The whole combination of the teachings imposed by Islam is known as the Shariat. Both sets of acts, viz., A’maal -e Zaahiri and A’maal-e Baatini, are included. In the terminology of the Mutaqaddimeen (the early authorities of the Shariat) the term Fiqh was synonymous with the word Shariat. Thus Imaam A’zam Abu Hanifah (Rahmatullah Alayh) defined Fiqh as follows:
“The recognition of that which is beneficial and harmful to the nafs.”
Later, in the terminology of the Mutaakhkhireen (the later authorities of the Shariat) the word Fiqh was used for that branch of Islam which related to A’maal eZaahiri while the branch which dealt with A’maal Baatini became known as Tasawwuf. The ways or methods of acquiring the A’maal-e Baatini are called Tareeqat.
The reformation of the A’maal-e Baatin brings about spiritual lustre and glitter of the heart to which is revealed, in consequence, certain realities (haqa-iq-e-kauniyah) pertaining to tangible and intangible occurrences especially virtue and vice; as well as certain realities (Haqaa’iq-e Ilahiyyah) pertaining to Divine Attributes and Acts especially related to affairs between Allah and servants. These revelations (makshoofaat) are known as Haqeeqat. The process of these revelations (i.e. inkishaaf) is called Ma’rifat while the Saint of Inkishaaf is known as a Muhaqqiq and Aarif.
All the aforementioned relates to the Shariat. The notion that the Shariat and Tareeqat are entities apart – this notion has gained prominence in the public – is totally false and baseless. Now that the nature and reality of Tasawwuf and Sulook have become clear, it will be understood that:
- Kashf (inspiration and revelation) and karaamat (miracles) are not necessary.
- It does not promise success in the worldly affairs.
- It does not assert that one’s work will be achieved by means of ta’weez and potions; nor does it claim that one will be successful in court cases by means of du’a.
- It does not promise increase in one’s earnings nor does it promise one cure from physical ailments.
- It does not foretell future events.
- It does not contend that the disciple’s (mureed) reformation will be achieved by the spiritual focusing of the Shaikh. Extra-normal operation is not necessary to Tasawwuf.
- It does not contend that the one who trods this Path will not be afflicted by even the thought of sin nor does it claim that the mureed will automatically (without effort) engage in Ibaadat.
- It does not promise total self-annihilation so that one is not aware even of one’s presence.’
It does not promise the experiencing of states of ecstasy and spiritual effulgence in Zikr and Shaghl (spiritual exercise) nor does it claim that one will see beautiful dreams and wonderful visions. All these are not the aims of Tasawwuf. The purpose is the Pleasure of Allah Ta’ala. This then, should be kept in sight.