"The True Seeker must, before all else, cleanse his heart..."


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by Mark Towfiq
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The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys
Pages 11-17

The Valley of Knowledge
and come out of doubt into certitude, and turn from the darkness of illusion to the guiding light of the fear of God. His inner eyes will open and he will privily converse with his Beloved; he will set ajar the gate of truth and piety, and shut the doors of vain imaginings. He in this station is content with the decree of God, and seeth war as peace, and findeth in death the secrets of everlasting life. With inward and outward eyes he witnesseth the mysteries of resurrection in the realms of creation and the souls of men, and with a pure heart apprehendeth the divine wisdom in the endless Manifestations of God. In the ocean he findeth a drop, in a drop he beholdeth the secrets of the sea.

Split the atom's heart, and lo!
Within it thou wilt find a sun. [1]

The wayfarer in this Valley seeth in the fashionings of the True One nothing save clear providence, and at every moment saith: "No defect canst thou see in the creation of the God of Mercy: Repeat the gaze: Seest thou a single flaw?" [2] He beholdeth justice in injustice, and in justice, grace. In ignorance he findeth many a knowledge hidden, and in knowledge a myriad wisdoms manifest. He breaketh the cage of the body and the passions, and consorteth with the people of the immortal realm. He mounteth on the ladders of inner truth and hasteneth to the heaven of inner significance. He rideth in the ark of "we shall show them our signs in the regions and in themselves," [3] and journeyeth over the sea of "until it become plain to them that (this Book) is the truth." [4] And if he meeteth with injustice he shall have patience, and if he cometh upon wrath he shall manifest love.


There was once a lover who had sighed for long years in separation from his beloved, and wasted in the fire of remoteness. From the rule of love, his heart was empty of patience, and his body weary of his spirit; he reckoned life without her as a mockery, and time consumed him away. How many a day he found no rest in longing for her; how many a night the pain of her kept him from sleep; his body was worn to a sigh, his heart's wound had turned him to a cry of sorrow. He had given a thousand lives for one taste of the cup of her presence, but it availed him not. The doctors knew no cure for him, and companions avoided his company; yea, physicians have no medicine for one sick of love, unless the favor of the beloved one deliver him.


At last, the tree of his longing yielded the fruit of despair, and the fire of his hope fell to ashes. Then one night he could live no more, and he went out of his house and made for the marketplace. On a sudden, a watchman followed after him. He broke into a run, with the watchman following; then other watchmen came together, and barred every passage to the weary one. And the wretched one cried from his heart, and ran here and there, and moaned to himself: "Surely this watchman is Izrá'íl, my angel of death, following so fast upon me; or he is a tyrant of men, seeking to harm me." His feet carried him on, the one bleeding with the arrow of love, and his heart lamented. Then he came to a garden wall, and with untold pain he scaled it, for it proved very high; and forgetting his life, he threw himself down to the garden.


And there he beheld his beloved with a lamp in her hand, searching for a ring she had lost. When the heart-surrendered lover looked on his ravishing love, he drew a great breath and raised up his hands in prayer, crying: "O God! Give Thou glory to the watchman, and riches and long life. For the watchman was Gabriel, guiding this poor one; or he was Isráfíl, bringing life to this wretched one!"


Indeed, his words were true, for he had found many a secret justice in this seeming tyranny of the watchman, and seen how many a mercy lay hid behind the veil. Out of wrath, the guard had led him who was athirst in love's desert to the sea of his loved one, and lit up the dark night of absence with the light of reunion. He had driven one who was afar, into the garden of nearness, had guided an ailing soul to the heart's physician.


Now if the lover could have looked ahead, he would have blessed the watchman at the start, and prayed on his behalf, and he would have seen that tyranny as justice; but since the end was veiled to him, he moaned and made his plaint in the beginning. Yet those who journey in the garden land of knowledge, because they see the end in the beginning, see peace in war and friendliness in anger.


Such is the state of the wayfarers in this Valley; but the people of the Valleys above this see the end and the beginning as one; nay, they see neither beginning nor end, and witness neither "first" nor "last." [5] Nay rather, the denizens of the undying city, who dwell in the green garden land, see not even "neither first nor last"; they fly from all that is first, and repulse all that is last. For these have passed over the worlds of names, and fled beyond the worlds of attributes as swift as lightning. Thus is it said: "Absolute Unity excludeth all attributes." [6] And they have made their dwelling-place in the shadow of the Essence.


Wherefore, relevant to this, Khájih `Abdu'lláh [7] --may God the Most High sanctify his beloved spirit--hath made a subtle point and spoken an eloquent word as to the meaning of "Guide Thou us on the straight path," [8] which is: "Show us the right way, that is, honor us with the love of Thine Essence, that we may be freed from turning toward ourselves and toward all else save Thee, and may become wholly Thine, and know only Thee, and see only Thee, and think of none save Thee."


Nay, these even mount above this station, wherefore it is said:


Love is a veil betwixt the lover and the loved one;
More than this I am not permitted to tell. [9]

At this hour the morn of knowledge hath arisen and the lamps of wayfaring and wandering are quenched. [10]


Veiled from this was Moses
Though all strength and light;
Then thou who hast no wings at all,
Attempt not flight. [11]

If thou be a man of communion and prayer, soar up on the wings of assistance from Holy Souls, that thou mayest behold the mysteries of the Friend and attain to the lights of the Beloved, "Verily, we are from God and to Him shall we return." [12]


After passing through the Valley of knowledge, which is the last plane of limitation, the wayfarer cometh to



1. []

2. [Qur'án 67:3]

3. [Qur'án 41:53]

4. [Qur'án 41:53]

5. [Qur'án 57:3]

6. [Saying attributed to `Alí.]

7. [Shaykh Abú Ismá'íl `Abdu'lláh Ansárí of Hirát (1006-1088 A.D.) Súfí leader, descended from the Prophet's companion Abú Ayyúb. Chiefly known for his Munáját (Supplications) and Rubá'íyyát (Quatrains). "Ansár" means the "Helpers" or companions of Muhammad in Medina.]

8. [Qur'án 1:5]

9. []

10. [This refers to the mystic wandering and search for truth guided by "Lights" or Súfí leaders. Bahá'u'lláh here warns the mystics that the coming of the Divine Manifestation in His Day makes further search unnecessary, as it was said by `Alí: "Quench the lamp when the sun hath risen"--the sun referring to the Manifestation of God in the New Day.]

11. []

12. [Qur'án 2:151]