Confluence of Streams

From time immemorial there are two kinds of people in this world. On group thinks that they can approach God by meditation and trance. That approach demands the cutting off of the human spirit from the material world. To approach almighty this procedure is practiced since ancient times and we know the practitioner as Sadhu, Monks and Rahibs etc.

The other group believes that God cannot be approached in this way. He created us so it is His responsibility to guide us. Therefore He must send us His revelations. In this method the God selects a person from Humanity and sends His instructions on him. Such people are called Messengers, Prophets and Apostles. From World’s religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are Prophetic religions.

Islam originally started as a pure monotheistic religion has also been affected by the streams of Jewish, Christian and Gnostic mysticism. In this book the confluence of these mystical streams on Islam is examined. The mystics in different religions spheres and times have stated things which are common. It is probably happened to a lesser extent due to borrowing or coping but mainly it reflects the collective consciousness of mysticism approach.

It was night in Makkah. Muhammad peace be upon him was praying to Allah, an unseen Deity. He was there because of his dreams. He has not experience any vision or trance but only the dreams. Recently the dreams he has seen have started becoming a reality in the daylight. He wanted to know why this is happening to him. He went to a cave on MountHirah where he engaged himself in Al-Tahannath[1].  He did that for some nights and on one night an angelic being appeared and asked him to read a text:

اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ (1) خَلَقَ الْإِنْسَانَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ (2) اقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ الْأَكْرَمُ (3) الَّذِي عَلَّمَ بِالْقَلَمِ (4) عَلَّمَ الْإِنْسَانَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ (5

Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists), Has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood).  Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous, Who has taught (the writing) by the pen, Has taught man that which he knew not

In the next 23 years he received the revelation we now called Quran.  It is instructed to him that now this is the last communication of Allah with Humans, as the message is straight forward.  In surah  Al-Anam Allah said:

وَأَنَّ هَذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيمًا فَاتَّبِعُوهُ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا السُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ عَنْ سَبِيلِهِ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ 153

And verily, this is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His Path. This He has ordained for you that you may become Al-Muttaqun

Allah said in surah Al-Baqarah

لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ قَدْ تَبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ فَمَنْ يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِنْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَى لَا انْفِصَامَ لَهَا وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ (256)

There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Taghoot and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.


Allah informed us that whole humanity had one single faith, Islam

وَإِنَّ هَذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَأَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاتَّقُونِ 52

And verily! This your religion (of Islamic Monotheism) is one religion, and I am your Lord, so keep your duty to Me.

Because of this similarity between the messages, all Messengers of Allah are same. Allah said in Surah al-Shura 13-15:

شَرَعَ لَكُمْ مِنَ الدِّينِ مَا وَصَّى بِهِ نُوحًا وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ وَمَا وَصَّيْنَا بِهِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَى وَعِيسَى أَنْ أَقِيمُوا الدِّينَ وَلَا تَتَفَرَّقُوا فِيهِ كَبُرَ عَلَى الْمُشْرِكِينَ مَا تَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَيْهِ اللَّهُ يَجْتَبِي إِلَيْهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَيَهْدِي إِلَيْهِ مَنْ يُنِيبُ (13) وَمَا تَفَرَّقُوا إِلَّا مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَهُمُ الْعِلْمُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ وَلَوْلَا كَلِمَةٌ سَبَقَتْ مِنْ رَبِّكَ إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى لَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُمْ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُورِثُوا الْكِتَابَ مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ لَفِي شَكٍّ مِنْهُ مُرِيبٍ (14) فَلِذَلِكَ فَادْعُ وَاسْتَقِمْ كَمَا أُمِرْتَ وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ وَقُلْ آَمَنْتُ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ مِنْ كِتَابٍ وَأُمِرْتُ لِأَعْدِلَ بَيْنَكُمُ اللَّهُ رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّكُمْ لَنَا أَعْمَالُنَا وَلَكُمْ أَعْمَالُكُمْ لَا حُجَّةَ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمُ اللَّهُ يَجْمَعُ بَيْنَنَا وَإِلَيْهِ الْمَصِيرُ (15)

He (Allah) has ordained for you the same religion  which He ordained for Nuh (Noah), and that which We have inspired in you (O Muhammad ), and that which We ordained for Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses) and ‘Iesa (Jesus) saying you should establish religion (i.e. to do what it orders you to do practically), and make no divisions in it (religion). Intolerable for the Mushrikun, is that to which you (O Muhammad ) call them. Allah chooses for Himself whom He wills, and guides unto Himself who turns to Him in repentance and in obedience. And they divided not till after knowledge had come to them, through selfish transgression between themselves. And had it not been for a Word that went forth before from your Lord for an appointed term, the matter would have been settled between them. And verily, those who were made to inherit the after them (i.e. Jews and Christians) are in grave doubt concerning it. So unto this then invite, and Istaqim, as you are commanded, and follow not their desires but say: “I believe in whatsoever Allah has sent down of the Book and I am commanded to do justice among you, Allah is our Lord and your Lord. For us our deeds and for you your deeds. There is no dispute between us and you. Allah will assemble us (all), and to Him is the final return.

It means that all Prophets had same religion the core of the faith is based on the Oneness of Allah, rejection of Taaghoot[2], fear of Hereafter, and hope for the forgiveness of Allah. Prophet said (Sahih Muslim):

الأنبياء إخوة من علات وأمهاتهم شتى ودينهم واحد

Prophets are like son of same father with different mothers and their religion is same

Hence as such People do not need any other approach to reach Allah if they have already got the revelation from Allah. In spite of the clear messages of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad peace be upon them, people opted to exercise the other approach to reach Allah i.e. Mysticism.

Allah said in surah Al-Hadeed-27:

ثُمَّ قَفَّيْنَا عَلَى آثَارِهِمْ بِرُسُلِنَا وَقَفَّيْنَا بِعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ وَآتَيْنَاهُ الإنْجِيلَ وَجَعَلْنَا فِي قُلُوبِ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُ رَأْفَةً وَرَحْمَةً وَرَهْبَانِيَّةً ابْتَدَعُوهَا مَا كَتَبْنَاهَا عَلَيْهِمْ إِلا ابْتِغَاءَ رِضْوَانِ اللَّهِ فَمَا رَعَوْهَا حَقَّ رِعَايَتِهَا فَآتَيْنَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنْهُمْ أَجْرَهُمْ وَكَثِيرٌ مِنْهُمْ فَاسِقُونَ 

Then, We sent after them, Our Messengers, and We sent ‘Iesa (Jesus) – son of Maryam (Mary), and gave him the Injeel (Gospel). And We ordained in the hearts of those who followed him, compassion and mercy. But the Monasticism which they invented for themselves, We did not prescribe for them, but (they sought it) only to please Allah therewith, but that they did not observe it with the right observance. So We gave those among them who believed, their (due) reward, but many of them are Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah).

Due to this, in early stages of Muslim history, Mysticism as an approach is not favoured. But somehow this approach survived and become the most revered approach in Muslim world to seek God. As the reader go through this book, he would be amazed to see how the mystical tradition from Jews, Christians and Gnostics has entered in the Islamic mystical tradition.

[1] Al-Tahannath التحنث means engagement in nearness to Allah and His worship.

[2] Taaghoot means any one acting against the Allah

Although Jews were fascinated by the mysticism, magic and divination from the very beginning but these practices were reprimanded by God. The form of Mysticism whose practice survived till today has started in Babylon. There Jews were indulged in magic and they associated the Kingdom of Prophet Sulaiman with magic, in order to accomplish some ulterior motives.

Merkabah Mysticism

According to Book of Ezekiel in Bible, Ezekiel was born into a priesthood lineage and was resident of Anathoth. He belonged to upper class Jews who were exiled to Babylon. On the bank of the Chebar (الخابور‎) River, in Tel Abib in Babylon he saw a great vision. In the vision he saw a great chariot called Merkabah (chariot) with lights, fire and flashes. The angelic beings were surrounding the chariot (see Ezekiel 1-28). Later in Jewish Mysticism Merkabah is related with Divine Throne and Jewish mystics developed a whole branch around it called Merkabah/Merkavah[1] mysticism (or Chariot mysticism). It is estimated that it started as early as from c.100 BCE to 1000 CE (started from 100 years before Jesus).

In Ezekiel’s vision, all the movement of all the angels of the chariot or Merkabah are controlled by the Man on the Throne. Ezekiel said (Ezekiel 1:26)[2]

וּמִמַּעַל, לָרָקִיעַ אֲשֶׁר עַל-רֹאשָׁם, כְּמַרְאֵה אֶבֶן-סַפִּיר, דְּמוּת כִּסֵּא; וְעַל, דְּמוּת הַכִּסֵּא, דְּמוּת כְּמַרְאֵה אָדָם עָלָיו, מִלְמָעְלָה

And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone; and upon the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man upon it above.

In Judaism it is forbidden to interpret this text and if done should be done after permission and secrecy.

Seek not out the things that are too hard for thee, neither search the things that are above thy strength. But what is commanded thee, think thereupon with reverence; for it is not needful for thee to see with thine eyes the things that are in secret[3].

Therefore that understanding of some passages was only devoted to Khawas or special People who can hold the intensity of those writings. The secret doctrines must not be discussed in public. This enormous vision has attracted Jewish mystics to indulge in meditation to seek knowledge of the Divine Realm and the Kingdom of God.  From Mysticism tradition of Judaism it is definitely dated pre-Islamic, contrary to some opinion of Muslim scholars[4].

You are You!

An important personality in early Islam was Abdullah bin Saba[5]. He was originally a Jew from Yemen but converted to Islam. Believes and ideologies preached by Ibn Saba were alien for early Muslims. Muslim scholars find it hard to reconcile Ibn Saba’s believes with both Judaism and Islam.

Al-Shahiristani writes in Al-Mallal-wan-Nahal, pg 50 about the deviated sects of Islam:

السبائية أصحاب عبد الله بن سبأ؛ الذي قال لعلي كرم الله وجهه: أنت أنت يعني: أنت الإله؛ فنفاه إلى المدائن. زعموا: أنه كان يهودياً فأسلم؛ وكان في اليهودية يقول في يوشع بن نون وصي موسى عليهما السلام مثل ما قال في علي رضي الله عنه. وهو أول من أظهر القول بالنص بإمامة علي رضي الله عنه. ومنه انشعبت أصناف الغلاة. زعم ان علياً حي لم يمت؛ ففيه الجزء الإلهي؛ ولا يجوز أن يستولي عليه، وهو الذي يجيء في السحاب، والرعد صوته، والبرق تبسمه: وأنه سينزل إلى الأرض بعد ذلك؛ فيملأ الرض عدلاً كما ملئت جوراً. وإنما أظهر ابن سبا هذه المقالة بعد انتقال علي رضي الله عنه، واجتمعت عليع جماعة، وهو أول فرقة قالت بالتوقف، والغيبة، والرجعة؛ وقالت بتناسخ الجزء الإلهي في الأئمة بعد علي رضي الله عنه.

Al-Sabaiyyah: The people of Abdullah bin Saba; one who said to  Ali may Allah has Mercy on his face: You are You  means you are god; so Ali  deported him  to Al-Madain. These people claim that he (Ibn Saba) was Jew then accepted Islam. He said that Yusha bin Nun was the successor of Moses and similarly he called for Ali may Allah pleased with him. And he (Ibn Saba) is the first one, who spread the statement for evidence of Immamate of Ali. And to him are many Ghulat[6] sects are associated. They thought that Ali is alive and has not died; and in him were the Divine parts, and it is not allowed to him to reveal those; and he (Ali) floats with  clouds and lightening is his voice and flash is his smile and he would descend to Earth  after that; and would fill the earth with justice as it is filled will oppression. And Ibn Saba appeared with this description after the demise of Ali may Allah be pleased with him; and with him (Ibn Saba) gathered a group and this was the first sect which holds the believes of Tawaquf, Ghybata and Rijah. And they hold the concept of transmigration of Divine parts  into their Imams (leaders)  after Ali.

