Following them are the seven Abdaal who are placed over the seven heavenly spheres. The first sphere is under the supervision of Hazrat Ibrahim Khalilullah. The remaining spheres are ruled by the Prophets Hazrat Musa Kaleemullah, Hazrat Harun, Hazrat Idris or Enoch, Hazrat Yusuf, Hazrat Isa and Hazrat Adam respectively. These Abdaal are therefore on the footsteps of these Prophets of God. Their names also come from the attributes of Allah, for instance, Abdul Hayy, Abdul Aleem, Abdul Wadood, Abdul Qadir, Abdul Shakoor, Abdul Sami and Abdul Baseer. According to Shaykh Abu Talib Makki the Abdaal arrive at their rank chiefly due to four things, and they being, hunger, sleeplessness, silence and solitude.
After the Abdaal there are twelve Nuqba [plural for Naqeeb]. Their figure is also established and they are appointed watchers over the 12 constellations. They can view such planetary movements and heavenly changes that remain distant from the observation of the astronomers.
In addition there are eight Nujaba [plural of Najeeb], meaning Noble Ones. Their station is the throne of Allah and they are given special knowledge regarding the seven primary attributes of Allah and their understanding. After the Nujaba there is one "Hawari" [the faithful companion] and when he dies then another is appointed to take his place. Thereafter are the "Rajbiyoon". They are called thus for they are appointed to their office in the month of Rajb. They are forty in number.
The last one is the Khatm [Seal] as the name denotes. This station is reserved for the seal of the Muhammadan Sainthood. The concept of the seal of Muhammadan Walayat or sainthood is one that has great currency in Shaykh-ul-Akbar’s philosophy, in which he claims to be that. It has, however, not necessarily been accepted by other saints and scholars.
According to another opinion given in the Kashf-ul-Mahjub, amongst the Rijal-ul-Ghayb there are 300 Nuqaba whose heart-state is after the heart of Hazrat Adam. They are called Naqeebs because they serve as watchers in the world; keeping things in place and watching over them.
The 70 Nujaba have hearts set after the heart of Hazrat Nuh. They are called Najeeb because of their nobility and illumined hearts.
The hearts of the forty Abdaal are set on the pattern of Hazrat Musa’s heart. Because they are the replacements of the Prophets, they are called Abdaal, which literally means the changed ones.
From the Rijaal-ul Ghayb there are 8 such individuals, who without being named, have been told to have hearts like Hazrat Isa.
7 Akhyaar have hearts after that of Hazrat Ibrahim. They are called Akhyaar [the best] for they are the best amongst humanity.
The hearts of the 5 Amaad are likened to the heart of Hazrat Jibrail. Amaad is the plural of amad which means pillar. Their value is that of a pillar to a building.
The 3 Awtad are set on the pattern of Hazrat Mikael’s heart. They are called Awtad which is the plural of watad meaning peg. They hold the world in place by their grace.
The ghaus or Qutb has the heart of Hazrat Israfil. He is stationed at the acme of the hierarchy. When he passes away, one from the awtad takes his place, and subsequently another from the next lower grade fills the slot emptied by the awtad and so it continues.
At the end of the line when the station of the Nuqaba is reached then one from amongst the ordinary is blessed with the privilege to take up his place. The fixed number of the rijal-ul-Ghayb is thus maintained under all conditions. When there is some crisis in the world then at first the Nuqaba pray for relief, and if there is still no respite, then the Abdaal intercede. After them the 8 unnamed Rijal-ul-Ghayb, then the Akhyaar. If the prayer still remains unanswered, the Ammad step in. Beyond them the Awtad, and if there is still no reprieve then the Ghaus or Qutb prays. The Ghaus is the helper and reliever of distress and his prayer is rarely left unanswered.
The Rijal-ul Ghayb are the carriers of the miraculous powers of Tai-al-Ard and Tai-al-Zaman. This means that they can cover long geographical distances in no time and so their being confined to a single place is not a limitation [Tai-al-Ard]. They can even traverse time and so past, present and future does not hold them [Tai-al-Zaman]. So it would be correct to say that they have entered the dimension of placelessness and timelessness.
According to yet another report, the whole group of the hidden ones is comprised of 360 individuals. The wali of the most basic level from amongst them is sovereign in the radius of about 12 miles surrounding his presence or place of living. When the load of work on these unseen servants of humanity becomes too great then their number is increased. But, at no time is the limit to be reduced from the established number.
This in short, is an account of the appointed hidden workers of Allah who form the hierarchy of spiritual administration.
Al-Quran, Surah Naba, verse 6-7: "Have WE not made the earth an expanse and made the mountains as pegs in the land".
The mystical interpretation of this verse is that it points to those chosen amongst men, the pious ones, who have been established as the bulwarks of humanity.
Al-Quran, Surah Ra’ad, verse 3: "He is The One Who has spread out the earth for you and has placed therein mountains and streams".
The mystical interpretation of this verse being that Allah has provided in the world means of stability, guidance, nourishment and ease for humanity. The mountain is a symbol of greatness and majesty. It is a physical feature of the earth that helps in keeping the land still and stable. When we reach the height of the mountain we are able to see far and wide and thus discern our direction. The stream offers us water to purify ourselves and to drink when thirsty. It provides relief from the summer heat and its coolness is a source of comfort to us. All dirt may be washed away in the flowing water of the stream.
Similarly the holy saints of Allah provide breadth of vision to our understanding, and they teach us to be steadfast and forbearingly calm as the mountains. We are taught to find stability within ourselves by anchoring ourselves in the core of our Being. They are like the flowing streams of water, purifying, refreshing, satisfying and nourishing wherever they go.
All Ability is from Him. Any lack in the expression above proceeds from my limitations and Allah knows best.
By Naila Amat-un-Nur