An Introduction to Irfan
It is in this sense that the 'urafa' have talked much about sharab and mey that would ordinarily mean wine.
14, 15 & 16. Mahw, Mahq, and Sahw:
In the 'urafa's discourses, the words mahw (effacement) and sahw (sobriety) are very common. What is meant by mahw is that the 'arif reaches such a stage that his ego becomes effaced in the Divine Essence.
He no more perceives his own ego as others do. And if this effacement reaches such a point that the effects of his ego are also effaced, they call this mahq (obliteration). Mahw and mahq are both higher than the stage of ghaybah, as indicated above. Mahw and mahq mean fana' (annihilation). Yet it is possible for an 'arif to return from the state of fana' to the state of baqa' (abiding in God). It does not however, mean a retrogression from a higher state; rather it means that the 'arif finds subsistence in God. This state, loftier even than mahw and mahq, is called sahw.
17. Khawatir (Thoughts):
The 'urafa' call the thoughts and inspirations cast into their hearts waridat (arrivals). These waridat are sometimes in the form of states of 'contraction' or 'expansion', joy or sadness, and sometimes in the form of words and speech. In the latter case they are called khawatir (sing. khatirah). It is as if someone inside him is speaking to the 'arif.
The 'urafa' have much to say on the subject of khawatir. They say that they can be rahmani (i.e. from God), shaytani (inspired by the Devil) or nafsani (musings of the self). The khawatir constitute one of the dangers of the path, for it is possible that due to some deviation or error the Devil may come to dominate the human being. In the words of the Quran:
Verily the satans inspire their friends ... (6:121)
They say that the more adept should be able to discern whether the khatirah is from God or from the Devil. The fundamental criterion is to see what a particular khatirah commands or prohibits; if its command or prohibition is contrary to the dicta of the Shari'ah, then it is definitely satanic. The Quran says:
Shall I inform you upon whom the Satans descend ? They descend upon every lying, sinful one. (26:221-222)