There are Ayat-e-Mutashaabihaat (metaphorical verses) in Quran that need to be understood in their proper perspective. Similarly, there are a number of Ahadith that need to be understood in their proper perspectives.
The literal/textual meaning of the word Shaykh (Shaikh) is 'Old Man'. But all Islamic writers and Sufi poets use this term to refer to their teacher or an Islamic scholar.
Sufi Shaikhs/Awliya Allah also use metaphors in their poetry for Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی), Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم ) and their Shuyooks to express their love, respect and affection. Like, they say, O' my Lord, wherever I see, I see you'. My Lord is visible to me in everything around me. I do not see anything, except my Lord. 'I talk to my Lord and He replies to me'. 'I am annihilated in the existence of my Lord', and so on....
The above are all references to Allah's (سبحانہ و تعا لی) guidance and inspirations received by Sufis / Awliya Allah on their pure hearts. They see Allah's (سبحانہ و تعا لی) signs in everything around them because Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) has commanded us in Quran to see His signs in the Cosmos.
It is in Hadith - (Bukhari) Narrated by Abdullah (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) - "Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said 'Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) is not hidden from you".It is in Quran - هُوَ ٱلۡأَوَّلُ وَٱلۡأَخِرُ وَٱلظَّـٰهِرُ وَٱلۡبَاطِنُۖ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَىۡءٍ عَلِيمٌ [Meaning - He is the First, and the Last, He is the Manifest (apparent) and the Immanent (present throughout the material world) and is the knower of all things’. (Al-Hadeed – 3)..
It is in Quran - وَلِلَّهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ ۚ فَأَيْنَمَا تُوَلُّوا فَثَمَّ وَجْهُ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ [Meaning - "To Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) belong the East and the West. Wherever you turn, you will find Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) ( Meaning Allah- سبحانہ و تعا لی is Omnipresent - existing everywhere every moment). Indeed Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) is all pervading (He is there throughout the Cosmos) and Omniscient ( infinitely wise ).] (Al-Baqra – 115 )
It is in Quran - وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِى عَنِّى فَإِنِّى قَرِيبٌۖ أُجِيبُ دَعۡوَةَ ٱلدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِۖ فَلۡيَسۡتَجِيبُواْ لِى [ Meaning - 'When My servants ask you (O'Prophet - صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) concerning Me, (tell them) I am ever present (with them) and I listen to the call of him that calls Me'.] (Al-Baqara - 186).It is in Quran - وَفِىٓ أَنفُسِكُمۡۚ أَفَلَا تُبۡصِرُونَ [Meaning - 'He is in your own self, will you not see'] (Adh-Dhariyat - 21).
Salafis and like minded groups also cannot catch these inspirations/guidance because they have idolized Allah's (سبحانہ و تعا لی) Unity (Zaat) and consider Him to be physically sitting far away, separated from His creations. This is the reason they reject the inspirations and guidance coming from Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) which is proved from Quran and Ahadith.
What is Metaphor?
Like we say, 'I am a Government servant", "I am a public servant" and "I am a servant of Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی)". Here the meaning of Servant (banda /Abd ) are different in all three expressions.
Like we address 'My Lord' to the Judge of a Court and we address the same "My Lord" to Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی). In both these places, we mean differently.
Similarly, Sufis say 'I am your servant ( banda /abd ) O' Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم )'. Then they say 'I am your servant (banda/abd) My Lord'. They mean differently on both these instances. For Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم ), they mean 'I am your devoted follower O' Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم ) and for Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) , they mean His creature.
Like some people keep their son's name 'Abd ar-Rasool', 'Abd an-Nabi,' which means ' the follower of Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم )'.
There are thousands of words we use repeatedly on several occasions and we mean differently on each occasion. These are known as metaphorical expressions. Metaphors add beauty to poetry.
Understanding of Islamic issues
Usually, people look at the blue surface of the water spread over a vast area and call it an ocean. What they see is only the surface of the Ocean. They do not know what is the actual meaning of Ocean, how deep and complex it is, what kind of inhabitants live under the ocean and what kind of atmosphere is their inside the depths of the ocean. Very few people, who happen to go deep into the oceans have an idea about the nature of the ocean.
