This article covers SIR (Secret) in Sufi terminology.
Meaning something kept hidden from the knowledge or view of others, sir (secret) is a spiritual faculty deposited in the heart as a Divine trust. As a Divine trust, it has the same significance for the heart as spirit has for the body. Will-power, the mind, feelings, and the heart are the four pillars of the conscience and human conscious nature-these are called “the heavenly faculties”–that are given by the Lord in the same way that a secret is a faculty and dimension of the heart. Each of the pillars of conscience has a function and goal particular to it with respect to the relationship between the Lord and His servants. Will-power is charged with submission and devotion to the Lord, the mind with acquiring the necessary information to know God, the feelings with love of God, and the heart with a vision of God’s “Face.” As for secret, it is open to and innately charged with discovering Divine secrets.
All creation has been brought into existence by the Power of the Necessarily Existent One. This gives rise to a relationship between the Creator as Lord (One Who sustains, brings up, and protects the creation and administers life) and the creation, the things and beings, of which He is Lord. This relation contains secrets that are concerned with God’s Lordship and which are called the “secrets of Lordship.” Lordship manifests itself, first of all, in the heart: the seekers feel this manifestation developing as they learn more about Him and in a deeper manner, until the point where they experience the concentrated manifestation of the Divine Names in themselves and see the whole of creation, including themselves, as consisting only in the manifestation of those Names. Finally, they obtain the pleasure of witnessing the Lord in everything with all His Names. This witnessing opens to them the door of some Divine secrets called the “secrets of manifestation.”
Some have interpreted secret as meaning a heart that is purified of all carnal vices and stains caused by attachment to anything else other than the Lord, and which has a clear relationship with the world of spirit.
Based on the verse (11:31), God knows the best whatever is in their inner worlds, we can describe a secret as being a pure bosom full of loyalty and faithfulness, open to Prophetic messages, and preferring God and the other world to all else. We can regard secret in this sense as being the heart at the level of secret.
Some have viewed the qualities mentioned here as the reasons or means of a secret’s rising in the heart. When God prepares a heart to have these qualities, endowing it with the possibility and opportunity of accepting religion, the acceptance of God’s Existence and Oneness, the confirmation of the afterlife, and the affirmation of the Prophets, the heart immediately uses this possibility and opportunity and tries to achieve the goals that can be achieved through secret. In other words, since God knows that such a heart will use this Divine trust-secret-in the best way possible, out of His special grace, He causes it to flourish. For it is He Himself Who declares (6:53): Does God not know best who are the thankful?
Such a pure, elevated heart or its owner are indicated sometimes by, Surely God loves a servant who is pious, indifferent to all save Him, and has unknown depths, and sometimes by, How many servants there are, whose hair is untidy, and who are repulsed from doors, and denied respect and attention, but if they swear by God for something, God does not prove them to be untrue.
In view of the above explanations, the people of secret can be divided into three classes:
- The people of truth whose eyes do not see any save God, and who always pursue His good pleasure and know how to resist the carnal self. Their aims, for which they make every effort, are so sublime that they cannot be prevented by any worldly desire, and are so pure that they are in accord with the Divine commandments, and their lives are ordered to gain eternal happiness. The ways they follow are free of any doubt, and they are always aware of God’s purpose in any of their acts, even for a millisecond. They avoid fame and any distinction, knowing that servanthood to God is the aim of their existence; they value it above all worldly and other worldly considerations. Their daily lives are described in the following verse (24:36-37):
In houses which God has allowed to be exalted and in which His Name is mentioned: therein are men who glorify Him in the morning and evening and whom neither trade nor buying prevents from mention of God and establishing the Prayer and paying the prescribed Alms; who fear a day when hearts and eyes will be over-turned.
- The faithful souls who try to hide from others their degree of relationship with God and their rank with Him: they keep the Divine gifts granted to them concealed from others, as if they were guarding their chastity, and although each is a star in the heaven of sainthood, they all try to appear as if they were but fireflies. Though each is a dove striving on God’s way, they prefer to appear like magpies, knowing themselves to be nothing, even when they are declared in the heavens to be so holy as to be among the worthiest in the sight of God. In serving on God’s way, they are extra-ordinarily active, dynamic and humble, although they outstrip all others; they are altruistic and disinterested when it is their turn to receive wages; they have no expectations in this world. They are described in the following verse (5:54):
A people whom He loves, and who love Him, and who are most humble towards the believers, and dignified and commanding in the face of the unbelievers, continuously striving in God’s way in solidarity, and fearing not the censure of anyone to censure them.
When they are alone with God in devotion, they are extra-ordinarily profound, while being exceptionally wise and successful in worldly affairs. They are remarkably careful and determined when guarding the honor of their community, and they hold themselves as aloof as possible from mean acts which may bring disgrace upon them or may cause others to feel suspicious.
- The heroes have reached the summit of perfection under the care and protection of the All-Preserving and with the help of the All-Helping: they do not spend even a moment without Him, and use every event, thought and consideration as a means to mention Him. Self-annihilated in His company, they live unaware of themselves. Whatever good they do for others and whatever service they render on God’s way, they conceal it, not only from others, but also from themselves. Even if they sometimes feel some pride in themselves, they regard this as if it were a terrible affliction and immediately try to escape. They spend their lives amidst ecstasy and exhilaration, and rejoice in the Divine compliments, and in His special help and perfect care.
These heroes are unknown among people and remain hid-den, enveloped by secrets, although they are God’s favorites and among the most vital elements of existence. God, the Truth, looks at things with their eyes and the universe is fed with the pure water of their secrets.
O God! Help us with mentioning You, and being thankful to You, and worshipping You properly. And may Your blessings and peace be on our master Muhammad, the master of those who regularly worship God in the best way possible and with sincerity, and on his family and all of His Companions.
By M. Fethullah Gulen