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In Sufism, ma'rifa (Arabic: معرفة‎, romanizedma‘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".[1]

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."[citation needed]

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 and diving; haqiqa is the pearl; and ma'rifa is the gift to see the true pearl perpetually.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Religion vol. 1 ISBN 8182052033, 2005, p. 67
  2. ^ Geertz, Clifford (1976). The religion of Java. University of Chicago Press. p. 183. ISBN 9780226285108. Retrieved 20 December 2016.

Works cited[edit]

  • 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.