Ibn-Ather writes in al-Kamil fil Tareekh, juz 2, pg 8

أن عبد الله بن سبأ كان يهودياً من أهل صنعاء أمه سوداء، وأسلم أيام عثمان، ثم تنقل في الحجاز ثم بالبصرة ثم بالكوفة ثم بالشام يريد إضلال الناس فلم يقدر منهم على ذلك، فأخرجه أهل الشام، فأتى مصر فأقام فيهم وقال لهم: العجب ممن يصدق أن عيسى يرجع، ويكذب أن محمداً يرجع، فوضع لهم الرجعة، فقبلت منه، ثم قال لهم بعد ذلك: إنه كان لكل نبي وصي، وعلي وصي محمد، فمن أظلم ممن لم يجز وصية رسول الله، صلى الله عليه وسلم، ووثب على وصيه، وإن عثمان أخذها بغير حق، فانهضوا في هذا الأمر وابدأوا بالطعن على أمرائكم...


Abdullah bin Saba was Jew from Sana (Yemen), his mother was black and he accepted Islam in reign of Uthman. Then he shifted to Hijaz then to Basra, then to Kufa  and then to Syria. He intended to make people astray ( from Islam) but had not accomplished this. Then people of Syria deported him, he arrived at Egypt and stayed there and said to them: Strange it is when you say that Jesus would return, and deny that Muhammad would return and made (the concept of) Rija for them, and they accepted that. Then he said: For every Prophet there was (a successor) Wasi and Ali is Wasi of Muhammad, so most tyrant is the person who had not acted on the will of Prophet, peace be upon him. And he claimed that Uthman has taken over (the caliphate) without the right, so rise up in this matter and start denouncing your rulers ….


Generally Muslim historians claim that Ibn Saba motives were political but he used religion to gather masses and invented new terms and concepts in Islam.  Almost all Sunni historians have counted him among deviated Shiite sects.  But how his believes represents his hidden Jewish faith had never been explored.

If one analyse his claims in the light of Jewish mystical thought one would definitely see the Jewish traces in his thought process.  For example in Torah it is stated that when Moses saw Allah in the burning bush he asked what shall I say to Pharaoh?  Who you are? God said  (Exodus 3:14)

אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה

                                               ehyeh ʾašer ʾehyeh   (phonetically in Hebrew)

I am what I am           (translated in English)

ana-howa-allazi-howa         (translated in Arabic Bible)

Al-Mutahar (ا لمطهر بن طاهر المقدسي) writes in Al-Bida wal Tahrikh البدء والتاريخ, pg 14

وقول اليهود بالعبرانية ايلوهيم ادناي اهيا شراهيا ومعنى ايلوهيم الله

And Jews called in Hebrew (names) Elohim, Adoni, ehya ashr ehya and meaning of  Elohim (is) Allah

The name اهيا شراهيا is arabisation of ehyeh ʾašer ʾehyeh. Ibn Al-Abri writes in book Tahrikh Mukhtasr Al-Daul   تاريخ مختصر الدول:

قال موسى: فان قالوا لي ما اسم ربك ماذا أقول لهم. قال: قل اهيا اشر اهيا أي الأزلي الذي لا يزال

Moses said: If they asked me what is the name of your Lord what shall I say to them? (Allah) said: Say اهيا اشر اهيا that my Eternalness would not fall.

Ibn Manzoor quoted Al-Saghani that[7]:

وهو اسم من أسماء الله جل ذكره ومعنى إهيا أشر إهيا الأزلي الذي لم يزل هكذا أقرأنيه حبر من أحبار اليهود بعدن أبين  شَراهِيا معناه يا حيُّ يا قيُّومُ بالعِبْرانِيَّةِ

And that is the name in names of Allah Almighty and meaning of إهيا أشر إهيا  is that My Eternalness would not fall and similarly indicated that to me a sage in sages of Jews from Adan ,  the meaning ofشَراهِيا   is O Ever Living O Sustainer in Hebrew.

So when Abdullah ibn Saba  said to Ali: You (are) You!,  he actually reiterated the God’s answer to Moses. By saying You  (are) You, he associated him to God which Ali, may Allah pleased with him immediately recognized.

Secondly the association of Ali with lightening, clouds and flashes is actually the symbiosis of Ali with the Ezekiel’s Man on Merkabah. He too appeared in clouds with flashes and lightening.

Does he believed in Hulul[8] or was there some other Jewish believe under-playing is not clear due to brief reports about Ibn Saba.  In mystical tradition of Islam it is said that the Being which appeared to Moses in burning bush was Ali and Being said Ann al-Haque (I am Truth)

The meanings of these Persian verses are:


If a voice of I am Truth from a tree is permissible

then how come it is not permissible for a noble man?

In many Sufi mystic orders the meetings for the remembrance of Allah are very important. These meetings which are meant for the Dhikr of Allah normally end with the rhythmic generation of sound. Some mystics are mesmerised by this and go into frenzied dancing called State of Wajd.  The formula they use is Allah Hu Allah Hu, but it has no source in Quran and Hadith. It seems to be an adaptation of the verse of Exodus 3:18, as God said:


A well know Sufi formula for Dhikr is: Allh-hu-Allah-hu

Only the word are replaced.  Simply Anna (I) is replaced by Allah (see the verse of Torah).

Gematria and ilm- ul- Jafr

Greek thought and philosophy had a huge impact on the religion of Judaism after 334 BCE when Alexander invaded near east. Now the Jewish mystical thoughts are merged with Hellenistic culture and Greek Neo-Platonism. Philo Judeas (30 BCE-45 CE) was the leader of Jewish’s community at Alexandria indulged in mystical practices. Jews used the Greek method of Isopsephy[9] to unlock the mysteries of Cosmos, method called Gematria[10].  The earliest use of Gematria is attributed to Philo during second Temple period.

Muslims too developed Abjad system or Ilm-ul-Jafr[11]  similar to it. It has been narrated on the authority of `Abdullāh ibn Sinān that Imam Ja`far al-Sādiq said when we mentioned before him the activities of the descendants of Imam al-Hasan and also the al-Jafr:

“By Allah I swear; we keep two papers made of skins of goat and sheep. These two papers comprise the dictation of the Messenger of Allah with the handwriting of (Imam) `Alī.”

The Imam remained silent for a while and then said,


 “With us there is al-Jafr. Do they know what al-Jafr is?” I asked, “What is al-Jafr?” The Imam (a.s.) said, “It is a container made of skin that contains the knowledge of the prophets and the executors of their wills. It is the knowledge of the scholars in the past from the Israelites.[12]



Dahabi quoted a poet Abi Alla Marra  أبى العلاء المَعرِّى  in his book Al-Tafseer wal- Mufasaroon:

لقد عجبوا لأهل البيت لما     أروهم علمهم فى مسك جفر

ومرآة المنجم وهى صغرى         أرته كل عامرة وقفر

I have been astonished by Ahlul Bayt             They showed their knowledge  by the touch of Jafr
And the Mirror of Stars, that is small one      enough for everyone settled and  in wilderness


According to mystic Shibli (Abu Bakr Dolad Jafar bin Younis Al-Shibli) (d. 864 AH) said:

When god created the letters, He kept their secrets for Himself and when He created Adam He conveyed the secrets to him but did not convey it to any of His angels[13].

It is said that Abjad alphabets are the letters of Great Divine Name[14]:

أنها حروف من أسماء الله تعالى ، روى ذلك معاوية بن قرة ، عن أبيه ، عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم

Indeed they are the letters of Name of Allah, narrated Muawiah bin Qarrah from his father from Messenger of Allah peace be upon him

 In Table-1 the Hebrew Gematria and Abjad system is compared. It is important to note the similarity between the Hebrew letter sounds and Arabic letters. In Abjad system the number are not assigned as they appear in order instead the number are assigned according to Gematria. On the other hand the letter of Hebrew are in order as they read in sequence. Abjad arrangement and Ilm-ul-Jafr[15] are thus Arabic adaptation of Gematria  which reveals that it has its origins in Jewish mysticism.  The main difference between Abjad and Ilm-ul-Jafr methods is that the former refers to what has already taken place in past and the later one is about what’s likely to take place in the future.


Example 1:  Hebrew theonym (Hebrew: יהוה‎) phonetically  in Arabic as  ي ه و ه is called the name of God in Hebrew.  10+5+ 6+5=26 

Another name is El = אל = 30+1 =31

The name El is also used in the names of Angels like in Hebrew Jibril is called  גַּבְרִיאֵל  (see the table;  it is pronounced Jibr-el in Hebrew)  is also used in Quran. In Hebrew it means El is my strength. Likewise Micha-el means El is my power.

This also refute the claims of some Muslims which stress unnecessarily on the use of word Allah instead of God.

Example 2:  אָדָם = Adam = 40+4+1=45

Example 3: In Arabic the word القمر is used for moon so numerals are:

ا  ل ق م ر = 1+30+100+40+200 = 371= 300+70+1

Decoding it back gives the essence of the word as ش  ع ا = شعا means circulating or عشا which means night so Moon circulates in night.

Example 4  Huruf Muqattaa’t are the letters of Arabic in a combination appearing in the beginning of some surah in Quran. Their exact meaning is unknown and only Allah knows about their purpose. Surah Baqarah starts with such huruf الم = ا ل م = 1+30+40=71. These numbers are widely used in amulets.


In the ancient Jewish text of Sefer Yezirah, the letters are related to elements and planets.  The purpose is to unlock the mysteries of cosmos using the letters and deciphering them. The author of Sefer Yetzirah combined seven letters to make combination corresponding to seven plants known in Hellenistic era.  In similar fashion eight letter words were created in Ilm-ul-Jafr[16]. The first word Abjad consists of four letter. The second word is Hawwadh, which consist of three letters. Third one is the three letter word Hutti. The fourth word  is the four letter Kaleman. Fifth word is the four letter S’fas. Sixth word is the four letter Qarashat. The seventh is the three letter Thakhkhaz and the eighth is the three letter Dazagh.

Tibri has reported that these are the name of days in his  book  : تاريخ الرسل والملوك

حدثني الحضرمي، قال: حدثنا مصرف بن عمر واليامي، حدثنا حفص ابن غياث، عن العلاء بن المسيب، عن رجل من كندة، قال: سمعت الضحاك ابن مزاحم يقول: خلق الله السموات والأرض في ستة أيام، ليس منها يوم إلا له اسم: أبجد، هوز، حطي، كلمن، سعفص، قرشت.

Dahhak bin Mazahim said: Allah has created Heavens and Earth in six days, and the name of the days are Abjad, Hawwadh, Hutti, Kaleman, S’fas and Qarashat.

Note that there are 22 Hebrew alphabets are rest are derivates of them. That is why the last word is Qarshat; because with above 6 words  all 22  Hebrew Alphabets are used.

Al-Askari said in his book  Awail:

وقالوا: أول من وضعه أبجد وهوز وحطي وكلمن وسعفص وقرشت. وضعوا الكتاب على أسمائهم وكانوا ملوكاً.

And  said: the first created was Abjad, Hawwadh, Hutti, Kaleman, S’fas and Qarashat. A book is written on their names and they were kings

Ibn-Khuldoon writes in his Muqqadmah, in chapter ومنهم طوائف يضعون قوانين لاستخراج الغيب that how the Abjad letters are used for the extraction of knowledge of future:

وصارت تسع كلمات نهاية عدد الأحاد وهي ” إيقش، بكر، جلس، دمت، هنث، وصخ، زغد، حفظ، طضغ 

And they draw nine words which end with letter Ahad and words are

إيقش، بكر، جلس، دمت، هنث، وصخ، زغد، حفظ، طضغ 

Now if you go back to Table 1 and see the letters in words are actually the combination of  letters of Gematria in  a row. There are some minor changes but the reason of that is that Ibn-Khuldoon heard it from someone.

In book   المفصل في تاريخ العرب قبل الإسلام , Jawwad Ali writes

ولمسألة ترتيب الحروف اهمية كبيرة لا تقل عن اهمية أسماء الحروف. ويظهر إن ترتيب ” أبجد هوز حطي..، الخ”، وهو ترتيب سار عليه العرب أيضاً، هو ترتيب قديم، وقد عرف عند السريان وعند النبط والعبرانيين،وعند “بني إرم” ويظن انهم أخذوه من الفينيقيين. وقد سار عليه الكنعانيون أيضاً

And the sequence of the letters is a matter of great  importance ….and appearance in the combination of Abjad, Hawwadh, Hutti .. is also taken by Arabs and its an ancient combination and its known to Syrian, Nabateans, Hebrews and too Bani Irum and it is thought that they took it from Phoenicians and likewise followed Canaanites too.

