Some people differentiate between Shariah (the sacred law) and Haqeeqah (reality), is this correct?

ⓘ Supported by Al Medina 313.



Islamic Text

No, it is considered deviant to differentiate between Shariah (the sacred law) and Haqeeqah (reality). Often people who make such claims want to undermine the sacred law, or claim that it does not apply to Shaykhs. Rather one should follow the example of the Holy Prophet ﷺ and blessed Sahabah, they did not differentiate between the two.

وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحاتِ وَآمَنُوا بِما نُزِّلَ عَلى مُحَمَّدٍ وَهُوَ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ كَفَّرَ عَنْهُمْ سَيِّئاتِهِمْ وَأَصْلَحَ بالَهُمْ

Those who have believed, performed good deeds and believed in that which was revealed to Muhammad, which is the truth from their lord, He will forgive their sins and rectify their minds. (Surah Muhammad, 2).

The Holy verse above makes it clear that the revelation revealed to the blessed Prophet is the truth (Haqq). The revelation is the Quran and Sunnah, which is the essence of the Shariah. Therefore, the Shariah (the sacred law) is Haqeeqah (reality), and Haqeeqah (reality) is Shariah (the sacred law). To differentiate between the two does not seem to serve a purpose, whilst ostensibly contradicting the Quran and Sunnah.

One may argue that this is a mere matter of terminology and there is no need to be concerned. Such sentiment would be agreeable if people had not used this division between Shariah (the sacred law) and Haqeeqah (reality) as a means to misguide people. This is why leading scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah spoke strongly against a division between Shariah (the sacred law) and Haqeeqah (reality).

وَقَدْ فرق كثير من الصوفية بين الشريعة والحقيقة وهذا جهل من قائله لأن الشريعة كلها حقائق فَإِن كانوا يريدون بذلك الرخصة والعزيمة فكلاهما شريعة وَقَدْ أنكر عليهم جماعة من قدمائهم فِي إعراضهم عَنْ ظواهر الشرع

Many of the Sufis differentiated between Shariah (the sacred law) and Haqeeqah (reality), and this is ignorance on the part of the one saying it. This is because the entirety of the Shariah (the sacred law) is Haqeeqah (reality). If they intend by this the issue of Rukhsah (dispensation) and Azeemah (restriction), then they are both Shariah. Indeed, many of their earlier figures have refuted them, for turning away from the outward of the Shariah. (Imam Abd al-Rahman Ibn al-Jowzi, Talbees Ibless).

كما يقوله كثير من المتكلمين والمتفلسفة وغيرهم: إنما نريد أن نحسن الأشياء بالجمع بين كلام الأنبياء والحكماء، وكما يقوله كثير من المبتدعة من المتنسكة: إنما يريد الإحسان بالجمع بين الإيمان والإيقان، والتوفيق بين الشريعة والطريقة والحقيقة، ويدسون فيها دسائس مذاهبهم الباطلة

As many of the Kalam scholars, philosophers and others said, we want to improve things by combing between the speech of the Prophets and the people of wisdom. Many of the people of Bidah (innovation) and ritual also said, ‘We want to improve by combining between faith and certitude. And between Shariah, Tariqah (the path) and Haqeeqah (reality).’ In this manner they insert the insertions of their false school of thought. (Imam Al-Qari, Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar).

What the Imams above are alluding to are certain people who differentiated between Shariah (the sacred law) and Haqeeqah (reality) and then use this differentiation to nullify certain legal rulings. For example, they will say such a matter is prohibited in Sharia but permitted by Haqeeqah. Not only is this dangerous misguidance, but it clearly opposes the way of the Holy Prophet ﷺ and the Sahabah (May Allah Most High be pleased with them) too.

Some scholars may use the terms in a more acceptable manner. For example, they use the word Haqeeqah to refer to the spiritual fruits of following the Shariah. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this presentation. However, it is best to avoid such a presentation in a situation in which people are differentiating between Sharia and Haqeeqah in a deviant manner.

And Allah Most High Knows Best

-Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (16.02.2023)

See also:
What is the role of the Sufi Shaykh?

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