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Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī

Impressions From His Works


The Veil of Otherness

Presented by Omar K Neusser


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Note 02


As interpreted by professor William C. Chittick


The Veil of Otherness


“Otherness” is a veil over our eyes woven by our own imagination. Neither we ourselves nor the things we perceive outside of ourselves a truly other than God…

Not until we have attained the final annihilation of ourselves and subsistence in God (fanā' wa baqā' )[5] will we cease to be the object of His jealousy.[1]: For then there is only He – “the other” has ceased to exist.[2]

So there is this close connection between “jealousy” (ghayrat ) and “other” (ghayr ), for example in Sura 7–59 Allah says:

space7_59

{ Worship Goḍ You have no god other than He. }

□ comment: So you, who is worshipping any of those other gods, such as fame, power, material wealth, passion … may think that what you worship would help you, would bring you some benefit, but this is an illusion, because only God, the Master of the universe, can give you success,[6] if certain conditions are met.

In reality there are no “others”. ”Otherness" is a veil.
Only the One.

Those who have not eliminated all others from their own vision are not given access to Him. If a person is not willing to enter the spiritual path and undertake all the discipline that it implies, God’s jealousy will not allow him to see anything but otherness.[3]

[But] what appears to be “other than God” is in fact foam upon the Ocean, forms manifesting meanings, the Hidden Treasure displaying itself outwardly, sunlight upon a wall. All multiplicity is the manifestation of Unity.

If man does see things other than God, that is because he is not able to see them as they truly are. He must smash the cage of self-existence and see all things as the manifestation of God’s Names and Attributes.[4]

RUM304/5, The Sufi Path of Love - The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi, by William C. Chittick p304/5


  1. God’s jealousy: ≈ His harsh critique → His punishment. The word jealousy can be somewhat problematic, as Allah is far above descriptions which would be inadequate to His Sublime Being. In the best of cases it would describe God’s unwillingness to accept from His creation, i.e. from man, any other worship than pure monotheism, tawhid, because in reality there are no “others”.  ↩

  2. RUM304/5  ↩

  3. RUM305cu  ↩

  4. RUM304  ↩

  5. Final annihilation of ourselves and subsistence in God:

    Man's enslavement by his ego and passions must be broken. He has to be freed and reach the basic station of manhood in the sense of servant of the Divine.

    Explanation by C W Chittick:
    Man's existence, or ego, or selfhood - call it what you will - must be annihilated so that he can obtain to his true self, which is his existence and "subsistence" within God.

    Then God will give back to him his character traits and everything positive he ever possessed. But at this stage he will know consciously and actually - not just theoretically - and with a true and thorough spiritual realization, that everything he is derives absolutely from God.

    Rumi:
    ”You are your own shadow - become annihilated in the rays of the Sun! How long will you look at your shadow? Look also at His Lighṭ”
    RUM179

  6. success: felicity (sa'āda ): Livingislam, Ch. 'True Happiness Can Be Found'

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The Other Notes in This Series
link-in The Possible Things
link-in The Veil of Otherness
link-in Being and Existence 1
link-in Being and Nonexistence 2
link-in Wujūd and Infinity
link-in Being, Names, and Nonexistence

Related texts
link-in Insights Into The Nature Of (Being) And Existence From Sh. Muhyiddīn Ibn ʿArabī
link-in Sh. Muhyiddīn Ibn al-ʿArabī And the Unfolding of the Islamic Intellectual Tradition






* Living Islam – Islamic Tradition *