Seyyidina (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret) said : « Know O he who is in pursuit of the path of God, O he who desires the love and the presence of God, know that this is summarized in three stations: that of Islam, that of Iman and that of Ihsane.”
Islam is adoration of God, Iman is orientation towards God and Ihsan is the contemplation of God. These three stations represent the different stages of our path towards God, which are gathered in the Divine Law (Shari’a), the path (Tariqa) and the Truth (Haqiqa).
The result of these three stages is Knowledge, because he who attains Haqiqa automatically attains God, thus he is called Knower of God (‘Arif billah).
All the stages are included in the term of Shari’a because Shari’a represents everything that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) brought us.
Certain people are satisfied with the first stage and think that it is the only one to exist. Therefore, they are called people of the exoteric (Ahlu dhahir) approach.
The second category is that which includes the two stages, that is to say the Law and the path (Shari’a and Tariqa), the people of this category are called Sufis.
The third category is that which includes all three stages. The people of this category are known as Knowers (El Arifin).
Seyyidina Ahmed Tidjani (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret) was questioned about the difference between the Truth (Haqiqa), the path (Tariqa) and the Law (Shari’a) and he answered as follows – or words to that effect:
« The truth is the lifting of veils in order to contemplate the Divine Presence, which is what we call the contemplation (Muchahada). The knowledge of this truth emanates as a result of the contemplation of God. This Presence grants the person knowledge, wisdom, secrets, spiritual effusions, wisdom, states of certainty and so on.
It (Presence) can be the source of the knowledge that the servant must have at the time of contemplation regarding right conduct, science of discussion, as well as that which we must avoid (at that time) and that which we must endure at that time, this is the truth of the reality (Haqiqat el Haqiqa)
The truth of the Law (Shari’a) is what it brings in terms of obligations, permissions, prohibitions in all that ALLAH (The Glorified, The Exalted) and his Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ordained us in his book.
As for the path (Tariqa), it is the intermediary between the law and truth (Shari’a and Haqiqa). The Tariqa is the indispensable Law for those who have attained the Truth (Haqiqa), and it is different from the Shari’a that is known by the common people. It is described in the following words: “The right actions of the virtuous people (abrar) are the wrong actions of the closest ones (Muqarabine).”
The knowledge of the path (Tariqa) is all that strips the servant of his passion, it encourages him to abandon egocentricity, it carries him away from everything that seduces his animal soul and all obstruction so that he may shelter in the will of ALLAH (The Glorified, The Exalted).
The Tariqa calls us to know all that incites ALLAH’s (The Glorified, The Exalted) servant to stop in the depth of His Oneness. It helps him (the servant) to get out of the competition between his ego and Divine Essence by allowing him to settle in the station of approval and submission (Ridha wa Taslim).
The path encourages us to abandon ourselves completely in the ocean of submission to God. The path and its knowledge is defined thus. »
Then he (may ALLAH sanctify his precious secret) said:
« The pole makes his law (Shari’a) infalible with his Haqiqa and hides his Haqiqa with his law. »
*Text extracted and translated from the book Ifadat Tidjaniya written by Sheikh Mustafa el Alawee (may ALLAH be pleased with him)
Research and translation by Zawiya Tidjaniya el Kubra in Lyon, France