History of Gnosticism, Part III

Published on September 7th, 2009 — 12:00am

And the Unbelievers said to their Messengers: “Be sure we shall drive you out of our land, or ye shall return to our religion.” [50]


In view of the above, all Prophets too taught their peoples Gnosticism. There were records that there were Gnostics circumbulating the Kaabah during the pre Islamic period.[51] When the Gnostics knew Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] was in Medina more then three hundred of them came down from the mountains and valleys to embrace Islam at the hands of the Prophet. [52] They were later placed by the Prophet at his Mosque and they were called “Ahli Sufah”. [53]


Many asked for nothing less than miracles before they would accept the teaching of their Prophets. Hence many Prophets had to resort to miracles to bring their people to faith. As for Prophet Muhammad [pbuh], his greatest miracle is the Quran.


They say: “We shall not believe in thee, until thou cause a spring to gush forth for us from the earth, or (until) thou have a garden of date trees and vines, and cause rivers to gush forth in their midst, carrying abundant water, Or thou cause the sky to fall in pieces, as thou sayest (will happen), against us, or thou bring Allah and the angels before (us) face to face; Or thou have a house adorned with gold, or thou mount a ladder right into the skies. No, we shall not even believe in thy mounting until thou send down to us a book that we can read.” Say: “Glory to my Lord! am I aught but a man, a Messenger?”[54]


“And O my people! this she-camel of Allah is a symbol to you: leave her to feed on Allah’s (free) earth, and inflict no harm on her, or a swift Penalty will seize you!” [55]


So they threw their ropes and their rods, and said: “By the might of Fir’aun, it is we who will certainly win!” Then Musa threw his rod, when, behold, it straightway swallows up all the falsehoods which they fake! Then did the sorcerers fall down, prostrate in adoration, Saying: “We believe in the Lord of the Worlds. The Lord of Musa and Harun.” [56]


She was asked to enter the lofty Palace: but when she saw it, she thought it was a lake of water, and she (tucked up her skirts), uncovering her legs. He said: “This is but a palace paved smooth with slabs of glass.” She said: “O my Lord! I have indeed wronged my soul: I do (now) submit (in Islam), with Sulaiman, to the Lord of the Worlds.” [57]


“And (appoint Jesus) a Messenger to the Children of Israel, (with this message): “I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s leave: and I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by Allah’s leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe. [58]


We have, without doubt, sent down the Message (Quran); and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption). [59]


The word of thy Lord doth find its fulfilment in truth and in justice: none can change His Words for He is the One Who heareth and knoweth all. [60]


Many rejected the calling of their prophets because they could not accept that there is only one God as they worshipped countless of gods. Some rejected the calling because of their status, wealth and mindsets. Some asked for proofs such miracles before they could accept the calling of their prophets. Hence, Moses, Jesus, Salleh and others had to resort to miracles to persuade their peoples to accept their callings.  Some others dared their prophets to bring down calamities on them for their rejection of the callings. Thus prophets such Noah, Hood, Lot, Moses, Salleh and Syuaib had to ask Allah to bring down calamities on their own people. Allah however will not destroy the peoples of Muhammad.


Has he made the gods (all) into one God? Truly this is a wonderful thing!” [61]


To those who worship other things than Allah, hard is the (way) to which thou callest them. [62]


So We delivered him (Noah), and those with him, in the Ark filled (with all creatures). Thereafter We drowned those who remained behind. Verily in this is a Sign: but most of them do not believe. [63]


“Everything will it destroy by the command of its Lord!” then by the morning they, nothing was to be seen but (the ruins of) their houses! thus do We recompense those given to sin! [64]


Then they ham-strung the she-camel, and insolently defied the order of their Lord, saying: “O Salih! bring about thy threats, if thou art a Messenger (of Allah)!” So the earthquake took them unawares, and they lay prostrate in their homes in the morning! [65]


But We saved him and his family, except his wife: she was of those who lagged behind. And We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): then see what was the end of those who indulged in sin and crime! [66]


When Our decree issued, We saved Shu’aib and those who believed with him, by (special) Mercy from Ourselves: but the (mighty) Blast did seize the wrong-doers, and they lay prostrate in their homes by the morning. As if they had never dwelt and flourished there! Ah! Behold! How the Madyan were removed (from sight) as were removed the Thamud! [67]


We sent thee (Muhammad) not, but as a mercy for all creatures. [68]


But Allah was not going to send them a Penalty whilst thou wast amongst them; nor was He going to send it whilst they could ask for pardon. [69]


Many resorted to altering the Books of Allah such as the Torah, Book of David and the Bible. Jesus said to the effect that because of the corruption of the Torah God gave a Book to David. He added that God would not send the Bible to him if there were no corruption of the Book of David because there was only one message in all the Books and that was, there is only one God and that we are to worship Him.


Can ye (O ye men of Faith) entertain the hope that they will believe in you? Seeing that a party of them heard the Word of Allah, and perverted it knowingly after they understood it. [70]

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) too like the previous prophets suffered at the hands of his people.[71] Now Islam is an established religion and has a following of more than 2 billion peoples all over the world.


Upon the demise of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), his Companions carried on his works to bring his people back to believe in Allah and worship Him. Upon the demise of the Companions, the Tabiun and after the Tabiun, their followers perform the same function. After the followers of the Tabiun, the burden fell onto the Enlightened Ones. The Enlightened Ones who bear this burden are the “Arif-Billah”.[72] They are capable of guiding the unenlightened to achieve the Islamic Gnostic Knowledge.


Of those We have created are people who direct (others) with truth, and dispense justice therewith.[73]


In the Third Century after the migration and after the last of the followers of the Tabiun died, peoples gathered around the Arif-Billah for guidance in attaining the Islamic Gnostic Knowledge.[74] The Arif-Billah would lecture and guide the unenlightened to achieve the knowledge and once they achieved it, would advise them to follow suit the worship of the Prophet, his Companions, Tabiun and the followers of the Tabiun. This is the Way of the Prophet.[75]


In the early fourth century (after the migration), the numbers of people seeking guidance from the Arif-Billahs swelled due to the economy boon of  time. During this time too, evolved unscrupulous persons claiming to be Arif-Billahs and offering guide to the unenlightened. They were imposters interested in worldly gains.[76] At the same time, the genuine Arif-Billahs too faced with problems. A great number of their students despite many lectures could not understand the Islamic Gnostic Knowledge. To shoo them away would mean that they would be easy victims or preys to the false Arif-Billahs. In such predicament, the Arif-Billahs decided to create a system of meditation or prayer to help their students who were still unenlightened. They hope this meditation or prayers would cleanse the students from their sins and misdeed and would bring to them enlightenment in due course.[77] To prevent their students led astray by the falsed Arif-Billah, they also took covenant of loyalty from their students. The system is “Tariqat[78] and the covenant of loyalty is “Baiat[79]. These aside, the Arif-Billah took pains to prepare a chart showing the names of the Teachers in an ascending manner. It started from him at the bottom then ascended to his teacher, his teacher’s teacher and so on until it reached Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). This chart is “Silsilah”.[80] The primary aim of Silsilah is to distinguish between the falsed and the genuine Arif-Billah. Most of the Arif-Billah guided their students in a compound house called “Khanqah[81]. The students were the “Dervishes”.


At the beginning, except for each unique way of meditation or chanting, there was nothing else to distinguish one Tariqat from the other. This situation later in due course changed when the Tariqat took its name from its founder. If the founder’s name is Thaifur, his Tariqat is Thaifuriyah. If the founder’s name is Nuri, his Tariqat is Nuriyah and so forth. Henceforth, there existed then the Tariqat Thaifuriyah or Tariqat Nuriyah and so forth.[82]


With the Tariqat in place, the name of “Musyid”, “Syeikh” or “Guru” replaced the name of Arif-Billah.[83] In this way, the Way of Tariqat parted way from the Way of the Prophet. Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, a Muslim Scholar, named The Way of the Tariqat as The Way of the Saint. [84]

[1] Al Maidah (5):3

[2] Ali Imran (3):85

[3] Al Baqarah (2):208.

[4] Thaha (20):14

[5] Al Ikhlas (112):1-2

[6] Al Ikhlas (114):3

[7] An Nisa (4):116

[8] Al Hajj (22):78. Revelation here refers to the Quran.

[9] Terjemahan Sahih  Muslim Bk. 1, 4 (1994).

[10] Terjemahan Sahih  Muslim Bk. 1, 5 (1994).

[11] Al Ahzab (33):40

[12] Saba (34):28.

[13] Al Araaf (7):158.

[14] Al Hadis Vol. 4, 318 (1994).

[15] Gospel of Barnabas, 91-92 (?).

[16] Gospel of Barnabas, 121 (?).

[17] Gospel of Barnabas, 91-92 (?).

[18] Al Hijr (15):9.

