Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Abdullah Ansari's "Hundred Grounds"


O son, I pray and I pray I could get hold of the book by Abdullah Ansari and share each of the 100 grounds/fields with you.

Khwaja Abdullah Ansari (1006 - 1089 CE) is a well known Sufi from Herat (Afghanistan) who authored other pertinent works such as the Unveiling of Mysteries (Kashf al-asrar), Dialogues with God (Munajat Namah), Stations of the Wayfares (Manazil al-sa'irin) and Generations of the Sufis (Tabaqat al-sufiya).

'Hundred Grounds' or 'Hundred Fields Between Man and God' (Sad Maidan) lists 100 stages/spiritual stations, requisites for arriving at the Divine Presence.

The first ten grounds are:
Exercise and

The last ten grounds are:
Time, Self, Unveiling, Joy, Intimacy, Terror, Observation, Seeing, Perishing (fana) and Lasting (baqa).

For now let's look at Ground 1 as quoted from an essay by Ravan Farhadi in the 'The Heritage of Sufism' - a book I had purchased in Glasgow four years ago but only found the time to browse it this morning, Alhamdulillah!
The Ground of Repentance (tawba)
The first ground is the stage of Repentance. Repentance is returning to God. In the words of God Almighty: "Turn unto God in sincere repentance." (Qur'an LXVI:8)
Know that Knowledge is life, Wisdom a mirror, Contentment a fortification, Hope is divine intercession, Recollection (of God) is a medicine, and Repentance is an antidote (for all ills). Repentance is the signpost of the way, the chieftain of admittance (to divine grace), the key to treasure, the Intercessor of Union, the major mediator, the condition for acceptance, and the secret of all joy. The principles of repentance are three: the repentance of the obedient devotee, the repentance of the disobedient sinner and the repentance of the knower.

The obedient devotee repents of overestimating his own devotion; the disobedient sinner repents of underestimating his own subordination and sin; and the knower repents of being oblivious of God's favours conferred on him.
1) Overestimating one's own devotion has three signs: considering oneself worthy of salvation through one's own acts (of devotion), regarding other seekers with disdain, and failing to investigate the flaws of one's own acts (of devotion).
2) Underestimating one's own insubordination and sin has three signs: to consider oneself worthy of God's forgiveness, to be untroubled by persistence in acts of disobedience, and to keep company with bad companions.
3) Being oblivious of God's favour has three signs: ceasing to hold oneself in contempt, highly estimating one's own spiritual state, and ceasing to seek the joy of intimacy with God.

In the next few days, we shall read the grounds of unification (tawhid), contemplation (mushahada), direct observation (mu'ayana), annihilation (fana) and subsistence (baqa) - INSHA'ALLAH. May Allah increase us in knowledge and gnosis.

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