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The Interrelationship between Shariat, Tariqat and Haqiqat


By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam

25 April 2017

In the famous Hadith of the Angel Gabriel narrated by Hadhrat Umar –May Allah be pleased with him- Islamic faith has been divided into three basic dimensions; 1) Islam, 2) Iman and 3) Ihsan. That the prophet Muhammad- peace be upon him- said to Hadhrat Umar, “He was Jibrael; he came to teach you your religion” is the evidence that widens the scope of Islamic teaching covered by these three dimensions. (Sahih Muslim; The Book Of Faith, Musnad Imam Ahmad, The Chapter of Iman, Islam and Ihsan, vol.1, pp.64)  

(1)     The First Dimension- Islam

The first dimension of Islam is also called Islam. This is the practical aspect of Islamic faith or Islamic fundamentals; which is associated with the outward organs of the body. This includes acts of worship, dealings with people, individual and collective social responsibilities, moral teachings and all other religious matters that we are commanded to practice. In the religious term, Islamic scholars call it Shariat. The Islamic jurists [Fuqaha] hold the prominent place in researching and interpreting this dimension.

(2)     The Second Dimension- Iman

This is the doctrinal aspect of the Islamic faith or Islamic fundamentals; that is related with the heart. These core fundamentals —in which a Muslim has to believe from the bottom of the heart—include believing in Allah, believing in His angels, His prophets, His divine books, the Judgment day and the divine destiny. The credit of researching and interpreting this aspect goes to the experts of ‘Ilm ul Kalam’ [i.e. The Science of Islamic doctrines and core beliefs] who are referred to as Mutakallimun [singular Mutakallim].

(3)     The Third Dimension- Ihsan  

This is the pure, spiritual and cardiovascular aspect of the religion [din]. When the prophet (peace be upon him) was asked about Ihsan, he said, “Ihsan is to worship Allah as if you see him and if you do not achieve this state of devotion, then (take it for granted that) Allah sees you” (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 6, Book 60, Hadith 300). This third dimension of Islam includes all mystical conditions and positions, intuitive tastes and the divinely-inspired knowledge (Ilm-e-Ladunni) that Allah reveals to His allies and pious servants who worship Allah in the same best manner as mentioned above in the Hadith, and to those whose hearts are pure from whatever He disapproves and pursue what he approves, the like of which He bestows upon no one else.  This is termed as Haqiqat in the language of Ulema. The credit of experiencing and interpreting this aspect goes to the Sufi saints.

The interrelationship of Shariat, Tariqat and Haqiqat can be well understood in the following way. Shariat is the law for living made by Allah Almighty and guided by the Sunnah of the prophet peace be upon him. Tariqat is the path to realization also guided by the Sunnah; this path discloses the true meaning or interpretation of Shariat and leads to haqiqat of everything. Haqiqat is the process of realization achieved only by those who walk on the path of Tariqat with holding Shariat tightly and next to this is the Marifat that is the actual realization of Allah Almighty. For example, if Namaz is performed according to its outward acts, movements, essentials and terms based on Quran and Sunnah as explained by the great jurists of Islam, this can be described as Shariat. And if humbleness, humility and the presence of heart (i.e. the heart is saved from satanic attacks and remains involved in remembrance of Allah) are achieved during Namaz, this will be called Haqiqat; and this is the spirit of Namaz. 

Crystal clear as it is now that the outward performances of Namaz are like its body whereas humbleness and presence of heart in Namaz are its spirit. The body is useless without the spirit. Just as the body needs spirit for its establishment, so the spirit, too, requires the body. As Allah Almighty says, “Establish prayer [Namaz] and pay Zakat” (2:110). Establishing namaz means that it should be performed with its body and spirit. That is why Allah Almighty says “Establish prayer” and He does not ask us to read Namaz.   

It is intelligible now that the relation between Shariat and Tariqat is as deeper as between the body and the spirit. The perfect believers are those who comprehend both Shariat and Haqiqat and act according to them. This is the essential education to which the Sufi saints and Friends of Allah [Awliyyah] guide. They act according to Quran and Sunnah and follow in the footsteps of the holy companions [Sahaba-E-Karam may Allah be pleased with them].   

