Continuing his explanation of various fundamental principles of Sufism, Hazrat Inayat Khan now begins to unfold the theme of Nur (light) Zahur (appearance) or the manifestation of the Divine Being, making clear what is understood by ‘the Spirit of Guidance.’ The previous post in the series is here.
To the view of a Sufi this universe is nothing but a manifestation of the divine Being, and this divine manifestation is called in Sufi terms Nur-Zahur. The supreme God, from His existence as the single and only Being, has, so to speak, journeyed as far as He could towards the surface. Through His activity and His will behind it, He has manifested on the surface; from the heavens He has descended upon earth. From the most unconscious state of existence, blind, unaware of His being, as is the rock, He has gradually awakened to consciousness of the surroundings on the surface. Also in the Quran, one finds the idea that the world was created out of darkness. The gradual progress of the journey brings the Inner Being to the condition of a plant, flower and fruit, then to the state of worm, germ, and animal, until He manifests as man, Ashraf al-Makhluqat, the ruler of this universe and the controller of the heavens. In man He reaches the final goal of His destiny, when He realizes Himself as the whole being, which He has not done hitherto. God has made man in His image, as is said in the Bible.
Hazrat Ali says, ‘The secret of God can be studied in His nature.’ Every traveler on foot as a rule lights his torch at the approach of night. So also this heavenly traveler. Seeing darkness overwhelming Him in the lower spheres on His path, He lights a torch. It is the light of this torch which is called in the Quran Nur-i Muhammadi, that has guided Him to the surface, whence He could clearly discern and find His path back. To the knower’s eye, this Nur, this light, is the real Muhammad. This light it is which has beamed forth through all the Masters of humanity and is known as the Light of Guidance.
It is the nature of every luminous object to shed light all around, and yet a particular beam of light coming forth from it gives more illumination than light spread all around. This may be seen in the light of the sun. The souls which happen to be in the zone of the beam of the Light of Guidance, whether by intention or accident, have been known to the world as the chosen ones of God. They saw God sooner, they heard Him more quickly than others, and they have been nearer to Him than others. They may be called the elect of God as it is said in the Song to the Soul of the Saint:
Before the righteous soul,
Servant of God, even the angels bend;
His lotus feet the long-desired goal
Where weary pilgrims find their journey’s end
In pardon for their sin.
Thus, as the saint God comes, and man is healed,
And fortunate that happy one, within
Whose heart the mystic vision is revealed.
All souls since the creation of man who have been in this light have been Masters, coming one after the other connected by the link of the one current which first springs from the innermost being and broadens and expands in this universe.
The saints, sages, and mystics, who fare forth from the highest spheres, are attracted by this light, and they seek refuge in it from life’s dark clouds. The invisible ones, who floated in this light even before man was created, are the angels.
To be continued…