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ilm / marifat / yaqîn


‘Ilm and Ma‘rifat, and the difference between them.

Theologians have made no distinction between ‘ilm and ma‘rifat, except when they say that God   may be called ‘álim (knowing), but not ‘árif (gnostic), inasmuch as the latter epithet lacks Divine blessing. But the Ṣúfí Shaykhs give the name of ma‘rifat (gnosis  ) to every knowledge that is allied with (religious) practice and feeling (ḥál), and the knower of which expresses his feeling; and the knower thereof they call ‘árif. On the other hand, they give the name of ‘ilm to every knowledge that is stripped of spiritual meaning and devoid of religious practice, and one who has such knowledge they call ‘álim. One, then, who knows the meaning and reality of a thing they call ‘árif (gnostic), and one who knows merely the verbal expression and keeps it in his memory without keeping the spiritual reality they call ‘álim. For this reason, when the Ṣúfís wish to disparage a rival they call him dánishmand (possessing knowledge). To the vulgar   this seems objectionable, but the Ṣúfís do not intend to blame the man for having acquired knowledge, they blame him for neglecting the practice of religion, because the ‘álim depends on himself, but the ‘árif depends on his Lord. This question has been discussed at length in the chapter entitled “The Removal of the Veil of Gnosis”, and I need not say any more now. [NicholsonKM]

‘Ilm al-Yaqín and ‘Ayn   al-Yaqín and Ḥaqq al-Yaqín, and the difference between them.

According to the principles of theology, all these expressions denote knowledge (‘ilm). Knowledge without certain faith (yaqín) in the reality of the object known is not knowledge, but when knowledge is gained that which is hidden is as that which is actually seen. The believers who shall see God on the Day of Judgment shall see Him then in the same wise as they know Him now: if they shall see Him otherwise, either their vision will be imperfect then or their knowledge is faulty now. Both these alternatives are in contradiction with unification (tawḥíd), which requires that men’s knowledge of God should be sound to-day and their vision of God should be sound to-morrow. Therefore certain knowledge (‘ilm-i yaqín) is like certain sight (‘ayn-i yaqín), and certain truth (ḥaqq-i yaqín) is like certain knowledge. Some have said that ‘ayn al-yaqín is the complete absorption (istighráq) of knowledge in vision, but this is impossible, because vision is an instrument for the attainment of knowledge, like hearing, etc.: since knowledge cannot be absorbed in hearing, its absorption in vision is equally impossible. By ‘ilm al-yaqín the Ṣúfís mean knowledge of (religious) practice in this world according to the Divine commandments; by ‘ayn al-yaqín they mean knowledge of the state of dying (naz‘) and the time of departure from this world; and by ḥaqq al-yaqín they mean intuitive knowledge of the vision (of God) that will be revealed in Paradise, and of its nature. Therefore ‘ilm al-yaqín is the rank of theologians (‘ulamá) on account of their correct observance of the Divine commands, and ‘ayn al-yaqín is the station of gnostics (‘árifán) on account of their readiness for death, and ḥaqq al-yaqín is the annihilation-point of lovers   (dústán) on account of their rejection of all created things. Hence ‘ilm al-yaqín is obtained by self-mortification (mujáhadat), and ‘ayn al-yaqín by intimate familiarity (mu’ánasat), and ḥaqq al-yaqín by contemplation (musháhadat). The first is vulgar, the second is elect, and the third is super-elect (kháṣṣ al-kháṣṣ). [NicholsonKM]