Assalaamualaykum ya Sayyidi,
Could you please explain to me the stages of a seeker (salik) will pass through? Forgive me if this is not proper to be asked. Because I feel that from time to time, there are always a different spiritual condition in me each time.
I don’t have knowledge, I am a weak person & have nothing. Please guide me ya Sayyidi for I am just doing five prayers, dhikr, reading Qur’an, and some of Sunnah prayers. Then many event happened that turn me into different spiritual condition from time to time.
I am asking this because in a few past days I feel so hard to do five prayers & other obligations. I am really stressed with this condition.
wa `alaykum salam,
We recommend you read Shaykh Hisham Kabbani’s book, The Nine -Fold Ascent, which contains a detailed description of the states and stations of the salik (spiritual traveler).
You may also take benefit from this discourse by al-Sayyid Nurjan Mirahmadi (excerpted here):
The 5 Senses and the Journey Towards Union with the Beloved (s)
If we look at the way the five senses are assigned to the five spiritual stations of the Heart, we notice a clear movement: the senses describe 5 increasing levels of interaction between the spiritual student and the object of his desire, which is the Light of Prophet Muhammad (s).
First Level: Hearing the Call to Islam and Believing in the Unseen
At the very first level (the first station called Qalb), the seeker does not know about the spiritual reality of the Light of Prophet (s). In this state of ignorance, the only way the seeker can know about the existence of a Higher Reality is through listening to the call to Islam. Therefore, the notion of Sound plays a particular important role at the first stage of spiritual development. At that stage, the seeker does not see the Higher Reality that is calling him, but he hears about the beautiful description of this Higher Reality. This description of the Beautiful Names and Attributes of the Higher Reality brings faith to the seeker who starts believing in what he does not see yet. The first step in religion is indeed to acquire belief in the Unseen.
Second Level: Seeing the Reality after having destroyed the Veil of the Ego
After the seeker has heard about existence of the Higher Reality, he sets on a journey to eliminate the bad characteristics of the ego in order to lift the veil of the ego that stands between him and the Divine Reality. Through the spiritual training of his Shaykh, he is able to “kill” all his bad traits until the wall of his ego crumbles down. At that moment, the seeker can now see the Higher Reality he was believing in. The seeker’s belief in the Message he was hearing (symbolically through the call to Islam and spiritually through the information his Shaykh sends him) made him reach the second level of the five stations of the Heart, where he is granted spiritual vision. At that stage, the seeker is now a step closer to the Higher Reality because he now has the ability to see and to hear. The next natural step for the seeker is to move closer to the Reality standing in front of him up to the level where he can touch the Reality.
Third Level: Touching the Reality
Through the spiritual power of his Shaykh, the seeker reaches the third level where he is brought close to the Higher Reality of Nur Muhammad (s), up to the point where he is able to physically interact with the Reality. At that stage, the seeker is reborn as a new baby, free from the bad characteristics of the ego, and pure as a crystal. This purity is the condition to physically interact with the Prophetic Light (s) because this Light can only be touched by a clean and pure heart.
Fourth Level: Smelling the Perfume of the Divine Presence
After the seeker has reaching the level of physical interaction with the Light, his Shaykh brings him even closer to the Light so that he may smell the Perfume of the Light. Perfumes are signs of the Presence of a higher reality, therefore the seeker who is elevated to the stage of Smell is automatically transported in the Presence of the Light of Prophet (s).
Fifth Level: Tasting the Reality
The last step on the way to spiritual realization is union with the Light of Prophet (s). Through the spiritual power of the Shaykh, the seeker moves from smelling the Presence of the Light to disappearing in the Spirituality of Nur Muhammad (s). At that stage, the seeker does not need any external sensitive sign to interact with the Object of his desire. Hearing, Sight, Touch and Smell are indeed all external cognitive signs of perception while Taste is directly related to the inner soul of an individual. The sense of Taste is the only sense that requires you to be one with a reality in order to interact with it.