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The Meaning of Man

Updated on November 28, 2016

The Meaning of Man The Foundations of the Science of Knowledge by Sidi 'Ali al-Jamal

I was first introduced to this majestic work during my first year at UCLA. At that time my roommate and I could barely understand a word or phrase that was written except for some peripheral understanding of the hadiths and ayats of Qur'an interspersed throughout. We basically occupied our time looking at the black & white photos of the individuals that this book was to some extent describing.

"Whoever accepts increase must accept decrease. Whoever does not accept decrease doesn't accept increase."

The Perfect Faqir

"The perfect faqir is like the bee. He tends the blossoms wherever he finds them and however he finds them like the one who tends roses, flowers, and lilies of the valley. He tends the flowers of the Oleander and the flowers of the matrun because he possesses meanings. The meaning which he acquires from the rose is that which he acquires from the oleander. All are flowers. It is because the possessor of meaning directs his glance into its beauty, not into its food. Its sweetness or bitterness are the same. There is no doubt that the glance is meaning as hearing, speech, and smell are all meanings. Taste is sensory. Man contains senses and meaning. The senses are the food of forms and the meanings are the food of the arwah."

Reflection is...

"Know that reflection is the noblest of the aspects of ibada when it is gathered. when it is separated, sensory ibada is more appropriate. He said may He be exalted! "If you do not find water, do tayammum." The greatest of what separates reflection is sitting with the common. That is because they are destroyed in the worlds of separation. Their words and all their actions are separation, growing from separation. There is no doubt that the one who sits with the one of separation is separated by the separation of the one he sits with, as the one who sits with the one of gatheredness is gathered by the gatheredness of the one he sits with. The common are like women, youths, and madmen. Sitting with the ignorant faqir for arwah is like eating the unheard of smell for forms. the ignorant faqir, when he is pleased with himself, is further in distance than the common many times over. The common is like the new clay. It accepts whatever it is thrown into. The ignorant faqir is like the clay which is covered in tar and cannot be washed nor is it any good for fine things."

On Mudholes

"Part of what my master said to me is: 'The faqir is the one who has many mudholes. According to the greatest of his mudholes, opening exists. Whoever does not get stuck is not a faqir. It is like the people of this world. If the one of this world does not get stuck, he does not have anything opened to him in it. The signs of sincerity in occupations is getting stuck in it. The opening and the result is according to the mudhole."

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For the People on the path of Ihsan, what is called 'Sufism' in the West, this book is invaluable.

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