aSHARIATU aKWALI : What I do is Shariat,
aTTATARIKAT AFWANI: what I have done is Tarikat,
aL hAKIKTU aH wALI: what I have thought is Hakikat:
aL mA’AREFATU iRFANI: and that which is most secret between me and my mAKER - is mA'AREFOT".
The nearest English translation of the word mA’AREFOT is ‘gnosis’ and for centuries scholars and theocrats have debated whether or not such a blissful yet powerful mental state exist. Our rich and diverse rural heritage has repeatedly served us with many of its reminders as also notable examples as evidence of its existence, and has traditionally greatly influenced the lives of our populace.
Contrary to popular misconception mA’AREFOT is neither attainment nor enlightenment ~~ if anything it is a state of supreme achievement. It dates back to the Islamic renaissance period of intellectual endeavor, in the traditions of “Ijtehad” (even earlier we have Socrates and ~~ ‘know thyself’) to seek solutions of day to day matters. It is a state of constant efforts whether they be physical, mental and/or spiritual as well as the ordinary to ‘acquire’ ‘Ilm’ or perfect knowledge. The word ‘Ilm’ is again derived from the first three words of the Qu’ran: Aleef, Laam and Meem.
The intrinsically high standards of mA’AREFOT can only be reached by exercise of two diversely complex human virtues: Knowledge and Patience. Knowledge: to understand and appreciate the vastness of mAN’s mission on earth, Patience: to appreciate that we are part of a larger, much subtler ‘galactic calculation’ ~~ which is beyond the 24/7 ~~365 days calendar that we are accustomed to.
‘Ilm’ is about moving forward to reach the standards of mA’AREFOT without upsetting the critical balance of time and space.
mA’AREFOT is not about borrowing your watch to tell you YOUR time!
This is acquiring knowledge that is neither esoteric nor ‘spiritual’ ~~ rather knowledge that can only be understood, appreciated and achieved in context of rationales, logic, debate, understanding ~~ and sometimes when ‘greater realisation’ strikes ~~ in an overpowering trance like state ~~ sILENCE.
mA’AREFOT rejects all that is ‘supernatural’ ~~ neither does it accept or tolerate superstition/s. Secrets of life and living that have been left behind by our Prophets, Poets and Philosophers have remained deeply ingrained and embedded in our heritage that continues to inspire and influence who we are ~~ a Bengali nation ~~ in this new millennium.
In the ultimate analysis Rumi explains the virtue of knowledge and patience as under:
“Know that this troublesome body is like a coat of armor, comfortable neither in winter or summer, Yet still this ‘bad associate’ is good for you, because of the patience you must show to overcome its desires, for the exercise of patience expands the heart with spiritual peace. The patience shown by the moon to the dark night keeps it illumined: the patience shown by the rose to the thorn keeps it fragrant”2. mA’AREFOT simplified:
ILM being knowledge in the Islamic tradition, there are broadly 2 schools of thoughts, the first is “Ilm e Shariat”, which means knowledge that reveals external manifestation (tangible proof) of internal, private social doctrines, laws etc, and the second “Ilm e Tasawwuf” commonly referred to as ‘Sufism’.
The 4 stages can be explained as under:
- Shariat: The foundation of an under construction building is Shariat, because it exemplifies years of common, internal laws, practices, understanding and experience being rigidly applied in its preparation.
- Tarikat: The assembly of individuals with special skills for execution of work. Also referred to as Tauheed, and inspiration is drawn from Sura Minhaaz in the Qu’ran where aLLAH states: “I have sent you a doctrine of life, and a special indication”.
- Hakikat: The appreciation and acceptance of reality ~~ not necessarily the TRUTH. Ideally when declaration of intent on the construction of building commences, the conditions of Hakikat are fulfilled. Publicity materials, Sign boards, ongoing work at any construction site ~~ is Hakikat.
- mA’AREFOT: Appreciation of that which is yet to be revealed.
The final outcome of an under construction building may be one thing for an architect, another for the designer or even the house owner ~~ yet may be totally different from ‘dreams’ of the passers by. Being able to visualise a structure, a form, when in reality it has not materialised ~~ and then debating it passionately is the simplest example of the state of mA’AREFOT.
All buildings are built bottom up ~~ and for ions there has been no exception to that rule ~~ yet mAN has the capacity to improvise. Evolving ideas of constructing buildings 'top-down' from the ‘sky to the ground’ ~~ is appreciation of an even higher state of mA’AREFOT.