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Fayd and Tajalli (Effusion and Manifestation)

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Key Concepts in the Practice of Sufism-3

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Effusion and ManifestationFayd literally means the effusion of blessings, profusion, abundance, and increase. Giving existence to something and equipping it with all the particularities and necessities of being existent, and favoring a person with inspirations and spiritual gifts to deepen him or her spiritually are also included in the meaning of fayd, but these aspects belong only to God as the Lord of all creation.

The term fayd is also used in some noun phrases with a wide range of meanings as a modified noun. For example, God's all-holy manifestations of origination without anything preceding them to be imitated, His creation, generation and causing things to grow, the granting of life and death, and providing, are all called "effusions of creation"; the inspirations coming from God, the Ultimate Truth are known as "Divine effusions" or "spiritual effusions of the Lord"; a person's being favored with Divine gifts according to his capacity is termed "effusions of capacity"; the spiritual pleasures coming from knowledge and love of God are "effusions of worship"; heart-felt care and concern in the degree of love and yearning are "effusions of love." Everything with which all existence is favored—from the blessings in the initial determination of natures and forms during the phases of creation to the blessings manifested as the laws of the operation of the universe and the lives of beings, and thereafter to the Revelations, inspirations, and sensations that have been sent to human beings—all are effusions of different wavelengths.

Every existent thing or being is created through the profuse manifestations of His Light as a pure blessing, as based on His eternal Will and in accordance with the determinations of His Knowledge. Every existent thing or being is given a particular, perfect form, a particular nature, a particular capacity, and the necessary equipment. During the existential course, existence is endowed with the miracle of life and with a tendency to journey toward metaphysical dimensions that will secure it new gifts. Those endowed with consciousness and free will have been shown the beginning, the end, and the goal of existence through death and the life to follow it, and reminded of what they need the most by being provided materially and spiritually. Through all these vital gifts that have been accorded to existent things and beings and which come in different wavelengths of Divine manifestation, a new door has been left ajar toward the Hidden Treasure.[1]

The first signal of the existence of things and events came from the Most Sacred Effusion, or the most sacred initial manifestation of the Divine Being. Through the Sacred Effusion, or God's sacred manifestation of His Attributes, the archetypes of existence, whose coming into existence was willed, were given the signal of being clothed in external existence, and the course of coming into external existence began for the archetypes that were endowed with the possibility of existence. Then, every would-be-existent thing and being started the journeying of existence with the potential with which it had been endowed, in the expectation of new effusions to develop.

The Most Sacred Effusion, which serves as a veil before the Honor and Grandeur of the Real Agent or Originator of existence, is the manifestation of the essences of all the creatures in Divine Knowledge as archetypes or that these essences are given each a particular nature and/or identity. This appearance of these realities in Divine Knowledge, or the initial growth of existential essences, occurred in accordance with the potential appointed for each being in eternity. Thus, with the exception of the unusual, miraculous disposals of Divine Power, each being is restricted in the potential that has been accorded on it. The poet, Beligh,[2] says:

The effects of Divine effusions differ according to the capacities of every being;
A pearl-oyster receives pearls from the rain of April, but a snake, poison.

The Sacred Effusion has been considered to be the manifestation of the Divine Will and Power that appoints everything and being of archetypal existence as a particular form and external existence. We can explain the matter more clearly as follows:

The contingent essences, or the essences of contingencies, are reflected upon the "ideal" lines, pages, and booklets of existence through the Most Sacred Effusion. They are clothed in external existence through the Sacred Effusion and take on the forms of the letters, words, sentences, and books of the Tablet of Confirmation and Effacement,[3] being elevated to the rank of serving as mirrors to the Eternal All-Observer.

The difference between these two effusions can also be clarified as follows: The initial manifestation, which causes the realities in the Divine Knowledge to be determined or appointed as archetypes with the potentials particular to each, is the Most Sacred Effusion; the second manifestation, which serves as a veil before the acts of the All-Originator in giving external existence to each archetypal essence according to its original potentials or capacities, is called the Sacred Effusion. According to the Sufis, just as the essential realities or the essential existence of future things and beings in Divine Knowledge is different from their external existences, so also do the sources of these two sorts of existence and the realms of the manifestations responsible for each differ from each other. Thus, while the Most Sacred Effusion manifests itself in the essential realities or pure essences in the Divine Knowledge, the Sacred Effusion acts on the archetypes, with their natures and forms to come forth into external existence.

Philosophers think differently from the Sufis about effusion. Although this is not something that is being discussed in this book, I will briefly mention their approaches, starting from the earliest times.

