Inspiration 10: Knowing One’s Spirit
Allah’s speech is eternal, and thus the Guarded Tablet (Al-Lawḥal-Maḥfūẓ) cannot bear it. This is because the Tablet is created, and that which is temporally created cannot possibly bear that which is eternal.
As for the human spirit, which has borne the full breadth of divine Selfmanifestations (tajalliyāt), the Guarded Tablet is but a basic element of its composition, and it barely senses its presence. Indeed, as al-Busayrī, may Allah have mercy on him, states, addressing Allah’s Messenger, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him:
For surely this world and its companion are from your generosity, and from among your vast knowledge is knowledge of the Tablet and Pen.
Such is the spirit! Do you know how great the spirit is?!
You proclaim that you are no more than a miniscule body, While the greater universe is enfolded within you.
The spirit cannot hear from other than Allah, it does not address other than Allah, and nor does it have any dealings with other than Allah. No angel or devil knows its secret. Thus, no angel can reinforce it, and no devil can inspire it.
So seek company with your spirits O servants of Allah, for whoever is in the company of his spirit is in the company of his Lord, and whoever knows his spirit comes to know his Lord.
Each individual is thus personally obligated (farḍayn) to know his or her spirit. “And they ask you concerning the spirit. Say the spirit is from the command of my Lord, and you have not been granted of knowledge but a little.” [Al-Isrā: 85]. These are the Jews who became immersed in material things. Do you not see that they worshipped the cow and asked their own prophet to provide them with an idol as a god? “Say,” i.e. in response to these Jews, “the spirit is from the command of my Lord,” meaning the spirit is about my Lord’s command. “And you have not been granted of knowledge but a little,” O Jews who claim to have knowledge of the Book.
And as has been narrated in a tradition: “Whoever knows himself, knows his Lord.”