There are seven grades of those in the spiritual hierarchy recognized by the
Sufis: Pir, Buzurg, Wali, Ghauth, Qutb, Nabi, Rasul . These are degrees which
come from the inner initiations. One becomes entitled to the inner initiations
on having received the outer initiations which are necessary.
It is beyond words to express what inner initiation means and in what form it is
given. Those to whom inner initiation is unknown may explain it as a dream or as
a vision, but in reality it is something higher and greater than that. I can
only explain it by saying that the definite changes, which take place during
one's journey through the spiritual path, are initiations, and it is these
initiations which include man in the spiritual hierarchy.
In the life of a saint or a master there are five degrees that are known, and in
the two last degrees the progress of the saint and of the master is silent. But
in the life of the prophet these seven degrees manifest to view. For a saint or
a master there is one facility: he can do his work avoiding the notice of the
world. But the life of the prophet necessitates his coming into the world and
thus, as he progresses from grade to grade through his life, he cannot very well
cover himself from the gaze of the world, however much he may want to. The sage
of every category - saint, master or prophet - at every degree always prefers
not to be known to the world, and as he progresses that desire increases. It is
not only out of modesty or humbleness, but also for the protection of the
spiritual ideal which has developed in him, for it attracts dangers of all sorts
by being exposed to the common gaze. All beauty is veiled by nature, and the
higher the beauty the more it is covered. That makes it easy for a wise person
to find out the difference between a true prophet and a false prophet, for one
beats his drums and the other tries to keep in the background - if only his work
in the world would let him keep back. It is his efforts in accomplishing
something that bring him to the notice of the world. However, his longing is to
be unknown, for the one who really deserves being known is God alone.
The work of the Pir is helping individuals towards the unfoldment of their soul.
The work of the Buzurg is to help by the power of his soul those who wish to
advance spiritually. The Wali controls a community, keeping it on the right
track. The Ghauth helps its spiritual well-being. Qutb spiritually governs a
country, a nation. Nabi elevates individuals and bears a divine Message. Rasul
is the one who has fulfilled the Message he has borne.