Will you explain the meaning and states of the station of baqabillah?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The terms fana fillah and baqa billah are usually explained together. Therefore, we regard it appropriate to explain them together.

Fana means disappearance, annihilation and impermanence. In Sufism (tasawwuf), it means to transcend oneself and all masiwa (everything other than Allah) and to be absorbed in the ocean of ahadiyyah (divine oneness). (2)

In the apparent sense, fana means the removal of all kinds of bad qualities from the servant, and baqa means the retention of all kinds of good qualities. In its real sense, fana is the servant’s being stripped off from his own attributes and being absorbed in what Allah wants him to be. Fana is the servant’s transcending his own states and being with Allah, who transforms states. (Sülemî, Tasavvufun Ana İlkeleri, p. 33)

Fana means the servant’s becoming stripped off from his carnal and animal pleasures and desires, losing his ability to distinguish by transcending himself and becoming stripped off from things because he is always preoccupied with the being in which he annihilated himself. Baqa, which comes after fana, means the servant’s being stripped off (fani) from the things belonging to his nafs (soul) and being absorbed (baqi) in the things belonging to God, that is, being fani from his nafs and and being baqi with God. (2)

Perfect man is a person who has attained the state of fana fillah. The phrase to be fana fillah means “to dissolve the human will in the will of the Creator”.

Junayd Baghdadi divides the state of fana into three levels:

First: Being stripped off from bad attributes, habits and natural characteristics by doing deeds, making effort and striving, opposing his soul (nafs) and forcing it to do the deeds it does not want to do.

Second: Abiding by what God wants from you, having no intermediary between you and Him, being cut off from everything else, and being stripped off from all thoughts of enjoyment in worship in order to turn solely toward Him.

Third: When the witness (light) of God prevails at the level of wajd (ecstasy), being stripped off from noticing that he has attained the observation of Allah too. At that time, you, the mortal (fani) being, become baqi (permanent). Your physical existence (your picture) remains, but your name (your individuality) disappears; and you exist with someone else. (3)

Fana is the disappearance of the incompleteness of the dervish and baqa is the occurrence of the perfection of the dervish. (İz, ibid, p. 188)

“What is with you must vanish: what is with Allah will endure.” (an-Nahl, 16/96)

“All that is on earth will perish: But will abide (for ever) the Face of thy Lord,- full of Majesty, Bounty and Honor.” (ar-Rahman, 55/26, 27)

Fana is non-existence, nothingness and to be transient. Baqa is to be permanent and everlasting. Fana is the disappearance of bad attributes and baqa is the retention of good attributes. When a person abandons bad deeds, his sensual and carnal desires disappear, and sincerity and good intentions remain. The heart of the one who severs his heart’s connection with the world becomes free from the passion for the world. When the passion for the world and bad intentions have disappeared, righteousness and honesty remain.

Fana is the servant’s losing the consciousness of being the doer and Allah’s replacing “the servant (abd)” as the doer. In this state, which we can also describe as the servant’s not seeing his deed, Allah replaces the servant; Allah sees, hears and holds. Thus, the sacred hadith “When I love my servant, I become his seeing eye, his holding hand, and his walking foot” (Bukhari, Riqaq, 38) is realized. The servant becomes so busy with Allah that he finally loses the consciousness of “self”. That consciousness is replaced by Allah again. If this state is attained through dhikr, it is called: “al fana fil madhkur”; if it is attained through love, it is called “al fana fil mahbub”. The highest degree of fana is “fana anil fana”. It means to be stripped off even from the consciousness of attaining the state of fana. This state is also called the state of “fana andar fana”. Although the servant gets rid of some human attributes in the state of fana, he does not get rid of the attribute of humanity completely. Such a claim is false and causes unbelief.

In Sufism, the concept of fana has been subjected to certain classifications from different perspectives.

a. Fanau dhat: A person’s regarding himself as non-existent, not seeing existence in himself, and thinking that the real existence is Allah.

b. Fanau sifat: A person’s being stripped off from human attributes.

c. Fanau af’al: It is the lack of consciousness in the actions and movements of the servant. Therefore, in Sufi books, fana is used together and synonymously with the word faqr.

There are also varieties of fana according to the training process during sayr and suluk (journeying and initiation).

a. Fana fil-ikhwan: In tariqah (dervish order), placing the love of ikhwan (religious brothers) and brotherhood in the heart, putting their desires and wishes before one’s own desires and wishes, and mixing with them with love.

b. Fana fish-sheikh: The dervish’s eliminating his personal will and desires in the will and desire of his sheikh, and replacing his own will and desire with the will and desire of his sheikh.

c. Fana fir-Rasul: The dervish’s melting with love and affection in the person of the Prophet (pbuh) and attaining fana in his person after experiencing fana in his shaykh. It is the adoption and adornment of the attributes and ethics of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).

d. Fana fillah: The dervish’s being stripped off from his own attributes and qualities and being adorned with the attributes of Allah. (4)

Hujwari states the following regarding the issue: It should be known that fana and baqa mean one thing in the tongue of knowledge (among scholars) and another thing in the tongue of disposition (among Sufis). Scholars are not astonished by any other expression as much as by this expression.

