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In Sufism, ma'rifa (Arabic: معرفة, translit. ma‘rifah, lit. 'knowledge') describes the mystical intuitive knowledge of spiritual truth reached through ecstatic experiences, rather than revealed or rationally acquired.
A seeker of ma'rifa is called 'arif, "the one who knows".
In one of the earliest accounts of the Maqamat-l arba'in ("forty stations") in Sufism, Sufi master Abu Said ibn Abi'l-Khayr lists ma'rifa as the 25th station: "Through all the creatures of the two worlds, and through all the people, they perceive Allah, and there is no accusation to be made of their perception."
Marifat is one of the "Four Doors" of Sufism:
- Sharia (Arabic: شريعة) : legal path.
- Tariqa (Arabic: طريقة) : methodico‑esoteric path.
- Haqiqa (Arabic: حقيقة) : mystical truth / verity.
- Ma'rifa (Arabic: معرفة) : mystical knowledge & awareness, mysticism.
A metaphor to explain the meaning of ma'rifa involves pearl gathering. Shari'a is the boat; tariqa is represented by the pearl gatherer's rowing; haqiqa is the pearl; and ma'rifa is the ability to tell the difference between true and false pearls.
- Damadi, M. (April 1971). Maqamat-l arba'in.
- Gulen, M. Fethullah (2004). Key Concepts in the Practice of Sufism, Emerald hills of the heart. 2. p. 135.
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