Ana’niyyah and Fana’iyyah
by Hazrat Maulana Yunus Patel Saheb (rahmatullah ‘alayh)
There are two opposing conditions which are found in people. These are: Anaa’niyyah and Fanaa’iyyah.
‘Ananiyyah means everything is about “me” or “I, me and myself”. At all times, life revolves around me —that’s all.
The person puts himself first, gives preference, and believes he is important. The person wants to be recognized wherever he goes – that he is somebody. If he is not recognized, he is offended. If he goes to some Majlis and people do not shake his hand and acknowledge his presence, he is upset. The person thinks that I am such a great person and people are not showing any interest.
The inner desire is to be recognized and known. Such a condition indicates that the person is in the firm grip of his nafs. This is Ana’niyyah. Everything is ‘Ana’, ‘Ana’, ‘Ana’ (I, I, I).
When there is ‘Ananiyyah, Allah Ta’ala destroys.
When the sheep is alive, it bleats. It repeatedly says: ‘Meh meh meh”. This is the sheep that comes under the knife for slaughter. When the nafs is alive, and its condition is ‘ana, ana, ana’, then that person comes under the punishment of Allah Ta’ala and is humbled and destroyed.
On the other hand, the person who develops Fana’iyyah, i.e., annihilates himself —There is no “me, myself and I”.
One girl had a proposal from someone. I am not mentioning any name, and no one knows whom I am talking about. In her e-mail, she mentioned her level of Taqwa. She said: ‘I have a high level of Taqwa. There is someone who is proposing marriage. However, I do not want his level of Taqwa to be lower than mine. He must be able to increase my level of Taqwa.”
Part of the reply that was given was: “I have to caution you concerning your claim of your Taqwa being of a very high level. This is very dangerous. All those who are of a high level of Taqwa consider themselves insignificant; they consider themselves the most sinful ones on earth. Allah Ta’ala then places in the hearts of people, Husnus Zann (good opinion) and Thanaa (praise) —that the person is a person of Taqwa. Those who have Taqwa do not make loud and bold claims because they have annihilated themselves.”
They have made Fanaa of their nafs. On that Fanaa, Allah Ta’ala gives them “Baqaa”. Allah Ta’ala keeps their names, works, Bayanaat, Uloom and Naseehah alive because they made Fanaa.
On the other hand, the one who is always chasing after name, fame, and prominence, then Allah Ta’ala gives them “Fanaa” —Allah Ta’ala destroys. This “Fana” and destruction have a different meaning to Fana of the nafs.
Allah Ta’ala dislikes and disapproves that the servant makes a claim and testifies to their own purity and piety. Allah Ta’ala says:
“…So do not claim purity for yourselves. He knows best who is God-fearing.”
[Surah An-Najm 53: 32]
It is most definitely Allah Ta’ala’s Fadhl and Karam upon any person, if the person progresses in this path of Islaah and Tazkiyyah:
“…Had it not been for the grace of Allah upon you and His Mercy, not a single person from you would have ever attained purity. But Allah purifies whomsoever He wills. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.”
[Surah An-Noor 24: 21]
The Masha’ikh used to train their Mureeds in many different ways. Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (rahmatullah ‘alayh) was a Mureed of aji Imadadullah (rahmatullah ‘alayh), and in that Ta-‘alluq, he became very close to his Shaykh.
However, consider the training he received from his Shaykh:
He was seated at the Dastarkhan with his Shaykh. When the food came from Haji Saheb’s home, one plate contained delicious kofta (kebab). The other plate contained a simple type of gravy. Haji Saheb (rahmatullah ‘alayh) kept the kabab aside and gave Maulana Gangohi (rahmatullah ‘alayh) the simple gravy.
As they ate, Hazrat Zamin Shahid (rahmatullah ‘alayh) walked in. On seeing them eating, he addressed Haji Saheb (rahmatullah ‘alayh) and said: “Why do you not pass the kofta also to Rashid Ahmad?”
Upon this, Hazrat Haji Saheb (rahmatullah ‘alayh) replied —with the object of testing his Mureed: “He (Maulana Gangohi) should be grateful that I am allowing him to even eat with me. In fact, I had intended to give him a piece of bread in his hand and for him to eat elsewhere!”
