So this Hadith is well known in Sufi circles of Islam. Other Muslim groups dispute it's accuracy and it's sanad (sources). I wanted to highlight it as I am rereading The Disappearance of the Universe with the purpose of revisiting it with a Muslim lens. On page 9 Gary tells Arten and Pursah that, "My friends and I think that God produced the world so He could know himself experientially, which I guess is a pretty common New Age belief (Renard The disappearance of the universe 9)." Given that I have a lot of Muslim data in my head, I thought well the source of that thought could actually have been from this Sufi Hadith. I've definitely seen Sufi teachers teach this concept in the West and I thought it's worth revisiting. Arten and Purah are unweavering. Pursah, "In a word, no, God did not create duality and He did not create the world (Renard The disappearance of the universe 9)."
So let's keep in mind the lenses or levels of perception we can look through in the world and on this plane of reality. We can be closer to the truth the more we look non-dualistically because looking in that context leads back to unity always and to a collapse of the time space continuum. We also have the choice to look dualistically and that leads to an infinite number of cracked perceptions like a Trillion broken pieces of the Sonship showing up in a billion different bodies.
In one of Gary's classes I heard him give life changing advice to me then. He said in order to help forgive a person every time you think of them forgive the negative memory and then ask to replace it with a positive one. One by one the positive thoughts increase in your head and overtime that's all you see. I feel this is the exact process I use to forgive my own relationship with my faith. How can I look at this differently? So here we go. The Hadith in Arabic uses the word for Creation, not the word for the world (AlAlam) or the universe (Al-Kawn). It stems from the word Kha-la-qa and one of God's name's is derived from it, Al Khaliq /The Creator.
It also doesn't use the word in it's plurality in the hadith. It doesn't say God's Creations (Makhlukat) but it does say khalaktu Alkhalq liuraf =I created creation to be known. So this second word to me, Alkhalq, is Creation as One United Whole. It reminds me of the One Son of God concept scattered everywhere in the Course. On the level of forms in Arabic we would say God created his creations (Makhlukat in the plural) as a reference to the living forms in the world. But if we look at it on the level of the Divine Name and the formless, God's creation to be true MUST be formless like Himself and that word for creation isn't conjugated in the same manner. Makhlukat (forms of life on earth) vs. Alkhalq (One Creation).
Revisiting the Hadith now, as Coursers we know we were created and the authorship problem is a chief concern the Course is correcting. We want to author our lives and our existence for ourselves and the Course says there is NON of that here. The ego has 'authored' the world of form and the world of form is finite, in pain, decays and dies. If God is actually the rightful author then according to the Course he is Alkhaliq and all He creates must reflect Him in it's existence. It must be Eternal, Indivisible, and Formless as well. That's the unseen 'stuff' we have that's constant and consistent in every life form we see and we all have access to it and to it's United Beingness that transcends form.
So looking at the hadith and assuming it's valid within the Muslim world (a contested point to start) would indicate that it's actually been misunderstood like most Muslim concepts have been. God didn't create this world for his own pleasure to be known, but He is the ultimate author of our Infinite Eternal Self that is Formless. Understanding it's correct meaning is easy now, I'm a Courser and I have the tools to help me look once again at texts and hadiths and decipher for myself if they are in alignment or not with the Course and with nonduality. If they are in alignment then their sacred source is valid. If not, then we know it's author and we can let go of the ego's need to compete. Eternally grateful we are not the authors of our True Self and eternally grateful for the Voice for God leading us home.