Laṭāʾif

Laṭāʾif [1]

Sahl b. ʿAbdullāh at-Ṭūstarī (d. 273/886 or 283/896), one of the first Ṣūfīs, relates that his maternal uncle taught him a litany while he was still a  young child and that, while continuing this litany, he felt in his heart and then in his ‘secret’ (sirr) delight [2]. This narration shows us that the dimensions of the soul [or the stages of consciousness (marāṭib al-ʾidrāk)] called ‘heart’ and ‘secret’ were known to the Ṣūfīs since ancient times and were known through spiritual experiences. Ḥakīm Tirmidhī (d. 320/932) discussed in his Bayān al-Farq bayna al-ṣadr wa al-qalb wa al-fuʾād wa al-lub the different dimensions of the soul and their attributes in detail. According to Tirmidhī,  ṣadr, qalb, fuʾād and lub are intertwine rings of a whole. Ṣadr is like the white of the eye, the qalb the colours of the eye, fuʾād the pupil and lub as the light of the eye. The outer ring, ṣadr, is Islam, the qalb is īmān, fuʾād is maʿrifah and lub is the source for the lights of Unicity (tawḥīd). The more these stages are deepened, the more the understanding and consciousness is gained. Ṣadr is the nafs al-ammarah, qalb the nafs al-mulhimah, fuʾād the nafs al-lawwāmah and the lub the nafs al-muṭmaʾinnah. [3]

Some of the Masters of the Kubrawī Order gave detailed information about the dimensions of the soul (also called: the stages of the nafs or the acts of the heart) and the lights, which are manifesting themselves. Najm al-Dīn Dāyā (d. 654/1256) said about these lights: “On the stage of nafs al-lawwamah blue light is manifested, because the light of the soul or the dhikr is mixed with the darkness of the nafs. Through the brightness of the rūḥ and the darkness of the nafs blue light becomes manifest. When the darkness of the carnal self is lessened and the light of the soul strengthened, red light becomes manifest. When the soul overcomes, yellow light becomes manifest. When the darkness of the carnal self vanishes completely, white light becomes manifest. Intermixed with the purity of the heart it becomes green. When the heart reaches totally purity, a light like the sun starts to shine.” [4]

ʿAlā al-Dawla Simnānī (d. 736/1336) talked about seven Laṭāʾif and their lights, like laṭīfah al-kālabī, laṭīfah al-nafs, laṭīfah al-qalb, laṭīfah al-sirrī, laṭīfah al-rūḥī, laṭīfah al-khāfī, and laṭīfah al-ḥaqqī. [5] He also discussed that there are several forms of dhikr, like the dhikr of the sirr, the rūḥ and the ḫāfī and that one can feel the dhikr of it and that the other gives more delight and pleasure then the one before. [6]

In the literature of pre-Mujaddidi Naqshibandis the topic of Laṭāʾif seems not to be of great importance. So it is Aḥmad Sirhindī (d. 1034/1624) who is the first to introduce a systematic approach to the Laṭāʾif in this Ṭarīqah, and one of the Successors of Sirhindī, Mīr Muḥammad Nuʿmān (d. 1060/1650 ?) adds to the system of his Shaykh a certain location for every Laṭīfah in the body of man[7]  and the way of making dhikr with these certain areas and with focus on them has become the first step in the Mujaddidī way of spiritual education and its important element. In the Pre-Mujaddidī Naqshibandi literature we can’t find a systematic approach to the Laṭāʾif, but we see discussions about them based on spiritual experiences and upon the books of the Kubrawī Shaykhs, which were mentioned before.

Yūsuf al-Hamdānī (d. 535/1140) said that the place of Islamic education and enlightenment is the body, the place of the Īmāns (?) education and enlightenment the heart (qalb), those of the iḥsān the sirr and rūḥ. After that he describes the difference between the qalb and the sirr as follows: Qalb is upon change and wanders around in different realms, but the sirr is not changing from one state to the other, instead it  stays firmly on the fear and reverence of the saying “He (Allah) sees you”. [8]

Bahā al-Dīn Shāh al-Naqshibands (d. 791/1389) saying: “All mirrors of the Masters have two sides, but our mirror has six sides” [9], was interpreted by Ahmad Sirhindī as: “with mirror the heart of the ʿĀrif  is meant. The two-sided mirror is ‘nafs’ and ‘rūḥ’, but the six-sided are the six Laṭāʾif.”[10] He was indicating with this, that the Laṭāʾif are known since those times.