Thus Muslims were unaware of origin of these words, some said these were the six days of creation, and some said these were the names of Kings but they all agreed that these words are ancient.

Great Divine Name (Ism-e-Azam)

Another important Jewish mystical text is Shir Qomah. The majority of the text is recorded in the form of sayings or teachings that the angel Metatron[17] revealed to the Rabbi Yishmael[18] who transmitted it to his students and his contemporary Rabbi Akiba. Shir Qomah  record, in anthropomorphic terms, the secret names and precise measurements of God’s corporeal limbs and parts. The book state that:

Everyone who knows the measure of the Creator is sure to be a son of the World to Come, and will be saved from the punishment of Gehinnom, and from all kind of punishments and evil decrees about to befall the world, and will be saved from all kind of witchcraft, for He saves us, protects us, redeems us, and rescues me from all evil things, from all harsh decrees, and from all kinds of punishments for the sake of His Great Name.” Shiur Qomah 1:2

In Muslim History a heretic named Mughaira bin Saeed (d. 119 AH) appeared in Iraq. He was a  pseudo-religious political person.  Ibn-Hazam wrote in Al-Mallal wan Nahal:

 .. He used to live in Kufa. He was burned alive on the orders of Khalid bin Abdullah. He used to say that his Lord is a young man  (Naodhubillah) and his body parts are as many as letters of  Al-Abjad i.e. Arabic Alphabets[19]. The famous liar and weak narrator Jabir bin Yazid Al-Joufi was the apostle of Mughaira after his death. Mughaira instructed his followers that now leader of Shiites is Muhammad bin Abdullah bin Hasan bin Hasan bin Ali bin Abi Talib  i.e. grandson of Hasan may Allah  pleased with him.  Mughaira claimed that angels Gabriel and Michael have given oath of allegiance to Muhammad bin Abdullah between Maqam-Ibrahim and Rukun (part of Kabbah)[20].  He introduced the principal of Taweel[21] of Quran. He claimed that in Quran, Adel (Justice) means Ali, Ahsan means Fatimah, Zawil-Qurbah means Hasan and Hussain and Fahsha wal Munker means Abu Bakr and Umer.[22]

 Abul-Hasan Al-Ashari wrote about him[23]:

The fourth group is Al-Mughairah i.e. those who believed in Mughaira bin Saeed. They thought that Mughaira is apostle and knows Ism-e-Azam (Great Divine Name) also they claimed that their Lord is a Noor[24] and Human which tiara on His head. He has limbs like humans and He has belly and heart which gives the Hikmah and He has as many limbs as letters of Huruf Abjad. Aleph with slight inclination corresponds to His foot and for ه they claimed that if you have the vision of it, you would have seen a great thing! By this they mean the hidden parts[25]. That cursed one,  claimed that he has seen that. He also claimed that he knows Ism-e-Azam by the help of which he could raise the dead. … He also claimed that Muhammad peace be upon him is the first creation.

It is repoted in al-Kafi[26]:

 Shurays al-Wabishi narrated from Jabir from abu Ja‘far (a.s.) who has said the following:

The greatest name of Allah has seventy three letters. There was only of these letters. He spoke that one letter and land between him and throne of the Queen of Sheba sunk down as such that he could reach her throne with his hand and the land returned to the original state. This happened in a blinking of (a number of our people has narrated) from eye. Of the greatest name of Allah there are seventy two letters with us. Allah has kept one letter exclusively for Himself in the knowledge of the unseen. There is no means and no power except by the help of Allah, the Most High, the Most Great.”

Also in Al-Kafi:

al-Husayn ibn Muhammad al-Ash‘ari from Mu‘alla ibn Muhammad from Ahmad ibn  Muhammad ibn ‘Abdallah from Ali ibn Muhammad al-Nawfali who has said that he heard abu al-Hassan (a.s.) Sahib al-‘Askar say the following. “The greatest name of Allah has seventy three letters. There was only one letter with Asif. He spoke with it and the land between him and the throne of the Queen of Sheba  sunk down as such that he took her throne and placed it before Solomon. The land then came to normal state within less than a blinking of an eye. There are seventy-two of those letters with us. One letter is with Allah which, He has kept it exclusively in the knowledge of the unseen

According to Kabbalah  The Great Name of God contains 72 letters described in book Sefer Raziel. Also called Shem HaMephorash (שם המפורש)) see

It is  reported in Tabqat Al-Sufiya pg 27 for Ibrahim bin Adham:

سمعت أبا العباس، محمدَ بن الحسن بنِ الخشاب، قال: حدثنا أبو الحسن عليُّ بن محمد بن أحمد المصري، قال: حدثني أبو سعيد أحمدُ بن عيسى الخَرَّاز، قال: حدثنا إبراهيم بن بَشَّار، قال: ” صحبت إبرهيم بن أدهم بالشام، أنا و أبو يوسف الغَسُولى، و أبو عبد الله السنِّجارى. فقلت: يا أبا إسحاق! خبِّرني عن بَدْءِ أمرك، كيف كان ” – قال: ” كان أبي من ملوك خُراسان. و كنت شاباً فركبت إلى الصَّيد. فخرجت يوماً على دابَّة لي، و معي كلب؛ فأَثَرْت أرنباً، أو ثعلباً؛ فبينما أنا أَطْلُبه، إذ هتف بي هاتف لا أراه؛ فقال: يا إبراهيم: إلهذا خلقتَ؟! أم بهذا أُمِرت؟!. ففَزِعتُ، و وقفتُ، ثم عدتُ، فركضتُ الثانية. ففعل بي مثلُ ذلك، ثلاثَ مرات. ثم هتف بي هاتف، من قَرَبُوس السَّرْج؛ و الله ما لهذا خُلِقتَ! و لا بهذا أُمِرتَ!. فنزلت، فصادفت راعياً لأبي، يرعى الغنم؛ فأخذت جُبَّتَه الصوفَ، فلبِستها، و دفعت إليه الفرس، و ما كان معي؛ و توجهت إلى مكة. فبينما أنا في البادية، إذا أنا برجل يسير، ليس معه إناءٌ، و لا زادٌ. فلما أَمْسَى، و صلّى المغربَ، حرَّكَ شفتيه، بكلامٍ لم أفْهَمه؛ فإذا أنا بإناءٍ، فيه طعامٌ، و إناءٍ فيه شرابٌ؛ فأكلتُ، و شربتُ. و كنتُ معه على هذا أيَّاماً؛ و علمني ” اسمَ اللهِ الأعظمَ ” . ثم غاب عني، و بقيتُ وحدي. فبينما أنا مُسْتَوْحش من الوحدة، دعوتُ اللهَ به؛ فإذا أنا بشخص آخِذٍ بحُجْزَتي؛ و قال: سَلْ تُعْطَهْ. فَراعَني قولُه. فقال: لا رَوْعَ عليك! و لا بَأْسَ عليك!. أنا أخوك الخَضْر. إن أخي داود، عَلّمك ” اسمَ اللهِ الأعظم ” ، فلا تَدْعُ به على أحد بينك و بينه شَحْنَاء، فتُهْلِكه هَلاكَ الدنيا و الآخرة؛ و لكن ادْعُ الله أن يُشَجِّع به جُبْنَك، و يُقوّيَ به ضَعفَك، و يُؤْنِسَ به وَحْشتَك، و يجدِّدَ به، في كل ساعة، رَغبتَك. ثم انصرف وتركني.

I said: O Abu Ishaque Tell me about the starting of this matter (mystical way), How it happened. He said My father was among the kings of Khurasan. And I was young and used to go  for hunting.  One day I have gone on  animal for me, and with me were hounds. I pursued a rabbit or a fox and while I was pursuing I heard a voice of unseen caller, it said to me: Is this you are created for? I got afraid and stopped then waited and attempted second time and same happened again. It occurred to me thrice. And a caller called me from saddle: By Allah is this you are created for? And is this you are commanded? I stepped down and came across a shepherd grazing sheep, I took his woollen cloak and put it on. And retreated from there and no body was with me and I went towards Makkah. While I was in the desert, I was a man who walked, and  not (a single) pot I had and any other (thing). When evening came I prayed Maghrib, my lips started gibberish which I understood not  When I arrived back to my pot (lo) there was food and pot  was filled with water, which I ate and drank. And it occurred to me for many days and I learned Ism Allah Al-Azam (Great Divine Name of Allah) but it was missed from me and left other (knowledge). While I was uncultured one, Allah called me, as If I am a person who is  .. and said to me: Ask it would be given. I appalled by this call. He said: Do not fear! And its not a problem  for you!. I’m your brother Al-Kidr. My brother David gave you, knowledge of “name of God”, So Don’t reject any one due to feud between you and him, otherwise you would be destroyed by the (adoration) destruction in this world  and in the hereafter; but I pray to  God to increase  your bravery over  cowardice, and strengthens your weaknesses, and humanizes your depression, and renewed it (harmony)  in every hour, (and increase) your interest (in mystic way) . And then went off and left me.

Abu Yazeed Al-Bustami (d. 261 AH) said[27]:

وقيل له: علمنا الاسم الاعظم. قال: ليس له حد، إنما هو فراغ قلبك لوحدانيته، فإذا كنت كذلك، فارفع له أي اسم شئت من أسمائه إليه

It is said to him: Teach us the Great Name (of God): He said: there is no limit of it. It is openness of your heart to oneness, when you attain that state, any name will be elevated for you, which you like from His Names.


Divination through Dead by Jews during Prophet’s Lifetime

After the second Hasr[28], the persecution of the Jews and the passage of time raised the fears that the details of the oral traditions dating from Pharisaic times (536 BCE – 70 CE) would be forgotten.  Understanding this urgency Rabbi Yehudah haNasi  also called Yehudah the prince  redacted Mishna around 220 CE. Later Mishna’s exegesis was written in Palestine now called Jerusalem Talmud completed around 400 AD. The second exegesis was written in Babylon or Iraq from 400 to 600 AD and called Babylonian Talmud. In 570 AD Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him was born. Therefore the most reliable source to understand the Jewish faith in times of Prophet is Mishna and its explanation called Talmud. To prove that dead are cognizant of humans affairs on earth these stories are told in Talmud[29]:

It once happened that a pious man gave a denarius to a a bagger on the new year eve in the time of drought. His wife upbraided him so he went and spent the night in the cemetery. He heard two spirits conversing. One said to the other come friend let us wonder in the world and hear behind the curtain, what visitation is to befall the world. The other spirit replied I cannot because I am buried in a matting of reeds. But do you go and report me what you hear. She went and having wandered about, returned. The other asked, what did you hear friend, behind the curtain? She replied I heard that if one sows in the first rainfall the hail will smite it. This man there upon went and sowed in the second rainfall. The hail destroyed everybody’s crops but not his. The following year he spent the new year’s night in the cemetery, and heard the same two spirits conversing. One said to the other come let us wonder in the world and hear behind the curtain what visitation is to befall the World? The spirit replied have I not told you friend that I cannot because I am buried in a matting of the reeds? But do you go and come and tell me what you hear? She went and wandered about and returned the other spirit asked what did you hear behind the curtain that if one sows the second rainfall it be smitten by the blast. This man went and sowed the first rainfall. What everybody else sowed was smitten by the blast, but not his. His wife asked him, how is that last year every bodies crop was destroyed by hail, but not yours and this year everybody’s crop is blasted except yours? He told her the whole story[30]

A story is reported in Talmud, that dead are also aware of visitors of their graves:

Zeiri left a some of money incharge of his land lady. During the time he went to the school of his master and returned, she died. He followed her to the cemetery and asked her where is the money? She replied go and take it from beneath the door’s socket in such and such place and tell my mother to send my comb and tube of eye paint through so-and-so who will arrive here tomorrow[31].

