‘Hagiography’ amounts to the study of both the life and the literary works of “The Elect” (Awliya) who have lived throughout human history. As mentioned before, “The Elect” (Awliya) are about four thousand in number at any given time in human history, and these four thousand individuals are scattered across the globe. When one passes away, another one replaces the one who passes away. Also, “The Elect” (Awliya) come from different religions and religious sects. Wilayat (the ultimate state which defines “The Elect” or Awliya) transcends religious, schismatic, and sectarian differences. The paths towards Wilayat – namely the variety of major religions and sects which exist in the world – are different from one another, but the final destination for each is the same. As Sufi Ashqari wrote: “In the realm of love, there is no difference between a ‘believer’ and a ‘disbeliever.’”
The most important philosophical and scholarly debate is perhaps the debate about how an individual is brought into “The Elect” (Awliya). Some philosophers and scholars are of the opinion that certain individuals are predestined to become part of “The Elect” (Awliya), known as “Unconditional Election.” On the other hand, there is the idea or opinion that individuals can join “The Elect” (Awliya) through free will, which is known as “Conditional Election.” And as mentioned in previous blog posts, predestination – or “Unconditional Election” – is the preponderant explanation.
Also, despite their religious or sectarian differences, “The Elect” (Awliya) are brought together and united through a common experience, namely, the experience of love (Ishq). As mentioned before, love (Ishq) is the epitome of intellectual and spiritual wealth, and “The Elect” (Awliya) are brought together through this common experience, namely, the experience of love (Ishq). In essence, love (Ishq) has an ecstatic and intoxicating effect which is transformational from both a psychological and social standpoint, because love (Ishq) is a supernatural power that attaches itself to the minds and the bodies of those in “The Elect” (Awliya). Moreover, this supernatural power (Ishq) cannot be explained, felt, or understood intellectually. As Rumi wrote in a poem titled “A Springlike Night in Mid-December”:
Candle, wine, and friends,
on a springlike night in mid-December.
This love I have for you makes everywhere I look blaze up.
The tip of every feather burns.
A deep sweetness comes through sugarcane,
into the cut reed,
and now it is in the empty notes of the flute.
Beheaded lovers do not complain.
They live hidden underground like people in lava cities.
There is no worse torture than knowing intellectually
about love and the way.
Those Egyptian women, when they saw Joseph,
they were not judging his handsomeness.
They were lost in it,
cutting their hands as they cut their food.
Muhammad was completely empty
when he rose that night through a hundred thousand years.
Let wind blow through us.
Let Shams cover our shadows like snow.
Love (Ishq) is an experience which endures for “The Elect” (Awliya), along with its intoxicating and mind-altering effects. And the ultimate psychological and physical state of “The Elect” (Awliya) – which is known as Wilayat – is defined by the supernatural phenomenon known as love (Ishq). While Wilayat is an exclusive condition and state of being experienced by a very small group of people at any given time, it nevertheless transcends religious, schismatic, and sectarian boundaries.