The Hierarchy of Hidden Masters.
Dervishes conceive a hierarchy of spiritual beings
residing in a world not perceptible to the senses.
Their center is Mecca,
but they are said to be present at the same time at any other place of the
world and the universe.
Although they are invisible they can be seen
with the 'eye of the heart'. The spiritual condition of the dervishes is
decided by them; they are Spiritual Masters.
At the top of the hidden
hierarchy is the Qutub or Pole. He is attended by three Nujaba.
them are four Autad or Pillars.
Next in rank come seven Anvar or Lights.
The following category of entities are called Abdal or Helpers and number
forty. Though they are considered to reside in a different dimension, they
manifest themselves also in persons here on earth. When any one of them
dies his place is filled by one selected from mankind.
Further we find
seventy Nughaba or Nobles and three hundred Naghabat or chiefs. All of them
have 'the power to bind and to loose'.
Next comes Khidr as the Master
Below him are the Auliya or Saints.
All the beings of these
different categories have the power to appear in any form of their choice.
A description of the saints attributed to the Prophet reads: "Their
faces are luminous and they sit on thrones of light; they are not afraid
when men are afraid, nor do they grieve when men grieve."
wiri writes in his Kashf al-Mahjub (Translation R.A. Nicholson. Luzac &
Co. London 1976.): "Among them (saints) there are four thousand
who are concealed and do not know one another and are not aware of the excellence
of their state, but in all circumstances are hidden from themselves and
Spiritual exercises can develop an inner organ of
perception called the qalb or 'heart'. Divine light enters a person through
the qalb. The qalb is the first of the lataif.
Literally latifa (Arab.
sing. of lataif) means delicate, subtle, penetrating. In Sufism the
lataif are organs of higher perception and subtle energy. They are not located
physically in the body. Their activation leads to higher psycho-physical
stages. Naqshbandis consider five lataif. Other orders consider six or only
It was in the Prophet's 'heart' that Jibrail placed the Qoran
on the Night of Power in a cave on Mount Hira in 610 A.D. When Jibrail first
opened Muhammad's 'heart', Muhammad felt as if he were suffocating, as if
he were about to die.
Development of the qalb should lead to a state
of perpetual awareness, even while asleep or dreaming. A hadith relates
that the Prophet once told the Companions: "My eyes sleep, but not
my 'heart'. Sleep is confined to my eyes. It does not affect the consciousness
of my 'heart'." Zikr exercises not leading to a transfusion of subtle
energy of the practitioner's being are quite ineffectual.
a collection of zikrs the disciple can practice rabita or the visualization
of a mental picture of his teacher.
Development of the 'heart' and further
transformation of one's self can be achieved through muraqaba or concentration
of the disciple on the Presence of a saint in order to benefit from his
vibrations. When the saint has left his physical body muraqaba can be practiced
an his grave.
Tawajjuh happens when a saint with his psychic powers actively
assists a disciple to realize a higher stage.