Language in Diversity


Understanding “Laa Ilaaha Illallah” Through Meister Eckhart


La ilaaha illallah (there is no god but Allah) is not a meaningless sentence, it has a very deep meaning which presents to every single of soul differently based on human’s depth of consciousness. The higher their quality is, the deeper they grasp the meaning of it. This kind of disclosure to God is a promise of spiritual human upon his God that he will be continuously in the spiritual path and will not pray, worship, perceive, go and return except to Him, the Real, the One and the Infinite.

This Arabic statements is commonly known in the Islamic world but unfortunately not all Muslim can understand it, because Its contains values of divinity which is only understood by the saints or anyone close to Him.

This sentence is therefore deiformity because it’s a manifestation of Him. He, the Absolute manifests Himself into these words as an expression and human with their limited capability comes to grasp its meaning. So, the enlightened only will deeply understand. For what they hear, see and understand is His seeing and His understanding as well as his hearing[1].

The Sufis, the enlightened, is already there in the essence of laa ilaaha illallah without any veils. But unfortunately they should bring the ignorance or avidya toward this transcendental understanding as it is, in the past, in the now and in the future. This perennial utterance is definitely timeless and non spatial words.

The deep meaning of this timeless and non spatial sentence is unlimitedly understood by the specific personal or communal, and strongly appears as the manifestation of the Absolute in order human return to the right path. And then whoever is enlightened and purified will understand this sacred statement.

This mysterious sentence is the projection of Love given by God, the mystery that likes to be known.[2] Through this sacred sentence the creature is guided to return as he was, coming back to Him. As it is stated in the holy Quran,”Inna lillahi wa Inna ilaihi raaji’uun (we are from Him/His and to Him we will return)”.

God is quietly the central, the source, the departing point and the returning point of everything, what so ever comes from Him cannot be nakedly understood by mind, instead the light of God will take human unto the real understanding, the understanding of the non-understandable.

For what comes from the absolute is infinite, this statement is not merely understood by only Muslims but also by anyone from any different religions, through those whose soul is purified from any religions including non Islam.  Then, to it’s not strange anymore if we understand the meaning of laa ilaaha illa Allah through such as Meister Eckhart, a Christian Saint from Germany.[3]

It’s enough clear that Eckhart is barely a Christian, so many of his utterance comes to be a controversy within Christian scholar as occurred to Abuyazid al-Bisthami who utters I’m the Real. One of Eckhart’s controversial utterances is “I am the first Cause of my existing[4]” which apparently acknowledge himself to be God, the cause of existence. Eckhart when saying this statement is not admitting himself as God, but on the other hand His consciousness of God that says it.”

During his preaching in some occasions, Eckhart mostly explains the Essence of Divinity which if we seriously analyze the detail of his explanation we find it seems to be the explanation of this unitive statement (kalimah tauhid). In Eckhart’s view, God is no longer God in Himsel, but God is God in the selves of creatures, so God exists only in the relation to the creatures. When there is no longer relation of creation it will appears united..

This unity is definitely attained if the human is totally ready and prepared, the preparedness which means empty, empty from anything even God[5], god in the term of doctrines and teachings about God that is understood during human life, for what human knows about god is not the real God.

The real God is totally Absolute, unlimited and infinite, so how come the the Absolute, Infinite, Unlimited is understood by the creatures that are non absolute, finite, and limited. But fortunately the Absolute gives his Love to human in order human are able to perfectly unite with Him.

The perfect unity is only reached if the human’s soul is empty from any creatures, the more their emptiness from the creatures the closer God to them is, or in the simple way, God will not pour Himself in the soul that is full of creatures, but vice versa God will pour Himself into the soul that is empty from anything except Himself.

  The explanations above consequently bring us up to the question,” how we can be empty of creatures? Of course it is a simple question that needs a clear answer by saying that everything must be neglected including all things about God, all perceptions, ideas as well as conceptions made by Human mind.

All of knowledge about God must be neglected, for what human know about him is no longer god,[6] and these knowledge and conception will become the barriers to perceive God as He is. To know God, human should empty them and return as they were like when they were babies that know nothing about the phenomenal[7], so that when they are empty, God will pour Himself through Himself. Simply, the empty soul will perceive the light of divinity that through it, human see God without veil and that what is called by the total extinction, there will be nothing except the Oneness.

When Human are precisely in the state like when they were a baby, or empty as when they are coming from God, it means they are perfectly prepared and are ready to perceive and experience the presence of God, the Absolute. When human already experience God, God is in Him, and when God is in them so the relation between them and God disappears, what remains is only the real God that is not created by mind, and the pure Oneness (Ahadiyah) exists as it was, in that, the human experience a total unity and everything is illusion except God[8].

