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The Disappearance

Ahmad Valsan

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Al-fanā’ - the disappearance - sometimes it can also mean the obliteration/ effacing. [1]

The most general definition of this concept is as explained by Ibn Arabi when he says:

“Al-fanā’ is when the servant sees that his action is in reality done or performed by God.”


Al-Sheikh al-Akbar speaks of several kinds of fanā’ , 7, but we will not delve into the first kind of fanā’ which is the disappearance from transgressions (al-fanā’ ’an al-ma’āsï )
(see Futūhat chapter 220).

This concept of fanā’ is one of the most important in Sufism. It should be specified that the disappearance always takes place “toward [from] a particular thing” (’an kadhā ), just as al-baqā the remaining takes place “by or through a particular thing” (bi-kadhā ).

Al-fanā’ moreover according to our way, says Seyyid Muhyi-d-dīn, is always perceived towards [from] a thing which is lower and which takes place because of a higher thing.


The second kind of fanā’ is the obliteration of the view of the servant’s actions because it is God who acts and sees to everything. This is in accordance with God’s words in the Koran:

{ أَفَمَنْ هُوَ قَائِمٌ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ }

{ Then is He who is a maintainer of every soul, [knowing] what it has earned, [like any other]? } (13-33)

In this effacing, the servant realizes that the action belongs to God behind the veil of the creatures, who are merely “places” for the manifestation or revelation of the actions.

This in accordance with the divine word:

{ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ وَاسِعُ الْمَغْفِرَةِ }

{ Your Lord’s forgiveness (maghfirah ) is indeed immense. } (53-33).

That is, His protective veil (the root of the word maghfirah means to cover, veil). Consequently, all beings are under His veil, while He is the acting Agent behind this veil. But the creatures have no idea about it.


The third kind of fanā’ is the disappearance towards the attributes of beings (al-fanā’ ’an sifāt al-makhlūqāt) according to the words of God in a hadīth qudsī:

“I am My servant’s hearing, his sight” and all his other faculties,
These qualities are useful to the servant. And the True One has informed that it is He, and not His attributes, which are identical with the attributes of the creatures.


The fourth kind is the disappearance towards your essence (al-fanā’ ’an dhātika ), that is, one does not see one’s own essence during contemplation.


The fifth kind of fanā’ is the annihilation towards the whole world (al-fanā’ ’an kulli al-’ālam ) through your contemplation of the True or of your essence (your being).


The sixth kind of fanā’ is the disappearance of all that is not God, and this through God is needed. In this particular fanā’ you lose sight of yourself and do not know that you are in a state of contemplation of what is true because you no longer have any reality that is perceptible to you.


The seventh kind of fanā’ … [2]

Ahmad Valsan

Oriental Pattern


Related texts
link-in The Meaning of Nafs Sh. Muhammad 'Afifi al-'Akiti

  1. other translations of fanā’: extinction

    In the Islamic tradition it is strongly recommended ”to 'die before one dies', that is, to die to the world and to subsist in God alone, this letter state is called baqā', (or) 'subsisting', or in fact 'immortality' in the Real…

    The spiritual journey to fanā’ involves many stages notably the extinction of the "soul that inclines to evil" and then of the "soul that accuses itself" which are then replaced by the "soul at peace".”
    Source: CEI112 [LIT]
    more: The Meaning of Nafs Sh. Muhammad 'Afifi al-'Akiti

  2. Here ends the manuscript by Imam Ahmad Valsan (rh)  ↩


* Living Islam – Islamic Tradition *