Haqq (the Truth), Haqiqa (the Genuine) and What Lies Beyond
Literally meaning what is true, established and constant, haqq (the truth) denotes that an utterance, an act, or a creed is totally in agreement with what is originally true, real, and genuine. Its opposite is batil (falsehood). In addition, haqq also means that which is immediately perceived when it is seen or heard. When it is mentioned without reference to anything particular, as mentioned in the verse, … they will come to know that God is He Who is “al-Haqqu’l-Mubin” (the All-Clear, Ultimate Truth and Ever-Constant) (24:25), what is being referred to is the Divine Being. God’s saintly friends have always meant the Divine Being when they speak of the (Ultimate) Truth.
As for the haqiqa, which is derived from the same root word as haqq, it means the essence and original or exact form of something; that which is genuine and real, not figurative. In the Sufi terminology, this is one of the four steps or degrees in the spiritual journey; these consist of the Shari‘a (the Divine way or the set of Divine laws), the tariqa (the spiritual path or the order which follows a spiritual path), the haqiqa (the essence, the genuine), and the ma‘rifa ( knowledge of God).
The Shari‘a is all the religious principles which everyone knows or has to know and practice; the tariqa is the way of experiencing the spiritual depths of the Shari‘a through certain particular systems, while the haqiqa is the attainment of certain mysteries of Divine Names and secrets of Divine Attributes of Glory through certain efforts and practices. Finally, the ma‘rifa is the capacity of and provision for the gift that comes in return for seeking, feeling, and obtaining knowledge of certain subtle, profound truths concerning the Essential Qualities or Characteristics of the Divine Being and the mysteries of Divinity.
According to another approach, the ma‘rifa is a summary of knowledge and a special gift in return for belief in God, while the tariqa is a way or method to make this attainment, and the Shari‘a and haqiqa are the names of the goal to be attained. Although the sole goal for a servant is obtaining God’s approval and good pleasure, the way to this goal extends through the Shari‘a and haqiqa, which are two profound dimensions of a single truth.
The Shari‘a is faithfulness to the mystery of servanthood and living a life in obedience to Divine commands; the haqiqa is resignation to whatever God decrees and judges as the Lord of the whole creation, and the continuous experience of the principle, “We are pleased with God as the Lord, Islam as religion, and Muhammad as the Messenger.” The practice of the Shari‘a or the order established by the Shari‘a, if it is not connected to the horizon of the haqiqa, is barren, while the haqiqa which is not dependent on or does not originate in the Shari‘a is futile.
From another perspective, the Shari‘a is the set of the responsibilities with which God has charged His servants, and the haqiqa is discerning and reading mysteries of Divinity in the Shari‘a. As also stated by Abu ‘ Ali ad-Daqqaq,29 You alone do we worship (1:5) marks observation of the limits of the Shari‘a, and From You alone do we seek help (1:5) indicates the horizon of the haqiqa. In short:
The Shari‘a and haqiqa are one, within the other;
While the tariqa is the path leading to this horizon.
The ma‘rifa is provision for the travelers on the path,
beyond which come faithfulness, sincerity, and endeavor.
Another approach is that the Shari‘a is perfect belief and righteous deeds, while the haqiqa is God’s protection of these heroes of belief and righteous actions, as well as being the response of these heroes to this protection with a universal consciousness. It is a delusion if we expect Divine help and protection without belief and righteous actions; it is extremely difficult to be able to bear the heavy responsibilities of the sacred, noble Shari‘a without confidence in God’s special regard and help. Some have summed up this reality by saying: “Establishing the Shari‘a without the haqiqa is extremely difficult, while the attainment of the haqiqa without the Shari‘a is impossible.”
Within their broader meanings, the Shari‘a is the fulfillment of all individual, family, and social responsibilities, while the haqiqa is acting as if seeing or in awareness of our being always seen by the One Who creates everything and favors each of His creatures with a rank of existence, the One Who creates guidance and misguidance and Who has the authority to guide or mislead whom He wills. It is He Who exalts and honors whom He wills and abases whom He wills, Who bestows success on whom He wills and causes whom He wills to lose, Who exalts whom He wills with dominion and takes away dominion from whom He wills, Who destines and decrees good and evil, belief and unbelief, benefit and harm, success and loss, and Who is referred to in the statement: “Whatever He wills to be is and whatever He wills not to be is not.”30
From another point of view, the Shari‘a is the essentials that are taught and conveyed by noble Prophets for observation, while the haqiqa is the favor of experiencing these teachings and responsibilities in the heart and spirit or through vision and spiritual observation. Starting from this point of view, some verifying scholars have regarded the observance of the religious commands and prohibitions as the dimension of the Shari‘a that consists of servant-hood to and worship of God, and seen the dimension of the haqiqa as the gifts of witnessing, experiencing, and unveiling the profound truths that underlie those commands and prohibitions.
