Naqshbandi creation myth
The Creation Myth of Naqshbandi Sufi Islam
This version of the Islamic creation myth is from the Naqshbandi Sufi tradition and is sourced from Hajjah Amina Adil's Lore of Light (volume 1, chapter 1). The book draws heavily on Sufi sources written in Ottoman Turkish. The creation myth contains various Gnostic themes and motifs.
In the beginning, Allah Almighty created Mind (Greek: Nous).
- He commanded it:
- Go, and it went.
- Come, and it came.
- Speak, and it spoke.
- Be quiet, and it was silent.
- The Lord then said, "By My Glory and My Majesty, by My Sublimity and Grace, I have created no servant more pleasing than you, and I have given you naught better than patience."
Sayyidina ‘Ali reports:
- The Lord created Mind from a hidden light.
- At first, it was hidden and Allah wished it to shine forth.
- So He equipped it [Mind] with knowledge,
- and He gave Discernment to its soul.
- He placed Asceticism on its head,
- and Modesty in its eyes,
- Wisdom upon its tongue,
- Gnosis within its ears,
- Kindness and Compassion in its heart,
- lofty Aspiration in its spirit
- and Patience in its essence.
- Allah decorated Mind with all the attributes of perfection,
- for the light of Mind is spiritual,
- and it belongs to the spirit of man, the Children of Adam.
- It has its place in the heart's secret
- and this secret always aspires to the highest spiritual station.
- Mind by itself cannot know such aspiration;
- only with the secret, which Allah gave to man can it reach that far.
- By itself it cannot climb, it has no particular will or inclination,
- but with the secret, which Allah gave to the Children of Adam
- it can attain to those high stations.
Allah then created the Pen and commanded it to write.
The Holy Prophet said:
- In the beginning the Lord created the Pen from a jewel, the size of which was 500 years in length.
- Its nib was split and from it issued light, as ink issues from the nibs of our pens.
- The end of the Pen was attached to the Throne, and it was given into the hands of the angels.
- Each letter they wrote was as big as Jabal (Mount) Qaf, that is to say, it was gigantic.
- First Allah Almighty created al-Qalam, the Pen, and al-Lawh al-Mahfuz, the Preserved Tablets.
- Allah created the Tablets from white pearl, and every day they change into 360 different colors.
The Holy Prophet was asked by his companions, "What shall we answer when they ask us about the beginnings of Creation?"
- He answered, "Say:
- the first thing to have been created was the mind of Muhammad,
- then the soul of Muhammad,
- then the light of Muhammad;
- thereafter the Pen and the tablets."
Allah then commanded the Pen to write the Basmala: b-s-m.
b ب - A light spread out from this letter from the Throne to the farthest corner of the Universe.
s س - from the 3 teeth,
- a light which reached up to the Throne ('Arsh)
- a light which reached the Divine Court (Kursi)
- a light which reached up to Paradise (Jannah)
- "What is this Light, O my Lord?" wondered the Pen.
- The Lord said, "There will be 3 groups among the Children of Adam.
- those who vie with one another for the performance of good deeds; this means, those whose hidden reality is better than that which they which they show outwardly. The light of this group reaches up to al-'Arsh, the Divine Throne.
- a group whose inner reality is on equal footing with their outer manifestation, and their light will reach up to the Divine Court.
- those who have wronged their own souls, that is to say, those whose outer aspect overcomes their inward reality. The light of this last group reaches up to Paradise (after they have been purged in hell)."
m م - The light that this 'mim م' effused illuminated the whole world, which is the light of Muhammad Mustafa. The Pen was so surprised that it opened its mouth wide—as wide as it could—and remained stupefied for 2000 years.
- The Pen said: "As-salamu 'alayka, ya Rasulullah" (Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah!)
