Know that the man of Extinction sees God and does not see creation, while the man of Subsistence (baqa) - and there is no subsistence before the occurence of true extinction - sees things by God, and therefore gives each his due, puts each thing in its appropriate place, and fulfils to perfection the rights of the Real as well as those of creation; and this neither distracts him from his Lord nor veils him from his station. The man of Extinction may be subject to flashes of Subsistence, and the man of Subsistence to flashes of Extinction; while the actual spiritual state of a man is that which he experiences most of the time.
You hear of men who have reached the state of Subsistence, and yet about whom things are related that bear witness to absorption and Extinction; for instance, that which we hear about Shaykh Abul Hassan al-Shadhili (may god be pleased with him) when he said: "We love none but God!" Someone said: "Your ancestor, may blessings and peace be upon him, said: "hearts are given an intrinsic nature to love those who are good to them," to which the Shaykh replied: "We see no doer of good apart from God; if we must, them as a cloud of dust which you take for something until you examine it more closely, and find it to be nothing at all."
By this he meant that such was the manner in which he saw creation. To express the experience of those who see only God, in both the act of giving and that of withholding, is difficult; language can hardly stretch that far. However, one can recognise the posessor of such a station by its outwardly manifest signs.
- Imam Abdallah Ibn Alawi al-Haddad
in 'Gifts for the Seeker'
Translated from the Arabic by Mostafa al-Badawi
Publisher credit: Fons Vitae