Some of the philosophers use the terms "effusion" and "manifestation" identically and mean "emanation" by both. That is, according to them—God forbid such an assertion!— existence has emanated from God, and what is meant by "effusion" or "manifestation" is that emanation.

Others among them rightly attribute effusion to the Divine Will and Decree, but place several intermediaries of creative effect between God's initial origination of things and events and their coming into existence.

Still others restrict themselves to the external existence of things and events, and conclude that—God forbid such a conclusion!—the aforementioned Divine effusions occur naturally and necessarily. That is, according to them, God naturally and indispensably originates things and events. Thus, they ignore the absolute freedom of the Divine Will in doing or not doing something.

Others conceive of the Divine Being only as the First Cause, without personal existence, and claim that everything and event emanates from this Being in a certain order.

Still others attribute the initial effusion or, in their terminology, emanation, to an Intellect, which they call the First Intellect, and they talk about a trinity: (1) the Intellect itself, (2) the Intellect's thought of an initial cause, (3) a second Intellect's emanation from this thought.

Yet others think of many Intellects (the Ten Intellects), from the first one to the supposed spirits of realms or spheres of existence, and thereafter to the Active Intellect. They also insert a Soul among those Intellects.

All such assertions by philosophers imply a random guessing at the Unseen, and they are impossible to reconcile with the essence of the Religion. Furthermore, they are of no practical use for true or sound knowledge and faith, knowledge of God, or spiritual pleasures.

Even though some Muslim thinkers have, now and then, busied themselves with such matters, neither these philosophies nor similar trends of thought have made any contribution to Sufi life or experience, which is another way of expressing the Islamic life of the heart and spirit. More than that, they have muddied some simple minds, damaged the spirit of some principles of faith, and caused several trends of falsehood to emerge.

We also come across some Sufi guides who are reported to have written or talked about emanations from God and His self manifestation as a visible Being. I think that either such contorted ideas have been inserted into their works by others, or they themselves have approached the matter from a different viewpoint in relation to the Divine Oneness and Will and have lapsed into seeing such approaches as harmless. For neither the Qur'an nor the Sunna contain such considerations, nor did the scholars of the earliest times make any mention of them. For this reason, such philosophical approaches to creation can only represent some contaminated information that has found its way into our religious heritage from the legacies of earlier traditions.

As Bediüzzaman Said Nursi points out, the false doctrine of "only one entity emanates from one entity" lies in the essence of such trends of thought. They regard the All-Independent, absolutely Powerful Lord of the worlds to be in need of some powerless means or intermediaries, and present material or immaterial causes, which are in fact veils before the acts of His Lordship, as if His partners. To explain further, these approaches accept the existence of an Intellect besides God, an Intellect which emanated from Him, and they consider God to be inactive—God forbid such conceptions!—ascribing His dominion over all parts and dimensions of existence and all His acts to different means and causes. This is impossible for any believer in God to accept.

As the explanations of the Qur'an and the Sunna concerning creation are so clear as to cause no misunderstandings, so too are the views and conclusions of true Muslim thinkers and scholars regarding this matter so obvious that they make no way for such misconceptions. According to the Qur'anic way of thinking, or the Islamic viewpoint, whatever exists—with all its punctuation, letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, and parts—has been created by the All-Sublime Creator, and receives from Him whatever it needs to subsist; and all that exists is under the control, direction and disposal of His Will and Power at every second of its life, without excluding the partial, free will of conscious, responsible beings. The creation and direction of all the visible and invisible realms of existence belong to God, Who is the sole Source of all gifts and blessings that reach every existent thing and being. With the exception of some misunderstandings that arise from certain ambiguous expressions, all the explanations concerning this matter agree upon this cardinal truth. Sound minds have thought so, sound senses have received the same sensations, and the order, harmony, and instances of wisdom in existence have always expressed it.

Everyone who is able to observe carefully will feel and see that everything—from the multicolored faces of flowers, which send smiles to passers-by, to the swaying of trees in the manner of brides, from the frightening roars of thunderbolts to the delicate, penetrating songs of birds and insects echoing in our souls, from light, heat, gravity, electricity, and chemical processes to biological activities, from humans' observable potential and abilities to their feelings and conscious, spiritual activities—all indicate and bear witness to the Existence of God and His absolute dominion over all things and events. Everyone will feel and see this truth and quiver in awe.