The Pen wrote Al-Fatiha 1:2, Al-ḥamdu li-llāhi rabbi l-‘ālamīn
- The Pen wrote it and a great light shone forth from this line. This light was divided into 2:
- one part of it formed the ocean of mercy
- the other the sea of forgiveness
- The Lord then ordered the soul of the Holy Prophet, "Enter into these 2 oceans!" Thus he became a 'Mercy to the Worlds'.
The Pen wrote Al-Fatiha 1:4, Māliki yawmi d-dīn
- The Pen wrote and from these words issued forth darkness and light mixed together, and they separated from each other and each took to one side.
- From the light the Lord created the Sea of Bliss
- and from the darkness the Sea of Misery
- "Whoever pronounces these words," said He, "I will bring him out of the Sea of Miseries into the Sea of Bliss, that there he may abide forever."
The Pen wrote Al-Fatiha 1:5, Iyyāka na‘budu wa-iyyāka nasta‘īn
From this phrase a twofold light issued forth.
- From one part, Allah created the Ocean of (Divinely-granted) Success
- and from the other part, the Ocean of Virtue
- He said, "Whoever recites this verse, him I will give success and virtue and his companions.
The Pen wrote Al-Fatiha 1:6-7 (to the first part of 1:7), Ihdinā ṣ-ṣirāṭa l-mustaqīm, Ṣirāṭa l-laḏīna an‘amta ‘alay-him
- The light coming from these words fell into 2 parts.
- From one part was created the Sea of Guidance
- and from the other part the Sea of Plenty
- "Whoever says these words," spoke the Lord, "him, I shall guide, and him I shall provide with My bounty."
The Pen wrote the final part of Al-Fatiha 1:7. ghayri l-maghḍūbi ‘alay-him wa-lā ḍ-ḍāālīn.
- And a darkness rose up from these words, and this too was in 2 pails.
- Out of one part was created the Sea of Wrath
- of the other the Sea of Anger
- The Lord spoke, "I will make safe from the Seas of Wrath and Anger whoever recites these verses."
It took the Pen 700 years to write down the Basmala.
- If a Muslim recites the Basmala with pure intention in his heart, it will be counted as 700 years of worship.
After this, the Lord created the Divine Throne from a green gem. It has 70,000 tongues, and each tongue praises the Lord in a different language.
- Then He created another green gem, and He gazed upon it with the Gaze of Awe which caused it to turn liquid and to begin to boil.
- From this, He created the whole Universe and He placed it above the wind.
- Then the Lord placed Himself upon the Divine Throne in the Seat of Command.
- Thereupon, the Throne became very proud of itself and inclined towards conceit.
- The Lord loves not the conceited, so He created a snake with a head of white pearl and its eyes of ruby red. This snake had 70,000 faces, each face had 70,000 tongues, each tongue spoke in 70,000 languages, and all of these were praising the Lord.
- The Throne then realized that this snake was a creature more marvelous than itself, and the Lord made this snake twine around the Throne with half of its length.
- The other half hung down below.
- The Divine Throne, itself, is huge. Between each of its pillars there is a distance of 30,000 years, as a bird might fly. In relation to the whole of the Universe, however, it is as if a tiny ring were falling into a vast desert.
- After this, Allah Almighty created 4 angels to raise up the Throne and to bear it aloft. They will, however, number 8 on the Day of Judgment, as the Lord Himself has spoken in 69:17.
- At first, they could not lift up the Throne, so they asked all the angels to come and help them, but even their combined efforts could not lift the weight of the Throne.
- The Lord said, "Speak the words 'La hawla wa la quwwata ilia billahi 'l-'aliyyi l-'azim."
- These 4 angels were able to lift up the Throne after speaking these words.
- However, it is not known whether the angels lifted the Throne or whether the Throne lifted the angels.
- These 4 Throne bearers are called the Qurabiyyun. Their heads are below the Throne while their feet reach down to the lowest of the 7 earths.
The Holy Prophet also said:
- I shall inform you of the size of the Throne.
- It has 360,000 pillars,
- and between each 2 pillars there are 70,000 worlds.
- In each world, there are 360,000 deserts and 360,000 cities,
- but nobody but Allah Almighty knows who lives in all those places.
