Sufism features a variety of meditative techniques for stilling the mind and reaching introspective states. Fikr is often called Muraqaba and assists adherents in focusing through the invocation of God’s name. Vibrancy and color can be used to nurture the mind; similarly, concentration on the counterparts of virtue and vice can be utilized to discover the adequate ruminative climate. The final goal is to reach closer proximity to divinity by way of purer thought, even though the avenues to fulfill this objective are varied. Some Sufis, taking Muhammad’s example, choose a spiritual retreat, where they employ Fikr meditation in solitude for up to 40 days.
Of particular interest to the Gnostic is the procedure of Kashf, an uncloaking of arcane wisdom or intuition. It is an understanding of the heart rather than the intellect, which initially can occur suddenly, but when practiced, can be accessed at will. Arab Muslim scholar Al-Qushayri conveys three phases of progression on the path to the comprehension of the Real. These are: (1) Muhadara, where the Ultimate is still veiled, yet there is a presupposition of the heart which retains reliance upon proof to the intellect; (2) Mukashafa, a lifting of the veil whereby reasoning gives way and the devotee directly encounters God’s attributes; (3) Mushahada, direct apprehension, wherewith the practitioner engages the Absolute with immediacy, unmitigated by either intellect or intuition performing the role of an intermediary.
Fana, which is gnosis of Allah, requires a passing away or annihilation of the notion of an individual self. One must, so to speak, die before one dies. Fana constitutes destruction of the ego and a realization of God’s essential unity, creative capacity, and characteristic of encompassing all singular selves into One. The first level of Fana is called Fana fi Shaikh, where the seeker eradicates in the presence of Murshid, “teacher” or “guide.” The second stage is termed Fana fi Rasool, where one destroys by way of Rasool, “messenger.” The third and final stage is known as Fana Fillah, whereby annihilation occurs in the essence of Allah, “God.”
- Gerett Treas