Wahdadul wajood is the most complicated and controversial theory which is discussed and opined about in almost all shades of Islamic schools of thoughts particularly in various sufi ideologies. Simply speaking, theory of wahdatul wajood has two connotations. According to Ibne Arbi’s theory, existence is only one i.e. the Creator who is present everywhere in this universe, and there is no room for any other existence in this universe because two entities cannot exist at the same place. Therefore he concludes this universe exists within the Creator’s existence. The Creator is infinite/ undetermined but universe is finite/ determined. Where the Creator’s existence becomes finite/ determined, it no longer remains the Creator’s infinite/undetermined existence, rather it becomes creation. In other words, in one way this universe is the Creator’s reflection/existence; but, in other way, this universe is creation.
There is another connotation of wahdatul wajood, which is based on sufis’ spiritual experiences. ‘Sufis’ during meditation/ ‘mushahda-e- zaat’, experience only one existence i.e. the Creator. Therefore many ‘sufis’ believe in only one existence i.e. the Creator; all the rest is either deception/unreal (in view of many ‘sufis’) or finite/determined forms of the Creator’s single existence (in view of many other ‘sufis’).
In the succeeding lines we will analyze these various connotations of Theory of Wahdatul wajood in the light of Quran and sunnah.
Quran says about this universe:
“And We did not create unreal the heaven and the earth and all that is between them. That is the opinion of those who disbelieve. And woe unto those who disbelieve, from the Fire” (sad-27).
This verse negates the concept that universe is a deception and unreal. It clearly states this universe has been created real. It means existence of this universe is a real; it is not vanity. Similar view has been stated in al-anaam-73 which states that: “And it is He who created the heavens and earth in truth. And the day He says, "Be," and it is, His word is the truth…….”. This verse also describes this universe has been created in truth; in other words, it is not superficial, vanity or something unreal. Therefore many sufis’ view that universe is a deception, vanity or unreal is not tenable in the light of these verses.
The other connotation of ‘wahdatul wajood’ implies this universe is finite forms of the Creator’s infinite single existence; this connotation actually is based on the belief that because the Creator’s existence is single and spread everywhere, there is no room for any other existence because two entities cannot exist at the same place. Actually the opinion that two entities cannot exist at the same place is not scientifically a valid opinion. It is our common observation that x-rays pass through a person’s body and make a reflection of that person’s body, which we see on screen. X-rays and the person are two separate entities. When x-rays pass through the person’s body, actually two entities i.e. x-rays and the person exist at the same place. In other words, two forms of matter can exist at the same place, if one form is thin enough to penetrate through the other form. If one form of matter can penetrate through the other form, why not Allah the Creator can penetrate through this universe? One of Allah’s qualitative name is ‘al-lateef’ which means the most thin, refined and sophisticated. Allah is the most thinnest entity of this universe and can penetrate through the whole universe; in other words, Allah exists at every bit of this universal space which is occupied by created entities.
One argument in favor of theory of wahdatul wajood is given on the basis of al-hadid-3 which states: “ He is the First and the Last, and the Outward and the Inward; and He is Knower of all things”. The believers of wahdatul wajood argue that if Allah is the most apparent and the most hidden, it concludes existence is one and that is Allah the Creator. Actually this conclusion is not correct. No doubt Allah is the most apparent/ outward and the most hidden/inward but it does not mean existence is one. Actually it means that because Allah is the most thinnest and spreads everywhere in space, and because space covers everything, it means Allah covers everything; the outer most part of everything is covered by Allah; there is nothing upper most/ more outward/ more apparent than Allah. Similarly there is nothing innermost/ more inward than Allah because space exists at the bottom of everything, and Allah spreads everywhere in space, it means Allah exists at the bottom of everything. These meanings of ‘al-zahir’ and ‘al-batin’ have been clarified by our Nabi (saw) himself in a hadith. In short, it is misconception to infer theory of ‘wahdatul wajood’ from this Quranic verse.
Now we dwell on the issue why sufis experience one existence during meditation/ ‘ mushahida-e-zaat’.
Before creation of this universe, everything contained in this universe existed and still exists in Allah’s mind. Then Allah created His creations which will be destroyed/ annihilated after people would have gotten reward/punishment of their deeds. When the whole creations (including paradise and hell) will be undone/ annihilated, only one existence will be left and that is Allah.
We have seen in the article “contraction of time in single moment” that events happening in 211.22 days on earth can happen in one second in seventh sky; from the same analogy it seems possible that all events happening from beginning to end of this world can happen in a single moment in such a frame of Time and Space which exists separately from the frames of time and space of seven skies. Allah is not bound to operate keeping within ambits of Time and Space in seven skies. Quran says about process of creation: “For to anything which We have willed, We but say the word, "Be", and it is” (al-nahl-40). From this verse it is evident that anything which is willed by Allah happens forthwith. It is possible only in such frame of Time and Space which exists separately from the frames of time and space of seven skies.
We can conclude that Time and space may be expanded/contracted to such a point where all events happening from beginning to end of this world may happen in a single moment of time. This testifies our Messenger's (saw) saying that Allah is done with process of creation and its allied matters. It means Allah even at the present moment is alone; even at the present moment, He is ‘ahad’. Even at the present moment, Allah has such a frame of space and time where all the creations have already been annihilated; that is why He is alone and 'Ahad' even at present moment. That is why our sufis experience only one existence during meditation/ ‘mushahda-e-zaat’. But it does not mean that the created and the Creator are one; it only means that we experience one existence in such a frame of space and time when the creations have already been annihilated and Allah is already done with business of creations.