Then Allah Almighty created the soul (ruh), and no one can know it but the Almighty Lord.
- The Lord created 2 groups of souls, the higher and lower souls.
- The higher souls belong to the angels and to mankind.
- The lower souls belong to the Jinn and the devils.
- The spirits of plants and animals are of nature, they live, die and are returned to nature without reward or punishment.
Then the Lord created the Divine Court, and its splendors are untold.
- Compared to its immensity, all the 7 heavens and the 7 earths are as a tiny ring lost in a huge desert,
- but in relation to the Divine Throne it is nothing but a single pearl dropped into the limitless ocean.
- The Holy Prophet beheld it during his Night Journey and his Ascension to the Throne.
- The Lord created the air and the wind which has so many wings,
- Allah only knows their number.
- Then He created the water.
- Wind stirs the water and it surges up in waves.
- From the waves rise vapor and steam, and these become the foam of the sea.
- And this sea became solid, by the Command of the Almighty,
- and there were formed from it mountains, firmly grounded, as many mountains, as there had been waves.
- And Allah alone knows their number.
- Then the Lord created Jabal Qaf which surrounds the whole world, as if it were wrapped around it, and it is made all of green stone.
Said the Holy Prophet:
- One of the disobedient jinn was called ‘Azazil (later he came to be called Iblis), and he worshipped the Lord more than any of the others, he was the best of their number.
- So the Lord gave him a pair of wings that he could fly up and join the angels and learn from them their ways.
- Once the Lord ordered them to make war on the disobedient, and in the battle they were defeated.
- 'Azazil was at the head of the fighters, and upon their victory, pride took hold of his heart.
- 'Azazil had worshipped the Lord
- for 40,000 years in heaven,
- 40,000 years on the earths,
- and for 40,000 years in Paradise.
- But throughout those many long years of worship, 'Azazil prayed and prostrated himself only according to his own will, never according to any command. Once only did the Lord order him to make a single prostration before Adam and he disobeyed and for that he was damned.
The Lord created the earths in layers one upon the other, and between them He let scorching (barren) winds blow.
- The last layer of the earths is made of sulfur which will fuel hell for the unbelievers.
- After having created all the heavens and the earths,
- Allah Almighty ordered an angel to pick up and carry the whole of creation.
- So that the angel's feet might not be suspended in empty space He placed beneath him a stone of red ruby which was brought from the highest Paradise.
- Beneath the ruby He placed a huge bull that carried the ruby and the angel and all the heavens and the earths between his horns.
- The bull stood on a dome,
- and the dome rested on the back of a fish.
- This fish is swimming in an ocean,
- and the ocean is surrounded by air
- which is blown by mighty wind,
- so that, by the Will of the Almighty, everything revolves in orbit.
Ibn 'Abbas relates:
- Below the Divine Throne and above the 7 heavens there is a river.
- This river is of light and is reserved for the angel Jibril.
- He dips his wings into it and from every drop that falls off them when he shakes his feathers;
- Allah Almighty creates an angel, which circumambulates the Bayt al-Ma‘mur (the Heavenly House) until the Day of Judgment.
From Ka'b al-Ahbar:
- The Lord created the angels:
- Isra'il (who inscribed the Preserved Tablets before all things)
- who are the archangels and the Messengers among all the angels.
- Isra'il has 4 wings,
- one to the east, one to the west and one above the Majesty of the Lord.
- Isra'il's head is above the Divine Throne,
- his feet are below the 7 earths.
- He has the most beautiful voice among all the angels;
- he is among the angels as Dawud was among men.
500 years later, the Lord created Jibril, the most highly favored of the angels, whom He calls "the loyal spirit" or "the Lord's favorite."
- Jibril is the bearer of the Divine Revelation to the prophets of mankind.
- He has 600 wings, and each one is made of a different kind of precious material: pearls, gems, multicolored jewels, and none but Allah knows their great beauty.
