The Islamic Concept of Education According to Shaykh Abdus-Samad Palembang and Its Significance in Relation to the Issue of Personality

(Being chapter IX of the work by Muhammad ‘Uthman El-Muhammady, entitled Peradaban Dalam Islam, Pustaka Aman Press, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, 1982, pp 164-206)


Dalam kertas ini percubaan dibuat untuk melihat ciri-ciri asasi dari ajaran pendidikan dan kaedahnya dalam tradisi Tasawwuf, sebagai yang dihuraikan oleh seorang dari peribadi-peribadi terpenting dalam rangka alam akliah keIslaman di rantau ini, yaitu Shaykh ‘Abdu’s-Samad al-Falembani (rh) dalam ahad ke 18.

Beliau melihat proses pendidikan sebagai proses membersihkan logam diri (nafs) manusia yang ‘terjatuh dari segala kotoran di dalamnya, dan mengubahnya – melalui kimia rohaniyyah yang didapati di dalam ajaran Islam dan kaedahya – menjadi jiwa emas yang bergemerlap dengan sifat-sifat keutamaan rohaniyyah.

Dari satu segi yang lain, ini adalah dipandang sebagai perjalanan peribadi insan ke arah Pusat-Tempat Asalnya, dari pinggir diri ke pusatnya. Dari segi kosmologi, ini ialah perjalanaan – secara kualitatif – dari Alam Shahadah sampailah ke taraf alam yang terdekat dengan yang Mutlak di dalam pengalaman rohaniyyah, dalam mana yang Mutlak itu direalisasikan dalam pengalaman yang menjadikan hakikat-hakikat keagamaan dan rohaniyyah bukan lagi perkara yang dipercayai sahaja, tapi perkara_perkara yang dialami yang menimbulkan keyakinan yang tak meninggalkan lagi ruang untuk syak dan ragu.

Asas-asas yang termesti dari ajaran dan kaedah ini adalah dua: pertamanya, penerangan atau gambaran tentang tingkat-tingkat alam yang dilihat dari segi hakiki dan masaalahmasaalah yang berhubung dengannya, dan keduanya, cara yang termesti yang membawa kepada realisasi kebatinan yang terdiri dari ibadat-ibadat Islam yang wajib dan amalanamalan lainnya, terutama sekali yang amat pentingnya ialah dhikru’Llah; semuanya ini adalah amalan-amalan yang berdasarkan kepada Shari’ah Islam.

Dilihat dari segi keselamatan individu dan integrasi peribadinya, ilmu-ilmu Islam yang wajib ialah Usulu’d-din, Fiqh, dan Tasawwuf, yakni triniti yang dimestikan dalam penerangan pengarang ini.

Natijah terakhir dari proses demikian ialah realisasi rohaniyyah, ma’rifah yakni mengetahui semua benda melalui Tuhan. Ini adalah integrasi yang hakiki mengikut prinsip ajaran Islam, Tawhid.


An attempt is made in this paper to discern the salient features of the Islamic educational doctrine and method in the matrix of the sufi tradition as expressed by one of the most outstanding figures in the landscape of Islamic intellectuality in this region, the 18th century Shaykh ‘Abdu’s-Samad of Palembang (rh).

He sees the educational process as the process of purifying the base metal of the fallen soul from all the dross, and transmuting it-by means of the spiritual alchemy available in the Islamic Tradition – into a soul of gold which glitters with the spiritual virtues. From another point of view, it is seen as a journey of the human self towards its Centre-Origin, away from the periphery towards the centre of the personality. Cosmologically, it is-qualitatively-a journey from the Realm of the Sensible right up to the level of cosmic manifestation related nearest to the Absolute, in which the Absolute is realised in spiritual experience. This makes religious and spiritual verities no more articles of belief, but matters of direct experience which leaves no room for doubt.

The indispensible foundations of such an educational doctrine and method are twofold: first, the portrayal of the orders of reality and the related issues; and second, the indispensible means of realisation by inward experience which consists of the Islamic obligatory religious duties and rituals, plus the all-important dhikru’Llah all of which are based upon the Islamic Sacred Law (Shari’ah).

In terms of individual salvation and personality integration, the Islamic sciences which are indispensible are the science of the bases of belief, the Islamic Law (al-fiqh), and Islamic mysticism (Tasawwuf). This is he indispensible triad in the formulation of the writer.

The ultimate end of such a process is the realisation of true knowledge, gnosis (ma’rifah)being knowledge of things through God. It is integration in accordance with the cadre of Islam, Tawhid.


In this paper an attempt is made to portray the configuration of the Islamic traditional doctrine in education — as obtained in the Sufi perspective — in relation to the issue of the integration of the human personality, in the gestalt of its traditional. world-view, as expressed by one of the most significant figures of Islamic spirituality and intellectuality in this region — Shaykh ‘Abdu’s-Samad of Palembang (rh), whose active literary life in Mecca and Taif in Arabia extended from the year 1178 A.H. to 1203 A.H.

The attempt made here is to consider the views of the Shaykh in the context of Islamic esoteric doctrine and practice and the methods of the spiritual path and education. We must look at education as conceived by the author in the context of the idea of man, God, and finally the cosmos as taught firstly in Islam and not .in the context of Nusantara ‘elements. It is worthy of note that the notion of education presented here is one which is based on the idea that the supreme duty of man in his life is to guard his soul, and other issues and problems are looked at within this perspective. Or to put it in another way — this can be seen later— the Goal is the Divine; the subject is man in his terrestrial state; the means is to follow the path already `there’ and `here’ by firstly, a mental assimilation of the doctrine, and then realising the doctrine in the depth of one’s being. At the end of the ‘journey’ the subject `knows’ who he really is, ‘Who’ God is and what the reality of the cosmos is. Then he is fully integrated. Hence, the conception of education is absolutely spiritual in character, in conformity with the nature of its doctrine of man.


There are very scanty materials concerning his life and personality. What can be gathered from the various sources is that he was a scholar from Palembang, Sumatra, who went to study in Mecca, Arabia in the second half of the eighteenth century. His field of study were — as evident from his own works — Islamic Scholastic Theology (Usulu’d Din), Islamic Law (Fikh), and finally Sufism (Tasawwuf).

Among his teachers we have to mention his spiritual guide, the eighteenth century saint from Medina, Arabia, Ash-Shaykh Muhammad Samman al-Qadiri al-Khalwati (rh). Apart from him we can mention the scholar from Egypt from whom Shaykh ‘Abdu’s-Samad (rh) heard the lecture on kalam, the contents of which had been noted down in his book the Zuhratu’l-Murid. The name of the shaykh is Shaykh Ahmad ibn ‘Abdi’l-Mun’im aa Damanhuri (rh).

Concerning his works, we can say that they constitute the books which exerted relatively decisive influence — apart from original Arabic works of the classical period — on the literature of Sufism in Malay both in doctrine and method of realisation. His works especially the Siyar and the Hidayah’ can be considered as the agents which brought the influence of Imam al Ghazali (rh) through his masterpiece Ihya’ ‘Ulumi’d Din and his other works into the Malay speaking world. Until the present day, his two works the Siyar and the Hidayah are used as textbooks for students of Sufism who carry on the tradition of living the spiritual path in the bosom of Islamic orthodoxy. Apart from Imam al-Ghazali (rh), other authors are also cited like Shaykh ‘Abdul-Wahhab alSha’-rani (rte), Shaykh ibn ‘Abbate (rh), the commentator of the Hikam of ibn Ata’iLlah as-Sakandari (rh) and many others.

