Hal (state) denotes experiencing in one’s inner world the “breaths” blowing from the realms beyond the world, and feeling the difference between the “night” and “day,” as well as the “evening” and “morning,” that occur to the heart. Those who understand these as alternate waves of rejoicing and grief and of contraction and expansion invading the heart without the believer making a special effort, call the stable continuation of those waves “station” and their disappearance “sensuality.”
It would not be wrong to describe each state as a Divine gift and the breeze of nearness to God one feels in the heart, and each station as one’s continuous and stable experience of this breeze and the acquisition of a second nature. Like life, light, and mercy, each state is a direct gift of the Almighty and leads to the conviction of Divine Unity. By contrast, since each station depends on a purposeful effort, it cannot reflect the truth so manifestly. Therefore, without viewing stations as being obtained by a personal effort, a believer’s feeling of the spiritual occurrences in his or her heart, and a believer’s opening a new way in his or her heart to the One known by the heart at every moment, results in a deeper appreciation of the Source of those occurrences than would be possible by shaping them according to one’s own capacity and character, which may lead to ostentation and conceit.
The most truthful and confirmed one, the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, once declared: “God considers not your bodily statures, but your hearts.”1 These words direct our attention to what is important for the Truth, and show people how to reach the main target. The Tradition narrated through a less reliable channel is: “God considers your hearts and actions.”2 This is a reference to a station reached after cycles of state.
A state consists of Divine manifestations occurring at times determined by the absolute Will. These manifestations are reflected in the heart and in the believer’s perception and consciousness, which pursue and cast them into a mold. For this reason, while a station signifies stability and subsidence after waves of state, a state can be likened to groups of waves of different lengths and colors coming from the Sun, appearing and then disappearing, being dependent on the absolutely dominant Will.
Sensitive souls and those whose consciousness is alert or awakened to the knowledge of God discern the waves of state upon their hearts, just as they see the Sun’s reflections on water, and respond to these waves according to their level and manner of perception. Those who have not corrected the imbalance of their hearts, and thus live disconnected from the Almighty, may regard these waves of state as illusions and fancies, while those who see existence with the light of the Truth view them as manifest, experienced realities.
The greatest hero of state, upon him be peace and blessings, who regarded each spiritual gift received as less when compared to the one that followed-may God illuminate our hearts with the light of his gifts he regarded as less-declared: “I ask God’s forgiveness seventy times a day.”3 It was impossible for a perfectly pure soul who felt the need for an everlasting mount and an eternal light in a never-ending journey toward the Infinite Being to have done otherwise.
- Muslim, Birr, 33, 34.
- Ibid.; Ibn Maja, Zuhd, 9.
- Bukhari, Dawa‘at, 3; Tirmidhi, Tafsir al-Qur’an, 47.