- Among his 600 wings there is one, which has an especially distinct ornament, and because of this, Jibril is also known as the "Peacock of the Angels."
- Allah Almighty has appointed him to be the rouser of earthquakes.
After another 500 years Allah Almighty created the Angel Mika'il.
- He has 2 wings of precious chrysolite and other gems and 1000 faces.
- Each face has 1000 mouths and with each mouth he praises the Lord and transfers the rewards to the believers.
- He has 1,000,000 eyes, and each of these eyes cries for those who disobey the Lord, and he asks forgiveness for them.
From every drop that falls from the eyes of the angel Mika'il, the Lord creates other angels who sing His praises and pray for forgiveness for the Nation of Muhammad.
500 years later, the Lord of the Worlds created ‘Azra'il, the Angel of Death.
- His place is between the heavens and the earth,
- but it is also related that he resides in the first heaven.
- He is always facing the Preserved Tablets, the Plates of Destiny.
- With his right hand he takes hold of the souls of the believers when they die and he places them into ‘Illiyun, a blissful place in Paradise.
- With his left hand he seizes the souls of the disobedient and unbelievers and he throws them into Sijjin, a place in hell.
The Lord of the Worlds created:
- the angels called the Kiramun Katabin,
- the Noble Scribes,
- and the Muqarrabln
- who are intended for the correction of mankind. They write down all the good and the evil that has been done.
- The good deeds are written down by the angels on the right hand:
- as soon as one good deed is performed it is written down tenfold, at the very least, that is to say, meriting a tenfold reward,
- and some sources say 700,
- some 4,000.
- The angels to the right are always busy writing down these good deeds until they grow weary of writing and can write no more.
- As for the recording angel on the left, he is under the command of the angel on the right.
- Every time a sin is committed, he asks, "O right-hand angel, have I permission to write down this sin?"
- And the angel on the right says, "No! Do not write it down yet. Wait, maybe he will feel remorse, maybe he will repent, maybe he will perform a good deed that makes up for it (make an ablution, pray 2 raka'ats, give salams to the Prophet, read Qur'an) and the Lord may perhaps forgive him before this bad action is written down."
- Engaged in this discussion, the angels tarry for a full 7 hours.
- If the person, after 7 hours, shows no sign of repentance and makes no reparation for his failing, the left-hand angel will write down the sin once.
- Every person has about him 4 of these recording angels (Kiramun Katibin).
- 2 of them come to him in the morning and stay with him until night fall,
- then the other 2 take over the shift until the next morning.
- Each of these 4 angels has 640 other angels to witness what he is writing, and they never leave him.
- Above the seventh heaven and facing the Divine Throne the Lord created the Bayt al-Ma'mur, the Heavenly House.
- It stands exactly above that place on Earth where the much honored Ka'bah is now standing, only unfathomably high above it.
- Every day, 70,000 angels circumambulate this shrine 7 times and they pray there.
- Near it is a river of light in which the angels bathe and don their ihram, (pilgrim's garb) of light.
- When they are finished, other angels take their place, and there will be no moment, until the Last Day, when the tawaf of the angels will be interrupted.
- The Heavenly House was created in Paradise, and it was brought down to the Earth where it stood until the time of Nuh's af flood.
- Allah Almighty created the sun from the light of the Throne
- and from the veil around the Throne He created the moon.
- In the beginning, the light of the sun and the moon were equal, there was no distinction between day and night.
- However, the Lord wished that His servants might find rest and repose during their sleep in the night,
- so He bade the Angel Jibril to brush the face of the moon with his wing,
- and when he did so, he added its light to the light of the sun.
- When we look at the full moon now, we can clearly see the valleys, marshes and craters of the moon.
- Those are the traces of the angel's wing.
The Lord created Jannah below the Divine Throne.
For this reason the Holy Prophet has said:
- The root of the Jannah (Paradise) is the base of the Divine Throne.
