An Introduction to Irfan
The 'arif's Goal:
The 'arif desires the Real (God) not for the sake of something else, and he values nothing above his knowledge of the Real, and his worship of Him is because He is worthy of worship and it is a worthy way of relating himself to Him; it is not out of desire (for rewards) or fear (of chastisement).
The meaning of this is that in terms of his aims the 'arif is a muwahhid. He seeks only God, yet his desire of God is not on account of His gifts in this world or in the Hereafter. Were such to be the case, the real object of his desire would be the gifts, God being only the preliminary means by which the desired gifts are sought. In such a case, in reality, the final object of worship and desire would be one's own self; for the purpose of seeking those gifts is the pleasure of the self.
However, the 'arif desires whatever he desires for the sake of God. When he desires the gifts of God he does so because they are from Him, and are His favours. They represent His Grace and Magnanimity. So, while the non-'arif seeks God for the sake of His gifts, the 'arif seeks the gifts of God for the sake of God.
Here the question may arise, if the 'arif does not seek God for the sake of anything, then why does he worship Him? Is it not true that every act of worship must have a purpose? Ibn Sina's passage contains the answer. He states that the goal and motivation of the 'arif's worship is one of two things. One is the inherent worthiness of the Worshipped to be worshipped, meaning that one worships God simply because He is worthy of worship. It is rather like someone who upon noticing some admirable qualities in a person or a thing praises that person or thing. If asked what motivated him to utter such praise, or of what benefit was it to him, he will reply that he sought no benefit from his praise, but simply saw that person or thing as being genuinely deserving of praise. This is true of the praise accorded to the heroes or the champions of each and every field.
The other motivation of the 'arif's worship is the worthiness of worship itself. It bears an intrinsic nobility and beauty of its own, for it is a connection, a tie, between oneself and God. Thus it has a worthiness of its own, and there is no reason why worship should necessarily entail desire or fear.
'Ali (A) has some famous words on this subject:
My God, I do not worship You in fear of Your Fire, nor in desire for Your Paradise, but I find You worthy of worship so I worship You.
The 'urafa' place great importance on this issue, considering it a kind of shirk (polytheism) for one's goal in life and particularly in worship to be something other than God Himself. 'Irfan totally rejects this kind of shirk. Many have written elegantly and subtly on the subject, and we will look at an allegory from Sa'di's Bustan which takes the outward form of a story of Sultan Mahmud of Ghaznah and his close confidant Iyaz:
One with the Shah of Ghaznah found fault, saying,
Sa'di then turns from this story to the point he wishes to make, which he expresses thus: