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Shariʿat and Haqīqat

And the Difference Between Them

ʿAli B. Uthman Al-Jullabi Al-Hujwiri

Ed OmarKN

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On the soundness of the outward state and the maintenancen1 of the inward state.

1. Shariʿat and Haqīqat, by Al-Hujwiri

These terms1 are used by the Sūfīs to denote soundness of the outward state and maintenance of the inward state. Two parties err in this matter: firstly, the formal theologians, who assert that there is no distinction between shariʿat (law) and haqīqat (truth), since the Law is the Truth and the Truth is the Law; secondly, some heretics, who hold that it is possible for one of these things to subsist without the other, and declare that when the Truth is revealed the Law is abolished.2

The proof that the Law is virtually separate from the Truth lies in the fact that in faith belief is separate from profession; and the proof that the Law and the Truth are not fundamentally separate, but are one, lies in the fact that belief without profession is not faith, and conversely profession without belief is not faith; and there is a manifest difference between profession and belief.

Haqīqat, then, signifies a reality which does not admit of abrogation and remains in equal force from the time of  ’Adam to the end of the world, like knowledge of Allah and like religious practice, which is made perfect by sincere intention; and shariʿat signifies a reality which admits of abrogation and alteration, like ordinances and commandments.

Therefore shariʿat is man’s act, while haqīqat is Allah’s keeping and preservation and protection, whence it follows that shariʿat cannot possibly be maintained without the existence of haqīqat, and haqīqat cannot be maintained without observance of shariʿat.

Their mutual relation may be compared to that of body and spirit: when the spirit departs from the body the living body becomes a corpse and the spirit vanishes like wind, for their value depends on their conjunction with one another.

Similarly, the Law without the Truth is ostentation, and Truth without the Law is hypocrisy. Allah has said :
{ And those who strive for Us - We will surely guide them to Our ways. } Quran 29–69:

Striving hard ( jhd ) is Law, guidance ( hdy ) is Truth ( haqq );
the former consists in a man’s observance of the external ordinances, while the latter consists in Allah’s maintenance of a man’s spiritual feelings.

Hence the Law is one of the acts acquired by Man, but the Truth is one of the gifts bestowed by Allah.


Another class of terms and expressions are used by Sūfīs metaphorically. These metaphorical terms are difficult to analyse and interpret, but I will explain them concisely.


By haqq (truth) the Sūfīs mean Allah, for haqq is one of the names of Allah, as He has said:
{ This is because Allah is the Truth. } Quran 22–6


By this word they mean a man’s dwelling in the place of unionn2 with Allah, and the standing of his heart in place of abstraction ( tanzīh ).


Real unification ( tawhīd ) consists in asserting the unity of a thing and in having a perfect knowledge of its unity. Inasmuch as Allah is one, without any sharer in His Essence and attributes, without any substitute, without any partner in His actions, and inasmuch as Unitarians ( muwahhidān ) have acknowledged that He is such, their knowledge of unity is called unification. KAM2783

Haqīqah - Another Explanation

(lit. 'truth' or 'reality', cognate with Haqq, 'Reality', 'Absolute').
The esoteric truth which transcends human and theological limitations. In this sense haqīqah is the third element of the ternary sharīʿa ('law'), that is, exoterism; tarīqah ('path'), or esoterism, and haqīqah, which is essential truth.

Haqīqah is also called lubb ('kernel', 'quintessence') related to a Quranic verse (28:29 and elsewhere): { Those who possess the kernels ( ūlu-l-albāb )} , meaning ”those who have insight or grasp the essence.”4

→ Hence the advice that in order to prepare oneself for direct knowledge of God - Allah one has to train the soul with methods derived from the Quran and Sunna and live by the example of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

صلّى الله على سيّدنا محمّد و على آله و صحبه و سلّم

The blessings and peace of Allah on the Prophet ﷺ, his Family, and his Companions.

Sall-Allahu ala Sayyidina Muhammadin wa ʿala ālihi wa sahbihi wa sallim


1: This text is from KASHF AL-MAHJUB Of Al Hujwiri - The Oldest Persian Treatise on Sufism, ʿAli B. Uthman Al-Jullabi Al Hujwiri, transl. R A Nicholson; GB 1976, p. 383

2: This is the doctrine of the Carmathians (Qarāmitita ) and the Shī’ites and their such inspired followers ( muwaswisān ).

3: Al-Hujwiri p.278

4: The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, London 1989, p.148



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