Three Types of Fana’
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The following is an extract of a letter, from the discourses of Shaykh Ibrahim ibn ‘Abdullah Niyas al-Kawlakhi (q.s.): “Three types of fana’.”
“There are three types of fana’: fana’ fi af’al, annihilation in the Acts of Allah; fana’ fi asw-swifat, annihilation in the Attributes of Allah; and fana’ fi adz-dzat, Annihilation in the Essence of Allah. Many of the believers have attained the station of annihilation in the Acts of Allah. Whosoever knows that there is no ‘doer’ in existence except Allah, this is the one who is annihilated in the Acts of Allah. Indeed, many of the common believers have obtained this degree of annihilation. I told my students, in one of the lessons on Arabic grammar, that the grammarians say, ‘The Doer in reality is Allah, even if He engenders the action metaphorically by means of an agent, for the One Who engenders the action is inseparable from the action performed.’ That is because it all is Allah. The ‘Doer’, in reality, is Allah, and the metaphorical agent, who to do the action, is also Allah. Whosoever knows that there is no ‘doer’ in existence except Allah has attained the annihilation in the Acts of Allah, in the Presence of the Acts of Allah, and this person has found some of the true faith.
If the person attains the station of annihilation in the Attributes, he has indeed ascended to a higher station. The Attributes of Allah are well-known to all of us, as we have studied the books of tawhid, which begin by enumerating His Attributes: Qudrat, Iradat, ‘Ilm, Hayat, Sami’a, Baswar, and Kalam. When we have assigned each of these Attributes of Allah to Him Alone, we have attained to the station of annihilation in the Attributes of Allah. The ‘ulama have settled for us in our elementary teaching that there is no power, will, knowledge, life, hearing, seeing, or speech except that of Allah. Therefore, whosoever attains has arrived to the station of fana’ fi asw-swifat. If someone persists onward and is Elevated beyond this, he will attain to the station of annihilation in the Essence of Allah.”