Another story is told in which it is showed how the living can acquire knowledge from dead:

The father of Samuel was entrusted with some money belonging to orphans at the time he passed away, Samuel was not with him. People called after him, son of consumer of the orphans’ money. He went after his father to the cemetery and said to them, I want Abba. They replied there are many of that name here. He said to them, I want Abba, the father of Samuel where is he? They answered he has gone up to the heavenly seminary where the Torah  is studied. In the meantime he noticed a former colleague named Lev, who was seated a part. He asked him, why do you sit a part? Why have you not gone up to the heavenly seminary? He replied I was told, the number of years you did not attend the seminary of R. Aphes, and caused him grief on that account, he will not permit you ascend to the heavenly seminary.  In the meanwhile his father arrived and Samuel noticed that he wept and laughed.  He said to him why do you weep? He answered because you will soon come here. And why do you laugh? Because you are very highly esteemed, let them allow Levi  to enter and they permitted him to enter. He asked his father, where is the orphans money? He replied go and take it from the enclosure of the mill. The upper and lower sums of money belong to us. The middle sum belongs to the orphans. He asked his father why did you act in this manner. He replied should thieves come to steal they would steal ours. Should the earth destroy, it would destroy ours[32].

A story is told about the torment in Gehinnom for non Jews:

A tradition exist to the effect that the sufferers in Gehinnom enjoyed a respite every Sabbath. It is mentioned in a dialogue between the Roman governor, Tineius Rufus and R. Akiba[33]. The Roman asked, how is the Sabbath different from any other day? The Rabbi retorted, how are you a Roman official different from any other man? Rufus said the Emperor was pleased to honour me;  and Akiba replied: Similarly the Holy One the blessed be He, was pleased to honour the Sabbath. How can you  How can you prove that to me? Behold the river Sabbatyon carries stones as it flows all the days of the week but it rests on Sabbath. To  a distant place you lead me! Akiba said, Behold a necromancer can prove it because the dead ascend all the days of the week but not on Sabbath.  You can test my statement by your father. Later on Rufus had occasion to call up his father’s spirit. It ascended everyday of the week but not on Sabbath. On Sunday he caused him to ascend  and asked, have you become a Jew since your death? Why did you come up every day of the week but on the Saturday? He replied  Whoever does not observed the Sabbath with you on Earth does so voluntarily, but here he is compelled to keep the Sabbath. The son asked is there then, work where you are that you toil on weekdays and rest on Sabbath? He answered; all the days of the week are under sentence but not on the Sabaath[34].

It is told in Talmud that spiritual beings are invisible, but one can see them by a procedure[35] :

Who wishes to perceive their footprints should take sifted ashes and sprinkle them around his bed. In a morning he will see something resembling the footprints of cock. Who wishes to see them should take ……. Roast it in fire, pulverize it then fill his eyes with it and he will  see them.. rabbi did that.. [36].

Divination through Dead and Spirits by Muslims

Spirits or souls can also guide Muslim Mystics, a procedure is mentioned by  Shah Waliullah (d. 1176 AH)[37]:

The discourse on Kashf Al-Qubur (Revelations from Graves): Remember the one, who would like to do the Kashf Al-Qubur that in the beginning (of this procedure)  he should pray two rakats for the soul of the saint. In the first raka he should recite chapter Al-Fatah if remember and in second one chapter Al-Akhlas if not then in each raka recite five times chapter Al-Akhlas. Then sit while keeping Kabba at his back and recite the Great Verse  and some chapters from Quran which are read when  graveyard is visited, like chapter al-Mulk and afterwards recite the (two) chapters (of Quran which) starts with (word) Qul.  After that recite the first chapter and eleven times chapter Al-Aklas and say Takbeer[38] and circumabulate the grave for seven times starting from the right side then place his face  (over the grave) on the foot side of the grave and sit near the dead and say for twenty one times O Lord and after that look towards sky and say O Spirit (of dead) and also repeat it in heart O Spirit (of dead), O Spirit (of dead) until his heart opens.  By will of Allah, the Revelation of Spirit or Revelation from grave would be acquired.

Among Muslims, a procedure is explained by a sufi master  Ashraf Ali Thanvi in his book Amal Al-Qurani pg 54, a method to access hidden treasure:

One who wants to know the location of buried or hidden treasure, he should writes these verse (of Quran) on the bowl of copper with Musk and Saffron then wash it with yellowish water of .. and the water from the green fruits. Then he should take the gall bladder of black chicken or black duck and take five Mithqaal[39]  Surmah (Kohl) and wash it with water and pulverise it until it becomes a fine powder. And he should do that at night  so that it doesn’t get the sunlight, place the powder in the glass bottle and apply it in his eyes using Abnoos wood stick, in such a way that fast on Thursday at the midnight  say prayer of blessings on Messenger of Allah and seventy times read these verses  and apply this power in his  eyes thrice, starting with the right eye first. And repeat it for seven nights.. Eventually that person would start seeing spiritual beings. Ask them whatever he wants to know. They would answer him.

Adam Kadmon:  The Theory of Primordial Man or Insan Al-Kamil

In Jewish mysticism, Adam Kadmon, is the first being to emerge from the Godhead.  Philo discussed this idea that the heavenly man is the perfect image of the Logos[40]. R. Akiba said (quoted in Talmud):

How favoured is man, seeing that he was created in the image! as it is said, ‘For in the image, אֱלֹהִ֔ים made man'” (Genesis  9:6)

Abdul Kareem Al-jili (d. 832 AH) explain the Islamic counter-part of this mystical concept in his book Insan Al-Kamil as[41]:

Insan Al-Kamil is the axis on which all the creation from beginning till end revolves. And it is same since the beginning of creation till infinitum. It has multiple manifestations. He appears in the Synagogues and Monasteries and he is named according to his appearance and at other times a different name is given. His original name is Muhammad. His nickname is Abul Qasim. His attribute is slave of Allah. And title Shamsuddin.  He has other names due to other forms. And in every age his name is different. I saw him manifested in my Sheikh Sharfuddin Al-Jabarti. I knew that he is Messenger of Allah peace be upon him (i.e. Muhammad) and also knew that he is my Sheikh.

Further he said:

Each of these Qutub or persons has control over the whole Kingdom (of God).  He knows what cracked in day and night and the languages of birds. And Shibli said: if an ant which moves over a hard rock in a dark  night and have I not heard its voice then I would have said  that I have been deceived or was in the state of deception.






[1] It is interesting to know that Islamic mystical practices Meditation is called Muraqaba. There are different Manazil or levels in Muraqabah. At the zenith of this procedure the person experiences the Tajalli-e-Dhaat of God or in other words he would see Allah Almighty. Conceptually the goal of Markabah Mysticism  and Muraqbah is same.


[3] Book of the All-Virtuous Wisdom of Joshua ben Sira

[4] Muslim scholars try to mix the Merkabah mysticism with Kabbalah and then claim that its formation is quite new. However, the former is the most ancient form and later one is developed in Europe, but that too has its source in ancient mystical texts.

[5] Abdullah bin Saba is not an imaginary person as some have claimed:

  1. In Shiite sources: Notable Shiite scholar, Abu Umar Muhammad bin Umar bin Abd al-Aziz al-Kashi (d. 340 AH) reported a narration in Rijal Al-Kashi: From Abi Ja’far  that Abdullah bin Saba’ used to claim prophet-hood and used to claim that Amir al-Momineen (Ali) is Allah, Exalted is He from that. This reached Amir al-Momineen (Ali) who summoned him and asked him (about it) so he (Ibn Saba’) affirmed it and said, “Yes, you are Him, and it had been entered into my soul that you are Allaah and that I am a prophet.” So Ali said to him, “Woe to you, the devils have mocked you, so recant from this, may your mother be bereaved of you, and repent.” But he refused, so he was imprisoned and asked to repent over three days. He never repented and was burned with fire. And he (Abi Ja’far, the narrator) said, “Shaytan had beguiled him, he used to come to him (Ibn Saba’) and would put that (idea) into his soul.”
  2. In Sunni sources: Ibn Hajar has reported, with several different chains (asnad) without Saif bin Umer, and proved that Ibn Saba is a real person. (see Lisan Al-Meezan, juz 2, pg40). Notable Shiite  narrators like Al-Kalbi and  Jabir bin Yazid Al-Joufi also claimed that they are follower of Abdulah bin Saba (Al-Majroheen by Ibn-Habban, Tahzeeb ul Kamal).

[6] Ghulat means deviated Shiites

[7] in Lisan-ul-Arab, juz 13, pg 506

[8] Hulul means that the  Divine spirit has descended into Creation

[9] Isopsephy is  the Greek word for the practice of adding up the number values of the letters in a word to form a single number.

[10] The Greek Qabalah by  Kieren Barry, Weiser Publishers

[11] According to Shiite tradition, Ilm-ul-Jar is the secret knowledge written on the skin of ram or goat  passed on to Ali from Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him.

[12] Kitab Al-Kafi: Vol. 1, Hadith 635, Ch. 40, h1

[13] Mystical Dimensions of Islam, Anne Marie Schimmel

[14] Al-Nukat wal Uyyon by al-Mawardi, juz 1, pg 9

[15] According to Shiite tradition, Ilm-ul-Jar is the secret knowledge written on the skin of ram or goat  passed on to Ali from Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him.


[17] Metatron is an angel, only appeared in mystical Jewish texts.

[18] Rabbi Yishmael lived before the birth of  Muhammad Messenger of Allah peace be upon him. That shows that this text is very ancient.

[19] Abjad letters from then on wards become mystical and now widely used in fortune telling, magic and mysticism. The approach is quite similar to Jewish mysticism especially see the book Shir Qomah, an ancient text  in which explains  how Hebrew alphabets are representing the body of God Almighty.

[20] Maqallat Al-Islamiyeen by Abul Hasan Al-Ashari

[21] Taweel is a procedure to assign different meaning to a word then its original one.

[22] According to Zareer bin Abdullah, Doafa Dar-Qutani

[23] in Maqallat Al-Islamiyeen pg 11 in Maqallat Al-Islamiyeen pg 11

[24] Noori i.e. created from Light

[25] Like human genitals

[26] Al-Kafi, ch 36

[27] Seer Aallam Al Nublah by Dahabi , juz 13 pg 86

[28] Second Destruction of Jerusalem by Romans

[29] Order Zeraim, Berachoth 18b

[30] Everyman’s Talmud by Abraham Cohen, Schoken Publishers, 1995, pg 284-285

[31] Everyman’s Talmud by Abraham Cohen, Schoken Publishers, 1995, pg 286

[32] Everyman’s Talmud by Abraham Cohen, Schoken Publishers, 1995, pg 286-287

[33] R. Akiva (d. 135 AD)

[34] Everyman’s Talmud by Abraham Cohen, Schoken Publishers, 1995, pg 382

[35] Order Zeraim, Berachoth, 69

[36] Everyman’s Talmud by Abraham Cohen, Schoken Publishers, 1995, pg 262

[37] In Intebah fi Salasil Aulliah Allah, pg 113-114

[38] Takbeer means saying Allah-hu-Akbar (Allah is Great)

[39] Mithqaal is the unit to measure weight

[40] The Great Angel by Margaret Barker, pg 146

[41] Al-Insan Al-Kamil by Abdul Kareem Al-Jili,


Issa or Jesus peace be upon him gave a pure monotheistic faith that obey Allah and reject Taghoot. However after he left the World and his disciples too died, came people who were not so steadfast and followed their whims and deserted the pure monotheistic faith.  Many sects appeared which claimed to know the real teachings of Issa peace be upon him and attributed to him several Gospels.

Mysticism in Christianity arrived due to their conflicts on the nature of Issa. The author of Gospel of Mathew (Matti) claimed Jesus was human, born in lineage of David or Dawood peace be upon him, but at the moment of Baptism[1] in river Jordan by John or Yahyah peace be upon him, Jesus saw the descend of Holy Spirit[2] on him (3:16) and a voice declared Jesus as Son[3]. Then Holy Spirit took him to desert …indicating that Jesus acted under influence of it. Mathew probably liked to emphasis that the influence of Holy Spirit did not make him divine.  Mathew said that Jesus was born under influence of Holy Spirit (1:20). Jesus was the Messiah of Jews (1:16), who was foretold by Jeremiah (31:15), Isaiah (40:3) and Psalms (91:11-12). But Matthew did not refer towards divinity of Jesus. Mathew also said that people in times of Jesus thought that Jesus is a Prophet (21:46).

The author of Gospel of Mark (Marqas) has not talked about the lineage of Jesus and in first ten lines of his Gospel he jumped quickly to claim that at the moment of Baptism the Holy Spirit descended into Jesus (1:10)  i.e. Hulul[4] of Ruh Al-Qudus (Naodubillah).

The author of Gospel of Luke (Loqa) claimed that Holy Spirit is not so special. It descended on Zakariyah (1:67) and on Shamoon (2:26). At the time of Baptism, Holy Spirit descended physically in form of dove or pigeon on Jesus and flowed over him (3:22) (so no Hulul occurred) and a voice from sky declared him Son of God[5], and thus Jesus become the adopted son of God (Naodubillah).  In Luke’s another book, Acts, same theory is placed that God adopted Jesus (Acts 13:33)[6].

The author of Gospel of John  (Yuhanna) claimed that Jesus had not become adopted son due to Baptism or descending of Holy Spirit (Hulul), but was god from the very beginning. John distorted the meaning of Kalimah or Word (or in Greek Logos). John started his gospel with verses(1:1-4):

In the beginning was the Word[7], and the Word was near[8] God, and the Word was Divine[9]. This one was in the beginning with God; All things were made through him and without him was not anything created. That was created in him was life[10] and that life was the light for humankind[11].

It is said in Gospel of John that all things were made through Word[12]. After comparing several translations and Greek grammar one Christian scholar explain the verses as :


God speaks word that make things come into existence. So Word is God’s creative Power and  plan and activity[13].

In verse 1:14 John said:

And the Word became flesh, and moved his tent in among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of an only begotten from a Father, full of grace and truth

Thus Jesus was Word or Logos incarnated. In this way John gave Jesus an exalted place and invented the mystery, that Kalimah or Word descended in physical form. So now John added another mystery in the nature of Jesus.

These differences in the nature of Jesus Christ were the major reason of Arian Heresy[14] which eventually led Christians towards Nicene Creed, in which using the Gnostic concept of Homoousios finally Triune God is made i.e. Theory of Three gods, Father, Son and Holy Spirit called Trinity[15].

Logos Terminology in Islam and Hulul Theology

In early Islamic history, a deviated person was Abu Mansoor Al-Ajali (d. 119 AH). He coined the name Kisaf (cloud) for himself and claimed that in Quran he was already foretold when Allah talked about clouds. Instead of saying By Allah for oaths, he used to say by Kalimah[16]. Ibn-Hazam wrote in al-Mallal wan Nahal that:

 Abu Mansoor claimed that Allah has created first Jesus son of Mary and after him Ali bin Abi Talib. He claimed that Prophethood has not ended… also his follower do not kill by inflicting cuts rather they suffocate their opponent and by this they mean that they wait till the appearance of leader (Imam).  And when Imam would appear they would kill the opponents with stones and the Khabshiyah[17] with woods or sticks. One group of them claimed that Muhammad bin Abdullah bin Hasan bin Hasan is our Imam. They also claimed like Khattabiyah that Gabriel has mistakenly sent the revelation on Muhammad peace be upon him instead of Ali.


Some frequently used terms in Islamic Mystic literature are Lahut and  Nasut. What are the meaning of these words?

Al-Zubaidi explained Lahut and Nasut  in Taj Al-Urus تاج العروس من جواهر القاموس that [18]:

الصحيح أنه من مولدات الصوفية أخذوها من الكتب الاسرائيلية وقد ذكر الواحدى أنهم يقولون لله لا هوت وللناس ناسوت وهى لغة عبرانية تكملت بها العرب قديما

The correct is that this is invented by Sufiyah  and they took it from books of Israelites and Al-Wahidi said they say Lahut for Allah and Nasut for Humans and it is taken from Hebrew language and it is spoken  like this in ancient Arabic


Gospel of Luke was originally written in Greek,  when Arab Christians[19] translated it they used these ancient words to refer to human and divine aspects of Jesus.

Dawood Antaki wrote in his book تزيين الأسواق في أخبار العشاق

والناسوت واللاهوت ألفاظ وقعت في الانجيل فتأولها لوقا

And words  Nasut and Lahut  occurred in Gospel consult (Gospel of ) Luke

He further said that:

فقال أن عيسى ترع الناسوت يعني الحصة البشرية وأخذ اللاهوت يعني الحصة الالهية في ناسوته

He (Luke) said that in Jesus was Nasut means part human and took (out) the Lahut part means the divine part  from his human part

In Islam the first person who claimed Hulul[20] was Hussain bin Mansur Al-Hallaj.  Ibn- Khalkan writes[21]:

وكان في سنة 299 ادعى للناس أنه إله وأنه يقول بحلول اللاهوت في الأشراف من الناس

And in year 299, (Mansur) called people and said he is god and he said that Lahut can hulul[22] in the noble people

Hussain bin Mansur Al-Hallaj (d. 309 AH) said[23]:

سبحان من أظهر ناسوته  سر سنا لاهوته الثاقب

تم بدا في خلقه ظاهرا  في صورة الآكل والشارب

حتى لقد عاينه خلقه  كلحظة الحاجب بالحاجب

Holy is the Being who had revealed His Nasut (form)     through the bright secret of blazing Lahut
Then He appeared among His creation                              in form of a one who eats and drinks
Until His creation saw Him                                                      as a movement of eyebrow with eyebrow

He said[24];

مزجت روحي في روحك كما  تمزج الخمرة بالماء الزلال فإذا مسك شئ مسني  فإذا أنت أنا في كل حال

My soul is dissolved in Your (Divine) Spirit  as the wine is mixed with water, as You sense things I sense them as well, as You are me in all conditions

Thus Al-Hallaj claimed that Allah has infused in him and that is the claim of Divinity.  Ibn Kalkan wrote about his crucifixion and reported that Al-Hallaj has recited verses on the Cross:

وقال أبو بكر ابن ثواية القصري: سمعت الحسين بن منصور وهو على الخشبة يقول:

طلبت المستقر بكل أرض … فلم أر لي بأرض مستقرا  

 أطعت مطامعي فاستعبدتني … ولو أني قنعت لكنت حرا

And Abu Bakr Ibn Thawayata Al-Qasri said: I heard Hussain bin Mansur while he was on the Cross saying


I looked for the station on whole earth                            But didn’t found an abode here       

Obeyed my coveted (thought), she enslaved me            And if I stayed on it, it would set me free

Thus till his last breath he died on the belief of Hulul.

It is interesting to note that most of Muslim Mystics after Al-Hallaj have always praised him for his bravery in poetry and prose and he has become a symbol for deviated people.

Christian Monasticism in Desert

John Moschos(ca. 550- d. 619 AD/ 4 BH) was a notable monk of Christians during Prophet’s life time. John and his disciple Sophronius (65 BH- 638AD/ 17 AH), the Patriarch of Jerusalem travelled together at many places and collected the Hakayaat or anecdotes of Christian Monks or ascetics. John travelled in Egypt, Syria, Palestine and Asia Minor. He collected his anecdotes during his travels and compiled them in Greek with title Pratam Sprituale  also called Leimonarium. He died four years before migration of Prophet from Makkah to  Medinah.  In 637 AD (16 AH) Muslims conquered the Jerusalem. Sophronius toured caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab may Allah be pleased with him,  the city.

The following passages are quoted from Pratam Spritulae by John Moschos:

Saints are alive in graves

This story was told us by Abba Basil, priest of the monastery of the Byzantines. When I was with Abba Gregory the Patriarch at Theoupolis,  Abba Cosmas the Eunuch of the Larva of Pharon came from Jerusalem. The man was most truly a monk, orthodox and of great zeal, with no small knowledge of the scriptures. After being there a few days, the elder died. Wishing to honour his remains, the patriarch ordered that he should be buried at  a spot  in the cemetery where a Bishop lay. Two days later I came to kiss the elder grave a poor man stricken with paralysis was lying on the top of the tomb, begging alms of those who came into the church. When this poor man saw me making three prostrations and offering the priestly prayer, he said to me: O Abba this was needed a great elder, sir, whom you buried here three days ago. I answered how do you know that. He told me I was paralysed for twelve years and through this elder the Lord cured me. When I am distressed, he comes and comforts me, granting me relief. And you are about to hear yet another strange thing about this elder ever since you buried him at night calling ans saying to the bishop Touch me not, stay away, come not near, thou heretic and enemy of Truth and of the holy catholic Church of God. Having heard this from the man cured from his paralysis, I went and repeated it to the patriarch, I besought that most holy man to let us take the body of the elder and lay it in another tomb. Then the patriarch said to me believe me my child Abba Cosmos will suffer no hurt from the heretic. This has all come about that the virtue and zeal of the elder might become known to us after his departure from this world also that the doctrine of bishop should be revealed to us so that we not hold him to have been one of the orthodox[25].


John Moschos along with his disciple Sophronius went to  a place in Alexandria where me met a blind man, who told them the story of how he become blind


I went into sepulchre and stripped the corpse of its all clothes except for a single shroud. As I was leaving the sepulchre, my evil habits said to me Take the shroud too its worth the trouble. So wretch that I am I turned back and remove the shroud from the corpse, leaving it naked. At which point the dead sat up before and stretched out his hands towards me with his fingers he clawed my face and plucked out both my eyes. I cravenly left all behind and fled from the sepulchre, badly hurt and chilled with horror. Now I too have told I cam to be blind[26].


Dead saint’s guidance

There was an anchorite in these mountains, a great man in the eyes of God who survived for many years on the natural vegetation which could be found there. He is died in a certain small cave and we did not know, for we imagined that he had gone away to another wilderness place. One night in this anchorite appeared to our present father, that good and gentle shepherd, Abba Julian, as he slept, saying to him, Take some men and go, take me up from the place where I am lying, up on the mountain called the Deer. So our father took some brethren and went up into the mountain of which he had spoken. We sought for many hours but we did not come across the remains of the anchorite. With the passage of time, the entrance to the cave in which he lay had been covered over by shrubs and snow. As we found nothing Abba said Come children Let us go down and just as we were about to return, a deer approached and came to stand still some little distance from us. She began to dig in the earth with her hooves. When our father saw this he said to us believe me children that is where the servant of god is buried. We dug there and found his relics intact [27]


Oratory and Church over graves

Our holy father, Abba George…. told us: When I was about to build the church saint Kerykos at Phasaelis they dug the foundations of the church and a monk, very much an ascetic, appeared to me in my sleep. He wore a tunic of sack-cloth and on his shoulders an over garment made of rushes. In a gentle voice he said to me tell me Abba George Did it really seem just to you, sir, that after so many labour and so much endurance I should be left outside, the church you are building? Out of respect for the worth of the elder, I said to him: who in fact are you, sir? I am Peter the grazer of the Jordan. I arose at dawn and enlarged the plan of the church. As I dug I found his corpse lying there just I had seen him in my sleep. When the oratory was built I constructed a handsome monument in the right hand aisle, and there I interred him[28].


Forty days at grave

I have found it written that blessed Leo who become primate of the church of the Romans, remained at the tomb of apostle Peter for forty days exercising himself in fasting and prayer invoking  the apostle Peter to intercede with God fro him that his faults might be pardoned. When forty days were fulfilled, the apostle Peter appeared to him saying I prayed for you, and your sins are forgiven except for those of ordinations. This alone will be asked of you whether you did well, or not, in the ordaining those whom you ordained[29]


Cloak offering

We encountered Abba John the Persian at the Larva of Monidia and told us this about George the Great,  the most blessed bishop of Rome.  I went to Rome at the tomb of most blessed apostles, Peter and Paul. One day when I was standing in the city center the I saw Pope  Gregory[30] was going to pass by. I had it in mind to prostrate  myself before him. The attendants of Pope began saying to me, one by one. Abba, do not prostrate yourself. But I could not understand why they had said that to me, certainly it seems improper for me not to prostrate myself. When the Pope near and perceived that I was about to prostrate myself – the Lord is witness brethren- he prostrated himself down and refused to rise until he got up. He embraced me with great humility handed me three piece of gold, and ordered me to be given a monastic cloth, stipulating that all my needs to be taken care  of. So I glorified God who had given him such humility towards every body, such generosity with alms and such love[31].

