Fanaa ( ar, فناء ') in Sufism is the "passing away" or "annihilation" (of the self).Harmless, William. ''Mystics''. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008 Fana means "to die before one dies", a concept highlighted by famous notable Persian mystics such as
Rumi Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī ( fa, جلال‌الدین محمد رومی), also known as Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī (), Mevlânâ/Mawlānā ( fa, مولانا, lit= our master) and Mevlevî/Mawlawī ( fa, مولوی, lit= my ma ...
and later by
Sultan Bahoo Sultan Bahu ( pa, , ਸੁਲਤਾਨ ਬਾਹੂ ; also spelled Bahoo; 17 January 1630 – 1 March 1691), was a 17th-century Punjabi Sufi mystic, poet, scholar and historian. He was active in the Punjab region (present-day Pakistan) ...
. There is controversy around what Fana exactly is, with some Sufis defining it as the annihilation of the human ego before God, whereby the self becomes an instrument of God's plan in the world ( Baqaa).Yaran, Cafer. Muslim religious experiences. Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre, 2004. Other Sufis interpret it as breaking down of the individual ego and a recognition of the fundamental unity of God, creation, and the individual self. Persons having entered this enlightened state are said to obtain awareness of an intrinsic unity ( Tawhid) between
Allah Allah (; ar, الله, translit=Allāh, ) is the common Arabic word for God. In the English language, the word generally refers to God in Islam. The word is thought to be derived by contraction from '' al- ilāh'', which means "the god", an ...
and all that exists, including the individual's mind. This second interpretation is condemned as heretical by orthodox Islam.


Similar to other Sufi doctrines, Fana is also based purely on first-party Islamic teachings. Specifically, the Quran says:

Fana as Vision

Mystics such as Al-Junayd al-Baghdadi,
Al-Ghazali Al-Ghazali ( – 19 December 1111; ), full name (), and known in Persian-speaking countries as Imam Muhammad-i Ghazali (Persian: امام محمد غزالی) or in Medieval Europe by the Latinized as Algazelus or Algazel, was a Persian polyma ...
and Al-Sarraj maintained that this ultimate goal of Sufism was the vision (mushahadah) of the divine.Mat, Ismail. " nThe Concept of Fana'in Sufism." Islāmiyyāt 2 (1978). Fana was defined by Abu Nasr as-Sarraj thus: Al-Hujwiri states the following: So according to these early Sufis, Fana was interpreted as a recognition of the will of God, or the abandonment of being conscious of ones self, replacing this with contemplation on God alone. However, according to Al-Hujwiri, vision of the divine can not occur without hard work on the part of the seeker. Such vision is combined with "ilm al-yaqin" or knowledge of certainty. This station leads to "ayn al-yaqin" (vision of certainty) and then the station of " ma'rifah" (
gnosis Gnosis is the common Greek noun for knowledge ( γνῶσις, ''gnōsis'', f.). The term was used among various Hellenistic religions and philosophies in the Greco-Roman world. It is best known for its implication within Gnosticism, where it ...
), until it one arrives at haqq al-yaqin (reality of certainty), the stage of the friends of God ( Wali Allah). This stage of Haqq al-Yaqin is what Al-Ghazali expressed as fana' kulli and fana fi al-tawhid. For Al-Ghazali, as with Al-Junayd before him, this meant recognition of God as the sole agent of the Universe. However Fana fi al-Tawhid does not mean 'fusion', 'identification', 'incarnation' etc. Rather, for Al-Ghazali, God could not be known through speculation in the manner of the philosophers, nor through the claims of union brought by al-Bistami and al-Hallaj, rather God could be known through his self-unveiling (khasf) through the personal process of observation (mushahadah). Al-Sarraj condemned the idea of incarnation and fusion (the unionist interpretation below): This visionary interpretation has been qualified by some thinkers as a "moderate form of Islamic mysticism", whereas the next interpretation is considered an "extravagant form of mysticism".

Fana as Union

Another interpretation is that of Fana as being united with the One or the Truth, in what some contend as in a "Hindu fashion". The two famous exponents of this who contended that fana is total union (ittihad) were Al-Bistami and
Al-Hallaj Al-Hallaj ( ar, ابو المغيث الحسين بن منصور الحلاج, Abū 'l-Muġīth Al-Ḥusayn bin Manṣūr al-Ḥallāj) or Mansour Hallaj ( fa, منصور حلاج, Mansūr-e Hallāj) ( 26 March 922) ( Hijri 309 AH) was a Per ...
. The interpretation of Fana ascribed to Jallaluddin
Rumi Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī ( fa, جلال‌الدین محمد رومی), also known as Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī (), Mevlânâ/Mawlānā ( fa, مولانا, lit= our master) and Mevlevî/Mawlawī ( fa, مولوی, lit= my ma ...
is as follows: In his book, Ain-ul-Faqr, Sultan Bahoo gives his interpretation of Fana: Hossein Nasr insists that this interpretation is the highest spiritual truth. This view is criticized as heretical by some orthodox Muslims.

Similar concept in Eastern Religions

The idea of Fanaa in Sufism has been compared to
Samadhi ''Samadhi'' (Pali and sa, समाधि), in Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and yogic schools, is a state of meditative consciousness. In Buddhism, it is the last of the eight elements of the Noble Eightfold Path. In the Ashtanga Y ...
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion or '' dharma'', a religious and universal order or way of life by which followers abide. As a religion, it is the world's third-largest, with over 1.2–1.35 billion followers, or 15–16% of the global p ...
and Buddhism.Clinton Bennett, Charles M. Ramsey ''South Asian Sufis: Devotion, Deviation, and Destiny'' A&C Black page 23

See also

* Baqaa * Yaqeen


{{Authority control Sufism Mysticism