The Sufi Path
What is the Path?
It is said that Sufism varies greatly from one master to the next. Every Sufi order will have its own unique practices. The main principles in all of Sufism remain constant throughout every Sufi order and subdiscipline, just as all Sufi masters trace their spiritual lineage back to the Ultimate Master Ali, and then to the final Messenger Nabi Paak Muhammad ﷺ. This has been likened to all of the world’s rivers pouring into the same ocean, for all true Sufis believe in the same One Creator.
So, what are these main principles of the path? What are the main practices? Murshid Waqar Faiz tells us, “Every Sufi aspirant has two major phases to his or her spiritual career: the search and journey.”
As Murshid Waqar Faiz tells us, the search is the first phase of one’s spiritual career. This phase contains the stages of longing for one’s Creator. It may be that at first, one does not realize that he is longing for the Divine. A person might start out searching for his true purpose, inner peace, or general spiritual enlightenment. If he is pure in his search, however, his longing will begin to take shape and gain clarity, just as the light that shines in our eyes slowly adjusts so that we see the world around us. He may meet people on his journey who provide some sort of guidance or instruction so that he finds clarity in his quest. The Divine has placed signs of His presence all throughout His creation so that we might find these signs and walk the path that leads to Him. When one’s search is truly pure, he will even receive special attention and help from the Divine. For example, someone may gain access to a lot of spiritual literature so that he is made aware of the path. Someone else may gain an inclination to attend spiritual gatherings so that he might gain some direction. Some people even receive miracles or knowledge of the unseen in order to help others, for, as Murshid Waqar Faiz tells us, "The Creator is found most quickly in service to creation."
It is during this phase when spiritual litanies or zikr come to be of great use.
Murshid Waqar Faiz tells us, “When we take the time to invoke the Name of our Creator, to remember Him, the reality is that He is remembering us.” Through the process of reciting litanies, the Divine attraction that the seeker first experiences gains strength and “pulls” him towards his Creator. Many Sufi orders have a wide array of universal litanies that all aspirants are required to recite, but in the path of Murshid Waqar Faiz, each seeker is given a litany specific to him or her, for all souls are uniquely created, and each seeker on the search is at his own unique stage.
The search is also the phase where the light of the Divine is first manifested and witnessed with the eyes of the heart. It is for this purpose that Murshid Waqar Faiz has openly introduced his unique Sufi meditation to all aspirants who wish to begin or move further along in their search. Through this meditation, each seeker, if he is pure in his search, with the spiritual assistance of Murshid Waqar Faiz, is able to experience a manifestation of the Divine light that is specific to him or her. Since the experience is so unique, this meditation is extremely versatile and can be practiced by anyone regardless of his level of understanding or spiritual stage.
All of the stages of the search serve to deepen our understanding to recognize the signs of the Creator and make our desire to reach him firmer and more mature. Once this desire, recognition, and understanding reach their peak, the search will come to an end.
How do we know when our search for the Divine is at an end? The universal principle is that the Creator Himself will put an end to your search, and He will do so by sending you to a spiritual guide and leader.
Murshid Waqar Faiz says, “When the Divine desires to increase His blessings on you and bestow you with His special honor, he puts everything that is meant to reach you in the hands of your spiritual leader.” Our search is complete when we find ourselves before a spiritual guide. Once we place our hands in his and pledge ourselves to him, the journey to our Creator truly begins. Murshid Waqar Faiz tells us that the stages of spiritual journeying are completely different from those of the search. The search was designed to deepen our understanding, but the journey requires us to leave our understanding behind. Understanding is needed to recognize the signs of our Creator, but recognizing the signs is nowhere near enough to actually reach Him. The Divine is reached with the heart, not the mind, and so the spiritual journey at first requires us to put the struggle between the heart and the mind to rest. Murshid Waqar Faiz tells us of his early days, “When my initial spiritual instruction first began, I would accept half of what I was told, and I would leave the other half. It was because at first my heart would accept certain truths, but my mind would immediately object, ‘how is this possible, how is that possible?’ This is the age-old struggle between the heart and mind that every seeker must face on his journey.”
The reality of the journey is that the spiritual traveler is not actually traveling; it is his guide who is taking him by the hand into the presence of the Creator. The traveler’s only job, then, is to walk alongside his guide. He must shut his eyes so as not to let the deviations created by the mind interfere with the actions and progression of the heart. In reality, when one's physical eyes are shut, the eyes of the heart are opened.
Journeying and searching are as different as the sky and the earth. The things that pushed us forward during the search actually serve to hold us back during the journey. The journey is about leaving behind what holds us back so that we can reach our Ultimate Goal, and this is also why the traveler must shut his eyes. The search is about gaining knowledge and enthusiasm. The journey is about gaining wisdom and maturity. The search requires constant movement, scrutiny, and reflection. The journey requires steadfastness, loyalty to one’s guide, and determination.
For spiritual journeying, only one practice holds universally constant: companionship. Sitting with the guide and just engaging in conversation with him are key to the spiritual journey. It may seem like there is no direction or structure, but the most unstructured and informal gatherings are the ones that contain the greatest of wisdoms and spiritual treasures. During the search, the light of the Divine was witnessed and imbibed through the recitation of litanies. During the journey, that light is imbibed with a greater purity and intensity when listening to the words of one’s spiritual guide. Listening to his words and acting upon his teachings bestow the traveler with wisdom, and his companionship brings the traveler hundreds of times closer to the Divine with every glance and every breath. Sometimes we are unable to physically sit with the guide. When the seeker feels the urge and longing to sit with his guide, the Creator gives him that same light according to his urge and longing.
This is the guide who has himself traversed the path, and he is well aware of the intricacies of the spiritual journey that are not found in any manual or book. Any other practices that are assigned during this phase are purely arbitrary and given at his discretion. The guide gives each student what he specifically needs to move forward on his journey, for everything he gives is in reality coming from the court of the Almighty.
Spiritual journeying requires a specific link to the Divine via a master. Each master has his own master, which forms a chain leading back to the Ultimate Master Ali, and from there to Nabi Pak Muhammad ﷺ and the Almighty Himself. Everything an aspirant receives at any given phase in his spiritual career will arrive to him through this chain, but in order to actually begin the journey, one must accept the chain and grab onto it himself.
During the stages of spiritual journeying, the Sufi meditation offered by Murshid Waqar Faiz also takes on a different dimension and depth. Through the guidance of Murshid Waqar Faiz, the student is able to use the Waqar Faiz Sufi Meditation to expand his heart and prepare it to receive intimate knowledge and wisdom of the Creator, which allows the traveler an opportunity to reach the Court of the Divine.