“Wahdat-ul-Wajood” and Hazrat Syedna Pir Meher Ali Shah (R.A)

Hazrat (R.A) was a firm believer in the celebrated but rather controversial concept of Wahdat-ul-Wajood (Ultimate Unity of Being) pioneered by Shaikh Muhyuddin Ibn-ul-Arabi (R.A). His belief in the concept was based on deep study and contemplation and also on personal spiritual experience. In course of time, he developed into one of the leading authorities of his time on this subject, and it figured prominently in his teachings as well as writings.

Speaking on this subject, Hazrat Syedna Pir Meher Ali Shah (R.A) used to say that the fact that Archangel Gabriel had appeared to the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) in human form on several occasions had produced a persuasive effect on his mind from the very beginning in favour of the concept of Wahdat-ul-Wajood. He had also carefully studied the objections raised to the concept by the exponents of the contrasting concept of Wahdat-ush-Shahud (Unity of Perception or Vision), but arrived at the firm conclusion that Wahdat-ul-Wajood was concept based on truth.

The philosophy of “Wahdat-ul-Wajood” could further be explained in the light of the Quranic verses stressing upon the Omnipresence of God.

Translation: “He is the Beginning, He is the End; He is the One Evident, He is the One Hidden and Concealed.”    (III, 75)

It reads in Holy Quran: 

Translation: "Whether so ever ye turn, there is the presence of God".      (II,115)
Translation: " Soon will We show them our signs in the (furtherest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth, Is it not enough that thy Lord doth witness all things?" (Surah Ha-meem - Ayah 53)

Maulana Rum has expressed the truth in the following words:

Translation: “Whosoever moves away from the origin, fares around to reunite: The source is one; plurality is impossible in it. Manifestations are several”.

Hindu philosopher Bhika has also reflected upon the philosophy as follows:

Translation: “ Clouds burst into rain and bubbling streams falls into the sea once more”.


We also get the example of Prophet Moses (A.S) who saw light emitting from a tree - it wasn’t God and yet he heard the voice, 


Translation: "I am your God"


Maulana Rum in his Mathnavi, says

Translation: "If a mere tree on the basis of being enlightened with the heavenly light, be granted the right to claim itself as God, why can't a man when he reaches the saturation point, as highest form of God's creation, be granted such a right.

According to Rumi such a state is that of an ecstasy. The state of (annihilation in God) is such:

Translation: "When iron is heated, it takes up the colour of fire. Though it does not become fire, it possesses (imbibes) all the characteristics of fire".

Allah Almighty in the Holy Quran says:

Translation: “On the earth are signs for those of assured faith, as also in your own selves; will ye not then see”?  

Look to earth and the heavens. There are signs in them for the wise. Similarly - look within, four elements and nine heavens are within us. The outer world is a smaller world. The world within us is a bigger world. Allah has placed all of them within us. One can find the conditions of all by looking within one’s self.

Everywhere there are wonders and everyone is busy in this land of bewilderment. No end is visible. It is a strange phenomenon. Even in the limitation there is no flaw left but the charm and pleasure that exists in the original and real is quite different.

Allah said: “I was a hidden treasure, I created the creatures in order to be revealed” hence from (Wahdat) Divine Unity, plurality (manifestations) came into existence. In the beginning there was just Divine Unity but now even after enumerable manifestations the ultimate Reality remains the same as it was. All the diverse creations in the universe have emerged out of the same Absolute Reality which is eternal. Allah is an unseen reality which cannot be comprehended with physical senses, yet our spiritual eyes can visualize the presence of God unfolded in the diverse colours of the universe.

