Islamic Heritage of South Asia



Author: Shaikh Shah Syed Ismail Qadiri al Multani

Transmitter: Shaikh Badashah Qadiri

Compiled by: Prof. Mevlana Syed Ataulla Hussaini

Translated and condensed from Urdu by Prof. Dr. Nazeer Ahmed

Tanazzulat e Sitta – The Six Descents of Divine Grace  (An explanation for Mehfil e A’shiqan – a gathering of lovers of divine presence)


How does God interact with His creation? This question has occupied theologians, philosophers and scientists since times immemorial. For instance, the Nobel Laureate Sherrington wrote in his book Mind and Matter: “Mind, for anything perception can compass, goes therefore in our spatial world more ghostly than a ghost. Invisible, intangible, it is a thing not even of outline; it is not a “thing”. It remains without sensual confirmation and remains without it forever”. (Man and His Nature, Sir Charles Sherrington, Cambridge University Press, 1940, page 357). It is a profound question and it requires a deep understanding to theology, philosophy, physics, history and culture. The Sufis have an answer to this question that is at once aesthetically satisfying and rationally acceptable.

We have presented a summary table that captures the essence of Sufi cosmology. It is translated from Urdu and summarized here from the book Noor ul Haqeeqat (The Light of the Truth) by Shaikh Shah Syed Ismail Qadiri al Multani (May God be pleased with him). Those with a taste of Sufism will savor this piece that connects the human to the Grace of God and explains its descent.

Tasawwuf (Sufism) is the spiritual dimension of Islam. It is a deep ocean, suffused with love. We have included a category of Tasawwuf in our Encyclopedia because we believe that to understand Islamic history we must understand the spirituality tht pervades it.

KNOW THAT in the beginning there was Divine Existence (Wajud). It was timeless, spaceless, without constraints or definitions. It was the Dhat or Essence of Allah.

The Dhat or Essence of Allah is the innermost hidden treasure of all, known only to Himelf.  Language cannot describe it. Thought cannot comprehend it. Definitions cannot circumscribe it because there is nothing like unto Him (Wa lam yakun lahu kufuwan Ahad).

The stations though which Existence descends from the station of spacelessness (La Makan) to the majestic and beautiful cosmos are called Tanazzulat. It is a descriptive process used by the Sufi Shaikhs to teach and to lead the student towards the love, beauty and majesty of the Creator.

There are six stations of Tanazzulat in Sufi discourse: Wahed, Wahediyet, Arwah, Amthal, Ajsam and Insan. The first four stations are spaceless, timeless. The last two stations are of the physical, created world. (Please note that Ahad is not a station of Tanazzulat. It is the station of Dhat or Essence. It exists, in, of, by itself. There is no comparison with the station of Ahad)

Tanazzul is a specific term used in Tasawwuf (Sufism). In its usage it differs from its grammatical meaning. In a dictionary, Tanazzul means leaving a higher station and coming down to a lower station. For instance, an officer is transferred from one level to another, thereby the first office is made vacant and the second office is filled. But this is not the meaning for the blessed Sufis. They say that Wajud (existence) remains as is. In Arabic we say, Al Aan Kama Kaan (It is as it was ). This sentence connotes something different from what we see and what we imagine. When we say that all the Tanazzulat have descended into what can be witnessed, it means that the Tanazzulat are conceptual, not real.  The Wajud is as it was. It is there, at once, at all stations.

The Tanazzulat are sometimes referred to as Ta’yunat (fixities), Tajalliyat (manifestations), Taqayyudat (descriptive containments) and E’tebarat (trusted notions).