Finally, before coming to the treatment of his teachings proper, there is one thing which has got to be seen in the proper perspective, namely that if Shaykh ‘Abdu’s-Samad (rh) does not appear as a distinctly ‘original’ thinker it is above all because in traditional doctrine what is of utmost importance is the realisation of the verities stated in the doctrine; in other words, to know is to be and knowing is being. This character in Muslim Thought in general has been considered as ‘sterility’. Further, it has to be stated that from the point of view of spirituality — which in this case is that which alone matters — to be original does not carry the misleading meaning of expressing things different from others which may lead to the infamous act of creating new forms of falsehood under the banner of ‘originality’, but rather to reach the goal of the spiritual journey and to experience the bliss in the integration effected by divine Grace. Whatever emanates from this spiritual experience is ‘original’ and not ‘secondary’ i.e. gathered from horizontal sources. Lastly, the shaykh is not interested in the slightest in this character of ‘originality’.

The Shaykh has a number of works to his credit, among the most significant being the Siyaru’s-Salikin fi Tariqah as-Sadat as Sufiyah, *inspired by and mainly based on the Ihya’ ‘Ulumi’d Din of al-Ghazali (rh), containing considerable amount of original materials based on his investigation; the Hidayatu’s-Salikin based on and inspired by the Bidayatu’l-Hidayah of al-Ghazali (rh), with considerable amount of additional materials from his own findings; the Zuhratu’l-Murid fi Bayan Kalimati’t Tawhidl on Scholastic Theology based on the lectures of the Egyptian scholar Shaykh Ahmad ibn ‘Abdi’1-Mun’im ad-Damanhuri which were delivered in Mecca; the ‘Urwatu’l-Wuthga2 which he says deals with awrad which are supposed to be recited at certain fixed times. In addition, there are also the Nasihatu’l-Muslimin wa Tadhkiratu al Mu’minin fi Fada’il al-Jihad fi sabili’Llah wa Karamat al-Mujahidin fi Sabili’Llah3 and the Ratib ‘Abdi’s-Samad al-Falembanl4.


The total scope of the thought-world of the Shaykh (rh) can be appreciated if we glance through the comprehensive grasp of subjects as indicated in his major works the,Siyar5 and the Hidayah6 which up till now are used as sufi text-books in the traditional madrasahs and also among students of sufism.

These two works cover such diverse subjects as the concept of knowledge in the context of Sufi metaphysics and philosophy, the concept of authentic and synthetic religious scholars who are the ‘heirs of the Phaphets’7, the relationship between the teacher and the pupil, and the doctrinal foundations of the Islamic faith which are considered as the indispensable doctrinal and metaphysical supports of the whole notion of education aiming at the integration of men as insan and not so much over-emphasizing his significance in his ‘earthly’ nature as bashar.8

The next part of the work consists of methodical elucidations on practical Islamic religious duties which are incumbent upon the traveller of the spiritual path — salik — namely, ritual purification, performance of the prayer (salah) both the obligatory and the supererogatory ones fulfilling both the external requirements and the inner demands of the rite, the payment of the Zakat and voluntary charity, fasting, the pilgrimage, the recitation of the Holy Quran, the remembrance and the recollection of (the name of) God, and invocations and various litanies. All these rites and rituals are explained in terms of the requirements of the Islamic Sacred Law (Shari’ah) which embodies the expression of the Divine Will to help man in his efforts at integration and in over-coming the obstructions in his intelligence. These rites are also explained in terms of the symbolical contents which portray the relationship between God, man and the world—which is to be realised when man achieves complete and total integration as prefigured in the Shahadah, La ilaha illalL lah : There is no reality apart from the Absolute — Allah9.

In the ensuing section,10 the writer expounds his views on Sufi ethics concerning food and drink; marriage and its implications from the spiritual and other points of view; transactions and their ethical and spiritual. implications; the acquisition of property and its ethics; the place and meaning of friendship for the sake of God; the significance of temporary withdrawal from society in pursuing spirituality (al-‘uzlah); the merits of travel for the sake of religious and spiritual education; the subject of ‘spiritual concert’ (sama’) in the context of the Sacred Law (Shari’ah) and Sufism; the spiritual obligation of commanding mankind to do good and prohibiting them from evil; the conditions and prerequisites of such an undertaking considered from the point of view of spiritual education, and the virtues which are exemplified by the Holy Prophet (May the blessings and peace of God be upon him).

The above is followed by an elucidation” of the practical methods of freeing the self from the enslavement of the appetites related to food, sex and others; the method of transcending the stage which is called the stage of the ‘animal soul’ (nafs al-ammarah); child ethical education; the differences among the sufi fraternities; thě prerequisites of the spiritual traveller; the nature and reality of the heart in the context of spiritual and ethical education; the nature of human speech, its significance, and the abuses of speech; the spiritual vices lime jealousy, anger, enmity, and how to root them out of the self; the nature of the world (dunya) and its reality; love for wealth and greed and how to weed them out of the soul; the merits of poverty and its role in spiritual education; love for personal glory and ostentation and how to free one’s personality from them; the evils of pride and self-admiration; and finally the excellence of those who un­dertake the discipline of Sufism and travel on the spiritual path.

In the fourth volume of the Siyar as-Salikin, the author deals with the spiritual virtues-al akhlaq al mahmudah and their central significance in transforming the base metal of the human soul into gold of integrated and purified soul which glitters with the spiritual virtues. These spiritual virtues include the attitude of repentance or `conversion’ (at tawbah), patience and gratitude, hope and fear (raja’ and khawf), spiritual poverty and abstinence, reliance on God or abandonment of the self to Him and its intrinsic relation with the realisation and doctrine of tawhid; love and the acceptance of the Decree of God; sincerity and veracity or truthfulness (ikhlas and sidq); spiritual vigilance and the state of always evaluating the spiritual worth of the self (muraqabah and muhasabah), the reality and scope of contem­plation; and the awareness and the mention of death and the issues related to this Lesser Day of Judgement. In this part we can see that the author presents something which can be considered as a metaphysic of human virtues, bringing ethics and the virtues to the deepest level — that of the mode of relationship between man and the Absolute is

A consideration of the spiritual education as understood by the author can be conveniently discussed under two headings, (a) doctrine and (b) method. Under (a) we can consi­der his ideas which are related to metaphysics, spiritual psychology and his doctrine on the spiritual virtues which form the indispensible supports of his Sufi conception of education. Under (b) we can examine his views on the practical duties and rituals which will lead to the realization of the greatest aim in spiritual education — gnosis or ma’rifah and integration.


First of all it is necessary to state that his conception of education is nurtured within the matrix of the weltanschauung based on tawhid which is the basis of Islam. On the basis of tawhid Islam explains its dual aspects of doctrine and practice for the integration of human personality and life. The Islamic Sacred Law — the Shari`ah — forms a vast network of regulations, commandments and injunct­ions which relate the world of multiplicity inwardly to a sin­gle centre which is reflected at the circumference and at the periphery of the circle. Within the bosom of Islam the method and doctrine of spiritual education — Sufism—is really its esoteric dimension which in itself constitutes the means par excellence through which the principle of tawhid — and hence integration — is realized.15 All Muslims believe in this principle of unity as expressed in the most universal manner by the Shahadah: La ilaha illa’Llah; but it is only the man who has reached the goal. of Islamic spiritual education — the Sufi — who realises the mysteries of tawhid: it is he who sees God in all and everywhere.

It can be said that the Sufi path in Islam is really a path of realizing `who’ oneself is, in accordance with the famous Prophetic utterance: “He who knows himself knows his Lord — Man ‘arafa nafsahu faqad ‘arafa Rabbahu. Of course, on the ultimate level, the ‘knowledge’ —’irfan or ma’rifah here refers to the Unique Essence, Immutable Self (al-Huwiyah) and therefore beyond cosmological or psychological . perspective16. However, on the relative plane, in so far as this concerns ones individual nature, the know-ledge of oneself means also a science of the soul. To a certain extent this means cosmology; above all it is a dis­cernment and discrimination of the motives of the soul.

