Welcome to F.I.E.L.D.- the First Ismaili Electronic Library and Database.


Encyclopaedia of Ismailism by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin

"It means knowing oneself. Man seeks evidence for everything. He is always seeking knowledge, and seeks to know the cause, effect and proof of things. Nothing is haphazard, everything leaves its trace. Man is the trace of the Creator; he is His evidence. Everything in His existence is an ayatullah (sign of God). If man knows himself, then he has known his God. The Prophet said: "He who knows himself has known his Lord" (man araf nafsahu faqad araf rabbahu). Ibn Arabi emphatically asserts that the only right way of knowing the Absolute is for us to know ourselves. What is suggested is, for Ibn Arabi, that we should abandon the futile effort to know the Absolute per se in its absolute non-manifestation, that we must go back into depth of ourselves, and perceive the Absolute as it manifests itself in particular form.

The Divine mystery in its objective and infinite mode is beautifully portrayed at a glance through the canopy of the night sky with the stars twinkling their message of eternity and infinitude. In addition to gazing beyond himself, man must also look within himself if he wants to fully comprehend his own mystery as well as the mystery of the Divine Being. By turning within, man can come to know more about himself than he would otherwise know. He can develop a human character that is not just a historical person living within a corporeal frame, but also a sacred soul that has spiritual meaning. He can actively take part in the mystery of God in this life through an inner journey of self discovery that retraces man's origin and source from Divine Being. William C. Chittick writes in Sufism (Surrey, 2000, p. 84) that Ali bin Abu Talib said, "Your cure is within you, but you do not know, your illness is from you, but you do not see. You are the "Clarifying Book" through whose letters becomes manifest the hidden. You suppose that you are small body, but the greatest world unfolds within you. You would not need what is outside yourself if you would reflect upon self, but you do not reflect."

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