What does Sufism have to say on the concept of total annihilation of the self as is recognized in other traditions?
As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatuLlahi t’ala wa barakatu. This is a big question that believers have struggled with since the beginning. It is generally accepted in classical Islam (and in classical Sufism as well), that there is a boundary between the Lord and the servant. It has happened from time to time, that some persons experienced a state of ecstasy, in which they spoke of union with the Divine. When the experience passed, it was described as “unity of witnessing”, in which the servant was made to contemplate Heavenly realms, then returned to his ordinary state. Allah ta’ala knows best, wa RasouluLlah sallaLlahu alayhi wa salaam.
This subject is an ocean fraught with danger. Only the greatest of the awliya are competent to speak on it really, and mostly they keep quiet or speak allusively for fear people will not be able to understand. It is far beyond my level to say more than this. May Allah ta’ala grant us a good understanding, wa SallaLlahu ala Nabiyy. Again salaam.
Shaykh Abdul-Haqq Sazonoff