If humans can evaluate the sounds and scenes which come to their ears and touch their eyes by passing through the sensitive filters of the conscience—the sounds and scenes from the terrifying roars of the seas to the enchanting howls of the forests, from the contemplative silence of bays and coves to the awe-inspiring stature of mountains, from the flirtatious gestures of multicolored flowers to the loving kindness of birds and insects, from the world that is a book to study, an exhibition to watch, a palace to visit, and a field to sow and harvest, to humans, who are honored with abilities, to numerous subtle purposes for and instances of wisdom in the existence of all these things—then they will be able to feel and understand that all these have originated from the Sacred and Most Sacred Source of effusion through the Knowledge and Will of God, and go into raptures at the knowledge of the love of God and yearn for Him and for the spiritual pleasures that invade their spirits.

In short, whether spiritual or material, animate or inanimate, large or small, every existent thing or being has come into existence through an effusion from God and continues to exist through constant manifestations that originate in Him, thus pursuing a fixed goal. Coming into existence from non-existence depends on a certain effusion and manifestation, and taking care of everything or being that has been sent into existence is dependent upon another, different effusion and manifestation. Furthermore, the opening of ways to belief, knowledge of God, and love by means of the Prophets is the result of another gift of effusion—while it is yet another gift of effusion that the same truths brought by the Prophets are presented by saints, verifying, saintly scholars, and true guides to the level of comprehension of every age according to changing time and conditions. It is also another, particular effusive gift that all the means and possibilities down to the slightest ones are used to form a pool of mysteries and enable everyone to benefit from them.

The Creator has boundless gifts that come in effusion,
And in every effusion is a different manifestation.
Whatever we see is a mystery throughout,
Every mystery is clearer than the other for those who are aware of it.

Our Lord! Grant us mercy from Your Presence and arrange for us in our affairs what is right and good!

Our Lord! Grant us a way out and salvation in our affairs!

Bestow your blessings and peace on our master, Muhammad, and on his Family, and Companions, all of them!

[1] The term "the Hidden Treasure" is used for God as based on a hadith qudsi, the Prophetic saying inspired in him directly from God Himself: "I was a Hidden Treasure; I willed to be known and created the universe." (Tr.)

[2] Muhammed Emin Beligh (d. 1760) was an Ottoman poet who was born in Greece and lived in Istanbul and Greece. He lived a poor life and wrote a Diwan, collection of poems. (Tr.)

[3] The origins, sources, and seeds from which God Almighty shapes things and/or beings with perfect order and art show that they are arranged according to a "book of principles" contained in Divine Knowledge. The seeds contain the plans and programs of beings or things that will come into existence. To give a more concrete example, a seed contains or even constitutes the plan and program according to which a tree may be formed and, furthermore, is a miniature embodiment of the Divine principles that cause the tree to come into existence and determine this plan and program. The archetypal plan and program of the Tree of Creation as a whole, which spreads its branches through the past and future and into the World of the Unseen, is called the "Manifest Record," and the Divine principles that determine this plan and program constitute what the Qur'an calls the "Supreme Preserved Tablet" that is contained in Divine Knowledge.

The life history of, for example, a plant or tree from its germination under soil until it yields fruit is the developed form of its seed, and this complete life history with all its cycles is summed up in its fruit, rather in each seed in its fruits. We call this active life history of a living thing or being its "Destiny Practical" or "Manifest Book." With everything and event in it, the universe has its own "universal" Destiny Practical, which is the "universal" Manifest Book. The "Manifest Record," which is written by Divine Knowledge, relates to the origins of things or beings, while the "Manifest Book" relates to their entire life histories and is a notebook written by the Divine Power.

Through the dictates of the Manifest Record, that is, through the decree and instruction of the Divine Knowledge and Destiny, the Divine Power uses atoms to create or manifest the chain of beings, each link of which is His sign, on the metaphorical page of time, which is called the "Tablet of Effacement and Confirmation." Thus, atoms are set to move so that beings may be transferred from the World of the Unseen to the material, visible world, from (the Realm of) Knowledge to the (Realm of) Power.

The "Tablet of Effacement and Confirmation" is the tablet on which events and things or/and beings are inscribed and then removed or effaced according to the dictates of the Supreme Preserved Tablet contained in Divine Eternal Knowledge. Therefore, it displays continuous change. The Tablet of Effacement and Confirmation constitutes the essence of time. Time, a mighty river which flows through existence, has its essence in the Divine Power's inscription of beings and in the "ink" It uses. Similarly, God also has archetypal principles for human earthly life, all of which are called the "Mother of the Book." He lays down these principles as commandments or laws during human history as suited to the particular needs of the time and the people concerned. For this reason, every age or appointed term has its own Revelation and laws. God sent them down with succeeding Messengers in a way that culminated in the Qur'an as the final form of the Divine Message. (Tr.)