Awliya‘s Knowledge of the Ghayb (Unseen)

Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad

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The following account of firasa is related about Imam al-Junayd al-Baghdadi:

Abu `Amr ibn `Alwan relates: I went out one day to the market of al-Ruhba for something I needed. I saw a funeral procession and I followed it in order to pray with the others. I stood among the people until they buried the dead man. My eyes unwittingly fell on a woman who was unveiled. I lingered looking at her, then I held back and began to beg forgiveness of Allah the Exalted.

On my way home an old woman told me: “My lord, why do I see your face all darkened?” I took a mirror and behold, my face had turned dark. I examined my conscience and searched: In what did calamity befall me? I remembered the look I cast. Then I sat alone somewhere andI began to ask Allah’s forgiveness assiduously, and I asked to do with little for forty days. (During that time,) the thought came to my heart: “Visit your shaykh al-Junayd.” I travelled to Baghdad. When I reached the room where he lived, I knocked at his door and heard him say: “Enter, O Aba `Amr, you sin in al-Ruhba and we ask forgiveness for you here in Baghdad.”50

The possessor of such gifts and powers of vision is of course in no way exempted from the obligations of religion. Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili warned:

If your kashf opposes the Book and the Sunna, leave kashf and tell yourself: Allah has guaranteed infallibility to the Book and the Sunna, but He has not guaranteed it for kashf.51

Ibn `Arabi similarly said:

Someone in this Community who claims to be able to guide others to Allah, but is remiss in but one rule of the Sacred Law — even if he manifests miracles that stagger the mind: … we do not even turn to look at him, for such a person is not a shaykh, nor is he speaking the truth, for no-one is entrusted with the secrets of Allah Most High save one in whom the ordinances of the Sacred Law are preserved.52

Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir Gilani says the same thing in the Futuh. And their leader in this is the Sultan of the Knowers of Allah Bayazid al-Bistami who said:

If you see him fly in the air and walk on water do not be deluded by him, but see how he stands on the orders and the prohibitions.53

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