Qulid’ullaaha awid’ur Rahman, ayyamaa tad’uu fala –hul Asma ul Husna (Banu’Israel, 110)
This very brief essay is focused on the use of some of the Divines names in the suluq accordingly the more spread usul still operative within several Turuq in the contemporary Islamic world. For a better understanding of the present work it is advisable that the reader has familiarity with the concepts described in a previous article appeared on this site (“Considerations on the methods and levels of the ritual invocations: Dhikr”).
The suluq can be defined a the reverse path which the Rational soul, called some times Nafs al natiqa others Ruh al Takrim, which is the divine secret specific of the human being, must cross to regain his original state of proximity to its Creator. The stages which must be reached and overcome can be summarised in seven, commonly called respectively: Ammara, Lawwama, Mulhama, Mutma’inna, Radiya, Mardiya, Kamila or Safyya. These are linked to subtle states of the Ruh al Takrim, called Lataif, which some time but not always are linked to specific points of the human body. The lataif are the progressively inner aspect of the Ruh al Takrim, the Divine source of the Ruh is the “highest” or the” most hidden” of them: “Akhfa”, which descends to the present human stage through a progressive “condensation”.
Along this spiritual path also the very nature of the dhikr changes from the “recall” of Allah (JWS) by the pronunciation of its Name/s to the effective dhikr as the “conscience” of the “Presence” of Allah (JWS), which can be understood as the fully sincere dhikr when the realisation of His secret name occurs, secret because cannot be uttered by human, it is upon Himself its use.
The main Usul of invocation through the Divine Names
It is possible to distinguish at least five different ways to use the ‘Asm Al Husna in the dhikr Al Suluq, accordingly the number of names employed. Most part of turuq use only the Tahlil or the Name Allah (Ism al Mufrad) as single and unique invocation along the path, as the case of Shadhiliya and Mujaddid and Khalidi Branches of Naqshbandya, in some case they use both in the two possible combinations of successions: Tahlil followed by Ism al Mufrad or the opposite. What changes in these cases with the progression of the soul along the seven main stages are the modalities of invocation instead of the Names. The succession Ism al Mufrad first followed by Tahlil is a particularity for those methods where the seeker is “more desired than he desires”. In such cases the path is cut short to the “ultimate goal” at the begin using the Ism Allah to be afterward detailed, by the Tahlil. This occurs because the Tahlil is considered as a “determination” of the overall Divine qualities synthesised in the Ism al Mufrad thanks to the “summarising” nature of 12 essential Divine Name within it. As reported in the classical text of Sirr Al Asrar of Hadrat Abdel Qadir al Gilani (QS) (section on the souls within the body): “The 12 divine names are at the origin of Tahlil. Each of them is one of the twelve letters in the sentence.” This explain is use all along the path in various form; in fact in some usul is used as single only invocation at any stage of the suluq. Also the Ism “Allah” can be found to be used a single invocation for the all stage of the suluq, in this case is called “Ism Jami”, or the totalising name by which all the qualities linked to any other known or unknown names can be evocated as happens in several Qadiry and Shadhili branches in North Africa, and particularly in the Shadhiliya Alawya.
When the addition of a third names occurs in the methodology this is generally with the so called “Ism Al Dhat” or Name which points but not defines, because logically impossible, the Divine Essence. It is the 3rd singular person of the Arabic language, Huwa or Hu. In some case such modality is somehow synthetically played by the pronunciation of the only letter “ha”, vocalised with in “Haa”, which is considered to point to the hidden essence of the Name “Allah”, already present in it as final letter. The Masters of the path agree that Ism Hu when used in succession with the previous two Names allows the seeker to establish his soul at the stage of Nafs al Mutma’inna. From this stage progress does not require any further effort from her; Her Lord will be the “puller’. The effort from now is left and the dhikr, which is now acted under the divine command, in some way it simply occurs, it is not produced by the mudhakir, but just perceived by him. The passage from the individual sphere to the spiritual world is completed, the Dhikr will enchant the nafs of the mudhakir, transforming it and carrying the servant across the levels under the Divine command, until the divine presence, and beyond. From the invocation to the Lord the passage is done to the incantation from the Lord.
It is taught that beyond the stage of Mutmaina lays the Lahut, world of the singular “presence” of the Divine. In fact all the Names considered so far are name of Divine Unity, they do not point to a Divine Quality, which is such as a contrast to the creation deficiency. All other Names used in the dhikr al suluq are instead specific of one of His Attribute or Quality, and represent a sort of “answer” from the Called one accordingly the needs and the characteristic of the caller, this also explains their variability accordingly different methods or even different Teachers. Who if not The Possessor of the Quality and Attributes has the right to use them? Some names specific of such advanced stages such Qayyum or Latif are also used even in methods which limit them selves to the use only of 1 or 3 names, for instance in the Shadhulya Qayyum, Hayy and Latif are often present in the wazifa of very advanced seekers.