[19] As Sajdah (32):2

[20] Aj Najm (58):4

[21] Yunus (10):37

[22] Yunus (10):38

[23] Imam Ghazali, Ihya Ulumiddin Bk. 1, 94-97 (1981).

[24] Imam Ghazali, Minhajul Abidin, 24 (1997).

[25] Al Quraisy An Naisaibury, Risatul Qusyairiah, 8 (1997); Syeikh Abdul Qadir Al Jilani, Sirrur Asrar, 17 (1997).

[26] Terjemahan Sahih Muslim Bk.1, 28 (1994).

[27] Terjemahan Sunan At Tirmidzi Bk.4, 237 (1993)

[28] Al Araaf (7):172.

[29] Al Araaf (7):173.

[30] Terjemahan Sahih  Muslim Bk. 4, 865 (1994).

[31]Terjemahan Sunan At Tirmidzi Bk 3, 635636 (1993);Sahih Al Bukhari Vol. 8, 389-390 (1984).

[32] Terjemahan Sahih  Muslim Bk. 4, 228 (1994).

[33] Al Araaf (7):16-17.

[34] Al Hadis Vol 4, 200 (1994)

[35] Ali Imran (3):103

[36] An Nisa (4):83

[37] An Anbiya (21):25

[38] Ibrahim (14):4

[39] Al Ar’aaf (7):59

[40] Al Ar’aaf (7):65

[41] Al Ar’aaf (7):73

[42] Al Ar’aaf (7):85

[43] AL Ankabut (29):16

[44] Asy Syuaraa (26):161-162

[45] Thaha (20):13-14

[46] Al Maidah (5):72.

[47] Al Araaf (7):158.

[48] Yasin (36):30.

[49] Ali Imran (3):181.

[50] Ibrahim (14):13.

[51] Id, 314.

[52] Zainal Ariffin Abbas, op cit, 51; Mohd Sulaiman Hj Yasin, Mengenal Ilmu Tasawuf (Pengantar), 30 (1997).

[53] Akram Diya Al-Umari, Madinan Society at the time of the Prophet Vol.1, 86 (1991).

[54] Al Israa (17):90-93

[55] Hud (11):64.

[56] Asy Syuaraa (26):44-47.

[57] An Naml (27):44-45.

[58] Ali Imran (3):49.

[59] Al Hijr (15):9.

[60] Al Anaam (6):115.

[61] Shaad (38):5.

[62] Asy Syura (42):13.

[63] Asy Syuaraa (26):119-121.

[64] Al Ahqaaf (46):24 –25. The calamity on Hood’s  tribe.

[65] Al Araaf (7):77-78.

[66] Al Araaf (7):83-84. The calamity on Lut’s tribe.

[67] Hud (11):94-95.

[68] Al Anbiyaa (21):107

[69] Al Anfaal (8):33.

[70] Al Baqarah (2):75.

[71] Fazlul Karim, Al Hadis Vol.4, 293-294  (1994).

[72] Syeikh Abdul Qadir Al Jilani, Pembukaan Kepada Yang Ghaib, 95 (1990).

[73] Al Araaf (7):181

[74] Abu Al Wafa Al Ghanimi, Perkembangan Tasawwuf Islam, 19 (1996).

[75] Muhammad Abdul Haq Ansari, Sufism and Shariah, 211 (1986).

[76] M M Sharif, Sejarah Islam Dari Segi Filsafah, 311 (1994).

[77] Hamka, Perkembangan Tasauf Dari Abad Ke Abad, 110 (1976)

[78] Abu Al Wafa Al Ghanimi Al Taftazani, Perkembangan Tasawwuf Islam, 19 (1996).

[79] Aboebakar Atjeh,  Pengantar Sejarah Sufi dan Tasauf, 49 (1977).

[80] Aboebakar Atjeh,  Pengantar Sejarah Sufi dan Tasauf, 49 (1977).

[81] Muhammad Abdul Rauf, The Muslim Mind, 212  (1994).

[82] Hamka, Perkembangan Tasauf Dari Abad Ke Abad, 110 (1976)

[83] Aboebakar Atjeh, Pengantar Sejarah Sufi dan Tasauf, 49 (1977).

[84] Muhammad Abdul Haq Ansari, Sufism and Shariah, 211 (1986).

| Category: gnosticism | no comments yet | Leave a comment

Back to top

You can leave a comment via:

Loading Facebook Comments ...

You can leave a comment through facebook (above) or the form below:

Back to top