Shaykh Nuh Keller on Wahdat al-Wujud (Oneness of Being)

by britishmisk

…”Belief in Allah” also entails knowing that he has no co-sharer in any of His attributes. For example, the divine attribute of Wujud or Being belongs to Him alone. Nothing is, besides Allah and His attributes and His actions and His rulings. This is what us meant by the Sufi term Wahdat al-Wujud or Oneness of Being. It should be understood, not only to enlighten ignorant critics, but because it is the metaphysical counterpart of ma’rifa or knowledge of Allah that is a prime emphasis of the Shadhili tariqa.

Oneness of Being does not mean that the created universe is God, for God’s Being is necessary (wajid al-wujud) while the universe’s being is merely possible (ja’iz al-wujud), that is, subject to nonbeing, beginning, and ending, and it is impossible that one of these two orders of being could in an sense be the other; but rather, the created universe’s act of being is derived from and subsumed by the divine act of creation, from which it has no ontic independence, and hence is only through the being of its Creator, the one true Being.

So Wahdat al-Wujud or Oneness of Being entails that nothing exists except Allah, His attributes, His actions, and His rulings, while created being, as manifest to us, cannot be identified with His entity or attributes but only with His actions and rulings: the world, as it were, is pure act, while Allah is pure Being. In short, our metaphysic is not pantheism, because the world is not Allah. Spinoza’s definition in the Ethica of God as “simple substance” (pantheism properly speaking), has nothing to do with the experience of those who possess ma’rifa. Rather, the world’s existence is through Allah, in Arabic bi Llah, the point under the Arabic letter ba’ being both a point of ontic connection ad a point of demarcation.

– Taken from Sea without Shore