SHARIAT, TAREEQAT, HAQEEQAT AND MA'RIFAT
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 Muta-akh-khireen (the later authorities of the Shariat) the word Fiqh was used for that branch of Islam which related to A'maal-e Zaahiri while the branch which dealt with Amaal-e Baatini became known as Tasawwuf. The ways or methods of acquiring the Amaal-e Baatini are called Tareeqat.
The reformation of the Amaal-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 (Haqaaiq-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:
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.