- And Paradise was created with all manners of delights,
- known and unknown marvels,
- and gushing streams of the waters of Kaffur and Salsabil,
- of milk and wine and honey.
- The Holy Prophet was shown these wonders on his Mi'raj (Ascension).
- He saw these 4 rivers streaming by separately and yet springing from a common source.
- This source was housed underneath a dome, lie asked the angel, "What is under this dome?"
- The angel answered, "O Messenger of God, you have the key. It is: La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammadur-Rasulullah."
- He spoke these words and entered into the dome where he saw a river springing from each one of the walls.
- Around the circumference of the dome was written the basmala.
- From the eye of the first mim م sprang the river of milk,
- out of the ha ح of Allah the river of wine,
- From the eye of the second mim م flowed the river of honey,
- and out of the last mim م (Rahim) the waters of the river of Salsabil.
- The angel explained that the Lord would reward all those who say the basmala with a draught from those Paradise streams.
- When the Almighty created Paradise with all its delights and adorned it with all of its unspeakable splendor,
- the Jannah said, "Tuba (great joy) to whoever enters me!"
- The Lord of the Worlds then spoke and said, "O Jannah, by My Name, and by the Might, Power and Glory pertaining to Me,
- there are eight groups of persons I will not suffer to dwell within your blessed confines, until they have repented and returned to their Lord.
- Firstly, the wine-drinkers;
- secondly, the adulterers;
- thirdly, those who wink and make derisive gestures with their eyes;
- fourthly, those who have no zeal for the sake of Islam;
- fifthly, the oppressors;
- the sixth group are the calumniators [liars];
- the seventh those who cut off the bonds of kinship;
- the eighth, those who break their promises.
- All of these shall not enter Paradise until they have repented and asked for forgiveness.
Wahab reports that he asked the Holy Prophet:
- "O Messenger of God, of what did the Lord create Paradise?"
- The blessed Prophet answered:
- "Allah created Paradise from many kinds of gems, and also of water.
- The Jannah has a wall made of gold,
- and a wall made of silver,
- a wall made of diamond
- and a wall made of ruby.
- Its buildings are constructed of unimaginable precious materials.
- The soil of the Jannah is of musk
- and its clay is of saffron,
- its pebbles are of topaz and beryl.
- Those who reach Paradise will dwell therein forevermore and they will not come forth again, being eternally beloved by their Lord."
The Lord also created Hell, full of scores of torments and multiple horrors.
- Hell has 7 gates.
- To each gate there are 70 mountains,
- and on each mountain there are 70 castles.
- To every castle there are 70 doors,
- and behind each door there are 70 types of punishment.
- Among these are chains and whips and fetters and hooks of molten iron.
- The dwellers of Hell will be given fruit of the Zaqqum tree to eat
- and are made to drink boiling water.
- The Holy Prophet saw the gate to first Hell which is called Jahannam and is reserved for the disobedient among the Nation of Muhammad.
- Those Muslims who commit greater sins and do not repent of them, though they are still counted among the people of the faith, are placed in Hell and punished there.
- The very lightest of their castigations will be that they are made to wear sandals made of the fire of Hell.
- With these sandals strapped to their feet,
- their insides will heat up to such a degree that their tooth will begin to glow from within like red-hot iron,
- and their teeth will begin to boil.
- The first Hell which is called Jahannam and is reserved for the disobedient among the Nation of Muhammad.
- The second division of Hell is called Hutama. It is the Hell to which the Jews are driven by Gog and Magog (Juj and M'ajuj).
- The third section is Jahim, and it is for the Christians and the idol-worshippers.
- The fourth Hell is called Sa'ir, and it is reserved for the devils and for those who worshipped the sun, the moon and the stars.
- The fifth hell is called Laza, and it is for those who associate partners with Allah.
- The Lord of the Worlds ordered the guardians of Hell to stoke its fires,
- and they stoked them for a 1000 years, and the fire was white-hot.
- Then He ordered them to continue their stoking for another 1000 years, and the fire became red-hot, like molten iron.
