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In the Name of God بسم الله

Pantheism (wihdat Al-wujud) And Wahdat Al-wujud

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(salam)

I am a student of Islamic College for Advanced Studies (ICAS) Jakarta, Indonesia.

I'm studying Philosophical Islamic Studies.

I've got an assignment to find out the difference between Wahdat al-Wujud and Pantheism (Wihdat al-Wujud). And I found some confusing about this. :wacko:

I haven't got enough source, information, and reference about this topic.

I don't even really understand what wihdat al-wujud means, since I don't speak Arabic. Though I understand enough what is wahdat al-wujud.

So I just wonder if any of you could explain to me what Pantheism (Wihdat al-Wujud) is.

And what is the different between wahdat al-wujud and wihdat al-wujud.

Any reference would be okay.

Thank you for your kindness. :blush:

May Allah always guides you all the way... :)

(pbuh)

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You can find sources of Wahdatul Wujud from the following books: 1) Sufi path of knowledge by William Chittick 2) Self-Disclosure of God by William Chittick The first books should be sufficient howeve

First of all, let me clarify that I don't endorse Wahdat al-Wujood (WW) completely. There are parts of it that I agree with, but there are some very fundamental disagreements I have with it as well. T

Salam. First off I wanna thank everyone for this thread, I havent seen this kinda intellectual action in a while on shiachat. Second off, to persian shah, could u explain in detail how i am confused?

  • Advanced Member
(salam)

I am a student of Islamic College for Advanced Studies (ICAS) Jakarta, Indonesia.

I'm studying Philosophical Islamic Studies.

I've got an assignment to find out the difference between Wahdat al-Wujud and Pantheism (Wihdat al-Wujud). And I found some confusing about this. :wacko:

I haven't got enough source, information, and reference about this topic.

I don't even really understand what wihdat al-wujud means, since I don't speak Arabic. Though I understand enough what is wahdat al-wujud.

So I just wonder if any of you could explain to me what Pantheism (Wihdat al-Wujud) is.

And what is the different between wahdat al-wujud and wihdat al-wujud.

Any reference would be okay.

Thank you for your kindness. :blush:

May Allah always guides you all the way... :)

(pbuh)

You can find sources of Wahdatul Wujud from the following books:

1) Sufi path of knowledge by William Chittick

2) Self-Disclosure of God by William Chittick

The first books should be sufficient however.

If you want to learn about pantheism, then Spinoza would be the only one that comes to my mind. but that also depends on how you interpret Spinoza. Read the "Ethics" by Spinoza. I personally dont believe Spinoza was a pantheist.

but let me draw the distinctions:

Pantheism says that God is this universe.

The proponents of Wahdatul Wujud say that God is and at the same time is not this Universe. In the expression of Ibn-al-arabi, This universe is "He/not HE" or "God/not God". People who believe in Wahdatul Wujud say that God is the only reality and that this reality (which is Absolute) appears to us all as this cosmos (which is relative). the cosmos is God only insofar as the cosmos is connected to God. The cosmos is not God insofar as the cosmos is not connected to God. This is why the cosmos is both God and not God. The cosmos is seen, for the people who believe in Wahdatul Wujud, as the mere appearance of God but not God Himself. To explain this, let us appeal to an analogy. Something appears to you as a snake but is in fact really a rope. the snake which appears to you is both "a rope and not a rope". the snake in your experience is a rope only insofar as it is connected to or caused by the rope. but the snake in your experience is not a rope insofar as what you experience is a snake and not a rope. So in this analogy God is the rope, and this universe is the snake.

I hope that helps.

M3salama.

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Salaam eThErEaL

Let me start out by saying that I am a great fan of your posts. This is a topic that I have been thinking about for a long time, so I ask you to please be patient with me.

the cosmos is God only insofar as the cosmos is connected to God.

So is this the same thing as saying... that the cosmos are a "face" of God in that it is His Creation, and, therefore, His Essence? Or am I confusing things now?

I read over your snake/rope analogy several times. But, I am still a little confused. Particularly:

the snake in your experience is a rope only insofar as it is connected to or caused by the rope.

How would we know if the snake is connected to or caused by the rope if we've never experienced the rope itself? Are you saying that we can know a rope through the snake?