From another point of view, it can be said that the objective of spiritual education in Islam is to cure man from hypocrisy, to make him whole, and when he becomes whole, he achieves sanctity. Many people profess belief in one God, but their life is conducted as if there are many gods — hence they re guilty of the cardinal sin of `polytheism’ (ash-.shirk) in Islam; or they are guilty of hypocrisy (nifaq) of professing something and yet acting in accordance with something else, The aim of Islamic spiritual education is to cure the human soul of this fatal malady and to make him whole as he was in the Adamic state. In other words, the aim is to make man achieve integration in all the depth and breadth of his being and life.

According to the doctrine, man is the vicegerent of God (Khalifah) on earth, and he is the locus of the manifestation of the Divine Names and Qualities. He can only attain bliss by remaining faithful to this nature and to him-self — meaning that he must be integrated. God is one and in order to reflect The One man must become whole and integrated. “To be dissipated and compartmentalized, to be lost in the never-ending play of mental images and concepts of psychic tensions and forces is to be removed from that state of wholeness which our nature demands of us…”17 The aim is the attainment of purity and wholeness, not through the negation of intelligence as is often found in the case of modern piety and in certain religious movements, but through the integration of all the elements of ones being, each into its proper centre. Man who is composed of body, mind and spirit, each must be integrated on its own level. In his constitution, it is the body which constitutes the most outward part; however, it is not this body which forms the greatest obstacle in the path of integration. The level with which man identifies himself and in which “he is most often caught in the labyrinth of incongruent images and thoughts 18 is the intermediate mental level, including the psycholo. gical forces found in this level. Hence, we see that the Islamic doctrine and method in spiritual education also turns to the problem of this vast intermediate realm which is so difficult to put under control and to affect integration.

The doctrine and method of spiritual education invol. ves the elucidation concerning the nature of God, the nature of the world, the nature of man, and the nature of the spiritual. virtues (al_fada il or al_akhlaq al_mahmudah), and the nature and art of spiritual concentration. This means that they involve metaphysics, cosmology, spiritual psycho-logy and the discussion of the virtues which may appear as ethical in character.

Usually, the metaphysical aspects of the doctrine out lines the nature of Reality, the Oneness. of the Divine Essence, then the theophany of the Essence in the Divine Na­mes and Qualities; the different states of being and then the nature of man himself as the total theophany (tajalli) of the names and qualities. It is tawhid which forms the founda.. tions of all sufi metaphysics and it is due to the misunder­standing of this central doctrine which causes some scholars of Sufism to accuse it of pantheism19. Sufi metaphysics also portrays the intermediate levels of existence between the corporeal world and God, and the levels of reality which the Cartesian dualism removed from the weltanschauung of modern European philosophy, hence giving a lop-sided portrayal of reality which obstructs the path of man in his efforts at integration.

In Sufi metaphysics since the Divine Reality is both Knowledge and Being, the seeker of that Reality has to overcome both ignorance and lack of consciousness and the grip of theoretical learning and other ‘illusions’ which exert influence on him. Hence many sufis, including the most outstanding representatives of gnosis like ibn `Arabi and ‘Umar Khayyam (God be pleased with them), give primacy to virtue and spiritual concentration over theoretical doctri­nal learning20.

The above are the eternal. elements in the doctrine and method of Islamic spiritual education: the end is God, the beginning is man in his earthly terrestrial state, and the path or the method links him to God through the means which make him realise the spiritual virtues in the soul; then the doctrine outlines for him the configuration of the universe through which he must perform his journey to reach the Divine Presence21.

In connection with this metaphysical aspect of the doc­trine, we can say that Shaykh ‘Abdus_Samad (rlr) has not elucidated this in every comprehensive or systematic man_ ner, and this is not without reasons. Some of its aspects are mentioned in his discussion of ‘aqa’id concerning the Divine Attributes and Essence and the relationship with the world22, the doctrine related with prophecy, and other related issues. He also touches upon this when he deals with the reality of the human heart (al-galb) and the stages of the human soul in relation to its travel towards the Divine Presence. In his treatment of the basis of the creed he shows himself to have a good grasp of the subject.

His awareness of the metaphysical aspect of the doctrine can be clearly seen when he discusses spiritual psycho-logy and the stages of the travel of the soul to the Divine Presence, a travel which is portrayed as a journey within oneself and also in the levels of being. According to him23, the human soul in its journey to the Absolute and to the attainment of perfection, has got to experience seven `stages’ The lowest stage of the soul in terms of spiritual excellence is called the soul compelling to evil (nafs al_ammarah)24. A person whose soul is spiritually at this stage—in terms of the cosmic dimension of his being — is stated to be in the world of the sensible (`alum ash-shahadah). It terms of qualities, it is prone to evil. At this stage, the man is to follow the injunctions of the Sacred Law (Shari’ah). Among the spiritual vices associated with the soul at this stage are spiritual ignorance, niggardliness, avarice, self-pride, over-talkative in matters which spiritually harm him, prone to fly into temper, gluttony, envy, and causing discord in his relations with others. At this stage of his soul, the person should adopt the formula for the remembrance of God: “La ilaha illa’Llah – There is no deity but Allah”. He is to persevere in his spiritual practices until his soul is by Divine Grace brought up to a next higher stage spiritually.

The next stage of the soul is called nafs al lawwamah25. The soul at this stage repents at the commission of evil. Its spiritual journey is undertaken for the sake of God and nothing else. In terms of the cosmological dimension of his being, at this stage he is said to be in the World of Similitudes (‘alanr al nrithal)26. His stage within himself is said to be the heart (al galb). The characteristics of a soul at this stage are that it loves to perform acts of devotion and meritorious acts, and it blames itself for the commission of sins and errors and for its negligence in the performance of meritorious acts. However, it still possesses certain spiri­tual ‘vices’ like self-admiration, the desire to be esteemed by others, the love for fame and personal glory, and the love for position of leadership and authority. This is be-cause of the fact that the soul retains some traces of the defects in the previous stage but with a difference: the soul realises that the reprehensible qualities are reprehensible, and the good qualities are good. He has thus to go on waging the ‘war’ before he is finally freed from the above imper­fections.

At this stage, he loves to perform the spiritual warfare (al-nurjahadah) and to conform to the Islamic Sacred Law (Shari’ah). He performs the obligatory and other voluntary prayers like the night prayer (tahajjud), the voluntary fasts and giving charity. He feels pleased if others notice his good acts, but he performs them for the sake of God. The desire to be held in high esteem by others is being opposed by him. At such a stage, the soul is said to live in accor­dance with the spiritual path (at_tarigah), which implies the inward dimensions of the sacred Law.

The soul at this stage cannot totally root out the spi­ritual ‘vices’ until he comes to the next stage in his journey. namely the stage of nab al_mulhanurh27. At this stage. according to Shaykh Qasim al-Halabi, (rh), he should utter the name “Allah, Allah, Allah…” in his rememberence of God, until he is brought to the stage of mulhamah.

At the stage of the mulhamah, the soul ‘sees things only in relation with the Divine Acts; this is because at this stage the reality of faith (iman) and certitude (yaqin) is realised in his heart, and the soul realises that all acts emanate from God and His Power and those other than -Allah have no reality in the real sense. He is ‘drowned’ in the realisation that all acts emanate from Him. He is not conscious of his own acts. He sees them all as the Acts of God.

