Of the ways of the Sufi path an extremely important one is ‘the Unity of Witnessing.’ which is called ‘the Unity of Existence.’ This way restricts the gaze to the existence of the Necessarily Existent and sees other beings to be so weak and shadow-like in relation to the Necessarily Existent that it states that they are not worthy of the name of existence.
Enveloping them in veils of imagination it counts them as nothing in the station of ‘abandoning all things other than God.’ and even imagines them to be non-existent going so far as relegating the manifestations of the Divine Names to the state of being mere imaginary mirrors.
A significant fact about this way is that through the existence of the Necessarily Existent One being unfolded to the degree of ‘absolute certainty’ through the strength of belief and unfolding of an elevated sainthood the existence of contingent beings is so diminished that nothing remains in its view other than imagination and non-existence; it is as though it denies the universe on account of the Necessarily Existent One.
But this way holds dangers the first of which is this: the pillars of belief are six. There are pillars like belief in the Last Day in addition to belief in God and these pillars require the existence of contingent beings. Those firmly-founded pillars of belief cannot be constructed on imagination!
For this reason when one who follows this way re-enters the world of sobriety from the worlds of ecstasy and intoxication he should not bring that way together with him and he should not act in accordance with it.
Furthermore he should not change this way which pertains to the heart and to illuminations and certain states into a form which pertains to the reason knowledge and words. For the laws and principles pertaining to the reason knowledge and speech which proceed from the Qur’an and the Sunna of the Prophet cannot sustain that way; they cannot be applied. For this reason this way is not to be seen explicitly in the Four Rightly-Guided Caliphs the leading authorities and interpreters of the Law and the authorities of the first generations of Islam.
That means it is not the most elevated way. Perhaps it is elevated but it is deficient. It is very important but it is very perilous and difficult yet still very pleasurable. Those who enter it for the pleasure do not want to leave it; due to their self-centredness they suppose it to be the highest degree.
Since we have explained the basis and nature of this way to an extent in the treatise called Nokta Risalesi and in some of the Words and the Letters we shall suffice with them and here describe an important abyss of that important way. It is as follows:
For the highest of the elite who pass out of the sphere of causes and in accordance with renouncing everything other than God sever their attachment to contingent beings and enter a state of absolute absorption in God this way is a righteous way. But to present it as intellectual knowledge to those who are submerged in causes enamoured of the world and plunged into materialist philosophy and Nature is to drown them in Nature and materiality and to distance them from the reality of Islam. For one who is enamoured of the world and attached to the sphere of causes wants to attribute a sort of permanence to this transitory world. He does not want to lose his beloved the world; through the pretext of the Unity of Existence he imagines it to have a permanent existence; on account of the world his beloved and through ascribing permanence and eternity to it he raises his beloved to being an object of worship; and. I seek refuge with God this opens up the way to the abyss of denying God.
This century materialism is so widespread materiality is thought to be the source of everything. If in such an age the elite believers consider materiality to be so unimportant as to be non-existent thus furthering the way of the Unity of Existence the materialists will lay claim to it saying: “We say the same thing.” Whereas among all the ways in the world the way furthest from that of the materialists and Nature-worshippers is the way of the Unity of Existence.
For the followers of the Unity of Existence attach so much importance through their belief to the Divine existence that they deny the universe and beings. Whereas the materialists attach so much importance to beings that on account of the universe they deny God. How can the two come together or be compared?