Prostration at each step

When we were in Alexandria we visit Abba Theodoulos who was at the church of Saint Sophia holy wisdom by the Lighthouse. He told us:

It was in the community of our saintly father Theodoulos which is  in the wilderness of the city of Christ our God that I renounced the World there I met a great elder named Christopher, a Roman by race. One day I prostrated myself before him and said of your  charity Abba tell how you have spent your life from youth up I persisted in my request and because he knew I was making it for the benefit of my soul. He told me saying When  I renounced the World child I was full of ardour for monastic way of life. By day I would carefully observe the rule of prayer and at night I would go to pray in the cave where the saintly Theodoulos and the other holy fathers are buried. As I went down into the cave I would make a hundred prostrations to God at each step: there were eighteen steps. Having gone down all the steps, I would stay there until they struck the wood at which time I would come back up for the regular office. After ten years spent in that way with fastings and continence and physical labour, one night I came as usual to go down into the cave. After I had performed my prostrations on each step, as I was about to set foot on the floor of the cave I felt into the trance. I saw the entire floor of the cave covered with  lamps, some of which were lit and some were not. I also saw two men, wearing  mantles and clothed in white, who tended those lamps. I asked them why they had set those lamps out in such way that we could not go down and pray. They replied: These  are the lamps of the fathers. I spoke  to them again: Why some of them lit while others are not?  Again they answered those who wished to do so lit there own lamps. Then I said to them: Of your charity is my lamp lit or not? Pray they said and we will light it. Pray I immediately retorted and what I have been doing until now? With these words I returned to my senses and, and when I turned round, there was not a person to be seen. Then I said to myself Christopher , if you want to be saved,  then yet greater effort is required. At dawn  I left monastery and went to Mount Sinai. I had nothing with me but the clothes I stood up in, after I had spent fifty years of monastic endeavours. There, a voice came to me Christopher, go back to your community in which you fought in the good fight so that you may die with your fathers. And a little while he told me this, his holy soul was joyfully to rest in the Lord[32].


Wandering Muslim Mystics

In Islamic tradition a similar anecdote is told for Sufi mystic Ibrahim bin Adham, he is described as[33]:

إبراهيم بن أدهم، أبو إسحاق. من أهل بَلْخ كان من أبناء الملوك و المَياسير. خرج متصيِّداً، فهتف به هاتف، أيقظه من غَفْلَتِه. فترك طريقته، في التَّزَيُّن بالدنيا، و رَجَع إلى طريقة أهل الزُّهْد و الورع. و خرج إلى مكة، و صحب بها سفيان الثَّوري، و الفُضَيْل بن عِياض. و دخل الشام، فكان يعمل فيه، و يأكل من عمل يده

Ibrahim bin Adham, Abu Ishaque, from Bulkh, belonged to royal family went out for hunting and heard a voice, woke up from his sleep left the way of worldly adoration, turned towards the way of asceticism and piety and went to Makkah and stayed among people of Sufyan Al-Thori and Al-Fadeel bin Ayaz and entered Syria and acted there and ate (earned)by hand work.

An anecdote is told about Ibrahim bin Adham [34]:

Said: the day Khwaja Ibrahim bin Adham abdicated the kingdom and throne, he manumitted all slaves he has  in front of him and started his journey  towards Kabba with intention of Hajj, and said every one goes to Kabba by feet  I should go there by head. So on each step he prayed two rakat Nafil (four prostrations) and reached Makkah in fourteen years from Balkh. But astonishingly Kabba was not there! A voice spoke to him: O Ibrahim wait and be patient, Kabba has gone to visit an old lady. He  got perplexed and asked: O Lord who is that lady? It was told that there is an old lady in woods[35].  Ibrahim went to her in woods and saw Rabiyah Al-Basri there and saw Kabba circumambulating her. Ibrahim ashamed and  said to her: What a commotion you created! Rabiyah replied: Nay that commotion you have  generated. You travelled from Bulkh till here in fourteen years and even than have not found Kabba at its place, as desired. When Ibrahim heard that he said: O Rabiyah, You wished for the Kabba’s visit so you got it and I wished for the dweller of Kabba  (i.e. God) and He hid from  me.


The lady in this anecdote is Rabiyah Al-Adwiyah  رابعة العدوية.  Her full name was Rabiyah bint Ismael رابعة بنت اسماعيل أم عمرو العدوية  also called أم الخير. Shed died in year 135 AH and in some reports in 185 AH.  She used to claim that she worships Allah only for His Mercy and not for getting Paradise. It is showed in anecdote that she was well aware of the Ibrahim bin Adham intentions even before he uttered the whole episode.  This reflects that she was at a higher mystical level than Ibrahim bin Adham, which Ibrahim too realised.

Another important figure is Sufism is Abu Yazeed Al-Bustami أبو يزيد البسطامي الأكبر المشهور . His real name is طيفور بن عيسى   and died in year 261 AH [36]. Ibn Hajar reported in Lisan Al-Mezan that:

وقال أبو عبد الرحمن السلمي أنكر عليه أهل بسطام ونقلوا إلى الحسين بن عيسى البسطامي أنه يقول له معراج كما كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فأخرجه من بسطام

And Abu Abdur Rehman Al-Sulami said that people of Bustam had rejected him and it is reported from Hussain bin Issa Al-Bustami that he (Abu Yazeed) said that he has experienced Mairaj[37] like that of Messenger of Allah peace be upon him, due to which  he was deported from Bustam.

Abu Talib Al-Makki (d. 386 AH) gives details of this Mairaj as[38]:

أدخلني في الفلك الأسفل فدورني في الملكوت السفلي، فأراني الأرضين وما تحتها إلى الثرى، ثم أدخلني في الفلك العلوي فطوف بي في السموات وأراني ما فيها من الجنان إلى العرش، ثم أوقفني بين يديه فقال لي: سلني أي شيء رأيت حتى أهبه لك، فقلت: ياسيدي، مارأيت شيئاً أستحسنته فأسألك إياه، فقال: أنت عبدي حقّاً

(God) entered me (Ba Yazid) in the underworld ship  and showed me his underworld kingdom, He showed me the lower earths and their cores. Then he entered me in a ship of upper-world and he passed me through heavens and I saw there are gardens till Holy Throne. Then stopped me in front of Himself and said: Ask me any thing you have seen I will gift it to you. I said: O Master I haven’t seen anything which I would appreciate so what shall I ask. He said: You are my real slave

Abu Yazeed used to say [39]:

يا رَبُّ! أَفْهِمْني عَنْك، فإنِّي لا أفهمُ عَنْك إلا بِكَ

O Lord, bestowed me your understanding, I don’t understand You but through You

He said [40]:

عرفْتُ اللهَ باللهِ، وعرفْتُ ما دونَ اللهِ بنورِ اللهِ عزَّ وجَلَّ

Understood Allah through Allah, and understood other than Allah through the Divine Light

He said [41]:

ما النار لاستندن إليها غدا

What is Fire (of Hell) will swallow it tomorrow!

Offering of Monastic cloak (Khaqah) by sufi Master is a tradition well known. But when did it is started? In Rahat-ul-Qulub by Fariduddin Ganj Shakar (pg 138) it is explained that in Islam it started in Mairaj (Night Journey) of Messenger of Allah peace be upon him.

Then discussion started on the  Kharqah. From his holy tongue he uttered that Messenger of Allah peace be upon him also got Kharqah in night of Mairaj. He called upon his companions and said I received kharqah from my Lord and it is commanded to me to give it to one of you, so the one among you, who would answer my question correctly,  I would give it to that person…(the first three caliphs answered wrong and finally).. Prophet gave the Kharqah to Ali.

Spending some time at the grave of holy person for divination from dead is a well known Sufi tradition. Ali Al-Hijweri writes[42]:


Ali bin Uthman Al-Jalabi may Allah bestow his Mercy on him had once tried to solve a problem but it didn’t solved. A similar incident occurred before it so I went to the grave of Sheikh BaYazid and stayed at his grave sight till it is solved. Finally it solved.


[1] Prophet Yahyah peace be upon him used to teach new converts to Islam, how to perform the ritual body washing at the river Jordan.  According to Gospels, Prophet Issa passed by Prophet Yahyah while he was teaching people and Prophet Jesus volunteered. This ritual cleaning is named Baptism by Christians.

[2] Holy spirit or Ruh Al-Qudus in Islam is not Divine but an angel known as Gabriel

[3] Gospel of Mathew 3:17

[4]  Hulul in plain words the God Almighty is believed to be descended in one of His creation

[5] Gospel of Luke 3:22

[7] The word λόγος (Logos) in John: 1- 4, is translated as Word or Kalimah. Also means cause, reason or speech.

[8] Truth in translation, Accuracy and Bias in English translations of the New Testament by Jason David BeDuhn,  pg 129

[9] Truth in translation, Accuracy and Bias in English translations of the New Testament by Jason David BeDuhn, University Press of America, Inc., 2003; BeDuhn has showed that the correct translation is Word was Divine not the Word was God.  In almost all translation in English for this verse it is said that the Word was God. Christians rendered the meaning to imply the divinity of Jesus and translated it wrongly.  Allah said Jesus is Kalima-tullah i.e. Word of Allah. In Islam that Word means the command of Allah, which indicates His Absolute Power that He created Jesus out of nothing in the womb of Virgin Mary peace be upon her. Allah had created earlier Adam peace be upon him with command as well.

[10] Early Manuscripts and Modern Translation of New Testament by Philip Wesley Comfort, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1990


[12] Allah informed us about His Kalimah in Quran it is “Kun” i.e. To Be.

وَإِذَا قَضَى أَمْرًا فَإِنَّمَا يَقُولُ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ

When He decrees a matter, He only says to it : “Be!” – and it is.

[13] Truth in translation, Accuracy and Bias in English translations of the New Testament by Jason David BeDuhn, pg 129

[14] Arianism is the teaching attributed to Arius (ca. AD 250–336). According to Arius Jesus was created and not present from the very beginning. He was concerned about the relationship of God to the Jesus of Nazareth. Arius asserted that the Son of God was a subordinate entity to God the Father.  Arius was deemed as a heretic by the Ecumenical First Council of Nicaea of 325.

[15] Belief of the Tathleth

[16] Logos or Kalimah is an ancient concept with sources in Greek religion that the world is made via Logos. The Gospel of John identifies the Logos, through which all things are made, as divine and further identifies Jesus as the incarnate Logos.

[17] Khabshiyah was a  Shiite sect claimed that they would not raise sword against opponents rather they prefer to kill with sticks of wood.  Khashab in Arabic means wooden.

[18] Taj al-Ursu, juz 1, pg 8241

[19] This distinction of Human and Divine nature of Jesus is  exploited by  Nestorians. Most of the Christians living in Iraq and Persia were Nestorians. Nestorianism was a doctrine proposed by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428–431 AD. He claimed that Jesus has two natures,  half human and half God.

[20] The infusion of Lahut in Nasut is Hulool or in plain words the God Almighty is believed to have descended into one of His creations. The concept is different from Incarnation and Avatar  in religions other than Islam, because in that case Almighty would appear among His creation. In mystical Islam, Lahut is Absorption i.e. divinity in another realm, Nasut  is  Humanity and Jabrut is Power but an intermediary state.  Ghazali elaboretd this state earlier as[20]:

وإنما عالم الجبروت بين عالم الملك وعالم الملكوت يشبه السفينة التي هي في الحركة بين الأرض والماء، فلا هي في حد اضطراب الماء، ولا هي في حد سكون الأرض

But the world of Jabrut lies  between the realm of kingdom  and angelic world,  like a ship that is in motion between Earth and water, neither it is at the limit of disturbed waters nor it is  at the limits of static Earth”. Ghazali statement indicate that there is switching between one realm to another.

[21] in Wafayat-ul- Ayan by juz 2, pg 140

[22] Literally dissolve, technically descend of God in Creation

[23] From Seer Allam Al-Nublah by Dahabi , juz 14, pg 325

[24] From Seer Allam Al-Nublah by Dahabi , juz 14, pg 325

[25] Spiritual Meadow (Pratum Sprituale) by John Moschos, published Cistercian  Publications,  pg 31-32

[26] Spiritual Meadow (Pratum Sprituale) by John Moschos, published Cistercian  Publications,  pg 60

[27] Spiritual Meadow (Pratum Sprituale) by John Moschos, published Cistercian  Publications,  pg 67-68

[28] Spiritual Meadow (Pratum Sprituale) by John Moschos, published Cistercian  Publications,  pg 74-75

[29] Spiritual Meadow (Pratum Sprituale) by John Moschos, published Cistercian  Publications,  pg 122

[30] Pope Gregory the Great was Pope of Christians from 590 AD (34 BH) to 604 AD (19 BH). Therefore he was the Pope in the life time of Prophet before our Holy Prophet peace be upon him become Messenger of Allah. After Pope Gregory, Pope Sabinian  took the office of Pope from 604 AD till 606 AD.  Pope Honorious hold office  from (625 AD, 3 AH) till (638 AD, 17AH)

[31] Spiritual Meadow (Pratum Sprituale) by John Moschos, published Cistercian  Publications,  pg 124

[32] Spiritual Meadow (Pratum Sprituale) by John Moschos, published Cistercian  Publications,  pg 82-83

[33] In Tabqat al Sufia

[34] In Anees-ul-Arwah, Uthman Haruni edited by Moinuddin Chishti, pg 17-18

[36] He is also called BaYazeed or BaYazid in Sufi traditions

[37] Mairaj means the travel from Earth to heavens

[38] Quwat-al-Qulub by Abu Talib Al-Makki, pg 474

[39] Tabaqat Al-Sufiah pg 36

[40] Tabaqat Al-Sufiah pg 37

[41] Mezan Al-Atedal, juz 2 pg 346

[42] in Kashaf al-Mahjoob, pg 171


Dhul-Nun Al-Misri (d. 859 AD/245 AH) was called physician of afflicted, was a legendary sufi. He was alchemist born of NubianPeninsula in Akmim in Upper Egypt. Hermetic and Gnostic influence  on Dhul-Nun is quite evident.   In Masnavi Mulana Rome, a story is told about him that:

Once Dhul Nun was travelling in a ship in which some gold was lost. One by one the passengers were searched, and although the gold was not found, everyone decided to blame Dhul Nun. They abused him but he remained silent until he shouted by looking at sky O my lord Thou Knowest (all)! Immediately thousands of fish appeared on the sea surface each holding pearl in their mouths. Dhul Nun stepped out of ship and started walking on sea surface.

Dhun-Nun wa supposed to have known the secret of the Egyptian hieroglyphs.   Ibn- Hajar wrote[1]:

كان أول من تكلم بمصر في ترتيب الأحوال وفي مقامات الأولياء فقال الجهلة: هو زنديق قال السلمي: لما مات أظلت الطيور جنازته انتهى وقال ابن يونس: يكنى أبا الفيض من قرية يقال لها: إخميم وكان يقرأ الخط القديم لقيت غير واحد من أصحابه كانوا يحكون لنا عنه عجائب


He is the first one in Egypt who talked about the orders and stations of Mystics. Al-Jahlah said He is Zhindeeque. Al-Sulami said: When he died birds shadowed his funeral bier. Ibn- Yunis said: He is nicknamed Abul Faidh from the town called Akhmim and he used to read the old writings, met several of his followers which narrates strange stories about him.

In Murroj Al-Dahab it is stated for Dhun Nun:

قال المسعودي: وأخبرني غير واحد من بلاد أخميم من صعيد مصر، عن أبي الفيض في النون بن إبراهيم المصري الِإخميمي الزاهد، وكان حكيمأ، وكانت له طريقة يأتيها ونحلة يعضدها، وكان ممن يقرأ عن أخبار هذه البرابي ودارها وامتحن كثيراً مما صور فيها ورسم عليها من الكتابة والصور، قال: رأيت في بعض البرابي كتاباً تدبرته، فإذا هو احفروا العبيد المعتقين، والأحداث المغترين والجند المتعبدين، والنبط المستعربين قال: ورأيت في بعضها كتابأ تدبَّرْته فإذا فيه يقدر المقدور والقضاء يضحك وزعم أنه رأى في آخره كتابة وتبينها بذلك القلم الأول فوجدها:

تُدَئر ُبالنجوم ولمستَ تَدْري … ورَب النجم يفعلُ ما يريد

Al-Masudi said: and informed me more than one person from the land of Akhmin in plain of Egypt from Abi Faigh about the Nun bin Ibrahim (Dhu’l Nun)  al-Misri al-Akhmimi, the ascetic, was a philosopher who pursued a course of his own in religion… He was one of those who elucidated the history of these temple-ruins (barabi). He roamed among them [the temples] and examined a great quantity of figures and inscriptions.. and saw discussion on them in some of his books … and also found written:


Touched by the stars and unknowingly touched … And Lord of the star does what he wants


The hieroglyphs were believed to hold the key to ancient sciences, which the Fihrist associates with Hermes; a legend developed that Hermes had become the king of Egypt.  In book Nujoon Al-Zahirah fi  Muluk Misir wal Qahirah, by ibn Tagri Bardi state that

إن هرمس المثلث الموصوف، بالحكمة وهو الذي تسميه العبرانيون خنوخ وهو إدريس عليه السلام استدل من أحوال الكواكب على كون الطوفان، فأمر ببناء الأهرام

Hermes the Thrice[2], attributed with wisdom and he is person called Enoch by Hebrews and he is Idris peace be upon him proved the possibility of flood  from the positions of stars, so ordered the construction of pyramids


For Hermes, the author of Fihrist wrote:

زعم أهل صناعة الكيمياء وهي صنعة الذهب والفضة من غير معادنها ان أول من تكلم على علم الصنعة هرمس الحكيم البابلي المنتقل الى مصر عند افتراق الناس عن بابل

People of Alchemy claim,  and it is the art by which one can make gold and silver from other minerals,  that the  first person who spoke about this  Art is  Hermes, the wise one, Babylonian, came to Egypt  when people had differences in  Babylon (i.e. war)

It is stated in Al-Fihrist, pg 505:

هو أبو الفيض ذو النون بن إبراهيم وكان متصوفا وله أثر في الصنعة وكتب مصنفة فمن كتبه كتاب الركن الأكبر كتاب الثقة في الصنعة


And he is Abul Faidh Dhul Nun bin Ibrahim and he was sufi (mystic) and has affected by Art (of Alchemy) and books he wrote includes Kitab Al-Rukn Al-Akbar, an authentic book on Art.

Thus Dhun Nun Al-Misri was induldged in art of Alchemy and the reading of hieroglyphs both in his times were believed to be associated with the Hermes Trismegistus[3].

Many Christian Gnostic sects were from Egypt[4].  In fact it’s a melting pot for all kinds of Gnostic concepts and believes. However most of there text was not well preserved until they are discovered in 1945. Gnostic sayings were passed on to disciples through sayings or folklore.  There is a saying in Coptic Gospel of Thomas[5]:

When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you will dwell in poverty (i.e. material world/body)[6]

The term Gnosis also adapted in Arabic as Irfan or Gnosis.   The well known phrase:

من اعرف ربه فقد اعرفه نفسه

One who knows one’s Lord, knows one’s self

Was a well known Gnostic phrase almost present in all mystical lore, also appeared in Islamic literature.  Dhun Nun said[7]:

إن العارف لا يَلْزم حالةً واحدةً، إنما يلزمُ ربَّه في الحالاتِ كلِّها

Indeed the Arif (knower or one who experience gnosis) does not stay in a one single sate, he focus on his Lord all the times

Gnostic Homoousios or Hama-aust or Wahdatul Wajud?


The term Homoousios [ὁμοούσιος] had been used first by Gnostics.  In Gnostic texts the word homoousios is used with the concept that things generated of the same substance.  The early church theologians were aware of this concept, and also of the doctrine of emanation, by the Gnostics.  The term is used in Nicene Creed to indicate that the God the father and his son Jesus came from same substance.   Probably the word Homoousios is persianised and become Hama-aust. Meaning of Hama-aust[8] is exactly same as that of Homoousios. In Arabic mystical lore it become Wahdat-ul-Wajud meaning the unity of Existence[9].

According to Ghazali (d. 505 AH)  the concept of Wahdatul Wajud is a natural outcome of concept of Tauheed[10]. He discussed Tauheed in his work Ahya Ullom Deen [11]:

وليس في الوجود إلا الله تعالى

And there is no existence except that of Allah

Further he said:

            الرابعة: أن لا يرى في الوجود إلا واحداً، وهي مشاهدة الصديقين وتسمية الصوفية الفناء في التوحيد، لأنه من حيث لا يرى إلا واحداً فلا يرى نفسه أيضاً، وإذا لم ير نفسه لكونه مستغرقاً بالتوحيد كان فانياً عن نفسه في توحيده

Fourth: that he does not see an existence except the one, and this is what witnessed by Friends and Sufi called it the annihilation in Monotheism as he does not see except the one  and not even his self, and that is because he is so much indulged in Tauheed that his self is lost in it.

Ibn Al-Arabi proposed a theory that the reality of the Matter is that this Universe is not real. It does not even exist. The whole Universe is still at the conceptual level in the mind of Creator. Therefore whatever we see is an illusion of reality. Centred in his philosophy was the theme that one cannot experience the reality itself but rather a projection of it, created by us.   According to Ibn Al-Arabi this was exactly the concept when Abu Yazeed uttered[12]:

I am Subhani (Impeccable i.e. God), how (great) is my State!


Now naturally if world is not created then what its reality? According to Ibn-Arabi there are Descends or Tanzzulat[13] in Holy Wisdom of Allah (Nadhubillah). The concept is similar to Emanations in Greek philosophy[14]:

Maratib Illahiyyah  (Divine Emanations)

First two emanation represent descend in the wisdom of God.

1. Haqiqat Muhammadiyah[15] – descend in the Wisdom of God- still in state of Lahut

2. Aeon[16] Thabita (Proven Aeon)[17]

One may understand it by the example of a carpenter who wants to make a chair. So first he thought about it. What design he likes and how many legs etc. It is a blue print but still in mind of carpenter.  So likewise according to Ibn Al-Arabi first God cursorily thought about creating universe that state is Haqiat Muhammadiyyah.  Afterwards God thought in detail about the creation that is state of Aeon Thabita i.e. it is proved that Almighty wants to create.  As both these Emanations occurred in mind of God so they represent His Holy Wisdom and one cannot separate philosophically the Wisdom of God, His attribute, from Him[18]. So these two emanations are Divine. The rest of Emanations are in fact not real because they were not happened yet.

Maratib Koniyyah[19] or Imkanniyah[20] (Reflection of Aeon Thabita)

3. Aeon of Ruh (Spirit)

4. Aeon Mithal[21]

5. Aeon Jasad (Body) – State of Nasut

6. Aeon Insan (Human) – Khalifat-ul-Allah


The above four emanations are nothing but reflections of Aeon Thabita. Like if we try to see Sun in the mirror we would see the image of Sun. We may call it Sun but in fact it is not real Sun.  So this Universe is still in state of Blue print in the mind of God, not created and thus it’s an illusion for us.  Now the outcome of all this discussion is that if in reality everything is happening in the Wisdom of God then what we see is an attribute of God.  Corollary to it is,  as Widom of God is Qadeem, the whole Universe become something which cannot be annihilated.

Shah Waliullah[22] elaborated in his book Sataat without referring to Ibn Al-Arabi’s Emanations  theory as:

And the example of this emanation is that we made an impression of word Zayd on a ring and we have not yet cast it on wax or mud. But the sensory image of word Zayd is created in our mind. And this existence (i.e. image of Zayd in mind) last with the ring (project). And this existence is set for the image of Zayd and not for Amr (another name). .. after that we brought wax and mud and transferred the image of Zayd (from our mind) on the wax or mud and it immediately created on it. That (image on ring) is complete and this (image on wax or mud) is temporary.  That image is in state of wisdom and this image is in state of seen.