Also, I have another question. If we accept that we are manifestations of the Ultimate Reality, how do we explain the concept of Free Will? How do we understand the "separation" between ourselves (which is not a full reality) and Allah (the ultimate reality)?

That is where I am having a hard time distinguishing wahdat al wujud with pantheism. No other explanation of tawheed makes sense to me EXCEPT wahdat al-wujood, but I have to understand it better.

Wasalaam

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Salaam eThErEaL

Let me start out by saying that I am a great fan of your posts. This is a topic that I have been thinking about for a long time, so I ask you to please be patient with me.

So is this the same thing as saying... that the cosmos are a "face" of God in that it is His Creation, and, therefore, His Essence? Or am I confusing things now?

I read over your snake/rope analogy several times. But, I am still a little confused. Particularly:

How would we know if the snake is connected to or caused by the rope if we've never experienced the rope itself? Are you saying that we can know a rope through the snake?

Also, I have another question. If we accept that we are manifestations of the Ultimate Reality, how do we explain the concept of Free Will? How do we understand the "separation" between ourselves (which is not a full reality) and Allah (the ultimate reality)?

That is where I am having a hard time distinguishing wahdat al wujud with pantheism. No other explanation of tawheed makes sense to me EXCEPT wahdat al-wujood, but I have to understand it better.

Wasalaam

Sorry about that. I realize i didn't give a good explanation of it. I was just highlighting the essential difference. I am glad you asked and i appreciate your kind words.

You may have read in other posts, that there are three aspects to God. And pls dont take these three aspects so literally. Dont be stuck on them and thing they are 3 distinct "things". But anyway, the three aspects of God are His Essence, attributes, and Acts. The Essence is God in Himself which we cant even talk about. attributes are merely what we understand from the acts. and acts are the creation. creation should not be imagined to be a result of God's act but rather creation is the very act itself! So just by seeing the creation as an "act" can we gain knowledge of attributes. for example we see life and death in this world. these two are literally acts! and therefore we see them as attributes (namely mercy and wrath respectively). So just by seeing creation as it should be seen (i.e. as an act) do we see God's attributes of mercy and wrath. and this is all that we can know of God. We can only know God's attributes which is not God in Himself / Essence, but God insofar as His acts are concerned. Attributes of God are merely what we apprehend from His acts. The pantheist however ignores the "Essence". In other words, the pantheist thinks she knows everything. The proponents of wahdatul wujud see the act as an act and not as a complete reality itself. When the proponents of Wahdatul Wujud see an act as an act and not as a complete reality itself then this immediately gives them a hunbling experience, the experience that they know nothing of reality itself (for all they see is an act). People who say they believe in "God" and who are against Wahdatul Wujood, think that creation is separate from God's act. They dont witness the identity of God's act and creation. We cant ever know God's Essence. The Essence is exactly what makes a person say that "I do not know God the knowing that He deserves". If you are confused that "maybe" because you could be concertizing the three aspects of God and seeing them as three distinct things. So, yes you can say that you see God's Essence everywhere only if by that you mean, you that you do not see His Essence anywhere! Dont think of Essence as something separate from the act (even though they are not identical). because the moment you see two things (namely Essence and then Act), you see duality. But reality is non-dual. Now, you will only see this as a contradiction if you think reality is dualistic. but in the eyes of a Sufi he doesn't a contradiction because he understands from the get go that reality cannot be compartmentalized and and dual. the premise should be that reality cannot be analyzed and therefore cannot be broken up into parts. to break things into discrete parts is what is necessary when one analyzes anything. So, if one thinks God or reality can be analyzed then they will see the seemingly contradictory statements of the sufis as contradictions. But they are not contradictions insofar as one gets their premise and presuppositions correct. the presupposition and premise is that reality is not analyzable and is beyond calculative thinking. Proof of this is that if someone things reality can be analyzed then whatever the parts the break reality into will not be reality since those parts or objects of thought can possibly not be real. how can reality possibly not be real? So we must first of all presuppose that reality is something that cannot be analyzed. The Essence of God is Awareness. ask yourself what is Awareness. is Awareness any one things? is it a set of things? is it your brain or mind (which is a thing)? no. the things only appear in the light of Awareness but these things cant be Awareness themselves! The things which appear in the light of Awareness are God's acts or signs. Can you possibly know what Awareness is? yes we can know Awareness but not if we think we can analyze it into a thing or a set of things. How then do we know Awareness? We Just know it! It is the ultimate presupposition of knowledge! its impossible to doubt Awareness. Awareness is what makes things exist at all. Now, the things that you see in your experience. you cant doubt them either right? lets say you experience a mirage. you can doubt whether a lake exists but you cant doubt the experience of a mirage. Why is that? what is the source of this certainty of experience? the source is nothing but the ineffable Awareness that shines its light on the objects of experience. insofar as there is a certainty linked with these objects, these objects are Awareness. This is exactly what Wahdatul Wujood is. it is the fact that objects cannot exist at all without Awareness to shine its light on them. This is why Imam Ali (a.s) says "I know God [His existence] by God Himself and I know everything other than God [their existence] because of God's light". This ineffable Awareness is the Essence of God which underlies and reveals itself through all the objects of our experience. This means all we can ever know is the object that Awareness reveals itself through but not Awareness itself. I think "Face" in the verse you talked about is talking about God's Essence. because Face or wajh in arabic is used also when talking about the "dhat" or essence of something. Does that verse mean that you see God's Essence everywhere? well thats what the verse says right? true, but It means that you see it only through objects which means that you dont see it after all! true knowledge of God is admitting that we know do not know God! i think the snake and rope analogy didnt work out. you are right, you cant know of the rope just by looking at the snake. but in the case of creation, you, you can see God through creation because there is no duality in reality.

