Love, Witnessing & Intellective Vision, and Gnosis
13 – Love is the permanent inclination of the fervent heart. This inclination is first manifested in the body in the form of servitude – this is the station of the pious; then secondly in the yearning heart in the form of purification and adornment – this is the station of the initiatic spiritual wayfarers; then thirdly in the spirit and the pure secret (sirr) in the form of spiritual firmness – this is the station of the gnostics. Thus the beginning of love is its manifestation in servitude; the middle of it is its manifestation in gratitude and fervour; and the end of it is its manifestation in tranquillity and sobriety, in the station of gnosis. Thus people are divided into three groups: the folk of servitude, the folk of spiritual states (ahwal), and the folk of spiritual stations (maqamat). Its beginning is wayfaring and servitude, its middle is attraction and extinction, and its end is sobriety and subsistence.
14 – Witnessing (mushahada) means to see the Subtle Essence in its manifested and coagulated forms; it is a question of the coagulation of subtle substance. And when love ascends higher, and the coagulated lights become subtle once more, this is intellective vision (mu’ayana)*; it is a question of the return of the coagulation to its subtle state. Thus intellective vision is more penetrating and complete than witnessing. The upshot of this is that the Essence cannot be seen unless Its subtle mysteries are coagulated into manifestations, for the subtle cannot be perceived as long as it is subtle. To see these manifestations in their coagulated form is called ‘witnessing’; and to return them back to their subtle origin by immersing them in the Ocean of Oneness is called ‘intellective vision’. Others say that mushahada and mu’ayana are simply synonyms.
15 – Gnosis (ma’rifa) means that witnessing becomes firm and perpetual; it is the permanent witnessing of the fervent heart. One sees nothing but one's Lord, and turns to none but Him, all the while maintaining justice and keeping to the formalities of the Sacred Law.
*Translator’s note: Sidi Ibn Ajiba is making the distinction here between the gnostic’s recognition of visible things as manifestation of the Real, which he calls mushahada, and the gnostic’s direct vision of subtle realities, which he calls mu’ayana. The term ‘intellective vision’ seems appropriate for describing this latter vision, which takes place via the vehicle of the ‘eye of the heart’ directly, without outward supports.