In terms of the cosmological dimension of his realisation, it is said that he is in the World of Spirits Calm al- arwah); and in terms of his personality; he is said to be in the stage of spirit (ruh). He is intoxicated (‘ashiq) with the love of God, and he lives in accordance with his gnosis mta`rifah) and its demands on him. Among his virtues at this stage are generosity, feeling of sufficiency, understanding of religion, humility, patience, forebearing, forgiving injuries by others, and his love to show others how to do good. He realises that all acts of men and animals are in the Power of God. In this stage, the Sufis say that the person is in the state of fana’ al-af’al, literally the annihilation of (all) acts. To him, all mankind are as a shadow play being moved by the only Mover. He is always busy with acts of devotion and the rememberence of God.

In the stage of the mulhamah the student should utter “Hu, Hu, Hu…” in his rememberance of G o d; sometimes this is uttered in the sense of negation and affir­mation : “La huwa, ills Huwa…” i.e. “There is no he but He”. He is to utter the formula a lot and aloud. He is also to perform a lot of silent invocation — that is with his heart — until he reaches the next stage of nafs al-mutma’-innah,28 the soul at peace. At the time when he utters the formula “Huwa, Huwa…” he must try to realise that he is ‘in front’ of the Absolute Being of Allah, as if he is looking at Allah the Exalted with the eye of the heart —a Being with no colour, corporeality and no similitude. At the time of the utterence of “La huwa ills Huwa” he must negate all. except Allah, and he should affirm only the existence of Allah.

The fourth stage of the soul in its journey to the Divine Presence is called nafs al_mutma’innah. Its journey is said to be ‘together with Allah’. Cosmologically it is said to be in the level of al_hagigatlr’I-muhammadiyyah or The Muhammadan Reality, which constitutes the First Determination of the Absolute in its ‘Descent’ and Manifestation. In the Manifestation of the Absolute, this is called the state of ‘Wahdah (Divine Solitude. Ontologically it stands between the Supreme Unity (al-ahadiyah) and the Distinctive Oneness (al-Wahidiyah). In terms of his own personality, he is in the stage of the sirr29. At this stage of the soul, the heart of. the person is always attentive to the rememberence of God, and he conducts his life in accordance with the rea­lization of gnosis and the spiritual mysteries which the Di-vine has accorded to him (in accordance with ma’rifah `ilmu haqiqah).

In terms of the spiritual virtues, he possesses genero­sity, reliance on God, long suffering, control over his tem­per, love for acts of devotion, gratitude to God, pleasure with God and His Decree, patience with trials from God: and he conducts his life in accordance with the excellent qualities in the personality of the Holy Prophet (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him) and he follows him in all his acts and works.

This spiritual station is called the maqam al-tamkin, i.e. spiritual station characterised by strength and power. At this stage, the soul possesses certainty by spiritual vision (‘ayn al yugin) and he also possesses perfect faith (iman a!-kamil). The person whose soul is at this stage shall use the formula “Haqq, Haqq, Haqq…” in his rememberence of God.

The fiftfh stage is attained when the soul is pleased with the Lord (nafs ar-radiyah)30. The spiritual journey of the soul at this high stage is called to be In God’ (fi’Llah). In terms of the level of Being, he is said to be in the `alam al-lahut, i.e. the World of Divine Reality, or the World of the Divine Essence (‘alanl adh-dhat). This is the stage of al ahadiyah31 of the Absolute.

At this stage, the person ‘sees’ Allah without Attributes or Names or Acts. The seat of consciousness at this stage is sirr as-sirr, literally the secret of secret32. At this stage, his earthly created self is annihilated (the bashariyyah aspect is annihilated) and he attains the direct vision of the Divine Essence (shuhud dhat Allah) and this spiritual station is called the station of “There is no existence save Allah — La mawjuda da illaLli.

He adopts the principle of renunciation (zuhd) in things which are other than God, and he is absolutely sincere to-wards God; he abstains from things which are other than God. He is always pleased with whatever happens and he does not appose anything which is not liked by his nafs or self because he is pleased with the Acts of Allah and he is ‘drowned’ in the vision of the Divine Beauty (shuhud Jamal Allah).

Whoever hears his exhortations will benefit by them while he himself is all the time absorbed in the ‘alam allahut and attaining the vision of the realities in the sirr as-sirr. For a person at this stage, he should often utter the formula “Hayy, Hayy, Hayy… (i.e. God the Living), so that this stage of annihilation (fana) will be succeed by the next stage of subsistence (baqa’) with God Who Lives and and Dies Not, and he reaches the sixth spiritual stage of the soul with which the Lord is pleased — nafs al-mardiyyah33 which possesses all the perfect qualities in terms of the spiritual virtues (kamalat).

The spiritual ascent of the person at this stage is des­cribed as a journey with the knowledge from God, and he then returns after the departure to God to the world of the created order to give guidance (irshad) to mankind so that mankind live in accordance with the Commandments of God and His Will, to point out to others the path to God, and to provide actual spiritual guidance for them. Cosmologi­cally, he is said to be in the world of bodies (‘alam al ajsan): and the centre of realization or consciousness connected with this stage is the khafi34.

He is in the state of wonderment (at God) which is accepted by God (hayrah m aghul) and this stage is said to have been indicated in the hadith which contains the prayer of the Prophet (May the blessings and peace of God be upon him) : “Rabbi zidni fika tahayyuran -0 Lord increase my wonderment at Thee”35. Such a man will con-duct his life in accordance with the requirements of the Shari’ah: his character is most exalted, he abandons all which are other than God, he is compassionate with men and for-giving. He guides them, brings them out of the darkness of their earthly nature and cleans them of their reprehensible qualities into the light of the spirit (ruh). The invocation of the person at this stage is the utterance of the Divine Name ‘al-Qayyum’, Self-Existing. The formula is “Ya Qayyum, Ya Qayyum, Ya Qayyum…” ceaselessly until he reaches the seventh stage of the spiritual ascension: the stage of nafs al-kamilah — the Perfect Soul.

The spiritual ascent at this stage is said to be ‘bi’Llah’, i.e. with the Power of God and His Will and Strength (His Quwwah and Hawn. His realisation of the cosmic dimension and of the degrees of being is termed as having the vision of the multiplicity in oneness and oneness in multi­plicity (shuhud ‘ al-kathrah fi’l-wahdah and shuhud al-wahdah fi’l-kathrah). What is meant by the assertion of shuhud al-kathrah fi’l-wahdah is that the soul realises by pure intellectual vision (which is different absolutely from mental abstraction) that all the created order is in the Command of Allah the One, Who possesses the Attribute of Wahdaniyyah. What is meant by the shuhud al-wahdah fi’l-kathrah is that the soul realises pure intellectual vision (shuhud) of Allah the One Who holds the Command in all the creat­ed order and in all the degrees of being (di dalam sekalian ‘alam ini); this world being mysteriously ‘plunged’ in Him. The centre of consciousness connected with this degree of spiritual realisation is called the akhfa3e. The relation of the akhfa to the khafi is as the relation of the spirit (ruh) to the body. At this stage, the soul is in the stage of subsistence in God (baqa’ bi’Llahi Ta’ala)37. The man at this stage conducts his life in accordance with the spiritual perception which he possesses of the external and the esoteric realities of the religion.

In terms of the excellent qualities and the spiritual vir­tues, he possesses all the perfect and excellent qualities mentioned above. The formula of remembrance of God for the person at this stage is “Ya Qahhar, ya Qahhar, ya Qahhar…” — Qahhar literally meaning (God) the Subduer. He should utter this ceaselessly in all situation of his life.

This seventh stage of spiritual realisation is possessed by the perfect saints of God (awliya Allah al-kamil) and those who can make others reach the stage of spiritual per­fection. They belong to the special group of the special saints. The stage of the odinary saints is that of the fourth stage of the nafs al-mutma’innah; the stage of the special saints is the fifth stage of nafs ar-radiyah: while the stage of the special among the special saints of God (khawwas al-khawwas) is the sixth stage of nafs al-mardiyyah. The perfect soul mentioned contemplates unity or oneness in multiplicity and multiplicity in unity38.