For the believers, to be perfect and achieve the higher rank, it is essential to walk on the path of Tariqat. This means they have to be in company of the perfect spiritual guide (Kamil Murshid) in order to wage jihad against their baser-self, replace their evil attributes by the pious ones and get access to attain the Marifat of Allah Almighty. It looks as if Tariqat is the bridge that takes the Salik (meaning traveller, in Sufi terminology, seeker of realization of Allah) to the station of Haqiqat via Shariat.

It is necessary to further clarify here that Shariat is the root in Islam and Tariqat is its offshoot. Shariat is the fountainhead while Tariqat is the river emanating from Shariat. It is wrong to imagine separation of Tariqat from Shariat. Tariqat is based on Shariat. Shariat is the criteria by which the path of Tariqat is maintained and judged.  

Ali bin Muhammad Sayyid Sharif Jurjani (740-816 A.H, 1339-1413 A.D) writes in his Arabic book “Taareefat”

(الطريقة هي السيرة المختصة بالسالكين إِلى الله تعالى، من قطع المنازل والترقي في المقامات)

Translation: “Tariqat means the certain behaviours adopted by the Salikin [singular, Salik meaning the traveller on the path of Tariqat] in order to attain the stations of Marifat-e-Ilahi [gnosis of Allah. Marifat means the mystical intuitive knowledge of spiritual truth through ecstatic experiences] and the higher positions” (Taareefat: Sayyid Jurjani, p.94)

It is concluded that Shariat is the basis and Tariqat is a means of reaching it and Haqiqat is the result. In each of these three things is very strong connection and relationship. Whoever holds Shariat tightly will reach the station of Haqiqat, walking on the path of Tariqat. Neither of them contradicts with each other. That is why the Sufi saints say, ’’کل حقیقۃ خالفت الشریعۃ فھی زندقۃ‘‘. Translation: "Every Haqiqat opposing Shariat is Zindiq”

Therefore it is not possible for Haqiqat to oppose Shariat while the Salik gets access to Haqiqat only by holding the Shariat tightly.

The famous Sufi jurist Imam Ahmad Zarruq (may Allah be pleased with him) says:

 (لا تصوف إِلا بفقه، إِذ لا تعرف أحكام الله الظاهرة إِلا منه. ولا فقه إِلا بتصوف، إِذ لا عمل إِلا بصدق وتوجه لله تعالى. ولا هما [التصوف والفقه] إِلا بإِيمان، إِذ لا يصح واحد منهما دونه. فلزم الجميع لتلازمها في الحكم، كتلازم الأجسام للأرواح، ولا وجود لها إِلا فيها، كما لا حياة لها إِلا بها، فافهم)

Translation: “no imagination of Tasawwuf can be upright without Fiqh [i.e. Islamic jurisprudence of Shariat), as Fiqh is a means of knowing the external rulings. Just the same way Fiqh remains incomplete without Tasawwuf, as no external action is acceptable without the true intention and pleasure of Allah Almighty. Similarly, both Tasawwuf and Fiqh are based on Iman [faith], as without faith neither Fiqh nor Tasawwuf is acceptable.” (Qawaed ut Tasawwuf, Shaikh Ahmad Zarruq, rule 3, p.3)  

It is now known from here that it is incumbent to put into practice these three dimensions of Islamic faith, as they are interrelated. Just the body and spirit are interconnected so much that the existence of spirit is not possible without the body; likewise, the life of the body is not possible without the spirit. 

One of the great famous jurists of Islam, Imam Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) says,

“(من تصوف ولم یتفقہ فقد تزندق۔ومن تفقہ ولم یتصوف فقد تفسق ومن جمع بینھما فقد تحقق)

Translation: “He who adopted Tasawwuf but rejected Fiqh [Islamic jurisprudence of Shariat] became Zindiq [the individual who denies the essential creeds of Islam]. He who learnt Fiqh but did not walk on the path of Tasawwuf, became Fasiq. And he who exercised both Tasawwuf and Fiqh, reached the station of Haqiqat.” (The Commentary of Ainul Ilm w Zainul Hilm, Imam Mulla Ali Qari, vol. 1, p.33)  

The first man became Zindiq, because he imagined Haqiqat as opposed to Shariat and therefore he inclined towards Jabariyyah and said that the man had no authority in any issue.

