Marifat

Arguably, the entirety and totality of intellectualism and spirituality can be comprehended, divided, and then summarized into three stages, namely, the annihilation of egotism and egocentricity (Fana), followed by ‘theophany’ (Tajalli), and finally, ‘union’ (Marifat). ‘Union’ or Marifat “refers to the knowledge related to direct experience and knowledge with the object of knowledge.” Marifat is ultimately “connected to the knowledge about God (or the nature of God) which cannot be understood through empirical-rational proofs, but direct experience.” 

In turn, Marifat – or “union” – is granted by God to an individual through a free and voluntary act of divine grace, and as mentioned before, the capacity on the part of the individual for this bestowal and reception of divine grace and ‘union’ is built through the initial stage of intellectual and spiritual development, namely, Fana, or the ‘annihilation’ of egotism and egocentricity on the part of the individual. 

It has been argued that “the main focus is on liberating the subject from the effect of ego, super-ego, and lust in order to gain pure experience and thought” amidst the schema of intellectualism and spirituality as a whole. Such liberation, in turn, leads to the realization of what is the true source of pure experience and thought and thus the true source of knowledge and intellect. 

As a result, there are epistemological and even systemic consequences and implications when we take this particular schema of intellectualism and spirituality into consideration, notwithstanding the transformation of knowledge itself as a result of this schema, all of which is then followed by a reckoning with the notion or proposition that knowledge and intellect amount merely to a “gift” from God and an outcome of what is ultimately ‘divine grace.’ Such a schema and such a transformation of knowledge would theoretically lead to a reassessment and reevaluation of the role of empiricism which many folks in the establishment and status quo in many countries are not willing to undertake for a variety of reasons. 

As the medieval Afghan mystic and scholar Ali Hujwiri wrote: “The sole cause of marifat (union with one’s aim and goal) is God’s will and favor and nothing else, for without His favor, intellect is blind and does not even know itself. None of the intellectuals have ever been able to cognize His reality and when intellect is ignorant to itself, how then can it know another?” 

It follows that marifat is the sole cause of intellect, and that intellect cannot cause marifat. As Hujwiri argued: “No created being is capable of leading anyone to (marifat).” And if there is “room in the heart for other” or “the possibility of expressing other” on the part of the individual, then “union” will never be attained. And a major part of “union” or marifat is making the distinction or fostering the separation between what is eternal on one hand and the “phenomenal” on the other hand, in the sense that the latter is dependent on the former for its existence. Above all else, the peak of intellectualism and spirituality is reached as a result of a realization and understanding of the logical and rational principle or rule of “contingency and dependence” on one hand and “necessity and independence” on the other hand. 

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