The “Aql”

Whoever contemplates divine knowing, and wishes to attain a complete sense of knowledge about Allah The Most High, his contemplation equals a thousand years of ritual worship. The real knowledge of knowing is this. By this knowledge I mean the state of unity. The one who knows reaches his Beloved, the One whom he misses, through this. The end of this state is to fly spiritually to the realm of real closeness.
Hazrat Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani RTA.

The greater alem (realm; world) is aql (intelligence; mind; the power of understanding and discrimination), and it is with you. You understand what and who you are in the context of where you exist with this aql. This is because, if your existence and your corporeality had not had the honor of including such a greater realm, you could not occupy your prime position or state of being. When you show an effort befitting the fleshly figure that possesses such a valuable realm, the greater alem that exists in you shines everywhere and can take you to great heights of accomplishment.

Allah has ordained all transactions based on aql. Whatever He gives, He gives according to aql; whatever He forbids, He forbids according to it. Union, separation, expansion, contraction are all connected to aql. It is the honor of the universe; it is the first created of all facets of humanity. Our Prophet, peace be upon him, has professed, “Aql is the first creation.” If you make an effort for your name and honor to be elevated with this spiritual being you possess, and to avoid belittling your humanity, you will be saved from getting stuck behind veils and will be elevated.

Aql can possess and hold ilm (knowledge; science). For the created, the honor of ilm is with aqlIlm is completed with aql. Imam al-Shafi said, “Reigning without aql is like sitting on garbage and, more than that, it is a post of humiliation.” Some say ilm is higher than aql. This saying pertains to the divine ilm, because divine knowledge is among the attributes of the eternal. As for aql, it is created. If our aql and ilm are weighed, we find out that aql is on a higher level because if there is no aql, there is no ilm. If a person with aql falls down, we are sure that he will get up, but if a fool without aql falls, we are afraid that he may not be able to get up.

from Guidance to Mysticism, translated by Shaykh Taner Ansari in Grand Masters of Sufism