The following article was written by shaykh Mumtazul Haq of streatham, London, UK. It was checked and edited by Abdul Raheem.
This is one of the most misunderstood and hence, misquoted concepts. Some people forcefully try to impose their own confused understanding of this issue upon others while labelling them with kufr and shirk.
There are many terms in daily life which people use but do not take their literal meanings, for example people say, “so and so has a runny nose “. No sane person in the world will think that to imply this, the nose must be running somewhere. No, The nose is fixed in it’s place, the liquid is running.
When we say the river is flowing, we mean that the river has banks which are stationary with a fixed route but what is flowing is the water in the river.
When people say , “I have a heartburn”. That is never understood to mean that their heart is on fire.
Similarly the term wahdatul-wujood, though literally means, “unity or oneness of existence” but it does not imply that the whole creation is one or that Allah the Almighty, Himself exists physically INSIDE everything and in all creation, as some people forcefully try to imply.
Wahdatul-wujood is also not listed amongst the Aqaaid nor is it taught as such in any institution including Deoband. Rather, it is described as the awareness of Allah in the heart of a believer as he progressese in his relationship with Allah. This has been described in a saheeh hadeeth reported by Imam Bukhari rahmatullahi alayhi:
إنَّ اللهَ قال : من عادَى لي وليًّا فقد آذنتُه بالحربِ ، وما تقرَّب إليَّ عبدي بشيءٍ أحبَّ إليَّ ممَّا افترضتُ عليه ، وما يزالُ عبدي يتقرَّبُ إليَّ بالنَّوافلِ حتَّى أُحبَّه ، فإذا أحببتُه : كنتُ سمعَه الَّذي يسمَعُ به ، وبصرَه الَّذي يُبصِرُ به ، ويدَه الَّتي يبطِشُ بها ، ورِجلَه الَّتي يمشي بها ، وإن سألني لأُعطينَّه ، ولئن استعاذبي لأُعيذنَّه ،
“Indeed Allah has said. “Whosoever has any hatred against any of my friends , I have declared war on him. And my servant does not attain more closeness to me with anything other than that which I have made obligatory upon him. And my servant continues drawing closer to me through voluntary (additional) deeds until I begin to love him. Then when I love him , I become his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hand with which he holds and his legs with which he walks. And if he asks me anything I definitely give him and if he seeeks my refuge I definitely grant him.” (Saheeh Bukhari)
In this hadeeth, inspite of the prophet sallallaho alaihe wasallam saying that Allah says ,
“I become his hands and legs…” nobody accepts this in the literal sense, rather it is explained to mean that all the affairs and actions of a person become subject to Allah’s will and Allah’s pleasure.
Being close to Allah also means a person loves Allah deeply as Allah says in the Quran,
والذين أمنوا أشدّ حبا لله
“And those who believe, love Allah profusely. ”
Being in a state of deep love with and close to Allah, one is then overcome with Almighty Allah’s awareness so much so that as though everything else simply seems insignificant and meaningless as though it does not matter. The only thing which is important to such a person is the pleasure and nearness of Allah. They do not even contemplate anything but Allah. This is also mentioned in the Quran,
قل ان صلاتي ونسكي ومحياي و مماتي لله رب العالمين
“Say! Indeed my prayers and my sacrifices, and my life and my death are for Allah, Lord of the worlds.”
Their prayers then also become as the prophet sallallaho alaihe wasallam has stated ,
ان تعبدالله كأنك تراه.
“That you worship Allah as though you are seeing him”.
In this saheeh hadeeth the prophet sallallaho alaihe wasallam described the feeling and awareness “as though you are seeing Him (Allah).” Because physical vision of Allah in this worldly life is not possible but the feeling and awareness is attainable; “as though one sees Allah”. When the believers will be blessed with the vision of Allah in jannah, the other blessings of Jannah will seem insignificant compared to the vision of Allah. If that will be the case in paradise then what value can the worthless things of dunya have in the eyes of a friend of Allah who lives and worships him “as though he sees Him.”
One who reaches this level will then obviously not feel any attraction or have any significance of anything in his heart and mind, as for him Allah is sufficient for all his affairs as Allah says in the Quran,
أليس الله بكاف عبده
“Is Allah not sufficient for his servant?.”
Everything else becomes worthless in their eyes and they “FEEL” that the only real power , authority and independent existence, is that of Allah, the Almighty. Everything else is simply a manifestation of His will and authority. In all of Allah’s creation they see his Qudrat in action. This state of awareness is termed as wahdatul- wujood . Some people like Shah Wali-Ullah Muhaddith Dehlvi and Mujaddid Alfe-Thani, Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi rahimahumullah have instead used the term “wahdatush-shuhood ” to describe the same concept as this represents the issue more clearly as being an awareness or a state instead of a reality, as the term wahdatul – wujood appears to imply.
If the term “wahdatul-wujood” is a problem which seems to be the case for many people , then there are many other problems as well. The very term “AQEEDAH” has neither been mentioned in any place in the Quran nor any hadeeth anywhere but is used freely in all circles without any problem.
Some people confuse this issue with a belief of Hindus who believe in “HULOOL” (incarnation), whereby they believe that God actually and physically descends into his creation and resides IN them.Their belief in this concept is backed up by them worshipping different things, like cows, monkeys, snakes and other creatures, because they believe that God is actually in them. This is obviously total and utter kufr. This however, is not the belief of any muslim anywhere in the world. Had that been the case, then these people would have also worshipped things other than Allah, like the Hindus do so.
So this proves that the concept of wahdatul-wujood is not the actual or physical existence of Allah within his creation but rather an awareness and understanding of his “QUDRAT” at work in his creation in a manner that the creation seems insignificant and meaningless in comparison to the majesty and authority of Allah Rabbul ‘Aalameen.
An Arabic poet says:
ولله في كل تسبيحة
وفي كل تحميدة شاهدُ
وفي كل شيء له اٰيةٌ
تدل علي انه واحدُ
In every tasbeeh and tahmeed, there is a statement (proof) of Allah
And in everything there is a sign indicating that Allah is one.
This means that in every flower, in every beautiful bird, in every scenery of mountains & waterfalls, in the sun the moon, the stars. the universe, in every grain of crops and every brand of flakes, there is Allah i.e. A sign of the power of Allah, and of the wisdom of Allah.
May Allah bless us with His qurb, may Allah give us the understanding of our Deen and may Allah give us tawfeeq to stop accusing the friends of Allah with things they have not said or meant and may Allah protect us from having any enmity with any of His friends and May Allah save us from being at war with Allah.