Ma’rifa (Unlearnt Knowledge): العارف, عرف, المعرفة

Ma’rifa

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Azizam (My Dearest)

What this Rahi (Author) writes below is not Ma’rifa, it is the knowledge or description of Ma’rifa, something totally different, all that which constitutes Ma’rifa is inside you, it needs no explanation, from before you were born and after you expire, you need no one to unearth your Mar’rifa.

‘Arf

عرف

Fragrance, perfume, aroma, the original meaning. ‘Its ‘Arf hit me’ means I smelled its scent. Used both for pleasing or foul scents.

47:6. And will admit them to the Garden where her (Garden’s) aroma perfumed them
وَيُدْخِلُهُمُ الْجَنَّةَ عَرَّفَهَا لَهُمْ

Garden’s aroma perfumed them: They were made to yearn for this Garden as if a great aroma hit them which caused them to seek the source of the great perfume!

مفردات ألفاظ القرآن. – للأصفهاني
كتاب العين

وأصله من: عرفت. أي: أصبت عرفه. أي: رائحته، أو من أصبت عرفه.
وعرفه: جعل له عرفا. أي: ريحا طيبا. قال في الجنة: {عرفها لهم} <محمد/6>، أي: طيبها زينها

Ishara 1 (Pointing)

Imagine the first time you smelled a rose. Years passed by and again you are brought a rose, you smell it again and the aroma immediately triggers the memory of the first sniffing of that particular rose’s fragrance from years back! While you could not explain anything of the rose’s odor, beyond the reach of words, however you could remember it by means of your thoughts and memories, as a form of knowledge by the instrumentation of the olfactory nerves in your nose and the neuronal processes of your brain (i.e. processes):

Isfahani
Mufradat
Ma’rifa, ‘Irfan

To grasp something by instrumentation of thinking and musing its effects and traces (intellection processes), it is a particularized form of ‘Ilm (Knowledge). You could talk about your ‘Arf/Ma’refa for Allah i.e. knowing of Allah by observing ITs doings and reminiscence of ITs behavior and existence. You could not say you know Allah since IT is unreachable, ‘know’ as in Ilm (Knowledge), instead you ‘know of’ Allah by the traces of ITs handcraft.

Remark 1: For English language we use the term to Know-of something vs. to know something, to particularize this form of knowing as in the language Arab applicable to the word Ma’rifa or ‘Irfan or ‘Urf. We know of what Allah does or builds or manages, we know of Allah’s way of conducting affairs, but we cannot possibly know or cognize anything of Allah’s actual being (Dhat).

Remark 2: Getting to know something or someone, or getting acquainted with something or someone as opposed to know.

Remark 3: Seeing the magnificence of the Divine Engineering around you on this planet in this cosmos, is like unto the second smelling of the rose above, you suffer from the amnesia of the bio-psychological birth, and yet observing this world triggers memories of infinite-past tryst with Allah prior to your descend to this earth. That form of knowledge and memory is Ma’rifa.

