The Third Rule of Love

“The sharia is like a candle,” said Shams of Tabriz. “It provides us with much valuable light. But let us not forget that a candle helps us to go from one place to another in the dark. If we forget where we are headed and instead concentrate on the candle, what good is it?”

Shams of Tabriz straightened up, his gaze fixed as if reading from an invisible book, and he pronounced [the next rule]:

“Each and every reader comprehends the Holy Qur’an on a different level in tandem with the depth of his understanding. There are four levels of insight. The first level is the outer meaning and it is the one that majority of the people are content with. Next is the Batini – the inner level. Third, there is the inner of the inner. And the fourth level is so deep it cannot be put into words and is therefore bound to remain indescribable.”

With glinting eyes Shams continued. “Scholars who focus on the sharia know the outer meaning. Sufis know the inner meaning. Saints know the inner of the inner. And as for the fourth level, that is known only by prophets and those closest to God.”

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