In fact, Ibn Al-Arabi is influenced by the Neo-platonic thoughts of Plotinus[23]. Ibn Al-Arabi proposed his emanations theory similar to what already proposed by Plotinus, however in cloak of Islamic terms. Mystic scholars have attempted to homogenise all the different realms the Sufi mystics proposed like that of Ghazali and Ibn Al-Arabi. But that attempt does not give fruitful results instead it would generate more confusion. Each of the mystic has proposed realms to explain their theories. So its better to understand them individually.

Ibn Arabi gave the philosophical support to the theory of Wahdat-ul-Wajud.  Theory has enjoyed high acceptance in most Sufi factions and it also helped to explain the previous mystical utterances with were believed to be blasphemous.

[1] in Lisan al-Meezan, juz 1, pg 386

[2] Hermes is called Thrice due to concept that he was King, Prophet and Wise

[3] Corpus Hermeticum contains less than 20 books which are  associated with Hermes Trismegistus.

[4] Gnosticism was a mystical Christian theology highly developed in Egypt. According to Gnostics Jesus does not had a physical body but was a kind of energy.

[5] Coptic Gospel of Thomas, Nag Hammadi Librray, discovered in 1945

[6] Saying 42, Coptic Gospel of Thomas, From book Lost Chrittianities by  Bart D. Eherman, Oxford University Press, 2003

[7] quoted in Tabaqat Al-Sufiyah, pg 24

[8] Also written as Hama-oost

[9] Wahdatul Wajud is present in the earliest of Sufi traditions but it is said that Muhiuddin Ibn Al-Arabi (d. 638 AH)  also called Sheikh Akbar developed this concept. However Ibn Al-Arabi had not developed it but in fact elaborated it in philosophical jargon.

[10] Tauheed, Oneness of God

[11] Ahya Ullom Deen by Ghazali, juz 3, pg 301

[12] Futuhat Al-Makkiyah by Ibn Al-Arabi, juz 1, pg 272

[13] Tanzzulat or Descends means actually the going in lesser states than the primary one.

[14] All things are derived from the first reality or perfect God by steps of degradation to lesser degrees of the first reality or God, and at every step the emanating beings are less pure, less perfect, less divine.  It is also said that Plotinus proposed this first (Wikipedia)

[15] In mystic lore this state is also called Martaba Wahdat, Haqiqatul Haqqaique, Aqal Awal, Alam Siffat, Zahur Awal, Ummul- Faidh

[16] Aeon according to Plato, denotes the eternal world of ideas. Word Aeon is arabised as Ayan normally translated in Sufi mystic lore as Alam or world but also means age or period. In Hebrew, Aeon is translated as Olam (see Wikipedia) which is equivalent of Alam in Arabic. Olam/Olamot in Kabbalah refers to the particular descending in Spiritual Realms.

[17] Also called Marttaba Wahidiyat, Qabliyat Zahur, Dhil-lil-Mamdood

[18] In mystic lore, Wisdom or Kalimah is an attribute of God, many took the belief that it is an attribute (Siffat) and others took the belief that it is (Order) Amr of God not his attribute (see book Al-Tarruf by Al-Kalabadhi).

[19] Konniyyah means related to  God’s Plan.

[20] Imkaniyyah means there is a possibility that it happen or simply Expected Aeons

[21] The world of similitudes”, also called Alam al-Khayal

[22] Shah Wliullah is inclined towards Wahdatul Shahud concept. He started from the terminology of Ibn Al-Arabi and gradually developed his case for Wahdat ul Shahud.

[23] Plotinus, (ca. 204/5–270 CE) was a major philosopher of the ancient world. His book  Enneads is the collection of his metaphysical writings which  have inspired centuries of Pagan, Christian, Jewish, Islamic and Gnostic metaphysicians and mystics.


After the emergence of concept of Wahdatul Wujud the difference between Allah and His creation is lost. Devout Muslim scholars rejected it as it placed philosophically Islam among religions like the Hinduism[1]. To safeguard their believes mystics introduced a new concept called  Wahdatul Shuhud  (Unity of Witness) which  they claim has separated God from His creation. It is said that Ala al-Dawlah Simnānī (d. 736 AH) from India, proposed this slightly different theory called Wahdatul Shuhud.  But in reality it had been referred earlier by Ali Hajweri (d. 465 AH) and Abdul Qadir Jeelani (d. 561 AH) in their books. Later  mystics also accepted that the two theories are nothing but verbal controversies.

Wahdatul Shuhud is more a mystical state then philosophical doctrine of Existence. In this state the space and time dimensions are lifted for a mystic. He may travel backward or forward in time to see exactly what happened in past or will happen in future. Now in this state one does not require Ilm-ul-Jafr. It is more powerful then the state of Imam is Shiite literature.  Mujaddid alf Al-Thani (Ahmed Sarhindi)  wrote in his Maktoobat[2]:

Tauheed Shahudi is that the he witnesses only one Being, the Truth means Salik (mystic) vision focused only on One Being (i.e. God)

Mujaddid alf Al-Thani (Ahmed Sarhindi) wrote in Mubdah wal Maad:

I saw in this sate that angels are still in state of prostration for Adam and have not lifted their heads yet.  And I saw Angels of Illiyeen which were commanded not for prostrations that they are lost and absorbed in state of  their Mashhud (literally Vision i.e. Looking at God) 


Ashraf Ali Thanvi described this state in his book Imdad Al-Mushtaque:

It is recorded that in the Night Journey  (Mairaj)  Messenger of Allah peace be upon him met Moses .. there arrived Imam Ghazali and said Salam to them. Moses upbraided Ghazali[3] that why you are speaking in front of Elders? .. Ghazali said: Allah asked you (Moses) a simple question which you replied at length .. (on this Prophet intervened and said) Respect O Ghazali!

Shah Waliullah described this state in his book Anfas ul Arfeen:

My father used to tell me that one day at the time of Asar prayer (Evening prayer)  I was in sate of Muraqibah that the Ghaybat engulfed me. For me that span of time is extended over 40 million years and in that span the events from the beginning of creation till the day of judgement are revealed to me.  (The author said )  I also remember that he said that the distance between the alphabets of La Illaha illallah is ten thousand years

What is clear from these stories is the state of Wahdatul Shahood is a state of power and Jabrut. The time and space makes no sense for him or her.

In that state Abu Yazeed Al-Bustami (d. 261 AH) said[4]:

وقيل له: علمنا الاسم الاعظم. قال: ليس له حد، إنما هو فراغ قلبك لوحدانيته، فإذا كنت كذلك، فارفع له أي اسم شئت من أسمائه إليه

It is said to him: Teach us the Great Name (of God): He said: there is no limit of it. It is openness of your heart to oneness, when you attain that state, any name will be elevated for you, which you like from His Names.


Hence the initial quest by some mystics for the Divine Name now no longer needed. Mystic  has now become so powerful that his own experience of Mukashifa[5] is enough.

For the vision in this state, Shah Waliullah writes in his book Sata’t:

Tajalli (Theophany) is a creation (of God) which represent Creator with some of His attributes and due to which one could associate that to Him. The details of this note is that  when someone sees God in dream, with God wearing a tiara on head and sitting of Holy Throne then although that image looked like creation but the source of this vision is the preconceived knowledge which is already there in the mind…. If that vision is does not give us any information on the attributes of God then it is not called Tajjali. … Tajali must be directed by God[6]


After Mansur Bin Al-Hallaj no Sufi had claimed the divinity (or Lahut state). But they found a way out. Whenever they wanted they get into Jabrut state and whenever they wanted arrive back in Nasut state and acted as ordinary humans do.

Muslim claim that their mystics not only   hear behind the curtain but they act along angels as well. Shah Waliullah (d. 1176 AH) wrote [7]:

Likewise is the case of a human that he is indulged in his worldly life in eating, drinking and lust and affairs related to body and remained busy in different levels of  life but he remained connected with the angels of lower sphere and to them he feel inclined  and got attracted to them.  So when he dies all his bodily matters are disconnected and he returned to his original nature and merged with angels and become one of them. Then revelations (from God) are started to him as well (like angels) and he started acting like them.

An anecdote is told about Abu Yazid Bustami [8]:

Then he narrated in its agreement the event that once Sheikh  Ali Makki dreamt that: I am  carrying the Divine Throne on my head, At dawn I thought in mind to before whom should I disclose my dream for interpretation.  Then my soul whispered me that go to Ba Yazid Bustami for interpretation. Preoccupied with these thoughts stepped out of  my house and saw that whole Bustam is in wailing.  I stood flabbergasted for a while then  asked someone what happened. I have been told that (Ab)bu Yazid Bustami died. (Hearing that Sheikh  Ali Makki shouted a cry and fell down. Wailing he reached the funeral but due to large number of attendants could’t got the chance to  reach near funeral bier. After some attempts he managed to reach near the bier and shouldered it. There BaYazid called: O Ali the dream you saw, it has this interpretation. This funeral bier of BaYazid is the Divine Throne  which you are carrying over your head.

Probably that is why  Al-Ghazali  said that the secrets must not be revealed[9]:

فاعلم أن هذه غاية علوم المكاشفات. وأسرار هذا العلم لا يجوز أن تسطر في كتاب، فقد قال العارفون: إفشاء سر الربوبية كفر

You must know that the purpose of knowledge of Meditation, and the secrets of this knowledge, are not allowed to be written in book. As people who acquired gnosis said: Revealing of  secrets is kufr.

Prophet peace be upon him has informed the Muslims that the time would come when faith would become unknown  again[10]:

بدأ الإسلام غريبا وسيعود كما بدأ غريبا فطوبى للغرباء

Islam started as a stranger  and it will become again a stranger, blessed would be strangers (who would accept it in that state)!

Different ideologies and believes would take over the Muslims and they would remain indulged in those such that they would read the Quran but would not understand it [11]:

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:  I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “There will appear some people among you whose prayer will make you look down upon yours, and whose fasting will make you look down upon yours, but they will recite the Qur’an which will not exceed their throats and they will go out of Islam as an arrow goes out through the game whereupon the archer would examine the arrowhead but see nothing, and look at the unfeathered arrow but see nothing, and look at the arrow feathers but see nothing, and finally he suspects to find something in the lower part of the arrow.”

This time has already started.

Due to their common agenda,  the Mystics are all same irrespective of race, creed and religion. They represent the first approach and they would remain loyal to it. After the Islam’s encounter with mysticism there are beings roaming on earth who claimed to be more powerful then one might ever thought of!

It is a parting of the ways between the faith which Muhammad peace be upon him proclaimed and what mystics gave to us. It is clear that these mystics have started a new thing in Islam and claimed for them a position higher than that of Prophet peace be upon him, as Allah said:

فَمَا رَعَوْهَا حَقَّ رِعَايَتِهَا

but that they did not observe it with the right observance

[1] In Hinduism the believe of unity of existence is supported (see  Gita)

[2] Maktobat Mujaddid Alf Thani, juz 1, Maktoob 43

[3] Imam Ghazali (d. 505 AH). There is a minimum 460 years gap between Ghazali and Night Journey.

[4] Seer Aallam Al Nublah by Dahabi , juz 13 pg 86

[5] Revelation about Hidden World obtained in Trance state or via Meditation

[6] Tajali in mystical Islam is the word to describe the visual experience with God like what Moses saw in Burning Bush was a Tajali. It was initiated by God and not by Moses.

[7] in Hujatul-llah Al-Baligha pg 74

[8] in Rahat-al-Qulub by Fariduddin Ganj Shakar, pg 215

[9] wrote in Ahya Ullom Al-Deen juz 3 pg 338

[10] Sahih Muslim, narrated by Abi Hurrairah

[11] Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 61, Number 578


Tassawuf or Mysticism is a human endeavor to reach its Creator. Its a bottom-up approach contrary to top-down approach of revelations.  Quran and Hadith only supports the revelation from God. The rest is a human innovation which unfortunately has no bounds and limits.  Jews  and Christians before Islam  and even in times of our Prophet had practiced that and later converted Muslims of Syria and Iraq restarted it about 100 years after the event of  migration.   The question is  why not we follow the revelations of our God which He sent down on us and He Himself will protect His words against any adulteration. Where stands the visions and trances of mystics if they are against Quran?  Obviously they are all rejected and on Day of Judgement the people who would be in most loss, would be those who had spend there lives thinking that whatever they are doing is correct.