We can see from the above that the Shaykh (rh) con­ceives of the inseparable link between the attainment to the Absolute, the soul’s journey in the cosmos and within itself, and also the qualities which it possesses in terms of the spi­ritual virtues. In other words, the knowledge of one’s self (nafs) is bound up with the knowledge of God, the know-ledge of Being. and the possession of the spiritual virtues. Hence, this involves the knowledge of metaphysics, spiritual psychology, cosmology and the spiritual virtues.


Coming to the subject of spiritual psychology, which constitutes the major portion of the work of the author, it can be said that this discipline essentially possesses a complete and effective method of curing the soul of its maladies and enabling it to attain success where many psychoanalytical and psychiatric methods fail. This can be appreciated if we remember the maxim that it is only the higher who can know the lower, that is to say it is only the spirit which can know the psyche; and it is he who soul has achieved integration and has been illuminated who has the right to cure the soul of others from their maladies. To say otherwise means either to be ignorant of the reality of the issues involved or to be a downright impostor.

It is clear from the above that spiritual psychology does not treat the soul separately from the metaphysical or the cosmic level. The connection of the soul with the metaphysical dimension provides spiritual psychology with “[the] qualitative criteria such as wholly lacking in profane psychology, which studies only the dynamic character of phe­nomena of the psyche and their proximate causes”39.

Concerning the relationship of the soul with the cosmos a sufi master of the 19th century has said, “The soul is an immense thing: it is the whole cosmos, since it is the copy of it. Everything which is found in the cosmos is found in the soul; equally everything in the soul is in the cosmos. Because of this fact he who masters his soul most certainly masters the cosmos, just as he who is dominated by his soul is certainly dominated by the whole cosmos”4o We can appreciate the above if we remember that in Sufi psychology the soul is represented as a substance which possesses different faculties and modes of existence, all of which are separated and yet united by a single axis that traverses all these modes and places”41. This psychology is presented as having a very close link with cosmology so much so that a man who has fathomed his soul and being has also automatically realised the cosmic dimension of his being—this is of course not quantitative but qualitative and symbolic in nature. The correspondence of the soul with the cosmos objectives the form of the psyche and in this way the soul is cured of its knots and dark spots. The sufi adept may be given the explanation of this psychology in its microcosmic and macrocosmic dimensions before the actual journey is undertaken. Even this theoretical eluci­dation before the actual spiritual realization gives the whole-some effect of integrating the psyche and the mental plane of the person who can understand it.

On the other hand profane psychology does not provide this link between the soul and the cosmos. The only link given is the one which lies in the impressions which reach the soul through the sensations of the senses, in contrast with sufi psychology which even considers the analogy in the constitution between the soul and the cosmos. In con­nection with this same subject of profane psychology T. Burckhardt has remarked that “When modern psychology makes pretensions to a sort of science of the hidden con-tents of the soul, it is still for all that restricted to an in­dividual perspective because it has no real means for dis­tinguishing psychic forms which translate universal realities from forms which appear symbolical but are only the vehicles for individual. impulsions. Its `collective subconscious’ has most assurely nothing to do with the true source of symbols. At most it is a chaotic depository of psychic residues somewhat like the mud of the ocean bed which retain traces of past epochs”42.

In the scheme provided by Shaykh ‘Abdus_Samad (rh), we can see that he treats of sufi psychology in the main at two places in the Siyar, the first while he treats the qualities and forces in connection with the heart (qalb)43 and then, in a more exhaustive manner involving the method of curing the maladies of the soul, when he discusses the spiritual virtues and the vices of the soul44.

In the discussion concerning the central function of the heart and its relationship with gnosis (ma’rifah), he considers the heart in relation to human personality as a whole, like the relationship of a king in relation to his kingdom. The whole kingdom of the human personality will be integrated and whole once the heart — which symbolises the king— is made integrated and whole by first following the Islamic Sacred Law and then by practising the discipline available in the doctrine and method in spiritual education. In connection with this issue, he also discusses the meanings of four key terms: heart (qalb), spirit (ruh), soul (nafs), and also ‘ay/ (intelligence). In the discussion of these terms he is Ghazzalian through and through. In sum all the four terms, from the point of view relevant to spiritual education, carry the meaning of ‘latifah rahbaniyyah aw ruhaniyyah’ a subtle, divine spiritual substance which as it were forms the inmost core of the human personality, which attain to direct knowledge of God and tite Divine Mysteries; the subtle spi­ritual light in the personality which determines integration; and the `divine substance’ which forms the centre of the personality and which determines his real worth45.

His deep awareness of the correspondence between the soul and the cosmos is clear from his discussion of the seven stages of the travel of the soul from its earthly existence right up to the Divine Presence. If the cosmos is consider­ed to consist of various levels as the World of the Sensible (‘alam ash-shahadah) then, in the ascending ontological order, there is the World of Similitudes (‘alam al-mithal), the World of Spirits (‘alam al-arwah), the stage of the Reality of Muhammad (al-haqiqat al-muhammadiyyah), the stage of the First Determination of the Absolute, and finally the level of the Divine Reality (‘alam al-lahut:). The soul in its spiritual journey from the stage of nafs al-arnntaraei (the soul compelling to evil) right up to the spiritual stage of the nafs kamilah (the Perfect Soul) will realize in a qualitative and symbolical manner the above cosmic dimensions in his being.

We have thus seen that the upward spiritual travel is connected with the possession of certain spiritual virtues and the eradication of certain evils in the soul. In the beginning the soul individualises certain evils like spiritual ignorance, avarice, stinginess, and arrogance which all constitute the fatal maladies of the soul; then in the ascending order the soul improves and sheds off the reprehensible qualities and adopts the worthy qualities until finally there are no more evils which remain in it.

Hence it is clear that the spiritual psychology is pro­vided with a qualitative criteria by virtue of this connection. We can also see that the cure of the maladies of the soul is connected with the person realising the cosmic dimension of his soul in a qualitative and symbolical sense.

This discussion leads us logically to the examination of the author’s formulation of the doctrine of the spiritual vir­tues which form the perfect modes of being.


Before discussing the spiritual virtues in a very exhaustive manner — possibly the most exhaustive, systematic and thorough discussion in any Malay Islamic mystical text — the writer examines both the outer and the inner vices of the human personality. The ‘outer’ is meant those evils which are associated with gluttony, immoderate love of good, loose sex life, and abuses like the abuse of, the organ of speech; he also deals with the psychological and reprehen­sible qualities such as anger, jealousy, love of the world, love of wealth, with all the negative spiritual attitudes which go together with them; love for fame and outward show; arrogance and self admiration. The discussion of these latter are drawn to the spiritual centre although they appear to be apparently ethical in character. In his discussion of these topics he portrays the reality of these qualities in the context of the total human personality and not so much in the `social’ context. The evils and the dissipating’ effects they exert on the human personality are pointed out; also he suggests cures for the maladies based on traditional, and experiential foundations. For instance, when he discusses the malady of the love of fame and outward show and publicity* he discusses its reality, its manifestation and its evils. He also mentions the method of how to cure the soul of this fatal malady. The same method is employed in the discussion ofi other maladies of the soul.

The last volume of the Siyar is devoted to an exhaustive treatment of the spiritual virtues based on the Ihya’ of Imam al-Ghazali (God be pleased with him)47 with some omissions and some comments based on his own investigation. The spiritual virtues treated in this volume have already been mentioned briefly at the beginning of this paper.

