The Station of Firasah

Ibn ul-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah

from Madarij As-Salikeen

Says the Hafiz:

Firasah is a sense of visual acumen, perception and insight. Allah says, “Surely! In this are the signs for the mutawassimeen [those who read the signs].” [15:75]

And with the regard to the meaning of mutawassimeen, here is what some of the great interpreters of the Qur’an said about it: Mujahid said it is “those who have visual acuity.” Ibn `Abbas (r) said that it means “those who watch closely.” Qatadah said that it means “those who learn the lessons.” And Muqatil said that it means “those who reflect”. There is no contradiction or apparent incompatibility amongst these interpretations. For example, one who sees the ruins and houses of those who belied Allah’s Messengers would receive insight, admonition and reflection.

Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala, says the following with the regards to the hypocrites, “Had He willed, We could have shown them to you and you would have known them by their marks, but surely you will know them by the lahn of the speech!” [47:30] The first thing mentioned is the firasah of the eye and watching and the second thing noted is the firasah of the ear and hearing. The lahn of their speech is namely two varieties. One is proper and the other is wrong.

The proper lahn may mean eloquence as stated in the hadith: “And perhaps some of you are more eloquent in their claim than others.” (Bukhari and Muslim) Or it may mean an indirect reference or indication. The wrong lahn is the speech that has grammatical mistakes. By using it, people tend to change the meaning to something incorrect or to a hidden meaning which may not have been intended.

The meaning of the verse is that Allah has confirmed to His Prophet, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, that he would know them from the lahn of their speech. It is more likely that one may know more about the speaker and what is within his mind from his speech and the tone of his voice than from his physical appearance. The words and the tone of voice can tell much more, than the appearance, about the intention of the speaker. firasah can be either visual or auditory. The Prophet, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, is reported to have said, “Beware of the firasah of the believer, for he sees with the light of Allah,” then he recited the verse, “”Surely! In this are the signs for the mutawassimeen.” (Tirmidhi) The firasah of the believer is always truthful.

The firasah is a light which Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala, deposits in the heart of His servant. By this light, His servant distinguishes between truth and falsehood and between right and wrong.

The reality of firasah is a sharp thought that enters the heart and dominates its opinion. It overwhelms the heart just as the lion does to its pray, fareesah. Note the similarity between firasah and fareesah in Arabic. However, in their linguistic forms, fareesah is an object whereas firasah is similar in form to wilayah (authority and power), imarah (authority and command) and siyasah (administration and leadership).

The strength of firasah is dependent on the strength of faith. A person with stronger faith has sharper firasah. Amr bin Nujaid said that Shah al-Kermani had sharp firasah and was never wrong. He also used to say that whoever lowers his gaze away from prohibitions, restrains himself from vain desires, constructs his interior according to muraqabah (knowledge that Allah is watching over us), his exterior according to the Sunnah, and accustoms himself to eat only halal, his firasah will never be wrong.

Ibn Mas`ud (r) said:

There are three people with the sharpest firasah. The Egyptian who bought Yusuf (as) and then said to his wife, “Make his stay comfortable, maybe he will profit for us or we shall adopt him as a son.” [12:21]. The other was the daughter of Shuaib, who said to her father with regards to Musa, “Hire him!” [28:26] And Abu Bakr (r), for he appointed Omar (r) as his successor.” Another narration includes the wife of Pharaoh who said about Musa, “A comfort of the eye for me and for you. Kill him not, perhaps he may be of benefit to us, or we may adopt him as a son.” [28:9]

Page 1 of 2 | Next page