The word baqa has three meanings according to dictionaries and in terms of knowledge: First: It is something whose beginning and end are both in fana, such as this world. Second: The beings that did not exist at first, but came into existence later and will never perish (be fani), such as the hereafter, Paradise, Hell and those that are there. Third: The being whose existence has never ceased to exist and will never cease to exist: The baqa of the glorious God and His attributes. The knowledge of fana is the knowledge that the world is ephemeral, and the knowledge of baqa is the knowledge that the hereafter is eternal because God Almighty states the following in the Quran: “But the hereafter is better and more enduring.” (al-A’la, 87/17)

Fana and baqa (in the Sufi sense of baqa and fana) in one’s state are as follows: When ignorance is fani (disappears), the baqa of knowledge is essential; when ignorance disappears, knowledge definitely exists and remains. When the state of disobedience disappears, the state of obedience remains (becomes baqi). When the servant attains knowledge and worship, heedlessness disappears with the maintenance of dhikr. In other words, if the servant has knowledge in the sight of Allah and this knowledge is permanent and lasting, ignorance will be eliminated thanks to it. When he is stripped off from heedlessness, he becomes permanent with His dhikr. That is the permanence of good qualities and the removal of bad qualities. Abu Said Kharraz, as the founder of this school of thought, said: “Fana is the servant’s becoming fani from seeing servitude and baqa the servant’s becoming baqi with the witnessing of divinity (and seeing its manifestations).” He was the first one to mention the states of fana and baqa. (5)

It is a Sufi term meaning that the servant becomes fani from seeing his own actions and behaviors and reaches the point of being a true servant. (Mustafa Kara, “Fana”, DİA., XII, 333) As for Baqa-billah, it is a Sufi term meaning that the dervish, who is purified from bad habits and attributes, acquires good habits and attributes, becomes fani from himself and is together with God. (“Bekâ”, DİA., V, 359)

A Sufi expression meaning to disappear (to be annihilated) in Allah. Fana means extinction, the end of existence. In Sufism, fana means to be qualified with all of Allah’s attributes except His essence. As the servant abandons the attributes and deeds of the servants, he becomes qualified with the attributes of Allah, i.e., Allah’s attributes such as sight, hearing, etc. When the servant turns to Allah and surrenders to Him, he begins to see things from Allah’s point of view as it is stated in the hadith “I become his eyes and ears...”.

In addition, fana means abandoning bad habits and characteristics and having good qualities and characteristics (Tahanawi, Kashshafu Istilahati-Funun, Istanbul 1984, I, 1157).

According to Abu Said Kharraz, “Fana fillah means the servant’s being fani from seeing his servitude and baqa billah means that the servant’s being baqi and existent in the presence of Allah.”

It is possible to regard fana as being closely related to annihilation and baqa to existence. The following is stated in the Quran:

“All that is on earth will perish: But will abide (for ever) the Face of thy Lord,- full of Majesty, Bounty and Honor.” (ar-Rahman, 55/26-27)

The state of fana ends with the existence of the state of baqa. It is called Fanaul-Fana.


(1) See Şemsettin Sâmî, Kâmûs u Türkî, İkdâm Matbaası, Ist., 1318; Ofset 3rd imp., Çağrı Yayınları, İst., 1989, p.1005.

(2) See Abubakr Muhammad Qalabazi, at Ta’arruf li Madhhabi Ahlit-Tasawwuf, Tahqiq, Mahmud an Nawawi, 2nd imp., Maktabatul Kulliyyatil Azhariyya, Cairo, 1400, p. 147; the same author, Doğuş Devrinde Tasavvuf: Ta’arruf, prepared by Süleyman Uludağ, Dergâh Yayınları, 2nd imp., Ist., 1992, pp. 182 183.

(3) See Süleyman Ateş, Cüneyd i Bağdâdî (k.s) Hayatı, Eserleri ve Mektupları, Sönmez Neşriyat, İst., 1969, p. 154.

(4) See H. Kamil Yılmaz, Ana Hatlarıyla Tasavvuf ve Tarikatlar, Ensar Neşriyat, İst. 1994, pp. 226-229.

(5) See Ali b. Uthman al Hujwiri, Kashful Mahjub, Translated from English into Arabic by Ismail Mazi Abul Gharaim, Tah. Ibrahim Dusuki, Darut Turathil Arabi, Cairo, 1974, pp. 290, 293; the same author, Kashful Mahjub: Hakikat Bilgisi, prepared by Süleyman Uludağ, Dergâh Yayınları, Ist., 1982, pp. 363, 370.

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