Translation: “Colourness” means the realm of Pure Begin and Absolute Unity in which there is no colour that is individualization or limitation. Creation is being renewed every moment and every moment comes a manifestation.
When perfection is achieved in Din (religion), one will find non-else than Allah. For example, the sun is on the fourth sky, you keep a jar of water in sunshine. The water will become warm due to it. The real “Wajud” is only one. It is correctly said that the real is original while an imitation is an imitation. All belongs to Him. He is the First and He is the Last. He is the Apparent and He is the Hidden. Hence who exists and where? Therefore, one is in wonder. Intellect can’t explain this. He is the original Creator of the Heavens and the earth who created everything from nothing. He is the only Real Being, the Universe is like a mirror that reflects His Being. 

Translation: “The Divine Factory. The worker dwells in the workshop: None who stays outside is aware of Him. Come, then, into the workshop of Not – being, that you may contemplate the work and the worker together.”

The way of saints is purging oneself of all impurities and knowing only one God and annihilating oneself in Him. Since the heart is His abode, none else should be allowed to enter it. To achieve spiritual elevation, once love for God should not be imbued with the wishes for worldly gains. Rather it should be undiluted, pure and based on self less devotion.

Translation: “Behold the manifestation of the Divine Beauty in the phenomenal world. With pious eyes, look towards Haq. See the vision of one Eternal Soul in the phenomenal world”.

The distinction between God (Creator) and man (creation) still remains

This statement by Muhyuddin Ibn-ul Arabi Shaikh-e-Akbar sums up the spirit of Islamic philosophy. Although he is regarded a staunch follower of Wahdat-ul-Wajood, he says:

Translation: “In all its ebb and flow, God, remains His self - the Master; and man despite all his success remains subservient.”

There comes a moment when a true Arif merges into the heavenly existence and loses his own identity. The distinction between "Khaliq" and "makhlooq" (the created and the Creator) remains no longer.

Man as a bashar becomes Masjood-e-Malaika (capable of earning a bow from the heavenly bodies) when he practices: <ayat> (the Divine principle) and evolves as a true reflection of Siffat-e-Ilahiya (the characteristic of God). When forces of this universe bend their heads before him they are rather bowing before Him (God) and not before man.

Divine self – manifestations is a perpetual process. He is the Real One. A wave is a wave; when it rises or when it falls it merges into the sea becomes part and parcel of the sea which proves that a wave dose not annihilate, rather it adopts a new shape. The real existence is of Him and when these manifestations (universal moods of Pure Being) are over, He alone remains. The seed of a banyan tree is a small one it is said that this seed contains fifteen thousand branches and fifteen thousand leaves, it does not seen to be acceptable to the intellect. The seed is there hidden while branches and leaves are manifest and apparent. Seed has its own rules; leaves have their own characteristics. God is God, man is man.

Shah Wali Ullah (R.A), one of distinguished personalities in the Silsila Naqshbandia and was basically a believer in the concept of "Wahdat-ush-Shahood" has expressed that if required he could well explain the philosophy of Wahdat-ul-Wajood in the light of Quran and Hadith.

Wahdat-ul-Wajood and Wahdat-ush-Shahood - Hazrat's viewpoints

Hazrat attempted to bridge the differences between adherents of afore-mentioned two apparently divergent concepts by advancing the following points of views:

(a)              'Wahdat-ush-Shahood' represents the initial stages of suluk (spiritual journey), and the basic essence of faith (nafs-e-iman), whereas 'Wahdat-ul-Wajood' constitutes the acme of suluk and the perfected state of faith (kamal-e-iman).

(b)              Belief in Wahdat-ul-Wajood was neither incumbent upon the followers of earlier apostles of Allah, nor is it binding upon the Ummah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) of Islam.      

(c)               Wahdat-ul-wajood represents the vision and clairvoyance of the elect among the sufia, and it is related to inner vision rather than to outward and oral pronouncement only.    