The use of further names is a sort of unique methodology of perfecting the advanced soul, present in usul, mainly spread in Khalwati, Kubrawy and Qaderi branches, however also others silsilah located from the Balkan to Asia make use of such approaches as more close to the “mashrab’ typical of such Regions.
Must be noted here that the use of the dhirk al Tahlil (also in his form known as Kalimat ul Tahwid, “Lailah Illa Allah wa Muhammad Rasulullah”) in the three names method is different from that in method with 7 or more names In the first case it supports the travel of the soul from the stage of Lawwamma to Mulhama, such approach does not consider the use of the invocation as tool to contrast the Ammara stage of the soul, which is tamed by the practice of the shari’a and through nafila. Instead when used to tame the Ammara state (7 names ‘asl) is the tool of awakening and moulding the seeker, he will call upon Allah so He can bestow His support.
The use of Names others from the three Name of “Unity” (Tahlil, Allah and Hu) constitutes the usul with 7 name (the following are in fact Haqq, Hayy , Qayyum and Qahhar) however others so called substitute names of one of the four already mentioned are used for specific aims accordingly the hal of the seeker and or his guide. These are, just to report the more commonly employed: Wahhab, Fattah, Wahid, Ahad and Samad, or others such Wadud, Latif, Basir, Aziz, Rahman, Rahim. Other factors relevant for the use of a given Ism are the conditions of time and space, in others words the state of the Dunya. The combined use of the 7 main Asm al Husna with some substitutes of the last four of them generates usul based on 12 names.
Some Usul use different 7 combination of Names accordingly the day of the week for instance, as well different Name will be used by who advanced in the Suluq also is invested of specific function within a tariqa or towards the events of the worlds. Traditionally the seven main names are considered to be under the governance of different angels, from the Tahlil to Qahhar they are: Husamuddin, Najmuddin, Badruddin, Shamsuddin, Burhanuddin, Jamaluddin, Kamaluddin
In all the systems with 7 or more names the name Haqq is used accordingly the Masters of the paths who teach such invocation to prepare to the stage of Fana’ or extinction within the Divine attribute, to avoid the distractions linked to its Ahwal. This name as the following Hayy helps and supports those that are called to instruct younger in the path and to give them example and it will perfection them in their also exterior aspects, making their corporeal conditions independent from the limitation of the dunya. In some cases from this stage some so called subsidiary names such as Wahab Fattah, Wadud, Latif, with or without the vocative Ya are also taught, sometime on the side or just as substitute of the main Name Hayy, which prepares to overtake the station of fana’ and open the door to the baqa’ or subsistence within the divine presence. Eventually the name Qayyum is introduced which will allow uniting creation and creator in a single contemplation. Qahhar and its subsidiary names such Wahid, Ahad, Samad, Hamid, Jalal are used in the final stage of perfected soul (called Kamila or Safyya).
However all the names beyond the third name Hu are, as already mentioned, more exactly the Divine “answer”, the call back (Call upon Me and I will call upon you), their human invocation is only a support. The human invocation ends after that stage and the permanent invocation by Allah (JWS) and through Him was established. Thus He will be the real dispensator of His Names.
The say of the Masters of the Path reminds “any Sincere invocation is His Secret Name”.
In some turuq the correspondent names in Syriac language of such Angels are used jointly of the invocation of the linked name or in substitution of it, however in rituals not concerning the progress along the spiritual path.
Some of the most common usul in using Asma al Husna in different turuq with their links to lataif, lights and Prophets (as).The so called subsidiary names (Latif, Ahad, Samad, Wadud, etc) traditionally invocated on the side of the names beyond “Hu” in same usul are not considered here, because their use and successions depends on a large number of conditions that cannot be organised within a given scheme. It must be noted that in some branches of Qaderya and Khalwetya the colour linked to “Ruh” is green instead of red, in others usul a different succession is given: blue, red, green, white, yellow, purple and black’ The correspondence between colour and lataif changes in the succession greatly from shaych to shayc even in the very same usul The system with five levels specifically of several Naqshbandi branches does not take into consideration the initial stages of the journey in the physical and imaginative world; if we consider these also such system has seven levels. As detailed in the article below, the main usul are based on invocations of a single name or a names’ triplet or a multiple of three number (generally for a total of 12 names). It must be also kept in mind that the use of Asma al Husna is the more common but not the only modality of invocations used in the spiritual path.