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Sufism and Tariqat
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Haqiqa (Arabic حقيقة ḥaqīqa "truth") is one of "the four stages" in Sufism, shari’a (exoteric path), tariqa (esoteric path), haqiqa (mystical truth) and marifa (final mystical knowledge, unio mystica).
The four stages
Shari’a is Islamic law or Islamic jurisprudence as revealed in the Qur'an and Sunna. The first step in Sufism is following every aspect of the law perfectly. The purpose of this is to prove their love for God, by rigorous self-discipline and constant attention to their conduct. When the Sufi fully lives his or her life according to the Shari’a he or she is ready to progress to the second stage. This conformity to earthly rules is important because it recognizes that the spirit of a man or woman is affected by the actions of the body. In this way, bringing the body under the will of God also purifies the spirit and a pure spirit is essential for the second step.
In Universal Sufism as practiced in current times, (especially in North America and Europe) some orders propose an evolution of this concept. Rather than a strict adherence to Islamic law, the would-be Sufi is enjoined to live a morally sound life based on the universal laws found in the "scripture" of nature. The central authority is not the Koran per se, but the evident operations of the cosmos.
Tariqa in Arabic means path and it denotes a Sufi brotherhood or chain or order. The orders are governed by shaykhs, spiritual leaders that mentor Sufis. Shaykhs are identified by the signs of God's grace that are evident, such as the ability to perform miracles. They take on people, usually male, that are committed to the Sufi lifestyle and want to progress further in their spiritual education. It is common for the shaykh to test a new disciple by ignoring them, assigning humiliating tasks or being rude to them. When the disciple has passed these tests, he is introduced to the awrad, a series of prayers particular to that order. These prayers must be studied before they are recited, because mistakes made in the prayer are sins. When the disciple has studied and recited the awrad for an indeterminate amount of time, he is expected to experience visions and revelation from God. Sufis believe that at this point the disciple is able to see spiritual things that are veiled from most people.
In Universal Sufism, tariqat is the "phase" during which a seeker becomes increasingly aware of and responsive to inner guidance. Her spiritual path through life begins to appear more clearly as a palimpsest of views and behavioral options which become available as her consciousness expands. This phase generally ensues after initiation in a Sufi order has been taken.
Haqiqa is a difficult concept to translate. The book Islamic Philosophical Theology defines it as "what is real, genuine, authentic, what is true in and of itself by dint of metaphysical or cosmic status", which is a valid definition but one that does not explain haqiqa's role in Sufism. Haqiqa may be best defined as the knowledge that comes from communion with God, knowledge gained only after the tariqa is undertaken. For instance, a shaykh that has advanced through tariqa has haqiqa and can see into the lives of his disciples in a spiritual sense. He has knowledge of pregnancies and sicknesses before his disciples tell him. He can see beyond the physical world because of his proximity to God and possession of haqiqa. Haqiqa is less a stage in itself and more the marker of a higher level of consciousness, which precedes the next and final stage, marifa.
In Universal Sufism, Haqiqat is the "phase" in which the central ongoing question/concern of the seeker is subsistent (as opposed to transient) reality. The life of the seeker becomes a fathoming device in which what is timeless, formless, weightless etc, is recognized and valued above all.
Marifat (Arabic: المعرفة), which literally means knowledge, is the term used by Sufi Muslims to describe mystical intuitive knowledge of spiritual truth reached through ecstatic experiences, rather than revealed or rationally acquired.
Entering into marifat in Universal Sufism, the seeker no longer asserts or defines anything. Talking about anything, such as "the four stages" of realization, is of little interest to the Sufi who has reached this stage. Or better said, all conversation topics are of equal interest. The seeker's life is then, itself, revelation.
- Chittick, William C. 1992. Faith and Practice of Islam: Three Thirteenth Century Sufi Texts. Albany: State University of New York.
- Cousins, Ewert. 1987. Islamic Spirituality: Foundations. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company.
- Encyclopædia Britannica, "Marifa", Encyclopædia Britannica, http://fulla.augustana.edu:2104/eb/article-9474614
- Goldziher, Ignaz. 1981. Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
- Morewedge, Parviz, ed. 1979. Islamic Philosophical Theology. Albany: State University of New York.
- Renard, John. 1996. Seven Doors to Islam: Spirituality and the Religious Life of Muslims. California: Regents of the University of California.