The Prophetic and The Mystic Types of Consciousness

” Clearly, Shah Wali Allah’s sojourn in the Hijaz made a tremendous impact upon his thinking helping him to crystallize and synthesize his intellectual, social, and political concepts into a well-defined ideology and a programme of action. Not only was Shah Wali Allah himself aware of the great transformation that had taken place in his thinking, but his close associates also seem to have noticed it. His son, Shah Abd al-Azziz, for instance, heard about it from his father’s close associates. Fuyud al-Haramayn, which is a sort of spiritual autobiography, written in the peculiar mystic language of anecdotes and visions, bespeaks of this transformation. A comparative study of this work and al-Ghazali’s al Munqidh min al-Dalal makes a fascinating reading. Shah Wali Allah emerged from his spiritual experience to head  a sacred mission, while al-Ghazali contented himself primarily with his personal satisfaction. Shah Wali Allah’s role tended to be prophetic, while al-Ghazali’s tended to be largely mystic and saintly(49).”


(49) See Muhammad Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (1962), 124 : ‘ “Muhammad of Arabia ascended the highest Heaven and returned. I swear by God that if I had reached that point, I should never have returned”.  These are the words of a great Muslim saint, Abdul Quddus of Gangoh. In the whole range of sufi literature it will be probably difficult to find words which, in a single sentence, disclose such an acute perception of the psychological difference between the prophetic and the mystic types of consciousness. The mystic does not wish to return from the return of ‘unitary experience’; and, even when he does return, as he must, his return does not mean much for mankind at large. The prophet’s return is creative. He returns to insert himself into the sweep of time, with a view to control the forces of history, and thereby to create a fresh world of ideals. For the mystic the repose of the ‘unitary experience’ is something final; for the prophet, it is the awakening, within him, of world-shaking psychological forces, calculated to completely transform the human world. The desire to see his religious experience transformed into a living world-force is supreme in the Prophet.’

[Islamic Renaissance in South Asia 1707-1867: The Role of Shah Wali Allah and His Successors, Mahmood Ahmad Ghazi, Adam Publishers, p86-87]


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Filed under Islam, Jihad, Poems/Quotes, Religion, Sunnah, Tasawwuf

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