To be honest with you, I havent given much thought about this, because i dont see any problem of free will and us being a manifestation of God. there is a book by Mutahhari on al-islam.org. Its called Man and His destiny. I have not read it, because It doesnt interest me (at least not yet). But you may find it very helpful since Mutahhari knows Mulla Sadra very well. But anyway, The way i see it is that Freedom is just Freedom from wrath or desire or attachment. your reality is your freedom. God is Absolutely Free. we are relatively free. In other words to the extent that you are free, you are real and vice versa. now you are asking how do we understand the separation between us insofar as we are real and Reality as such (i.e. God)? there is no separation! you are God insofar as you are free. I think that if people have a problem understanding this, it is because they start of with the wrong premise. the premise being that "realness" or "reality" can be analyzed into discrete things such that you have a creation on one hand and then God on the other. it doesnt work like that. realness cannot be analyzable into parts. I hope i do not sound like a person opposed to reasoning. Because i probably am sounding like that to people. but all i am saying is that the so called "rationalists" are basing their thinking on the wrong premise.

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Flawed rope analogy, but other than that, wasn't too bad a breakdown. I suggest people read the relevant wikipedia pages on the principles though for a better analysis.

As to the works of spiritual freedom, Mutahhari is an expert on the subject. He has a book called "Spiritual Discourses" relevant to this topic, and it has also been discussed very nicely in the third chapter ("Moral Lectures and Aphorisms")of "Glimpses of Nahj al-Balagha", here: http://al-islam.org/al-tawhid/glimpses/

I'd recommed this article for everyone.

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Was it pantheism or was Ibn Arabi a Panenthiest? There is a big difference.

Let me say one thing. dont get too caught up in words. a believer for all i know can even call himself a pantheist and still he may believe in Wahdatul wujud. Its because maybe he defines pantheism differently. like spinoza for example. Spinoza argues that there is one substance. and this substance has infinite attributes. and each attribute has many way of expressing itself. 2 examples of attributes are mind/thought, and body/physicality. and he says that one substance is God. Now he is commonly referred to as a pantheist. and even if he called himself a patheist that does not necessarily mean he didnt believe believe in God. Maybe even though he said "all is God", he still thought of that oneness of the substance to be transcendent. So, we shouldnt be too caught up in words. and we should give the benefit of the doubt to people. Ibn al arabi says that really speaking no one does not experience God. everyone believes in God. The reason for this is because even between 2 people who call themselves believers in Wahdatul Wujood, they still differ in their understanding of God. why? because they are two different people!! so they both necessarily have to experience God in 2 different ways. other wise they would be identical persons. everyone has a beleif in God. no one is perfect! except for the awliyaa. thats a different story. even within muslims, they all say they believe in One God, but they really dont believe in the same God. they all have different gods. but this is only as the spiritual level not at the level of shariah. this doesnt mean we have the right to call non perfect people and who say shahadah idol worshipers.

