Stepping Forth on the Path of Wayfaring to the Divine Presence

[Excerpted from The Naqshbandi Sufi Tradition Guidebook of Daily Practices and Devotions]


Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani

The Station of Extinction

The station of extinction, maqām  al-fanā, is one of the primary stations on the Path of the Sufi towards the state of perfection, maqām  al-Ihsān. This station in fact is the first target of the seeker as he moves on the way of spiritual wayfaring, and while not the ultimate final destination, it attainment is considered the first foothold into the Garden of Sainthood—for one who reaches this has become of the Elect. It is for this reason that many identified this station as the final goal and declared that one who attained it had in fact achieved ultimate felicity, complete nothingness. Whereas in reality, this station, while of immense magnitude, is still a waystation on the ascent towards the Divine. For this reason the Naqshbandi Saints said, “Our Way begins where others leave off.”

In the station of extinction, the servant of God leaves his very self behind, and in abandonment of all that pertains to selfhood is cut adrift in the oceanic realm of God’s Reality. At that station, self-realization is achieved for the seeker has achieved the vision of Witnessing, ‘aynu ’l-mushāhadah, and is thus able to testify with true vision, as a witness of the One. When that is attained, the seeker is unable to identify him or herself as existent and sees all existence as a manifestation of the Oneness of God.

The Prophet Muhammad , who was the leader of humanity in seeking the Divine Presence, said, “I am the City of Knowledge and ‘Alī is its gate.”[1] In this statement is an affirmation of two realities:

·         The Prophet encompasses all knowledge granted to creation from the Lord of Creation.

·         ‘Alī ibn Abi Talib , the Lion of God, was chosen as the one through whom access to that knowledge was made possible.

As regards the first point, God said:

He discloses not His unseen (ghayb) to anyone, except only to such a Messenger as He is well-pleased with. (72:26)

Muhammad is the Crown of those messengers with whom God is well-pleased. As a prophet who brought reports from His Lord; as the one who ascended above the seven heavens and the seven Paradises to His Lord’s Presence by “two bows’ length or even nearer” (53:9); as the one who told of the events that attended the creation of all existent beings; as the one who saw the events after resurrection and Judgment Day, and as the one to whom was revealed the inimitable Qur’an, who is more deserving of such a boundless gift—the gift of Knowledge from the Divine Presence? If about a saint, as our master Khidr is regarded by many scholars, (while others assert he was a prophet), about whom God said, “We had taught knowledge from Our own Presence,” (18:65)  how would it not be befitting that the All-wise Creator grant the entire body of heavenly knowledge to His Beloved r. For the Lord of the heavens and the earth said of him:

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