The second man became Fasiq, because the illumined light of Taqwa and sincerity did not enter into his heart. Neither did he make the self-introspection in order to stop committing sins and hold the Shariat tightly. 

The third person reached the station of Haqiqat because he practiced all the dimensions of Islamic faith such as Iman, Islam and Ihsan mentioned in the Hadith of Jibrael (peace be upon him).

Just as the Ulema-e-Zahir guard the boundaries of Shariat, so the Sufi saints too, guard the spirit of Shariat. Such Ulema defend the evidences of Shariat; likewise the Sufi saints guard the principles and spirit of Tasawwuf.

It is allowed for the Ulema-e-Zahir to struggle for Ijtihad so as to derive the evidences of Shariat, determine Hudud and Furu’ and set the ruling of permissible and impressible acts which are not explicitly mentioned in the holy Quran and Hadith. Similarly, the people of Marifat and Sufi saints are permitted to derive the principles and ways in order to mentor and reform their Murideen and Salikin.     

The Salaf, people of Marifat and Sufi saints received the knowledge of the true Islam, because they acted according to Shariat, Tariqat and Haqiqat at the same time. Since they were steadfast on the blessed golden principles, they also called other people to the right path. 

In short, If Haqiqat is separated from the faith, its root will dry, its branches will break into pieces and then its result will get corrupted. Pledging allegiance [Bai’at] to the Sufi saints is commendable act, however doing nothing additional and ignoring the dos and don’ts is categorically impressible. Pledging allegiance in order to make the internal reformation is commendable but performing the Faraiz, Wajibat and Sunan is the essential need of the Islamic faith. Pledging allegiance is not the name of merely giving hands in hands, but rather the true objective of Baia’t is a promise to remain steadfast on Islamic path. Under the guidance of Kamil Shaikh and the spiritual mentor, it is possible to defend against attacks of Satan and baser-self, while by doing acts of worship and Riyaadat, the closeness of Allah Almighty is possible.

 If these objectives are achieved in the collective form, then it is also permissible to adopt this way of the internal reformation. The purpose should be to make the self-reformation and purify the heart, no matter whether it is achieved under the guidance of the spiritual teacher, father, sheikh, or any collective system—all are permissible. But it is not the objective of Tariqat to make Bai’at merely a part of custom and habit. Any Sufi order [silsila] by which the above mentioned objectives are achieved can be adopted. It should also be noted otherwise, that in the name of Tasawwuf and Tariqat many people have opened their shops and are doing their profession.

 It is essential to be away from such people. The internal reformation is possible only for the ones who refrain from anti-Islamic practices; such as evil deeds, lies, hypocrisy, back-biting, greed of wealth, hurting others, intellectual dishonesty, using disgusting languages against any human soul etc. 


1.       The Holy Quran

2.       Musnad Imam Ahmad, the chapter of Iman, Islam and Ihsan

3.       Maqalul Urafa bi E’zaze Shara’ wa Ulema by Imam Ahmed Raza, Ala Hazrat Barelvi

4.       Taarifate Sayyid Sharif Jurjani

5.       Qawaid ut Tasawwuf by Sheikh Ahmad Zarruq

6.       Sharah Ainul Ilm wa Zainul Hilm by Imam Mulla Ali Qari

7.       The Realities of Tasawwuf by Sheikh Abdul Qadir Shazli (The book is available in Arabic, Urdu and English)

A regular Columnist with, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar) with a Sufi background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator.

URL for Urdu article:,-new-age-islam/the-interrelationship-between-shariat,-tariqat-and-haqiqat--شریعت-،طریقت-اور-حقیقت-کا-باہمی-ربط--وتعلق/d/110552


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