مفردات ألفاظ القرآن. – للأصفهاني
كتاب العين

عرف
-المعرفة والعرفان: إدراك الشيء بتفكر وتدبر لأثره، وهو أخص من العلم، ويضاده الإنكار، ويقال: فلان يعرف الله ولا يقال: يعلم الله متعديا إلى مفعول واحد، لما كان معرفة البشر لله هي بتدبر آثاره دون إدراك ذاته، ويقال: الله يعلم كذا، ولا يقال: يعرف كذا، لما كانت المعرفة تستعمل في العلم القاصر المتوصل به بتفكر، وأصله من: عرفت. أي: أصبت عرفه. أي: رائحته، أو من أصبت عرفه. أي: خده، يقال عرفت كذا. قال تعالى: {فلما جاءهم ما عرفوا} <البقرة/89>، {فعرفهم وهم له منكرون} <يوسف/58>، {فلعرفتهم بسيماهم} <محمد/30>، {يعرفونه كما يعرفون أبناءهم} <البقرة/146>.
ويضاد المعرفة الإنكار، والعلم الجهل. قال: {يعرفون نعمة الله ثم ينكرونها} <النحل/83>، والعارف في تعارف قوم: هو المختص بمعرفة الله، ومعرفة ملكوته، وحسن معاملته تعالى، يقال: عرفه كذا. قال تعالى: {عرف بعضه وأعرض عن بعض} <التحريم/3>، وتعارفوا: عرف بعضهم بعضا. قال: {لتعارفوا} <الحجرات/13>، وقال: {يتعارفون بينهم} <يونس/45>، وعرفه: جعل له عرفا. أي: ريحا طيبا. قال في الجنة: {عرفها لهم} <محمد/6>، أي: طيبها زينها (انظر وضح البرهان بتحقيقنا 2/235) لهم، وقيل: عرفها لهم بأن وصفها لهم، وشوقهم إليها وهداهم.
وقوله: {فإذا أفضتم من عرفات} <البقرة/198>، فاسم لبقعة مخصوصة، وقيل: سميت بذلك لوقوع المعرفة فيها بين آدم وحواء (وهذا قول الضحاك: انظر: شفاء الغرام بأخبار البلد الحرام 1/306)، وقيل: بل لتعرف العباد إلى الله تعالى بالعبادات والأدعية. والمعروف: اسم لكل فعل يعرف بالعقل أو الشرع حسنه، والمنكر: ما ينكر بهما. قال: {يأمرون بالمعروف وينهون عن المنكر} <آل عمران/104>، وقال تعالى: {وأمر بالمعروف وانه عن المنكر} <القمان/17>، {وقلن قولا معروفا} <الأحزاب/32>، ولهذا قيل للاقتصاد في الجود: معروف؛ لما كان ذلك مستحسنا في العقول وبالشرع. نحو: {ومن كان فقيرا فليأكل بالمعروف} <النساء/6>، {إلا من أمر بصدقة أو معروف} <النساء/114>، {وللمطلقات متاع بالمعروف} <البقرة/241>، أي: بالاقتصاد والإحسان، وقوله: {فأمسكوهن بمعروف أو فارقوهن بمعروف} <الطلاق/2>، وقوله: {قول معروف ومغفرة خير من صدقة} <البقرة/263>، أي: رد بالجميل ودعاء خير من صدقة كذلك، والعرف: المعروف من الإحسان، وقال: {وأمر بالعرف} <الأعراف/199>. وعرف الفرس والديك معروف، وجاء القطا عرفا. أي: متتابعة. قال تعالى: {والمرسلات عرفا} <المرسلات/1>، والعراف كاكاهن إلا أن العراف يختص بمن يخبر بالأحوال المستقبلة، والكاهن بمن يخبر بالأحوال الماضية، والعريف بمن يعرف الناس ويعرفهم، قال الشاعر:
316 – بعثوا إلي عريفهم يتوسم
(هذا عجز بيت، وشطره:
أو كلما وردت عكاظ قبيلة
والبيت لطريف بن تميم العنبري، وهو في اللسان (عرف) ؛ وكتاب سيبويه 2/378؛ وشرح الأبيات لابن السيرافي 2/389)
وقد عرف فلان عرافة: إذا صار مختصا بذلك، فالعريف: السيد المعروف قال الشاعر:
317 – بل كل قوم وإن عزوا وإن كثروا * عريفهم بأثافي الشر مرجوم
(البيت لعلقمة بن عبدة، وهو في ديوانه ص 64؛ والمفضليات ص 401؛ واللسان (عرف) )
ويوم عرفة يوم الوقوف بها، وقوله: {وعلى الأعراف رجال} <الأعراف/ 46>، فإنه سور بين الجنة والنار، والاعتراف: الإقرار، وأصله: إظهار معرفة الذنب، وذلك ضد الجحود. قال تعالى: {فاعترفوا بذنبهم} <الملك/11>، {فاعترفنا بذنوبنا} <غافر/11>

Ma’rifa Hali: State of Ma’rifa

There are two categories of Ma’rifa

1. Cognitive (‘Ilmi): As mentioned above intellection processes cause the person to remember or cognize some form of knowledge, it has an opposite i.e. ignorance
علمي

2. Situational (Hāli): The person finds himself or herself ‘situated’ in a ‘state’ wherein there is knowledge found, this knowledge was there at all times (i.e. no opposite of ignorance), and will be there for all times
حالي

Ishara 2 (Pointing) : Situational Ma’rifa

A person opens a cell from his or her body and within the cell finds chromosomes and within chromosomes finds genes, and within genes finds nucleotides and these compose some sort of alphabet, discrete units of ancient memory, sequenced in large chains, for example SCNN1A:

CCGGCCAGCGGGCGGGCTCCCCAGCCAGGCCGCTGCACCTGT … TGGAGCAAGTAGGCAGGAGCTCAATAAATGTTTGTTGCATGAA

As we know this is a language forming knowledge about the operations and structure of our bodies and our minds and also is a form of memory passed on from parents to their children.

This example ‘points’ at the  Situational Ma’rifa, a knowledge within us, born with it, and die with it, even if our bodies and minds destroyed, this Ma’rifa would go on living and could be stored in other life forms or machines. And yet we did not learn this knowledge, we do not even know where it came from, but it is therein, it is terrifically ancient, and we find it ubiquitously every which way inside.

There was no time, will be no time this knowledge was not there or will not be there, therefore it has no counterpart of ‘ignorance’.

And all the while this Situational Ma’rifa is hugely particularized per person, no two have exactly the same.

Therefore in the language of Sufis you might say: the genes inside every cell of your body point at the Ma’rifa within you! Unlearnt knowledge with no opposite of ignorance.