Of course, it is not possible to go into the details of the exposition of the author concerning this aspect of the doctrine. However, for our convenience, it can be remarked that in the treatment of the virtues he points out their reality and manifestation on the spiritual, psychological and even the physical levels; their merits in terms of the spiritual advancement of the person concerned; and the positive method involved in realising them based on traditional, scriptural and experiential grounds. For instance, in dealing with the virtue of spiritual love (al-mahabah)48 he explains that the vir­tue constitutes the end of the journey of the spiritual traveller (salik). He further states that with the realization of the virtue of spiritual love towards God the other virtues like contentment with the Divine Decree and intimacy (al-uns) follow suit. And so do other virtues like repentance, pa­tience and renunciation. After this the author gives scriptural evidences to show the legitimacy of the foundation of such a mode of relationship between man and the Absolute — a mode which makes the other spiritual virtues appear like its facets, just like the diamond which has its facets and through which it glitters. He then proceeds to define the reality of mahabbah literally and in terms of spiritual psychology. Further, he also points out the extremely significant fact of the inseparable relationship between the love towards God and gnosis (ma`rifah): that love and gnosis go together, and that there is no such thing as love without gnosis and neither is there such a thing as gnosis without love in the real sense. In connection with the same topic of loving God and `knowing’ Him — and hence involving knowing the nature of the world — he cites the remark of Hasan al-Basri (rh) which means Whoever attains to knowledge (gnosis) of the Lord will love Him, and. whoever. attains to the knowledge of the world (ad-dunya) will adopt renunciation in relation to it…“49. He also elucidates the factors which help to strengthen this bond of love of God.

In connection with the spiritual virtue of sincerity (al-ikhlas) he explains the reality of this virtue in linguistic terms and in terms of spiritual psychology50. In this connection too he cites the famous hadith qudsi: “My servant will continue in supererogatory acts of devotion until I love him…”51 The end of the path is thus put as love.

Without going into exhaustive analysis of these virtues, we can make certain general remarks as to their sig­nificance in the context of Islamic doctrine of spiritual edu­cation. It is clear that in Islamic mystical doctrine the end of the educational process as it were is either gnosis or love: yet sufi works give utmost importance to the science of the spiritual virtues. The spiritual virtues cannot be neglected precisely because it is impossible for the heart to open up to Divine Truth (al-Haqiqah) as long as the soul possesses an attitude which denies that Truth; and the avoi­dance of this is the more uncertain because the domain of the soul (an-nafs) is a priori governed by-the egocentric illusion52. This means that the science of the virtues which applies Divine Truth to the soul is concerned with the more spiritual realisation and not mere theoretical learning.

It can be seen, that the criteria of the virtues ‘are very subtle and it is impossible to sum them up in a moral code. The object of the science is the spiritual virtue itself which is a sort of symbol that is lived and the right perception of it depends on the inner and spiritual development of the person concerned.

It can also be said that the method in spiritual education consists of the art of keeping the soul open to the inflow of the Infinite. However, the soul has got the natural tendency to remain shut up in itself and this tendency can be compensated by a contrary movement operating on the same level — and this ‘movement’ is supplied by virtue. “Metaphysical truth as such is impersonal and motionless; virtue translate it into a ‘personal’ mode” 53

Again, viewed from the social point of view, we can see that the spiritual virtue is not necessarily a social virtue in a direct sense. For instance, the virtue of love of God does not necessarily and directly manifest itself on the social plane. Or, to take another example in the negative, pride which is also mentioned by the author in the Siyar is an inner evil of man, and undoubtedly from the point of view of sufi psychology and spiritual considerations it is bad, even if it is not shown as outwardly illegal. “Existentially speaking evil is the distortion of a good…“54

It can also be said that in a certain sense a spiritual virtue differs from an ordinary religious virtue; for instance, the virtue of gratitude for most believers is based on the memory of the favours granted by God to them and by implication it means that the favours received are more real than the sufferings which they had undergone. In the case of the person who has realised this virtue in his soul, this realisation gives him the feeling of certainty; to him the plenitude of Being which permeates every atom of existence is infinite and to him this is more real than the finite nature of things. And we know that some sufis experience joy in what would be for others something painful.

We can also say that the spiritual virtues — different from ordinary ethical rules and moral values — are as it were supports for the Divine Truth (al-haqiqah) in man; in fact they are ‘reflections’ of that Truth. For example, spiritual poverty (al-faqr)55 reflects — inversely — the Plenitude of the Spirit; sincerity (al-ikhlas) and veracity (as-sidq) reflects inversely the expression of the independence of the Spirit from psychic tendencies. Here we can see that the positive spiritual virtues like al-faqr, al-ikhlas, and as-sidq reflect the Truth inversely. The inversion lies in the mode and not in the content: they are as it were saturated with humility and submission, while their prototypes are characterised by majesty and glory.

Again, it must not be left unmentioned that the spiritual virtue is not a mere negation of the natural instincts, nor is it a mere psychic sublimation. It positively emanates from a presentiment of Divine Reality which underlies all objects of desire. Hence, noble passion is better or nearer to virtue than anguish.

In relation to the essence of knowledge, it can be said that if knowledge in its intellective wholeness is essentially something supra-individual, because it is universal, then the virtues retrace in the individuality and in an existential mode the stages of knowledge — and they are reflections of real knowledge, not fleeting reflections but those which are firmly fixed in the human will. This is very clear from the explanation of the author in .the Sivar concerning the connect-ions between the stages in the spiritual tourney and the knowledge gained at each stage in the ascent. The virtues constitute acquisitions of being. It is because of this that they are taken as inevitable supports of knowledge, and that is why sufis identify the virtues with spiritual degrees56.

In the ultimate analysis, according to Sufi doctrine, virtue is mans conformity to pure Existence. By this is not meant a philosophical abstraction deriving from the false notion that only phenomena are concrete, but rather the concrete universal substance of which we are the modalities, so much so that if there is anything abstract here it is from our side: for can the foam be regarded, for instance, as ‘abstract’ in relation to the unvarying reality of the water? From the point of view of doctrine, Existence in its positive purity is everything that we ought to be, “only its ruptures of equilibrium produce, in a fragmentary and ephemeral way, these private manifestations which we call evil…“57

We can also say that virtue means to resign oneself to the absolutely Real – with goodness and bliss – from the starting point of the earthly dream which is still not aware of this felicity except in its heavenly fissures. The virtues are everywhere and nowhere; and we either experience them as gifts or we obtain them actively – of course with the grace of Heaven58.

It is also necessary to say – keeping in mind the doctrinal formulation of the writer in the Siyar – that the Sufis like to show metaphysical truths as far as possible in connection with subjective experience. and not in pure objectivity as if the subject did not exist. It is true that we sometimes find the objective formulation too among them. However, the most general expression of sufism has the subjectivist character: this means that the stages towards the transcendent reality are presented not so much under the aspect of objective and immutable `envelopes of the self as under the aspect of ‘moral stations in the most profound sense of the term59.

The spiritual states and stations (ahwal and maqamat) are numerous, and their features depend on the way adopted by the sufi writer concerned. However, we can be sure that this does not in any way prevent the spiritual experience from clearly possessing perfect objectivity as points of reference. If otherwise, it would be pointless to speak of them. It can also be said that this tendency does not prevent Islam from possessing a metaphysical and cosmological doctrine expressed objectively and based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Of course, in formulation sometimes it is influenced by the categories of Hellenistic esoteric doctrines. However, in Islam, true spirituality always remains bound with the sincerity of faith and the inner virtues determined by the Truth, the examples of which are given by the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (May the blessings and peace of God be upon him). “The originality of sufism is that it presents itself as a metaphysic of human virtue, of virtues inherent in faith or in the awareness of the Absolute and made ultimately supernatural by this very inherence“6o

Coming back to the issue of doctrine, it may be said that man is not a dismembered mind. Therefore there is a whole world of difference between the theoretical under-standing of the doctrine by the mind and the consequent integration, and the realisation of the verities in the doctrine in one’s being. In fact, too much study of sufi metaphysics and doctrine without the implementation of the relevant authentic spiritual methods and practices can cause a further separation between the mind and the other elements of ones being, and this may cause difficulty in the path of total integration of the personality61. That is the reason why the doctrine and method in Sufi education are always combined together —in fact this is true of all integral traditional paths — forming two legs which help man in his spiritual journey.