One Maulana Sufi Abdul Rahman of Lucknow had declared, in his book titled Kalimatul Haq (The Word of Truth), that belief in Wahdat-ul-Wajood was binding upon the Muslim Ummah in general, in the same way as belief in the Kalima-e-Tayyibah was, and that non-belief in it therefore constituted heresy. Hazrat effectively disproved this point of view in his book Tahqiq-ul-Haq Fi Kalimatul Haq. At the same time, in line with his moderate and tolerant approach, he refused to denounce Maulana Abdul Rahman to be “misguided” and heretic as many other contemporary scholars had chosen to do. Instead, he attributed the Maulana’s views to be due to an overpowering spiritual state beyond his control.

In the same connection, Hazrat referred to a discussion once held on the subject at Sial Sharif in the presence of Hazrat Khwaja Shamsuddin (R.A). during this discussion Hazrat said, he first presented the objections raised to Wahdat-ul-Wajood by such advocates of Wahdat ush-Shahood as Hazrat Mujaddid Alf-e-Saani and Hazrat Alauddawlah Samnani. He then followed it up by answering each of those objections on the basis of convincing arguments. This greatly pleased Hazrat Khwaja Shamsuddin (R.A), who exhorted Hazrat to study Shaikh Ibn-ul- Arabi’s book “Futuhaat-e-Makkiyah” (the Meccan Revelations), in which the Great Shaikh had expounded his concepts in extensive detail. The constant in-depth study of the book coupled with the spiritual attention of his Murshid, helped Hazrat in comprehending the multifarious abstruse facets of the concept, and eventually enabled him to gain outstanding mastery over it.

Hazrat’s in-depth study of Shaikh Muhyuddin Ibn-ul Arabi’s (R.A) "Futuhat-e-Makkiyah"

Hazrat Khwaja Shamsuddin (R.A) of Sial Sharif, Hazrat’s Murshid, had exhorted him emphatically during his lifetime to make a deep study of Shaikh –e-Akbar Muhyuddin Ibn-ul Arabi’s masterpiece on the subject of Wahdat-ul-Wajood, viz., Futuhat-e-Makkiyah. To be ale to comply with this directive, Hazrat tried during his stay in Lahore to acquire a copy of the book in question. On making extensive inquiries, he found out that the only copy of it available in Lahore was in the possession of a local leather merchant, Khwaja Karim Bukhsh. In view of the highly abstruse contents of the book, however, the latter was prepared to spare the book, even for study at his house, only to someone who could correctly read just one page of it and to explain its meaning. Since Hazrat was able to meet this condition to Khwaja Karim Bukhsh's satisfaction with respect to not just one but several pages of the Futuhat, the gentleman agreed to lend the enabled Hazrat to make an in-depth study of the celebrated book, after which he duly returned it to its owner.

Acquisition of the book “Futuhat-e-Makkiyah”

Because of Hazrat’s deep and abiding interest in the subject of Wahdat-ul-Wajood (the central theme of Futuhat), his desire to “own” a copy remained with him, and the search for it was renewed during his stay in Makkah. On inquiry, the book was found to be available with a local book-seller, but its price (40 Saudi Riyals) was beyond Hazrat’s means. While he was still wondering how he could raise the required amount, an Afghan stranger met him in the Holy Kaabah and voluntarily offered to him the exact sum of 40 Riyals as a gift. When Hazrat asked him the reason for doing so, the stranger was unable to give any particular reason, beyond confessing that it had just occurred to him to present this money to Hazrat. On the stranger’s insistence, therefore, Hazrat accepted the money as a bounty from Allah, and used it to buy the book for permanent possession.

Hazrat’s teachings and writings on Wahdat-ul-Wajood

Such was Hazrat’s command of the subject of Wahdat-ul-Wajood, and of the writings of Shaikh Muhyuddin Ibn-ul Arabi, popularly known by the honorific title of Shaikh-e-Akbar (The Great Shaikh), that for ten years on end he gave lessons in Futuhat-e-Makkiyah, and in the Shaikh’s other important book on the subject, 'Fusus-ul-Hikam' (Bezels of Wisdom) to scholars desirous of comprehending the deeper aspects of Wahdat-ul-Wajood. He also wrote voluminous book of his own in exposition of the concept titled Tahqiq-ul-Haq Fi Kalimatul Haq.

