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Tajalli (Manifestation)

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Key Concepts in the Practice of Sufism-3

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Tajalli (Manifestation)Tajalli has several meanings such as being uncovered, coming forth, appearance and development within a certain framework and, to a certain extent, Divine Attributes and Names revealing themselves through their works individually or collectively, Divine mysteries and lights making themselves felt in hearts with certain signs, numerous unknown states and particularities that pertain to the Unseen coming to be known through the conscience and seen with the eye of the heart, and spiritual enlightenment through a continuous, sound relationship of servanthood with God Almighty. This term, which has the same meaning as the terms "dawning," "enlightening," and "illuminating" when used for people as objects, is also used for God with some modifiers, such as "the manifestation of the Divine Being or the Divine Essence," "the manifestation of Divine Essential Qualities," "the manifestation of Divine Attributes," "the manifestation of Divine Names," "the manifestation of Divine works," and "the manifestation of Divine acts." There are a few who mention the manifestation of Divine Essential Qualities, and some include the manifestation of Divine works in the manifestation of Divine acts.

The Manifestation of the Divine Being or the Divine Essence

This is a direct manifestation of the Divine Essence beyond all terms of quality and quantity. It is thought about without considering any of His Essential Qualities and Attributes. This manifestation occurs in the realm of acts through the mediation of Divine Attributes and Names. Not only can we not know what this mediation really is like or how it occurs, neither has anyone ever been honored with the perception of the manifestation of the Divine Essence. Those who follow the way of the Master of creation, the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be the most perfect blessings and peace, and make their spiritual journeying under the light of the Religion he brought, always behave like our master Abu Bakr, who said: "Perception of the Divine Essence is admission of our incapacity to perceive Him." They have tried to extinguish the fire of their wonder in the face of such subtle and transcendent matters by thinking as follows:

Perception of transcendent matters
Is not a matter for our incapable reason,
For these scales cannot weigh up such great load.
                     Ziya Pasha[1]

Like other subtle matters that concern the Divine Being, the manifestation of the Divine Essence is so incomprehensible that the words uttered and articles written about it only add to its imperceptibility. What follows is one of them, which was written by Yazicizade, the author of Muhammadiya:[2]

Since His Image was engraved in my heart,
It has obliterated whatever there was of His Names and Attributes.
I am completely drowned in the ocean of His Oneness,
If only I could take some pearls from this ocean of union.

Muhyi'd-Din ibn al-'Arabi spoke more astonishing words to be able to clarify what is impossible to clarify:

When the all-embracing Light (His universal manifestations of Oneness) entirely revealed Itself to me, I began to observe Him in every face. (He reflects his own impression.) Whoever goes and enters that glorious Ka'ba, Can turn in all directions to face Him.

Every observation outside the framework of the perception of our incapacity adds greater astonishment to our wonder and increases our feelings of being awestruck.

The Manifestation of Divine Essential Qualities

This is the manifestation that is beyond all veils; it is considered to be the origin of the Divine Attributes that are derived from the Essence of the Divine Being. This manifestation—God knows best—is the origin or source of the capacities and potential of creatures. As declared in, Every (moment of every) day, He is in a new manifestation (55:29), the Almighty Divine Being has limitless manifestations, observable or unobservable, universal or particular, which pertain to His Majesty or Grace. Only a few among the profound scholars of truth can perceive these manifestations to some extent. If we do not strictly follow the all-illuminating way of the most perfect Guide, upon him be the greatest of blessings and the most comprehensive peace, concerning the manifestation of both the Divine Essence and Divine Essential Qualities, it is inevitable that we will fall into confusion, even into deviation or misguidance. It is in such confusion and deviation, caused by the lack of guide, that lie the delirious utterances and statements we encounter in the history of thought. A leading figure in the school of Sufism severely warns those who cannot perceive that they are only mirrors reflecting Divine gifts and blessings and therefore they display affectation. He says:

He supposes the spirit to be the Divine Being Himself;
"I am the Truth," echoes in his utterances.
Whoever utters, "I am the Truth," without being a Mansur,
Becomes an unbeliever in God in spirit and body.

The Manifestation of Divine Attributes

This means that any of God Almighty's Attributes manifests Itself in the heart of an initiate. Such an illumination in a heart that is capable of receiving or reflecting it—whether we regard that heart to be a mirror or receptacle—is a great favor. One who has almost reached the final point of spiritual journeying and has been honored with this favor rises to the point of being a polished mirror for the Divine lights, mysteries, and blessings that transcend the limits of his or her own nature, and becomes a receiver and transmitter of the lights belonging to Divine Attributes. Such a one begins feeling, seeing, and hearing differently, and displays many other differences. If, for example, the Attribute of Hearing manifests Itself in a human being to the fullness of their capacity, like the Prophet Solomon, upon him be peace, he or she can hear the voices or sounds of many things and beings, decipher many secrets, and build relationships with them within the bounds of their world. Actually, an initiate whose horizon has been illuminated through the manifestations of the Ultimate Truth begins to see what is unseen, to hear what is unheard, and— provided this favor continues—lives beyond the limits of his nature, achieving transcendent accomplishments. Yazicizade Muhammed Efendi portrays such a hero of manifestation as follows:

Your Graceful Face has appeared again from the Castle of Majesty;
Being a lover, I again find myself sighing because of the eternal Wine;
The veil from my eyes has been lifted again,
And from my heart the veil of ignorance —
The All-Beloved has once more called me with a transcendental call.