To bring about this integration and to turn the soul into the soul of gold, Sufism — the esoteric dimension of Islam — bases its methods and practices first of all on the Islamic Sacred Law (Shari’ah) precisely because Sufism is the esoteric dimension of the Shari’ah. The act of conducting one’s life in accordance with the demands of the Shari’ah is already to gain a measure of integration and this constitutes an indispensible basis for the complete spiritual integration involving the totality of one’s being. Here we are reminded of the traditional symbol. which portrays the organic and unseparable relationship between the Shari’ah, the spiritual path to be followed to reach the Divine Truth, and finally the Divine Truth in terms of a circle. The circumference of the circle stands for the Shari’ah, the radius stands for the spiritual path, and the centre of the circle stands for the Divine Truth. Now, to enable oneself to undertake the journey to the Divine Truth, one must firstly place oneself on the circumference of the circle; only after that can one choose a path which leads to the centre. Without first being at the circumference, one cannot hope to travel to the centre of the circle. In the same way, one can hope to find a path to the Divine Truth only after one has placed oneself in the Shari’ah and practised its requirements; only after that can one look for the spiritual path (tariqah) which may lead one to the Divine Truth with the grace of Heaven. Hence, we can see that the author of the Siyar presents the ‘structure’ of the Shari’ah and its demands on man before he goes into the details of the doctrine and method of the spiritual path. This is clearly the beginning of the Siyar and also in the first half of the Hidayah. ‘


The main method of integration and spiritual realisation is the obligatory canonical. prayer – salah to be performed five times daily. Then there are the other duties which must be performed – which constitute the “pillars of the religion (arkanu’l lslam)”. The performance of these duties must be in accordance with the necessary external conditions and the inner demands – like sincerity in devotion – which will make the performance of the obligation turn in-to perfect form of devotion (‘ibadah)b2. That is why we see that Shaykh ‘Abdu’s-Samad (rh) devotes considerable amount of space to the elucidation of the issues related to the five pillars of Islam and others63. In connection with prayer, it can be added that the main method in Sufism is to extend the prayer so that it becomes continuous — not of course in quantitative but qualitative and vertical. sense — that is to say, Sufism uses the cluinessential form of the remembrance of God (dhikru’Llah) in which finally the separation from the Divine is removed and man realises Tawhid. The dhikr which involves verbal symbols gradually transmutes the man’s psyche until it becomes mans real nature and his reality. With the aid of the dhikr and other indispensable methods, like the appropriate method of contemplation (at tafakkur), self-denial and others — which are mentioned by the author of the Siyar – man acquires an integrated soul, pure, unsullied, and glittering like gold. Finally, in the experience of annihilation (fana’) and subsistence (baqa’) he realises that he was never separate from the Divine at all64

In relation to the dhikr it can be seen that it is in the form of verbal symbol which is repeated inwardly or aloud, with the synchronising of the breath or not. Then there are the various phases of the permutations of the symbol in the soul in conformity with the different Divine Realities (haga’iy) which the symbol expresses65. For instance, during the invocation of the Divine Name like `Allah’ the three constituents of the way, namely doctrinal truth, virtue in the will and spiritual alchemy are summed up in a single inner act related to the invocation: that is to say that virtue is the human reflection of the Divine Aspect which is symbolised by the Sacred Name recited, while the `alchemy’ emanates from the theurgic power of the Divine Name which is identified with the Divine in a mysterious way. That is why the dhikru’Llah is considered by the mystics in Islam as the most direct means of approach to God.

Apart from the above, the recitation of the Quran is a rite which constitutes a means of approach to God. In a sense this rite is parallel to the dhikr. What makes the mystics differ from other Muslims in connection with this is that they read the Holy Qur’an more consciously and with more regularity. They further see in this as a means of getting nearer to God through the Uncreated Word.

Another rite which must not be left unmentioned is the recitation of the litanies. There are many traditions which recommend the recitation of litanies a certain number of times. The formulas are sometimes given in the traditions. Finally, we can mention the recommendation of the traditions for the believers to perform voluntary fasts for their spiritual elevation, apart from the obligatory fasts.

The author mentions the various formulas for dhikr and awrad in the first volume of the Sivar (pp. 183 ff.) after his discussion of’ the place and significance of the recitation of the Holy Quran as a method of integration. It can be said that the author has elucidated the methods of integration in an exhaustive manner.

Before this discussion on the methods of integration is concluded, it is necessary to be reminded of the fact that the role of spiritual path in the realisation of truth and integration is of utmost importance. It is only through the Divine presence and the grace (barakah) found in the methods of spiritual education in Islam —going back to the origin of the Qur’anic revelation — can all the dispersed elements in the human soul be’ integrated together. The ordinary man is always moving in the opposite direction, away from the centre of his being, towards the periphery and indulging himself in dissipation. This tendency must be checked and reversed and he must go to the centre; only then can he achieve integration. The only method is to be-come initiated into the spiritual path within the bosom of the Islamic Orthodoxy and Sacred Law, and this transformation towards integration can be effected through the grace of Heaven and the blessing (barakah) in the methods of Sufism66.


Looked at from the universal point of view the issue of human integration, according to the doctrine here elucidated, is bound up with the notion of man as ultimately a being with three. ‘constituents’ — body, the mind and the psychic forces related to the psychic plane, and finally the spirit. In other words, the proper perspective for viewing the issue of personality integration in its totality is the one with the necessary doctrine and methods involved as available in the traditional doctrine. From this point of view the issue still appears, whether it involves the man in con-temporary or medieval time, as the basic human issue of integration of the levels of his being in relation to the pro-per centre. All the other issues of the human personality spring from this basic view. Otherwise, from the perspective of the traditional doctrine, the solution or the view is false, lopsided, leading to disintegration. This is the reason why the doctrine of education as envisaged by Shaykh `Abdu’s-Samad of Palembang (rh) looks at the issue of human personality from the perspective described above. In connection with this point too it can be added that this doctrine speaks of verities which are timeless in their nature and which determine what can be called the pretemporal existence of man in relation with God. The verities are founded on the reality which is transcendent and at the same time immanent within the inmost parts of human nature, and which is taken as neither to evolve nor decay67.

This doctrine is presented to man who is bewildered with the theoretical knowledge of the structure of reality and man’s place in the scheme of things. It in itself constitutes the fruit of spiritual vision of the sages who had realised the state of wholeness and integration; and it is presented so that others can achieve wholeness by means of it. The role of such integrating doctrine and the effective spiritual methods is to fulfil the greatest need for solution for man confused with ambiguities and pitfalls and subjectivism in modern intellectual climate.

Another point which can be added to the above inte­grating function of the doctrine is the fact that this is related to a living tradition which is cultivated up to the present day — with all the necessary elites, doctrines, methods and means of spiritual realisation. The saving grace is there. The point is to re-understand and choose.

If, in spite of the above assertion, it is said that although there are intellectual treasures in such a doctrine it does not answer the problems of today, then it can be stated that either the problems of today are real ones in that they relate to the nature and reality of things and man’s situation in general as a man — hence in reality they are no more new problems — and in that case they have been sufficiently answered or discussed in the Islamic sources of the doctrine; or that these problems are ones which are presented falsely, by the stubborn attitude of conceiving man’s life in terms of living by bread alone68. In this latter case, too, the study of such a doctrine will. reveal the meaning of human existence and the end of things and in which scheme man cannot escape the profound demands of his nature. To disregard this is to suffer.