During the compilation of the aforesaid book Tahqiq-ul-Haq, Hazrat (R.A) had revealed that during his compilation of the book, he had had a distinct intuitive feeling that the spirit of his respected Murshid, Hazrat Khwaja Shamsuddin (R.A) who had passed away 15 years earlier, was constantly present at his side and guiding him in proper explanation of important aspects of Wahdat-ul-Wajood.

This assertion is eminently understandable, since Hazrat ranked among those accomplished personalities about whom Shaikh Musleh-Uddin Saadi (R.A) of Shiraz (Iran), the great Persian poet and sufi, has written as follows:

Translation: “The eternal sound of ' alast' , i.e., the covenant taken by Allah from all humanity in the world of spirits – still rings in their ears and they are still intoxicated by its influence”.

The following Punjabi couplet of Hazrat himself also provides a clear clue to the loftiness of his spiritual position in relation to Wahdat-ul-Wajood:


Kun-fayakun (Be and It became) is a matter of only yesterday;

we had in fact cultivated our love (for Allah) long before that;


Thou art and "I" were nowhere in sight at the time 

when the "M" (of Muhammad (P.B.U.H) bore witness (to the existence of Allah);


We can still see (in the far-off distance of eternity)

the thickets, plants and mosses (of the pre-creation era);


O Meher Ali ! The Creator and the created then sat in each other's company only, 

because there was a desire on both sides to do so.


These couplets indicate that Hazrat’s spiritual vision and “memory” went back to the age of Absolute Unity when nothing whatever had any tangible or even intangible existence besides Allah, and to the “world of spirits” which was brought into being by Allah long before He created other physical creation. For someone like him, therefore, the recalling of the spiritual presence and backing of his eminent Murshid during his writing of a book barely 15 years after the latter’s physical passing away, could hardly present much of a problem.

Illustrating the philosophy of Wahdat-ul-Wajood, Hazrat (R.A) in his famous Naat, says 

Translation: "This face (of the Prophet) emerged from the Faceless One (i.e., Allah); The Faceless One manifests Himself through this face".

Translation: "The Colourless (Reality) has been revealing itself through this image;  Ever since Unity exploded into Diversity".

Translation: " It is the face that guides (mankind) to the path of the Faceless One (i.e., Allah); Nay (not the path only but) to the Ultimate Reality Itself".

Fakir Muhammad of Kot Atal - a devotee of Hazrat (R.A)

Faqir Muhammad Amir of Kot Atal (District Dera Ismail Khan ) was an accomplished dervish. Belonging originally to Jhelum, he received his early education in Dera Ismail Khan and after completing it became a disciple of Khwaja Muhammad Usman Naqshbandi of Musa Zai. Making steady spiritual progress, he eventually became the Khalifa (deputy) of his Shaikh and carried his message far and wide. In the final stages of his progress, he reached a point which conflicted with the maslak (method) of his Shaikh. While the Shaikh was an adherent of Naqshbandia school, and was therefore a believer in Wahdat-ush-Shahud (Unity of Perception), Muhammad Amir started being involuntarily attracted to Wahdat-ul-wajood instead. The Shaikh first tried to bring him back to his point of view through admonition and prayer, but despairing of the success of his efforts declared him to be misguided and lost beyond redemption. On his part, Muhammad Amir found himself caught in a situation beyond his own control. He therefore set out in search of some means to get out of that plight.