By the way, Islamic metaphysics shares the idea of wahdatul wujud with Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism and in the Bible. Buddhists call it Sunyata. What we all share in common is that our religions talk of there being only one ineffable reality which is unlimited to such an extent that it is not even limited by being unlimited. I can even quote you some bible verses that give a sense of wahdatul wujud. but first let me give a verse in Quran that tells us about Wahdatul WUjood. "God is the light of the heavens and the earth" (Chapter of the Light)

Do I not fill heaven and earth? It is Yahweh who speaks. —Jer. 23.24

We could say much more and still fall short; to put it concisely, "He is all."

—Sir. 43.27

look at this one:

Through him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through him. All that came to be had life in him and that life was the light of men, a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower. —Jn. 1.2-5

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Salaam eThErEaL...

I have to think through your post a little more. Sorry, I tend to let things sink in for awhile after I read it so I can ponder it... even though I can't always guarantee my pondering leads me to some place better.

A few initial thoughts...

The Essence of God is Awareness. ask yourself what is Awareness. is Awareness any one things? is it a set of things? is it your brain or mind (which is a thing)? no. the things only appear in the light of Awareness but these things cant be Awareness themselves! The things which appear in the light of Awareness are God's acts or signs. Can you possibly know what Awareness is? yes we can know Awareness but not if we think we can analyze it into a thing or a set of things. How then do we know Awareness? We Just know it! It is the ultimate presupposition of knowledge! its impossible to doubt Awareness. Awareness is what makes things exist at all. Now, the things that you see in your experience. you cant doubt them either right? lets say you experience a mirage. you can doubt whether a lake exists but you cant doubt the experience of a mirage. Why is that? what is the source of this certainty of experience? the source is nothing but the ineffable Awareness that shines its light on the objects of experience. insofar as there is a certainty linked with these objects, these objects are Awareness. This is exactly what Wahdatul Wujood is. it is the fact that objects cannot exist at all without Awareness to shine its light on them. This is why Imam Ali (a.s) says "I know God [His existence] by God Himself and I know everything other than God [their existence] because of God's light". This ineffable Awareness is the Essence of God which underlies and reveals itself through all the objects of our experience. This means all we can ever know is the object that Awareness reveals itself through but not Awareness itself. I think "Face" in the verse you talked about is talking about God's Essence. because Face or wajh in arabic is used also when talking about the "dhat" or essence of something. Does that verse mean that you see God's Essence everywhere? well thats what the verse says right? true, but It means that you see it only through objects which means that you dont see it after all! true knowledge of God is admitting that we know do not know God! i think the snake and rope analogy didnt work out. you are right, you cant know of the rope just by looking at the snake. but in the case of creation, you, you can see God through creation because there is no duality in reality.

The bolded lines are ones that I am particularly intrigued by.

You describe God "Himself" as His Essence which is not separate from His attributes and acts. You also describe Awareness as the Essence of God. So Awareness = God "Himself"? Am I understanding this correctly? What are the implications of that?

Nothing can exist without Awareness shining its light on them. What does Imam Ali (as) mean when he says that "I know everything other than God because of God's light"... I'm still a little confused. Does he (as) literally mean something other than God? Am I understanding that correctly? In my limited understanding, this seems to contradict the idea that "all we can ever know is the object that Awareness reveals itself through but not Awareness itself"... in other words, all objects are a manifestation of Him, but not Him Himself?

If true knowledge of God is admitting that we do not know God Himself, then how do we gain proximity to God? Through not knowing and self-annhilation?

But anyway, The way i see it is that Freedom is just Freedom from wrath or desire or attachment. your reality is your freedom. God is Absolutely Free. we are relatively free. In other words to the extent that you are free, you are real and vice versa.

But if choose not to be "free"... we become less "real"? Is that what you mean? What implications does this have if we are to understand ourselves as God's Act? If, through our free will, we choose not to be "free"... we become un-real? What does this mean exactly?

now you are asking how do we understand the separation between us insofar as we are real and Reality as such (i.e. God)? there is no separation! you are God insofar as you are free. I think that if people have a problem understanding this, it is because they start of with the wrong premise. the premise being that "realness" or "reality" can be analyzed into discrete things such that you have a creation on one hand and then God on the other. it doesnt work like that. realness cannot be analyzable into parts.

