the level of the greatest sainthood, or among the Imams of the Prophet’s Family and foremost the five People of the Cloak, or the great interpreters of the law and the generation following the Companions and foremost the founders of the four schools of law. So did those who lived later advance further than them? Did they find a better highway on which to proceed?
T h e A n s w e r : God forbid! Nobody at all has the ability to advance further than those purified ones who were the stars and heirs closest to the Sun of Prophethood; the highway is indeed theirs.
As for the Unity of Existence, it is a way and a state, but it is deficient. However, because it is illuminating and pleasurable, most of those who have reached that degree on their spiritual journeyings have not wanted to leave it; they have remained there and supposed it to be the ultimate degree.
If the spirit of the person who takes this way is divested of materiality and intermediaries and he has rent the veil of causes, and is immersed in a state of witnessing, then an experiential – not pertaining to knowledge – unity of existence that arises not from the Unity of Existence but from the Unity of Witnessing, may obtain for him a certain attainment, a spiritual station. He may even reach the degree of denying the universe for God’s sake. But if he is submerged in causes and preoccupied with materiality, for him, the Unity of Existence may mean going so far as denying God on account of the universe.
Yes, the great highway is the highway of the Companions, and those that followed them, and the Purified Ones. Their universal rule was, “the reality of things is constant.”1 In accordance with the sense of “There is nothing that resembles Him,”(42:11) Almighty God has absolutely nothing that resembles Him. He is utterly beyond being comprehended in place or class and being divided into parts. His relation with beings is creativity. Beings are not imaginings or fancies as those who followed the way of the Unity of Existence said. Visible things too are Almighty God’s works. Everything is not “Him,” everything is “from Him.” For events cannot be pre-eternal. We shall make this matter easier to understand with two comparisons:
T h e F i r s t : For example, there is a king. Through his name of Just Judge he has a Ministry of Justice which shows the manifestation of that name. Another of his names is Khalifa, and the Shaikh al-Islam’s Office and learned institution are the manifestations of that name. He has also the name of Commander-in-Chief, through which all the offices of the army perform their actions; the army is the manifestation of that name. Now, if
‘Umar al-Nasafi, al-Aqa’id, 1.