- Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
What is Ma‘arifah?
What is ma‘arifah?
Literally, ma‘arifah means realization. In religious terms, ma‘arifah means man’s realization of God, his Creator. He awakens in him the profound consciousness of the reality of the creature and the Creator and of the servant and the Lord. Ma‘arifah is another name for conscious discovery. There is nothing mysterious about it. Ma‘arifah of God means that man discovers God by deep pondering upon and contemplation of His signs rather than by rumination upon His being. (Al-Mufradat fi Gharib al-Quran, alRaghib al-Isfahani, p. 331) This shows that ma‘arifah relates not to knowledge alone but to reflection and deep thinking, yet, knowledge enables the individual to engage in deeper contemplation. When he focuses on ma‘arifah, he engages himself zealously and in the cognitive process of finding the Creator, in His Creation. As a result of this deep personal striving he develops the personality of the realized soul.
One who has achieved this kind of ma‘arifah becomes an extremely serious person. He looks at everything with deeper insight. He starts introspecting intensely in his worship, and behaviour, and in all his dealings. All these things begin to reflect this state of ma‘arifah that he has achieved. He is able to converse with the angels. He is interested only in those things which elevate his thinking on ma‘arifah. He now lives in the rarified environment of ma‘arifah.