Understanding the Realms of Islam, Iman, Ihsan & Itqan
The realm of Islam is the surrender to the outward aspect of faith. The surrender of the limbs to perform the five pillars; salah (the five daily prayers), shahadda (stating “there is no god but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God), paying zakat (alms for the poor given during the month of Ramadan), fasting during the holy month of Ramadan and performing hajj (traveling to the ka’ba during the time of hajj once during your life if you have the means). All the outward forms of worship. (body, mulk)
The realm of Iman is the inward aspect of faith. In this realm you follow and believe all of the teachings of all the prophets and the holy books, including the Torah, Bible and the Qur’an on the inner as well as the outer. When you have faith and carry the message of peace, love, justice, mercy and freedom in your heart you have Iman. (Heart, Malakut)
The realm of Ihsan comes after you have established the Islam and Iman. When you give everything to Allah, you hear only the voice of Allah and come to the realization that there is nothing in this world but Allah. Everything falls away but Allah. You begin to live in a high station, the station of the soul, al-Ihsan. You see Allah in everything and pray only to love Allah. You stand facing your Allah in every prayer, a humble slave at the will if his Master. You are like the wool flowing early between the hands of your Allah, having no will of your own. When you have Ihsan you become silent with the understanding of what Allah is because you live with the soul of Allah. This is the beginning of the Sufi path. As you continue to walk to a fourth realm, the illuminated knowing, al-Itqan. (Soul, Jabarut)
When you arrive at al-Itqan you are totally absorbed in Allah. You live with the secret of the soul of Allah. You move with the order of Allah and speak with the voice of Allah. You remember the name Allah throughout the day and in the night. In every breath, you sigh, Allah Your Heart and soul are cleaned of everything but Allah. Again and again, you have given everything to Allah and your soul has returned to the soul of Allah. (Secret, Lahut)
These are the stations of the way. They are given by God to help you walk through every station to reach a high station, to be with Him. This is enough now I can not say any more.
(Most of this page is taken from “Music of the Soul” page 30-31, Sidi Muhammad press.)
For a deeper understanding of these stations see “The Ship of Safety” page 150-157 of Music of the Soul.
The Four Worlds of Existence
Mulk: Thick dense physical world of creation.
Malakut: World of spirits, angels, where things exist in an energetic form.
Jabarut: World of the Qualities, raw potential, infinite possibilities.
Lahut: Most subtle unrefined world closest to Allah’s Essence.