What does the term ‘Irfan’ mean?

What does the term ‘Irfan’ mean?

What does the term ‘Irfan’ mean? 1600 1067 The Office Of His Eminence Sheikh al-Habib


Sheikh Yasser’s definition of ‘Irfan’ has plenty of defections. He states that ‘Aarif’ (knowledgeable) is an individual who identifies who Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them) and their enemies are. This would mean that all fair-minded and objective historians, writers and scholars who were able to know and identify Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them) and their enemies, are all considered ‘Urafaa’ ( plural of ‘Aarif’)! 

“Whoever knew himself, knew his Lord” is a narration. If I apply it in my case, will that lead me to an invalid path?


In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful.
May Allah bless Muhammad and his Family and damn their enemies.

The definition of ‘Irfan’ that the Sheikh views as appropriately Islamic had been derived from a narration recorded in Tafseer Al Ayashi. True Islamic ‘Irfan’ can be identified in the words of our Imam al-Baqir (peace be upon him). The Imam explained the expression while replying to several questions directed at him by Abu Hamza al-Thumali, a known figure considered to be one of our Imams’ (peace be upon them) most loyal companions. 

Al-Ayashi narrated that Abu Hamza said:

Abu Jaffar (peace be upon him) told me: ‘Oh Abu Hamza, whoever knows Allah will worship Allah. As for those who do not know Allah, they will worship other than Allah and as such, become astray.’ So I said: ‘And what is ‘Irfan’ (knowledge) of Allah?’ (In the Arabic text: “What is the ‘Irfan’ of Allah?”) He replied: ‘To believe in Allah Almighty and to believe in His Messenger, Muhammed (peace be upon him and his pure family) and in the Divine Authority and Imamate of Ali (peace be upon him); accepting as his Imam and the Imams of Guidance after him, as well as declaring dissociation to Allah from their enemies. That is the ‘Irfan’ (knowledge) of Allah’. I said: ‘Which matters, that if I have done, I will attain the Truth behind Belief?’ He said: ‘Declare allegiance to the vice-regents of Allah and declare enmity to the enemies of Allah, and as such, you will be with the Truthful Ones as Allah has ordered you to do.’ I said: ‘Who are the vice-regents of Allah? And who are His enemies?’ He said: ‘Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, Ali, Hassan, Hussain, Ali, ibn al-Hussain; then it came down to me.’ Then he pointed with his blessed forefinger to his son Jaffar and said: ‘Whoever accepts them and recognises their Divine Authority has befriended Allah and sided with the Truthful Ones, as Allah commands.’ I said: ‘And who are the enemies of Allah?’ The Imam replied: ‘The Four Idols’. I said: ‘And who are they?’ The Imam said: ‘Abu Bakr, Omar, Uthman, Muawyah and whoever followed the creed, rules and notions of the Islam they created. Whoever makes himself an enemy of those four idols has become an enemy of Allah’s enemies.!
Tafseer al Ayashi, volume 2, page 116.

One must underline the phrase stated by our Imam (peace be upon him), who defined ‘Irfan of Allah’ as belief in Divine Authority and belief in dissociation. In short: the ‘Irfan’ of Allah is to believe in Allah, in His Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him his pure Family), in what he, the Prophet (peace be upon him and his Family), ordered with regards to the Divine Authority and Imamate of Ali (peace be upon him), accepting him as his Imam and accepting the Imams of Guidance after him. Therefore, to complete your ‘Irfan’ of Allah, Imam Al Baqir (peace be upon him) added that declaring dissociation to Allah from their enemies makes one’s ‘Irfan’ intact, and that is the ‘Irfan’ of Allah. That is the truth behind faith, as our Imam Al Baqir (peace be upon him) has declared.

The aforementioned narration is a pure, clear, and wholesome definition of ‘Irfan’. This definition is fixed to or associated with the truthfulness of an individual’s practical appliance of allegiance and dissociation – no more, no less. To be candid, we have become fed up responding to questions related to those deviant and deviating figures and clarifying what they represent.

Therefore, all true scholars and believers who hold a safe and sound doctrine are the true knowledgeable ones, as made clear in the above narration. Sufi or Mysticist paths are false, even if their followers claim they are knowledgeable. The Sheikh stressed on many occasions that the path or course to cleanse oneself could only be achieved through the Qur’an and the narrations of Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them). The Islamic Moral Pathway is available in the commandments of our Imams (peace be upon them all). We do not need copying or following other pathways that belong to other than Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them all), such as Ibn Arabi or Jalal Aldeen Al Rumi.

The present flaws that the Mysticists hold are clear in their belief in the ‘Unity of Existence and Unity of Existents’. As for the narration that states: “Whoever knew himself, knew his Lord”, the Sheikh commented that the repeated recollection of this narration is another evidence of the idiocy of those Mysticists.

This narration has not been recorded in any of our significant narration references. Let us assume that this narration is authentic, significant and substantial – which it is not – still, its aim and morale is beyond the purpose and objective of the Mysticists’ marketing gambits. Its intended aim is that a man should know that he is a helpless and imperfect creature who has a Perfect and Sovereign Creator. It aims to make a man understand that the longer and deeper he perceives his ignorance, weaknesses and imperfections, the more his insight grows to appreciate the Magnificence and Glory of Allah Almighty.

The Human self is a Sign created by Allah Almighty among the numerous Signs He has created.

We will show them Our signs in the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. But is it not sufficient concerning your Lord that He is, over all things, a Witness”?
Surat Fussilat, verse 54

Allah Almighty says,

Our Signs in the horizons and within themselves

i.e. the human being stores within himself signs that lead to Allah and makes him in need of Allah. That is the narration’s intention. The narration does not intend to establish a pathway towards Allah Almighty based on methods of mystical experiences or testimonies. It does not aim to establish a path towards Allah Almighty based on the ultimate attainment or dissolution of one’s spiritual enlightenment into the Essence of Allah Almighty. 

The authentic pathway or course that leads to knowledge of Allah Almighty is the one based on Qur’an and Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them). Nevertheless, a credible application for morality principles will materialise when you sincerely follow Ahl al-Bayt’s narrations (peace be upon them) only – not the path of others – in dealing with morality. 

Clear evidence of the foolishness of those who call themselves ‘Urafaa’ (Mysticists) is the fact that they cannot even comprehend the basics of Arabic. The plural of ‘Arreef’ (meaning sergeant) is ‘Urafaa’, whereas the plural of ‘Aarif’ (knowing) is ‘Aarifoun’. They cannot even deal with basic linguistics. Yet, they take advantage of the ignorance of people by marketing ambiguous and complicated expressions, which make ordinary people, in turn, think that they are indeed knowledgeable scholars.

The Office of Sheikh al-Habib

The Office Of His Eminence Sheikh al-Habib