WHAT do Sufis mean when they speak of the Perfect Man (al-insdnu 'l-kdmil), a phrase which seems first to have been used by the celebrated Ibnu '1-'Arabi, although the notion underlying it is almost as old as Sufism itself2? The question
(CH. might be answered in different ways, but if we seek a general definition, perhaps we may describe the Perfect Man as a man who has fully realised his essential oneness with the Divine Being in whose likeness he is made. This experience, enjoyed by prophets and saints and shadowed forth in symbols to others, is the foundation of the $ufi theosophy. Therefore, the class of Perfect ::Vlen comprises not only the prophets from Adam to }Iohammed, but also the superlatively elect (khu$U$U 'l-khu$U.$) amongst the $Ufis, i.e., the persons named collectively awliyd, plural of wali, a word originally meaning "near," which is used for "friend," "protege," or "devotee." Since the wali or saint is the popular type of Perfect :\'Ian, it should be understood that the essence of Mohammedan saintship, as of prophecy, is nothing less than Di-vine illumination, immediate vision and knowledge of things unseen and unknown, when the veil of sense is suddenly lifted and the conscious self passes away in the overwhelming glory of" the One true Light." An ecstatic feeling of oneness with God constitutes the wali. It is the end of the Path (tariqa) in so far as the discipline of the Path is meant to predispose and prepare the disciple to receive this incalculable gift of Divine grace, which is not gained or lost by anything that a man may do, but comes to him in proportion to the measure and degree of spiritual capacity with which he was created.