Similarly, Salafis and their like minded groups do not know about the human soul and its realm (world) which is over thousands of trillions times bigger than all oceans put together. They do no know how the human soul (spirit) works. They derive literal/textual meanings of certain verses of Quran and Sunnah and interpret the rest of the Quran and Ahadith as per their limited understanding and claim it to be Islam. They never try to find out the real implied meanings of the commandments of Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) and His Apostle (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم ). When someone tries to guide them about human soul and its area of activity, they accuse him and relate his advise with spiritual theories of non-Muslims. This is the reason they remain on the surface and never realize the truth, depth and real spirit of Islam. If you want to know the spiritual side of Islam which consists of more than 90% of the religion, you need to study about it under the guidance of a real Sufi Shaikh of Ihsan. He will first clean you from your misconceptions / worldly desires, carry out your Tazkia then explain to you about the human soul and will guide you through its realm (domain).
Sufi poetry contain spiritual experiences of our Great Shaikhs of Islam in various states of progression from Sharia, to Tareeqa, to Ma'arefa, to Haqeeqah. Sufi Shaikhs also write about their experiences of the Administration of Spiritual realm (Aalam-e-Mithaal) and certain states of Soul, like 'fana fish Shaikh', 'fana fir Rasool' and 'fana fillah', etc.
The above knowledge and terminology came from where?
It is in Quran - فَوَجَدَا عَبْدًا مِّنْ عِبَادِنَا آتَيْنَاهُ رَحْمَةً مِّنْ عِندِنَا وَعَلَّمْنَاهُ مِن لَّدُنَّا عِلْمًا "Fawajadaa Abdam min ibaadinaa aataynaahu rahmatam min indina wa allamnaahu mil-ladunna ilman" ( Meaning - Then they found one of Our Servants on whom We had conferred a special favor from Our Presence, and whom We had taught special hidden knowledge from Us) (Al-Kahf - 65).
What is Ilm-e-Ladunni (Special Hidden knowledge) referred to in the above verse. This is the knowledge of the Spiritual Realm (Aalam-e-Mithaal) which is given to Sufia-e-Karam / Awliya Allah as a special favor from Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی).
The above issues cannot be understood by verbal explanations, you need to see them and experience them personally.
Salafis are totally unaware of the real meanings of life and death which has been clearly described in Quran and Ahadith. Read more about the Life After Death.
It is in Hadith - Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said: "He who remembers his Lord and he who does not, are like the living and the dead. (Sahih Muslim).
It is in Quran - الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا صُمٌّ وَبُكْمٌ فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ ۗ مَن يَشَإِ اللَّهُ يُضْلِلْهُ وَمَن يَشَأْ يَجْعَلْهُ عَلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ (Meaning - And they who reject Our verses ( and those who reject the real meanings and misinterpret them and draw wrong conclusions from them) are deaf and dumb, in utter darkness; whom Allah ( سبحانہ و تعا لی ) pleases He causes to err and whom He pleases He puts on the right way). (Al-An'aam - 39).
Salafis lead a life in utter darkness from the spirit of Islam. They live like deaf, dumb and dead in this world. They get scared by reading realistic expressions related to human soul and start a slandering campaign against Sufia-e-karam and Awliya Allah. Why it is so? Because they are unaware of human soul, its functioning and the depths of Islamic facts.
The problem is, Salafis, neither want to know about real Islam, nor they want to learn about it under the guidance of Awliya Allah and real Shaikhs of Islam. This is the reason they accuse great Sufi Shaikhs like Ibn al-Arabi (r), Rumi (r), Jaami (r), Khayyam (r), etc. This is very unfortunate situation for these groups.
Sufis' / Awliya-Allah's expressions of their emotions and their intrinsic spiritual states should be understood in their proper perspectives from their poetry. If you do not understand these poetical expressions, it is better to learn about them from a reliable Sufi Shaikh.