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Observations placeholder

Jili, Abd al-Karim - Al-Kahf wa al-raqim - 060 Section 5



Type of Spiritual Experience


I haven't repeated the symbolism that has alreadybeen covered by the other extracts

A description of the experience

ABD AL-KARIM AL-JILI: Tawid, Transcendence and Immanence – Dr Nicholas Lo Polito [University of Birmingham] - The Cave and the Inscription


(36) The letters have been attached to the Alif, but the Alif has not been attached to anything pertaining to the letters. In the same way every creature is in need of the Glorified God, while He has no need of the worlds. One may say, “What merit preceded the existence of the Alif so that it came to be so sublimely close to the dot? And what misdeed did the [other] letters commit so as to be bypassed?” The answer is: the lack of distance between the rank of the Alif and the domain of the dot is in essence a merit that preceded the Alif, and its ransom is the characterisation [of the Alif] with the properties of the dot.

“The one in whose saddle-bag [a (stolen) property] is found, will be its ransom.” Yes, while the lack of closeness to the domain of the dot in the rest of the letters is in essence a misdeed that preceded them. “Thus did We plan for Joseph: he could not take his brother by the law of the King”.


(37) The jot in the union of the Alif with the Ba’ is indeed there only in virtue of the presence of the Alif. If what is in the Ba’ were not due to the presence of the Alif phonetically, in the spelling the Alif would not be united because the Alif has to be located at the extremity. This is its nature, and it is not possible to join it at the other end.  Therefore, if indeed union is about cessation of otherness, only the Alif can be united to an Alif. In the same way, however, every letter is united to the Alif from the extremity where the Alif is located. Don’t you see that when writing it, each letter would not be attached to the Alif except if the letter preceded and the Alif followed? There is no other way because the body of that letter has indeed precedence in the spelling. [However], not the body of the Alif, which therefore follows.

The body of the Alif is [manifested] either in itself or in something else, such as for the [letters] Jim, Sin and Nun, according to the distance of the letter from, or its proximity to the shape of the Alif, [and according] to [the letter’s] nature and position. On this depends its cutting. The Alif is found in all the letters and is attached to specific letters with a specific appearance, and it is not attached to other letters such as [the letters] Dal, Dhal, Ra’, Za Wau - but none besides these five letters.

(38) See how the Alif is present in the written shape of each of these letters. The same with the inanimate bodies and the livestock: when they all return to their Lord on the day of the Resurrection the [final] annihilation (Fana’) will take place. He alone will remain in His essence. None among them is similar to Him, apart from the human beings.

When they [also] return to their Lord - Glorified and Most High - He alone will remain in His essence.

It is necessary for human beings to look at the level above themselves, in their [search] for lack of ignorance, attainment of bliss and perfection of nobility - with the exclusion of that which pertains to God the Most High. Not for the inanimate bodies: God the Most High will indeed destroy them and annihilate their bodies and their [very] being because He did not grant them full existence in the world but He was manifest in them.

Neither did He grant them ownership of [their own] existence. Just as one can see the Alif in the five letters [above] manifesting itself separately in its own shape and form when joined to any of [those] letters. This stands for the non-claim to [their] existence by the inanimate objects: there is no complete existence even for a letter except when joined to the Alif. Even in spelling, given that [the Alif] is the essence of their life. Because the life of the Alif is all-pervading in the bodies of the letters, and if not for the [Alif] the letters would have no meaning. So they have been joined to it only in the spelling but not in composition, and they are devoid of [any] claim to existence.

As for the remaining letters they are in existence just as human beings are in existence - praise God. [That same existence] is their distinctive [mark]. In fact it proves to be true that [human beings] are in existence (Wujud) and to them pertains a nature (Dhat), however [they are] different from the existence and nature of anything else. Unlike the animals [for instance, that] if they had a soul they still would have no intellect and no retentive memory that would preserve in their imagination whatever they intellectualised.

The limit to the understanding of the animal is given by the fact that it depends on natural appetites and animal instincts and before all else it requires a soul for memorisation and so forth. If indeed it had a memory [the animal] would preserve all that it intellectualised so much as to [be able to] analyse some rational elements above the others and then determine after that the most important and the best of them. Indeed [the animal] would then be appropriate to the [same] level of existence as that which is only of an angel or a human being, and this is not the case. For this reason the Truth did not manifest Himself to any [creature] in His Essence - I mean the essence of the Truth, [Who is] worthy of praise and exalted - except to the human beings, on account of their integration of intellect and appetite. As for the angels, because they are endowed with intellect, the Truth manifests Himself in them in their own essence, not in the essence of the Truth, on account of their decline from that extensive degree of perfection [located] between immanence and transcendence. Unlike the animals that indeed have no part in this because they don’t have the complete existence of the human beings. This is the reason for the human claim to existence, the supreme veil that cannot be removed except after the great death - i.e. the cessation of [the relationship between] one’s cognition and one’s existence - after the realisation of the “mergence in the universal unity (Taw_id)”. Following that, it is necessary that one like you should consider what the theophanic unveiling of God is in relation to the human beings and see how their own nature and exterior form subsist. But this [divine] manifestation is not the first manifestation that you have witnessed.

May you understand [this] and may God - Who has power over all things - grant us and [grant] you comprehension of all this.

The source of the experience

Jili, Abd al-Karim

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps