Arif and Irfan: Letter by Wazir Dayers
An ‘ārif is someone who possesses ‘irfān, i.e. knowledge or wisdom that is not obtained through the ordinary senses, but in a mystical way. Such a person might therefore be an enlightened one.
An ‘ārif can also be called a “gnostic”, i.e. someone who possesses esoteric knowledge and has insight in spiritual matters. An ‘ārif is “a Knower of Truth”.
‘Irfān is mystical knowledge or wisdom. It is derived from the Arabic verbal root ‘-r-f (ﻋﺮﻑ); ‘ārif is derived from the same root. This verbal root has everything to do with “knowing” and “knowledge”. In this respect also consider the term ‘ārifāna kalām, i.e. poetry and music that is composed by ‘ārif-s, people with mystical knowledge and insight.