Muḥammad Pārsā (d. 822/1420) accepted ʿAlā al-Dawla al-Simnānīs categorization of the seven Laṭāʾif without making any changes [11] and he went even further and gave many details about them:

“The Grandmasters said that men’s reality is veiled by seven stages: 1. Satans concealment, 2. Nafs’s concealment, 3. Qalb’s concealment, 4. Sirr’s concealment, 5. Rūḥ’s concealment, 6. Khāfī’s concealment (and this was also called rūḥs concealment) and 7. Ḥaqq’s concealment. The First concealment has a relation to Adam and Adam’s overcoming and ruling of Satan happens after that concealment. The second concealment is related to Nūḥ, the third to Ibrāhīm, the fourth to Dāwūd, the sixth to ʿĪsā and the seventh to Muḥammad alayhimussalam. The first is also related to Saturday, the second to Sunday, the third to Monday, the fourth to Tuesday, the fifth to Wednesday, the sixth to Thursday and the seventh to Friday. Every concealment has its own Laṭīfah: the first one is the laṭīfah al-kālabī, the second the laṭīfah al-nafs, the third the laṭīfah al-qalb, the fourth the laṭīfah al-sirrī, the fifth the laṭīfah al-rūḥī, the sixth the laṭīfah al-khāfī, and the seventh the laṭīfah al-ḥaqqī.”

“All of these concealments also do have veils. The veil of the first concealment is Satan. This one is blurred with 10,000 veils and they have to be lifted. The veils are seen here in a red and bad colour. With the effect of the dhikr the colour will become purple and the human relations will decrease with it and the colours will intermix with each other and the essence of the dhikr will leave the veils behind him and will cry: “lā ghayrī”(nothing except me). This though must be destroyed. This is the station of those who are beginners in the dhikr. The second stage is the concealment of the Nafs. It’s veil is purple. Again 10,000 veils have to be lifted and through the heat of the dhikr, the nafs will stop with its actions. The Seeker will experience a kind of Fanā on this stage and he will be informed about the states of the deceased. This station is very dangerous for the Seeker, because he will think he’s one of the people of Kashf and this could lead to ʿujub (self-satisfaction). The third is the stage of the concealment of the heart. The colours of the veils are like a red agate. Again the Seeker has to lift 10,000 veils in front of him. He will be steadfast on the spiritual wayfaring and the secrets of the hidden world will be unveiled to him… The fourth stage is the concealment of the sirr. The colours are white and again 10,000 veils have to be lifted. The Seeker will achieve the hidden knowledge (ʿilm al-laddun) in this stage. […]” [12]

Muḥammad Pārsā also relates, that his Shaykh Shah al-Naqshiband said regarding the verse: “…and I will make remembrance of you…”[13]: “Allahs remembrance of his servant means, that he opens his servant the different levels of making the remembrance of God.” Muḥammad Pārsā says that these different levels are the tongue, the heart, the sirr and the khāfī. He also said, that some Ṣūfīs were of the opinion that the sirr is higher than the heart and the soul, while others hold it higher than the heart but lower than the soul and again others regarded the sirr and the soul and the heart the same but as essences of each other. [14] Yaʿqūb al-Jarhī was the opinion that “the one who has purified himself has reached salvation” [15] was hinting to the dhikr of the tongue, the heart, the soul and the sirr. [16]

Ḥusayn b. Ibn al-Yamīn al-Ḥusaynī [17] said regarding the Laṭāʾif: The Muḥaqqiqūn said, heart, soul, sirr and khāfī are the names of the subtle centers of human understanding… On some level it is called heart, and when it is cleaned from human qualities it is called soul, and when it is purified more it is called sirr and when it is developed more it is called khāfī… the Laṭāʾif do not differ in their essence, but are all the same in essence, but do have different qualities and states. This is the opinion of the majority of the Masters. But for some the difference is in the essence – that means every Laṭīfah differs from the other in essence.” [18]

Bāqībillāh (d. 1012/1603) said like ʿAlā al-Dawla Simnānī and Muḥammad Pārsā that men have seven Laṭāʾif and listed their names, but didn’t give any details about them. [19] Murīdī Tāj al-Dīn Naqshbandī (d. 1050/1640) is giving more details about them. According to him, in the dhikr of the heart the one remembering has in his heart The Real One and also the Creation, while in the dhikr of the soul the thought about being in the presence of the Lord overcomes the thought about the creation. In the dhikr of the sirr he only feels himself being in the Presence of his Lord and can’t perceive the creation – and in the dhikr of the khāfī he can’t even feel himself and only the One Remembered exists. [20] Muḥammad Akram b. Muḥammad ʿAlī Barāsawī speaks about Tāj al-Dīn Naqshibandī’s method of dhikr and says the Dhikr of “Allah Allah” has to be placed on every Laṭīfah so that the whole body is brought to the dhikr itself and gives after that details about the places of the Laṭāʾif: (The name of the first Laṭīfah is not mentioned, but it is assumed that nafs is meant) it is a bit above the stomach and its light is yellow; the heart Laṭīfah is beneath the left breast and its light is red; the place of the rūḥ is beneath the right breast and its light is white; the sirr Laṭīfah is between heart and rūḥ and its light is green; the khāfī is on his forehead beneath the hairline and its light is black; the place of the akhfāʾ is on the head, and its light is also black. [21] But because Tāj al-Dīn himself is not giving any information about the places of the Laṭāʾif in his own works, we have to be careful regarding what Barasāwī is saying. In the era of the Mujaddidiyyah different places of the Laṭāʾif were given and also different colours and it is very reasonable that this was based upon their own spiritual experience […].

