Shariat is the beginning of the journey
What is the nature of reality?
I asked my mother, Saleha Pasha. In her own way, she replied with a story, a contemporary parable.
She said in her village, there was a man named Yakub Mawlawi, who was on his way to Maizbhandar Sharif, when he saw a beautiful woman coming out of a pond, clad in wet clothing. When he arrived at the mazar, he mentioned what a beautiful woman he had seen on the way.
My, that woman was beautiful, indeed. His pir (spiritual guide) at Maizbhandar made no remark or judgment, and instead blessed him with two and a half bites of rice, and sent him off with blessings to finish his studies in India.
After finishing his studies, Yakub Mawlawi, tied a turban on his head (sign of education), and returned to Bangladesh with his degree.
Despite his enriched capacity to serve as a spiritual guide, people in the village still remembered his attention to beauty (the woman at the pond) with negative assumptions.
Why? Perhaps those who criticized him did not reach a deeper understanding of reality, of Allah (the force behind reality). They seemed to be preoccupied with shariat, (just the ABCs of spiritual life) -- but, there is more (for instance, DEFGH...).
Just knowing shariat is not enough. Shariat is the first step -- the managment of what one thinks is reality. It is just the beginning of the journey.
The Maizbhandar Sufis of Southeast Bangladesh believe that there are chants to help us on different parts of our journey towards Allah, towards understanding nature and reality.
1. Shariat (rules): The journey begins with accepting the five pillars, the Qur’an, the traditions of the prophet (Hadith and Sunna), and the chant along the way to support the management of what one thinks is reality: Lā ilāha illā allāh
One has to be careful here. One can get stuck in the rules and forget that there is much more path to tread.
2. Tarikat (the path): One is on the path to understanding the nature of reality. The chant that supports this part of the journey is: Illā allāh.
3. Hakikat (the truth): One intellectully understands the nature of reality but there is more work to be done for an intellectual and tactile grasp of Allah (the force that shapes reality). The chant for this level of work is: Allāh hu.
4. Marfat (oneness): One is submerged into a singularity, a sort of oneness.
There is no other description for this. The chant here is only Hu. Hu. Hu.
For here, there is no distinction made between this and that, everything is one.
I am all orders of being, the circling galaxy,
the evolutionary intelligence, the lift,
and the falling away. What is,
and what isn’t. You who know
You the one
in all, say who
I am. Say I
Shireen Pasha is Berlin Bureau Chief, Dhaka Tribune.