Ma’rifa: The Purpose for Being, Creation

51:56. And We did not create the Jinns and the humans except to serve Us (‘Ibada)

وما خلقت الجن والإنس إلا ليعبدون

It is clear that Allah does not need creatures to do something for IT or serve IT, for any purpose for any cause. So the verse does need thinking:

Qushairi Treatise

Ibn Abbas said: (except to serve Us) means ‘except to get to know Us’

Dara: No matter what they do or what is done to them (extant beings), reveals the Ma’rifa for Allah. Their birth reveals the Ma’rifa for Allah, their bodies and minds reveal Ma’rifa for Allah, their aging and death reveals Ma’eifa for Allah, they have no choice but carrying this Ma’rifa within them, extant or extinct the Ma’rifa is unaltered.

الرسالة القشيرية
سمعت أبا حاتم الصوفي، يقول: سمعت أبا نصر الطوسي يقول: سئل رُويم عن أول فرض افترضه الله عزَّ وجلَّ على خلقه ما هو? فقال: المعرفة؛ لقوله جلَّ ذكره: “وما خلقت الجن والإنس إلا ليعبدون“. قال ابن عباس: إلا ليعرفون.



Qushairi Treatise

Allah said;

22:74. And they did not give Allah due measure, as IT deserves
وما قدروا الله حق قدره

Some said in Tafsir (Exegesis): They did not get to know Allah, as IT deserves to be known.

الرسالة القشيرية
باب المعرفة بالله
قال الله تعالى:”وما قدروا الله حق قدره” .جاء في التفسير: وما عرفوا الله حق معرفته.

Tusi’s Elucidation of Gradations of Ma’rifa

To know the Divine has many gradations. As a metaphor, to know of the fire by hearing from others that it destroys and reduces to nothing any object coming close to it. If something is removed away from its proximity, object remains as its original nature and such destructive entity is called fire! This gradation of knowing in regards to Allah, gives the knower the title of Muqallad or the imitator. This is the person who has listened to knowledgeable folk and accepted their sayings as truth.

The next level is that of a person that has been exposed to smoke, however has not seen the fire. They conclude from the smoke, as an item of evidence that there is a source that from it emanates the smoke and the smoke is just a byproduct, the real entity is that unseen fire. These are the theoretical people who understand Allah only by means of rational thinking.

The next level is that of a person who is exposed to the warmth of the fire, but did not see the fire. They feel the presence of fire by feeling its heat. In regards to Allah these are the Mu’min (Believer). They feel the presence of a Creator, but only from the other side of a veil.

The higher levels are those who could use the properties of this fire and provide beneficial services e.g. cooking and melting and so on. They find a special form of pleasure by being able to use this fire and make useful things. Still these are the folk who deal with the knowledge linked to the fire and use that knowledge for some good purposes.

Above this level of knowing is that of seeing: the person uses the light from fire to see all things! These folk are called ‘Arif (The knower of Unlearnt Knowledge).

The levels continue upwards however the highest level is: ‘Arif burnt in fire and is no longer! Evanesced.
Source: ‘Ausaf Al-Ashraf   by Naseriddin Tusi

Qushairi Treatise

‘Arif consumed by the sea of Tahqiq (Actualizations). Ma’rifa comprised of waves drowning: rise and surround (and hence drown the ‘Arif). (By Ali Daqqaq)

الرسالة القشيرية
سمعت الأستاذ أبا علي الدقاق يقول: العارف مستهلك في بحار التحقيق؛ كما قال قائلهم: المعرفة أمواج تغطّ. ترفع وتحط.


Remark
: Tahqiq (Actualizations) when the realities of things are made patent for seeing.

Kashaf Al-Mahjub
Hujwiri

The difference between the ‘Alim (Scholar) and ‘Arif (The knower of Unlearnt Knowledge)

The ‘Alim (Scholar) subsists upon his own Nafs (Self) while ‘Arif subsists exclusively upon Allah.

Dara: Scholar relies on his attendance in schools and his reading and memorizing books and in general his personal effort. Not that ‘Arif does not read books or does not go to school and does not attempt to learn, but he or she exclusively relies on Allah to be taught:
2:282. And safeguard against Allah’s (wrath), and Allah teaches you

وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ‌ۖ وَيُعَلِّمُڪُمُ ٱللَّهُ‌ۗ

© 2015-2002,  Dara O Shayda

2 thoughts on “Ma’rifa (Unlearnt Knowledge): العارف, عرف, المعرفة”

  1. Salaam to everyone

    The contemporary Muslims rarely hear the word Ma’rifa or ‘Urf or ‘Arif and mistakenly use the word ‘Ilm in regards to their knowing Allah which is an invalid concept.

    Almost never heard this word Ma’rifa during my travels from the Arab.

    People seeking the Ma’rifa inside them will not be the middle class under the control of the wealthy and corrupt governors.

    Also once they feel their Ma’rifa within will not succumb to foreign suggestions to kill their brethren and neighbors.

    And if ‘Ilm is to mean to obey an old man paid by the wealthy and governors, then Ma’rifa is a thing of the past and invalid concept for the religion of barbers and grocers.

    D

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