Fana (Sufism)

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This article is about a concept in Sufi philosophy. For a 2006 Hindi film, see Fanaa (film).

Fanaa (Arabic: فناءfanāʾ ) is the Sufi term for "passing away" or "annihilation" (of the self).[1] Fana means "to die before one dies", a concept highlighted by famous notable Muslim saints such as Rumi and later by Sultan Bahoo.[2] Fana represents a breaking down of the individual ego and a recognition of the fundamental unity of God, creation, and the individual self.[1] Persons having entered this enlightened state obtain awareness of the intrinsic unity (Tawhid) between Allah and all that exists, including the individual's mind. It is coupled conceptually with baqaa, subsistence, which is the state of pure consciousness of and abidance in God.[3]

Early Sources[edit]

Muslim scholars insist, that similar to other Sufi doctrines, Fana also based purely on the Islamic teachings. The Quran says:

"All things in creation suffer annihilation and there remains the face of the Lord in its majesty and bounty." Surat-L-Rehman 26-27 [4]

The state of Fana is represented by Rumi in Book Six of the Mathnawi where he writes:

When the Shaykh (Halláj) said ‘I am God’ and carried it through (to the end), he throttled (vanquished) all the blind (sceptics).

When a man's ‘I’ is negated (and eliminated) from existence, then what remains? Consider, O denier.[5]

In his book, Ain-ul-Faqr, Sultan Bahoo talks about spiritual levels of which Fana is one:

"Initially I was four, the became three, afterwards two and when I got out of Doi (being two), I became one with Allah."

The words reveal the journey of Oneness where 'four' means he, his Murshid, Rasool and Allah. When he annihilates in his Murshid, he remains 'three'. Then he annihilates in Rasool and he remains 'two'. Finally when he annihilates in Allah, he becomes 'One'. Hence, his journey of Fana(annihilation) completes and he becomes the Universal Man.[6]

Stages of Fana[edit]

This explains that there are in fact three basic stages of Fana.[7]

Fana fi Shaikh[edit]

This is the first level of Fana where the seeker annihilates in the being of his Murshid. This is only possible through Ishq-e-Murshid.

Fana fi Rasool[edit]

This is the second level of Fana where the seeker annihilates in the being of Rasool. This is only possible through Ishq-e-Rasool.

Fana Fillah[edit]

This is the third and final stage of Fana where the seeker annihilates in the essence of Allah attained only through Ishq-e-Haqeeqi.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Harmless, William. Mystics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008
  2. ^ Sult̤ān Bāhū (1998). Death Before Dying: The Sufi Poems of Sultan Bahu. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-92046-0. 
  3. ^ "Fana in Sufism". Britannica. 
  4. ^ 7 Renowned Translations, Arabic to English Translation. "Surat-L-Rehman 165". 
  5. ^ NICHOLSON, REYNOLD ALLEYNE, ed. The Mathnawí of Jalálu’ddín Rúmí. Poetry Soup. p.132, verses 2095-2096.
  6. ^ Hazrat Sakhi Sultan, Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman. The Universal Man (Insan-e-Kamil). Sultan-ul-Faqr Publications Regd. p. 277. ISBN 9789699795183. 
  7. ^ Hazrat Sakhi Sultan, Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman. Stages of Annhilation. Sultan-ul-Faqr Publications Regd. p. 288. ISBN 9789699795183.