I think this last part explains away all my answers. I have to think it through more to really understand.

It's 12:45 AM and I had a 12 hour workday today.... i.e., my brain is fried. Insha'Allah in the morning when I revisit this, it will become clearer. I apologize for my slowness... and I appreciate you taking the time in sharing your thoughts with me.

Your Sister,

Wasalaam

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Wa alaykum salam sister.

You describe God "Himself" as His Essence which is not separate from His attributes and acts. You also describe Awareness as the Essence of God. So Awareness = God "Himself"? Am I understanding this correctly? What are the implications of that?

Yes, the only reason i said we cant separate Acts and Essence is so that we don't get too caught up on creating a duality with our thinking or abstract reasoning. If you study the teachings of Zen Master Dogen who is like the "Ibn-al-Arabi" of Zen Buddhism, we come across a beautiful metaphor he uses. he says imagine you are on a boat in the middle of an infinite ocean. you look all around you and you and the ocean appears as if it is circular. but the fact of the matter is, it is infinite! it appears limited, but the nature of it, its reality, is that it is infinite. this is just like the things you see around you. things appear to you as this or that, with different limits, but the fact of the matter is, everything is infinitely vast because the reality of everything is God. insofar as you cannot understand the transcendent aspect of reality (the part where your eyes cannot reach), that is God's Essence. But that doesnt mean it is separate from you. it nevertheless permeates everything. But then, insofar as it permeates everything, and you can feel its presence, then that is not God's Essence but that is God's act. God as transcendent is His Essence. God as immanent is His acts. when you talk of immanence, then Essence is out of the question. when you talk of transcendence, then Acts are out of the question. But dont think of these two as two distinct realities. they are one reality.

For example, when you sail out in a boat to the middle of an ocean where no land is in sight, and view the four directions, the ocean looks circular, and does not look any other way. But the ocean is neither round or square; its features are infinite in variety. It is like a palace. It is like a jewel. It only look circular as far as you can see at that time. All things are like this. Though there are many features in the dusty world and the world beyond conditions, you see and understand only what your eye of practice can reach. In order to learn the nature of the myriad things, you must know that although they may look round or square, the other features of oceans and mountains are infinite in variety; whole worlds are there. It is so not only around you, but also directly beneath your feet, or in a drop of water. -Dogen
Nothing can exist without Awareness shining its light on them. What does Imam Ali (as) mean when he says that "I know everything other than God because of God's light"... I'm still a little confused. Does he (as) literally mean something other than God? Am I understanding that correctly? In my limited understanding, this seems to contradict the idea that "all we can ever know is the object that Awareness reveals itself through but not Awareness itself"... in other words, all objects are a manifestation of Him, but not Him Himself?

The word "God" shifts depending on the context. you could mean God as Transcendent (which is usually what we mean by God since we first see God as distinct from ourselves) or you could mean God as immanent (i.e. His acts or creation). So Imam Ali (a.s) is obviously talking about God as Transcendent in this context. So, he is saying that "I know Essence because of Essence Herself and I know the Acts because of the Essence granting them with existence". He is not saying He knows the Essence. in fact he is saying quite the opposite. He is saying i only know of God through God's knowledge. this means he is saying i dont have any knowledge of my own concerning God! even when it comes to knowing creation! I only know creation because of God's knowledge or light shining on it!

If true knowledge of God is admitting that we do not know God Himself, then how do we gain proximity to God? Through not knowing and self-annhilation?

yes. through admitting that you cant know God yourself. by admitting that only God can help you attain His proximity. and by admitting that we know Thee not the knowing Thou deserve, one will attain that station of fanaa. the ingredient in all this is to come down and lower ourself, not to go up and try to become greater. this is why in salat we recite in the tashahud that Muhammad (S) a slave of God and then we recite he (S) is a Messenger of God. and a perfect person will never ever think he is no longer a slave. so perfection is in submission. hence why the prophet said : "poverty is my pride" .

