The Tariqah as an Important Part of Islam Essay

Seyyed Hossein Nasr in his “Ideals and Realities of Islam” gives detailed explanations of the main concepts of Islam. The fifth chapter describes one of the most important and most complicated concepts of Islam ”“ Tariqah. After reading the chapter I could better understand this part of religion. I really liked the metaphor of the walnut which explains the relations between Shariah, Tariqah and Haqiqah. Shariah is a set of Islamic rules and regulations. It makes the shell of the walnut. Tariqah or inner practice of Islam makes its kernel. Haqiqah, or Higher Truth, is presented as walnut oil.  Kernel, which becomes the source of oil, can not grow without a shell. The shell prevents kernel from damage, protects it and helps to grow. At the same time shell without kernel would be vain and useless. Only taken together they can help to get oil. Same concepts can be applied in order to understand relations between the Shariah and the Tariqah.

Only their combination can help a true seeker to get Haqiqah, or Centre of the religion.  “The Sharîah without the Tarîqah would be like a body without a soul, and the Tarîqah without the Sharîah would be devoid of an external support and simply could not subsist and manifest itself in this world. For the totality of the tradition the one like the other is absolutely necessary” (Nasr).

Nasr also speaks about the danger of overuse of either Shariah or Tariqah. Following rules and regulations of Islam without Tariqah will not help to reach Haqiqah, same as Tariqah without Shariah also becomes useless.  In this concept Shariah presents law, Tariqah present the way and Haqiqah is a centre which becomes of goal of each true Muslim. Analogy with the circle almost repeats walnut metaphor. This analogy is also used in order to trace to correlation between Tariqah, Shariah and Haqiqah. Haqiqah here is presented as a centre of the circle.  This centre exists “everywhere and nowhere” at the same time. Circumference around this centre is Shariah. As the author states: “Every Muslim by virtue of accepting the Divine Law is as a point standing on this circle” (Nasr). Radius or link between the circumference and the center is Tariqah. Tariqah becomes that method, which gives everybody a path to reach the center. Standing in the circumference is a good condition. This means that a person follows the Divine Law and sees that Ultimate Truth, which is situated in the center. Reaching this center becomes possible with the help of Tariqah. At the present time there are a lot of people who are satisfied with the observing the Truth without attempts to approach it. This people follow Shariah only. Tariqah, or Sufi practices give ways to reach the goal. So, the person can see the goal only standing on the circumference, i. e. only by following Shariah. At the same time reaching the center becomes possible only with the help of Tariqah.

The language of metaphor is bright and understandable. Metaphors of walnut and circle help people to get an important message of Islam and Nasr does a perfect job passing this message to the readers. Relations between Tariqah and Shariah make an important part of religious practice of Islam and understanding their true meaning and relation to each other gives an opportunity to understand this religon better.

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