The Manifestation of Divine Names

This manifestation, which denotes that initiates discover the meanings and works of some of God's Names in their hearts, is an intermediate post where talented initiates who have gone beyond the manifestation of Divine acts without encountering any problems in the journeying temporarily halt toward the horizon of the manifestation of Divine Attributes. Initiates stop by this post temporarily, perfect their equipment through Divine gifts, and go on toward another horizon where they will be honored with new favors. If such talented ones, whose hearts have flourished through the manifestation of some of the Divine Names, ask God for something by the grace of the Name on Which the procurement of that thing depends, just at the moment they feel the effusions of these Names in their spirit, certainly God answers their appeal purely out of His Grace. Asking is from us, while answering and giving are from Him:

When God manifests Himself with His favor,
He makes everything easy;
He creates the means for attainment, and grants it instantly.

Whatever we are trying to present concerning all the types of manifestation is pure grace beyond all human means; it can be assessed at its true worth through the criteria of an appreciative heart and comprehended by those who have sufficient knowledge of the heart and its states. Only those with an aware heart can understand whatever is asked about this matter and know the answer to be given. A man of deep spirituality, whose identity is unknown, says:

My tongue is silent about it;
It is something beyond expression.
O saintly one, this is a spiritual state, so
Only those aware of the states of a heart can understand it.

The Manifestation of Divine Works

This expression denotes that whatever is and takes place in the corporeal realm is a work of Divine Power. In its most complete and perfect fashion, this manifestation shows itself on the human face. Humans are the most comprehensive mirrors that reflect the All-Merciful, All-Compassionate One.

The Manifestation of Divine Acts

This expression is used to mean that initiates are aware of some of the Divine acts in their hearts. This is a significant Divine favor. However, it is a reality that those who cannot strictly follow the rules of the Shari'a and the Sunna of the Master of creation, upon him be peace and blessings, in their spiritual journeying may deviate at this point. Those who act as mirrors for Divine acts can fall into the error of falsely attributing to themselves some Divine acts or disposals that they feel are taking place dependent upon their own will and choice. This is nothing less than loss in the place of gain, and this may cause eternal ruin if such people do not immediately turn to follow the Prophetic way in all of their acts and feelings.

Initiates must attribute to God whatever attainment they are favored with and whatever gift comes as a reward for that attainment. Without ever abandoning self-supervision or self-criticism, they must ascribe to themselves nothing more than being a mirror which God uses to reflect some of His acts, works, Names or Attributes. They must not attempt to lay claim to anything with which God has favored them, and they must know that when they see themselves as real agents of such extraordinary blessings, one of the following two results will occur:

1. All the gifts or blessings will cease to come.

2. The gifts or blessings will cause a gradual slide to perdition.

Either of these two results means falling far from the source of the effusions. For this reason, initiates must choose modesty and nothingness in the face of the Eternal One and attribute to Him all their attainments. In this respect, the words of Gawsi are very beautiful:

You do not manifest Yourself while I am appearing on the screen;
My non-existence is the condition for Your manifestation of existence.

In addition to the Divine manifestations of Essence, the Essential Qualities, Attributes, Names, works, and acts, Sufis speak of the manifestation of Divine Grace and the manifestation of Divine Majesty.

The Manifestation of Divine Grace

This denotes God's particular manifestations of grace, favoring, care, compassion, and so forth, on an individual thing, being, group or community.

The Manifestation of Divine Majesty

This is regarded as the most comprehensive and greatest manifestation of the Divine Proper Name— Allah (God)—and it is used to express the Necessarily-Existent Being's all-inclusive manifestations of grandeur, glory, and being the All-Overwhelming and All-Compelling.

The first of these two types of manifestations is connected with the Divine Name the All-Compassionate (ar-Rahim), and the other is connected with the Name the All-Merciful (ar-Rahman).

Some Sufis consider "manifestation" only as Divine effusions that appear in the hearts of believers and focus on such lights of the Unseen in the name of "manifestation." The manifestation which they regard as being the emergence of the lights of the Unseen develops according to the capacity of each person; and in the most talented ones, it shows itself perfectly in a way that indicates the essence and source of everything. All of the human beings' inner senses are fed with these lights and al-latifa ar-Rabbaniya (the spiritual intellect) is transformed into a "house of God" with them; sir (the faculty of the secret—the spiritual faculty that is more subtle than the heart) becomes a point of observation of some transcendental truths, while khafiy (the faculty that is more subtle than the "secret") becomes a bay of private meeting, and akhfa (the most subtle faculty) becomes a place of union. We could give more information about these faculties, but it is better to stop here.

O God! Make us of those of Your servants who pursue sincerity, and whom You have favored with sincerity and purity of intention, and who have achieved piety and righteousness, and abstinence from all forbidden things, great or small, and whom You have made near to You. And may God's peace and blessings be upon our master, Muhammad and his Family, and Companions, all of them.

[1] Ziya Pasha (1825–1880) was one of the influential political and literary figures of nineteenth-century Ottoman Turkey. He published Hurriya (Freedom) newspaper (Tr.)

[2] Yazicizade Muhammed Efendi (d. 1451). One of the important Sufi and literary figures in the fifteenth-century Ottoman Turkey. He lived in Gallipoli. Muhammediye, which is about the life and excellencies of the Prophet Muhammad, is his most famous work. (Tr.)