi who studied under Sufyan ath-Thawri. d. 282/896. Wrote a short commentary on the Qur'an.

2. That the inanimate has more greater gnosis of Allah and obeys Him more than other creatures.

3. Al-Bukhari (6592); Muslim 42:10.

4. In Abu Dawud and Ibn Hanbal.

5. As in the hadith of al-Bukhari and Muslim.

6. Either it remains on its dream form or it is subject to interpretation.

7. Al-Bistami, d. 261/874. Famous Sufi known for his ecstatic expressions.

8. The station of the vastness of the heart.

9. Language derived from Qur'an 2:255, "...their preservation does not tire him."

10. Al-Hallaj.

11. i.e. The Perfect Man.

12. Qur'an 8:29, "O you who believe! If you have fear of Allah, He will give you a furqan..."

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