But if choose not to be "free"... we become less "real"? Is that what you mean? What implications does this have if we are to understand ourselves as God's Act? If, through our free will, we choose not to be "free"... we become un-real? What does this mean exactly?

us "choosing" not to be free or us "choosing" to be less real is because of us not being free to begin with. one would only "choose" to be less free because of his lack of freedom. he is not free from ignorance for example or from his passions. hence he goes astray. one will do good because of his freedom from passions and ignorance. Now, you may say that this isnt going to explain anything. if you think about it you are right. it isnt supposed to explain anything because what is there to explain in the first place? this is how it works, you do good insofar as you are real. and you do bad insofar as you are unreal. And insofar as we are real, we dont understand ourselves for insofar as we are real we are God. we only understand ourselves insofar as we are unreal. hence we always must see ourselves as low, and poor, and sinful. all good is attributed to God and "all misfortune is the result of our own hands" as the Quran says. You do good through your realness. The more you use your realness, the more real you will become. now if you ask, "dont you need to have realness in order to even use realness". I would say you are thinking of realness like fuel. lol. realness is not fuel. its not like we have our own fuel and God has his fuel. realness is One!

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Wahdat ul wujood simply means existence of ONE being. Never heard of a word "wihdat" before in my life.

Basically its an argument, like bro Alevi correctly said, between panentheism and pantheism. Its way too complicated for me to handle. You can google loads of material on this debate.

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Sister silviafini, since you are in Jakarta, you can get in touch with the blessed Habaib there in Java. They are masters on this blessed topic. They are from the Ahl al-Bayt, direct descendents of Imam al-Husayn sayyidul Shuhada radiallahu anhu. On the net you will find only confusion. Please pm me.

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wihdat al-wujud???

I think you mean the difference between wahdat al-wujud and wahdat al-mawjud.

The first is panentheism, and the second is pantheism.

The first is islamically correct, the second is shirk.

panenthism is the belief that we are inside god? doesnt go against the teachings of islam??

from my understanding pantheism is the belief that god is the universe but the shia version of wahdatal wujood is simply that that all contingents get their existence from Allah. ie everything depends on Allah for its existence.

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Krause’s system of philosophy, which he called “panentheism” (essentially an attempt to reconcile pantheism and theism), asserts that God is an essence that contains the entire universe within itself but is not exhausted by it. He put particular emphasis on the development of the individual as an integral part of the life of the whole.

http://www.britanica.com/EBchecked/topic/4...%20Encyclopedia

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My understanding of wahdat al wujud is much more radical than just what brother Muhammad Ali describes, but certainly I don't as a Muslim or as a rational thinker believe that Allah is in any way identical with the physical universe.

My view:

Created things - including those within the phsyical universe - are manifestations and appearences of Allah. Allah does not create for things a separate being and existence distinctly their own. Allah IS their being and existence; but Allah is not them and they are not Allah.

As Ibn Arabi said:

"God is identical with the existence of the things, but he is not identical with the things."

Or, as Imam Khumayni quoted Rumi:

"We are non-existents showing existence;

You are the Absolute Being and our existence."

One writer whose name escapes me drew the distinction between manifesting versus actually having existence. All contingents fall into the former category. Only Allah HAS existence. We manifest His. We are His Self-expression. Allah reveals Himself to one of us through another of us and vice versa. We percieve Allah through each other; our ignorance prevents us from percieving Allah directly. The "annihilation of the self" (fana') is actually the annihilation of this ignorance. It's not that there was a self and now there's not. Nor is it that there's still a self but no longer any self-consciousness. It's that there never was an individual/particular self in the first place.

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Help me understand. I am confused.

If we manifest His existence, and we are His Self-Expression, how do we explain the problem of evil? How do we explain free will at all? How do we explain the difference between Allah and ourselves?

I know this has been explained a hundred different ways to me, but I'm just still not getting it.

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Who is teaching your course? This is not the sort of question you figure out in a few minutes on a web search. These are high level issues. Your teacher is trying to get you to eat steak when you're barely weaned and have no teeth to chew. There was a reason high level sufi masters were selective with whom they shared the deepest insights.

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Who is teaching your course? This is not the sort of question you figure out in a few minutes on a web search. These are high level issues. Your teacher is trying to get you to eat steak when you're barely weaned and have no teeth to chew. There was a reason high level sufi masters were selective with whom they shared the deepest insights.

I'm not sure if this was aimed at me or not. There is a difference between intellectually understanding a concept and experiencing it. Not sure that anybody here claims to have experienced the secrets of divine knowledge.

I hope that makes sense.