– end –

[1] From: Necdet Tosun, Bahâeddîn Nakşbend, Hayatı Görüşleri Tarîkatı, Istanbul 2012.

[2] Qushayri, ar-Risālat al-Qushayriyya, I, p. 92-93.

[3] Ḥakīm Tirmidhī, Bayān al-Farq bayna al-ṣadr wa al-qalb wa al-fuʾād wa al-lub (pub. Nicholas Heer), Cairo 1958, p. 35 – 38, 80.

[4] Najm al-Dīn, Mirsād al-ʿIbād, p. 306.

[5] ʿAlā al-Dawla Simnānī, al-ʿurwa li ahl al-ḫalwa wa al-jalwa, (ed. Najīb Māyil Harawī), Teheran 1362/1983, p. 229 – 230, 326 – 328.

[6] ʿAlā al-Dawla Simnānī, Jihil Majlis, (ed. Amīr Iqbāl Shāh, pub. Najīb Māyil Harawī), Teheran 1366/1987, p. 120.

[7] Mīr Nuʿmān, Risāla-i Sulūk (pub. Ghulām Muṣtafā Khān), Karachi 1969, p. 7, 10-11.

[8] Yūsuf Hamdānī, Rutbat al-Ḥayāt, p. 56.

[9] Bukhārī, Anīs al-Ṭālibīn, p. 149; Muḥammad Bȧqir, Maqāmāt, p. 69.

[10] Aḥmad Sirhindī, Mabdaʾ wa Maʿād, p. 18 – 20.

[11] Pārsā, Tuḥfat al-Sālikīn, p. 362 – 363.

[12] Ibid., p. 377 – 381. The same words were repeated by Aḥmad b. Muḥammad Khazīnī,Jawāhir al-Abrār min Anwāj al-bihār, p. 67a – 68b.

[13] 2/152.

[14] Pārsā, Qudsiyya, p. 37. See for the Ikhtilaf regarding the Ḥusayn b. Ibn al-Yamīn, Mirʾāt al-Badāyī, p. 47a.

[15] 87/14.

[16] Jarhi, Tafsīr-i Yaʿqūb al-Jarhī, p. 189.

[17] Ibn al-Yamīn in the Naqshibandi Order is from the Kāsāniyya and his name is Mawlana Aka Shibirgānī (d. 1004/1595 – 96) and this person could be his son.

[18] Ḥusayn b. Ibn al-Yamīn, Mirʾāt al-Badāyī, p. 45b – 46b.

[19] Bāqībillāh, Kulliyāt-i Bāqībillāh, p. 111.; Dihlawī, Kalimāt al-Ṣādiqān, p. 169.

[20] Tāj al-Dīn Naqshibandī, Jāmiʿ al-Fuʾād, p. 19a.

[21] Muḥammad Akram b. Muḥammad ʿAlī Barāsawī, Manāḥij al-Sālikīn, p. 81-82.

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One Response to Laṭāʾif

  1. irshad alam says:

    1) sufi tariqas r structured as master-to-disciple lineages. So if MM Numan introduced it, it should be only among the descendents of him. BuIts possible his lineage is still active and living, not extant, but all the lineages of Naqshbandi I know of dont have Numan in their lineage. So how can he influence them?

    2) who is Myhammad Akram and is he Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi? or some other tariqa? Because the location of lataif he shows r not Naqshbandi at all. The Mujaddid’s book Mabda va Maad also gives the locartion of the lataif and its different. “Muḥammad Akram b. Muḥammad ʿAlī Barāsawī speaks about Tāj al-Dīn Naqshibandī’s method of dhikr and says the Dhikr of “Allah Allah” has to be placed on every Laṭīfah so that the whole body is brought to the dhikr itself and gives after that details about the places of the Laṭāʾif: (The name of the first Laṭīfah is not mentioned, but it is assumed that nafs is meant) it is a bit above the stomach and its light is yellow; the heart Laṭīfah is beneath the left breast and its light is red; the place of the rūḥ is beneath the right breast and its light is white; the sirr Laṭīfah is between heart and rūḥ and its light is green; the khāfī is on his forehead beneath the hairline and its light is black; the place of the akhfāʾ is on the head, and its light is also black. [21] But because Tāj al-Dīn himself is not giving any information about the places of the Laṭāʾif in his own works, we have to be careful regarding what Barasāwī is saying. In the era of the Mujaddidiyyah different places of the Laṭāʾif were given and also different colours and it is very reasonable that this was based upon their own spiritual experience – See more at: http://maktabah.org/blog/?p=2441#sthash.oSjvQ1Rc.Cw9OAu2j.dpuf

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