From another point of view, such a doctrine should be reunderstood and restudied because, true to our intellectual integrity, we should start with what we have and from where we are. If we want either to accept or reject it, it must be started on the basis of deep and genuine under-standing and not of ignorance. Rejection without under-standing is naive and impossible. Wa’Llahu a’lam.


1 See J.H. Howard, Malay Manuscripts, Kuala Lumpur, 1966, p. I I. For some mention of his works, very inadequate, see R.O. Winstedt, History of Classical Malay Literature, p. 125, and idem., The Malays, A Cultural History, Singapore, 1947, p. 31.

2 Cf his Hidayah, published by Sulayman Mari, Singapore, undated, p. 28.

3 Brockelmann, GAL(S), II, p. 629.

4 Ibid.

5 Siyar as Salikin fi Tariyahas Sadat as-Sufiyah, published in Cairo, 1372/1953, in four volumes, by Messrs. `Isa al Babi al-Halabi.

6 Published in Cairo, 1341 A.H. by Messrs. Mustafa al-Babi al-Halabi.

7 al-Bukhari, Sahih, kitab al-11m, bab al ‘ilm gabla’l qawl.

8 Siyar, I, pp. 3—35; Hidayah, pp. 4—10 and 99 if.

9 .Siyar, 1, pp. 35—241; Hidayah, pp. 10—99.

10 Siyar, II, pp. 2—247; Hidayah, pp. 99 if.

11 Siyar, III, pp. 2—208; Hidayah, pp. 51—64 and 64—77.

12 Ibid., 3—267; Hidayah, pp. 77—90.

13 See Imam al Ghazali (God be pleased with him), al Arba’in. Cairo, 1383 A.H., p. 175 if.

14 Cf. also the elucidations of al Kalabadhis in al-Ta’arruf, Cairo, 1388/1969, pp. 111—160.

15 S.H. Nasr. “Sufism and the Integration of Man”, Sufi Essays, London, 1972, hh. 43 – 51.

16 See Titus Burckhardt, Introduction to Sufi Doctrine, Lahore 1959, p. 36. Also al-Ghazali (rd), Kimiya’ as Sa `adah, tr. C. Field, The Alchemy of Happiness, Lahore, 1964, Chapters I and II.

17 Nasr, “Sufism and the Integration of Man”, pp. 43 – 44.

18 Ibid.

19 Cf. Ibid. and Burckhardt, Introduction to Sufi Doctrine, pp. 32 if. and 101 if.

20 Ibid.

21 S.H. Nasr, “Sufism and the Perennity of the Mystical Quest, reprinted from Milla wa Milla No. 10, 1970, being Charles Strong Memorial Lecture, 1970, published by the Charles Strong Memorial Trust, Australia, p. 11. Cf. also Martin Lings, A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century, London, 1971; and S.H. Nasr, The Three Mus Jim Sages, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1964.

22 Siyar, I, pp. 21 if. and Hidayah, pp. 7—10.

23 See Siyar, III, pp. 9—12. This formulation is based on the explanations of one Shaykh Qasim al-Halabi (rh), in his Siyar as_Suhuk. All the explanations concerning the seven stages of the soul and the issues related to it can be compared with they elucidations of one in the Qadiriyyah Order, al Hajji Ismail ibn as Sayyid Muhammad Said al Qadiri (rh) in his book al-Fuyudat ar Rabbaniy yah, Singapore-Penang-Kota Bharu, Sulayman Mari, n.d., especially pp. 14—28 and 34—38.


24 Cf. Qur’an, XII :53: “Inna’n nafs la anmurratun s:.’i: The (human) soul is certainly prone to evil.

25 Cf. the Qur’an: LXXV : 2 : “an-nafs al lawwamuh.

26 ‘A!cnn crl mithal: the level which constitutes the formal manifestation as a whole including both the psychic and the physical worlds.

27 Cf. Qur’an, XCI : 8 : verb ‘alhamaha’.

28 Cf. the Qur’an, LXXXIX: 27.

29 Sirr: mystery secret. It connotes the intimate and ineffable centre of consciousness, or the `point of contact’ between the subject and his Divine Principle.

30 See Qur’an, LXXXIX: 28.

31 al ahadiyalr is the Transcendent Unity, i.e. the Supreme Unity which is not the object of any distinctive knowledge by the creature as such. As a spiritual state, this Unity implies the extinction of all the traces of the created.

32 For an explanation of Sirr as sirr see Jurjani, Ta’rifat, Cairo, 1938.

33 See Qur’an, LXXXIX: 28.

34 See Jurjani, Ta’rifat.

35 See ibn ‘Arabi (rh), Fususu’l-Hikam, (Ed.) Abu’l-‘Ala ‘Afifi, Beirut, 1946, Vol. I, p. 73 and Vol. II, p. 41.

36 Cf. al khafa’ in Jurjani, Ta’rifat, s.v. khafi.

37 The term bays’ connotes the spiritual state of subsistence beyond all forms, that is the state of reintegration in the Spirit, or even pure Being. The opposite of this term is Tana’, which denotes the extinction or the annihilation of the individual limitations in the state of Proximity with God.

38 al Hajji Ismail al Qadiri (rh), al-Fuyudat ar-Rabbaniy vah, pp. 14—28 and 34—38.

39 Burckhardt, Introduction to Sufi Doctrine, p. 35.

40 Shaykh al-‘Arabi al Dargawi, (rh), Letters of a Sufi Master, tr. T. Burckhardt, London, 1969, p. 4.

41 Nasr, “Sufism and the Integration of Man, p. 47.

42 Burckhardt, Introduction to Sufi Doctrine, p. 35.

43 Siyar, III, pp. 2—14.

44 Sivar, III, pp. 94—208.

45 Cf. al_Ghazali (rh), Ihya’, Vol. IiI, and Ma’arij al-Quds, Cairo, n.d.

46 Siyar, 11I, pp. 131 if.

47 al Ghazali, Ihya’, vol. IV.

48 Siyar, IV, pp. 119 if., and Hidayah, pp. 86 if.

49 .Sivar, iV, pp. 121 if.

50 Siyar, IV, pp. 153 if.

51 Bukhari, Sahih, in Rigaq: Siyur, IV, pp. 155 if.

52 Burckhardt. Introduction to Sufi Doctrine, p. 38.

53 Ibid.

54 F. Schuon, Dimensions of Islam, London, 1970, p. 26.

55 See Sivar. iV, pp. 52 fl.

56 Note the stages of the journey of the soul and the vir­tues and knowledge related to these stages in Siyar, pp. 9–12.

57 Schuon, Dimensions of Islam, p. 133.

58 Ibid.

59 Cf. Schuon, Dimensions of Islam, p. 29. Al-Ghazali (rd) under whose decisive influence the writer wrote undoubtedly belongs to this tendency.

60 Schuon, Dimensions of Islam, p. 29.

61 Nasr, “Sufism and the Integration of Man”, p. 48.

62 Cf. al-Hujwiri, (rh), Kash al Mahjub, tr. R.A. Nicholson, London, 1959, especially Chapters VII—XXII.

63 Cf. Hidayah, pp. 7-64.

64 Siyar, III, pp. 9-12; Nasr, “Sufism and the integration of Man”, p. 49 – 50.

65 Burckhardt, Introduction to Sufi Doctrine, p. 111.

66 Nasr, “Sufism and the Integration of Man”, p. 49. Cf. Siyar, III,, p. 3.

67 Nasr, “Sufism and the Integration of Man”.

68 S.H. Nasr, “Islamic Philosophy…”, in Reorientation of Muslim Philosophy, Pakistan

Philosophical Congress, 1965.