“When I am with you, we stay up all night. When you are not here, I can not go to sleep. Praise be to God for those two insomnias! And the difference between them.” ~Rumi —
The caveats of dreaming of one’s beloved as well as anxiously anticipating the beloved’s “arrival” are part and parcel of the drama we call love. Yet in the Sufi tradition, the expression of love in this world is termed “ishqe majazi” (metaphorical love), whereas the reality of spiritual love is termed “ishqe haqiqi” (True Love). Although this poetic verse can be viewed in many ways, allow us this brief reflection as it concerns union (“when I am with you”) and separation (“when you are not here”) in the spiritual life, and how in this process one remains spiritually awake and in effect an “insomniac”:
In this spiritual love parable, Rumi captures the meaning of “jamm’a” (spiritual union, togetherness) and “farq” (spiritual distinction, separation) as two modes of “remembering God” (dhikr Allah). The key here is to actually realize that BOTH can be and are modes of Remembrance of God and that is why Rumi praises God for these two “sleepless” states of spiritual being or “moments” with God. The Mevlana (Our Master Rumi) eludes to that subtle truth most beautifully here: that for as long as you are remembering God, in no matter which state of being (jamm’a or farq) you are spiritually “awake” and can never sleep!
As for the spiritual state of being which is termed jamm’a, the Sufis appear to be unanimous yet multi-valent in their descriptions of the subtleties of the this mode of “Knowing” God. In a purely metaphysical sense, “union” or “being with the beloved” is akin to the transcendent realization of “Supreme Identity” with Al-Haqq (God, The Truth) as As-Shahid (God, “The Witness”) who Witnesses’s ultimately Himself through the “other”. However, many Sufis prefer to use terms such as fana (annihilation of the separative identity of the individual subject through God’s Presence) and subsistence (baqaa through this Presence within one’s subjectivity) as more metaphysically precise and even “spiritually courteous” explanation of the reality of jamm’a. Moreover, other Sufis recognize that both jamm’a and farq are part and parcel of the dynamic that a “Friend of God” (wali Allah) has with God–which occurs witin the station of “nearness” (qurb) to God. This mystical realization is akin to the truths underlying the Hadith Qudsi (Sacred Utternace of God through the Prophetic moutpiece) which explains that when the servant draws near to God through obligatory works and then superogratory works, God may choose to Love that servant and spiritually “…become the ears through which he hears and the eyes through which he sees…”. On the one hand God “is” such a Friend’s “Ears and Eyes” (jamm’a). On the other hand, the same servant’s hearing and seeing are his own (farq)…
As for the spiritual state of being which is termed “farq“, this can essentially be understood as that state of the spiritual wayfarer who is “separated” from God’s direct Presence and lives more consciously in one’s separative identity. In this light, it can be said that there are multiple levels or degrees of “farq” (distinction) which may be envisaged–from those degrees of farq which approach jamm’a to those degrees of farq which are very far from the reality of jamm’a. However, Rumi praises God for the very existence all of these states of farq before one’s Lord which he seems to be identifying with the state of “not being here with me”.
The secret here I think is to further appreciate how such a mode of farq can be a blessed state. In any state which defines farq, it appears that as long as the wayfarer to God upholds a genuine attitude of a spiritual “thirst” and “irada” (willingness) for the “meeting” with God through “jamm’a” and with trust and faith in His Mercy, the seeker is indeed in a blessed state and should “praise God” as Rumi notes.
This appears understandable for those who are actively seeking God’s Nearness, but how about for those seekers who in this context of farq are prone to sinning and are otherwise ensnared by their vices? Perhaps when farq entails “sinning” as a kind of “separation” from God, the shame which results from this act can and should be viewed as kind of hidden blessing. It becomes an apparent blessing to the extent that one has the ability and the belief to transform a shameful and contrite state of farq into a dhikr of God through tawbah (repentance)! For what is tawbah other than a “return” to God, literally in Arabic?!
Glory Be to God Who is Ever-Returning in Mercy and Forgiveness (Al Ghafur and At-Tawabur Rahim) and All Prasie be to Him for these two kinds of insomnias which indeed are different forms of “remembrance” of God! So always have a “better opinion” (husni zunn) of God in whatever state you find yourself in (“har haal mein”), whether in the “wakeful” state or the “sleepless” state for God will never avail you of His Mercy as He is both Pure Love (Al Wadud) and Pure Witness (As-Shahid). Therefore, be a “spiritual insomniac” for His Sake alone.