- Thereafter He ordered them to stoke it yet another 1000 years, and from the excessive heat it turned all black.
- As the Lord says: "We have prepared it for the wrongdoers."
Jinn and Iblis
- The Lord of the Worlds created the fire of Sammum.
- From this Fire of Sammum He created the Jinn.
- The first of the Jinn was named Marij
- and the Lord created a second one to be his wife, and she was named Marija.
- They had a son and they called him Jinn.
- From them, are derived all the clans of the Jinn, including Iblis.
- And the Lord gave them the earth to dwell therein. They lived and worshipped there for a long time. So much, did they worship that the angels grew amazed, and said to the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth, "O our Lord, raise them up to heaven, so that we might learn from them and follow their good example."
- So the Lord brought Iblis, then ‘Azazil, up to be among the angels and he lived with them in the first heaven.
- Others remained living on Earth and remained righteous,
- while a number of them became sinners and transgressed the law, as did the Children of Adam after them.
- And the Earth began to complain of them to the Lord: "O my Lord, have you created me that I should be peopled by disobedient folk?"
- The Lord answered: "O Earth, be patient, I shall send prophets among them to lead them back to the straight path."
- Until that time no prophets had yet appeared among the Jinn.
- The Lord sent to them 800 prophets and they killed each one.
- At last, the Lord spoke to ‘Azazil in the first heaven, and He said him, "Go, ‘Azazil, go and fight the unbelievers of your people living on the Earth."
- ‘Azazil obeyed and descended onto the Earth and fought with the unbelievers, vanquishing them.
- Then the Lord sent down a fire from the skies and it consumed them, so not a trace remained.
- The only Jinn left alive were the believing and worshipping Jinn.
- Again, ‘Azazil prayed so eagerly that he was raised up into the first heaven,
- or, according to another narration, he worshipped so much in the first heaven that he was raised up through all the 7 heavens and above them.
- He worshipped on the Earth;
- he worshipped in the heavens,
- until Adam was brought into existence.
- Then, the Lord ordered all the angels to bow down before Adam
- and all the angels obeyed except Iblis:
From Hasan al-Basri:
- Iblis worshipped above the 7 heavens for more than 70,000 years,
- until he was raised to the station of Ridwan which is a very high station.
- Ridwan is the guardian of Paradise.
- Iblis was the guardian of Paradise for 1000 years.
- Once he read an inscription on the gates of Paradise, and it read:
- "There is one servant among the most highly favored servants of the Almighty Lord, and for a long time he will be obedient and serve his Lord well;
- there will come a day, however, on which he will oppose his Lord and disobey, and he will be driven from His gates and be cursed."
- Iblis, who was then still called ‘Azazil, read and wondered at this prediction.
- "How can that be," he asked, "that one of the closest servants to the Lord should grow disobedient to the Lord of the Worlds and be driven from His Holy Nearness?
- O Lord," he pleaded, "give me permission to curse that rebellious one, whoever he may be."
- The Lord gave him permission and Iblis showered curses upon that future sinner for 1000 years, knowing not that it was to be himself.
- There is conflict of opinion between people as to whether Iblis is of the Angels or of the Jinn.
- Because of his extreme virtue and the intensity of his prayers, the Lord raised him up into the heavens to live among the angels.
- When the Lord ordered them all to bow down and prostrate before Adam, he refused and his hidden disobedience was exposed.
This then was the order of the Creation:
- first of all Reason (Mind) was created, then the Soul;
- after this, the Pen, the Divine Throne and the Divine Court;
- then Heaven and Hell, the people of the Jinn,
- the Earth and the Children of Adam, the final and most perfect creation.
- Adil, Hajjah Amina. 2008. Lore of Light: Lives of the Prophets and Messengers according to traditional Islamic sources (2nd edition). Fenton, MI: Institute for Spiritual and Cultural Advancement. ISBN: 978-1-930409-65-1.
- Chapter 1: "The Creation of the Universe" (p. 19-41)