Islamic Heritage of South Asia

Tanazzulat: (The Descent of Divine) A’lame Amthal (The Realm of Similes)


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

The fourth Tanazzul is Alam e Mithal (The domain of similarities). This is a subtle bridge-world between Ajsam (entities) and Arwah (the Spirits/ the angels). It is also called Alam e Barzaq (the bridge-world), Alam e khayal (the world of imagination), Alam e Dil (the world of the heart). This is the world of the Spirit. It is a treasure of Light. It is similar to a material treasure in that it can be felt and measured. And it is similar to the treasure of sanctified thought in that it is Light itself. In other words, despite it being measurable and similarity to materiality it is similar to the Spirit because it cannot be broken up, grown or captured.

The reason Alam e Mithal is named as such is that this world is similar to Alam e Ajsam and everything in Alam e Ajsam has a similarity to an entity in Alam e Mithal. Everything makes its first appearance in divine knowledge in Alam e Mithal and is then created in Alam e Ajsam.

There are two categories of Alam e Mithal:

  1. The first is the category whose appearance is not conditional upon mental exertion. It is called Khayal e Munfasil (Separated thought), Mithal e Munfasil (Separated similarity), Mithal e Mutlaq (Unconstrained or independent similarity), Khayal e Mutlaq (Unconstrained or independent thought).
  2. The second is the category whose appearance is conditional upon mental exertion. It is called Khayal e Mutassil (connected or dependent thought), Mithal e Mutassil (connected similarity), Mithal e Muqayyad (constrained similarity), Khayal e Muqayyad (constrained thought).

Alam e Mufassil (the connected world) is a world of subtle existence in which the Ajsam (bodies) receive the Arwah (the Spirits) and the Arwah (the Spirits) receive the body. It is in this world that Hazrath Jibreel (as) appeared before the Prophet as an honored person transmitting the divine message. It is in this world that Khizar (as), the blessed Prophets and the Awliyah appear. Izrael (as) also appears before a dying person in this world and the Ruh (Spirit) moves into this domain after death. The interrogations of Munkir and Nakir and the joys and punishment of the grave are also done in this domain. For this reason, this domain is also called “the domain of the grave”. On the Judgement Day these are the Ajsam (entities) who will be resurrected individually. These Ajsam (entities) will be very subtle. It is in this world that the people of Jannat will enjoy the fruits of their good deeds even though the deeds, as the primary source are absent, their realities will be manifest as treasures. For instance, in the Manfasal (separated thoughts) the bad deeds will appear as scorpians, serpents and fire. Some bad deeds like fornication, even though they give pleasures in this world, will appear in their reality as “fire that burns”.

In this world, deeds appear in different forms. For instance, the good deeds will be like rides (like horses) and they carry the doer towards Jannat. On the other hand, the bad deeds will ride on the person. The good deeds will stand at the station of intervention (Maqam w Shifa) and speak up for the doer. The bad deeds will haunt the doer. Similarly, the deviant beliefs will become fire and burn the heart.

The constrained similarity surfaces when the constraining power acts. Example: The appearances that are seen in dreams.

  1. Sometimes these appearances are in accordance with realities that are present. Such appearances do not require an interpretation or explanation because what is seen reflects what happens. These are (Ru’a-e-Sadiqa) truthful sights. Hazrath Aisha (r) said that in the early stages of his Prophethood, Prophet Muhammed witnessed such truthful sights. In other words, whatever dreams he had, they appeared as if the light of the dawn and whatever he saw had no defect or doubt in it and it did not require an interpretation or elaboration. The truthful dreams are called “Ru’ya e Saleha” (the virtuous sights) “Ru’ya e Sadiqa” (truthful sights) and “mubasshirat” (the good sights).
  2. Sometimes the dreams, even though they are consistent with present realities, appear as something different. These require an interpretation. Therefore, the reality of the appearance will be its interpretation. Example: The Prophet (pbuh) saw knowledge as milk and faith as a Hazrath Ibrahim (pbuh) saw himself slaughtering his son Hazrath Ismael whose interpretation was to slaughter a lamb. 

Then, there are the dreams that require interpretation. For instance, Hazrath Yusuf saw in his dream that eleven stars and the sun and the moon were prostrating before him. The interpretation of the eleven stars were his brothers. The sun and the moon were his father and mother. This portion of the dream was explained. But the prostration did not happen physically; it was allegorical because his brothers, father and mother became dependent on him.Sometimes the faces in the dreams are entirely different from reality. There is no similarity either in wakeful hours or in the hidden world, for instance, the dreams of mad people, patients with mental disease and ordinary folks. This is because the angelic world is higher than the corporeal world in its existence and rank and the help that the corporeal world receives has been delegated to the angels. Because of their essential differences, the corporeal bodes and the angels cannot be one because the one (the body) is the entity that carries the rider and the other (the angel) is the rider. Therefore, God has made Alam e Amthal (the world of similarities) as a bridge between Alam e Arwah (the angelic world) and Alam e Ajam (the corporeal world) so that they two can interact.

Similarly, Ruh e Inani (the human spirit) and Jism e Insani (the human body) are different and camaraderie between the two is forbidden. Therefore, Allah created the Nafs e Haywani (the animalistic self) as a bridge between the spirit and the body. The power that comes with the ruh e haywani gets into different parts of the body according to their capabilities and acts as the “rider” on them. In this respect the animalistic self is similar to the spirit in as much as both are spread out over the entire body and both control the actions of the body (although in opposite directions). 

It is not a secret that the bridge in which the Arwah (the spirit or the angels) live in the afterlife in different from the bridge between the spirit and the body in this world. The stations of existence are different in descent and ascent. The station that was before an entity came into this world is one from the Tanzzulat (stations of descent) which is called “Awwaliyet” (what was there in the beginning). The station after death is one from the stations of exit and is called “Akhira” (what comes after or afterlife).

In Barzaq e Akhir (the bridge of afterlife), faces are appended to the Arwah (the spirits) in accordance with the deeds of this world. This is opposed to the faces in Barzaq e Awwal (the bridge before this life). In their similarity they are one (they refer to the same human) but in their manifestation they become a reflection one of the other. Barzaq e Awwal is called “Ghaib e Imkan” (The hidden that is possible to witness) because it is possible to witness it. The other Barzaq is called “Ghaib e Mahal” (the hidden that is not possible) because its witness is forbidden. The first bridge is unveiled on a large number of people; the second on only a few.