After stressing the need to correct beliefs (‘aqa’id), Mujahadid Alf al-Thani continues to write: ‘Then, after correcting the beliefs, there is no escape from learning fiqh rules. It is necessary to learn the fard, the wajid, the halal, the haram, the sunnah, the mandub (preferable), the mushtabah (doubrful) and the makruh (disliked). It is likewise necessary to act according to the demands of fiqh. After having acquired the two wings of correct beliefs and actions, then – if a person has a divine accordance (tawfiq) – the next step is traversing (suluk) the path of the Sufis. This traversing is not to acquire something that is extra or new in beliefs and actions. Its purpose, rather, is to gain such firm conviction and assurance in those beliefs that the firm conviction and assurance do not disappear if a person was to place a doubt in it, and nor become obsolete by the coming of a doubt.’
‘In addition, the other benefit of Suluk is that it makes the performance of actions easy, and removes the laziness and rebelliousness which results from a soul that enjoins evils (al-nafs al-ammarah bi ‘l-suw). The purpose of treading the path of the sufis is not to view unseen images and forms, and the lights (anwar) and colours; these are all useless play and entertainment (lahw and la’ib). What are the shortcomings of tangible forms and colours that one leaves them and undertake mujahadah and riyadah with the hope of seeing unseen forms and lights? This is because these tangible forms and those unseen forms, and these lights and those lights are all created; they are signs bearing witness to Allah Most High’s existence.’
Just like the first lesson that Sayyiduna Jibril (may Allah bless him) taught was Iman i.e. beliefs, the second lesson was Islam i.e. actions of Shariah, and the third was ihsan i.e. Suluk. Mujadid Alf al-Thani has mentioned these sequence with much detail in his letter.
In another letter he writes: ‘Shari’ah gurantees all worldly and heavely happiness, and Tariqah and Haqiqah are servants of the Shari’ah.’ He writes further: ‘Shari’ah is composed of three parts: knowledge, actions and sincerity. As long as these three parts do not materialize, the pleasure of Allah Most High will be earned, and this is the pleasure of the Creator, it is loftier and above all worldy and heavenly happiness – “And the pleasure of Allah is the greatest” (Qura’an 9:71). The Shari’ah is therefore the gurantor of all the happiness of both worlds. There now remains no purpose that one would be in need of something other than Shari’ah [in order to acquire it]. Tariqah and Haqiqah, qualities with which the Sufis are distinguishes, are both the third part of Shari’ah, i.e. they serve the complete the sincerity. Hence, the purpose of acquiring them both is perfecting Shari’ah, not something other than Shari’ah. The hals (spiritual states), wajd (ecstasy), knolwedge and gnosis (ma’arif) that the Sufis experience during their journey are not the purpose, their status is, rather, that those thoughts with which the beginners of Tariqah are developed. One should move beyond all these things and react the station (maqam) of rida (Allah’s pleasure). This is because this is the station in which stations of ecstasy and suluk end, as the purpose of crossing the stations of Tariqah and Haqiqah is nothing except the acquisition of sincerity, and sincerity is requirement for the happiness of Creator Most High.
‘From among thousands, there are few who pass the divine revelations (tajalliyah) and gnostic (‘airifi) visions (mushahid) to reach the wealth of sincerity and the station of pleasure (rida). The short-sighted consider hal and wajd to be among the goals [of Tassawuf], and visions and divine revelations among those things that are to be acquired [in Tassawuf]. It is on account of this that they remain captive in the prison of delusion and fantasy, and deprived of the perfections of Shari’ah. Yes, it is corret that the acquisition of the station of sincerity and the status of rida is connected to the materialiation of those states, wajd, and knowledge and gnosis. Hence, those states and wajd are preludes to [acquiring] the purpose and not the [actual] purpose.
This reality became clear to me on account of his (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) blessings (barakah) after traversing this Path a complete ten years; and [it was then that] that Shari’ah appeared to be in a form befitting it. This in spite of me, all praise to Allah, not being – from the beginning- a prisoner to hals and wajds; there was no goal before my eyes except realizing the reality of Shari’ah. However, after ten complete years, the reality became completely clear – Al – hamduli Allah ‘ala dhalik hamdan kathiran tayyiban mubarakan fihi, mubarakan ‘alayhi.’ (Tajalliyat-e-Rabbani, Volume 1, page 53).
[Extract from Shari’ah wa Tariqah ka Talazum]