At some stage, Faqir Muhammad Amir came to know about Hazrat, and betook himself to Golra Sharif to meet him. He first went to Hazrat Baba Fazl Din (R.A), who was then the reigning head of the shrine, but did not state the purpose of his visit. From there he proceeded to see Hazrat, whom he found engaged in conversation with his father, Hazrat Ajji Sahib. On seeing Muhammad Amir, Hazrat quietly handed to him the book Kashkol-e-Kalimi (The Begging Bowl of Musa, Kalimullah) which he was then holding in his hands, without saying anything else. As Faqir Sahib glanced through the book, his problem was instantly solved by its contents. This greatly elated him, and he requested Hazrat to accept him as his disciple. Hazrat hesitated first, but on his insistence agreed to do so. Besides prescribing the required recitations, Hazrat exhorted him never to show disrespect to his Murshid, Khwaja Muhammad Usman Naqshbandi, to visit the latter at least once a year to pay his regards to him, and, after the latter’s passing away, to make it a point to attend his Urs. The immediate aftermath of this episode was that Faqir Muhammad Amir lost many of his erstwhile followers, while his Murshid was furious at his conduct. He patiently endured all this for about a year, and then returned to Golra Sharif to pay his respects to Hazrat. Hazrat accorded him permission to enroll disciples on his own, as a result of which his circle of disciples expanded quickly by the grace of Allah. He used later to accompany Hazrat on latter’s annual visit to Pakpattan Sharif in connection with Urs of Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar (R.A).

The published collection of Hazrat’s letters, titled Maktubat-e-Tayyibat” contains few letters written to Hazrat by the Faqir Sahib of Atal, and Hazrat’s replies thereto, which provide an inkling of the distinguished spiritual station which the Faqir Sahib was able to attain under Hazrat’s guidance. These letters from Faqir Sahib of Atal and the replies of these letters from Hazrat himself provide a comprehensive explanation of the concept of "Wahdat-ul-Wajood".

In one of these letters, the Faqir Sahib sought Hazrat’s guidance as to whether, in the spiritual state that he had reached by then, he should focus his attention on the sifat (Attributes) that were flowing from the Divine Being or on the Being Himself, so as to escape the feeling of uncertainty and ambivalence that he found himself in. 

To this, Hazrat replied in the following verse of Maulana Rumi’s Mathnavi:

Translation: "Set thy eyes on the 'Ocean' itself and ignore the 'rivulet' that hath taken off from it, so that thou canst imbibe the secret of 'absolute certainty' ".

In other words, he advised the questioner to focus his attention single mindedly on the Supreme Being and not on His “Attributes”. He also prayed that Allah infuse him with such attention.

In another letter, Faqir Sahib confined to Hazrat that when he attained the spiritual station which he was then in, he was overcome by a conceited feeling that perhaps no one else had attained such a high station ever before. Therefore, a downward process had set in until the previous state had completely gone, and he was reduced to the position of a mere mortal with no special distinction at all. His attention was then diverted to the strict observance of dictates of shariah, rather than to matters of the spirit. Accordingly, he sought Hazrat’s guidance as to what he should do to reduce the balance between secular and spiritual matters.

In his rejoinder, Hazrat re-assured Faqir Sahib that the feeling mentioned by him was nothing unique, but had been experienced by many other eminent men of God as well. It could possibly be due to the fact that every man had a special relationship with his Great Creator, which no other human being shared with him. The Faqir Sahib, he added, should therefore accept his experience as inescapable and should continue his spiritual endeavours as best he could. 

The fact is that such a lofty spiritual station can be attained only with the help and grace of any accomplished spiritual guide, and not through the study of books and acquisition of academic knowledge alone. The spiritual personality who has successfully traversed those stages himself. This is because these matters are concerned with ahwal (“states”) rather than with 'aqwal' (“sayings” or “doctrines”). The great Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi (R.A) had this in mind when he said thus in his celebrated Mathnavi :

Translation: “Leave idle talk aside, and cultivate thy “inner state”; (to achieve this purpose), bow humbly before a consummate personality”.

In the same way Maulana Abdul Rahman Jami (R.A) wrote as follows :

Translation: “Getting rid of the veil that envelops thy soul, is not possible for thee except with the help of a Pir (spiritual guide)”.

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