Haqaiq (truths) is the plural of the haqiqa, and this is dealt with in four degrees. The truths of the first or greatest degree are those concerning the All-Holy Divine Essence. The travelers toward the Ultimate Truth who seek these truths should always be faithful in their thoughts, speeches, and acts to the criteria established by the Conveyor of the Shari‘a, upon him be peace and blessings, remaining distant from personal comments and interpretations, even though when they are flying at the highest peaks of knowledge of God Almighty and spiritual experience. The truths of the second degree are those pertaining to the Divine Attributes of Glory. The travelers advancing toward this horizon should remain within the limits of the knowledge of the Divine Being provided by the All-Beautiful Names and within the framework established by the sacred Attributes. They should refer the knowledge about what lies beyond these limits to His special attention and favors without any personal expectations. The truths of the third degree are those regarding Divine Acts. Those who seek these truths should, provided they attribute to God Almighty everything that exists and occurs in this realm of contingency where the Divine Names and Attributes manifest themselves and operate, advance as far as they can in reflection and contemplation of the outer and inner worlds and try to study things and events in the minutest detail several times every day.
The truths of the fourth degree are those pertaining to the works or outcomes of Divine Acts. The realm where all qualities and quantities are manifested, substances and corporeal bodies are formed and dissolve, and all acts of joining, separation, formation, deformation, dissolution, and disappearance occur is the realm of these truths. If a mental travel can be led by sound vision, insight, and discernment in this realm, it becomes possible to attain knowledge and knowledge of God. But if those who travel in this realm in pursuit of the truths in question do not view acts, events, and occurrences through insight and discernment, and if they cannot transcend the sphere of apparent causes, they will inevitably fall into naturalism. In fact, this realm is described as follows:
The sheets of the book of the universe are of infinite kinds,
Its individual letters and words are also countless.
Written in the printing house of the Preserved Tablet of Truth,
Each creature in the universe is a meaningful embodied word.
However, those who have not been able to find the true point of view cannot be saved from seeing, reading or interpreting it mistakenly.
Haqiqatu’l-haqaiq (the Truth of truths) is a term which is used to express the rank of Divine absolute Oneness (according to some, the rank of Divine absolute Unity), which is the rank of God’s original manifestation in His Essence. Some call this The All-Holy Absorption or the All-Holy Existence, or the Unseen of all Unseen. However, as it is not possible to grasp this most sublime truth in its original essence, so is it not permissible to see it in terms of being or coming into existence in its pure, unidentified essence or originality. Neither can it be regarded or imagined as a relative truth. Just as the Divine Essence cannot also be thought to manifest Himself without a veil, so also the Truth of truths cannot be talked about as purely Itself without considering God’s Attributes and Names. That is, we can find way to gain knowledge of the Truth of truths through Divine Attributes and Names. The All-Holy Essence of the Divine Being is absolutely free from any descriptions. Any description of Him means putting a limit on Him. It is we who are limited; therefore, it is a religious essential to see the Ultimate Truth in His Own position and the created in its own position. Any other approach would be clear misguidance and bewilderment. The duty which falls on servants is turning to God in utter submission and trying to traverse their distance from Him, advancing toward that All-Incomprehensible One in the guidance of the sacred, noble Shari‘a and with the provision of knowledge of Him. Concerning this topic, a friend of God says as follows:
Flee, O initiate, from the realm of multiplicity; advance!
Settling firmly in the Court of the All-Independent,
Unique One, advance!
If you desire to see the Face of Oneness through this multiplicity,
purify and brighten the mirror of your heart; advance!
Some continuously turn around the Ka‘ba, some around the Divine Throne;
you prefer the sacred sanctuary of God’s nearness; advance!
There is no end to the journey of those who set out toward Him;
wherever you reach, go beyond; advance!
In reality, there is no end to the journey toward the All-Infinite One. Visions and experiences which take a whole life-time will continue in different depths both in this world and the next. An initiate who has been dedicated to such a journey will run from one vision or observation to another, perceiving from different perspectives, even though they have been honored with His meeting and company; possibly they will be transported by the pleasure of vision and observation many times a day.
O God! I ask You for resignation after any calamity or any of Your decrees or judgments concerning me, the coolness of life after death, the pleasure of observing Your Face, and the zeal to meet with You without suffering the harm of anything harmful, or any misleading intrigue and mischief. And bestow, O Lord, blessings and peace on the Inaugurator and Seal of Prophethood, and on his Family and Companions, may God be pleased with them all.
By M. Fethullah Gulen
29 Abu ‘ Ali ad-Daqqaq (d. 405AH/1014CE) was one of the leading Sufi masters in the history of Islam. He was taught by Abu ‘Abdu’r-Rahman as-Sulami and taught the famous Sufi master, ascetic, and writer Abu’l-Qasim ‘Abdu’l-Karim al-Qushayri. (Tr.)
30 Abu Dawud, “Sunna” 6; al-Bayhaqi, al-I‘tiqad, 1:161.
31 Hodja Hasan Tahsin (1811–1881) was one of the leading thinkers and educationalists of the 19th century Ottoman Turkey. He was the first president of Daru’l-Funun (Istanbul University). He was well-versed in religious sciences and had great learning of natural sciences. (Tr.)
32 Ismail Haqqi Bursavi (1653–1725) is one of the great Sufi guides and writers. He spent much of his life in Bursa, Turkey. His Ruhu’l-Bayan (a 4-volume commentary on the Qur’an) is very famous. Kitabu’n-Netice (“The Book on the Result”) is his last work. (Tr.)