Imam-i-Rabbani states, “Very frequently, the salik (disciple making progress in the grade of Suluk) is shown the world of souls. Because this world is very fine and immaterial, he thinks what he sees is Allahu ta’ala. The soul’s containing and penetrating this world (of souls) appears to him as though it were a containing and penetration done by Allahu ta’ala.”
A great Shaikh of Tasawwuf said, “For thirty years I mistook my own soul for Haqq ta’ala and worshipped my soul.”
Imam-i-Rabbani states in one of his letters, “One of the Meshaikh wrote me a letter, saying, ‘I have reached a grade in the rank of Fana, and it is such a grade that when I look at the earth I cannot see it. When I look at the sky I cannot find it, either. I cannot know about the Arsh, the Kursi, Paradise and Hell, either. Nor can I find myself. When I go near someone I cannot find him, either. Existence of Allahu ta’ala is beyond limitations. No one has found the end of His existence. … I know this state of mine as the end of the way of Tasawwuf. Also, the Meshaikh-i-kiram have said that the way ended here. It is quite all right if you, too, know this state as the last grade. Yet if you say that there are other higher grades, please write to me, so that I shall visit you and find Haqq ta’ala.’ ”
In his answering letter Imam-i-Rabbani wrote to this person, “A person who has reached this grade has reached only a fourth of the grades of heart. This state is to become Fani (to attain Fana) in the element of air, one of the four elements. Because air contains (and penetrates) everything, he (the person in this grade) sees air wherever he looks, and thinks that all this thing he sees is Haqq ta’ala.” Most people thought this kind of tawhid to be a kashf and a hal. However, the thing that reveals itself to the heart is not a kashf. It is an image. It happens in the imaginations of people who are preoccupied in this thought.
As a matter of fact, Imam-i-Rabbani states in a letter of his, in which he elaborates on Tawhid-i-shuhudee and Tawhid-i-wujudi: “Tawhid-i-wujudi mostly happens on a person when he meditates on Tawhid very much and when he interprets the word ‘La ilaha il-l-allah’ as ‘There is no being except Allahu ta’ala’. It occurs in the imaginations of those who make dhikr in this manner. It is not a kashf or haal coming to the heart. A person in this state is quite unaware of grades pertaining to the heart. When a man of Tasawwuf who is in the right way is so much vulnerable to erring, one should imagine the degree of deviation in the utterances of those depraved people who have fallen into the devil’s trap.”
(Saviours of Islamic Spirit, by Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi)