Saints and Miracles
by Annemarie Schimmel
from Vol. 1, No. 3

Abu Ishaq Ibrahim Adham
by Seyedeh Sahar Kianfar

from Vol. 2, No. 4

by Titus Burckhardt

from Vol. 3, No. 2

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Shari'a, Tariqa & Haqiqa
A Survey of Sufi Philosophy and Islamic Law,
Part One






By Seyedeh Sahar Kianfar

The concept of Shari'a, Tariqa, and Haqiqa are interconnected for the Sufi practitioner. Shari'a is derived from the Arabic root shara'a, 'to introduce' or 'to prescribe' and refers to the canonical law of Islam. Tariqa literally translates to 'path' and is used as a synonym for 'school,' 'brotherhood,' or 'order' of mystical Sufis. Haqiqa means 'truth' or 'reality' and refers to the concept of an esoteric essential truth that transcends human limitations.

It is the relationship of the three that scholars and philosophers have contemplated and debated throughout the history of mystical Islam. This three part series will examine the fundamental exoteric and esoteric components of the relationship between the Shari'a, the Tariqa, and Haqiqa.

Part One: An Introduction will provide a general framework for the series. Part Two: exoteric Truth will introduce the foundations and evolution of Islamic law. Part Three: Esoteric Truth will survey the relationship between the Law, the Sufi Order, and Divine Reality.

In early Islamic history, Sufism was not recognized as a separate, inner dimension of Islam, but was identified with Islam as such. The Prophet (pbuh) was the ultimate Sufi Master, who taught the essential doctrines of esoteric Islam to the sahaba, or 'Companions.' In turn, the Companions transmitted the teachings and practices of the Prophet (pbuh) to their disciplines, cultivating the seeds for schools of esoteric practice based on the true knowledge of the self. In addition, both the Prophet (pbuh) and the Rashidin (the first four 'Rightly Guided' Caliphs) were the ultimate leaders of jurisprudence and governance. Therefore, there was no cause to establish an intricate, separate legal institution. During this fledgling stage of Islam, the Shari'a and Tariqa had not developed as separate entities. It is not until the consolidation efforts during the second half of the Umayyad Dynasty (second century AH/eighth century AD) that schools of Islamic thought began to emerge. Esoteric teaching methods evolved through a system of initiatic chains, where Sufi teachers began asilsilah, or 'chain' of transmission, that passed from one teacher to the next. Emerging Sufi Masters chose different formulations for making explicit what had been implicit, resulting in divergences in the chain of transmission . . .

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Seyedeh Sahar Kianfar completed her Masters in Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge, England, with an emphasis in Islamic jurisprudence.