While he said this, he also watched the reaction of Maulana Gangohi (rahmatullah ‘alayh). Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (rahmatullah ‘alayh) did not take any offence to this statement, and his facial expression did not change in any way. He himself said: “Alhamdulillah! There was no effect on my heart. I accepted that whatever Haji Saheb had said was the truth. Getting a piece of bread from him was a great favour, regardless of how it was obtained.”
When someone is a little upset, it is easy to make out that he is upset.
Another person would have said he is being humiliated, disgraced, and shamed, but these were the types of tests they went through in the past.
Today, Mureeds would say: “What does this Shaykh think of himself?! Does he think that I can’t have good food at home?”, the person would leave —he would go home.
Most Mureeds today don’t have that same capacity or appreciation. The present-day Masha’ikh —understanding the nature of people, adopt a somewhat lenient approach. Of course, there will be discipline, but they understand that the nature of the people is not the same.
The objective is the reformation of the Mureed. Some —who are inexperienced, constantly reproach and admonish their Mureeds or students. They reprimand and reprimand. This indicates that there is no correct understanding and no skill in how to make Islaah. Each person is different. Each person’s temperament is different, and the Shaykh has to understand the temperament of each Mureed. Some will take a harsh reprimand, but others may disappear altogether – and then they will lose out on the benefits of the Suhbat and the Ta’leem of the Shaykh.
Even the Shaykh and the Ustadh need to check the reason for which they are reprimanding. Is it motivated by nafs, or is it a sincere concern for the Mureed to progress in this path or the student to excel in his studies?
These are the aspects of Sulook that need to be learnt: To make Fanaa of one’s self!
Once that Azmat of Allah Ta’ala enters the heart, the person will not think anything of himself.
Nabi (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) taught us the Dua:
اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْنِي شَكُورًا وَاجْعَلْنِي صَبُورًا وَاجْعَلْنِي فِي عَيْنِي صَغِيرًا وَفِي أَعْي النَّاسِ كَبِيرًا
“…O Allah, make me small (insignificant) in my own eyes, and make me great (significant) in the eyes of the people.” 
Meaning, in my heart, I should think of myself as very small, insignificant, and as a nobody, but in the hearts of people, Allah Ta’ala places respect and Azmat (honour).
If people do not have Azmat in their hearts, who will listen? If a person is addicted to drugs, known as a womanizer, a gambler, or involved in other major sins, and if the person is told to sit on the Mimbar and give a Bayaan, will anyone listen to his Bayaan -with Azmat? We know what sins he is engaging in, and the public knows. Will people make special requests that he makes Dua for them? —No.
Because there is no Azmat in the people's hearts and sight.
Ask Allah Ta’ala to give us Azmat, but in our own sight, and hearts, we must not think of ourselves as people of worth and esteem. There must be Fana’iyyah. However, this is a process. Fana’iyyah is not just saying: ‘I’m nothing!’. Words are very easy to utter, but the reality is something else. The reality requires Islaah, Tazkiyyah and Mujahadah.
My Shaykh, Hazrat Maulana Hakim Muhammad Akhtar Saheb (rahmatullah ‘alayh) had said that sometimes a person tries to project an image of humility and self-effacement; he wants to be known as a very pious and humble man. So he will say: “I’m nothing. I’m absolutely nothing.”
But if a person agrees with him and says: “Yes, you are nothing.” his colour changes, and he becomes angry. Why? Because there is no Haqeeqat, no reality.
This Fanaa’iyyah is achieved when the connection with one’s Shaykh is sincere, and the Mureed plays his part as a Mureed should, by informing the Shaykh of his spiritual ailments, accepting and following through with the guidance and direction, with the spiritual medication and prescriptions of the Shaykh. All of this requires humility and surrender –but how many are prepared to humble themselves?
Yet it is in humbling oneself, undertaking this process of Islaah and bringing this reality in us, that Allah Ta’ala will grant elevation and Baqaa.
Rasulullah (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“No one humbles himself for the sake of Allah, except that Allah will elevate him.
We should not do, seeking elevation and Baqaa. We should do for the sake of Allah Ta’ala.
May Allah Ta’ala grant us complete and correct understanding and the Taufeeq of reforming ourselves. May Allah Ta’ala grant us the qualities of Istighnaa, Qanaa’at, Tawakkul and Yaqeen in Him, Aameen.
 Majma’uz Zawaid.
 Sahih Muslim