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I'm not sure if this was aimed at me or not. There is a difference between intellectually understanding a concept and experiencing it. Not sure that anybody here claims to have experienced the secrets of divine knowledge.

I hope that makes sense.

It was at the original poster. There's this shortcut mentality that gets on my nerves where people think they can understand the deepest theological issues through a 1/2 hour on Google. People spend their lives trying to grapple with this stuff. It may sound flippant, but I think the best answer to the original poster is, "get the books and spend a five years reading them with knowedgeable people. If you're lucky, you'll grow slightly less confused. If you're lucky."

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It was at the original poster. There's this shortcut mentality that gets on my nerves where people think they can understand the deepest theological issues through a 1/2 hour on Google. People spend their lives trying to grapple with this stuff. It may sound flippant, but I think the best answer to the original poster is, "get the books and spend a five years reading them with knowedgeable people. If you're lucky, you'll grow slightly less confused. If you're lucky."

I understand.

Though, the more I read and have read over the years, the more confused I get on the subject. I think we get more confused before we get less confused.

Eh. Insha'Allah khayr.

Edited by Path2Felicity
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Though, the more I read and have read over the years, the more confused I get on the subject. I think we get more confused before we get less confused.

Eh. Insha'Allah khayr.

Tell me about it. It's even worse when you get into comparitive religious studies. Eventually, as you dig deeper, the walls between the boxes burn down and you're left with one religion speaking different voices. It's beautiful, but hard to keep your bearings.

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Sorry, excuse me. I'm tired and replying in two different threads. The last comment was meant for another thread in this same forum about who's worst to debate with.

Haha, I thought I was missing something....

But perhaps in another thread, I'd like to know more about your experiences in comparative religion- and, whether you studied independently, with a private teacher/master, at a university, etc. It makes so much of a difference.

But, back to the original topic...

(sorry, didn't mean to divert the thread).

Wasalaam

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If we manifest His existence, and we are His Self-Expression, how do we explain the problem of evil? How do we explain free will at all? How do we explain the difference between Allah and ourselves?

I know this has been explained a hundred different ways to me, but I'm just still not getting it.

First of all, let me clarify that I don't endorse Wahdat al-Wujood (WW) completely. There are parts of it that I agree with, but there are some very fundamental disagreements I have with it as well.

To start off, keep in mind that WW has two aspects. One is the philosophical aspect of WW, the other is the mystical aspect. The philosophical aspect is rigorous and concrete, while the mystical is more interpretive and subjective. Very often when people try to explain WW, they resort to expounding the mystical aspect, which is why it might sound very confusing. I'm going to begin with the philosophical aspect first, as that lays the groundwork for this concept.

Philosophically speaking, WW, as the name suggests, is the concept that there is only one existent, namely God, and nothing that truly exists is other than Him. "But there do exist other things!", you would say. Yes, that's true, but according to WW the other things do not truly exist. The aspect of these other things that do exist are from God, and thus it is God himself who truly exists, through even these other "existing" things.

For example, we know the sun emits light. We see it every day. So there is a thing called "sunlight" that we know exists. But what about moonlight? We see moonlight regularly as well, so we know it exists, but is it different from sunlight? Well, according to our experiences, yes, moonlight is indeed different from sunlight. It is cooler and less illuminating, and, most importantly, we usually observe moonlight in the absence of sunlight.

But is it truly different from sunlight? Not really, since it is just sunlight reflected. It is weakened sunlight, or, in other words, sunlight with restrictions. In other words, "moonlight" does not truly exist, it is only "sunlight" that truly exists, and moonlight is just a manifestation of this sunlight. This was one example of how two things that are different to us experientially, are nevertheless the same in essence. The difference is not in the substance itself (i.e., the light is not from a different source), rather the difference was introduced because of the restriction imposed on the substance (sunlight).

So that was just the preamble which will lead to the core issue of the difference between the substance of a thing and its form. I could go on, but I'm lazy, and I don't want to type out another dozen paragraphs if you're not interested. So if this makes sense, and you would prefer that I continue, just let me know, and I'll keep going.

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I dont know if it means anything, but I would like it if you continued, because this problem has been plaguing me for quite a long time.

I'll wait a day to see if Path2Felicity wants anything clarified first before moving on to the difference between the Creator and created. And you know quite a lot about this topic already, so it might take some time before we get to the part that you're interested in.

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