In the context of “laa ilaaha illallah” (there is no god but God), Eckhart views of God can be applied in understanding laa ilaa ha illa Allah. The word ilaah (god) in this statement, in Eckhart’s view is the created god by mind in the human mind. The god that is perceived, limited and attributed by names and qualities, whereas the Real God is free from what human perceives in their mind.

The understanding or knowledge about God that exists in human mind must be always neglected as Eckhart did. The negation, in this “laa ilaaha illallah” comes from the word laa (no) that negates the ilaaha or neglects the god existing conceived by mind. Next, illa allah or illallah is a phrase derived combined from illa (except)  and Allah (the Real God), the word illa clarifies that what is real is only God the Absolute and what is created by mind and conceived as God is not the Real.

According to Ibn Araby, the word Allah is the most adequate word to express the essence of God, so that human are easier to know God and closer to God, the real God that is uncreated by human concepts and therefore no one will come to this true knowledge except God presents to Him.In that sentence, all form of God in human mind is created and must be neglected except the God Himself, the Real God, and what is conceived as God is no longer God, because man with his limitation cannot grasp the unlimited.

This sentence told us a pure unity (tauhid ansich) to express the Oneness of God as he is and is not conceptualized by Mind, because God is purified and Transcendent. And then, if a seeker smelted or dissolved in laa ilaaha illallah, God is presence to him in him through him essentially that God only knows[9], even God is presence as His Essence where there is nothing except Him and everything is no longer with Him[10], He who is free from any attribution of names and qualities, then there will no longer dualism existing.

In this total unity, there is no longer relation between the creator and the creature, God and servant, what exist is purely oneness. God becomes his body, his seeing, his hearing, his hand, and his feet. All of his actions is not his actions but God’s actions as God says in the Holy Qur’an,” and you didn’t threw when you threw but god threw.

The view of Eckhart about god and God or god in the concept and God the real is simply similar with what is formulated by Ibn ‘Arabi as the created god and uncreated God (al-ilaah fil I’tiqad) God that we believe and (al-ilaah al-haqq) the Real God[11]. Ibn ‘Arabi Asserted that God in His Essence is unknowledgeable by anyone, only Ignorance who claims that he knows God, in fact, God that He knows is God in his perception not the Real God. Muhammad Said,” contemplate about the creature not about the creator”.

Discussion and sharing opinion  with Mr. Holil (a student of post graduate PARAMADINA University)

[1] This is in accordance with the prophetic tradition:

ما يزال عبدي يتقرب إلي بالنوافل حتى أحبه فإذا أحببته كنت سمعه الذي يسمع به وبصره الذي يبصر بها ويده الذي يمسك بها و رجله الذييمشي بها  “My slave ceaseth not to draw nigh unto Me through devotions of free-will until I love him; and when I love him, I am the Hearing Wherewith he heareth and the sight wherewith he seeth and the Hand wherewith he fighteth and the foot whereon he walketh”.

[2] Ibn Arabi in his disclosure stated the prophetic tradition addressed to Muhammad:

(I’m the hidden treasure and I love to be known) كنت كنزا مخفيا فأحببت أن أعرف

[3] Meister Eckhart is a Dominican Ordo, He is accused as heretic and He also has been called a monist, a pantheist, a queitist, a mystic of pure inwardness, a this worldly mystic, a reformer before reformation, the father of German Idealism, a medieval Zen master, a source of for Nazi thinking, the first Marxist and the darling of those dogmatize that a mystic must be iconoclast   see, John Harvey, Anthlogy.

[4] Syafa’atun Almirzanah, When Mystic Masters Meet, Paradima Baru Relasi Umat Krsitiani-Muslim, PT. Gramedia Pustaka Utama, thn 2002, hal 214

[5] John Harvey, an Anthology of Christianity,

[6] Osho, Intuition, Knowing beyond Logic, St. Martin’s Griffin, New York, Page 45

[7] Rabbi David Aaron, Seeing God, Berkley Books, New York, Page 29

[8] John Havey,

[9] In the kernel of the kernel (al-hadharat al-khamsah) it’s called Ta’ayyun Awwal, or in the term of Toshihiko Izutsu, the first determination, see Timeless Order of Creation, untitled the Metaphilosophy of Wahdat al-Wujud

[10]This in line with the Holy Qur’an verse  كان الله ولم يكن معه شيئ : God exists and no thing is with Him

[11] Kautsar Azahari Noer, Tasawuf Perenial, Kearifan Kritis Kaum Sufi, PT Serambi Ilmu Semesta, Jakarta 2003, cet. I hal. 96-102


Comments on: "“LAA ILAAHA ILLALLAH”" (2)

  1. great,,!! can you teach me sirr??

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