THE UNDERSTANDING OF TAWHĪD IN THE SUFI CLASSICAL PERIOD

By: Sajid Farid Shapoo

 

ABSTRACT

“Tawhīd is expressed as unity and singularity of God. The common understating of Tawhīd as Oneness of Allah and describing him as unique with no partners, has often come in conflict with the monistic understanding held by some Sufis through generations. Sufis developed a doctrine of gnosis (marifah) of an inner experiential knowledge which became the vehicle to experience tawhīd in its highest state. Within the classical Sufis there were two strands which offered differing or at times countering understanding of Tawhīd. Abu Yazid’s complete union with God is not shared by al-Junayd, who understood true tawhīd as reaching a stage of profound nearness (qurb) to God. The sober interpretation of the Baghdad Sufis exercised a restraint while experiencing tawhīd even in its highest state. One could attain the highest maqam (station) while experiencing the tawhīd of elect, yet this maqam was not union with God. On the other hand, tawhīd, for the drunken Sufis could be experienced through complete union of God and Mankind both in soul and in existence. One could attain the highest maqam (station) while experiencing the tawhīd of elect, yet this maqam was not union with God. The sober Sufis, while affirming God’s manifestation through his creation maintained that God was clearly distinct from his creation. For them, God’s transcendence was inviolable; his immanence was manifested through His transcendence. Contrary to the sober Sufis, for the drunken Sufis God’s immanence was through his perpetual presence around His creation. His transcendence was not unreachable and unbridgeable.

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